Of Pultizers and Things

For reasons unexplained, the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning was not awarded in 1923, 1936, 1960, 1965, 1973, and 2021. It may have been because all competitors in those years fell below the standard of excellence fixed by the Pulitzer Board, the governing body that meets twice annually, once to appoint nominating jurors in each category, and then to review the juror’s results. As stated in the plan of the awards, nominating jurors’ recommendations are “for the information and advice of The Pulitzer Prize Board only insomuch as the Board is charged with the responsibility and authority…to select, accept, substitute or reject these nominations, and may in extraordinary circumstances offer its own.”


Long time CRNI board member and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Comic Arts (IJOCA) and Professor Emeritus at Temple University, [and two time Pulitzer Prize nominating juror,] Dr. John A. Lent has some thoughts and suggestions about the recent changes to the award formerly known as the “Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning”.

Read Dr. Lent’s editorial on “A Watered Down Pulitzer.”

The rules were changed again in 2022, this time, renaming the editorial cartooning category, “illustrative reporting and commentary,” and redefining it to “recognize a distinguished portfolio of editorial cartoons or other illustrated work (still, animated, or both) characterized by political insight, editorial effectiveness, or public service value.”

By this definition, what would be included is what I call “investigative cartooning,” prevalent in many graphic novels of South Korea and social conscientization cartooning at one time common in South African comic books and others throughout Africa. And, Joe Sacco’s drawings. Or, even R. Crumb’s “Brief History of America.”


Ted Rall, as a winner, finalist, and judge of awards, has a different view:

Awards are a stupid idea poorly executed.

Like most of my fellow scribblers, I have spent too much of my time and energy handicapping — always unsuccessfully — award decisions for two simple reasons. First, winning one can really help your career. When I started out newspapers were reluctant to pick up my cartoons, which were drawn in a brutalist style at odds with the prevailing, crosshatched norm and ideologically far to the left of my colleagues. The establishment imprimatur of the 1995 RFK Journalism Award made enough editors feel safe to run my work that I was able to quit my day job. Second, we look to award announcements for indications of the kind of work that the powers that be are looking for from us.

Read Ted’s column “What Are Awards For?”

My experiences as a judge convinced me that the all-too-human members of prize committees are incapable of rendering anything approximating a reasonable decision. Very few judges have the comprehensive knowledge of the field they are judging necessary to do the job. Almost none have any historical background that informs the relevance of what they are looking at.



Deadline to register for the AAEC Convention is Friday, Sept. 23

If you’re thinking of coming to the AAEC Convention next month in Columbus, Ohio, here’s what you want to do:

1) If you haven’t already, please register no later than this Friday, Sept. 23. We are trying to get as accurate a head count as possible, especially for the Friday Business Meeting and Saturday Reception. Click here to sign up now: https://editorialcartoonists.com/account/convention22-registration/

2) …

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has a checklist.

Related to Awards on the AAEC Convention schedule:

SATURDAY 10/8/22

…Then, at 6pm, we’ll get together for the evening at the nearby Seventh Son Brewery for our annual awards reception.

One thought on “Of Pultizers and Things

  1. Was kinda surprised you didn’t mention the AAEC’s planned “Irish Wake for the Pulitzer Prize” in your Pulitzer Prize post, DD 😉

    But hey, if you’re in Columbus Ohio next month for CXC, stop on by The Village Idiot on Oct 6 to toast the late, great editorial cartooning award (1922-2021).

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