Fans of Cagle.com will be familiar with the work of Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at the Arizona Republic.

Like fellow Arizona cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, Steve was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight following the terrible shooting that occurred in Tuscon.

Apparently, Steve’s work didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie, who had this to say about his week’s worth of cartoons:

It’s not that we need more proof that editorial cartooning… is the lowest of all art forms, but here you go, a week’s worth of doodling by the Arizona Republic’s Steve Benson, who is, of course, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Steve responded on the Daily Cartoonist to the criticism of his cartoons

I’m not complaining about the rabid reaction from the fringe to the cartoon, since it has brought them into the arena for debate over all kinds of relevant issues”“gun laws, political rhetoric, mental health issues, etc.”“and where it is, quite frankly, fairly easy to pick their arguments clean of any substance.

That debate, particularly in Arizona, is raging.

It’s ugly out there”“and when Palin got ugly, I went for the jugular.

Steve doesn’t backdown from his criticism of Palin, who he calls an “absolute, divisive, irresponsible nut… [who] has contributed to the gun-laden, ugly, violent rhetoric that has taken political discourse in the country to abysmal lows”“as well as arguably put citizen safety at risk.”

Here are his cartoons in chronological order as they appeared in the week following the shooting. What do you think?