United States History Declaration Of Independence

Political cartoonists use their artistic skills to comment on American society and politics. Often, they use metaphor, satire and caricatures to make complex political situations more understandable to the general public.

While many political cartoonists reflect the opinions of the middle political ground, some of the more famous political cartoonists express the views of the very conservative or very liberal.

Historical Political Cartoonists

There have been many political cartoonists who have made an impact on political news, American politics and society. Here’s a list of just a few famous political cartoonists:

  • Daniel Carter Beard (June 12, 1850, to June 11, 1941): Not only was this man the co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, but he was also a political cartoonist whose cartoons helped bring about social reform.
  • Herbert L. Block (Oct. 19, 1909, to Oct. 7, 2001): Also known as Herblock, Block drew political cartoons for the Washington Post for about five decades and is considered one of America’s foremost political cartoonists. Many of Herblock’s political cartoons can be viewed at the Library of Congress.
  • Doug Marlette (Dec. 6, 1949, to July 10, 2007): This left-wing, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist worked for the Tallahassee-Democrat and often described his work as “visual rock ‘n’ roll.” Marlette was killed in an auto accident in Mississippi.
  • Walt McDougall (Feb. 10, 1858, to 1938): There are very few who can claim that their political cartoon helped influence an election. However, many historians cite McDougall’s cartoon negatively depicting Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine as one reason for Blaine’s defeat in the 1884 election.
  • Thomas Nast (Sept. 27, 1840, to Dec. 7, 1902): Nast is one of the more famous political cartoonists in American history. Nast’s cartoon series depicting New York politician William Tweed contributed to the politician’s arrest, incarceration and, according to legend, his apprehension after he had escaped jail.

Contemporary Political Cartoonists

Here’s a list of some contemporary political cartoonists, most of whom are still putting out new political cartoons:

  • Don Asmussen (born 1967): Asmussen’s syndicated strip Bad Reporter satirizes the news with false headlines of events. The subtitle aptly reads, “The lies behind the truth, and the truth behind those lies that are behind that truth.”
  • Tony Auth (May 7, 1942): Once described as “mean, moralistic and optimistic,” Pulitzer Prize-winning Auth has worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1971 and uses irony to show us the face of modern politics.
  • Jeff Danziger (1943): Winner of the 2006 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning, Danziger takes a harsh stance on many political issues, including the Bush administration.
  • David Horsey (1951): A Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Horsey’s cartoons feature both wit and sarcasm.
  • Mike Luckovich (Jan. 28, 1960): As a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning and editorial cartoonist at The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Luckovich is known for using humor to make his political points.
  • Pat Oliphant (July 24, 1935): This Australian-born Pulitzer-winning cartoonist was described by the New York Times as “the most influential cartoonist now working.” Oliphant moved to the United States in 1964.
  • Ben Sargent (1948): A Pulitzer recipient, Sargent used this statement in an interview to describe his political cartoons: “As a newspaper journalist, you’re professionally obligated to be fair, accurate, complete and balanced. But there are two pages in the back of the paper where we’re obligated to be fair, accurate and complete – but we don’t have to be ‘balanced.'”
  • Garry Trudeau (July 24, 1948): Creator of the politically charged cartoon strip Doonesbury, in 1975 Trudeau became the first comic strip illustrator to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.