Pat Bagley, long-time political cartoonist at The Salt Lake Tribune , is this year's winner of the Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning.
The prize is awarded annually by the Herb Block Foundation for "distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous standards" set by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Herblock during his seven-decade career.
"I'm pretty jazzed. This is one of the highlights of my life. Short of the Pulitzer, the Herblock Prize is the biggest one you can get," Bagley said.
Bagley will receive the prize April 2 in a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He will receive a $15,000 cash award and a silver trophy.
Tribune Editor Nancy Conway called Bagley, 53, a "remarkable person" and a "wonderful artist" who holds Utah up to itself for self-reflection.
"And he does that with affection, but with a critical eye as well. He can make us laugh at ourselves and understand our own humanity. That is a gift. Utah, without him, would be less than it is," said Conway.
Bagley was the unanimous choice of judges -Garry Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury comic strip; Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and John Sherffius, editorial cartoonist at the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado.
"If The New Yorker published political cartoons, Bagley would be their main man," Trudeau said in a statement released Wednesday by the foundation.
"Bagley's drawings have the looseness of back-of-the-envelope dispatches, yet the speedy strokes belie a rigorous compositional discipline. These are good-looking cartoons," Trudeau said.
Feiffer praised Bagley's "fresh, direct and witty style in both his ideas and his art," and Sherffius said, "There is no doubt where Pat Bagley stands on the issues."
Bagley is the son of a Republican mayor of Oceanside, Calif. He credits former President George W. Bush for turning him away from the party.
"He radicalized me," said Bagley, who describes himself today as a "liberal independent."
Bagley's cartoons appear five times a week on the editorial page of The Tribune , which he joined in 1979.
He traces his career back to a finance class at Brigham Young University in 1978, when the LDS Church-owned school was being sued for refusing to let male and female students live in the same off-campus buildings.
Into his class notes, he doodled a political cartoon depicting feminist and former Congresswoman Bella Abzug under the escort of two National Guardsmen. Abzug, carrying a suitcase, is greeted at an apartment door by a male student, who says, "hey guys, our new roommate is here."
The cartoon is reminiscent of nine black students being escorted by National Guard troops into an all-white Little Rock, Ark., high school in 1958. Bagley submitted it to BYU's student newspaper, which agreed to print it. The cartoon, his first, was reprinted in Time magazine a few weeks later.
"And it's been downhill ever since, until the prize," Bagley said.
Bagley will attend the award ceremony with his two sons. News commentator and former host of ABC's Nightline program Ted Koppel will deliver the 2009 Herblock Lecture at the ceremony.
Herb Block, better known as Herbert Block, spent most of his career drawing political cartoons at The Washington Post . He won Pulitzers in 1942, 1954 and 1979.
Block created the term "McCarthyism" to describe the prosecutorial tactics of Communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.