The Washington Post‘s longtime editorial cartoonist Tom Toles published his final cartoon on Friday as he retires from the newspaper. Toles worked at the Post for 18 years, offering his sharp takes on all manner of governmental happenings via pen and paper. His exit comes a mere four days before perhaps the most consequential election in modern US history—an event that would have surely yielded a myriad of Tolesian works. The cartoonist’s exit comes less than five months after a much-discussed Post story about a 2018 Halloween party at Toles’s house at which a guest arrived in blackface.
In Toles’s farewell cartoon—bearing the title “Final Toles Cartoon”—he depicts himself sitting at his drafting table, addressing readers. He begins by reflecting on how his career started 50 years ago at his college newspaper. (Since then, he notes, he has drawn an astonishing 15,000 cartoons.) The series of panels also take a few political jabs (“climate change is real,” “vote out the maniac”) and make a not-so-bold prediction about the future (artificial intelligence will be a big deal).
But it is the last words of the comic that left us a little misty. “Old cartoonists never die,” writes Toles. “They merely disappear into eraser crumbs.” The final panel depicts his empty chair and his pen laid to rest—a simple image that really drove home the finality of his retirement.
You can check out Tom Toles’s final cartoon for the Washington Post here.