Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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

Here is another trip down retro gag cartoon lane with my friend Dick Buchanan, who shares his massive collection of great, funny, sometimes moldy-oldy gag cartoons. 

Here's Dick:


The great humor magazines Life and Judge originated in the 1880’s, but by the 1920’s they were in decline. When The New Yorker debuted in 1925 their fate was sealed. To paraphrase humorist Fred Allen, “they were on a treadmill to oblivion.” Life Magazine went from a weekly to a monthly and ceased publication in 1936. Judge managed to stay afloat until 1947, albeit as a risqué cartoon joke magazine.

During the 1930’s Life & Judge published the work of several talented young cartoonists would become key members of the New Yorker stable. Perry Barlow and Richard Decker were frequent Life cover artists. Ned Hilton, Otto Soglow and Chon Day contributed Judge covers. Barbara Shermund’s work appeared in both magazines.

The gags haven’t aged well. Some were already old. But much of the artwork stands the test of time, to be sure.

Here are a few cartoons from Life and Judge magazines.

1. RICHARD DECKER. Decker usually had couple cartoons in each issue. Life August 1935.

2. PERRY BARLOW. A Life favorite and frequent cover artist. Life July 1935.

3. FRANK BEAVEN. Beaven has been described as an occasional contributor to many magazines but a regular in none. Judge January 1937.

4. CHON DAY. Different style by Chon Day. His cartoons appeared in both Life and Judge in the 1930’s. He did a Judge cover in 1938. Life. May 1934.

5. OTTO SOGLOW. Soglow also with different style. Judge January 24, 1931.

6. ED GRAHAM. Early appearance of a gag which would crop up over and over for decades. Life September 11,1931.

7. MISCHA RICHTER. Richter’s first New Yorker cartoon did not appear until 1942. Judge May, 1938.

8. NED HILTON. Another Life regular and frequent cover artist. Life September, 1935.

9. LARRY REYNOLDS. Life July, 1934.

10. DOROTHY McKAY. McKay was a fine New Yorker and Esquire cartoonist, illustrator and painter. Life July, 1935.

11. BEN ROTH. Ben Roth was the eldest of the four cartooning Roth brothers. Judge June, 1937.

12. ADOLPH SCHUS. Life May, 1934.

13. RICHARD DECKER. After Decker settled in with The New Yorker most of his outside work was in the advertising realm, most notably his long running Philadelphia Bulletin campaign. Life August, 1935.

14. ROBERT DAY. Life July,1935.

15. Dr. SEUSS. Theodor Geisel’s familiar Dr. Seuss creatures first appeared in Life but this one is from Judge January, 1937.

Dick Buchanan Clip File
Greenwich Village, NY

-- Edited from a blog entry originally published on September 20, 2017.

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