Lines and Colors art blog

Mike Luckovich

Mike LuckovichMike 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.

There are collections of his cartoons, LOTSA LUCKOVICH and Four More Wars!. The former is out of print, but copies may still be available if his acid-tinged cartoons haven’t eaten through the paper.

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.

Mike Luchovich at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike Luckovich gallery on Pulitzer Prize site

Mike Luckovich Google image search


9 responses to “Mike Luckovich”

  1. I worked with Mike at the AJC for several years. He’s a very polite guy, quiet and closed off from the rest of the staff. His office was a cozy little nook at the back of the editorial department. It could have been a storage closet at one time. His workspace was very cluttered, too.

    He received a lot of criticism and even some death threats from readers who believed he was unfairly attacking Bush. It wasn’t uncommon to see angry crits from readers in a column called the Vent.

  2. and yet he took the time to publicly criticize the Mohammed cartoons….

  3. T.O., thanks for your glimpse of Mike and his working environment.

    Mike wrote to and comfirmed that he does, indeed, draw very quickly, often because he is developing his ideas right up until deadline.

    It’s interesting to note that the comments on his posted cartoons in the AJC site are often filled with heated discussions about the topics of the cartoons and other current happenings. To me this means he is doing what editorial cartoonists do at their best – getting us to pay attention and think about what is going on.

  4. his latest cartoon is a real knee slapper!:

    i mean, thats just awesome isn’t it?

    equating our nation with terrorists who routinely torture, mutilate and decapitate all who oppose them.
    our veterans must really be “paying attention” and thinking about whats going on!

    whats next – Bush as Hitler?

    the guys is a pinhead.

  5. The liberal response might be that if we condone the use of torture, we put ourselves in the position of being compared to others who torture. If you act like your enemy, you become your enemy (and they win).

    More to the point, however, is that Luckovich has done his job as an editorial cartoonist. He has you and I thinking about the issue and discussing it.

  6. More people have been writing with their opinions of Luckovich’s latest cartoons. Even though I occasionally allow politics to color discussions here, lines and colors is about art and not a place to vent about the political divide.

    I will instead refer you to Luckovich’s own blog, where he gives you the opportunity to reply directly about his cartoons, vent and otherwise express your opinion. I think you will find a broad range of opinions and a forum much more suited to heated political debate.

  7. Keith Emery Avatar
    Keith Emery

    “Love it or hate it, you have to admit it makes a powerful statement.”

    Yeah, real powerful. It makes a powerfully hateful statement. It undermines what those people have died for and the mission that their comrades are trying to complete.

    It is cowardly of you to post it here then tell people to go comment somewhere else. If you jab a stick into a hornets nest, you can’t really blame the hornets for taking offense.

  8. You know, I try not to be overtly political in this blog because that’s not what it’s about, but politics and art can’t help but intersect and I occasionally try to reflect that.

    I can’t tell you how much I bite my tongue and try not to use the blog as a platform for my own political views, which is why I try not to make these posts platforms for political argument, but occasionally I just get pissed off.

    Obviously, you feel that the Bush administration’s claims that this monumental foreign policy blunder can be solved by throwing more of our young men and women into the meat grinder of their arrogant exercise in regime change and “nation building” are justified.

    I do not.

    I have relatives and friends in Iraq and I want them home. They never should have been there in the first place.

    The fact that the perception of this ill-conceived and horribly mismanaged war as a tragic mistake is just dawning on the American public, and the slumbering and complacent news media, in the last few years is unbelievable. It was painfully, screamingly obvious to me not only at the time, but a full year before.

    The very day that George W. Bush was elected I turned to the people in the room with me, some of whom are now over there, and I said in these exact words: “We will be at war within a year, probably with Iraq”. Exact words! A year before it started!

    Why this came as a surprise to the “experts’, “pundits” and head in the sand news media is beyond my comprehension.

    Hopefully, if you believe in the administration’s policies, you’re ready to volunteer yourself, or your children, to go carry them out (unlike the key members of the administration themselves, none of whom have family in Iraq).

    Personally, I want my relatives and friends back. Now.

  9. Gary kleiner Avatar
    Gary kleiner

    I’m a fellow artist, I don’t follow politics, but his lines and scribbles show such emotion, he is my favorite cartoonist.

    Gary kleiner