Cartooning is a funny business, but when it comes to the editorial page there is no kidding around. The cartoon is found here by virtue of the ancient maxim that "one picture is worth a thousand words." Newspaper editors know the reluctance on the part of readers to wade through monotonous columns of print - hence, the political cartoon. Typography keeps improving all the time but it still hasn't been able to take the place of a drawing!
All cartoons are, in a way, a mirror of the times but the political cartoon is most exclusively that. A study of this Republic since it was founded shows that engravings based on current topics were most instrumental in shaping the course of policy and politics. The pen, indeed, is mightier than the sword - especially when dipped in India ink!
Many social reforms that we enjoy today were instigated originally by political cartoons.
Various causes such as Child Labor, The Eight Hour Day, Women's Suffrage, Trust Busting and Free Education began right on the drawing boards of men like Kemble, Sullivant, Davenport, Opper, McCutcheon, T. E. Powers and Art Young, whose graphic portrayals of existing evils aroused a lethargic public to press their legislators for action.
The symbol of Prohibition, a gaunt undertaker with an umbrella, invented by Rollin Kirby, did much to destroy the 18th Amendment. And further back, in the nineteenth century, it was Thomas Nast whose drawings slew Boss Tweed and ended the political corruption of that era. "Political cartoons can break my bones, but names can never harm me," Tweed might have parodied in those days. Many another Goliath of corruption has been felled by a political cartoonist's slingshot.
In the hands of a capable craftsman, the political cartoon is a most effective weapon of propaganda. Whom he loves, walks in beauty. Whom he hates, is likened to the lowliest denizen of the underbrush.
Hell hath no fury like a political cartoonist!
Requirements: Must have great skill as an artist. Drawings must frequently contain simple dignity on some days, as well as blistering irony on others. Must maintain an up-to-the-minute grasp of local, state, and world affairs. Must possess talent for caricature since likenesses are so often called for. Must have sense of humor that can be translated into politics.
Next: Political symbols