Jim Morin was an editorial cartoonist for the Miama Herald for over four decades, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for his cartoons. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is exhibiting some of his editorial cartoons and paintings that focus on the environment and landscape. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

OGUNQUIT – When people think of fine art, most imagine an artist fussing for weeks or months over every brushstroke, every subtle color variation.

Jim Morin rarely had that luxury of time.

Over more than four decades as an editorial cartoonist – much of it at the Miami Herald, where he twice won the Pulitzer Prize – Morin estimates he produced north of 10,000 ink-and-pen drawings, almost all of them on a daily deadline.

But just because he had a compressed timeline, his work is no less significant, according to Amanda Lahikainen, executive director of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.

“It’s the first truly democratic art form,” said Lahikainen, who wrote a book about the impact of 17th and 18th century satirical artwork, the precursor to editorial cartoons of today. “And I think it’s been an under-looked form for a really long time.”

A chance meeting between her and Morin at a Fourth of July party last year led to an exhibition of his work this summer at the Ogunquit Museum that includes both a selection of his cartoons and oil paintings he has done outside of work.


“One of my goals as director is to show different mediums, and Jim’s work is such a great representation,” she said.

Morin, who retired in 2020 during the pandemic, has been coming to Maine since he was a child growing up in Massachusetts. He now lives in Ogunquit, within walking distance of the oceanside art museum.

His work has been featured in museums many times over the years, but this is a first in his adopted state. The exhibition is on display through Oct. 31.

“I’ve never really had a career retrospective,” Morin said last month during an interview at the museum. “It’s certainly an honor to have an exhibit like this.”

An editorial cartoon by Jim Morin from 2007. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

To curate Morin’s work, Lahikainen brought in Martha Kennedy, who was a longtime curator of pop and graphic arts at the Library of Congress and who already was familiar with Morin’s work. She met him when he won the prestigious Herblock Prize in 2007 and accepted the award at the Library of Congress.

“I think he’s among the best of the best,” she said of Morin. “There are a lot of different aspects of his work that stand out. He’s very imaginative and inventive and has been able to create varied imaginative types of composition over a long period of time.”



Morin grew up mostly in the small Boston suburb of Wayland.

His father was a staunch conservative and involved in Massachusetts Republican politics.

“He hated Ted Kennedy,” Morin said, referring to the longtime Democratic senator who influenced state and national politics for a half century.

Morin said didn’t inherit his father’s beliefs.

He developed a love and aptitude for drawing as a child, which continued through school. He studied painting and drawing at Syracuse University in the early 1970s, when the Watergate scandal engulfed the nation. It was a fine time to give editorial cartooning a go, and Morin soon found himself at the college newspaper five days a week.


He also spent one semester abroad in London, where he learned more about the history of graphic art satire, including the work of Honoré-Victorin Daumier, a French painter and printmaker who offered sharp commentary on social and political life but also was revered as an artist.

Morin’s first job out of college was at a small daily newspaper in Beaumont, Texas, back when newspapers big and small had editorial cartoonists on staff. That no longer is the case.

Morin said the town was in the middle of nowhere, and he didn’t have any supplies. So, he and his boss at the time went to a hardware store that, somewhat inexplicably, had boxes and boxes of Esterbrook pen tips.

“They were the best you could buy. (Peanuts comic creator) Charles Schultz used them,” Morin said.

He bought a few but then returned and bought the rest the store had in stock. He still uses Esterbrook tips.

The exhibit of Jim Morin’s work runs through October 31. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Morin stayed only a short time in Texas before moving on to a bigger paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, but didn’t stay long. A chance to move to an even bigger market, Miami, came along in 1978. Morin was just 25 when he joined the Miami Herald. In the same city, at the competing Miami News, another cartoonist, Don Wright, had won a Pulitzer – journalism’s top prize – and would go on to win another.


Morin said he felt the pressure right away. There were many other cartoonists doing great work, too – Tony Auth of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Patrick Oliphant of the Washington Star and the legendary Herb Block of the Washington Post, who was in syndication.

“Even the bad cartoonists were doing some good work,” Morin said. “But my goal wasn’t to copy other people or to get comfortable with only one style.

“It really took about two decades for things to really gel for me.”

Morin lived through, and provided pointed commentary during, eight different presidential administrations. By the 1980s, his cartoon was syndicated, which meant it reached wider audiences than just south Florida.

His first Pulitzer came in 1996, although he had been a finalist twice prior. He followed that up two decades later, in 2017, with his second.

Almost always, Morin said, he would decide what he wanted to say – what message he wanted his cartoon to convey – and built his drawings around that.


“When you’re developing it, if you get frustrated, you don’t have time to tear it up and start over,” he said. “But you develop confidence, and there is a looseness that comes with the form.”


Although he covered just about every major topic during his career, one thread that kept coming up over and over in Morin’s cartoons – from the 1980s through the 2010s – was climate change and environmentalism. Sadly, the warnings in Morin’s cartoons from the ’80s could be published today.

Editorial cartoon by Morin from the ’80s on display at Ogunquit Museum of American Art. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

When it came time for Kennedy to pare down his career, she didn’t just want a random collection. She wanted the exhibit to say something. It was all right there.

“It was hard because there was so much great work,” she said. “But what a wonderful situation to be in.”

Kennedy agreed with Lahikainen that editorial cartoons, and satire overall, has been overlooked in the art world.


“It’s not as widely appreciated as it should be,” she said. “But I think it has a grand history. There is quite a tradition of satirical art.”

Morin said he was impressed with how Kennedy selected the cartoons that would hang in the Ogunquit museum.

“She came to my house. I had boxes and boxes and I said, ‘It’s all yours,’ ” he said with a chuckle. “I was OK with whatever they wanted to do.”

The environmentalism theme also paired well with his paintings, which are part of the exhibit, too, mostly landscapes and seascapes, as well as some cityscapes. Two things stand out: There are no people depicted in them, even though the presence of people is clearly there; and the skies are often gray, even angry.

“The same process goes into painting that goes in editorial cartoons,” he said. “The same laws of composition apply.”

Morin admits that he’s passionate about the topic about the climate change, perhaps even more so now.


“I live in a house that overlooks the ocean and what I see is just mind-blowing,” he said.

Morin had been coming to Maine since he was a kid with parents, who had a place in Kennebunkport.

He and his wife, Danielle, fell in love with the place even more as adults.

When they were discussing retirement many years ago and brainstormed places they wanted to settle, they both said Maine.

As Morin contemplated his storied career while looking at his work on the museum walls, he acknowledged that even if editorial cartooning has been an overlooked art form for decades, it’s also a dying one. When he left the Miami Herald in 2020, the paper didn’t replace him.

“There are reasons why not many do it,” he said. “You have to have a lot of interests, a lot of places to pull from, and then you have to know how to draw well and quickly.”

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