What The Cartoonists Are Doing, September 1914, Vol. 6 No.3

[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.]

The past month had subjects in profusion for the cartoonist’s pen. Of these, the situation in Europe, which seems to portend an almost inevitable world war, was the great, overshadowing event, and cartoons on this subject have ranged almost from the sublime to the ridiculous. The grim war god; the death’s head trapped up in military accoutrement; the trembling peasants on one hand, and the powers represented as small boys in a vacant-lot scrap on the other. It is a situation that will key the cartoonists up to concert pitch again, and cartoon history of the event will be well worth watching.
Huerta’s resignation apparently closes a chapter in Mexico, and with the eyes of the world now on Europe, Mexican affairs will assume small importance.

In addition to the Mexican situation there have been revolutions in Santo Domingo and Haiti which have required the watchful eye of the United States; interesting political campaigns in New York and Pennsylvania in which the cartoonist’s friend, Colonel Roosevelt, has figured prominently; the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission on the New Haven smash-up; the pending treaties with Colombia and Nicaragua; and the conversion of Secretary Bryan to the cause of equal suffrage. Other topics that suggested themselves were the demonstration of the anarchists in New York; the Caillaux trial in Paris, and the recall of George Fred Williams for speaking too freely on the Albanian question. The Jones bill for the emancipation of the Filipinos has been widely discussed; the antitrust bills have been pending in the senate; the railway-rate decision has been momentarily expected; problems of Asiatic immigration have come up, and an administration measure for sealing the “pork barrel” or limiting the harbors-and-rivers appropriation has been talked of.

With all this material, the cartoonists certainly need not have lacked inspiration, and their work on the whole has been most creditable. Many overlooked such opportunities as the “pork barrel,” the Japanese bogey, the trouble in the black republics, and the Filipino question.

One of the unique features of the Home Club at Washington, D. C., organized to promote coöperation among the members of the various bureaus of the Interior Department, is the “cartoon room.” Among the cartoonists who have contributed originals are Clare Briggs, of the New York Tribune; McKee Barclay, of the Baltimore Sun; N. L. Collier, of the Chicago Journal; Nelson Harding, of the Brooklyn Eagle; Rollin Kirby, of the New York World; E. W. Kemble, of Leslie’s Weekly; Fred Morgan, of the Philadelphia Inquirer; George W. Rehse, of the New York World; W. A. Rogers, of the New York Herald, and A. G. Racey, of the Montreal Star.

The clubhouse is one of the finest old mansions in Washington, formerly the Schuyler Colfax residence. Of the purposes of the Home Club, Secretary Lane writes: “There is no caste line or snobbery in the institution, and for the first time members of the different bureaus are becoming acquainted with each other. I organized the club in order to show people of moderate salaries what could be done by coöperation. We have 1,700 members, and the club is maintained on dues of fifty cents a month.

“We have a billiard room, card rooms, a library, and a suite of rooms for ladies. We expect soon to have bowling alleys and a tennis court, and possibly a country club annex, where members and their families may spend their summer vacations at little expense. This experiment, I believe, by bringing the many employes together, has done much to increase the efficiency of the work of the department.”

The following letter from A. E. Sturdivant, of Beloit, Wis., called forth by the action of the American Flag Day Association in protesting against the use of the Stars and Stripes in cartoons, as reported in the July number of Cartoons Magazine, is published without further comment:

“Though I am not a cartoonist, yet I dislike the attitude of the American Flag Day Association when they objected to the use of the flag by the cartoonists. Some persons act as if the cartoon were one of the most vulgar things in existence, and seem to think that if the dear old flag were to be shown in one, it would be an insult near to having the flag trampled in the dust.

“A good cartoon will many times go deeper and reach farther than a long, carefully written exposition, and if the cartoon has any connection at all with the flag, the addition of the beautiful tri-colored banner adds sentiment to the picture.

“Take, for instance, the drawing of Kettner’s in the July Cartoons entitled ‘The Popular Ones Now’. The flag as shown is but a tiny ornament on the girl’s hat, and yet is the life of the picture story.

“There are a few people who will swallow an elephant and never bat an eye, but who would complain if they had to tackle microbes. They will allow the flag to be displayed upon buildings and other places which are disgraces to the American public, and yet they have a fit when they see that same flag waving in a cartoon.”


