Jeff MacNelly

Jeff MacNelly

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Jeffrey Kenneth MacNelly (September 17, 1947 – June 8, 2000) was a three-time Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning editorial cartoonist
Editorial cartoonist
An editorial cartoonist, also known as a political cartoonist, is an artist who draws editorial cartoons that contain some level of political or social commentary....

 and the creator of the popular comic strip Shoe
Shoe (comic strip)
Shoe is an American comic strip about a motley crew of newspapermen, all of whom are birds. It was written and drawn by its creator, cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, from 1977 until his death in 2000...

.

Early life


MacNelly was born in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1947 and grew up on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

. MacNelly's mother was a retired journalist. His father C.L. MacNelly, ran an advertising firm, and was the publisher of the Saturday Evening Post from 1964 to 1968.
MacNelly was educated in his teens at Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy is a selective, co-educational independent boarding high school for boarding and day students in grades 9–12, along with a post-graduate year...

 in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, where he was a class clown and decided to be an illustrator. He graduated in 1965 and went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

. He joined the literary society St. Anthony Hall
St. Anthony Hall
St. Anthony Hall, also known as Saint Anthony Hall and The Order of St. Anthony, is a national college literary society also known as the Fraternity of Delta Psi at colleges in the United States of America. St...

. He was accepted as a sports journalist and illustrator for The Daily Tar Heel
The Daily Tar Heel
The Daily Tar Heel is the independent student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was founded on February 23, 1893, and became a daily newspaper in 1929. The paper places a focus on university news and sports, but it also includes heavy coverage of Orange County and...

 and specialized in satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

. He considered himself to be a horrible sports writer, but his illustrations for the paper were well beyond the ability of an average art student. His work for the college's newspaper led to work at the Chapel Hill Weekly. In 1969, MacNelly was commissioned to paint a representation of the Carolina Inn
Carolina Inn
The Carolina Inn is a hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Orange County, North Carolina which opened in 1924. It was built in 1922 by alumnus John Sprunt Hill and donated to the University in 1935. It was...

, which became an "iconic" image representing the Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

 campus hotel and appeared on promotional brochures and menus issued by the inn in the ensuing decades. The painting mysteriously disappeared in the 1980s and resurfaced in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 in 2008, when it was returned to the Carolina Inn and presented to the public for the first time at an official unveiling in January 2009, attended by MacNelly's son Danny.

MacNelly quit school just shy of getting his bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 and married his first wife, Rita MacNelly, in 1970. He married Scottie Perry in 1985, and had a son Matt.

Career


MacNelly got a job at the Chapel Hill Weekly during his years at school in UNC. He worked there for the editor who became his mentor, Jim "Shu" Shumaker, also a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Shumaker's impression on the cartoonist was so profound that MacNelly created the comic strip Shoe after "Shu," and the strip's lead character is based upon him. MacNelly considered his two years at the Chapel Hill newspaper to be what led to his "break"; his cartoons were picked up by newspapers across the state.

By 1970, MacNelly had become such a fine artist that he was hired by Ross Mackenzie
Ross Mackenzie
Ross MacKenzie is a Scottish footballer who currently plays for Richmond Kickers in the USL Professional Division.-College and Amateur:...

 at The Richmond News Leader
The Richmond News Leader
The Richmond News Leader was an afternoon daily newspaper published in Richmond, Virginia from 1888 to 1992. During much of its run, it was the largest newspaper source in Richmond, competing with the morning Richmond Times-Dispatch. By the late 1960s, afternoon papers had been steadily losing...

 in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 to be their main illustrator and satirist. In less than two years in 1972, MacNelly won his first Pulitzer Prize, helping to put the small paper on the map. MacNelly's first son Jake was born that same year.

