Steve Breen leaves The San Diego Union-Tribune

Steve Breen leaves The San Diego Union-Tribune
Illustration by Breen to illustrate the column in which he bids farewell to his readers.

If last week we read that cartoons were starting to fall off the opinion pages of US print newspapers, this week another cartoonist, also a two-time Pulitzer winner (it seems that in the United States there is no cartoonist who does not have at least one Pulitzer), said goodbye to his medium.

On 21 July, Steve Breen, the former cartoonist of The San Diego Union-Tribune for more than two decades, said goodbye from the newspaper’s opinion pages.

Today marks the last time I will have something in The San Diego Union-Tribune as a full-time cartoonist. Since 2001, I’ve drawn over 5,500 editorial cartoons, hundreds of illustrations and dozens of digital, animated GIFs on topics big and small, with local, national and international targets.

I was an editorial cartoonist at a major metro daily newspaper for 22 years. It was a dream come true. I’m proud of a lot of things: the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, the three Emmys for videos I helped make, the popular cartoon caption contest, the “Street Art” series of illustrations on homeless people in San Diego, the “Drawn to America” series on migrants at our southern border, and much more. I’ve worked with many wonderful people at the Union-Tribune. Journalists truly are the most interesting type of people you’ll ever meet. And then there are the security guards and ad people and operations folks who I got to know and befriend as well. I will miss them all dearly. The greatest honour, though, has been being a small part of your daily lives. Every day I tried to hit a home run – a cartoon you’d clip out and put on your refrigerator or email to a friend. I appreciate all the times you let me know when you thought I did. I drew them for you. Goodbye and thank you!

On this occasion the only thing that is known about his dismissal, or possible voluntary departure, is what the cartoonist tells in this column. The Daily Cartoonist wonders whether Breen might have accepted an offer from Alden Capital, an investment fund that recently bought the paper, and whether the Union-Tribune will continue with the weekly caption contest, since the last instalment appeared on 14 July and was no longer published on 21 July.

It is assumed that, like the other authors who lose their space in the newspapers, Breen will continue to work for his agency, Creators Syndicate, where he publishes his“Caption It!” series.

Steve Breen leaves The San Diego Union-Tribune
Steve Breen’s last cartoon for Tony Bennet in the Union Tribune

Perhaps the movement of veteran cartoonists in newspapers would be more or less logical (given that the number of publications is much higher than in any European country) if it were a matter of retirements, replacements or authors changing mediums, but this is not the case. Very rarely are the dismissed cartoonists replaced, and what is worse, the media usually cancel the publication of cartoons in their pages for good.

About Steve Breen

Steve Breen lives in San Diego with his wife and five children, although he was born in Los Angeles in 1970 and grew up in Orange County. In 1992 he graduated from the University of California at Riverside with a degree in political science.

In 1994 he took his first steps in the press, publishing in the Asbury Park Press. Since 2001 he has been an editorial cartoonist for the Union-Tribune. His work is nationally syndicated by Creators News Service and appears regularly in newspapers across the country. Steve is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning (1998 and 2009).

Steve has written and illustrated several books for Penguin, including Stick (2007), Violet The Pilot (2008), The Secret of Santa’s Island (2009), and Pug and Doug (2013).

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