The 9 Best Sports Cartoonists Ever
Sports cartoonists are a breed of artist/journalist that seem to be dying out at a rate even faster than print media is. So it’s understandable that few people have been cataloguing and studying their work the way they did in the past. That being said, the recent terror attack in Paris against the Charlie Hebdo offices killing both writers and cartoonists, all over a cartoon depicting Muslim prophet Muhammed, has resulted in a resurged interest in cartoons.
Since we’re not the type of site to cover political cartoons or Family Circus, we’re going to take a look at the work, both past and present, of sports cartoonists. Sports cartoonists have been around as long as sports journalism has. Some of them are still cranking out work and some are retired/deceased. But if you get a few minutes, Google some of their work and see what you think. They could use the support these days.
Bill Gallo did cartoons for the New York Daily News. His most famous work was a 1979 tribute to Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, who died young at the age of 32. In 2011, long after his retirement, Bill Gallo was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his work. Three days later, he died from pneumonia at 88. His work can still be seen on no less than the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
9. Bill Gallo
Charles Shultz did Peanuts. Which we all know was about a morose child with gigantism and not so much about sports. HOWEVER, the most enduring image from Peanuts (besides the psychiatry gag, Snoopy on the red house, the kid covered in dirt, Schroeder at the piano, and probably a million other things) is Charlie trying to kick that damn football, and Patty pulling it away every time. Charlie eventually got to kick it, but it was too late – we all hated Patty by then.
8. Charles Shultz
Mike Ricgliano has a reputation for being one of the “wackier” sports cartoonists, having done work initially as a freelancer, but now working for the Baltimore Sun. Like many other cartoonists, he no longer does sports full-time, but does political work as well. His style is a bit more manic and crazier than many others,
7. Mike Ricgliano
Litton is perhaps the highest-profile remaining sports cartoonist in the US, and probably the world. He does weekly pieces for the Chicago Tribune, twice-a-week pieces syndicated by Universal Press, and even ESPN uses his talents from time to time. And because this is 2014, he also has a website that features his work. Even though his industry may be waning, he’s managed to Littoonz Studios, which does lots of different work with not only cartoons, but animation and illustration as well.
6. Drew Litton
Tornoe works predominantly as a political cartoonist, which makes it all the more impressive that he’s known as one of the best sports cartoonists out there today. He does his work for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com. From what I can tell, Rob Tornoe really enjoys drawing fat people, as he did this piece above, and said that he really, really misses drawing Andy Reid since he left the Eagles.
5. Rob Tornoe
Mullin is considered influential not only in the medium of sports cartoons, but also for helping perpetuate the stereotypes of New York sports fans for almost a decade. He churned out daily pieces for the unfortunately-named Scripps-Howard's New York World-Telegram and Sun. His most famous and enduring piece was his first reference to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the Brooklyn Bums. New Yorkers co-opted the word and have hung on to it like grim death ever since.
4. Willard Mullin
While he’s best known as Ripley of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” fame, Robert Ripley got to that level of fame thanks to success as a cartoonist on a number of topics, but most notably sports. Of course, sports journalism in the early 20th century wasn’t what it is now, so his illustrated guides covered things like handball and boxing. Different times. Now he’s known for being the guy responsible for those tourist-y museums and a TV show hosted by Dean Cain.
3. Robert Ripley
Jeff Millar was one half of the duo behind the influential, and perhaps most far-reaching sports cartoon, Tank McNamara. Jeff did most of the writing until his illustrator partner, Bill Hinds, took over writing duties after Millar’s death in 2012. Tank McNamara didn’t always take on the world of sports, but it mostly did, serving as a sort of expose and satire of the practices of sports, rather than say, making fun of the way the Jets played last week. It’s still kicking, and has built quite a name for itself.
2. Jeff Millar
Bill Hinds is the illustrator and the other half of Tank McNamara, and as such, gets his own entry on this list, at #1 no less. He gets a step above Millar, his partner, for also being the driving creative force behind Cleats and Buzz Beamer, two other sports cartoons as well. He, along with a couple others on this list, are the last guard of sports cartoonists. It’s unlikely that anything will change that, so let’s enjoy their work while we can.