A cartoonist calls Mr. Bryan “the Protocol Son,” and all our scruples against capital punishment vanish like a flash.— Columbia State.


“The cartoonists who essayed to place the blame for the failure of the Claflin Company on the Wilson Administration, not only failed to hit the bull’s eye, but missed the target entirely,” declares the Charlotte Observer.


Carl Zamloch, a former baseball pitcher and sports writer, has joined the staff of the Rocky Mountain News as a sports cartoonist. He will accompany the Denver “Bears” on their tours, while Gene Fowler will supply the text for his drawings.


“We sometimes doubt the accuracy of the cartoonists,” says the Montgomery Advertiser, “when they picture a boy in a stream or a pool on the banks of which stands the ominous legend: “No Swimming Allowed.’ Very few swimming holes are in the shadow of the forbidden sign.”

Anent “Billy” Ireland’s statements in the July Cartoons that the woman in politics can’t bear to be made the subject of a cartoon, the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser remarks: “This is a serious matter with the cartoonists, as well as with other people, for since woman seems bent on de-manning the male of the species and taking his epaulettes for her own snug, white shoulders, it is well to consider her weaknesses. . .

“At Ireland’s suggestion Cartoons Magazine of Chicago will print a few letters from American cartoonists’ setting forth their views on this subject. They will say whether or not they think a woman can stand to be caricatured as are our American men politicians. We believe these discussions will show conclusively to the doubting Thomasettes that the cartoonists will find themselves on dangerous grounds the moment they begin to hold up to ridicule our lady politicians.

“A woman can’t stand ridicule—few men can bear it, as for that. But above all, a woman takes more pride in her personal appearance than man does. She would resent more deeply the profane touch of the cartoonists than does man.

“The average American politician is thick skinned. While sharp ridicule, either literary or pictorial, stings him and withers him, he will not make a scene. Often a politician enjoys a look at a caricature of himself, even in the opposition paper. Criticism may irritate him, but it does not crush him. But sharp criticism of a woman crushes her, infuriates her, and the cartoonist who dares to picture her in extravagant lines, will have trouble.

“Woman in politics will ask for the same consideration she now gets without demanding it. She will not get it; all theories to the contrary notwithstanding. If she puts herself on the same plane with man, she must share a man’s lot.”

Lew W. Tower, cartoonist of the Grand Rapids News, and Ray Barnes, cartoonist of the Grand Rapids Herald, have compiled a cartoon book of the leading merchants and professional men of that city. The book contains 150 cartoons, the drawings being different from the usual character sketches in that they not only depict a faithful portrait of the subject, but surround the subject with a group of biographical drawings, illustrating some hobby or avocation. The book is bound in genuine morocco with a gold-leaf title, and is called: “Builders of Greater Grand Rapids in Biographical Caricature.” An exhibition of the original drawings was held in August at the Grand Rapids public library.

L’Histoire d’Alsace by Uncle Hansi

Concerning the prosecution by the German government of the Alsatian cartoonist Waltz, or “Hansi,” whose recently published book entitled “My Village” held up German officers and officials to ridicule, and convulsed all Europe with laughter, the Brooklyn Citizen says editorially:

“It was frankly a call to Alsatians to be ready when the great day of the ‘Revenge’ dawned. Just at present the German authorities are keenly susceptible to all French propaganda in the lost provinces and ‘Hansi’s’ book was formally declared contraband and its author prosecuted.

“The German court condemned him to a year’s imprisonment. Before being taken to prison the authorities allowed him twenty-four hours to settle his affairs. He took advantage of his temporary liberty to flee to Belfort, across the frontier, and once on French soil, he added to the gaiety of Franco-German politics by sending a pert telegram to his judges. His case has aroused widespread indignation in France, and he has been everywhere welcomed as the victim of German oppression.”

Upton Sinclair, the socialist, who was sentenced to prison on a charge of disorderly conduct growing out of the silent picketing of the Rockefeller offices in New York, expressed an original view of certain cartoons recently in his criticism of Judge Crain’s decision confirming his jail sentence.
The decision, he declared, was inconceivable. If it were upheld, he said, it would be the end of free speech and of public life.

