Pat Oliphant

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Pat Oliphant
BornPatrick Bruce Oliphant
(1935-07-24) 24 July 1935 (age 83)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Area(s)Editorial cartoonist

Patrick Bruce "Pat" Oliphant (born 24 July 1935) is an Australian-American editorial cartoonist, painter, and sculptor whose career spans more than fifty years. He is particularly known for his pen and ink and sculpture caricature of American presidents and other prominent political figures. In 1990, the New York Times described him as "the most influential editorial cartoonist now working".[1]

Oliphant's career began in 1952, when he worked as a copy boy with the Adelaide News.[2] He worked as staff cartoonist for the Adelaide Advertiser until 1964, when he moved to the United States to take up a position with The Denver Post.[3] His strip was nationally syndicated and internationally syndicated in 1965. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1967 for his 1 February 1966 cartoon They Won't Get Us To The Conference Table ... Will They?[4] Oliphant moved to the now defunct Washington Star for six years, until the paper folded in 1981.

Oliphant's work has appeared in several exhibitions, most notably at the National Portrait Gallery. Beyond editiorial cartoons, his work also includes painting, works on paper, and sculptures of political figures and animals. His work is in the permanent collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe.[5] In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, Oliphant won the National Cartoonist Society Editorial Cartoon Award seven times (1971, 1973, 1974, 1984, 1989, 1990, and 1991), the Reuben Award in 1968 and 1972 and the Thomas Nast Prize in 1992.[6]

Oliphant retired from publishing syndicated cartoons after January 13, 2015,[7] He came out of retirement on February 2, 2017 with two images of Presidential candidate Donald Trump.[8]

Oliphant is the nephew of Sir Mark Oliphant, the Australian physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II, and who later became Governor of South Australia.[9]

Political cartoons[edit]

Early in his career, Oliphant began to include a small penguin in his political cartoons, who he named Punk. Punk adds a second layer of commentary to the subject of the panel.[2]


Oliphant's work, which from time to time employs ethnic caricatures, has been criticized occasionally. In 2001, the Asian American Journalists Association accused Oliphant of "cross[ing] the line from acerbic depiction to racial caricature".[10] In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee expressed concern that some of Oliphant's caricatures were racist and misleading.[11] In 2007, two Oliphant cartoons produced a similar response. A cartoon[12] about Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza sparked criticism amongst some American Jews.[13] The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said the cartoon denigrates and demonizes Israel and mimics Nazi propaganda. It called on the New York Times and other media groups to remove the cartoon from their websites.[14]


Exhibition catalogues[edit]

Oliphant's Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress

Oliphant: The New World Order in Drawing and Sculpture 1983-1993

Mauldin / Oliphant: Origins (Washington, DC: Jane Haslem Gallery, 1982)

Oliphant's Presidents: Twenty-five Years of Caricature by Pat Oliphant (Kansas City: Andrews and McNeel, 1990)

Oliphant in Santa Fe (Santa Fe: Museum of Fine Arts, 2000)

Cartoon Collections[edit]

  • The Oliphant Book: A Cartoon HIstory of Our Times (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1969)
  • Four More Years (New York: Simon & Schuster 1973)
  • Oliphant: An Informal Gathering (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978) ISBN 0-671-24031-5
  • Oliphant!: A cartoon collection
  • The Jellybean Society: A cartoon collection
  • Ban This Book!
  • But Seriously, Folks!
  • The Year of Living Perilously: More Cartoons
  • Make My Day!
  • Between Rock and a Hard Place
  • Up to There in Alligators: More Cartoons
  • Nothing Basically Wrong
  • What Those People Need Is a Puppy!: More Cartoons
  • Fashions for the New World Order: More Cartoons
  • Just Say No!: More Cartoons by Pat Oliphant
  • Why Do I Feel Uneasy?: More Cartoons
  • Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop ... More Cartoons by Pat Oliphant
  • Off to the Revolution: More Cartoons
  • Reaffirm the Status Quo!: More Cartoons
  • So That's Where They Came From!
  • Are We There Yet?
  • Now We're Going To Have To Spray For Politicians
  • When We Can't See The Forest For The Bushes


Oliphant's papers were acquired by the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia in 2018. Additional collections reside at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Library of Congress, and the National Portrait Gallery.


External links[edit]