Arizona Republic Cartoonist Covers Shooting

Fans of will be familiar with the work of Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at the Arizona Republic.

Like fellow Arizona cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, Steve was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight following the terrible shooting that occurred in Tuscon.

Apparently, Steve’s work didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of editor Nick Gillespie, who had this to say about his week’s worth of cartoons:

It’s not that we need more proof that editorial cartooning… is the lowest of all art forms, but here you go, a week’s worth of doodling by the Arizona Republic’s Steve Benson, who is, of course, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Steve responded on the Daily Cartoonist to the criticism of his cartoons

I’m not complaining about the rabid reaction from the fringe to the cartoon, since it has brought them into the arena for debate over all kinds of relevant issues”“gun laws, political rhetoric, mental health issues, etc.”“and where it is, quite frankly, fairly easy to pick their arguments clean of any substance.

That debate, particularly in Arizona, is raging.

It’s ugly out there”“and when Palin got ugly, I went for the jugular.

Steve doesn’t backdown from his criticism of Palin, who he calls an “absolute, divisive, irresponsible nut… [who] has contributed to the gun-laden, ugly, violent rhetoric that has taken political discourse in the country to abysmal lows”“as well as arguably put citizen safety at risk.”

Here are his cartoons in chronological order as they appeared in the week following the shooting. What do you think?

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

28 replies on “Arizona Republic Cartoonist Covers Shooting”

Only a nut job like the people at would take offense to these cartoons. Sarah Palin and her ilk scare the hell out of me. The way they manipulate the truth and the facts to fit their right wing agenda makes me very concerned for the future of this country. Keep up the great work Mr. Benson.

Steve, I am stunned that during such an insane, emotional time in AZ, you could get past your own shock and anger and confusion to tap into your deeper emotions and somehow pull off so many smart, funny, accurate (and even disturbing) editorial cartoons. Wow. More power to you. No wonder you've won the Pulitzer.

Well done.

As a Catholic priest with very strong feelings for the power of visual to say far more than mere words, I find your work graciously divine. Bless you.

Pllluuuussse! The"targets" on the map are surveyor marks and NOT bulls eyes!! The map was
illustrating Democrat seats Sarah Palin was campaigning for in last election.

Folks, get a life……rhetoric did NOT cause this psychotic bozo to go off the reservation. Pay attention
and don't let the left loonies influence your thinking.

Bob B.: Surveyor marks? You really believe that? Most people with a life immediately (and accurately) think they're crosshairs on a rifle scope. And, how can they be Democratic seats Palin was campaigning for? She was running for more than one seat? How is that possible?

What you believe makes no sense. I agree that what she did was NOT the cause of the shootings, but your arguments only illustrate that she actually thinks the criticisms are valid, otherwise she wouldn't be responding in the way she has been.

You want people to not let the left influence their thinking, yet you buy Sarah Palin's and the Tea Party's arguments hook, line and sinker. Practice what you preach and think for yourself!

Bob, it's really sad, and shows just how gullible you are, that you actually believe Palin's after the fact explanation that the crosshairs were "surveyor marks." Palin herself referred to the them as "bullseyes." Anyway, her is hoping she keeps rating and thereby continue to expose her ignorance, hatred and divisiveness.

"rhetoric did not cause this psycho bozo to go off the reservation." " left loonies." Georgia. Why am I not surprised? Thank you, Steve, for your brilliant and pertinent observations. Editorial cartooning is actually the HIGHEST of all art forms. Keep hittin' em hard.

I dare you to google "Surveyors Mark" and see what pops up. As the daughter of the construction industry I know exactly what their marks are, and no surveyor is going to do more than put x's and lines. Circles? Why would they waste paint and lines?

They are bulls eyes, and that's it. Well, rather, they could be the inside of a scope. But that would offend too badly wouldn't it?

Where was Steve Bensen when a Democratic House candidate from Pennsylvania or New Jersey (for some reasons known only to him) commented that Florida's now governor should be "put up against the wall and shot. … up against the wall and shot." Steve, that seems pretty incendiary to me.

Where was Steve when the Daily Kos commented "… my congresswoman doesn't vote with Nancy Pelose so she is dead to me." (Check with "The Sopranos" or Urban Dictionary for clarification). Oddly, this was taken down the same day that Palin took down her bullseye map. Any comments?

Another question, Steve… For years (and more intently in the last several months) Joe Arpaio of your neighboring county has received horrible death threats – not just from the drug cartels or pro-illegal immigrant radicals, but from politicians who should know better. Neither you, nor the professional Mr. Dupnik, has made a single comment. (The same Dupnik who was interviewed and confirmed his intention to violate his constitutional oath by selectively enforcing certain laws of his beloved state.)

Can we stay "Double Standard". You know, for many of this, that is the test for hypocrisy. Steve, you failed.

