Ashes to ashes, dust to … eraser dust?

Tom Toles has erased himself from The Washington Post.

Well, here’s a bummer: After 50 years, Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Toles has drawn what he says is his final cartoon.

Like Toles, I started out a half-century ago, as the cartoonist for my high-school newspaper. Then I scribbled for my college papers and a couple of undergrounds before getting sidetracked into reporting and editing for a series of dailies and one small group of Denver-area weeklies.

Oh, I still contributed the occasional cartoon to the newspapers whose misfortune it was to employ me in some other capacity. Wasn’t an editor alive who would turn down free anything Back in the Day®; probably still isn’t, especially if we’re talking whiskey. But the pay, such as it was, was for pounding out the column inches or chasing commas around the copy desk.

Even then the full-time editorial cartoonist was becoming an endangered species, and I was glad that I’d followed an early adviser’s recommendation that I have some sort of a backup plan just in case I didn’t become the next Pat Oliphant, or like Toles, replace Herblock.

It wasn’t until 1989 that I started cartooning regularly again — not for The Washington Post, but for VeloNews. Next came the “Shop Talk” strip for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, in 1992.

I’ve drawn a metric shit-ton of cartoons since, but I don’t think I’ve come anywhere near 15,000 of the sonsabitches. After a job of work like that, Tom Toles deserves to get back to playing. He recently chatted with NPR about where he’s been and where he’s going.

Thanks to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones for the tip.

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11 Responses to “Ashes to ashes, dust to … eraser dust?”

  1. Charley Says:

    In my book you belong to the few that can do that. I certainly appreciate the effort and thought required.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, shuckens. I had me a whole lot of fun, I got paid, and I attracted just about all the notoriety I could handle. Plus nobody ever shot at me. Or if they did, they missed. I call that a successful go-round. Especially since it was clear I was never gonna be Oliphant, Jeff MacNelly, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

  2. JD Says:

    Here’s hoping that Tom Toles, like Gary Larson recently, reprises his ‘toons in some form for us to enjoy.

  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Do your work and walk away. The only path to serenity. It’s like preparing your child to live a good life when they leave. If you cling to your work, they move back in to the damn basement.

  4. khal spencer Says:

    Plus, its been nice to wear one of your cartoons while riding around the Back Forty. I do recall back when I lived in Hawaii trying to goad you into making that Old Guys cartoon strip into The Other Yellow Jersey, which I guess you had decided as well.

  5. John A Levy Says:

    as a proud ish ownef of the Season Starts When?. I say keep it up us old fogies need to keep it straight ish. have the 2 nd old guy jersey. looking to add the 1 st verson from Voler. tour toons have provide relief and cogent thought in this year.
    “2020 the movie”
    Script by Stephen KIng
    Produced by Alfred Hitchcock

  6. John A Levy Says:

    Finishing off the previous reply
    Directed by Quentin Tarentino
    Starring Donal J Trump and Danny Trejo

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