At this time, MacNelly was courted by various newspaper syndicates and journals to work for them, but he turned them down, preferring the slower pace of southern culture. In 1974, his second son Danny was born, and MacNelly was settling into being syndicated through the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

, while making the South his home. In 1977, he launched his first comic strip, Shoe, which was an immediate success. In 1981, he quit as editorial cartoonist at the News-Leader to focus on Shoe full-time, but found he needed to work in a newspaper office atmosphere to concentrate. In the 1980s, MacNelly moved to Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 (to work for the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

) and eventually back to Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

.

Shoe was syndicated in 950 newspapers by 1986, with millions of readers. A line of stuffed animals based on the cartoon's characters was produced. MacNelly also illustrated a book written by former Senator Eugene McCarthy
Eugene McCarthy
Eugene Joseph "Gene" McCarthy was an American politician, poet, and a long-time member of the United States Congress from Minnesota. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971.In the 1968 presidential election, McCarthy was the first...

 and columnist James Kilpatrick, A Political Bestiary- Viable Alternatives, Impressive Mandates, and Other Fables.

MacNelly's editorial cartoons often appeared in book collections. When MacNelly represented the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 as a leprechaun
Leprechaun
A leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man, clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief. Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha Dé Danann of Irish mythology...

 that was a rat
Rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

 in one of his Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

 syndicated editorial cartoons after the IRA blew up a bus filled with schoolchildren, protesters objecting to the cartoon's contents picketed outside the Boston Globes offices for three weeks. One of his most reprinted cartoons featured Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 with a birthmark
Birthmark
A birthmark is a benign irregularity on the skin which is present at birth or appears shortly after birth, usually in the first month. They can occur anywhere on the skin. Birthmarks are caused by overgrowth of blood vessels, melanocytes, smooth muscle, fat, fibroblasts, or...

 in the shape of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. MacNelly believed that in order to draw and write editorial cartoons, an artist had to have an opinion on the news, so he watched television news to gauge what other Americans were seeing and read the columns of Hugh Sidey
Hugh Sidey
Hugh Sidey was an American journalist and worked for Life magazine starting in 1955, then moved on to Time magazine in 1957.-Biography:...

, George Will
George Will
George Frederick Will is an American newspaper columnist, journalist, and author. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winner best known for his conservative commentary on politics...

 and Meg Greenfield
Meg Greenfield
Mary Ellen Greenfield was a Washington Post and Newsweek editorial writer and a Washington, D.C. insider known for her wit and for being reclusive....

.

MacNelly said: "Cartoons are really a negative art form. You never say anything nice. You're always criticizing and dumping on people." Some of his most frequent targets were Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 and Gorbachev. MacNelly was present when Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 fell and hit his head on a tarmac
Tarmac
Tarmac is a type of road surface. Tarmac refers to a material patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley in 1901...

 on an overseas trip in 1976: "I was the only cartoonist to see that, to actually see it. And all I could think of was, 'Gee, I hope he didn't hurt his head.' Meanwhile, back in the States, all my colleagues were doing Jerry Ford-falling-down jokes, and Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase
Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase is an American comedian, writer, and television and film actor, born into a prominent entertainment industry family. Chase worked a plethora of odd jobs before moving into comedy acting with National Lampoon...

 started an entire career on it. I never did one. And I was the only guy that was right there. I missed the whole story, the entire point of it and everything."

In 1992, MacNelly met Chris Cassatt, a computer expert and cartoonist who became his assistant. Cassatt helped him change the way he worked by adding digitalization to his mediums. In 1992, MacNelly hired Cassatt full time, and they tele-commuted between Fishhawk Pass in Virginia and Cassatt's home in Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado
The City of Aspen is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005...

. Also in 1993, on a suggestion from his wife Susie and long-time friend and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, David Kennerly, MacNelly launched his strip Pluggers
Pluggers
Pluggers is a comic panel created by Jeff MacNelly in 1993 that relies on reader submissions for the premise of each day's panel...

.

Awards and honors


MacNelly won his second Pulitzer and a Reuben Award in 1978, and then a second Reuben in 1979.

