Thursday, August 12, 2021

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "Captions? Who Needs 'Em?" Wordless Gag Cartoons 1947 – 1970

There is the old story of one of my favorite cartoonists, Jean-Jacques Sempé, who was trying to sell gag cartoons from his studio in France after WWII. He worked hard at it and was successful. And he was even more successful when he hit on the simple idea that wordless cartoons had no language barrier and could cross borders. He specialized in pantomime cartoons, and was selling all over Europe.

Wordless cartoons are not common. At least not now. I think so many cartoonists (me included) concentrate on the quip or the wisecrack, instead of just letting the picture tell the story.

My friend Dick Buchanan has scanned in, and now shares, some great examples of the truly wordless and the mostly wordless cartoons. By "mostly," I mean a cartoon with a label or a sign you have to read.

Thanks for sharing this, Dick! Here's more from the massive Buchanan Clip File located somewhere in Greenwich Village, NY:


Here’s another bunch of clever cartoons of the wordless variety. Cartoons by cartoonists who don’t need one-liners to evoke amusement.

B. KLIBAN. Art school drop-out “Bud” Kliban started his gag cartoon career at the top, with Playboy in 1962. Look February 12, 1963

SAM COBEAN. Collier’s September 25, 1948

BILL HARRISON. Saturday Evening Post Jan 24, 1953

GEORGE SMITH. True April 1950

TOM HENDERSON. Look March 17, 1959

MORT WALKER. Saturday Evening Post September 27, 1947

VIP (Virgil Partch). American Legion Magazine May, 1948

 GARDNER REA. Look Magazine September 15, 1959

ED KOREN. Edward Koren, New Yorker cartoonist and  Vermont’s 2nd Cartoonist Laureate (2014-2016). From Columbia University’s Jester, reprinted in 1000 Jokes Magazine June-August 1963

B. KLIBAN. Kliban was hitting his stride in the early ‘70’s. Evergreen Review December, 1970

TOM HUDSON. Collier’s May 19, 1947

CEM (Charles E Martin) Collier’s June 5, 1948

HENRY SYVERSON. Collier’s August 14, 1948

ALI. (Alfred Isler) Boys’ Life April 1950

-- From an October 12, 2017 blog post. 


More from the massive clip file that Dick is generously sharing. Thanks, Dick:

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Orlando Busino Gag Cartoons 1956 - 1966

From the Dick Buchanan Files: CARTOONYFELLERS’ DIGEST, "a 1955 rag for cartoonists by cartoonists"

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Magazine Cartoons from Life and Judge 1931 - 38

From the Dick Buchanan Files: June 1953 Cartoonist's Market Newsletter

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: More Mid-Century Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Color Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1956

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Cops and Robbers Gag Cartoons 1945 - 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Gahan Wilson: Early Gag Cartoons 1954 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Inkyfellers' Gagzette

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: The Years of Al Ross - 1947 – 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: New Yorker Cartoonists Abroad 1966-1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1945 - 1962

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "How I Create Humor" from 1950s - 60s Gag Cartoon Insider Journal "The Information Guide"

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1950s Color Magazine Gag Cartoons

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Funny Vintage Magazine Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1963

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Wordless Gag Cartoons 1944-1964

1953 George Booth Drawings for American Legion Magazine

Dick Buchanan: Winter/Christmas/Holiday Gag Cartoons 1940s-60s

Dick Buchanan: Some PUNCH Magazine Cartoons 1948-1963

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1946-64

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1947-62

Dick Buchanan: Some Favorite Magazine Gag Cartoons 1940-60s

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1931-64

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