Charlotte is the state capital of North Carolina, and the Charlotte Observer is the biggest-selling paper in both Carolinas. Siers’ win makes him the third cartoonist from the paper to win the prestigious accolade. (My big fave David Horsey came a close second – though he’s won it twice before, so I can’t well say he’s been robbed much.)
Siers, like many vaunted members of his profession, seems to have trod a brilliantly varied long road; in fact he only began picking up his pencil during a period of unemployment on the mines of Minnesota, in the American mid-west. I’d hazard that wry humour doesn’t come very easy to a settled life.
Siers’ work was described as “surreal” by the judges – which, funnily enough, was also how he described his win. Being in-house for a medium-level publication hasn’t stopped him, like many of his Pulitzer predecessors, from really tackling the national scene in addition to Carolina. He seems to have a general liberal sway in his cartoons, being just as happy to take pots at Obama for spying as he is to admonish the Republicans for entitlements cuts. Charlotte is a Democratic bastion in a state that is politically fast-changing, so this shouldn’t confuse anyone who thought the Carolinas were ‘Southern’ states. Commentators got the tingles in 2008, because NC voted for Obama, which was the first time it had voted for a Democratic president since 1976.
On satirical matters, it is worth noting that the Pulitzer Prizes are America-centric, but that as far as I am aware, there is no international prize for editorial cartooning. There is an independent prize awarded by US-based NGO Cartoonists’ Rights Network International for ‘Courage in Cartooning’, which has a wider catchment but isn’t nearly as high-profile. One wonders whether a lack of such an award has helped prolong the extent to which how much we know about satire in other places in the world (and vice versa) remains rollicking in the doldrums; this is a topic I’ll hope to touch on again in future.
In the meantime, congrats Kevs.