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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoonist Doug Marlette Dies at 57

July 10, 2007 at 6:45 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, remembering cartoonist Doug Marlette. Jeffrey Brown has that story.

JEFFREY BROWN: Doug Marlette once said that cartoons are a window into the human condition. The North Carolina-born Marlette, who joined the Tulsa, Oklahoma, World last year, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his editorial cartooning at both the Charlotte Observer and the Atlanta Constitution.

His strip, Kudzu, syndicated worldwide, deals humorously with rural southern life and features characters such as Reverend Will B. Dunn. In a 1988 NewsHour profile, Marlette explained what makes a good cartoon.

DOUG MARLETTE, Editorial Cartoonist: What I like in cartoons, what I like to do is to express my way of seeing things with humor and with emotion. I like cartoons that are simple and direct and get at some essence in a situation or in a politician that move me, that make me feel something. You know, I like cartoons that kind of knock you back over the breakfast table.

JEFFREY BROWN: Recent cartoons showed Marlette still taking on favorite subjects: daily life, “iPhone, therefore I am”; and politicians on all sides, in this one on Hillary Clinton, a staffer says, “I told you not to let her see her latest polls; and here, poking Rudy Giuliani, a viewer says, “Personally, I don’t see what any of his wives saw in him.”

In 1996, Marlette told Jim Lehrer how he sees his role.

DOUG MARLETTE: The best cartoons are naturally anarchist, in some sense, and they are actually more artist than policymakers or wonks or whatever. And the best ones are giving their vision or their way of seeing things and simply holding it up and letting the world look through their eyes. Like a good athlete, you’re trying to get the world to play your game.

JEFFREY BROWN: Doug Marlette died today in an auto accident in Mississippi. He was 57 years old.