Tom Toles is a Chip off the Herblock

By KEACH HAGEY | 4/26/11

Political cartooning might seem like it would fall somewhere between astronaut and rock star in a young man's pantheon of possible vocations, but Tom Toles was dragged into it kicking and screaming.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who will be honored Tuesday with the Herblock Prize (named for the legendary late cartoonist Herb Block, whose post Toles took over at The Washington Post in 2002), was initially more interested in rendering social angst of the early 1970s with elaborate three-dimensional illustrations.

He had spent his undergraduate days at the University at Buffalo doing them for the student newspaper, The Spectrum ” launch pad of the journalistic careers of Posties such as Jo-Ann Armao and Howard Kurtz (now with The Daily Beast). During his senior year, Toles showed his illustrations to the editor of the now-defunct Buffalo Courier-Express, Douglas Turner.

Turner hired him part time as a caricature artist and, after a few months, started nudging him toward editorial cartoons.