What The Cartoonists Are Doing, November 1914 (Vol.6 No.5)

[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 difficulty of obtaining cartoons from German or Austrian sources thus far has a tendency to make a collection of cartoons such as presented in this issue, somewhat pro-English in tone, if not actually anti-German. The British newspapers, which at first appealed more to the patriotic side in their cartoons, have become more virulent, especially as reports of the alleged atrocities of the German army in Belgium gained credence. The culminating effort perhaps is represented by Bernard Partridge’s cartoon in Punch representing a German soldier advancing to battle, shielding himself behind a woman and her child.

For the most part the American cartoonists have restrained their feelings, whatever sentiments they might privately have entertained, and confined themselves to delineating the more general aspects of the war, with here and there a touch of human interest. It might seem quite impossible for anyone to extract humor from so grim a situation, yet somehow the American artists seem to have done so, and without overstepping the proprieties. Of skeletons and death’s heads, of course, there have been many; but news has been scarce, and the world still awaits reports of a decisive battle. The preliminary peace talk, premature though it may be, has inspired many cartoonists. The advance of the Russian bear westward, the indications of restlessness in Turkey, President Wilson’s appeal for a war tax, together with the onslaught on the “pork barrel,” and the appeal of the Belgian commission to the government at Washington, have supplied other topics.

Politics, also, has crept into the news columns, and cartoonists in the thick of the fight have had to devote their attention to this ever-dominant subject. Were it not for the war, the November elections, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and the recent election in Maine, might alone have kept the cartoonists busy. A momentary interest in the evacuation of Vera Cruz by the United States troops was reflected in a few scattering cartoons. Almost any diversion being welcomed at present. It is probable that for many weeks to come, however, the struggle in the eastern hemisphere will continue to be the all-absorbing topic, and the foreign cartoons of the events will be of greatest interest.

Art Young

Art Young, who conducts and illustrates a page or two of causerie in the Metropolitan Magazine, has been burrowing into the tomes of the past. He has discovered that the public men most caricatured a generation ago were Tilden, Conkling, Grant, Beecher, Blaine, Ben Butler, Judge Folger, President Arthur, General Hancock, David Davis, William Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, William Evarts, Don Cameron, Charles A. Dana, Whitelaw Reid, James Gordon Bennett, and Henry Watterson.

“Bennett and Watterson,” says Mr. Young, “are the only members of this notable group still living, and both are publicly active. Looking over weekly periodicals of that time, 1870 to 1880, I made note of the way the cartoonists pictured these two men. Watterson was usually dressed like a typical Kentucky colonel of the day. Bennett was often portrayed as a tall, thin, man about-town, with a plaster on the bridge of his nose, significant of something, no doubt. Just what, we will leave to a keener explorer for biographical fact. It was Nast who caricatured Bennett as a Caesar up to date, assuming heroic attitudes.

“This series of cartoons was directed against the editor’s frenzy over Caesarism, a term used continually by the Herald to describe Mr. Bennett’s fear that General Grant’s ultimate purpose was to rule the United States as Caesar ruled Rome. “And in this connection it may be mentioned that only two cartoonists whose work was familiar in those early days— F. B. Opper and W. A. Rogers—are still energetically at it—and both are several years this side of the three score and ten.”


Cartoonists have about exhausted all the traditional figures of “Death” in their war cartoons, but Death remains indefatigable. —St. Louis Democrat.


Art is fleeting, especially newspaper cartoon art. But there are some notable exceptions to the rule in what has been inspired by the present cataclysm in Europe, as most observers will acknowledge.—Brooklyn Eagle.


Dr. Dawson Johnston, public librarian of St. Paul, Minn., has arranged an exhibition of war cartoons in the library, showing the work of the most prominent newspaper artists in the country.


Charles Runyan, known in Nevada as “the cartoonist of the desert,” has been devoting his efforts recently to oil painting, including portraiture.


Colvig as Bozo the Clow

Vance D. Colvig, otherwise “Pinto, the tramp cartoonist,” box-car idol, and circus band-wagon enthusiast, has joined the staff of the Reno, Nev., Roadroller.

