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The Daily Tar Heel

Cartoonist Draws a Crowd for Slide Show

The third Roy H. Park Lecture Series brought satirist Doug Marlette to Carroll Hall, where he spoke to an audience of about 200 people. Marlette is best known for his syndicated comic strip "Kudzu" and his political cartoons that are printed in hundreds of newspapers.

Marlette kept the mood in the lecture hall lively with a slide show displaying several strips of "Kudzu" and numerous examples of his political cartoons.

"The thing that was attractive to me about political cartoons is that you can express something without saying anything," Marlette said.

One of the best examples of this is the shuttle Challenger's explosion in 1986. Marlette created a cartoon for a special afternoon edition of The Charlotte Observer that featured a bald eagle looking toward a star-filled sky with a tear coming from its eye. The paper had to print 70,000 copies of that one cartoon to fill special requests.

Marlette also draws cartoons about topics such as sports, the death penalty, prescription drugs and politics. He said there are several politicians that he enjoys drawing frequently, such as Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., whom he has depicted as a pickle, a gallstone and "all kinds of lower life-forms."

Once, when Helms was adamantly speaking against the formation of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Marlette drew a picture of a calendar turned to April 1 with Helms proclaiming it as April Fools' Day.

Marlette said he normally does not back down from an issue, but he does have a harder time with certain topics. "Abortion is tough because I have very conflicted feelings about that," Marlette said. "We live in a time when you can't talk about certain things. If you say something about race then you're a racist, or if you say something about homosexuals then you are a homophobe."

He said his views expressed in his drawings are usually not reflections of his opinions of the people.

"I like everybody, but with my cartoons I'm interested in the policies and activities and not the people," Marlette said. "I like being mean. In daylight-saving time, I can be mean an extra hour."

Marlette was born in Greensboro and attended Florida State University. He began his journalism career with The Charlotte Observer in 1972 before moving to Newsday in New York. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for editorial cartooning, Marlette also has received the Kennedy Memorial Award for editorial cartooning and the National Headliners Award for Consistently Outstanding Editorial Cartoons.

Students said they enjoyed the presentation because it took them on a trip through America's recent history with the slideshow of political cartoons.

"It's interesting for me because I don't know much about American policy and politics," said Maki Ishihara, a junior exchange student from Tokyo. "This history helped me understand it better."

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