Lines and Colors art blog

Tony Auth

Tony Auth
People who enjoy reading the days’ editorial cartoon feel lucky if they live in a city where the editorial cartoonist in the major paper is one they like.

I’m fortunate to live in the Philadelphia area where we have two (count ’em, two) terrific cartoonists that I like: Tony Auth, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Signe Wilkerson in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Tony Auth has been the editorial cartoonist for the Inquirer (which happens to be a great paper, even if it is being gutted by cost cutting like the rest of the nation’s great papers), for over 30 years. Auth drew cartoons for his college newspaper at UCLA. He started a career as a medical illustrator, but kept drawing cartoons for the UCLA Daily Bruin and eventually joined the staff of the Inquirer as their editorial cartoonist in 1971. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Inquirer.

When he started, he was a brash, headstrong, angry young maverick, hot to expose injustice, fraud, idiocy and corruption in government and wherever else he encountered it. Delightfully, the subsequent years don’t seem to have changed him that much.

Right off the bat, Auth ran against the current of drawing styles among editorial cartoonists at the time, presaging today’s somewhat more divergent array of styles. Where most editorial cartoonists favored more highly rendered images, utilizing cross hatching, croquille board or heavy washes to create detailed drawings, Auth chose a style that leans more toward the pared down ink line and subtle wash drawings of sophisticated magazine gag cartooning. Except for their obvious political content, Auth’s cartoons would not look out of place in the pages of The New Yorker.

There is a delightful efficiency in his his linework that goes straight to the point, much like the writing of his cartoons. Where others might devote a lot of detail to their caricature of political leaders, or go through a lot of machinations to make a point, Auth makes his statement with a few carefully chosen lines.

Auth has won numerous awards. In 1976 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning and in 2002 he won the infrequently awarded Thomas Nast Prize, named for the father of American political cartooning. (See my post on Thomas Nast.)

There is an archive of Auth’s cartoons on the Universal Press Syndicate GoComics page

For reasons that completely elude me, the Inquirer doesn’t have a single, easily bookmarked web page for accessing the latest Auth cartoon. You have to find your way to the editorial page and then click on “Today’s Auth Cartoon” at the top of the center column. Or, you can go to good ol’ Slate Magazine, which actually knows how to do an online publication, and gets it right with an easily bookmarked Tony Auth page.

Open note to the Philadelphia Inquirer online edition: Umm… just a thought, but if you’re trying to increase traffic, and you have a cartoonist of this caliber, instead of burying him three clicks in, you might put a nice big, colorful “Today’s Auth Cartoon” button on the home page and make it easy to bookmark. You think?

Tony Auth bio and current cartoon on Slate “Cartoonbox”

Archive on GoComics

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Page


2 responses to “Tony Auth”

  1. John B. Pierce Avatar
    John B. Pierce

    As a haplessly tyro political cartoonist myself, I have long admired the great minimalistic work of Tony Auth. As a lifelong, native Angeleno, I grieve that I live in a community that has NO real political cartoonist being carried in its ONLY newspaper, the Tribune Publishing Co. abused Los Angeles Times. (Well, there IS the great Patrick O’Connor in the L.A. Daily News, but try buying that newspaper outside of the San fernando Valley…)

    The Times had carried the ultra-right-wing whining of one Michael Ramirez up to December of last year… And then, the money-grubbing shareholders of the Trib decreed the Times (and other former Times-Mirror newspapers) needed to trim back their personnel to improve the shareholders’ bottom line. And suddenly, Ramirez is drawing his cranky Bush-apologist crud for Investors Business Daily in full color… but you’re lucky to see even an illustration show up on the Times’ op-ed pages. And starving fools like me? They won’t want my ink — other than on my personal checks for the subscription renewal. (I still have my last renewal bill that I never had the chance to pay for the late, great L.A. Herald Examiner; it’s been tacked to my apartment wall since Thursday, Nov. 2, 1989. Great Hearst paper they let die; it loved trying out new writers and artists…)

    Ask me nicely enough and I’ll share some of my bilge with you and your readers… I was referred to your blog by one Donna Woodka, the propreitor of Changing Places (at ).

    What’s black and white and DEAD all over? #30#

  2. Great topic! I love editorial cartoons, and I’ve always felt that the artists never got enough recognition:)