Cartoonist Was Happy to Learn He'd 'Done Something Good'

By: Dave Astor Editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson's name wasn't in the leaked group of finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prizes. So when he was called down to his boss' office this afternoon, he was "not at all prepared," he said, for winning the high honor.

"I was happy to learn I'd done something good," deadpanned the cartoonist, who works at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., during an E&P interview. But, he added a few minutes later: "It feels great."

Anderson said he's especially honored to be picked in a year when there were so many other worthy cartoonists among the finalists and non-finalists.

When submitting for the 2004 Pulitzers a year ago, Anderson included many cartoons opposing the Iraq war. This time, his 20-cartoon package included strong commentary on Iraq, the election, poor Republican ethics, the economy, health care, and gay rights -- as well as a couple of lighter drawings.

"I decided if I did mostly Iraq again, it could look obsessive," he said. "I was careful to have a wide range of issues and approaches." His entries included color cartoons; Anderson left the world of black-and-white during 2004.

Anderson's politics are liberal, but he also believes in what he calls governmental "gridlock." He explained that he has often voted Democratic for president and Republican for Congress because he believes in checks and balances. Now, said Anderson, the government has turned so conservative that it makes him look even more liberal than he is.

The 38-year-old Anderson, who joined The Courier-Journal out of college in 1990, praised his newspaper for being editorial-cartoon friendly at a time when many papers don't have staff cartoonists. "It's just really gratifying for me to see that decision [to hire Anderson] validated for them," he said. "This is a paper that really believes in editorial cartoons."

Anderson's Pulitzer brought words of praise from the Washington Post Writers Group, which has syndicated him for almost a decade.

"I think Nick has deserved this for a long time," said Alan Shearer, WPWG's editorial director/general manager. "He's gotten more and more consistent, and people are starting to recognize it."

Shearer said Anderson submits sketches to WPWG as well as The Courier-Journal (to get all the feedback he can) and that there are days when several drawings are worthy of becoming finished cartoons. "Nick's a really hard worker -- and one of the good guys," commented Shearer.

WPWG Managing Editor James Hill agreed, and added: "Nick's art is very modern and very original. He does genuinely funny cartoons, but also drives his points home well."

Anderson is one of two editorial cartoonists on the WPWG roster, and now both have won Pulitzers. The other is Signe Wilkinson of The Philadelphia Daily News. Also, WPWG distributes "Opus" comic creator Berkeley Breathed, who received an editorial-cartooning Pulitzer for "Bloom County."


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