The Guerre Sociale of Paris recently published two cartoons with the heading, “A Failed Napoleon.” In one the kaiser is shown gazing seaward and saying, “Tomorrow it will be St. Helena.” In the second the kaiser is in a straitjacket, and below is the statement, “No, sire, Charenton.” Charenton is the national asylum for the insane in the suburbs of Paris. Another Parisian cartoon which has caused widespread comment represents the Emperor Franz Josef standing on a battle field strewn with dead, and saying, “I wonder if it is true that I grieved the late pope.”

C.R. Macauley

C. R. Macauley, cartoonist and novelist, has been assisting David Belasco in the production of a symbolical spectacle to be called “The Prince of Peace,” which, it is hoped, will vitalize the final argument in behalf of universal peace. Andrew Carnegie is one of the sponsors of the production.
In “The Prince of Peace” a history of the world will be epitomized and unfolded in a series of stage pictures that will be realistic in their revelations of bloodshed, of tyranny, of selfishness, and of the tragic misery, and devastation following in the train of wars. The drama shows Christ as the first apostle of peace and is woven together and made appealingly human by the use of the character in legendary lore, Cartaphilus, the Roman doorkeeper for Pilate, who struck Jesus as He came out of the Hall of Judgment.

The Turkish ambassador’s recent criticism of American cartoonists and press humorists has drawn forth a challenge from “Marse” Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Colonel Watterson devotes an entire editorial to answering the representative of the Sublime Porte, and what he has to say will interest all cartoonists. To quote:

“A. Rustem Bey, who protests against the levity with which the American newspapers discuss, and cartoon the position of Turkey with regard to the European war indicates a lack of thoroughness. Our distinguished visitor from the Sublime Porte has not learned to understand the meaning of American humor, and the feeling behind it.

“If the cartoons in which the Turk is caricatured hurt A. Rustem Bey in his center of patriotism or his center of ‘amour propre’ he is not yet a cosmopolitan, as many of his countrymen are. Surely a cartoon of “Uncle Sam” is no further from a truthful depiction of the typical Yankee than the average cartoon of a Turk is from the truth about Turks. Everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Turkish gentlemen has found it indeed a pleasure, and has found them cultivated, enlightened, exceptionally good linguists, and excellent company. But the Terrible Turk has not altogether disliked being classified as ‘Terrible’ and his feelings should not be so tender that he cannot view without a sense of injustice and injury a Yankee cartoon picturing him with a curved blade dripping blood. Moreover the modern history of Turkey has not been, as all educated Turks know well enough, in all respects creditable to the administration, and there is no blinking the facts. There is no reason for sugar coating either cartoon or comment in discussing them.”

John T. McCutcheon, cartoonist and war correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, was one of a party of American newspapermen who managed to reach Dutch soil after having been held prisoners by the Germans in Belgium and France. For an entire week the party had been under surveillance at Aix-la-Chapelle. McCutcheon’s detention was made the subject of inquiry by the state department, and he was located finally through the efforts of Ambassador Gerard. The Chicago artist considered himself fortunate to have escaped the fate of a fellow craftsman, Lawrence Stein Stevens, formerly of Detroit, who was sentenced to death by a demented German officer, and was freed only at the last moment.

A cartoon by Chapin of the St. Louis Republic, entitled “Long Live the King,” and showing a mother kneeling at her baby’s cradle while the shells are bursting outside, is made the subject of a little sermon in the Pueblo Chieftain:

“The picture,” says the Chieftain, “tells the other story. Not the story of the glory of dying on the field of battle, but the story of sorrow, disappointment and misery in the home, that the king may live. It is the picture not of the masculine part of the family rushing forward against the batteries of the enemies that the flag which he carries may float over some new possession, but is the picture of the feminine heart of the nation bereft of its support, loaded with its responsibility of young motherhood and suffering the anguish that can only be known to our mothers.

“‘Long Live the King,’ could it be seen by every civilized, disinterested person today, would create a world-wide sentiment that would almost force an immediate ending of the war.”

By Frank Hammond, Cartoonist of the Wichita Eagle

Oh, don’t you remember the school house, Ben Bolt,
Where we went in the long-ago days;
Where you used to cartoon everybody in town
In your books or in other sly ways?
I discovered the map in the attic, Ben Bolt,
Your map of the African war,
Where you pictured the plight of our teacher so grim,
Full of arrows in old Zanzibar.

