Ungentlemen: Cartoonist Chronicles-20201217

Historical looks at The Ungentlemanly Art from the past week.

Illustrating Propaganda During World War I

If the echoes of fascism have brought the 1930s and ‘40s troublingly to mind, it’s worth recalling that modern propaganda became a global enterprise during the First World War, rather than the second. For the US, that conflict was brief, lasting less than two years. But the ideological output was prodigious.

All contributed to the war effort. But Howard Chandler Christie secured the attentions of the United States Navy, for whom he produced nearly every recruiting poster during the war. Christie’s women exhort, coax, and event taunt men into volunteering for service. “Gee!! I wish I were a man,” dreams a woman in a sailor suit, “I’d join the Navy.” The typeset copy lowers the boom: “BE A MAN AND DO IT.”

DB Dowd, for Hyperallergic, looks at The Society of Illustrators and WWI.


Arkansas Political Cartoonist George Fisher

Fisher, best known for his work published in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Times, was born in 1923 near Searcy and grew up in nearby Beebe.

His cartooning career began in 1946 with a position at the West Memphis News.

The Arkansas Gazette hired George Fisher as the editorial cartoonist in 1976, and he worked there until the paper was bought by the Arkansas Democrat in 1991. Afterward, Fisher’s cartoons appeared in the Arkansas Times until his death in 2003.

In anticipation of a virtual panel discussing editorial cartoonist George Fisher (5 p.m. today!) hosted by The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, Arkansas Online presents a short profile of George Fisher.


Citizenship 101

Over the course of nearly two decades, DC produced more than 200 of these PSAs, some of which featured popular DC superheroes. They premiered at a time when Cold War fears were rising and just before Joseph McCarthy would gain notoriety for his unfounded accusations that thrived on these anxieties … While they certainly did not call into question America’s moral superiority in a Cold War world, it is also unfair to dismiss them wholesale as “innocuous lessons” as one historian has recently done. Indeed, as a whole, these PSAs highlight the limits of social criticism and political activism in the mainstream popular media of the age.

Brian Puaca, via Sequart, looks at DC Comics public service announcements.


Changing Mores Dims the Spotlight on The Usual Suspects.

Officials at the UK’s Cartoon Museum are preparing to strip back displays of some of Britain’s best-known satirists because the galleries are over-represented by “white cisgender men”.

Curators at the London institution say they are currently “interrogating” its collection of more than 6,000 cartoons and comic artwork to address an “inherent bias” which largely favours white cartoonists.

It means pieces by artists such as Georgian satirist and painter William Hogarth are likely to feature less prominently in future, but museum bosses insist it was not seeking to remove cartoons by famous masters.

London’s Cartoon Museum seeks to diversify its displays.


From The Golden Age of Bigotry to Today’s Waning

The power of the cartoonist grew tremendously during the 1860s, particularly in the US. Thomas Nast was America’s first great political cartoonist and considered “The Father of the American Cartoon”. German born, he is remembered for his strongly pro-Union Civil War cartoons for which Lincoln called him “our best recruiting sergeant”. Yet, Nast sometimes drew many bigoted cartoons, similarly to Gillray, attacking Irish immigrants, the Catholic Church and African Americans.

In the US there was a time when more than 2,000 editorial cartoonists were employed by newspapers – now that figure is maybe 20. The New York Times never employed cartoon staff, whereas Mourek’s native Chicago Tribune once had two dedicated offices with in-house cartoonists. Unfortunately, it is a dying art, with a lot of freelance cartoonists producing content for newspapers on iPads rather than original hand-made cartoons for which they may or may not get paid.

Collector Anthony J. Mourek tells dealer Will de Burca about the history of the artform.