Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whence Mr. Globehead?

Gary Docken and I were chatting about yesterday's blog entry, and Gary said he was surprised to see a cartoon with a character whose head was a globe appearing in a cartoon before World War I.

I have to admit that I have no idea where Mr. Globehead first appeared in a cartoon. Many of our editorial cartoon conventions can be traced directly to Thomas Nast (1840-1902): the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and even the popular image of Santa Claus. Lady Liberty was an instant cartoon symbol as soon as her statue arrived in New York. Uncle Sam overtook Brother Jonathan as the popular representation of the United States after the Civil War. John Bull for England, Marianne for France, and the bear for Russia date back to the 18th Century.

My first assumption was that using Mr. Globehead to represent world opinion couldn't date before the advent of instant communication -- the telegraph and telephone -- in the late 19th Century. The European powers had already laid imperial claims to Asia, Africa, Australia and all the islands in between, so there might also have been cartoons in which one nation's rival's ambitions could be portrayed as threatening the world.

I have a fairly good collection of books of American editorial cartoons, but no exhaustive examples of Honoré Daumier or the many cartoonists for Punch. For that matter, Mr. Globehead could have appeared on posters advertising circuses, naval recruitment or heaven knows what else. He might have appeared as far back as 1492.

For that matter, the Man in the Moon has been staring down at us since long before Earthlings had eyes to look back at it, so the idea of putting a face on a big round ball is not a particularly novel concept.

The only other example of Mr. Globehead before WWI that I've been able to find is this at right by Frederick Opper (1857-1937). He's satirizing Joseph Pulitzer, then publisher of the New York World. Here the globe clearly is a reference to the name of Pulitzer's newspaper as well as to the planet; and while there is no body attached to it, there is a face.

I don't have a date of publication for this cartoon; one on-line source guesses that this cartoon might date from around 1900. Pulitzer had served in the U.S. Congress for 13 months, resigning his seat in April 1886 citing pressures of his publishing duties. This might possibly have inspired Opper's cartoon, except that he didn't start drawing for Hearst's New York Journal until 1899. In 1886, he was handling a wide array of artist's duties for the humor magazine Puck. Drawn & Quartered: The History of American Political Cartoons by Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop says that this cartoon appeared in the New York Journal.
Continuing with items brought up in yesterday's blog entry, I came across this quotation from President William McKinley about the Philippines which helps inform R.C. Bowman's cartoon:
"When we received the cable from Admiral Dewey telling of the taking of the Philippines, I looked up their location on the globe. I could not have told where those darned islands were within 2,000 miles!"
My source, Volume 12 of the American Heritage New Illustrated History of the United States (1963) fails to mention the source of the quotation. (There is a bibliography, but no footnotes to connect specific citations to their respective sources.)

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