CHICAGO – A longtime editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, Dick Locher also worked on the popular comic strip "Dick Tracy" for more than three decades, both writing and drawing the adventures of the square-jawed private detective.
Locher died of complications from Parkinson's disease Sunday at Edward Hospital in suburban Naperville.
"Dick was one of the best cartoonists in the nation," said Tribune Editor and Publisher Bruce Dold. "He was also one of the nicest people who ever walked through the Tribune newsroom. I most admired the richness of detail in his drawings. His work was funny and incisive, and his message often carried a hard pop, but his artwork was always incredibly elegant."
Steve Sack, the Star Tribune's Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, also had high words of praise. "Dick Locher was not only a terrific editorial artist but a major inspiration to generations of cartoonists. His friendship and fellowship in the cartooning community was legendary," Sack said Monday night. "Whether you were a newcomer to the field or a well-established veteran, Dick always was the most enthusiastic supporter you could hope for."
Born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, Locher earned a degree from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. While a student there in 1957, Locher was tapped to do some inking for Chester Gould, the creator of the "Dick Tracy" strip. He went on to work as Gould's assistant for the next four years.
Locher left Gould's employ in 1961 and eventually headed an art studio in suburban Oak Brook called Novamark. In 1973, despite having no experience as an editorial cartoonist, Locher was hired by the Tribune. He remained on staff until his retirement in 2013, producing more than 10,000 drawings on a raft of topics.
"That's a whole lot of getting mad six times a week," Locher quipped to the Tribune upon his retirement. He won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning with work that weighed in on President Ronald Reagan, home computers and the Middle East.
Locher was pulled back into Dick Tracy's orbit in 1983 after the death of Rick Fletcher, who had taken over when Gould retired in 1977. Locher continued drawing the strip until 2009 and kept writing the story line until in 2011.
Locher's son John was a cartoonist who worked with his father on Dick Tracy until his death in 1986 at age 25. In his honor, Locher created the John Locher Award for college cartoonists.
Locher also designed the Land of Lincoln Trophy, modeled after Abraham Lincoln's hat, which has been awarded each year since 2009 to the winner of the Big Ten football game between Northwestern and the University of Illinois.
Staff writer Pamela Huey contributed to this report.