‘RIFFS PICKS OF THE WEEK: 2011 Pulitzer winner Mike Keefe calls it quits; and five cartoons for your holiday cheers


MAGIC “POLITICAL” EYE: From Mike Keefe's Pulitzer Prize-winning portfolio. (Mike Keefe/Denver Post / courtesy of Cagle.com)

PERHAPS IT’S JUST the nature of a man who lives a mile high, but Mike Keefe has decided to go out on top.

And what a peak it’s been.

Even given his illustrious dossier, Keefe has had a career year in 2011:

In March, the Rocky Mountain political cartoonist won the Fischetti award — the fourth time he’d done so.

In April, Keefe won the Pulitzer Prize — the first time he had done so.

And now, over the holiday weekend, word got out that Keefe has decided to accept a buyout offer after more than 35 years at the Denver Post.

Keefe’s last day at the Post will be Tuesday, reports his syndicator, Daryl Cagle.


“Now, I’m excited about the possibilities in moving on. I will still keep my hand in, drawing occasionally for the syndicate,” Cagle Cartoons.

Few cartoonists can match Keefe for longevity as a single newspaper. Keefe told Comic Riffs in 2009, when he won the Berryman Award: “I applaud the diminishing number of newspapers that value cartooning enough to keep a full-timer on staff.”

Keefe’s predecessors in the Post perch were two legends: Paul Conrad and the still-ever-active Pat Oliphant . So will the Post seek to continue its political cartooning legacy with a new hire.

“I’ve not heard a definitive answer on that one,” Keefe tells Comic Riffs. “The editorial editor thinks its doubtful. Maybe after the buyout period ends and management sorts the beans, they might find something left over in the budget. I certainly hope so.”

[MIKE KEEFE: The Denver cartoonist’s full Pulitzer portfolio]

For decades, Keefe thrived on taking on a mix of local and global issues. “It's a rich environment for cartoonists today,” he has told Comic Riffs. “[There's] plenty happening on the local, national and international scenes.”

Keefe also developed a distinctively inviting look to help deliver his topical barbs. This year, the Pulitzer Board praised how he uses “a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.”

Comic Riffs is sorry to see Keefe’s talent disappear from the daily landscape, yet we trust his sense of knowing when to exit the Post.

“The timing is a little odd, I know,” Keefe tells Comic Riffs. “I got to do about half a victory lap. The Post had wanted to do a retrospective book and hang large framed cartoon prints in the lobby. Neither is going to happen now. That bums me out a little bit.

“But,” he continues, “I’m still passionate about editorial cartooning and look forward to being in the mix during this time of political and economic tumult. Without daily deadlines, maybe I’ll be blessed with some kind of broader view.”

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Mike Keefe won the 2011 Fischetti award for an Arizona immigration cartoon. (Mike Keefe/Denver Post / courtesy of Cagle.com)

AND SPEAKING OF TOPICAL HUMOR: From Thanksgiving politics to Black Friday logistics, here are five notable cartoons from the holiday weekend:

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1. STEVE BREEN:


(STEVE BREEN / San Diego Union-Tribune)

2. REX BABIN:


. (REX BABIN / Sacramento Bee / Cagle.com)

(RJ MATSON / St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Cagle.com)

(DAVID FITZSIMMONS / Arizona Daily Star / Cagle.com)

5. WAFFLE IRON-Y: And lastly, the good folks at Taiwan-based Next Media Animation gift us with this BLACK FRIDAY short, with skewers our consumerin’, Wal-Mart-rioting ways (warning: mild toilet humor — which you may consider a spoiler or, for some of you, simply an enticement).

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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.

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