Friday, April 19, 2024

NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, UCLA alumnus Tony Auth dies at 72

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Tony Auth started working at the Daily Bruin at UCLA before going on to become a professional cartoonist at The Philadelphia Inquirer. His cartoons were known for the emotions they drew from readers and for their ability to boil complex issues down to single images. (Daily Bruin archives)

By Julia Raven

Sept. 28, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Tony Auth, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and former Daily Bruin staff member, died Sept. 14 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after undergoing treatment for metastatic brain cancer. He was 72.

Auth was known by friends and readers as a cartoonist who could capture a complex issue with a single frame that evoked laughter, concern or sorrow. He was generous with his art and time, donating illustrations to charities and making specialized cartoons for friends.

Born in Akron, Ohio, Auth attended UCLA, where he got his start drawing editorial cartoons while working for the Daily Bruin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration in 1965, said longtime friend Paul Nussbaum.

Auth was hired by The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1971, where he worked for 41 years and continued to improve his drawing skills by reading and studying history and biology, Nussbaum said. Auth’s persistence earned him a Pulitzer Prize, the highest award in print journalism, in 1976 for his collective works from 1975. Nussbaum met Auth at the Inquirer in 1982 when Nussbaum was the foreign news editor.

Auth worked in an office at the Inquirer with big windows and bookshelves along the left wall holding a treasure trove of literature, from the “Harry Potter” series to biology research books. Whimsical pirate pieces and a doll of President George W. Bush also rested on his shelves, but the most noticeable aspect of the office was Auth, hunched over his drawing table, Nussbaum said.

“(Auth had) books on cartoonists, art books in general, books designed to help him draw, books on birds, butterflies and dinosaurs,” Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum said he will remember Auth most for his passion for history and his desire to strike up conversations with his peers about literature, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and sailing.

On Friday afternoons, Auth enjoyed sitting in his office with a glass of Scotch and reminiscing about the week’s events, talking about politics and world news, Nussbaum said. Auth particularly liked discussing how the Phillies were doing and what was going on with the president, he added.

Auth was generous with his artistic talent, said Stan Wischnowski, vice president of news operations at the Inquirer, who met Auth in 2000 while working there. He went beyond illustrating cartoons just to meet deadlines at work and spent his personal time creating art for those around him.

In addition to making five cartoons a week, Auth would create a meaningful and usually humorous cartoon for the Employee of the Month at the office.

“He personalized something that touched the employee in his own way,” Wischnowski said. “He would personalize it by putting his stamp on the individual’s persona. … A sports writer would get something to do with sports, a music critic, something to do with music.”

In addition to the cartoons he crafted for his coworkers, Auth would send out hand-drawn Christmas cards to his friends and family each year, Nussbaum said.

“(The cards were) always whimsical – one time (it was) Santa on a sailboat sailing through the sky to deliver presents,” Nussbaum said, laughing. “They were always designed to make the recipients smile.”

While Auth’s work was meaningful to his peers at the paper, Wischnowski said he thinks Auth’s main legacy was his ability to make readers laugh and contemplate emotional issues through his editorial cartoons.

“What makes him stand out among cartoonists was that Tony evoked emotion on all sides,” Wischnowski said. “He made you smile, (he could also) evoke emotions of sorrow as he wrote about tragic events in Philadelphia, America and abroad.”

Auth read the news each day to provide an accurate understanding of political and social landscapes around the world. His 41-year career allowed him to witness many political and social changes, and he was prepared to study and discuss all of them, Wischnowski said.

One in particular that stands out to Wischnowski is when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Auth drew a cartoon depicting the other Supreme Court justices saying she would be more comfortable with “those who share her background,” Wischnowski said.

“(Auth had) the strengths of being a dedicated journalist who did great amounts of homework on his subjects, but also brought a brilliant artistic touch to everything he did,” Wischnowski said. “In his 41 years, his cartoons were the (tracker) and essence of eight presidencies and seven mayors.”

After retiring from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2012, Auth got a job as the digital artist in residence at WHYY, a public media company, doing radio, TV and web, in Philadelphia, moving away from his long career in newspapers to the digital realm, said Chris Satullo, his friend since 1994 and the vice president of news and civil dialogue at WHYY.

“I remember (Auth) saying, ‘I don’t have a newspaper anymore but I’ve got a website, radio, Twitter and Facebook. Let’s see what I can do; let’s see what I can create,’” Satullo said.

Satullo added that he thinks Auth had a prominent voice on politics, and his ability to speak without fear encouraged others to voice their opinions.

“He’ll be remembered for his unique style and artwork that was instantly recognizable,” Nussbaum said. “His legacy will be his ability to synthesize complex and controversial things into readable and an understandable point of view that was accessible and often funny.”

Auth is survived by his wife, Eliza, and his two daughters. Memorial services will be held Sunday at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia from 2 to 4 p.m.

Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Julia Raven
Featured Classifieds
Apartments for Rent

APARTMENTS AVAILABLE: Studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, and 3 bedrooms available on Midvale, Roebling, Kelton and Glenrock. Please call or text 310-892-9690.

More classifieds »
Related Posts