Tom the Dancing Bug, published weekly here at Boing Boing, was a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist in the Editorial Cartooning category. But the Pulitzer committee decided not to award a prize in that category at all. It's frustrating and baffling, writes Ruben Bolling at the Tom The Dancing Bug Blog.
I don't mind anyone saying this or that cartoonist's work is better than mine. They're probably right, and who's to say? But I absolutely resent the Pulitzer Board saying that my work is definitionally not worthy of a Pulitzer and neither is any of my colleagues' in the entire artform.
The Washington Post covered the Pulitzers' decision to snub the entire category, quoting Ruben.
The decision sparked a flurry of questions and comments on social media, followed by pointed criticism from cartooning outlets and organizations. Common responses amid the backlash were "disappointed," "insulted" and "wrong"— and frustrated a community within journalism that has often felt imperiled, downgraded and disrespected in recent decades.
A clue, perhaps: when in 2018 the winner of the Editorial Cartooning Pulitzer was an "electronic comic book" it scandalized the trade, "dividing the cartooning community".
But it's also a year where everything in politics went wild, and there is a desire among journalists, especially at old media, to return to the old normal. And this means forgetting it ever happened.
Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for work done in the previous calendar year. Alcaraz pointed out that 2020 was a particularly newsworthy year, each day bringing new stories about politics, upheaval and the pandemic. The decision not to award a winner gave the impression that the board didn't think the profession's commentary last year was "valid," Alcaraz said.
In his work last year, Alcaraz tried to cover the concerns of the Latino community, touching on everything from culture to immigration to economics. He wanted to bring a front-line perspective to a larger mainstream audience. But he felt that the Pulitzer Board had just disregarded his work.
"The three finalists this year were a Jewish man; me, a Chicano artist, a Mexican American cartoonist; and a Native American cartoonist," Alcaraz said. "Pick any of us, and it would have made a statement against the tide of hate and racism … in this country. But nah. They tossed it."
It ends on a pointed remark from Ruben:
"I think that if I could ever get a statement that the Pulitzer Board will never give me the prize, I think that was made clear this year," said Bolling, who was also a finalist in 2019. "They would rather throw it in the garbage … than give me the award or any of my colleagues."