What The Cartoonists Are Doing: February 1914, Vol. 5 No. 2

[Cartoons Magazine, debuting in 1912, was a monthly magazine devoted primarily to reprinting editorial cartoons from U.S. and foreign newspapers. Articles about cartooning and cartoonists often supplemented the discussion of current events.

In November 1913 the magazine began to offer a monthly round-up of news about cartoonists and cartooning, eventually titled “What The Cartoonist Are Doing.” There are lots of interesting historical nuggets in these sections, and this Stripper’s Guide feature will  reprint one issue’s worth each week.

Illustrations used here did not necessarily appear with the original articles.]

Brewerton, far right, in 1912

A solemn-visaged owl flew into an open news stand in Lawrenceville, Ga., the other night, and pausing before a cartoon of Brewerton’s, in the Atlanta Journal, fairly shrieked with mirth!
This spontaneous appreciation by Nature’s wisest bird so impressed the newsdealer that he insisted the owl be sent to Brewerton forthwith, where he might indulge his fancy for cartoons to his heart’s content. The next parcel post carried a mysterious package, which was delivered in due course, and in a particularly busy moment “Brew” tore off the cover, revealing a pair of staring yellow eyes! At the same time a sepulchral voice asked “Hoo?” Whatever it was that Mr. Alfred Brewerton said to Mr. Owl in reply, the owl, it is certain, was disillusionized, for he has never laughed since. Not even when “Brew” is as funny as he can be, does the owl give any evidence that he sees the point. “Brew” is inclined to think the bird was once a managing editor who has “come back.” Tradition is against “Brew’s” theory, but the fact that the feathered critic only shakes his head and sniffs perceptibly as each new creation seems to confirm the diagnosis. Brewerton still hopes to win a smile from his new chum, and has given him the run of his sanctum, feeds him India ink and Welsh rarebits, and is watching for results.

It would seem that Senator Tillman’s success in getting the cartoons of his non-reversible cow printed in The Congressional Record has done more than all of the editorials and articles denouncing the publication of extraneous matter in The Record have been able to do in the thirty years or more since the practice became common of letting Senators and Representatives print anything that they wanted to get before the public in a publication which properly should contain nothing but a record of the daily proceedings of Congress.

Senator Bacon of Georgia and Senator Gallinger of New Hampshire have served notices that they will object hereafter to the publication of anything not contained in the proceedings of the Senate in The Record, and as unanimous consent is required before such extraneous matter can be published, this determination on the part of these Senators should put a stop to the practice so far as the upper house is concerned.

According to some scientists who have been investigating the subject, there are two centers of thought in the brain instead of one as had formerly been supposed, and each of these centers controls one side of the body. According to their theory, a right-handed person who uses the left hand only for purposes that require no particular skill, is utilizing only one half of his brain power, and if he had taken the trouble to train his left hand, he would be able to accomplish a great deal more and better work. An artist, for instance, who draws pictures with his right hand, might conceivably develop remarkable literary skill by doing his writing with his left hand.

There are no records to prove whether Du Maurier, the famous English cartoonist, who late in life produced such remarkable novels as Trilby, Peter Ibbetson and The Martian, did his writing with his left hand or not, but Townsend, the present day British cartoonist, who is regarded as one of the foremost in his profession, draws with his left hand, but writes everything with his right hand; he is an expert billiard player and uses his left hand for this purpose, while in playing cards he always handles his cards with his right hand; a skilful cricketer, he bats with his right hand, but bowls with his left.

There are instances of cartoonists who, after some accident had crippled their drawing hand, have learned to use the other with almost equal skill. C. G. Bush, for many years perhaps the most famous cartoonist in America, whose drawings in The New York World have been equalled for force and imaginative qualities by few, had to learn to draw with his left hand late in life after a stroke of paralysis, which crippled his right side. Some of Mr. Bush’s left-handed work was equal to the best he had ever done with his right hand.

Public interest in cartoons among the residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was stimulated by a cartoonists’ exhibition held in The Public Library in December. The historical room of the library was given over to the exhibition.

While most of the work shown was original drawings by the cartoonists of the three Grand Rapids papers, Vidro of The Press, Barnes of The Herald, and Tower of The News, there were also exhibited prints of cartoons by Rouse, a former Press cartoonist who died four years ago, by McCutcheon of The Chicago Tribune and other artists. Drawings and lithographs showing the work of English, French and Polish cartoonists were also exhibited.

In an editorial entitled, “The Challenge of the Cartoon,” the Columbia (S. C.) State says:

“The first Democrat to be elected and seated President of the United States after the War Between the States was Grover Cleveland. His election turned upon the vote of New York State, which he carried by the narrow majority of 1,200.

“But for any one of several incidents Mr. Cleveland would have been defeated in New York. The Burchard speech was one of them and the cartoon of the Republican candidate as the ‘Tattooed Man’ was another.

“Mr. Blaine, the ‘plumed knight,’ was a brilliant and dashing statesman. No man has appealed more strongly to the imagination of the American electorate and had Mr. Blaine’s record been clean he would have ‘won in a walk.’

“But Mr. Blaine’s record was vulnerable. The cartoonist pictured him as a naked savage, his body tattooed, after the manner of savages, with references to questionable transactions with which his name had been associated. The public eye, not only in New York but throughout the country, was fixed upon Blaine as a corrupt politician and so the public conscience was aroused in a way that printed words could never have aroused it.

“In similar fashions, the cartoons of Thomas Nast stirred New York against the ‘Tweed Ring’ and led to its destruction.

“The law, of course, gives politicians as well as others ample redress against the unfair and libelous cartoon, just as it gives them redress against the libel that is printed or written. No solvent and responsible newspaper would dare print a cartoon based upon false allegations and holding up an honest man to reproach or ridicule.

“The publication of a cartoon assailing a man’s reputation is always a challenge by the newspaper or magazine to sue it for damages.”

The New York Press asks why the cartoonists persist in drawing toughs and gunmen in the likeness of prize fighters, with close cropped hair, when as a matter of fact, almost every young tough in New York wears his hair long, and usually with a lock hanging down over his forehead.

The answer is the simple one that what cartoonists are drawing are types and not portraits. Until the general public is educated to the point where it immediately recognizes a picture such as that which the Press suggests as that of a tough citizen, a cartoon using such a type for that purpose would lose all of its force and point. The present day conception of a tough citizen has been hammered into the public mind by thousands of artists and cartoonists ever since Cruikshank drew his pictures of Bill Sykes to illustrate Oliver Twist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *