Oklahoma and the world of cartooning have lost a talented and witty colleague. The Tulsa World’s Doug Marlette, author of the comic strip “Kudzu” and a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, died July 10 from an automobile crash in Mississippi.
Marlette joined the Tulsa World last year and quickly enamored himself with the world of Oklahoma politics and culture through his cartoons. He poked fun at Tulsa unearthing its time-capsule vault housing a 1957 Belvedere, the selection of the state quarter and the Legislature’s battle over illegal immigration.
Before joining the Tulsa World, Marlette was already well-known for his work. His comic strip “Kudzu”, started in 1981, published in hundreds of newspapers across the world with its focus on life in the South and featuring the Rev. Will B. Dunn character.
In 1988, Marlette was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons while working for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. Many of his drawings that year depicted some of the television evangelists like Jim Bakker and presidential candidates George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis.
What may be his most famous cartoon resulted in death threats. In 2002, Marlette drew “What Would Muhammed Drive?” The drawing showed a Ryder truck strapped with a bomb, driven by a Muslim man.
Marlette died when a pickup truck he was riding in hydroplaned on a wet highway in Mississippi and crashed into a tree, instantly killing him, authorities said. He was buried in his home state of North Carolina.