Monday, June 11, 2012

Cartoonist George Dole

Here are some cartoons by George Dole that appeared in the above book PEPPER ... AND SALT CARTOONS FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, copyright 1984 by Cartoon Features Syndicate.

I know little about George Dole. The only thing I know is his work. All of his cartoons I have seen are gag cartoons. They are all good. The one above, a 28 year old cartoon, still works.

I like the sketchiness of his finished drawings. I mean, the top of the boss's desk is three disconnected lines. And it all works.

On a personal note, many years ago I had a regular day job career. I was good at my job and brought money into the business. For six years, like everyone else, I took a vacation for two weeks in the summer. One year, I was told I could not take my vacation from my 9 to 5 job because I was "irreplaceable." I laughed and then I quit.

I like looking at those little lines over the foot to signify sandals. It's very basic and works fine. I like Dole's eyes as well. They are sometimes small, sometimes big -- and always in the moment.

I like Dole's use of language. The quick shapes of the glass and ashtray impress me because they are (a) so sloppy but (b) they still "read" as a glass and ashtray.

"Go on in Harry -- What are you waiting for?"

Several cartoons in the collection have straight borders around them, like the one above. This reveals one of Dole's great stylistic choices: no one stands straight. Even the 2 salesmen stand slightly akimbo.

Above: a true cartoon if ever there was one. Look at those four doodly lines in the background to denote rocks. The unibrow line over eyes of the caveman speaking shows us that he's one tough guy.

Above: I like this one and it would sell today I think. Or is it offensive to Muslims? I don't think so at all.

Cartoonist George Dole whose contemporary, fast sketch style I love. I wish I knew more about you!

-- The above originally appeared on this here Mike Lynch Cartoons blog on August 25, 2008. 

EDIT: George Dole's daughter Rachel wrote in the comments of the 2008 piece and supplied some  background information on her talented Dad. Here's Rachel Dole:

He grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan. His father died when he was in the 8th grade so he had to drop out of school to help support his younger sister and brother and mother who spoke little English. He hung out at the local boys' club where he first started drawing. He was very active in the labor movement. Later he studied painting at the Art Student's League and apparently won a number of medals in painting. He used to sketch constantly and used to tell the story about how he was sketching a fellow on the subway one day. When he got up to leave the train, he noticed that the fellow that he was sketching was also sketching him!

In the fifties, he learned that someone who had appeared during the McCarthy hearings had mentioned his name. His real name was Anthony Vincent LaMendola. Fearful that he might lose his livelihood, he moved the family to Maine where my mom is from, changed his name to George Dole and continued working. He loved Maine, had a studio on Exchange St. in the Old Port area of Portland. He was always surrounded by artists and painters. Much later, my parents moved to Florida where he continued to work.

He used "gag men", but also used to like to have gag sessions with me to come up with lines for his cartoons. He sold many cartoons to Playboy, Penthouse, Esquire, Parade and many, many more. Once I remember he got a letter from Hugh Hefner who admired his work and told him that when he was young he wanted to be a cartoonist too.

Syracuse University and Kansas University both have collections of his work in their permanent collections. My mom has the bulk of his work (many thousands of his drawings and several paintings.
My father was also a great reader and collector of first edition books and we treasure his extensive library.

My father died in 1997 after a short illness. Thanks again for highlighting his work.


Neil Robertson said...

I've been immersing myself in gag cartoons in the last year or two, as fan and student both. I knew George Dole's cartoons, but his connection/alternate identity as LaMendola was a revelation to me. Even the handwriting of the signatures were similar, but I missed it entirely. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

George Dole's cartoons were everywhere when I started taking an interest in gag cartoons. Many years later, I can still see his influence in my own cartoons. Thank you for reminding us to remember George and his terrific cartoons!

Gary said...

Those eyes, big like window panes, are what jump out at me and let me know I'm looking at a George Dole cartoon. They somehow make his characters look very sympathetic (almost "doleful"!). I also love his loose, sketchy approach, which reminds me of Frank Modell.

Anonymous said...

I think the closest thing to Dole today in style and tone is Harley Schwadron.