Austin cartoonist Jen Sorensen named Pulitzer Prize finalist

Jen Sorensen

Austin cartoonist Jen Sorensen is a Pulitzer Prize finalist in editorial cartooning, it was announced Monday.

The Pulitzer committee said she was so named “For a thoughtful and powerful selection of work appearing in a variety of U.S. publications and often challenging the viewer to look beyond the obvious.”

“I have to say I was completely surprised as it’s one of the most traditional of cartoon contests,” Sorensen said Tuesday from her South Austin home. “I guess I got lucky this year,”

Jim Morin of the Miami Herald won. Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was the other finalist.

Sorensen, who is a freelancer, essentially nominated herself.

“You just submit online, Sorensen said. “Most of the people who win do have staff jobs at daily papers, so I think this is the exception to the rule to get this far in the process.”

She also notes that there might be a sea change for the form.

“As someone who works in a multi-panel format and might be best know in the digital realm,” Sorensen said, “there seems to be a broadening of what a political cartoon can be.”

Sorensen’s work currently appears locally in the Austin Chronicle. She has also appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Politico, In These Times, and digital media outlets including AlterNet, Truthout, Daily Kos, and The Nib. She is also the comics editor for Fusion, the news site owned by Univision. Originally from Pennsylvania (the same region as the rock band Live, if you want some Sorensen trivia), she moved to Austin in 2012.

In 2015, she received an Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comic Arts from San Diego Comic-Con International.

Disclosure time: I have known Jen Sorensen since she was a black-choker-wearing freshman (well, there they say First Year) at the University of Virginia.

And to be perfectly honest, I was not surprised to see Sorensen as a Pultizer finalist. Quietly, methodically (“Slowpoke” was for a long time the catchall name she was using for her strips), she has become one of the most well-respected cartoonists in the business.

We last checked in with Sorensen back in 2014, when she became the first woman cartoonist to win the Herblock Prize.

The year before, she won the Robert F. Kennedy journalism award, the same year she picked up a Reuben, which is the cartoonist version of an Oscar.