Mike Luckovich doesn’t pull his punches.
Luckovich has been the editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 18 years. Sometimes his cartoons earn him vitriol and threatening letters and sometimes they earn him editorial acclaim. They often bring him both simultaneously.
When he goes after a public figure he considers foolish, irresponsible or even reprehensible, he shoots with a fully loaded pen. For example, he portrays Ann Coulter, (who recently accused widows of the World Trade Center disaster, who had pushed for the formation of the 9-11 Commision and come out in support of Democratic candidates, of “enjoying their husbands’ deaths”, in an attempt by Coulter to stir up controversy and increase sales of her new book), as drooling, acid-blooded alien (image at left, top, his blog entry here).
One of the cartoons that simultaneously earned him threats and accolades (and probably had an influence on his receipt of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning) was a remarkably unique piece of editorial image creation. He sat down at a larger than normal sheet of board and hand-lettered the 2000 names of the soldiers who had been killed in Iraq at that point in time, arranging them in the form of the word “Why?” (image at left, middle and detail, bottom – click on image here for large version). Love it or hate it, you have to admit it makes a powerful statement.
Luckovich’s drawing style doesn’t pull any punches either, His loose, unrestrained linework and frenetic hatching look as if his drawings were created at a furious pace, his pen too charged with emotion to make more careful lines. I have no idea how carefully he actually draws, it’s just that his finished drawings have the look to me of frantic activity driven by some unspeakable urgency.
Luckovich won the Pulitzer prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1995, and was awarded it again this year. He was also awarded the Reuben this year, the National Cartoonist Society’s award for cartoonist of the year. (You can find a fascinating history of the Ruben winners from 1946 to 2003, with bios and artwork, on the NCS site.)
His official site at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a selection of his previous cartoons, but it’s not that easy to browse, and the gallery of available reprints is crippled with watermarking (see my rant about watermarking in yesterday’s post), so you may want to just do a Google image search. There is a good gallery of his cartoons on the Pulitzer Prize site.
I heard an interview with Luckovich on the radio and he actually sounded soft-spoken and deliberate, but his cartoons come at you like buckshot at a quail hunt.