7 Questions for Cartoonist Steve Sack

Steve Sack has been the Star Tribune’s editorial cartoonist since 1981 and was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning. Sack is known for his diverse collection of cartoons, original style, and clever ideas that drive home his unmistakable point of view. He was named winner of the Overseas Press Club of America’s Thomas Nast Award for best international cartoons published in 2016. Join us on August 17 for an evening with Sack at Talk of the Stacks, a series that we’re honored to present in partnership with Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Steve Sack

Steve Sack

The Minneapolis Foundation: We’re looking forward to reading “The First and Only Book of Sack: 36 Years of Cartoons for the Star Tribune.” Where can readers find it, and what prompted you to publish it at this point in your career?

Steve: Other than the Talk of the Stacks event and the Star Tribune State Fair booth, all sales will be through the Star Tribune online shop. The book is being put out in conjunction with the Star Tribune’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Foundation: As an editorial cartoonist, which do you think is most important: to entertain, to provoke, or to inform? Do you care much about achieving a balance between these goals, and if so, to what degree?

Steve: Each cartoon has a tone set by the subject matter. Some will be wacky, silly and playful, as in say a weather cartoon. Some topics such as war or disaster related cartoons will naturally be more serious. The entertain/provoke/inform ratio varies with each piece.

Foundation: What is the single cartoon you’re proudest of, and why?

Steve: I have no single favorite. I might have favorites in certain categories, such as best obituary cartoon, best environment cartoon, best sex scandal cartoon, etc. Perhaps I’ll draw my all-time favorite best cartoon next week.

Foundation: Who is your favorite person to draw, and why? Favorite Minnesotan?

Steve: Easy… Jesse Ventura, a walking, talking, living, breathing cartoon-of-a-man. He’s a cartoonist’s dream: giant ego, flamboyant personality, and hyperactive, all wrapped up in a very thin skin.

Foundation: Print journalists are sometimes asked whether they think of themselves primarily as writers or as reporters. Do you think of yourself mostly as an artist or as a journalist?

Steve: Artist, for sure. I never went to J School but I work among outstanding journalists. I could never do what they do. I depend on their work every day.

Foundation: In addition to being an editorial cartoonist, you’re also a sculptor and a painter. How would you describe the difference between the work you do for the Star Tribune and the work you do on your own time?

Steve: My personal work is strictly for fun. No deadlines, no politics, not even any real thought to where they will eventually wind up. It’s my playtime.

Foundation: What’s the most interesting response you’ve ever gotten from a reader of one of your cartoons?

Steve: My favorite reader response was from a fellow who got very upset with my work. He said he really wanted to crumple up my cartoons and throw them in the gutter, but only refrained lest he disturb his neighbors with such foul garbage. I looked at his return address and of course he lived just down the block from me. I wrote back and thanked him for keeping the neighborhood tidy.