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Top-drawer drawings

April 23, 2006|Joel Pett | is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up his second Pulitzer Prize for cartoons last week. Luckovich's hand- and heart-aching list of 2,000 U.S. war dead in Iraq was the year's blockbuster image, an echo of the time when the Pulitzer was awarded to a single cartoon, not a portfolio of 20. (You can see them all at www.pulitzer.org.)

The rest of us congratulated Mike, then got down to our stock in trade: griping. Conservatives think the Pulitzer deck is stacked against them. So do avant-garde alt-weekly artists. My complaint is that the cartooning Pulitzer is often picked by veteran journalists whose papers don't employ cartoonists or who have no experience handling the improvised explosive devices we craft every day. They wouldn't recognize a hackneyed cartoon cliche if it were carved into Mt. Rushmore.

I've seen the Pulitzer lottery from both sides, as a juror and winner, and I have a fix: Put only cartoonists, current or past editorial page editors who have worked with cartoonists, and academics who specialize in this field in charge of picking the winner. I have to think they'd still like Mike. -- Joel Pett

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