Although political cartoonists are an endangered species — as are the newspapers that once carried them — two have won a bit of vindication this week:
By now, you have probably all heard the saga of Mark Fiore, whose short web-cartoons make him a political animator rather than a political cartoonist, but who’s counting these days. Fiore struck a blow for multimedia everywhere when he won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for cartooning. That triumph was soon cause for some embarrassment to Apple, as it was revealed that they had rejected Fiore’s iPhone app on the grounds that it “ridiculed public figures.” “That’s a tough one to get around if you’re a political cartoonist.” Fiore is said to have observed.
Strangely, winning the Pulitzer seems to have inspired Apple to review their policies, and the app can now be purchased here. But even more impressively, Fiore-gate was so embarrassing that even the almighty Steve Jobs deigned to comment on it directly, stating, “This was a mistake that’s being fixed,” when asked about the matter by a customer.
And in another moment of post-rejection vindication, a laid-off cartoonist has won a Robert K. Kennedy Award. Bill Day was given the boot by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis last year, but was just given the award — which recognizes “outstanding reporting on the issues that defined the life and work of Robert F. Kennedy: human rights, social justice and the power of individual action”– for a series of “cartoons that shed light on the continuing problem of infant mortality in America, especially among minority populations.”
The day he was laid off, Day told Comic Riffs: “I don’t understand why, when you’re going to a visual medium [online], why you want to get rid of cartoonists. It’s made for cartoonists. … We’re like the Jiminy Cricket of the newspaper. We’re the conscience.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.