Auth, Tony 1942- (William Anthony Auth, Jr.)

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Auth, Tony 1942- (William Anthony Auth, Jr.)


Born May 7, 1942, in Akron, OH; son of William Anthony (an executive with Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.) and Julia Kathleen (a homemaker) Auth; married Eliza Drake (an artist), August 28, 1982; children: Kathleen. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1965. Hobbies and other interests: "I read fiction for enjoyment. I'm a big fan of children's books, and also science fiction and fantasy. I like Ursula Le Guinn, among others. I swim, travel, watch movies, read books, and spend time with friends."


Home and office—Philadelphia, PA. Office—Philadelphia Inquirer, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Agent—Toni Mendez, 141 E. 56th St., New York, NY 10022. E-mail—[email protected].


Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downey, CA, chief medical illustrator, 1964-70; Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, editorial cartoonist, 1971—; illustrator of children's books, 1984—.


Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Awards, Honors

Overseas Press Club Award, 1975, 1976, 1985, all for editorial cartoons; Pulitzer Prize, Society of Professional Journalists Award, Sigma Delta Chi Award, and Columbia University Trustees Award, all 1976, all for editorial cartooning; Herblock Prize, 2005.



Behind the Lines: Cartoons, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1977.

The Gang of Eight, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1985.

Lost in Space: The Reagan Years, Andrews McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 1988.

Sleeping Babies, Golden Book (New York, NY), 1989.


Stephen Manes, That Game from Outer Space: The First Strange Thing That Happened to Oscar Noodleman, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.

Nathan Zimelman, Mean Murgatroyd and the Ten Cats, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.

Chaim Potok, The Tree of Here, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.

Linda K. Harris, Kids' Talk, Andrews McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 1993.

Chaim Potok, The Sky of Now, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

Barry Yourgrau, My Curious Uncle Dudley, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Daniel Manus Pinkwater, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

Florence Parry Heide, A Promise Is a Promise, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Joan Levine, Topsy-Turvy Bedtime, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2008.

Douglas Rees, Uncle Pirate, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2008.


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, Tony Auth studied biological illustration at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked as a medical illustrator before he became a political cartoonist, inspired by the Vietnam War. "In my youth I had always thought that I would probably be a cartoonist," he once stated, "but I was totally apolitical, so that throughout high school and college the cartoons I was drawing were not political in nature at all, but social commentary. It was very rewarding suddenly to find that the same talents I was using in medical illustration, where I was in fact doing a lot of cartooning, could be turned toward politics."

"I became interested in political cartoons when I was in the sixth or seventh grade," Auth once recalled, "and started noticing drawings by Bruce Russell and Karl Hubenthal who were in Los Angeles at the time. But I lost interest because I was only superficially interested in politics and had no real depth of knowledge. Later, I was influenced by people like Paul Conrad, Pat Oliphant, Ronald Searle, as well as the children's book illustrators Tomi Ungerer and Maurice Sendak. I find there's a lot of overlap; Ernest Shepard's work and Hans-Georg Rauch's work have been very significant to me."

Behind the Lines: Cartoons, Auth's first book, was published in 1977. He soon became interested in doing illustrations for children's books. "I got my agent in New York to pick out some of my cartoons that are in the style I would like to use for children's books, and she approached various publishers. I'd nursed the desire for a while and done a lot of watercolors, trying to prepare myself for this kind of work."

Auth's illustrations for children's books, which include collaborations with Chaim Potock, Daniel M. Pinkwater, and Florence Parry Heide, have won praise from reviewers. He worked with Potok on two books, The Tree of Here, and The Sky of Now. Reviewing the latter title, which is a story about a boy's fear of heights, Julie Corsaro noted in Booklist that Auth's pastel wash-and-line pictures "are spare yet evocative." In Nathan Zimelman's Mean Murgatroyd and the Ten Cats, Auth brings to life the tale of a cat-hating dog and the little girl who foils him. Olga Richard and Donnarae MacCann, reviewing for the Wilson Library Bulletin, cited the book's illustrations as "an example of how humor and stylistic originality can blend. Auth's art is spontaneous, fresh, bold. He combines color and line in a unique manner" that "brings tremendous action and energy to the illustration."

