Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Rex Babin, whose piercing pen skewered presidents, governors and self-important legislators, died today at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 49.
Babin's favorite cartoons were often his most poignant. After the attacks on the World Trade Towers in 2001, he drew Libertas slumped and weeping with her head in her hands.
After Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, Babin imagined the passengers standing on the wings with the hands of God reaching down to keep the jet from sinking.
Babin continued drawing until recently, offering a classic Babinesque cartoon lampooning California Fish and Game Commission Chairman Daniel Richards, as animal rights activists and legislators demanded he step down after he posed in a photo holding a magnificent mountain lion he had shot. In the panel Richards' head, a confused expression on his face, is mounted as a trophy, next to the heads of a bear and a lion.
Babin described getting his start as an editorial cartoonist while crawling around on the linoleum floor of his family's home in Walnut Creek, where he would crush crayons against the kitchen walls, and occasionally stuff a burnt sienna up his nose or drop a lemon yellow down his diaper.
Before joining The Bee in 1999, he was the editorial cartoonist for the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., and the Denver Post in Colorado. In 2003, Rex was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Babin is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and son, Sebastian, 10.