To Bob B: As a licensed Architect I have to ask what civil engineer you're using. Those were gun sights, not survey marks. I guess to be a right wing conservative you have to have to learn how to spin everything you say, and you have to have continual memory lapses (ie. the constant lies told by George Bush).

Than we all agree that surveyor markers on a picture of Palin will offend no one.
Cool, But, understand I am not an Indian.

I've been a fan of Benson since I heard an interview with him on Free Thought Radio a few years ago, and subscribed to his cartoons on the site. Props to the Republic for keeping him on in such a conservative market. I bet they get a lot of flak. His cartoons this week have really stepped up, and push some emotional buttons to great effect. That one of Palin, in particular, creeps me out more deeply than I can express.

Looks to me like you idiots are getting what you want. I am talking about you citizens out there that, regardless of political bent, just seem to want to keep this controvery going. If all of you want a gun toting revolution then you are probably going to get it. Keep it up and you will finally start reducing the government to a nazi gestappo. Poor Barrack will be forced to declare martial law and then the fun begins. So carry on lads! "And the beat goes on".

Great cartoons.

One can only hope that more Americans will finally be disgusted by right-wingers who selfishly and insensitively use this tragedy to portray themselves as victims.




Steve Benson and Mike Luckovitch are to me the best editorial cartoonists going. Steve Benson's series of the past week is profoundly moving and beautifully done. These aren't really "cartoons" but editorial graphic comments of the highest quality. May your well of inspiration never run dry — and may this country move from its present position mired in rancor, obstruction and hate-mongering, and move on to a brighter day. Our future depends upon it.

Bob Gren hit it right on the head. The left never let the facts get in the way of their mindless rants aganst whoever they want to blame for all of their lifes woes. I stubbed my toe, its Sarah Palins fault, I bought a house I couldnt afford, its Rush Limbaughs fault. I voted for hope and all I got was a clueless dope, its Glenn Becks fault. I'm fat and loosing my hair its… insert your favorite American to hate. Personal responsibilty, never heard of it, obviously! Oh I know blame Sarah Palin again! Never have I seen so many losers afraid of a girl! Keep up the good work Sarah!

As a Historian I have long appreciated the immediacy of feeling and perspective provided by well-executed political cartoons. If you review American history you can find a plethora of excellent political cartoons that distill the essence of an issue better than thousands of words about the subject. Steve Benson does our nation a great service by encapsulating the great emotion and passion of the Tuscon shooting in his one panel political art. The myopic, closed-minded critics who attack Benson's work are a part of the problem in our society as they belligerently promote their distorted partisan political worldview that seems to neuter their ability to have empathy for their fellow humans. Work by editorial cartoonists like Steve Benson elevate the political and ethical discourse on the pressing issues facing our nation today. When you review his work it is easy to see why he was a Pulitzer Prize winner given his contribution to our political and social landscape.

i've always considered the main job of political cartoonists is simply to make people think about a situation – hopefully from an angle they might not have before seeing their cartoon. In that regard, Mr. Benson has well deserved his awards. Any cartoonist who never offends someone isn't doing his job – and anyone who IS immediately offended isn't usually bothering to think, they're just reacting. Some of the reactions to the Tucson tragedy have been very interesting – "not my fault", "those are just surveyor's marks", etc. all sound just a bit guilty to me, but that's just my take on it. It behooves all of us to give this some deep thought, and see what each one of us could do better, to make our country better. Pointing fingers doesn't help – and any time anyone points a finger, they've got 3 pointing back at themselves. So improve your own area, it does a lot more good than getting angry at someone else's choice of words/politics/.

Gott im Himmel!!! Der Mond ist heute abend voll… The left-wing loonies are out of their caves and pontificating on this blog. Waiting for Benson's cartoons of Stevie Cohen and Sheila Jackson-Lee and their comments yesterday. How about the Jew, Cohen, in a Nazi helmet, schnitzel in one hand and swastika in the other and his mouth a giant anus spewing vitriol. The gods have obviously chosen to punish Memphis, TN. Or Jackass-Lee with a bushel-sized ring of braids atop her head and the caption, "You can put braids on a pig, but it still defecates PS" Or better yet, how about a cartoon of the first half-white president, crocodile tear in one eye, chagrined that his plea for civility has gone unheeded by the left-wing lunatics…. Haven't met one of these left-wingers yet who isn't a whiny, adult bedwetter………..

I took it upon myself to Google "survey symbols" and see for myself if surveyor marks are truly circles with crosshairs in them, with the lines protruding out of the circle. I looked at several sites and I couldn't find a single symbol that looks like the symbols on Sarah Palian's map. The symbols that are used are mostly triangles. I defy Mr. Bob B. in GA or anybody else to come up with a web site that has a survey symbol that looks exactly like the ones on Palian's map. I believe Palian knew exactly what they stood for, and her and anybody else that claims those symbols are not rifle crosshairs from a scope but are survey symbols are nothing but damn liars, and anybody that believes them are fools for being duped; prove me wrong!

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