CHICAGO _ In person or in print, Jeff MacNelly was a hard man to miss.
With his 6 feet 4 inches and 250 pounds underneath a thick head of prematurely gray hair, he cut a commanding physical presence. With his editorial cartoons and his comic strip, ``Shoe,'' he packed a rare one-two punch that managed to provoke and delight millions of newspaper readers and more than a few politicians.
MacNelly, 52, winner of many awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes for his editorial cartoons, died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he had been admitted last Friday for emergency surgery. He had been treated for lymphoma as an outpatient at the hospital since late last year.
"Jeff was simply the most brilliant political cartoonist of the time," said Tribune Editor Howard A. Tyner. "No one had an eye and a sense of humor like his. And he was as funny personally as he was in print."
MacNelly was born in New York City in 1947 and raised in an affluent part of Long Island. As a child, he was always drawing, a pastime his mother, Ruth, encouraged. He was profoundly influenced by his father, …