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CSBG Archive

A Month of Pulitzer Prize Winning Cartoons – Day 28

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 1940 award-winning cartoon.


I’ve already shown you Edmund Duffy’s first two Pulitzer Prize winning cartoons, now I will show you the final one of his three (only three cartoonists have three Pulitzer Prizes for Editorial Cartooning, Duffy, Rollin Kirby and Herbert Block).

This cartoon also is a great debate point in the discussion about whether labels are good when it comes to editorial cartoons.

Look at the following cartoon, titled “The Outstretched Hand,” from 1939, made to denounce Hitler…

Now, let me ask – do the labels in the piece make it a STRONGER work? While Duffy would obviously have to change things a bit if there were no labels, he would not have to change THAT much, would he? Is the point he is trying to make in the cartoon not clear withOUT the labels?

Let me know what you think!


Well, “peace offer” is pretty explicit through the bloody handshake, but without the label “minorities,” I would think the artist was referring to the hardships visited upon the German people, the nations invaded, or all of Europe. Ironically (and awfully), the people made to suffer due to their supposed ‘racial inferiorities’ can’t be depicted as a single caricature.

Looking at Duffy’s previous entries, he definitely uses fewer labels than many. In some hands (even the stars featured in this series) the 1931 winner could easily have ‘established religious tradition’ on the cross, or the 1934 cartoon could have ‘victims of vigilante justice’ on the bodies. This implies Duffy understood his readers had a familiarity with current events, and I imagine that when he used a label he felt it was necessary to get his point across.

Boy, Hitler sure was a bastard. This is a good cartoon.

I do think the labels help… Otherwise, HItler might just be saying “Hello” or “Welcome”, rather than making a “Peace Offer”…

Powerful stuff though.

I’ve enjoyed this month, thank you , Brian!

Anyone paying attention at the time would have known that Hitler’s offer of “peace” meant, “you give me everything I want, then we’ll have peace, at least until I want more”.

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