Newsday’s Matt Davies is the 2021 recipient of the “Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning.” The panel of judges also named Robert Ariail, David Horsey, and Marc Murphy as finalists. The award was announced online on Friday, Oct. 8, during Zoomfest ‘21, the virtual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC).
Davies has been the staff cartoonist for Newsday on Long Island since 2014, and has drawn on New York politics for newspapers such as The Journal News and The Village Voice since the early 1990s. Davies’ cartoons are syndicated through Andrews McMeel and appear in media outlets nationwide. He is the recipient of the RFK Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and is the only two-time winner of the Herblock Award.
“Devastating whimsy,” writes Rob Rogers, one of the three judges for the Babin Award. “That is the best way to describe Matt Davies’ impactful political cartoons, populated by funny-looking, rubbery, boneless characters.
“Springing from loose pen lines that look like they were drawn while sitting on a public bus, Davies’ powerful opinions are succinct and tightly executed. Whether targeting the surge of COVID-19 in New York nursing homes, shedding light on Governor Cuomo’s #MeToo imbroglio, or pushing back against state and county police brutality and corruption, Davies’ local political cartoons are stinging and on point.”
“It’s hard to beat Matt Davies,” added judge JD Crowe. “His funky, crosshatched characters are too much fun to watch, their messages too powerful to ignore. Davies doesn’t let up when he’s drawing about local issues. Corruption and nepotism in local police departments, the Long Island Railroad, power companies and school districts—they all get the full-fledged Matt Davies cartoonery Pulitzer power treatment.”
For the first time since the journalism contest was launched in 2017, the panel of judges also named more than one finalist.
“We had another bumper crop of Babin Award entries this year,” noted Crowe. “It does my heart good to see so many diligent cartoonists doing the Lord’s work, giving a voice to the voiceless and sticking it to the would-be bassackward corruptionistas at the local level.”
“Robert Ariail tackles his Charleston, South Carolina territory with a new comic strip titled ‘Low Country,’ the judges commented. “The narrative is driven by local critters—raccoons, turtles and seagulls—who address political, social and environmental issues that affect the whole state. It’s important work staged in a local, charming style.”
“David Horsey is a top shelf cartoonist who treats local issues in The Seattle Times with the same attention to detail as his Pulitzer-winning national work. His vivid imagery and text leave nothing to the imagination as he addresses faulty Boeing airplane designs, the awakening of hibernating neo-fascists in the Northwest or a pandemic-style winter dining scene in Seattle.”
“Marc Murphy’s drawings are simple, his messages powerful. The impact of his art is undeniable. His activist-driven work on the homeless and the Louisville Police Department’s handling of the Breonna Taylor case is devastating, and it has led the way to efforts of police and legislative reform.”
This is the second year in a row that Murphy, who draws 5 cartoons a week for the Louisville Courier-Journal, was a finalist for the Babin Award.
For more information on the award, contact Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher at [email protected] For more information on the AAEC Convention, go to editorialcartoonists.com.