Nate Beeler has been selected as the 2014 winner of the John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition, for his image depicting Lady Justice and Lady Liberty embracing after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Beeler is the editorial cartoonist for The Columbus Dispatch. Prior to joining the Ohio capital's newspaper in 2012, the Columbus native drew cartoons for seven years in the nation's capital for The Washington Examiner.
John Fischetti was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist whose work for many years graced the pages of the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times. Shortly after his death in 1980, friends and family created the Fischetti fund in Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism Department, which has provided scholarships to some 700 students, as well as monetary awards to outstanding editorial cartoonists.
Unlike the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, which judges a body of work, the Fischetti is awarded each year for a single image that depicts a particularly relevant political or social event. As Beeler says:
“Most days, an editorial cartoonist will draw his or her inspiration from the latest political gaffe, sex scandal, or flaring debate. The art form's natural territory is criticism.”
Rarely however, “you chance upon an opportunity to comment on the news in a positive way,” as he achieved in his Fischetti-winning image.
“On the day of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, I felt it was not a moment to be droll or cynical. I wanted to simultaneously depict and celebrate the happiness experienced by same-sex couples and their supporters across the country. The court's decision righted an injustice and was an affirmation of both dignity and freedom, which made Lady Justice and Lady Liberty logical icons to use in the cartoon. I hoped showing them rejoicing in a loving embrace would be an image that resonated with readers, and gratifyingly, the response to the cartoon has been tremendous.”
Honorable mentions in the 2014 Fischetti competition went to Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune for a unique rendering of icons criticizing NSA spying that, when viewed from a short distance, create a profile of President Obama’s face, and a drawing of agricultural fields with the caption “path to citizenship,” by the Miami Herald’s Jim Morin.
The financial assistance to complete college education that the Fischetti scholarships provide is more crucial than ever. Successful journalists who are past winners of Fischetti scholarships will also be at the reception.
Beeler is among the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists, distributed internationally to more than 800 publications by Cagle Cartoons. The National Press Foundation awarded Beeler the 2008 Clifford K. & James T. Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons. The following year, he won the Overseas Press Club’s Thomas Nast Award for best international cartoons. In 2007, Beeler won the Golden Spike Award, as voted upon by members of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. He has received multiple honors from the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. press associations.
His cartoons have appeared in such publications as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. His work has been featured on CNN, MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” and Fox News, where viewers of “The O’Reilly Factor” officially voted him a “Pinhead.”
Beeler’s cartooning path began when he was a sophomore working for his high school’s student newspaper in Columbus. While on the way to graduating with a journalism degree from American University in 2002, he won the top college cartooning awards: the Charles M. Schulz Award, the John Locher Award and first place in the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards.
Beeler and his wife, Eve, live in Columbus with their two children: a first-grader, Maxwell, and his one-year-old sister, Ruby.
Beeler's Twitter and website: @natebeeler, www.dispatch.com/beeler.