LOS ANGELES – Paul Conrad used his pencil like a weapon. His long lines and jagged angles seemed to point directly at the leaders he deemed charlatans and fools in need of deflating.
In a career of more than 50 years he won three Pulitzer Prizes, made Richard Nixon’s enemies list and ruined Ronald Reagan’s breakfast.
The political cartoonist with an unmistakable style died at 86 Saturday at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes. The death was from natural causes.
Conrad took on presidents from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush, mostly in the Los Angeles Times, where he worked for 30 years.
He was fierce in his liberalism and expressed it with a stark, powerful visual style. Southern California political junkies for decades would start their day either outraged or delighted at a Conrad drawing.
The Times said in a Saturday story that its longtime publisher came to expect that his breakfast would be interrupted by an angry phone call from then-governor Reagan or wife Nancy, peeved by a Conrad cartoon that made them look foolish.
Conrad’s favorite target was Nixon. At the time of the president’s resignation, Conrad drew Nixon’s helicopter leaving the White House with the caption: “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.”
“He always said he was most proud of being on Nixon’s enemies list,” his son David Conrad said.