The Future of American Political Cartoons: A Symposium in Honor of Pat Oliphant

image showing headshots and caricatures of cartoonists

In 2018, the UVA Library acquired the archive of Pat Oliphant, a dazzling resource for future study of our most influential living cartoonist. Now retired, Oliphant is deeply concerned about the future of the genre he has influenced so profoundly.  Thanks in part to a generous grant from the UVA Arts Endowment, we are proud to host a three-day conversation inspired by Oliphant’s passion for the topic.

With print news receding, online sources proliferating (and become more partisan), and digital tools opening new aesthetic horizons, what is happening to this form of visual commentary, once the shared experience of every reader with a newspaper and a cup of coffee?  In this virtual symposium, prominent artists representing different generations and regions of the country will share their insights and projections as their creative field, once a stable part of the newsprint infrastructure, experiences upheaval and a tenuous future.

As the 2020 Presidential election nears, join the UVA Library, keynote speaker Keith Knight, special guest Pat Oliphant, and some of the country’s most influential political cartoonists for in-depth discussions of the field today and tomorrow.

This symposium is sponsored in part by a UVA Arts Endowment Grant. The UVA Arts Endowment Grant works to expand, support, and promote excellence in the arts at UVA.

Books by symposium panelists are available through the UVA Bookstores at

Speakers and Panelists  |  Symposium Schedule  |  Registration Information



Keynote Speaker: Keith Knight

photo of cartoonist Keith Knight wearing a trilby and holding a sharpie

Keith Knight is many things to many people–rapper, social activist, father and educator among them. He’s also one of the funniest and most highly regarded cartoonists in America, and the creator of three popular comic strips: “the Knight Life,” “(th)ink,” and the “K Chronicles.” Keith Knight is part of a generation of African American artists who were raised on hip-hop, and infuse their work with urgency, edge, humor, satire, politics and race. His art has appeared in various publications worldwide, including the Washington Post, Daily KOS, San Francisco Chronicle,, Ebony, ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, MAD Magazine, and the Funny Times.

His comic musings on race have garnered accolades and stirred controversies, prompting the NAACP to recognize him as a 2015 History Maker, and CNN to tap him to grade America on its progress concerning issues of race. Knight’s life and work are the subject of the recently launched Hulu series “Woke.”

Special Guest: Pat Oliphant

Caricature of cartoonist Pat Oliphant holding pencil, with head resting on right handPat Oliphant began his career at eighteen working as a copy boy in Adelaide, Australia. When he joined the Denver Post as a cartoonist in 1964 he introduced a cartooning style with a linear fluency and wit, an expansive literary imagination, and a conceptual reach previously unknown to American newspaper audiences. Within a year his work was syndicated internationally. His swift rise to prominence, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, was followed by five decades of sustained, uncompromising work. Oliphant is widely recognized as the most influential political cartoonist of the last half century.

In 2018, the UVA Library acquired Oliphant’s extensive professional archive, including almost 7,000 drawings; further artwork including watercolors, prints, sculptures, and sketchbooks; and archival material including correspondence, photographs, professional papers, scrapbooks, and audio and video recordings.

Circular headshot of cartoonist Nate Beeler, smiling with glasses, tie, and goateeNate Beeler (Panelist)
Nate Beeler is an award-winning editorial cartoonist for Counterpoint. Previously, he was the editorial cartoonist for The Columbus Dispatch and The Washington Examiner. He is one of the most widely syndicated cartoonists, with his work distributed internationally to nearly a thousand publications by Cagle Cartoons. His cartoons have appeared in such publications as USA Today, The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time, among others, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, where viewers of “The O’Reilly Factor” officially voted him a “Pinhead.”

Colorful caricature of cartoonist Matt Bors with pen behind ear, smiling and giving a thumbs up signMatt Bors (Panelist and Student Roundtable participant)
Matt Bors is a political cartoonist and founder and editor of The Nib, a daily digital publication and website devoted to publishing and promoting political and non-fiction comics. His work has appeared in The Nation, The Guardian, and The Village Voice, and was recently collected in the book “We Should Improve Society Somewhat.” He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize Finalist for his political cartoons.

