Jules Feiffer

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoonist

Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer-Prize & Oscar-winning cartoonist, playwright & screenwriter


This Knol written by Jon Hopwood
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Jules Feiffer, the Pulitzer-Prize and Oscar-winning cartoonist, playwright and screenwriter, was born on 1929 in the New York City borough The Bronx. During the 1940s, the young Jules apprenticed with comic strip artist Will Eisner on his "The Spirit" strip at the Quality Comics Group. The strip had floundered during the war, after Eisner had been drafted in 1942, but upon his return, Eisner -- with the aid of assistants such as Feiffer -- reinvigorated the strip. Under Eisner, Feiffer learned how to tell a story in illustrations and words. Feiffer is most famous for his cartoons for The Village Voice, which was opened for business in a Greenwich Village in October 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer. Feiffer's cartoons, which ran in The Voice for 42 years, were syndicated to a wide variety of Sunday papers. He also has the distinction of being the first opinion-editorial page cartoonist employed by The New York Times, a post he held from 1997 through the year 2000.

In addition to his cartoons, Feiffer wrote the 1967 play Little Murders (1971), which was turned into a film in 1971 despite being a flop on Broadway, lasting but one week of seven performances with a cast that included Heywood Hale Broun and Elliott Gould. Feiffer wrote the screenplay for the film, which was directed by Alan Arkin; despite having Gould, then at the height of his fame during the student social upheavals that were cresting and would soon abate, the film was not a success at the box office. However, Feiffer did taste great cinema success that same year with his screenplay for Mike Nichols' masterpiece _Carnal Knowledge (1971), an acerbic look at the sexual mores of men who came to maturity just after World War II. Feifer's first foray with motion pictures was the animated short film _Munro (1961/I)_, which won the 1961 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoons.

Feiffer has published over 20 books, including the children's classic The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), which he illustrated and which was made into a movie in 1970. Feiffer's cartoons for the Voice have been collected in 19 volumes; he also has written the acclaimed children's books "The Man in the Ceiling" and "A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears".


After teaching at the Yale School of Drama and Northwestern University and serving as a Senior Fellow at Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program, Feiffer took a post at Southampton College (the graduate school of Long Island University), where he currently teaches. Among his many honors are membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1995), the National Cartoonist Society Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), and being named the Creativity Foundation's 2006 Laureate.