[Editor's note: Throughout his life, Rex Babin championed those who focused on state and local issues in editorial cartoons, a field that he and other cartoonists felt was regularly overlooked by journalism contests. The "Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning" was launched in 2017 to celebrate those working in this niche. To that end, we will be showcasing each cartoonist who entered the contest this year, one or two each day, leading up to the announcement of the winner on Saturday, Sept. 22, during the AAEC Convention in Sacramento, CA.]
First up is Robert Ariail, cartoonist for The State in Columbia, SC. While Ariail is syndicated nationally through United Features/Universal Uclick, he estimates half of his cartoons are on South Carolina. He has won numerous awards, including the SCPA President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts — South Carolina’s highest honor in the arts.
[Editor's note: Since the AAEC sent out a call for entries, Robert Ariail has been let go from The State. It should be noted that this is the second time the cartoonist has been dropped from his newspaper "for budgetary reasons."]