Paul Conrad, cartoonist extraordinaire, died this week.

All the cartoonists on Facebook are mentioning this, or linking to the obit in the LA Times:

Paul Conrad, whose fiercely confrontational editorial cartoons made him one of the leading political provocateurs of the second half of the 20th century and who helped push the Los Angeles Times to national prominence, has died. He was 86.

“When it comes to editorial cartooning, I am unabashedly biased: Paul Conrad was simply the best ever,” Times Editor Russ Stanton said Saturday.

He was great, that’s for sure. He won an amazing 3 Pulitzers. He was an exceptionally wonderful cartoonist, and I can’t imagine why the liberal loving Times let him go – he never got a venue as good as that again. Of course, Russ Stanton wasn’t editor when Paul Conrad was the cartoonist there, and none have been hired under your watch, Russ. So your experience is like, nil. (Side note: The LA Times is 4th biggest in circulation, but has fewer editorial cartoons than at least the 100 biggest papers in the country!)

Conrad was on Gocomics with me in Editorial cartoons – quite impressive and inspirational to me. I don’t look at the other cartoons all that much, but when I was doing my LA Times cartoons roundups here a few weeks ago he had one that caught my eye:

paul conrad cartoon
paul conrad cartoon of Obama as Nixon

I just checked, and Conrad is no longer on Gocomics – I don’t know whether they dropped it when he died, or whether Tribune dropped them, but I believe this is the last cartoon they used of his, so I’m glad I saved it.

Love the inky messiness. I know that’s Nixon’s famous victory? gesture, but I don’t know why Obama is doing it. Maybe it  hooked up to a news item a while ago.

I met Conrad a few times, as we were both in the Impolitic gallery in Santa Monica, CA. I wasn’t doing political cartoons at the time, but of course I knew his work – one of the few editorial cartoonists I ever read, with his bold, yet minimal drawings and wry humor. He was sort of egotistical and not very friendly at the parties; so, not a people person, at least at parties. He always had a crowd around him, however.

Paul Conrad via LA Times via Huntington Library ITVS
Paul Conrad via LA Times via Huntington Library ITVS

Paul at work. He kept drawing even during the parties (which were pretty damn great).

Your work was stand-out, Paul. Good job.