The Washington Post

HERBLOCK PRIZE: Sorensen. Woodward. And a night to celebrate cartoon journalism.

A cartoon from the Herblock Prize-winning portfolio of Jen Sorensen.

I DISTINCTLY recall the first time I was truly struck by Jen Sorensen’s work. It was at Small Press Expo in the D.C. suburb of North Bethesda, a half-dozen years ago, and her Slowpoke Comics were on display along a row of talented young cartoonists with work anthologized by Ted Rall. Viewing her comics bundled and bound, rather than reading them weekly and separate online, allowed me to appreciate their full collective force as creative accomplishment. Her satiric tone and multi-panel pacing were so expertly controlled.

She, in my mind, had arrived.

Tonight, on a bigger stage, the Austin-based political cartoonist and U-Va. grad will most definitely have arrived. Speaking to Comic Riffs, award recipient Sorensen calls Tuesday evening’s Herblock Prize ceremony at the Library of Congress “the highlight of my career.”

“It will be like a wedding,” says Sorensen, “with all these parts of my life coming together.”

Jen Sorensen will receive the Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning on Tuesday evening at the Library of Congress. (Photo by Luca DiCecco, courtesy of Jen Sorensen)

Seeing Sorensen be acknowledged as the first woman to win the Herblock Prize — named for the legendary Post cartoonist and supported by his foundation — will be a highlight for many tonight. Another thrill for Comic Riffs will be the chance to hear Bob Woodward’s Herblock talk.

“I have reviewed all of Herb’s cartoons from June 17, 1972 to Aug. 9, 1974—-from the Watergate break-in to Nixon’s resignation.  There are 140 relating to Watergate!” Woodward, the famed Post reporter and now associate editor, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs of his Herblock Lecture. “I plan to show 47 of them on a screen, attempt to describe each one, use some excerpts from the Nixon tapes on the specific dates or weeks, and then attempt to describe what reporting we were doing at the Washington Post at each point.”

The title of the talk will be “The Genius of Herblock: Understanding the Real Nixon.”

The history of Watergate coverage meets the future of political cartooning. For a true student of journalism, what could be a better bill than that?

For Comic Riffs’ full profile of Jen Sorensen in today’s Style, just click HERE.

A cartoon from the Herblock Prize-winning portfolio of Jen Sorensen.
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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