Mississippi Writers and Musicians

Doug Marlette 1949-2007Cartoonist Doug Marlette

Major Works


  • The Bridge 2001
  • Magic Time 2001


  • The Emperor Has No Clothes,  1976
  • Drawing Blood: Political Cartoons,  1980
  • Kudzu, 1982
  • It's A Dirty Job, But Someone Has To Do It,  1984
  • Preacher, the Wit and Wisdom of Reverend Will B. Dunn,  1984
  • Just a Simple Country Preacher: More Wit and Wisdom of Reverend Will B. Dunn,  1985
  • Chocolate Is My Life: Featuring Doris the Parakeet,  1987
  • Shred This Book! The Scandalous Cartoons of Doug Marlette,  1987
  • There's No Business Like Soul Business,  1987
  • I am Not A Televangelist! The Continuing Saga of Reverend Will B. Dunn,  1988
  • “Til Stress Do We Part: A Guide to Modern Love" by Reverend Will B. Dunn,  1989
  • Doublewide with a View: The Kudzu Chronicles,  1989
  • In Your Face: A Cartoonist at Work,  1991
  • The Before and After Book, 1992
  • Even White Boys Get the Blues: Kudzu's First Ten Years,  1992
  • Faux Bubba: Bill and Hillary Go to Washington,  1993
  • Gone with the Kudzu,  1995 


Biography of Doug Marlette (2002) See update below
By Jesse Outlaw (SHS)

Doug Marlette is a well known, award-winning wriDoug Marletteter and political cartoonist.  He is well seasoned with experience from several newspapers all around the South.  Marlette has had a fairly diversified career ranging from writing books to giving lectures to creating an award winning comic strip called "Kudzu." Doug Marlette was born in 1949 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was one of three children born to his mother, who was a homemaker.  His father served in World War II;  and afterwards he served as a medic for the United States Marine Corps. His father's being in the Marines forced the family to relocate on several occasions.  The family first moved from Greensboro to Durham. Then, in 1962, the family moved to Laurel, Mississippi, where Marlette and his family attended Magnolia Baptist Church. In 1966 Marlette’s family again moved to Sanford, Florida. There, while still attending high school, Marlette became a staff artist for the Sanford Herald. (Doug Marlette Papers)

Jesse Outlaw, SHS researcherAfter graduating from high school, Marlette attended Seminole Community College from 1968 to1969.  During this time he began his career as a political cartoonist.  Marlette worked under Ralph Dunigan for the Orlando Sentinel-Star.  After completing two years at Seminal Community College, Marlette transferred to Florida State University.  While in Tallahassee he began working for the campus paper, the “Florida Flambeau,” as editorial cartoonist.  While in college, Marlette also worked for the St. Petersburg Times” for six months before returning to North Carolina as the editorial cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer in 1972  (Carolina Communicator).

In 1975 Marlette’s work became nationally syndicated by Kings Features.  At this time Marlette published his first book, The Emperor Has No Clothes.  Marlette received a citation for foreign affairs cartoons from the Overseas Press Club.  Then Marlette published his second book, If You Can’t Say Something Nice, two years later in 1978.  Marlette’s third book, Drawing Blood, came in 1980.  During this time Marlette received the Nieman Fellowship Award from Harvard University, which  granted him one year at the university.  He was the first and only cartoonist to ever win the award.  Over the course of the next year Marlette attended classes, attended seminars, and met artists and scholars.

After completing the year at Harvard, Marlette returned to North Carolina to work again for the Charlotte Observer.    In May 1981, Marlette began publishing his world-renowned comic strip Kudzu in addition to his editorial  cartoons.  Kudzu is a homey yet biting commentary on life, religion and human faults (primarily through a preacher named Will B. Dunn who is inspired by Mississippi's Will Campbell.)  The strip comments on the stereotypes and idiosyncrasies often associated with Southern life.  In 1981, Marlette’s first Kudzu book was published.

