Wednesday, March 01, 2023

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Unlikely Subjects: Cavemen 1947 - 1964

Dick Buchanan has gone all neanderthal on us, extricating archaeologically silly gag cartoons from the bottom strata of his cartoon clip file, and sharing them with us on our version of the cave wall. (The internet, I mean. Duh.) Dick has all of the hairy, knuckle-dragging, wheel-inventing tropes for you below. Thanks and take it away, Dick!


(1947– 1964)

Some subjects of 20th century gag cartoons were completely inane. For instance, take one of the grand creations ever spawned by comical artists of yore . . . the Caveman, not to mention the Cavewomen and the Cavekids. In the early 20th century Neanderthal Man was usually depicted by illustrators as ape-like. Over time a standard image emerged. Cavemen were portrayed as dim-witted lugs dressed in animal hides, armed with a large club or rock. The club was using for mating. The hairy male used his club to clobber the female before dragging her away, by her hair, to his cave. Some story, eh? We could hardly believe it ourselves. 

Despite the fact that humans and non-avian dinosaurs did not exist at the same time, the pairing was often used for comedic effect. Comic strips like Alley Oop and B.C. are memorable examples of this. The 1960’s television series The Flintstones went one step further, featuring prehistoric mammals as tools, household appliances, vehicles and construction equipment.

Imagine our relief when we sifted through our trove of 20th century gag cartoons and unearthed some shining examples of the caveman genre. Here is the story of prehistoric men and women as imagined by some of the mid-20th century’s leading cartoonists . . .

1. CLAUDE (SMITH) The Saturday Evening Post May 9, 1948.


2. VAHAN SHIRVANIAN. 1000 Jokes Magazine December, 1962 – February, 1963.

3. JERRY MARCUS. 1000 Jokes Magazine August – October, 1954.


4. JACK TIPPIT. For Laughing Out Loud January-March, 1962.

5. NED HILTON. 1000 Jokes Magazine June – August, 1959.


6. VIRGIL PARTCH. Collier’s February 5, 1954.

7. JACK TIPPIT. This Week Magazine November 26, 1961.


8. WILLIAM SCULLY. Punch October 28, 1953.


9. FRED SUROCE. The Saturday Evening Post March 31, 1962.


10. BILL BREWER. Argosy August, 1957.

11. GEORGE HAMILTON GREEN. Collier’s May 27, 1955.


12. ORLANDO BUSINO. Boys’ Life August, 1964.


13. LEE LORENZ. For Laughing Out Loud 1964.


14. GEORGE WOLFE. Collier’s November 12, 1947.

15. WILLIAM O’BRIAN. Look June 30, 1964.


1 comment:

DBenson said...

There were plenty of pre-Flintstone animated cartoons as well: Willis O'Brien did a stop-motion comic short during the silent era; the Fleischers tried a Stone Age series before Paramount took the studio away; and Warner, MGM, Disney, and Terrytoons at least dabbled. Here's a late-period Donald Caveduck: