Two time Pulitzer Prize Editorial Cartoonist winner (1966, 1980) and five time finalist for the Editorial Cartooning Pulitzer Prize (1982, 1984, 1988, 1993, 2005) Don Wright celebrates his 90th birthday today and in doing so becomes a member of The Daily Cartoonist’s Senior Stripper club (not quite the status symbol as is his Pulitzers).
Wright’s interest in cartoons began when he took a job as copyboy with the Miami News (1952-1956). Although the News refused to move Wright to the art department, on the grounds he probably would be drafted from that job, they did allow him to become a photographer. Wright was subsequently drafted, served in the U.S. Army as a photographer and ultimately returned to the Miami News as graphics editor in December 1958.
Shortly after his rejoining the News, Wright resigned. Not wishing to lose Wright however, the News offered, as a compromise, to publish some of his cartoons. By 1963 Wright had transformed the original one or two cartoons per week, on local issues, into a regular appearance on the editorial page.
Young Wright’s goal was to replace the cartoons The News was using with his own. Quite an objective since the regular cartoonist seen there was The Washington Post’s Herblock and on Herblock’s off days they ran with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bill Mauldin. But as mentioned above Don began with local issues. And giving off a Herblock vibe with the drawing style probably helped.
Above are weekly samples from late 1961. Two years later he was appearing not only more often but on national issues. Then another two years and he is drawing Pulitzer Prize winning material (see “Bluffing” above).
From Don’s Prabook profile:
Wright continued to work for The Miami News until it ceased publication in 1988. In 1989, Wright moved to The Palm Beach Post where he worked until his retirement in August 2008.
Wright”s work has been syndicated by both the Washington (District of Columbia) Star Syndicates and the New York Times Syndicate. As of 2012, Wright continues to draw editorial cartoons distributed by Tribune Media Services.
Below a couple 2008 cartoons from The Palm Beach Post.
The Miami News on Don winning the 1980 Pulitzer: