25 Years of National Cartoonists Days

It’s the Silver Anniversary of National Cartoonists Day!

As News18 tells it:

During World War II in 1943, cartoonists including Gus Edson, Otto Soglow, Clarence D. Russell, and Bob Dunn uplifted the spirits of soldiers by performing cartoon shows in hospitals. While en route to a military base, Russell proposed the idea of forming a club to preserve their camaraderie beyond the war’s end.

This led to the establishment of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1946. The celebration of National Cartoonists Day began in 1999 [emphasis added], spearheaded by co-chairpersons Polly Keener and Ken Alvine of the National Cartoonists Day Committee.

They drew inspiration from Richard Outcault’s creation of the cartoon Hogan’s Alley, which debuted on May 5, 1895, in the Sunday edition of the New York World. This iconic character, later known as The Yellow Kid, quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

above: the first New York Sunday World color Hogan’s Alley from May 5, 1895 (source: Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum)

And so in 1999 a number of comic strips celebrated May 5 as National Cartoonists Day.

Above: Rose is Rose – May 5, 1999; below: Nancy – May5, 1999

This year, as in year’s since 1999, a number of comic strip cartoonists have celebrated the day.

Perhaps most involved was FurBabies by Nancy Beiman who hid 10 comics in her Sunday page.

Nancy explains in the comments before >spoiler alert< listing them:

Eight are identified by sound effects that are unique to the comic, and four are drawn in identifiable lettering styles.

Some announced the day in their comics. Foxtrot; Day By Dave; Luann

(Did anybody see the Luann title panel today? Is it relevant to today?)

Some, like The Fusco Brothers, The Buckets, and Garfield, were more subtle about the “holiday.”

And some just celebrated.

Above: Willy Black, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Mutts

About that Mutts title panel –

Then there was a Warped rerun.

How many did I miss?

Back to News18:

when it comes to identifying the first official cartoonist, that title is often attributed to John Leech. His groundbreaking drawing was published in the magazine Punch on July 15th, 1843, under the title ‘Cartoon No.1: Substance and Shadow.’ This iconic work not only marked the inception of modern political cartoons but also earned Leech the distinction of being the first artist to be referred to as a ‘cartoonist.’

Above: Cartoon, No. I — Substance and Shadow by John Leech, “the first cartoonist.’

The National Cartoonists Society

13 thoughts on “25 Years of National Cartoonists Days

    1. Comics Kingdom seldom (never?) carries the Mutts title panel.
      mutts.com is the best place to see it every Sunday.

  1. On this auspicious day, I would like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Teresa Burritt, creator of FROG APPLAUSE!

    I don’t know why I’m yelling.

  2. I like to think that some of the first comics were seen in caves and on cliff faces back in the day. I am almost old enough to remember that, and reading the comics has been a daily ritual for me for longer than I will admit to here. Thank dog for our sense of humor. It is probably the only reason we are even still around, and it may just save us yet. A hearty congratulations and thank you to all the dedicated artists out there bringing levity and insight into our lives!

    If I may, I’d like to recommend an off beat, enigmatic little comic that has wormed its way into my heart. And it just so happens that it’s gem of a creator, Teresa Burritt, has a Birthday today. Frog Applause can be found exclusively on GoComics.com. Why not stop by and say hi and wish Teresa a Happy Birthday?


  3. Happy Birthday on the same day as Cartoonists Day to Teresa Burritt, artist supreme for Frog Applause (on GoComics) and previously Shoe Cabbage!

  4. What a coincidence! It’s the 25th birthday of National Cartoonist’s Day AND the 29th birthday of Teresa Burritt*!
    * (Frog Applause, Go Creator, and All-Around Swell Human)

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