[B][SIZE=4]Passionate cartoonist, gentleman and a friend[/SIZE]
[I]By The Tulsa World Editorial Writers
July 11, 2007[/I]
As a cartoonist, Doug Marlette prided himself on being an equal-opportunity offender. His cartoon zingers, most often delivered with biting humor, were aimed at every institution, every political personality, every aspect of popular culture. His barbs landed all across the political spectrum.
Doug was particularly proud of the fact that one of his works recently was pulled from a book, “Killed Cartoons,” a collection of political cartoons deemed by editors around the country to be too controversial to print in their newspapers.
The 2002 cartoon, which triggered a worldwide outcry, depicted a Muslim terrorist driving a Ryder truck with a nuclear bomb in back, with the caption, “What Would Muhammad Drive?”
That cartoon and others illustrated Doug’s passion for his work. He staunchly defended the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten after it commissioned images of Muhammad by a dozen artists and as a result was made the target of a fatwa. That defense took the form of continued cartoons on the subject as well as op-ed columns penned for various publications.
Radical Islamists weren’t his only religionist target; he at various times upset Episcopalians, Baptists and Christian fundamentalists, as well.
Doug’s artistic ability and passion were confirmed by his winning the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, as well as every other major award for editorial cartooning, some of them twice.
In the too-brief 17 months that he was here, those of us on the Tulsa World editorial staff came to know a somewhat different Doug Marlette. He was witty, widely traveled, well-read, at once soft-spoken and talkative. He was a consummate storyteller. He spun tales about colorful relatives he knew or learned about during his younger days in North Carolina. Those stories, invariably told with affection, celebrated his southern, working-class family heritage. And, always, he was a gentleman.
We also learned about Doug that he was an artistic Renaissance man. His award-winning cartoons have appeared in major newspapers and magazines and have been collected in 19 volumes. His comic strip, Kudzu, is nationally syndicated. The musical adaptation, “Kudzu, A Southern Musical,” was produced at Ford Theater in Washington, D.C., among other venues.
His first novel, “The Bridge,” published in 2002, was voted the year’s best book for fiction by the Southeast Booksellers Association. His second novel, “Magic Time,” was published last year.
Probably his only creative shortcoming, one he readily admitted to, was that he never learned to play the five-string banjo up to his expectation.
Doug Marlette died Tuesday in a car wreck near Holly Springs, Miss. His death stunned and saddened his Tulsa World colleagues. Our sincerest condolences go to his wife, Melinda, and son, Jackson.
His untimely death is a tragic loss to his family and to the Tulsa World, of course, but beyond that, it is a loss to the world of journalism.[/B]