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A Month of Pulitzer Prize Winning Cartoons – Day 11

I thought it would be an interesting look into our nation’s political cartoon history if, this month, I took a look at a different editorial cartoon each day that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Do note that we’re talking basically 1922-1967 here, as since then, the Committee has almost always awarded cartoonists generally for their work, not for an exemplary single cartoon. So in many ways, this is a snapshot of American politics (for better or for worse) over a forty-five year period. Here is an archive of the cartoons featured thus far.

Today we look at Edmund Duffy’s 1931 award-winning cartoon.


I featured Edmund Duffy (1899-1962) in the Month of Political Cartooning Stars.

Duffy was a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, and the 1931 Award was given out for the following cartoon, titled “An Old Struggle Still Going On”…

The late 1920s and the early 30s were the beginning of the anti-Communism heyday in the United States, and one of the major rallying points was that Communism was anti-religion.

Duffy was a devout Irish Catholic, and he often worked religious icons into his drawings, so this was one of the rare instances that he got mad (or as mad as Duffy ever got – he was an extremely even keel sort). Duffy generally just did “news report” cartoons, he rarely editorialized unless he was particularly interested in an issue.

Here, what he saw as anti-religionism certainly struck a chord with him. His other hot button issue was lynching. Some of his best work ever was in response to lynchings.

Amusingly enough, the same year that Pulitzer Prize committee awarded Duffy the prize for the above cartoon (which is a well-drawn, well-executed cartoon, but it’s also more than a bit of a safe topic for ridicule), Duffy drew perhaps his most famous lynching cartoon, the extremely powerful “Maryland, My Maryland,” which drew a great deal of hostility towards the Baltimore Sun, Edmund Duffy and journalist – and Duffy peer – HL Mencken.

Now THAT’s a powerful work right there!

It is a shame that the committee rewarded such a safe cartoon instead.


I wonder if that Pulitzer was mostly in recognition of the latter cartoon but to avoid further controversy it was “officially” made for the former? Similar to how various actors & directors winning Oscar’s for films that aren’t nearly as good as their work that was passed over three or four years earlier.

The lynching cartoon is infinitely more striking the the anti-religionist one. It’s kind of hard to imagine it just being passed over.

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