Editor’s Dispatch: Interview With Kevin Siers

By Tea Fougner

I mentioned last week that Kevin Siers, one of our featured editorial cartoonists, is the recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. We’re exceptionally proud and excited for him!

Kevin was kind enough to answer a few questions about his cartooning for me!

When did you first decide you wanted to be a cartoonist?

It’s very hard to say when I first wanted to be a cartoonist — I guess I ALWAYS wanted to be a cartoonist. I was attempting to draw cartoons even before I knew how to write — imitating the comic strips I saw and putting chicken scratches in the word balloons where I knew the dialog belonged. It took many years and trying a variety of other things, and much work on my drawing skills before I figured out HOW to be a cartoonist. Then patience and perseverance trying to break into the field — much like any other syndicated cartoonist.

What made you gravitate toward political cartooning?

Political discussions were big in my family, and the older I got, the more I thought I had something to contribute. Editorial cartooning combined my interests perfectly — the compulsion to draw and the need to get something off my chest.

Who were some of your favorite cartoonists growing up?  Who are some of your particular inspirations now?

The Sunday comics were my first inspirations, classics such as Popeye and Dick Tracy. I loved Pogo and Little Abner, even if I didn’t understand the satire all the time. In time, Doonesbury was one of the reasons I first subscribed to a newspaper. Also immersed myself in comic books, especially the Marvel titles such as Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. As my interest in editorial cartooning increased, I sought out books by Herblock, Mauldin and Oliphant. I feel I owe a lot to the late Doug Marlette, whose strong cartoons helped nurture a tradition of editorial cartooning here at the Observer, creating an atmosphere where a cartoonist can thrive.

What is some of the work you’ve done this past year that you’re most proud of?

I think the cartoon in my portfolio on gun lobby money influencing Congress is the one I’m most proud of from last year. I was also pleased to see that after going thru the year and selecting my favorite cartoons that there ended up a rough balance between pieces ribbing Obama and those targeting the Republicans.

What was your first reaction to winning?

Hearing about the Pulitzer was a very unreal moment — it’s a most unusual situation for an editorial cartoonist to be standing in a tidal wave of good wishes and congratulations. Brickbats and pitchforks we can understand. Even after they made the announcement and folks were applauding, my first words to my editor were, “Are you sure?”

Thanks so much, Kevin, and congratulations, once again!