Thursday, December 17, 2015

Art Spiegelman on Art Young: "A nearly forgotten cartoonist we need to look at — right now!"

(Above: Man and Beast, from On My Way © 1928 Horace Liveright, New York City.)

The January 2016 Harper's magazine has a short appreciation of the life and career of editorial cartoonist Art Young (1866-1943) written by Art Spiegelman. It's titled To Laugh That We May Not Weep and is online for nonsubscribers.

Art Young was a fierce editorial cartoonist, who tinged his attacks with a big heart. Spiegelman rightly laments the state of editorial cartooning today. In

" ... its current, demeaned American form. As circulations dwindle and newspapers disappear, the political cartoonist has become an endangered species. In order to survive, these working stiffs have been reduced to making tepid gag cartoons about current events, avoiding any whiff of controversy, since one canceled subscription or lost advertiser can spell death for yet another paper."

Timidity rules the day for an editorial cartoonist seeking sales. It betrays his/her craft, but it does line their pockets. 

Take a look at the cartoon below regarding prisoners and the public's reaction to a fellow who has served his time. 

(Above: The In and the Out of Our Penal System, from Puck, October 20, 1909, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

This reminded me of John Oliver's piece about prisoner reentry on HBO's Last Week Tonight. 

Sure, it's sad to see the same issues so many generations. It still stuns me that Oliver takes 18 minutes, whereas the cartoon by Art Young can make a point in mere seconds. 

("Chee, Annie, Look at de Stars—Thick as Bed-Bugs," from On My Way © 1928 Horace Liveright, New York City.)

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