Tulsa World: July 2007 Archives

One of my favorite columnists, Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, remembers editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, who died last week in a car accident. Greenberg ponders the state of editorial cartooning and relays a pointed quote from Marlette about his profession.

Doug Marlette wasn't just a newspaper cartoonist but a newspaper critic in his way. In his memory, the rest of us in this business would do well to keep in mind some criticism he offered in an interview with Jeff MacNelly's daughter, Kristy Shumaker, when she interviewed him in 2003:

"We've bred this generation of Eddie Haskells, parent-pleasers, suck-ups, careerists that's hurting cartooning as well as newsrooms.... The irony is, readers are falling away, and newspapers can't figure it out as they reward blandness, homogenize the product, dull it down and drain all the humanness out of it."

Newspapers have a lot of competition these days, and have had since radio and television preceded the Internet on the scene. But we have no more serious threat than our own, fatal craving for respectability. Especially when it swells into pomposity. Or a fearful neutrality, as if we were afraid of taking sides. Doug Marlette didn't have any problem along those lines; he was willing to offend all sides.

Here's trusting that Doug Marlette isn't resting in peace at all, but still giving the haters hell.

Tulsa has plenty of pomposity, but the Whirled participates in it when it should be puncturing it. Someone once said that a newspaper's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sad to say, Marlette's final employer has been getting that backward for the better part of the last 102 years.

Sad news. Tulsa World editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette was killed this morning in a single-car accident in Mississippi when the car in which he was a passenger hydroplaned and struck a tree. Marlette had previously been with the Charlotte Observer, the Atlanta Constitution, and Newsday, and the writer and artist for the comic strip Kudzu, a gentle satire of Southern small-town life. According to a story on the World's website, he was returning from his father's funeral in North Carolina and on the way to visit friends in Oxford, Miss.

Marlette began drawing for the World in February 2006, and he was a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he lived.

Condolences to his family and his colleagues at the World.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa World category from July 2007.

Tulsa World: January 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa World: October 2007 is the next archive.

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