Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Cartoonist Drew Litton Marks 25 Years with 'RMN'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Cartoonist Drew Litton Marks 25 Years with 'RMN'

Article excerpt

The past few months have been memorable for Drew Litton, who holds the very rare newspaper position of staff sports cartoonist.

On the positive side, he reached his 25th anniversary with the Denver Rocky Mountain News and saw the usually underachieving Colorado Rockies make an incredible run to reach their first World Series since the team's inaugural 1993 season. On the negative side, his wife Marcia had serious health problems from which she's now recuperating.

"It's been crazy," said Litton, during an interview today with E&P. "Actually, it's been crazy for the last seven years."

That's because Litton survived cancer in 2000, his first wife Debbie died of cancer in 2004, his father died in 2005, and Marcia -- who he married in 2006 -- was hospitalized in Phoenix for treatment of several aneurysms.

How did Litton work effectively amidst all this? "I try to compartmentalize," he replied. "You've go to do what you've got to do. I've drawn in hospital rooms. With today's technology, I'm able to do my job almost anywhere."

But Marcia's situation was so serious that Litton didn't draw many cartoons during his time with her in Arizona this summer and fall.

"The Rockies went on a tear when we were in Phoenix," said Litton, 48. "But I hit the ground running when I got back to Denver" -- including doing two large color illustrations for the Rocky Mountain News' front page.

Litton said wryly that he was sort of relieved when the Rockies' historic streak of 21 wins in 22 games came to an abrupt end with four straight World Series losses to the Boston Red Sox. "I had been ripping the Rockies for months," he recalled, especially the team's owners for not spending enough money by Major League Baseball standards. "I didn't want to eat too much more crow!"

Of course, Litton also cartoons about the Denver Broncos (football), the Denver Nuggets (basketball), the Colorado Avalanche (hockey), and more. "Local really makes the difference," he said, noting that those kinds of cartoons get strong readership.

That's especially the case when cartoons are very timely. Litton has often drawn cartoons right after a night game that get posted online before midnight and published in the print edition the next morning. "One time during the [2007 baseball] playoffs I had a half hour to do a cartoon before deadline," he recalled. "You learn to draw quickly."

The Rocky Mountain News staffer also does a couple of national cartoons a week that are syndicated by United Media's Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) division. For instance, today's cartoon shows how baseball fans have to pay higher ticket prices to help fund huge player salaries.

Litton obviously gets responses (positive and negative) from many sports fans -- and from some of the people he draws. Several years ago, Rockies pitcher Denny Nagle screamed at Litton in the locker room for a cartoon about the weight gain of the team's catcher at the time (home plate was drawn as a food plate). …

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