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 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 Frank Miller’s 1963 award-winning cartoon.
It is pretty remarkable, when you think about it, that the Des Moines Register has had its political cartoonist win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning a stunning THREE times. The first two were for Ding Darling, and that was sort of expected, as Darling passed up the big name papers in New York to move back to Iowa. Darling’s successor, though, Frank Miller, was a Midwest man, through and through, only leaving the Midwest for tours of duty in World War II and the Korean War.
Miller began his career in Kansas City at the Kansas City Star before moving to Iowa and taking over the lead editorial cartoonist gig at the Des Moines Register in 1953 (Darling had retired in 1949). He stayed at the paper until his death in 1983.
Miller was an institution in Iowa for decades, but unlike Darling, he was not nationally syndicated until 1981, just two years before his death!
So with his lack of a national profile considered, it’s quite remarkable that he was renowned enough for the Prize Committee to award him the 1963 prize for this fairly straightforward yet powerful anti-war (specifically anti-Nuclear Weapons) cartoon, titled, appropriately enough, the dialogue that the one figure is saying to the other, nicely satirizing the folly of nuclear conflict, “I said — we sure settled that dispute, didn’t we!”
By the way, amusingly enough, I’ve found at least one Who’s Who that confused Miller with the legendary comic book creator, Frank Miller (once you toss in the popular newspaper comic STRIP artist of the same name, and damned if you can think of a single name better represented in comic history!).