A QUARTER-CENTURY AGO, when he was new to the Charlotte Observer newsroom, Kevin Siers saw veteran political cartoonist Doug Marlette win the Pulitzer. “Everyone was very happy [here] when he won in 1988,” Siers tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Then, after 26 years, I forgot what that felt like.”
On Monday afternoon, all these years later, Siers not only got to rediscover that sense — he also got to feel it for himself.
“I’m in a cloud – it’s surreal,” Siers tells The Post’s Comic Riffs on Monday, shortly after winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning — the third Observer cartoonist to do so (Eugene Gray Payne won in 1968). “It’s every cartoonist’s dream.”
Siers – who notes that Marlette was always so gracious to him – was humble as he absorbed the full sense of receiving the honor.
“Who can figure out why, or who wins what? There are so many good cartoonists out there,” says Siers, who praised his drawing peers, including Pulitzer finalists David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times and Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune, as well as his cartooning mentor from his Minnesota youth, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Steve Sack, who won the Pulitzer last year. (He also lauded the Observer’s editorial page editor, Taylor Batten.)
Pulitzer jurors said Siers’s pen and watercolor-brush artworks offered “thought-provoking cartoons drawn with a sharp wit and bold artistic style.”
If his winning 20-cartoon portfolio had anything especially going for it, Siers says, perhaps it was the fact that it reflected angles from across the political spectrum – a bipartisan mixed bag, from Hillary Clinton to the NRA – though Siers classifies himself as “a very liberal cartoonist.”
“It was really half and half,” says Siers, noting that he got critical push-back from the NRA and Hillary Clinton supporters in 2013. “Half the cartoons go after Obama, and half go after conservatives. … As a [political] cartoonist, I’m always trying to poke a stick into the spinning spokes.”