Cartoonist Doug Marlette Dies in Car Accident

By: Dave Astor

Doug Marlette, who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1988, died this morning in a single-car accident near Holly Springs in northwest Mississippi. He was 57.

Marlette was with the Tulsa (Okla.) World at the time of his death. Prior to joining that paper in 2006, he worked for the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat, Newsday of Melville, N.Y., The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.

His editorial cartoons were syndicated by Tribune Media Services, which also distributed Marlette’s “Kudzu” comic strip. And the North Carolina native was a novelist who wrote “The Bridge” and “Magic Time.”

In a Web story about Marlette’s death, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., reported that the cartoonist was a passenger in the vehicle. And a Tulsa World article quoted John Garrison, the coroner in Mississippi’s Marshall County, as saying: “Evidently it hydroplaned, left the highway, and struck the tree. There was heavy rain in the area at the time.”

According to the World, Marlette had been in Charlotte for the funeral of his father, Elmer Monroe Marlette, who was buried Friday. He was on his way to see friends in Oxford, Miss., at the time of the accident.

Robert E. Lorton III, publisher and president of the Oklahoma paper, said: ‘”This is a great tragedy, not only for the Tulsa World family, but for all who knew Doug.”

Kathleen Parker, the Washington Post Writers Group (WPWG) columnist who knew Marlette, said when contacted by E&P: “I am speechless and breathless, absolutely spinning from this horrible, horrible news. I can’t begin to tell you what a loss this is. To me and to all his friends, personally. But also to the great big world that will only know in his absence how much he delivered. He was a force of nature and an artist in every sense of the word.”

Nick Anderson, the Houston Chronicle/WPWG creator and president-elect of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, said: “This is really shocking. He was only 57. It’s a loss to the world of cartooning. He was a respected member of our profession. There will be a conspicuous absence on the pages of American newspapers. I’d like to extend my sympathies to his family.”

Marlette is survived by his wife, Melinda, and his adult son, Jackson.

Tulsa World Web Editor Jason Collington told E&P that a slideshow of Marlette’s cartoons has been posted on the paper’s Web site .

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