THERE’S NO PLACE like D.C. to skewer politics with your pen. But there’s also no place like a hometown when offered a new journalism perch.
Nate Beeler, the gifted political cartoonist for the Washington Examiner, will be picking up his professional stakes and relocating to his ol’ Ohio stamping grounds within the next few weeks, as he becomes the new cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch. Yet that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to leave D.C. — a move he calls “bittersweet.”
“I’ve been at The Examiner since the first moment of its existence,” Beeler tells Comic Riffs of his workplace since 2005 (he had joined the Journal Newspapers two years earlier, when he graduated from American University). “As a page designer, I assisted on the first few iterations of its design. I cut my teeth as a cartoonist when it was still fighting for a foothold in D.C.
“I’ve seen other employees come and go in the newsroom, and I kept plugging away at my drawing table,” Beeler tells ‘Riffs. “However small it was, it feels like I had a hand in building the Examiner into the Washington fixture it is today, which makes my departure a bit bittersweet. I’ve always felt incredibly privileged to draw editorial cartoons in the nation’s capital, and I will miss the energy of its politics — no matter how ridiculous it is at times.”
[A TALE OF TWO OCCUPY CARTOONISTS: Nate Beeler lampoons the D.C. protestors]
While Beeler has been at the Examiner — doggedly creating five cartoons a week for his paper’s page-2 — his honors included the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award (2008) and the Overseas Press Club’s Thomas Nast Award (2009).
[NATE BEELER’s WIN: Cartoonist reacts to Nast honor]
Beeler’s Examiner bosses send him off with high compliments, writing: “Only 31, Nate is a fine draftsman, a natural wit, and a first-rate journalist. And while each of his cartoons has a distinct point of view, he is no ideologue.“
The cartoonist returns the high compliments. “I will most dearly miss my editors and colleagues at the Examiner,” he tells Comic Riffs. “Thankfully, when I need their wisdom, which I’ve come to rely on, I’ll only have to open up my Web browser.”
The Dispatch’s position came open, though, when its veteran cartoonist Jeff Stahler quit in December after being accused of plagiarism.
[JEFF STAHLER RESIGNS: Cartoonist steps down after plagiarism accusations and suspension]
“When the Columbus Dispatch asked if I was interested in applying for the cartoonist position, I couldn’t say no,” Beeler tells ‘Riffs. “It’s the number-one newspaper in Ohio, and Columbus is both the state capital and my hometown. My parents live there, and this was an opportunity for my son to grow up with his grandparents being a big part of his life.”
Besides the personal appeal, Beeler is eager to mix it up in a state long known for being not only a pivotal hot-spot in politics, but also a hotbed of cartooning talent.
“Given the journalistic pedigree of the newspaper and Columbus’s storied cartooning history,” Beeler tells us, “I’m humbled the Dispatch chose me.
“I’m getting excited about the prospect of slinging around some ink in Ohio politics.”