You remember our teacher, sweet Alice, Ben Bolt,
With eyes so alert and so keen,
Who refused to rejoice when you drew in your books,
And rapped you, forsooth, on the bean?
I have saved all those books which you gave me, Ben Bolt,
When we left the school long, long ago,
And I smile at the drawings—so crude they seen now
They are gems that in memory glow.

Oh, don’t you remember the speller, Ben Bolt,
With the cover so prim and so blue,
Where you sketched the dear teacher and Constable Brown
Making vows that they’d ever be true?
That speller is still on my bookshelf, Ben Bolt,
But, alas, I have looked there in vain
For the words that she spoke when she saw the cartoon,
And proceeded to mete out the pain.

In the halcyon days gone forever, Ben Bolt,
When you covered your slate and your books
With crude hieroglyphics; adorned house and fence,
And the prominent places and nooks,
I knew that your pictures would gain great renown,
And today they are famous and grand;
But I cherish the ones in the school books, Ben Bolt,
That were sketched by your own boyish hand.


Charles Wolf, of Spokane, Washington, local manager for Judge Turner in the campaign of the latter for the democratic nomination for the United States senate, received recently a complete set of the cartoons drawn by Homer Davenport during the first Bryan campaign. Some time ago Mr. Wolf, who is a warm friend of “Uncle Johnny” Davenport, father of the late cartoonist, conceived the idea he would like to own a copy of the early cartoons of Davenport, the ones wherein capital was represented as a large person with dollar signs all over his clothing. Mr. Wolf commissioned a second-hand book company in the east to advertise for the set, which was out of print.


Eddie Eksergian

The engagement of “Eddie” Eksergian, sport cartoonist of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, and Miss Clara E. Langan, daughter of Mrs. E. C. Langan of St. Louis, has been announced.


“War cartoons depicting the w. k. Grim Reaper,” said Noah Count of Chiggerbite, with a contemptuous drawl, “do not score any bulls’ eyes with me. A skull is hardly a dainty subject for art, even in time of war. And furthermore, it looks to me like just so much free advertising for Berry M. Aull, the undertaker.”—Kansas City Times.

A correspondent of the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently paid the following tribute to the American cartoonist:

“Out of all that has been written about the war—the lives lost, the ships sunk, and the thousands of buckets of ink that have been spilled, there is one man that I admire, and one man only. That man is the Yankee newspaper cartoonist.

“In my opinion, he is the man of the hour; the coolest, the most deliberate, a man of clear vision and his pencil the most ennobling.

“Until about yesterday, I thought he was just a fellow who ridiculed politicians, and satirized passing events. A man of mirth and merriment, who lampooned and lambasted everything and everybody. The manner of man who creates a tall skinny fellow, with a long nose, who hurls a brick at a little fat man—silk hatted, with a fringe of whiskers round his map, thus making the rabble howl with laughter.

“I now see him in a different light. An artist who draws pictures of sorrow and pathos, of brutality and shame, after looking at things in the light of cool, clear logic. He is no professional liar either. His pictures are always borne out by facts. He holds up the planet in his hands, gazes at it as impressively as the soothsayer does at his crystal, and ‘dopes’ out the why and wherefore of the passing show to a nicety.

“I’ve gained lots of inspiration from the artist. Oh! that kings, slaves and adventurers with the beast in man, in this war of pretence, could see themselves as the artist sees them. They would stop and say to themselves: ‘Think, man, think!’

“If the gaunt, hungry, frothy-mouth wolves of war who are snarling and tearing the garments of civilization to tatters could only see a picture of the American farmer reaping the grain, in a land of peace and plenty, it might bring them to their senses.


Harry Palmer, cartoonist and war correspondent, has been on the firing line in Belgium in the interests of an eastern film company. During the Boxer uprising in China Mr. Palmer represented a syndicate of American newspapers. He is known to many newspaper readers as the author of the “Babbling Bess” comics.


R. L. Goldberg, the New York Evening Mail cartoonist, who was marooned in Europe at the outbreak of the war, has reached America, and has been writing an account of his experiences for his newspaper.


The thousands of cartoons of Death in connection with the present war should have been held for release.—Helena Independent.

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