F. Opper’s 1920 Freeneasy Film Co. Presents

Frederick Burr Opper was early in the 20th Century considered The Dean of American Cartooning a title he retained long after his death. Cartoonist and illustrator he made his name in the humorous weeklies of the late 1800s (Wild Oats, Puck, etc). His fame only grew when signed on to the Hearst Empire creating comics like Happy Hooligan, Alphonse and Gaston, Maude the Mule, Howson Lott, and more. He also continued a practice he perfected in those humor weeklies – editorial cartooning.

February 28, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

By 1920 The First World War was over but repercussions from those years were still affecting the world, as were the after effects of the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Recession became rampant in 1920 and the War To End All Wars didn’t fulfill that promise. The World needed help and Democratic President Woodrow Wilson was there to supply it.

Fred Opper, always signing “F. Opper,” had been creating running titles for some of his editorial cartoon series, the most well-known probably being Willie and His Papa.” In 1920 Opper created a new series of occasional editorial cartoons that dealt with the open wallet of the U.S. He called it “Freeneasy Film Co. Presents.”

March 26, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

Opper knew who was to blame for the economic woes – his old enemies the greedy corporations and a lazy do-nothing government, with committees being side-tracked by meaningless inquiries instead of meat and potatoes issues. . Do rising prices and “short weight” (shrinkflation) sound familiar?

November 27, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

104 years later it seems nothing changes. Have your public utility bills gone up?

August 15, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

By the by – some track the origins of “John Q. Public” to Opper’s “The Common People.”

November 11, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

As mentioned Peace didn’t break out all over once The Great War ended.

August 14, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

President Wilson held out hope that the League of Nations could at least end some aggressions.

Though that pesky Article 10 worried opponents that U.S, forces would be commandeered by foreigners.

June 28, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

Yes, 1920 was an election year and the public was assured that all would be well if only they voted correctly.

August 16, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

Eventual Democratic nominee, James Cox, would find The League to be an albatross. Or some kind of bird.

September 14, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

August 30, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

Well Harding and the Republicans won (overwhelmingly!) and the Democratic Party joined the growing line.

November 23, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

But with a new party in control of the government better times will soon arrive, heh?

November 22, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

And so life goes on.

November 13, 1920 The Pittsburgh Press

Ah well, we can dream.

November 17, 1920 San Francisco Examiner

F. Opper would continue the Freeneasy Film Co. Presents series through 1922 at least as profiteers and grafters would continue to plague The Common Man. But we modern Americans have put end to that, haven’t we.

One thought on “F. Opper’s 1920 Freeneasy Film Co. Presents

  1. If you think about it, 1920 and 2020 were both years of literal plague and depression. I wonder if Opper managed to do a caricature of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee that year because is uncle in law, Teddy, had just died.

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