The Paula Pfeffer and Cheryl Johnson-Odim Political Cartoon Contest Winners Announced

The contest offers Columbia students the opportunity to make political and social statements, demonstrate their artistic skills, and showcase their analytical abilities.

CHICAGO (May 4, 2020) – The top winning political cartoons in Columbia College Chicago’s Paula Pfeffer and Cheryl Johnson-Odim Political Cartoon Contest were designed to make you laugh—and then think— about the impact of climate change, COVID-19, and the American healthcare system on everyday life.
“I thought these were some of the most trenchant, funniest submissions ever,” said Ivan Brunetti, Associate Professor of Illustration and award-winning illustrator. “Obviously, current events have directly, immediately affected everyone on the planet. The cartoons came from a genuine and deep place, and you could feel the emotional connection that the artists had for the issues they were depicting and responding to.”
The Paula Pfeffer and Cheryl Johnson-Odim Political Cartoon Contest was founded by Professor of American History Teresa Prados-Torreira who started the Political Cartoon Contest at Columbia while teaching the course Cartoons and Satire in American History. Now in its 17th year, the contest offers Columbia College Chicago students the opportunity to make political and social statements, demonstrate their artistic skills, and showcase their analytical abilities. Winners of the contest receive a certificate and a monetary prize: $550 for first place, $450 for second place, $350 for third place, and two honorable mentions of $250 each. Last year, first place went to Del Sego ’20 for her cartoon titled, “Harvard, Baby!” harvard baby
To select the winner, judges looked for clear concepts with strong points of view, but with some subtlety shown in drawing and design. This year’s team of judges included four faculty members and one student:  Associate Professor Ivan Brunetti; Assistant Professor Missy Hernandez; Assistant Professor Melanie Chambliss; Associate Professor Curtis Lawrence, and student Shane Tolentino, staff member of The Columbia Chronicle. 

The Political Cartoon Contest reflects Columbia’s talent, on the part of the students but also on the part of the faculty. The contest would not work without the faculty encouraging their students to submit entries and guiding them through the submission process.

First Place

Marco D'Andrea, a Traditional Animation major, won first place in this year’s contest with his cartoon “Social Distancing and Global Warming.” D’Andrea developed his skills in a cartooning course which gave him the confidence to participate in the contest. Of his cartoon, D’Andrea said, “given the current state of the world, the topic of social distancing is constantly on my mind, as I am sure it is for others. My goal in creating the cartoon was to combine two major topics into a single visual. Given that one of the activities most associated with the current quarantine is social distancing, I wanting to create a visual about separation, and the image of a polar bear floating on a block of ice came to mind.” He plans to treat himself to hobby supplies with his prize money.

Second Place

Chloe Blair McMullen, an Illustration major, won second place for her cartoon “Corona University.” After taking Richard Laurent’s Cartooning class this semester and learning about political cartoons, McMullen felt compelled to create content. She planned to create a cartoon about women’s issues, but as soon as COVID-19 began to disrupt her daily life, it was all she could think about. McMullen was inspired by her small studio apartment which has begun to feel claustrophobic since quarantine began. McMullen plans to use her prize money to help pay bills and treat herself to Simon Hanselmann’s “Megahex.”

Third Place

Kim Tupas, an Illustration major, won third place for her cartoon “Mary Antoilette.” Currently in a cartooning class, Tupas’ professor encouraged her to submit “Mary Antoilette” to the Political Cartoon Contest. Tupas thought of the topic after seeing news about people panic-buying items, including toilet paper. “The way people were hoarding things already felt like something out of a cartoon” Tupas said, so she knew she wouldn't have to exaggerate. Tupas plans to use her prize money to support artists and small businesses. 

Honorable Mentions

Declan Gatenby, an Illustration major, received an honorable mention for his cartoon “Health care.” Gatenby decided to focus on healthcare as a result of the current conditions, and due to the overall way healthcare is handled across the United States. Gatenby came up with the visual due to his passion for creating wild visuals in my cartoons, even if they end up more visceral. Gatenby wanted to make something that was visually striking, and somewhat unsettling. Gatenby plans to put his prize money towards his college tuition. Jo Hightshoe also received an honorable mention.


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Sarah Borchardt
Communications Manager