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LOCHER, Richard

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

LOCHER, Richard. (Dubuque, IA, June 4, 1929--Naperville, IL, Aug. 6, 2017). Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Locher, once described editorial cartoons as "the towel snappers of journalism." He also said, "Being an editorial cartoonist is like the blind javelin thrower at the Olympics: we don’t win a lot of awards, but we keep the crowd alert.” (1)

Locher attended Nativity Elementary School and LORAS ACADEMY. While he enjoyed making little drawings all the way through school, his first art course was not taken until his freshman year at LORAS COLLEGE. (2) He attended the University of Iowa the following year and then with friends toured much of the American West capturing the trip through cartoons. (3) He moved to Chicago and studied art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art (1951) and later the Art Center of Los Angeles (1955). (4)

After graduation, Locher enlisted in the Air Force, where he became a test pilot and aircraft concept engineer. (5) He was involved in the design of the B-58, the United States' first supersonic bomber. (6) While at the Air Force, he also began freelancing for the Stars and Stripes.

Following his military service, Locher worked as an assistant artist and writer for the "Buck Rogers" comic strip. In 1957, he assisted Chester Gould for five years on Dick Tracy, where he inked the figures and colored the Sunday strips. He also contributed to a story that was cited in Gould's 1959 Reuben Award. Locher left the strip in 1961 to work with Martin Aerospace Company. (7)

Locher was the owner of Novamark Corporation, a sales promotion agency, from 1968 – 1973. (8) In 1973, an editorial cartoonist position at the Chicago Tribune opened up and Gould recommended Locher to take the position. (9) His cartoons, pointing to the ludicrous parts of daily life, appeared for many years in the Chicago Tribune and were reprinted in Time, Newsweek, Forbes, and the Harvard Law Review. (10)

Land of Lincoln Trophy designed by Richard Locher

Locher was the artist for the “Dick Tracy” comic strip from 1983 to 2005, and then in 2005, became both artist and author. It has been estimated that over ten million people daily read “Dick Tracy.” As a public service, Locher incorporated the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted International Criminals into the comic strip and added terrorists in 2002. (11)

The "Land of Lincoln Trophy," designed by Locher is presented to the winner of the annual college football game between Illinois rivals Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. (12) He established the John Locher Award for college cartoonists to honor the memory of his deceased son, who once assisted him on Dick Tracy. (13) An inventor, Locher devised a device used on the Apollo mission to the moon. (14)

Locher wrote a number of books. These include Dick Locher Draws Fire, Send in the Clowns, and Where’s the None of the Above Button? He collaborated on several books including Flying Can Be Fun with Michael Kilian and The Dick Tracy Casebook and Dick Tracy’s Fiendish Foes with Max Collins. (15)

Signed cartoon. Photo courtesy: Dr. John T. Dolehide

Locher received many awards for his editorial cartoons. These included the Scripps Howard Institute Award for Conservation, 1975; Dragonslayer Award, U.S. Industrial Council, 4 different years; Outstanding Leaders Award in Journalism, Chicago Festival of Leadership, 1981; Distinguished Health Journalism Award, 3 times; Overseas Press Club Award–Thomas Nast Award, 1982 and 1983; the Peter Lisagor Award, 4 times; World Population Institute, 1986; John Fischetti Editorial Cartooning Award, first place 1987; and the National Cartoonist Society Silver T-square Award, 2006. In addition, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Illinois Crimestoppers organization. (16) In 1983 he received the Pulitzer Prize for a cartoon showing a Superman-costumed Ronald Reagan falling out of a phone booth on his way to Central America. (17) In 2011 the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists awarded him its distinguished Ink Bottle Award, in recognition of his service to the association and to the profession of editorial cartooning. (18)

In February 2011 Locher announced that he would be retiring from the creation of the popular "Dick Tracy" series. He penned his last Dick Tracy strip on March 13, 2011. (19)


1. Harvey, R. C. "The Locher Legend," The Comic Journal, August 26, 2013, Online: http://www.tcj.com/the-locher-legend/

2. Nash, Marilyn K. "Dick Locher," from the book They Came From Dubuque by John Tigges, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1983, p. 113

3. Ibid., p. 114

4. "Dick Locher," Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, Online: http://www.foxvalleyarts.org/locher.htm

5. Ibid.

6. Nash, Marilyn K.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "Dick Locher," The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Online: http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoonist/profile.cfm/LocheD/

10. "Dick Locher, Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.

11. Ibid.

12. Harvey, R. C.

13. Stantis, Scott. "Legendary Cartoonist Announces Retirement," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2013. Online: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-20/opinion/ct-oped-0520-locher-20130520_1_college-cartoonists-dick-tracy-editorial

14. Nash, Marilyn K.

15. "Dick Locher," The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists

16. "Dick Locher, Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.

17. Ibid.

18. Cooper, Brian. "Another Honor for Dubuque Native Dick Locher," Telegraph Herald, July 14, 2011. Online: http://www.thonline.com/blogs/editors_notes/article_92cbcd16-ae23-11e0-a726-001a4bcf6878.html

19. Moran, John. "Dick Tracy Trades in His Pistol," Julien's Journal, July 2011, p. 56