CSotD: Trading New Years for Old

Happy New Year 1897


There is an old tradition in New Year’s cartoons of looking forward to a more prosperous future, and it goes back at least 125 years to this piece from the Brooklyn Eagle, unsigned but credited to the New York Press, a crosstown paper whose writers, according to Wikipedia, came up with the term “Yankees” for the ball club and whose editor coined the term “yellow journalism” to describe some other crosstown rivals.

The figure of Father Knickerbocker has faded from use and most cartoonists these days put a diaper on the New Years baby.

The Buffalo Courier was far more specific, with a wish list for 1897 of which you can find a larger version at the Embiggenator. 

Mark Hanna, being sat upon at lower left, was about to become a powerful senator in an age when senators were selected by state legislators. He was at the time of this cartoon a prominent fixer in the Republican Party an important ally of William McKinley, who had just defeated William Jennings Bryan. Hanna’s name would dominate both Republican and Democratic newspaper columns for several years.

Of more interest is the wish at top left to “Kick Weyler out of Cuba,” since the Americans were spoiling for a fight with Spain over the island.


The term “filibuster” was applied to freelance adventurers who sailed off to assist the Cuban rebels, and the news over the next few days would include the case of one filibusterer who wrote for the aforementioned New York Press, a young novelist named Stephen Crane, whose boat foundered off Florida in what some papers dismissed as an inept voyage on a decaying ship while others proclaimed it a clear case of sabotage by the evil Spanish government.

Crane made it to shore, but only our own. However, he did turn the misadventure into a short story, The Open Boat.

The Spanish sabotage charge would be more effectively applied about a year later.


Charles Payne penned this bit of Page One self-promotion for the Pittsburgh Post before moving on to a more lucrative career doing comic strips.


Happy New Year 1922

Ding Darling offered this optimistic view of the New Year, with a generous farewell to 1921, which he was apparently happy to leave behind.


Dorman Smith joined in the sense that 1921 hadn’t been such a good year and in hopes of better times ahead.


This wrap-up of the year just ending and collection of hopes for ’22 may (both available at the Embiggenator) fill in some of the context for Darling and Smith’s view of what the country had just been through.


William Charles Morris added a touch today’s Millennials would appreciate, as the vibrant youngster pushes aside the incompetent old guy. Tune in a year from now to see how all that bravado worked out.


And a bit of trivia: Three weeks from the day this ad appeared, Christian Kent Nelson would get around to patenting his new treat, but it was already being licensed to ice cream vendors, with the aid of his partner, Russell Stover. As noted here, the Eskimo Pie was popular but the patent drew more lawsuits than Stover could take and he departed.

The name has recently been changed to “Edy’s Pies” out of sensitivity that didn’t prevail a century ago.


Happy New Year 1947

The New Year in 1947 brought a formal end to the war, as Harry Truman put the nation back on peacetime regulations.

Jesse Taylor Cargill provided the usual optimistic look forward, but specified what 1946 had brought the country.


This unsigned AP feature (larger version at the Embiggenator) lays out hopes for the year to come.


But Dorman Smith takes a less cheery view of the goals of the new Congress to overturn the New Deal.


And Tom Carlisle takes a playful poke at perennial Presidential candidate Harold Stassen, the eventual GOP candidate, mustachioed Tom Dewey, being one of several hiding in the bushes. His setting apparently has more to do with Dorothy Lamour than the convention, which was held in Philadelphia.


Happy New Year 1971

A quarter century later, another presidential campaign was in the offing, and Don Hesse has the old year offering some practical assistance to the new, though, as it turned out, much of the excitement in the campaign was done very, very quietly, with forged letters and burglaries, not to mention secret negotiations. (Note to younger readers: Fifty years ago, people were held accountable for such things.)


Though it wasn’t the only reason to be glad 1971 was over, according to John Fischetti.


Corky Trinidad summed up the year just past (see Embiggenator).


Also at the Embiggenator, this selection of Herblock’s best for 1971.


Happy New Year 1997

Dan Wasserman put a modern touch on an old theme, though the technology has yet again gone through some changes.


But the topic of Steve Breen’s cartoon has gone through significantly greater changes since the handover. There was an agreement that Hong Kong would have a half century of continued semi-sovereignty but, well, things change, and the statue in Hong Kong commemorating the martyrs of Tiananmen Square was taken down last week.


And Corky Trinidad declared that the New Year was just like the Old Year.


Happy New Year to You!

And so a New Year is dawning, and Warren Brown chimes in from Sydney, joining nearly everyone else in the world noting the theme for 2022.


Clay Bennett departs from the traditional image of the enthusiastic New Year Baby to depict one not quite so eager about things.

Bennett’s Best of is also at the Embiggenator, since it was only shown here in a small format. For other “Best of” collections, go to the main Daily Cartoonist page where DD Degg is doing yeoman’s work.


Joe Heller continues the theme, but adds a twist to the “wretched Old Year” tradition with a salute to some real people who have also had a tough time lately. Nor does his New Year Baby look any more optimistic about things than Bennett’s.


Finally, Mike Luckovich offers Lady Liberty a to-do list for the coming year, and I would note that we promise ourselves the first three every year with little success, but we’d damn well better deliver on that fourth.

I guess we’ll see.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Trading New Years for Old

  1. ‘In 1900 Hanna chaired McKinley’s successful reelection campaign, but he was no fan of the vice presidential nominee, Theodore Roosevelt. “[T]here’s only one life,” Hanna warned, “between that madman and the Presidency.” Within a year, McKinley was dead—assassinated—and “the madman” was in charge.’

  2. Speaking of filibusters, Father Knickerbocker was briefly notorious because he was accused of being Long John Silver, and he had to prove he had two good legs before they released him.

    Things just weren’t the same for him after that.

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