By Stuart Leavenworth
Sacramento Bee Editorial Page Editor
The Sacramento Bee has been running original editorial cartoons since 1857, when it first started publishing. Today, we are excited to announce the hiring of a new editorial cartoonist – Jack Ohman, formerly of The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.
Ohman is known as an avid fly fisherman, and for The Bee and Sacramento, his hiring is a major catch. Few cartoonists working today have been so widely lauded and published. At age 19, Ohman was the youngest cartoonist to be nationally syndicated, and his work now appears in more than 300 publications nationwide through Tribune Media Services.
During his career, Ohman has won nearly every major prize in his profession, including those from Sigma Delta Chi, the Overseas Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. In 2012, he won the Scripps Howard Journalism Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Announcing his departure from The Oregonian on Monday, Ohman, 52, said: “I feel like I’m at the peak of my career.” He is. Over the last year, he has ripped into Nike’s Phil Knight for continuing to stick by Joe Paterno in the midst of Penn State’s sex abuse scandal. Following Ohman’s blistering series of cartoons, Portland-based Nike ended up renaming its “Joe Paterno Child Development Center.”
More recently, Ohman has been having fun with OR-7 — the wolf that has wandered into Oregon and California – launching a tongue-in-cheek campaign (along with bumper stickers and posters) to promote OR-7 for president.
The analogy is apt. Like wolves suddenly released back into the wild, the best editorial cartoonists send a charge through political ecosystems that have grown lazy and unchallenged. When Ohman joins The Bee’s editorial board in January, he will undoubtedly set his sights on the power brokers at the Capitol and City Hall. Expect him to file at least five cartoons a week, two or three of which will be focused on state or local issues.
A native of Minnesota, Ohman becomes the fourth staff editorial cartoonist at The Bee since the newspaper hired Newton
Pratt in 1939. Dennis Renault followed Pratt in 1971, and when Renault retired, he was replaced by our friend and great colleague Rex Babin. Babin, 49, passed away in March of this year after a 15-month struggle with cancer.
While there is no way we will ever forget Rex and his phenomenal work, I know he’d be proud that The Bee is continuing its cartooning tradition at a time when many newspapers are abandoning it.
Babin and Ohman were friends and friendly competitors, both active in the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. I can’t think of a better cartoonist to build on the legacy of Rex Babin.
—The Sacramento Bee,
November 16, 2012