GARRY TRUDEAU: ‘Doonesbury’ creator becomes first cartoonist ever to receive George Polk career award
by Michael Cavna
IN A CAREER of many firsts, Garry Trudeau has just notched another one.The “Doonesbury” creator has just been announced as the recipient of the George Polk career award — the 33rd person to garner the honor, but the first cartoonist to do so.
The Polk Award comes exactly 40 years after “Doonesbury” became the first comic strip ever to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning — for the feature’s satirical commentary on Watergate.
“Doonesbury” was launched into national distribution in 1970 by the fledging Universal Press Syndicate (now Universal Uclick), which recruited Trudeau out of Yale. Over the intervening 45 years, the strip’s intricate universe of recurring characters has grown so steadily, it’s begun to approach triple digits.
Trudeau, of course, is also the creator of the political comedy “Alpha House,” the first show launched by Amazon Studios. (Double disclosure: The Post hosts “Doonesbury’s” website, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post, but you knew that. And that.)
On April 9, Trudeau will speak on a theme near-and-dear to our hearts: the impact of comics in journalism. The talk, titled “Dangerous Lines: Cartoonists and Other Subversives,” will spotlight comics and satire in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The free public event — which will also feature cartoonist/writer Jules Feiffer (a 1961 Polk winner) and The Onion senior writer Django Gold — is the Polk Awards’ David J. Steinberg Seminar, and will be at Long Island University Brooklyn. The following day, the 66th annual Polk Awards will be presented in Manhattan.
Besides Feiffer. the cartoonists who have been recognized for a specific year’s achievement are David Levine (1965), Jeff MacNelly (1977) and Edward Sorel (1980).
Other 2015 Polk recipients include The Post’s Carol D. Leonnig, honored for national reporting for her articles on Secret Service failures and falsehoods. The Polk winners are selected by journalists, as well as faculty and alumni of the university.
George Polk, a CBS News correspondent, was murdered in 1948 while covering the civil war in Greece.
Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.