SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Scott Stantis headed north to the Chicago Tribune to inherit the roost of the late and legendary Jeff MacNelly, who won about every industry award there is.

On Tuesday, Stantis began adding first-place honors to his own trophy shelf.

Stantis, who worked at the Birmingham News for nearly a decade before landing in the Windy City in 2009, has just won the Editorial Cartooning (large circulation) prize in the Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which were announced today. (The Washington Post won three reporting awards.)

“I am grateful. My name has not been mentioned in connection to a national award since 1989, and that was second place in the National Headliners,” Stantis tells Comic Riffs. “Things have turned out pretty well regardless, but winning this is awfully nice.”

Stantis, a past president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), also draws the syndicated comic strip “Prickly City.”

(courtesy of SCOTT STANTIS / Chicago Tribune/.)

In the Editorial Cartooning (less-than-100,000 circulation) category, Phil Hands of the Wisconsin State Journal won the award.

“I’m deeply honored ... by the recognition,” Hands told Comic Riffs.

The Sigma Delta Chi Awards, presented by the Society of Professional Journalists, honored work published in 2012. Winners will be feted June 21 at the National Press Club in Washington.

(courtesy of PHIL HANDS / Wiscosin State Journal/.)

In other national honors, two-time Pulitzer winner Steve Breen of the U-T San Diego won the National Headliner Award for Editorial Cartooning. (You can view his winning portfolio HERE.)

The National Headliners were founded by the Press Club of Atlantic City.

“I keep awards under a stack of Oliphant, MacNelly and Conrad books so I remember what real cartooning looks like,” Breen tells Comic Riffs this week. “It was great to win the Headliners Award. I was just in Atlantic City in February, eating at famous White House subs and showing my kids around.

“Could the judges have subconsciously picked up on my positive energy?” 

[STEVE BREEN: Pulitzer dedicated to out-of-work colleagues]

(courtesy of STEVE BREEN / U-T San Diego/.)

Second place went to Newsday cartoonist Walt Handelsman. Third place went to Chattanooga Times-Free Press cartoonist Clay Bennett, who earlier this month was a Pulitzer finalist.

[SEE: The Pulitzer cartoon portfolio of 2013 winner STEVE SACK].

Elsewhere, Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley won the Best of the West award for Editorial Cartooning this week.

“I was happy to win on cartoons that were largely about local and regional issues,” Bagley tells Comic Riffs. “Some of my best cartoons are those involving the local Mormon culture, but the point is often lost in translation outside of Utah. Nothing lets the air out of a cartoon like having to explain 160 years of Mormon culture and theology to show that it’s funny.

“Those who aren’t from around here,” Bagley continues, “can still appreciate my other work; like the NRA guy with a firm grip on ... the fellow labeled ‘Congress.’ “

“Pat Bagley hits the bull’s-eye with his bold strokes and rollicking sense of humor,” wrote the category’s judge, Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker. “He brings clever insight to the pressing issues of the day that he illuminates with brilliant color and true wit.”

Second place went to David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star; third place went to syndicated cartoonist Matt Bors.

Because Bagley is based at the Tribune, his year will continue to be noteworthy: He will be the host cartoonist for the AAEC Convention, June 27-29 in Salt Lake City.

Guests will include the legendary Oliphant.


(courtesy of PAT BAGLEY / Salt Lake Tribune /.)