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BEST EDITORIAL CARTOONS OF THE YEAR 1989 Edition Edited by Charles Brooks (Pelican: $9.95)

June 25, 1989

The 17th collection in this series fails to live up to its title for the same reason as the previous installments. The most innovative cartoonists in the United States tend to be liberals; Brooks prefers conservative ideology to artistic excellence.

Of the 14 cartoonists who have won the Pulitzer Prize since the series began, only six are included. Pat Oliphant, Herb Block (Herblock), Tony Auth, Jeff MacNelly and Don Wright are conspicuously absent. In their place, Brooks presents derivative, second- and third-rate work that lacks the incisive edge needed to fix an image in the reader's mind. The weakest drawings also reflect fuzzy thinking: One cartoon calls for a "happy medium" between "The Polluters' World" and "The Environmentalists' World," which suggests that certain levels of pollution may be desirable.

This anthology will entertain hard-line conservatives, but it fails to present the best of American political cartooning.

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