Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Tom Toles retires

The Washington Post published Tom Toles’ final editorial cartoon on October 30.

The Post announced Toles’ retirement after 18 years in an internal memo released in early October. In the letter, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wrote: “Tom set an almost unimaginable standard of consistent excellence.”

Hiatt also acknowledged the cartoonist’s ability to skewer “environmental malpractice, presidential arrogance and Washington hypocrisies, and pomposities of all varieties.”

His final cartoon, entitled “Final Toles Cartoon,” was on a 3×3 grid. Toles told the story of how he got started 50 years ago at his college newspaper “as a long-haired liberal” and is still “a long haired-liberal.”

Toles said he created 15,000 cartoons in his career. Now, Toles is looking forward to “getting back to playing,” a promise he made himself as a 5-year-old.

In the cartoon, he took the opportunity to make “a prediction, an I-told-you-so, and one request.”

  • The prediction? “Artificial intelligence will be more disruptive than you think.”
  • The I-told-you-so? “Climate change is real and a catastrophe.”
  • The request? “Vote out the maniac (and don’t forget the Senate.)”

As he gave his farewell, Toles left readers with a message: “Old cartoonists never die, they merely disappear into the eraser crumbs.”

The final frame of the cartoon showed a pen sitting on an empty desk without a cartoonist in the chair.

Toles won a Pulitzer Prize with the Buffalo News in 1990 and came to Washington in 2002.

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