The Big Lie – Garry Trudeau and The Pulitzer

Yesterday The Beat with Ari Melber included a segment with cartoonist Garry B. Trudeau the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. There were two problems with the piece: first, G.B was given less than half the four and a half minutes allotted; and second, Mr. Melber, in his long-winded introduction, repeated the false line about Garry’s Pulitzer win. He states that Garry Trudeau became “the first comic strip artist to ever win a Pulitzer.” Which is a lie not true.

Carey Orr created the Kernel Cootie comic strip from 1919 to 1921 1922.

Orr had a long career as Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist before winning The Prize in 1961.

John T. McCutcheon won The Pulitzer in 1932, but had been doing humorous, non-political panels for decades before that.

And, of course, Rube Goldberg, who was awarded The Pulitzer Prize in 1948, had had a long and fruitful career as a comic strip and comic panel artist before being honored by the Pulitzer committee.


While Melber is the latest he is hardly the first to promote the misinformation of Garry Trudeau being the first comic strip artist to win. It started with the initial news reports in 1975:

There are other ways to recognize Trudeau’s precedent-breaking distinction.

Recognizing Doonesbury as the first comic strip to be named a Pulitzer winner would be more accurate.

Or saying it was the first time anyone other than an editorial page cartoonist had been chosen (though fairly quickly many newspapers began shifting Doonesbury from the funny pages to the opinion pages).

Anyway it is a pet peeve here and no reflection on Garry.

© Garry B. Trudeau


4 thoughts on “The Big Lie – Garry Trudeau and The Pulitzer

  1. My god, I work with Ari daily and he is not a liar or long winded. He may have gotten his facts wrong and perhaps Mr. Trudeau told him he was the first.

    Either way, a polite note to Ari would have sufficed, rather than calling him a liar. You never made an error in this blog?

  2. Okay, I toned it down a bit.
    I have never read or heard Garry make that claim.
    Ari probably got it by Googling Trudeau-Doonesbury-Pulitzer.
    Like I said, he is far from the first to report it.

  3. S. Espinosa asks:
    “You never made an error in this blog?”

    Yes, I made an error in this very post. Can you find it?

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