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[1981 · Dayton Daily News · Editorial Cartooning]

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PETERS’ CARTOONS MIXED HUMOR WITH POINTED MESSAGES

In 1981, the Dayton Daily News won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning because of the work done by their cartoonist Mike Peters.

Peters has been working for the Dayton Daily News since 1969. His editorial cartoons were national syndicated in 1972, and they now appear in more than 400 newspapers.

Peters’ cartoons submitted to the Pulitzer board were from 1980. That year, he covered a wide range of topics in his political cartoons, including the Equal Rights Amendment, gun control and President Jimmy Carter.

Many of Peters’ cartoons in 1980 were more lighthearted, although they still contained pointed messages. One cartoon depicted a woman whose child had a foot growing out of his head because he grew up by a nuclear reactor. The tagline read “He’s grown a foot since I saw him last…” These cartoons are similar in tone to his comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm, which was syndicated in 1984 and continues to this day.

Nor was Peters afraid to cover controversial subjects. These cartoons tended to be darker and more discomforting than some of his more satirical work. In one cartoon, he drew a woman in a dirty and rat-infested back alley trying to get an abortion. She was saying “Justice Burger sent me.” The text refers to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Burger, along with four other justices, voted against federal funding for medically necessary abortions in Harris v. McRae.

Peters was born in St. Louis in 1943 and graduated with a BFA in 1965 from Washington University, where he drew cartoons for the student newspaper. His first job after college was with the Chicago Daily News, until he joined the Army. After serving two years, his mentor, cartoonist Bill Maudlin, helped him land a job at the Dayton Daily News in 1969.

by Lindsey Gump
PULITZER ENTRY MATERIALS:

Click the slideshow below to see larger versions of the cartoons submitted with Peters’ entry, or view the cartoons as PDFs here.

MORE INFORMATION:

The website for Peters’ cartoons, which includes his comic strip, Mother Goose & Grimm, and his political cartoons from the Dayton Daily News.

An interview from WUCF-TV in Florida, in which Peters talks about his history with cartooning and working for the Dayton Daily News.

The Dayton Daily News’ picks for the best Mike Peters cartoons of the decade.