AAEC Writes Open Letter to The Pulitzer Board


The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) has presented a proposal to the Board of The Pulitzer Prizes making the case for a return of the traditional Editorial Cartooning category.

This year The Pulitzer Prize Board replaced the (now-defunct) Editorial Cartooning category with the category called Illustrated Reporting and Commentary the definitions of which, while including conventional editorial cartooning, goes far beyond the commonly accepted characteristic of the single panel newspaper political cartoon.

The AAEC makes the case for the two categories co-existing:

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists would like to congratulate illustrator Fahmida Azim and the other contributors to the team that created the illustrated article, “I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp,” which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in the recently renamed category of Illustrated Reporting and Commentary. We would like to also congratulate the finalists, The New Yorker cartoonist Zoe Si, and Washington Post editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes. Cartooning, regardless of genre, is time intensive, often challenging, occasionally dangerous, but always rewarding work.

While we celebrate Azim, Si, and Telnaes, the AAEC once again encourages the Pulitzer Board to consider reinstating Editorial Cartooning as its own Pulitzer category, while also recognizing Illustrated Reporting as a separate form. Each is a different type of journalism.

The AAEC notes, as Mike Peterson did this morning, that if The Pulitzers can have multiple categories for related journalistic endeavors (i.e.: commentary, criticism, and editorial writing) having an award for Graphic Political Cartoons and another for Graphic Journalistic Reporting would not be out of order.

The AAEC continues:

Editorial cartoons are quick, in-the-moment commentary, whose artists have to educate themselves on complex issues and craft well-informed opinions in a single take that emphasizes clarity under daily deadlines. Illustrated reporting, or comics journalism, takes days, weeks, or months to craft a story, which can run for pages, and which may or may not be presenting an opinion.

By having two separate categories — one for Editorial Cartooning and one for Illustrated Reporting — the Pulitzers can celebrate what makes each genre unique, and recognize the growing field of graphic journalism without slighting the long history of political cartooning.

Read the full Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ proposal.


© The Cincinnati Enquirer/Kevin Necessary


© Darrin Bell


One thought on “AAEC Writes Open Letter to The Pulitzer Board

  1. I entered the Pulitzer Prize contest this year for the first time. Like all contestants I hoped to win. And, even though I didn’t win or place, I could say that after spending 50 years drawing cartoons as an amateur that I could finally compete against the best professionals and give them a run for the prize money.

    Somehow I missed, forgot or ignored the name change of the category from Editorial Cartooning to Illustrated Reporting and Commentary. I didn’t realize the enormous ramifications of the change. Just last summer I wrote letters to two newspapers complaining that the cartoons they chose to run on the opinion page lacked what I thought was an essential element: an opinion. I wrote that they were merely illustrated news stories. One cartoonist even traced his drawing from an AP photo (without accreditation) that was printed just a few pages prior. (FYI: copyright laws allow that use for parody and satire, but not for illustration purposes without permission).

    I thought I was competing with approximately 30 staff editorial cartoonists across the country. Now I have to compete with likes of Scott Adams (Dilbert), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) and team that produces Beetle Bailey.

    Needless to say, I won’t be entering next year.

Comments are closed.