Gary Varvel

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Gary Varvel is a political cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star.[1] Gary Varvel has been the editorial cartoonist for The Star since 1994.[2] Previously he was the chief artist for The Indianapolis News for 16 years.[2] His works are syndicated with Creators Syndicate. His cartoons are written from a conservative point of view.[citation needed] Varvel is an avid sports fan, and often includes the Indianapolis sports scene in his cartoons. His cartoons can be viewed at

In 2015, Varvel was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.


Varvel has won the National Headliners Award in 2012, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2011, National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Best Editorial Cartoonist in 2010, Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning with a Conscience in 2011, Fifteen-time winner of the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists' Award for Best Editorial Cartoon and thirteen-time winner of the Best Editorial Cartoonist Award in the Hoosier State Press Association. In 2006, Varvel was given the H. Dean Evans Legacy Award for community service.


Varvel is also a board member of House of Grace Films and co-writer and producer of the films, THE BOARD (2009) and THE WAR WITHIN (2014), winner of 7 film festival awards. Varvel also authored and published a children’s book, The Good Shepherd (2015).

Besides being a cartoonist, Varvel was a part-time art teacher for 14 years at Bethesda Christian Schools and taught an adult Sunday school class for 22 years. Varvel resides in Brownsburg, Indiana with his wife. They have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren.


In the week before Thanksgiving in 2014, the Indianapolis Star published a single panel cartoon by Varvel that was widely criticized as being racist.[3][4][5] In the cartoon, a Caucasian family is seen inside their dining room at a dinner table with an unhappy father holding a baked turkey saying "Thanks to the President's immigration order, we'll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving," while darker skinned people can be seen climbing through their window.[4] The Star later removed the mustache of one of the intruders and then a day later the executive editor Jeff Taylor deleted the cartoon entirely and issued an apology.[5][4][6][7] In the apology, Taylor wrote, "Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama's decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States."[4][7]

Writing for New York Magazine, Caroline Bankoff wrote, "Thanksgiving, which celebrates the generosity this country's original inhabitants showed to the undocumented immigrants who landed on their shores in 1620."[4]

Another cartoon in 2018 spurred another apology by the newspaper after many viewed Varvel's message as demeaning to women and sexual assault victims.[8]


  1. ^ "'Spot' turns out to be 'Con Man'; Pam Kress: Writer's column about a stray cat results in a homecoming". Telegraph Herald. 2000-10-24. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  2. ^ a b "Reader Requests Lead NewsBlaze To Introduce Cartoons". eworldwire. 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  3. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (November 23, 2014). "Indianapolis Star Newspaper Apologizes for Cartoon on Migrants". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bankoff, Caroline (November 22, 2014). "Newspaper Sorry for Suggesting That Undocumented Immigrants Are Going to Destroy White People's Thanksgiving'". New York (magazine).
  5. ^ a b staff (November 22, 2014). "Indy Star: 'We erred' in publishing cartoon". WRTV.
  6. ^ Boggioni, Tom (November 22, 2014). "Indianapolis newspaper alters, then deletes racist Thanksgiving cartoon following complaints". The Raw Story.
  7. ^ a b Taylor, Jeff (November 22, 2014). "We erred in publishing cartoon". Indianapolis Star.
  8. ^ "People Are Outraged By This Cartoon Of Christine Blasey Ford Demanding Roses And M&M's". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2018-09-24.