- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Kevin Siers has continued a tradition of Pulitzer Prizes for cartoonists at The Charlotte Observer.

Siers won a Pulitzer on Monday for his series of editorial cartoons that poked fun at both ends of the political spectrum, making him the third cartoonist from the newspaper to receive the award.

“Surreal, but very nice,” Siers said when asked about the award.

The 59-year-old Siers was honored for “his thought-provoking cartoons drawn with a sharp wit and bold artistic style.” He said his package of cartoons was divided equally between lampooning Republicans and Democrats.

“I think my package was pretty much half-and-half,” Siers said. “It’s nice that you can appreciate a voice that doesn’t come from one partisan camp or the other. That’s kind of rare, in the public commentary field, anyway.”

Among the cartoons submitted in his portfolio was one targeting Congress after it failed to pass gun legislation. With President Barack Obama saying “Yes, We …” on one side, a man representing Congress stands next to him holding a bag of money from the gun lobby below the word “CAN’T,” the letters of that word helping to spell out Columbine, Aurora, Newtown and Tucson, cities where mass shootings have occurred.

Siers grew up in Minnesota. He went to work in the ore mines, and during a layoff, he drew cartoons that helped one newspaper win a Minnesota Press Association award. While at the University of Minnesota, he drew for the campus newspaper. The Minnesota Daily, where he met Steve Sack, a political cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the 2013 Pulitzer winner for editorial cartoons. He joined the Observer staff in 1987, replacing Marlette.

Siers said he got a hint that he was a finalist for the award when he got a call at home. He arrived at his office in downtown Charlotte to cake, champagne and confetti. He was surrounded by co-workers, who shook his hand and gave him hugs of congratulations.

“He’s just a terrific cartoonist,” Observer editor Rick Thames said. “He brings a great attitude to his work every day, and he tells it like it is. He’s straight up. When everybody else is asking us to read between the lines, Kevin’s the one who comes through and says ‘This is what this is all about.’”

It was the fifth Pulitzer for the Observer. The other cartoonists to win it were Doug Marlette in 1988, sharing it with The Atlanta Constitution, and Gene Payne, who was honored in 1968.