Caricature of cartoonist Warren Craghead, black and white drawing of man with dark spiky hair

Warren Craghead (Student Roundtable Moderator)
Warren Craghead III lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and two daughters. He likes to make pictures and has exhibited his work internationally. He has also published many works including the Xeric Grant-winning “Speedy” and his “Trump Trump “daily drawing project has been collected into two volumes. He received an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and attended the Skowhegan School.

line drawing caricature of cartoonist Tom Gibson Tom Gibson (Panelist)
Tom Gibson, founder of Advocacy Animation and New Generation Foundation, is a cartoonist, writer, and public affairs consultant. He began work in Washington as a free-lance cartoonist for the Washington Post, then was an editor and cartoonist for USA Today at the newspaper’s founding. From USA Today, he moved from frying pan to fire as Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Director of White House Public Affairs. Subsequently, Mr. Gibson returned to cartoon art through web-based animation, while also working in public affairs and technology. He received a BA from Princeton and holds an MPA from Harvard..

Photo of cartoonist Kal Kallaugher, smiling bearded man wearing colorful shirt and solid tie Kevin Kallaugher (Panelist)
Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) is the international award-winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine of London and The Baltimore Sun. In a distinguished career that spans 42 years, Kal has created over 10,000 cartoons and 150 magazine covers. His resumé includes six collections of his published work, exhibitions in a dozen countries, and awards and honors in seven. These awards include Feature Cartoonist of the Year (UK), The Thomas Nast Prize (Germany), Cartoon of the Year (Europe), The Berryman Award (US), Herblock Prize (US), and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (US).

Photo of cartoonist Rob Rogers, smiling man wearing glasses in front of drawings pinned to a wallRob Rogers (Panelist)
Rob Rogers is a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a two-time Pulitzer finalist. In June of 2018, after 25 years on staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rogers was fired for drawing cartoons critical of President Trump. In his most recent book, Enemy of the People: A Cartoonist’s Journey, Rogers talks about the importance of satire in today’s political climate. Rogers continues to draw for syndication and was named a 2019 Emerson Fellow by the Emerson Collective.

Photo of Jen Sorenson, smiling woman in front of brick wallJen Sorensen (Panelist and Student Roundtable participant)
Jen Sorensen’s cartoons appear in The Nib, Daily Kos, The Nation, Politico, and alternative newsweeklies around the US, including the C-VILLE Weekly in Charlottesville. A UVA grad, she was the winner of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist. In 2021, Jen will serve as President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.


Line drawing caricature of cartoonist Ann TelnaesAnn Telnaes (Panelist)
Ann Telnaes creates editorial cartoons in various mediums—animation, visual essays, live sketches, and traditional print—for the Washington Post. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for her print cartoons and the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2017.


Colorful caricature of cartoonist Signe WilkinsonSigne Wilkinson (Panelist)
Signe Wilkinson has drawn political cartoons for four newspapers, six editors, a confusing array of publishers and for people who love opinions concentrated in one potent image. She has been in awe of Pat Oliphant that entire time.


Photograph of cartoonist Adam Zyglis wearing a beard, glasses, shirt and tieAdam Zyglis (Panelist and Student Roundtable participant)
Adam Zyglis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Buffalo News, his hometown newspaper. He began drawing weekly editorial cartoons for The Griffin at Canisius College. His cartoons appear in publications such as The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and MAD magazine. Recognition for his work includes the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award (2013), the National Headliner Award for Editorial Cartoons in (2007, 2011 and 2015), the Grambs Aronson Cartooning with a Conscience award (2015) and the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartoons (2015). Also in 2015 he was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award from Canisius College. In 2016 he was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi award by the Society of Professional Journalists.



Thursday, October 22

Student Roundtable for current UVA students
4 to 5 p.m. ET
Moderator: Warren Craghead
Speakers: Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jen Sorensen, Adam Zyglis


Friday, October 23

Keynote address: Red, white, black, and blue: Highlighting America’s Racial Illiteracy
7 to 8:15 p.m. ET
Keith Knight


Saturday, October 24

Panel 1: Challenges to Freedom of Expression in Political Cartooning Today
Noon to 1:15 p.m. ET
Panelists: Rob Rogers, Jen Sorensen, Adam Zyglis

Panel 2: Drawing for a Polarized Public
2 to 3:15 p.m. ET
Panelists: Nate Beeler, Matt Bors, Signe Wilkinson

Panel 3: Extinction or Evolution?: Imagining the Future of Political Cartoons
4 to 5:15 p.m. ET
Panelists: Tom Gibson, Kevin Kallaugher (KAL), Ann Telnaes



Visit the event page to register. Registration is free, and guests will have the choice to register for any session(s) they would like to attend. Please note that Thursday’s Student Roundtable is limited to current UVA students only.


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