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Tom Darcy; Won Pulitzer for Editorial Cartoons

Obituaries

December 09, 2000|ELAINE WOO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tom Darcy, a former Newsday editorial cartoonist who won a 1970 Pulitzer Prize for his graphic commentary on the Vietnam War, racism and the plight of the poor, died Wednesday in East Meadow, N.Y., after a long bout with emphysema. He was 67.

Darcy helped usher in a new era in editorial cartooning in the 1960s and 1970s, compelling readers' attention with an uncommon boldness in style and content.

"His drawing style made him different. He didn't draw like me or like Herblock," said Paul Conrad, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. "He used sharper lines. He understood politics. And he put his humor to work in the best way."

Doug Marlette, Newsday's other Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist, once described his former colleague's drawings as having "a stainless steel quality that cut through everything, demanding that you paid attention."

Darcy described his cartoons as "not for the amusement of the comfortable." He was moved by the plight of the less fortunate and afflicted and trusted his instincts to tell him when a target was ripe.

"If it's big and struts through the door," he said in 1997 when he retired from Newsday, "hit it hard."

Among his best works was a drawing of an L-shaped coffin and a sober-faced general saying, "Good news, we've turned the corner in Vietnam."

Another favorite was an image of President Richard Nixon grasping the columns of the White House like jail bars, with the caption "Prisoner of War."

From a later era, a Darcy cartoon showed the imminent collision of two bedraggled street-corner prophets, each bearing a sign. One proclaimed "Doomsday Is Coming!" and the other "The Mideast Is Here!"

Darcy was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island. He studied art at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (later called the School of Visual Arts) and sold his first cartoons--gags for men's magazines--while a student there.

He was hired on the advertising staff of Newsday in 1956, joining the art staff as a cartoonist a year later.

In 1959 he moved to the Phoenix Gazette but lasted less than a year there because of the liberal viewpoints he expressed in his cartoons.

Over the next decade, he worked briefly again in advertising, then returned to cartooning, first for the Houston Post and later for the Philadelphia Bulletin.

In 1968 then-publisher Bill Moyers lured Darcy back to Newsday. Two years later he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

During his four-decade career, Darcy also won three Overseas Press Club awards and a National Headliners award.

Darcy is survived by his wife, Audrey; four children; and a sister.

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