By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Paul Conrad’s grin of affirmation

The director of our School of Journalism, Steve Burgard, was an editorial writer at the Los Angeles Times before coming to Northeastern. He passes along an anecdote about Paul Conrad, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who died on Saturday at the age of 86:

I was a newly minted editorial writer at the Los Angeles Times in the early 1990s, camped at a pod in the secluded second-floor editorlal page spaces at the desk of somebody who was out on vacation. While I had high hopes for the work I might later do at the page in the coming years, I was certainly a new kid on the block in every respect at that time.

One afternoon while laboring over a draft editorial, I felt a woosh of air behind my head as a drawing plopped down in the desk in front of me. The great cartoonist was looming up behind over my shoulder. He didn’t give a hoot about my stature, and I’m not sure he yet knew my name. He was looking for reaction to something he’d just drawn, and for that important purpose anybody would do. A nod and a grin of affirmation later, he picked it up and moved on.

Like Daniel Schorr, who died earlier this summer, Conrad was a member of Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” which, according to his obituary, he considered one of his greatest honors.

The newspaper business is greatly diminished from what it was when Conrad was at his peak. His passing diminishes it a little more.

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1 Comment

  1. I have always seen Conrad as one of the Big Three of post WW2 cartoonists, who shared a similar style: Herblock, Mauldin and Conrad.

    They took us from McCarthy era through the 60s and to the new millennium. Now the last of that three is gone.

    All hail Conrad! You earned your spot on Tricky Dick’s list.

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