“Take cartooning,” he added. “Obviously after that decision, no newspaper dares publish a cartoon tomorrow morning. If any of them do, I shall at once call the attention of the nearest police captain to the offense and the editors and publishers will at once be taken to jail. Drawing, printing and selling a cartoon are a form of ‘doing,’ and they are necessarily public, and their purpose is to rebuke a citizen by subjecting him to ridicule or insult.

“In Harper’s Weekly of four or five weeks ago, appeared a terrific cartoon, representing John D. Rockefeller as a hideous old creature crouching and watching through a spyglass the smoking ruins of Colorado, and there is the caption, “Hell from beneath is moved to meet thee at thy coming. Now can any judge hold that this cartoon does not publicly rebuke a citizen by holding him up to ridicule or insult, and note that it makes not the least difference whether what the cartoon alleges be true; it makes no difference that Rockefeller has admitted under oath his full responsibility for an approval of the hideous crimes in Colorado. It is likewise beside the point whether the thing sought to reprobate was or was not responsible; nor will the outraged law wait until Mr. Rockefeller makes complaint. It will not leave him to sue for libel, but will send at once to the offices of Harper’s Weekly—now that the law has been made clear—and arrest Mr. Hapgood for “using threatening, abusive, and insulting behavior.”


 Says the Helena Independent: “Some mollycoddle cartoonist at Washington the other day drew a picture of Uncle Joe Cannon without a cigar tilted at an angle of 45 degrees. Must be a nature fakir.”


Charles Voight, who is responsible for Gink and Dink, Uncle Petey, and other comic characters, has been spending the summer in Europe. While on the Continent he made a series of pictures for the American papers, showing Gink and Dink and Uncle Petey in their new environment.


Roosevelt is now wearing huge tortoise rimmed glasses. “Evidently,” suggests the Harrisburg Patriot, “he is trying hard to improve on some of his cartoons.”


Burt R. Thomas, cartoonist of the Detroit News, is back at his drawing board after a vacation spent in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in eastern Washington.

If the mediation conference at Niagara was not a failure, it was no fault, according to the Dayton News, of Ole May, cartoonist of the Cleveland Leader. In a recent editorial the News accused the Leader of doing all in its power to halt the mediation proceedings through its cartoons. It cites a “well-drawn picture of a Frenchy-looking foreigner standing on a station platform, looking down the track, exclaiming: “Ah, it iss caming, with a sign reading ‘Express to Nowhere’ painted at the side of the platform.”

“Why such eagerness to stop the proceedings that halted bloodshed?” continues the News.“Why do they want to put things back where they were in April, when it looked as if thousands of American boys would have to be sent to horrible deaths in that country on which God’s curse seems to abide?
“It is inconceivable that a newspaper should be so vile as to wish for an unfavorable outcome of this war in order that the administration of President Wilson might be discredited.

“The men who conduct the Cleveland Leader, for example, are not cruel, not bloodthirsty, not vindictive. They must be honest in their motives.

“But how, under heaven, do they dope it out?”


A recent cartoon by Chapin in the St. Louis Republic, entitled “More Watchful Waiting,” portrayed a family dog sitting disconsolate on the front porch of his master’s home, while on the closed door was displayed the legend: “Gone on our vacation.”

This cartoon, as the St. Louis Times remarked, was “worth a whole barrel of sermons.” The Times, rallying to Mr. Chapin’s support in defence of the dumb animals, said editorially:

“There are plenty of people—people who consider themselves kind and considerate, and who would sniff the air if they were told that they were not quite civilized—who go away and leave the house alone without making any but the most offhand provision for the dog that is such an important part of the household when the family is all home. And, of course, this applies to the household cat, too. Who’s to blame, in such instances, when the dog, driven insane by thirst and hunger and bewilderment, runs amuck and terrifies the neighborhood, and perhaps bites one of the neighbor’s childen? It isn’t honest to teach the dog to rely upon you, and to forsake all others for you, and then to fail him. If you’re going away this summer, take a hint from Chapin, and make humane provision for your dog.”

One comment on “What The Cartoonists Are Doing, September 1914, Vol. 6 No.3

  1. There's something chilling about the matter-of-fact observation "Of these, the situation in Europe, which seems to portend an almost inevitable world war, was the great, overshadowing event." If they only knew what lay ahead.

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