Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Mighty Pen Is Stilled: Remembering Doug Marlette

Doug Marlette was one of the finest of one of the misunderstood and endangered newsroom species, the editorial cartoonist.
Now comes word that Marlette was killed today in a one-car crash on a rain-slicked road in Mississippi. He was 57.
Beyond being consistently funny, what made him a must-read was that he was an equal-opportunity offender, as he was happy to define himself.
"Cartoons are windows into the human condition," he told the Tulsa World, when he joined that newspaper last year. "It's about life."
Marlette also drew the syndicated comic strip Kudzu, collaborated on a musical version of the strip, and wrote two well-received novels. But it will be the political cartoons, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, that will best define his legacy (the cartoon above is from his Pulitzer portfolio).
Given the turmoil that has roiled the newspaper industry, Marlette felt lucky there were still newspapers around who would put up with someone like him. After all, only about 80 papers have cartoonists, down from 200 as recently as the 1980s.
As he wrote in the Tulsa World last year: "There's something about cartoons, by definition unruly, tasteless and immature, that brings out the ayatollah in even the most permissive of adults."
And Marlette was as unruly as they come.

1 comment:

John said...

As a longtime newspaper editor, I can attest to what Doug said about political cartoons bringing out the ayatollah in people. Even level-headed readers respond to them as if the cartoons have a magical power to change people's minds. Political cartoons are so un-PC that I have to love them and hope they outlive us all. Rest in peace, Doug.