Joe Strupp, E&P
OCTOBER 23, 2009 — The new president of the AAEC says more attention needs to
be given to those who draw about local and regional issues, not just
Rex Babin of The Sacramento Bee, who took over as association president last month, says too many competitions — including The
Pulitzer Prizes — often favor the cartoonists known for drawing about
issues such as the economy, Iraq, and health care.
But he contends those who know local and regional
issues, such as state politics, city hall topics and local figures,
actually provide as much, if not more, of a service to readers.
"There are a lot of exceptional local cartoonists out
there doing exceptional work on state and local subjects," says Babin,
a 10-year Bee editorial cartoonist who admits he includes himself among
those cited. "Cartoon competitions should take them into account when
reviewing their work. Cartoonists are trying bold, non-conventional
approaches that include local issues, not the widely publicized events
that most people cover."
When asked if that included the Pulitzers, he said,
"very much so." He added, "It takes a lot more work trying to
understand the background of a topic not everyone is familiar with.
There are some artists doing great work on subject matter not everyone
knows about — work that is having an effect in the local community."
Pulitzer Board Chair Anders Gyllenhaal of The Miami
Herald could not be reached for comment Friday morning. But Pulitzer
Administrator Sig Gissler said of the Pulitzers'editorial cartooning
competition: "it is certanly open to the full range of cartoonists. We
welcome local cartoonists as well."
Babin, a Pulitzer finalist in 2003, said he does not
discount the work of those who focus on national or foreign topics. But
he plans to do more with the association to promote the local
cartoonists' efforts as much as those who target national topics and
"I am looking forward to trying to help educate people
out there that our membership is comprised of cartoonists of diverse
backgrounds and practicing different approaches and disciplines in
their editorial cartooning," he said. "I want to bring attention to
Babin is seeking to create a kind of traveling exhibit
of editorial cartoonists' work, of all types, that can tour the nation.
"It will also include work that is done online as well," he said,
noting the growing use of animation by newspaper cartoonists. "I also
plan to send out the message to various journalism groups out there to
try to point out all of the work being done."
Joe Strupp is a senior editor at E&P.