In My Curious Uncle Dudley, Auth teams with Barry Yourgrau to tell of Duncan Peckle, a young boy who is sent to spend the summer with his beloved Uncle Dudley. Dudley not only tells wildly entertaining stories, but he also claims to practice real magic. It takes Duncan some time to see through Uncle Dudley's imaginative claims. "Witty, cartoonlike illustrations support the nostalgic feel of the story," Debbie Carton wrote in Booklist, the critic adding that Auth's art "captures the innocence and quiet of a small rural town

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from times past." A critic for Kirkus Reviews found that "Auth's pen-and-ink illustrations help to ground the story in time … and offer amusing glimpses of characters and events." "Auth's illustrations complement the fun and whimsy of the story," according to Edith Ching in School Library Journal.

Auth has also illustrated Joan Levine's Topsy-Turvy Bedtime, in which young Arathusela must put her stubborn parents to bed. The adults want to stay up longer to watch television, get a drink of water, and have stories read to them, and their continuing efforts to stay up quickly test the girl's patience. After she finally puts them to sleep, Arathusela finds that she is lonely all by herself. "Auth's fluidly rendered line-and-watercolor cartoon characters … reflect a wide range of emotion—from surprise to frustration to glee," wrote Patricia Austin in Booklist.

Auth encourages budding cartoonists when he feels they have talent. "I try to be as honest with them as I possibly can," he explained. "A lot of kids … are under the illusion that they're very talented because their parents or their friends have been saying, ‘Boy, that's pretty good.’ They haven't been subjected to any sort of professional criticism at all. So I try to disillusion them as kindly as I can…. On the other hand, occasionally someone will come through who is very talented, and I encourage him or her to keep working on whatever I sense needs work. A lot of people like the idea of being a cartoonist but haven't really decided what kind of cartoonist. They don't realize that cartooning is very specialized. So I try to find out where their inclination is, find out what direction it might lead them, and give them appropriate advice."

"Cartooning is an excellent medium for making one point at a time," Auth once commented of his field, "and the point is usually one that I anticipate will provoke a reaction of sadness or joy or laughter or nostalgia or any number of things …. I tend to think of information as being a torrent of particles: some of it is public relations material; some of it is half-truths; some honest. Everybody's putting out information, and people get subjected to a torrent of it and then form an opinion of what's going on. I contribute one particle a day to the torrent."

Auth feels it is important to be emotionally involved in an issue to do a good cartoon. "If you don't feel strongly about what you're drawing, I think the work shows that lack of interest, and that's what we call hack work. You're not into it anymore; you're cranking out stuff because you have a job.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, January 1, 1996, Julie Corsaro, review of The Sky of Now, p. 848; September 15, 2004, Debbie Carton, review of My Curious Uncle Dudley, p. 246; June 1, 2008, Patricia Austin, review of Topsy-Turvy Bedtime, p. 92.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of My Curious Uncle Dudley, p. 695; May 1, 2007, review of A Promise Is a Promise.

Publishers Weekly, August 30, 1993, review of The Tree of Here, p. 96; November 27, 1995, review of The Sky of Now, p. 69; July 26, 2004, review of My Curious Uncle Dudley, p. 55; May 21, 2007, review of A Promise Is a Promise, p. 53.

School Library Journal, January, 2005, Edith Ching, review of My Curious Uncle Dudley, p. 100; June, 2007, Catherine Callegari, review of A Promise Is a Promise, p. 107.

Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1985, Olga Richard and Donnarae MacCann, review of Mean Murgatroyd and the Ten Cats, p. 609.


The Galleries at Moore Web site, (August 20, 2008), "Tony Auth."