MacNelly won the Thomas Nast Award and joined the select group of journalists who have won three Pulitzers in 1985. He also won a George Polk Award. He was the first cartoonist inducted into the UNC School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 1985. He said at the time of his induction: "I'm afraid if my mother finds out, I'll be in big trouble. She thinks I'm running numbers in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

."

Personal life


His son Matt was born to his third wife, Scottie Perry in 1986. In 1989, MacNelly met his last wife, Susie MacNelly. They married in Washington D.C. in 1990 and soon thereafter moved to Flint Hill, Virginia
Flint Hill, Virginia
Flint Hill is a census-designated place in Rappahannock County, Virginia, United States. The population as of the 2010 Census was 209. It is located on Route 522, approximately 2 miles to the east of the border of the Shenandoah National Park....

. They got a herd of horses, a garage filled with jalopies (including "Shoe's" Cosmo Fishhawk's 1959 DeSoto), room enough for the multitude of stray dogs and cats they adopted, and a couple of studios where MacNelly could work. They also bought a bungalow in Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida
Key West is a city in Monroe County, Florida, United States. The city encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 , Sigsbee Park , Fleming Key , and Sunset Key...

 where they could avoid Virginia winters.

Tragedy hit MacNelly and his family when his son Jake was killed in a freak climbing accident in Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 in 1996. Jake MacNelly was an aspiring editorial cartoonist and journalist for the Aspen News. The day he died, he had a cartoon published in The New York Times.

Later career and death


By this time, one of MacNelly's friends and colleagues at the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the primary daily newspaper in Richmond the capital of Virginia, United States, and is commonly considered the "newspaper of record" for events occurring in much of the state...

, Gary Brookins, had assisted MacNelly in filling in doing finish work. Brookins loved Pluggers and could replicate MacNelly's style. Exhausted after his son's death, MacNelly simply gave the strip to Brookins to take over in early 1997. Pluggers is still being produced by Brookins today and is syndicated in more than 60 newspapers in the United States.

In the late 1990s, MacNelly began to also put more concentration into fine art painting and sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

. By 1999, he had almost finished passing the task of creating Shoe onto Cassatt, Susie MacNelly and Brookins. But, in December 1999, MacNelly was diagnosed with lymphoma
Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system. Typically, lymphomas present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. Treatment might involve chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, and can be curable depending on the histology, type, and stage...

. He continued working in spite of his illness, producing "Shoe" and editorial cartoons and Dave Barry
Dave Barry
David "Dave" Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist, who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.-Biography:Barry was born in Armonk, New York,...

 illustrations in his Johns Hopkins Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, located in Baltimore, Maryland . It was founded using money from a bequest by philanthropist Johns Hopkins...

 bed right up to the day he died, June 8, 2000. He also did a caricature of the Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 cartoonist Pap Dean
Pap Dean
Preston Allen Dean, Jr., known as Pap Dean was an American cartoonist who was employed from 1938 to 1979 as chief illustrator and editorial cartoonist for the Shreveport Times in Shreveport, the largest newspaper in North Louisiana...

.

Legacy


MacNelly's editorial page editor at the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

, Jack Fuller, said in 1986 that MacNelly's editorial cartoons were "magic... I wish I could say just what combination of graphic mastery, writing skill and sheer perversity goes into Jeff's work. I can't, but when people say Jeff has a special perspective on the world, they are engaging in heroic understatement." The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

 wrote: "MacNelly's superb draftsmanship as well as his heightened sense of the ridiculous is in the vanguard of a new generation of American cartoonists."

MacNelly's legacy is continued through the work of Chris Cassatt, Gary Brookins, Susie MacNelly, his head writer Bill Linden and Doug Gamble. This team keeps alive Jeff MacNelly's work on Shoe and Dave Barry
Dave Barry
David "Dave" Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist, who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.-Biography:Barry was born in Armonk, New York,...

's illustrations, as well as museum shows, fine art sales, licensing and publishing.

External links