Last night Columbia University and the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the winners and finalists of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize – and comic book artist and editorial cartoonist Pia Guerra came out a finalist for the Illustrated Reporting and Commentary category. 

Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes Marjorie Miller said during the ceremony that Guerra and her work with the Washington Post made the final three,

“for her black and white drawings that offer insightful commentary on the year’s biggest news events”

On seeing the news, Guerra took to Instagram to say: 

“Finalist! Happy day!”

While comics fans typically associate Guerra with the hit Vertigo series Y: The Last Man (2002-2008) that she co-created with writer Brian K. Vaughan, in recent years she has shifted into political cartooning as a response to the 2016 election of Donald Trump. As posted on her website:

“After the 2016 election Pia started posting editorial cartoons online as a way of venting frustration with the alarming turn in politics. After her cartoon Big Boy went viral she was asked to be a regular contributor to the editorial cartooning site During the 4 years of the Trump administration, her work would appear in various publications including the New York Times and the Washington Post.”

In a Beat interview with Andrea Ayres, following the publication of her first collection of editorial cartoons Me The People (published by Image Comics) in 2018, Guerra spoke about the effect turning to editorial cartooning had on her mental well-being at the time:

“As a result of doing the cartoons I don’t feel as sick and helpless as I did then because I’m doing something. It may be small but it feels proactive and that can make a lot of difference during these times. I see the reaction the cartoons are having, the sharing, the kind words (and not so kind words), the conversations coming out them and it feels very positive, like a little bit of order coming out of the chaos.”

Also a finalist in the category was Newsday editorial cartoonist Matt Davies (according to the Pulitzers: “for his sharp editorial perspective on the year’s political figures”). 

The winner of the Illustrated Reporting and Commentary category went to data visualisation artist Mona Chalabi, according to the Pulitzer Board:

“for striking illustrations that combines statistical reporting with keen analysis to help readers understand the immense wealth and economic power of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos”.

Chalabi describes herself as a data journalist, and her data visualisation work has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. She currently is data editor for The Guardian US. You can see much of her work on her Instagram. Her website says that:

“Using words, color and sound, Mona rehumanizes data to better help us understand our world and the way we live in it.”