Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Date Drawn in Infamy

Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, so naturally, I was curious to find the first editorial cartoons drawn in response.

By chance, John "Ding" Darling (1876-1962) had already drawn his cartoon for the Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 Des Moines Register about Japanese aggression in the Pacific.
"Now Why Should anyone Mistrust Japan" by John "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, December 7, 1941
This was not Darling's first cartoon raising the alarm about Japanese or German aggression. He firmly believed that the issues left unsettled after World War I were a threat to American interests. His career having spanned from before that Great War, Darling's support for the League of Nations to preserve peace, and the need for America to participate therein, ran counter to most of his fellow Republicans.

His post-attack cartoon portrayed a giant Uncle Sam cradling a dead seaman in his arms while scores of tiny islanders beseech him for protection from a rattlesnake with swastikas for scales and its rattle disguised as an olive branch.
"Please Excuse Hon. Doublecross" by Benben? in Pittsburgh Press, December 8, 1941
The rest of these cartoons were drawn immediately after the Japanese attack. I haven't been able to find anything out about the above cartoonist, whose name appears to be Benben. This may have been a syndicated feature, since I'm finding no other cartoons by him in the Pittsburgh Press; their editorial page usually featured the syndicated work of Harold Talburt, and less often, their own Ralph Reichhold (see below). Perhaps some staffer at the Press stepped in to provide a Pearl Harbor cartoon for the Monday afternoon editorial page when none other was available.
Jacob Burck was born Yankel Bochkowsky in BiaƂystok, Poland in 1907; he came to America at age 7, his family settling in Cleveland, Ohio. His work for Communist publications such as New Masses and The Daily Worker in the 1920's and '30's didn't prevent this leftist cartoonist from a 44-year career with the Chicago Times and later the Chicago Sun-Times until 1982, although publisher Marshall Field III had to defend Burck against efforts by Sen. Joe McCarthy and the House Unamerican Activities Committee to have him deported. Other newspapers, however, by the score dropped Burck's syndicated cartoons during the Red Scare.

His cartoons won the Pulitzer in 1941 and the Sigma Delta Chi award the following year. A few months after health issues forced his retirement, Burck died from injuries sustained in a fire at his home caused by his smoking habit.
"Tiger in the East" by Jacob Burck in Chicago Times, December 8, 1941
Daniel Fitzpatrick (1891-1969) started his career at the Chicago Daily News before Joseph Pulitzer Jr. hired him in 1913 at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where "the universally acknowledged" (at least according to the State Historical Society of Missouri) Dean of Editorial Cartoonists would stay until his retirement in 1952. Pulitzer granted Fitzpatrick latitude to abstain from cartooning when he disagreed with the editorial stance of the newspaper; Fitzpatrick took leaves of absence when the Post-Dispatch endorsed Republican presidential candidates in 1936 and 1948.

Fitzpatrick won Pulitzer prizes for editorial cartooning in 1926 and 1955. He remains famous among editorial cartoon fans for his wartime cartoons depicting a gigantic swastika rolling heavily across Europe, crushing all in its path or being heroically resisted, as the occasion demanded.
"How to Save Face?" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 1941
With Fitzpatrick's retirement, the Deanship passed to another cartoonist who cut his cartooning teeth at the Chicago Daily News, Herbert Block (1909-2001), best known as Herblock. Not yet having landed the plum position at the Washington Post, Herblock was in Cleveland at the start of World War II, drawing for the Newspaper Enterprise Association.

His pre-war cartoons in support of the Allies got Herblock called onto the carpet at NEA's offices in New York, where syndicate president Fred Ferguson pressured him to stop criticizing isolationists. For his part, Herblock couldn't change his views to match Ferguson's, and was frustrated at the syndicate rejecting several of his cartoons. Relations only got worse after the war began, and the syndicate, under the pretext of following Roosevelt administration calls to save paper, told him to draw smaller, square cartoons. The syndicate reversed that decision the next year, after Herblock won the first of his three Pulitzers.
"The Only Course" by Herbert Block for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., December 8, 1941
Born in Prague and emigrating to America as a child, A. Vincent Svoboda (1877-1961) was the editorial cartoonist of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1940 to 1952. Prior to that, he had drawn for the New York American, Harper's Magazine, Saturday Evening Post and movie posters. (Note: "A." is Svoboda's middle initial in most of the references I've found, but it's given as his first initial in early Brooklyn Daily Eagle articles about him.)
"United We Stand" by Vincent Svoboda in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 9, 1941
Joseph Parrish (1905-1989) followed fellow cartoonist Carey Orr from Nashville to the Chicago Tribune in 1936; along with Daniel Holland, they were dubbed "The Terrible Three From Tennessee" by publisher Robert R. McCormick. (Yes, the Trib had three editorial cartoonists at the same time!) The Tribune cartoons leading up to World War II promoted "America First" isolationism in keeping with Republican orthodoxy, but with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the newspaper and its cartoonists committed themselves fully to the war effort.
"At Your Service" by Joseph Parrish in Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1941
That's the phenomenon noted by the Pittsburgh Press's Ralph G. Reichhold (1894-1989), depicting the isolationists abandoning their America First pickets. What I've been able to find about Reichhold is that he had been drawing for the Press since at least 1936, created its long-running avian cartoon character Donnie Dingbat (originally to spice up a routine weather article) and retired in 1955. As an occasional feature, he would draw a cartoon collage illustrating selected letters to the editor.
"It's a Different Story Now" by Ralph Reichhold in Pittsburgh  Press, December 10, 1941
The Milwaukee Journal's Ross A. Lewis (1902-1977) carries forward the theme of the nationwide commitment to the war. In December of 1929, He was inspired at the New York Art Students' League by the "Ash Can School" style of Burck, William Gropper and Robert Minor. Lewis began drawing occasional local issue cartoons for the Journal, which otherwise relied on the syndicated work of "Ding" Darling. Darling's support of Herbert Hoover's reelection resulted in the pro-FDR Journal offering Lewis a regular position on the front page, which he filled until 1967. Along the way, he was awarded the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 1935 for a cartoon arguing that both sides shared blame for labor-management violence.
"If There's Another Job to Do, We'll Do It" by Ross Lewis in Milwaukee Journal, December 8, 1941

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