By: Jennifer Hoyt, Associated Press Writer
(AP) More than 500 fans of Herbert Block remembered him Monday as a brilliant political cartoonist who drew with an acid pen but was kindhearted and playful.
“It was the ultimate paradox that this toughest of cartoonists was the nicest of guys,” said Donald Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post Co., where Block worked for nearly 55 years.
Block, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner who drew under the name “Herblock,” died of pneumonia Oct. 7. He was 91. The memorial service was held at Washington National Cathedral.
Block’s work appeared in more than 300 newspapers. Known for his biting humor, Block so angered the politicians he covered that two presidents — Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower — canceled subscriptions to the Post.
Block’s targets “would wince and wail when his roastings of them appeared and then would call up to request autographed copies,” said Robert Asher, a Post editorial writer.
President Clinton — who wasn’t spared the skewering — awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1994.
Asher recalled Block’s wearing a helmet with a flashing light bulb and playfully sticking his head in offices at the Post to announce, “Hey, I’ve got an idea.”
“He was not only ‘Herb Block, the best in our business.’ He was ‘Herb Block, the clown,'” Asher said.
Of those who will never open a newspaper to find Block’s cartoons, Graham said, “Their loss, and our incalculable gain to have been the contemporaries of a giant who was also a lovely man.”
For more on Herblock, please see Dave Astor’s column this week.