By Matt Petras
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Rob Rogers’ Pittsburgh-Centric comic “Brewed on Grant” in the Pittsburgh Current has been honored with a national award by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Rogers won the Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning.
“I was shocked and totally, totally blown away by it,” Rogers said. “I was very honored.”
The AAEC, a national organization that promotes editorial cartoon work from around the country, gives out three awards every year. The award for local cartooning is named after beloved editorial cartoonist, Rex Babin, who died in 2012 at the age of 50 due to complications from cancer. Marc Murphy, a Kentucky cartoonist, as a finalist for the award.
“It’s truly an honor for the Pittsburgh Current to work with Rob and to feature Brewed on Grant,” said Current Editor Charlie Deitch. “Rob has a unique way of talking about what’s going on in Pittsburgh, both the good and the bad, in a humorous and brutally honest way.”
Because of the pandemic, the judges awarded Rogers through a virtual event.
“For decades, Rob Rogers has been a national leader in our profession, deftly satirizing not just national politicians, but also keeping a close watch on Pittsburgh politics and culture,” according to the AAEC judges. “He has been our AAEC president, and he is beloved for his manner and humor. He’s a courageous fighter for our profession, and at a critical moment stood up for his work and right to comment independently.”
“Brewed on Grant,” a strip with musings on local politics and current events, originally ran for more than 20 years in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, starting out as black and white and later implementing full colors. After the Post-Gazette’s infamous decision to fire Rogers in 2018, the strip ended until Pittsburgh Current began publishing it in August 2019. The cartoon was also awarded the best in editorial cartooning this year by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania.
“Everybody said, ‘I’m so glad to see this back,’” Rogers said. “I had several people request copies of different ones.”
Rogers previously served as president of the AAEC and deeply admires the organization.
“They’ve been an amazing organization in terms of championing the rights of editorial cartoonists not only in this country but around the globe,” Rogers said.
Being awarded for local cartooning is especially exciting for Rogers because of the value he believes local cartooning has.
“The cliche is that all politics are local, but that is really truly where changes can be made and where people’s lives are affected, is on the local level,” Rogers said. “I think it’s really important to have checks and balances on that level to keep a check on the people in power so that corruption doesn’t happen.
“I really do think that we cannot underestimate the importance of local coverage.”