Arizona Editoonist Steve Benson Retires

After almost 45 year years of editorial cartooning Steve Benson is retiring.

Jim Small, Editor In Chief of The Arizona Mirror, announced Steve’s decision today:

Since the 1980s, he’s been skewering Arizona leaders and politicos on a regular basis, in between reminding us exactly how amazing our state is and how we need to protect both its natural and human resources from the ever encroaching machines of development and misguided (or worse) laws.

Over the past nearly five years, I haven’t had to search far, as Benson has been publishing his work in the Arizona Mirror and I’ve had the joy of editing it and, on occasion, collaborating on his ideas — something that the childhood me marveling at his drawings in The Arizona Republic in the early 1990s couldn’t have fathomed.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and it pains me to say that Benson is stepping out of the workaday world and into retirement. 

It won’t be “goodbye forever,” and I certainly hope that we’ll see the occasional Benson cartoon land in the Arizona Mirror in the weeks, months and years to come. But the two-cartoon-a-week schedule that he’s kept up with us for almost five years has come to a close.

Except for a brief 1990-1991 sojourn to The Tacoma Morning News Tribune, Steve Benson spent almost 40 years at The Arizona Republic, from 1980 to 2019 when the Gannett Co., Inc. laid him off.

In their January 2019 farewell to Steve The Republic mentioned that:

He had his moments. And his controversies. He probably generated more letters to the editor during his tenure than the rest of the staff combined.

For example…

David Fitzsimmons, editorial cartoonist of The Arizona Daily Star, called Steve “Arizona’s finest cartoonist:”

When I started in ’86, Benson enjoyed well-deserved national acclaim. As the years have passed my respect and admiration for Steve has only grown…

A fearless evangelist for democracy, and for social and economic justice, Steve Benson’s peerless line work was confident, his renderings beautiful, his color lush, and his compositions striking. A joy for this cartoonist to behold. Steve’s concepts were consistently powerful, provocative and memorable.

Two months after being let go by The Republic The Arizona Mirror signed the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist:

Did you see Steve Benson’s cartoon today?

Since late January, the answer to that question for Arizonans like myself who grew up with his daily skewering of the powerful on the editorial pages of The Arizona Republic was, sadly, “No,” because Benson was laid off by Gannett, the Republic’s parent company.

But that changes today, as the Arizona Mirror becomes the new home for Benson and his artistic wit and commentary on the state of affairs in Arizona…

We’ll have new Benson cartoons every Tuesday and Friday morning. And the next time someone asks if you saw his latest critique of our leaders, you’ll be able to answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

Now five years later “Arizona’s finest cartoonist” is retiring.

Further reading:

Steve Benson’s Arizona Mirror cartoon archive. And the Creators Syndicate archive.

Steve’s Wikipedia page recounts just a few of the many letter-eliciting cartoons by Benson.

Well done Steve, well done!

above: Steve Benson’s first Arizona Republic cartoon (September 7, 1980)
replacing the esteemed Reg Manning – no small feat

2 thoughts on “Arizona Editoonist Steve Benson Retires

  1. Beginning just after Y2K I read Benson’s cartoons at AzCentral every day until they put up the paywall.
    Always enjoyed his work. Lately followed him on the Mirror.

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