Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoonist Satires Politics

Posted in: G-Town News- Oct 28, 2010 No Comments

Mark Fiore, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his animated cartoons this past April, told Georgetown faculty and students Oct. 27 that it’s a “strange, wonderful time” to be working in his field.

In his talk “Political Satire: Serious Implications for Today’s Politics,” the 40-year-old artist said that the midterm elections and political divisions in the country are all fertile ground for cartoonists.

Sketchbook as Brain
“My sketchbook is my brain, I make notes until something jumps out at me,” said Fiore, who held up a large drawing pad to show a cartoon in progress. “I’m always trolling for a topic, for news.”

Fiore came to Georgetown for its second In the Spirit of Mark Twain lecture, sponsored by the university’s Graduate Liberal Studies and Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism programs.

He has satirized everything from the Tea Party to President Obama.

Cartoons and Democracy
Fiore said political cartoons play an important role in a democracy by asking questions and mirroring society.
“Without cartoonists, sometimes important issues get buried, and it’s precisely because cartoonists can use humor to make things more understandable that they can educate all of us,” said Denise Li, associate dean of the journalism program.

The Pulitzer jury picked Fiore for his “biting wit, extensive research and ability to distill complex issues set a high standard for an emerging form of commentary.”

The Twain Tradition
The award was the first given to political cartoonist whose work is entirely online.

“One of the benefits of doing animation is that you have the ability to explain more than you do in a single-panel print political cartoon,” said Fiore. “Like explaining mortgage-backed securities – how are you going to do that in a single-panel print cartoon?”

He said Mark Twain knew a lot about teaching people through humor.

“Rather than writing a huge diatribe on abolition or women’s suffrage, he made characters [and] turned things into something accessible for more people,” Fiore said,  “and that’s a big part of what I’m trying to do.

“I love cartoons and being funny, but that’s not the end all be all for me,” he said. “It’s always got to be for a purpose.”

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