Kudzu by Doug Marlette

After producing cartoons for the Charlotte Observer, Marlette joined the staff of the Atlanta Constitution in 1987.   He befriended Bill Kovacs, who at one time worked for the Washington Bureau for the New York TimesMarlette won the Nobel Prize for editorial cartoons for his comic strip.  One year after Marlette joined the staff of the Atlanta Constitution, Kovacs was fired.  Marlette left to work as editorial cartoonist for Newsday, where he currently is employed. (Doug Marlette Papers Inventory)

After twenty years of working for Newsday, Marlette will soon be leaving.  Currently, Marlette is teaching classes on humor writing, and editorial cartooning at the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Marlette's novel, The Bridge, is currently one of the best-sellers in the South.  Some critics feel his best work may yet be as a novelist. 

2008 UPDATE: Doug Marlette published a second novel Magic Time (2007). His novels were getting high praise from critics and readers alike. He maintained houses in both Hillsborough, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. On July 10, 2007, he was visiting Oxford, Mississippi, to help a group of high school students with the musical version of his syndicated comic strip, "Kudzu" after having delivered the eulogy at his father's funeral the Friday before in Charlotte, N.C. During a heavy rainstorm, the pickup truck driven by John Davenport, theater director at Oxford High School, crashed, and Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Marlette was killed. At the time Marlette was the cartoon editor for the Tulsa World. The Order of the Long Long Leaf Pine award was presented by the Governor of North Carolina to Doug Marlette posthumously and was accepted by Marlette's wife Melinda and son Jackson at Marlette's funeral.



1949: Doug Marlette is born in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1962: The Marlette family moves to Laurel, Mississippi.

1966: The family moves to Sanford, Florida, where Marlette works as a staff artist for the Sanford Herald.

1968: Marlette enters Seminole Community College and began working for Ralph Dunigan for the Orlando Sentinel-Star.

1970: Marlette transfers to Florida State University in Tallahassee. He begins working as an editorial cartoonist for the Florida Flambeau.

1972: Marlette returns to North Carolina as editorial cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer.

1975: Marlette publishes his first book, The Emperor Has No Clothes.

1981: Marlette begins publishing “Kudzu.”

1982: Marlette publishes first Kudzu book. The Bridge by Doug Marlette

1987: Marlette joins the Atlanta Constitution.

1988: Marlette wins the Pulitzer Prize for his comic strip “Kudzu.”

1991: Publishes autobiography In Your Face : A Cartoonist at Work

2001  First novel The Bridge receives high praise

2002: Resides in Hillsborough, North Carolina

2007: Novel Magic Time published.

2007: Marlette dies in car accident in Mississippi


Related Websites

Customers give Marlette's The Bridge excellent reviews.

Critics also praise Marlette's first novel.

Author essay from Barnes and Noble

Washington Post article about the death of Doug Marlette in a car accident in Mississippi.

The Order of the Long Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor bestowed
by the Governor of North Carolina, was bestowed posthumously to Douglas N. Marlette in 2007.

July 10, 2007:Cartoonist Doug Marlette dies in wreck from North Carolina News and Observer.



"Doug Marlette." Book Page. October 2001: promotion. Inc. 21 March 2002. <http://www.bookpage.com/0110bp/doug_marlette.html>.

"Doug Marlette." Carolina Communicator. January 2001. Cyndi Soter. 21 March 2002.

<http://www.ibi.bilo.org/Jomc/carolinacommunicator/archives/Jan 2001/marlette.html>.

"Doug Marlette." Doug Marlette Papers Inventory.  February 2001.  Joshua G. Mckim. 21 March 2002.<http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/htm/05008_m.htm>

"Doug Marlette."  1998-2002. Hoover Public Library.  21 March 2002.     <http://www.hoover.lib.al.us./adults/su/su2001/dougmarlette.htm>.

"Doug Marlette."  John H.  21 March 2002.  <http://www.hcteamericancollection.org/litmap/marlette_doug_nc.htm>. 





March 2002 , Updated April 14, 2008

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