Tony Auth, 72, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 41 years, and more recently as the Digital Artist in Residence for WHYY’s Newsworks, died Sunday September, 14, at University of Pennsylvania Hospital surrounded by his family.
Tony’s cartoons, covering the politics and culture of the city of Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania, and the country have influenced public opinion and politicians for more than 40 years. “Our job is not to amuse our readers,” Auth said when he accepted the 2005 Herblock Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning. “Our mission is to stir them, inform and inflame them.”
Tony was born on May 7, 1942 in Akron, Ohio. He was bedridden for eighteen months at the age of five. It was during this period that he began drawing, inspired by comic strips, children’s books and radio dramas.
At the age of nine, Tony moved with his family to Los Angeles. Tony attended UCLA, earning a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration in 1965. Upon graduation he became a medical illustrator at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, a large teaching hospital associated with the University of Southern California.
While working as a medical illustrator, Tony began doing political cartoons. Initially he did one a week for a weekly alternative newspaper, and then, after being encouraged by Paul Conrad at the Los Angeles Times, three a week for the UCLA Daily Bruin.
Six years later, in 1971, Auth was hired as staff editorial cartoonist by The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 41 years. He decided to broaden his range of commentary, and in 2012 he became the first Digital Artist in Residence at WHYY’s NewsWorks.org. At WHYY working on both cultural and political subjects, he pioneered a new form of online cartooning using an app on his iPad, while continuing to produce a steady stream of awarding-winning cartoons that appear first on NewsWorks before syndication across the country.
Over the course of his career, Auth has won many awards, including five Overseas Press Club Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi award for distinguished service in journalism, the Thomas Nast Prize, the Herblock Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2012, “To Stir, Inform, & Inflame: The Art of Tony Auth”, a museum retrospective of more than 150 of his cartoons and book illustrations was organized by the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and was seen by more than 85,000 visitors. A companion book, with a foreword by Jules Feiffer was published the same year. It joins two previous published collections of his political cartoons, and eleven children’s books he has illustrated. A Philadelphia History Museum exhibition, “AUTHentic Philly: Tony Auth’s Cartoons of Philadelphia” which opened in 2013 proved to be so popular it was held over four months. On September 10, 2014 a new exhibition, “Front Lines: Treasures from the Tony Auth Archive” opened at the Philadelphia Foundation to kickoff a fund to acquire and maintain Tony’s archive of cartoons, paintings, prints, sketchbooks and ephemera at Temple University.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tony Auth Archive Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation The Philadelphia Foundation, 1234 Market Street, Suite 1800, Philadelphia, PA 19107 or online at philafound.org.
Tony is survived by Eliza Drake Auth, a realist landscape and portrait painter, and their two daughters, Katie and Emily.