Saturday, January 28, 2017

The 1917 Chicago Auto Show

Sedanback Saturday looks back 100 years ago this weekend to the Chicago Auto Show of 1917, as greeted by Frank King's "The Rectangle" feature covering page 1 of section 7 of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
I've chopped his cartoon up into pieces in order to make them somewhat readable on line; those of you reading on computers and tablets can beclickify these images to embiggenate them. Those of you reading on your phones are just crazy. I'm not chopping the cartoon up that small.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
To refresh your memory, Wisconsin native Frank King (1883-1969) started working at the Chicago Tribune in 1909 for the salary of 50 cents a week. He is best known for "Gasoline Alley," the comic strip that grew out of this weekly "The Rectangle" feature. At this point, he was also drawing a full-page Sunday morning color comic, "Bobby Make-Believe," which I've featured in these Saturday retrospectives before. He'd been drawing cartoons about the Chicago Auto Show since at least 1912.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
You'll notice that this January 28, 1917 cartoon, dealing almost entirely with the subject of automobiles, has no foreshadowing of "Gasoline Alley" in it. The characters Walter W. Wallet and his neighbors Bill, Doc and Avery wouldn't make their first appearance in "The Rectangle" until November 24, 1918. On the other hand, the Little Pet Peeve and Our Own Movies were regular features of the Rectangle.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
I had to look up Lillian "Dimples" Walker (1887-1975), a film actress of the silent era. She had the title roles in The Kid and Kitty MacCay and Sally in a Hurry, three of her many films out around the time of this cartoon. After 1919, her film career slowed down drastically; her last film was Enlighten Thy Daughter in 1934. What she might have to do with the auto show I have no idea. Perhaps she made an appearance there.

And finally, in the lower right corner of the cartoon, King offers this tempting real estate give-away:
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Q Toon: Pussy Hats Galore

Perhaps you wonder why I have someone at the Women's March on Washington protesting Donald Joffrey Trump hiding his tax returns, instead of some traditional women's issue.

Yes, it was a women's march we witnessed on all seven continents last Saturday, but marchers represented many concerns. After all, the Dakota pipeline, immigration and global climate change don't just affect men, you know. I know personally at least one protester who did in fact carry a sign raising the issue of Donald Joffrey Trump evading taxes.

(If only there were some form he could release to prove he is not a tax cheat!)

I had been toying around with the sentiment expressed on this woman's protest sign, trying to come up with a setting in which to present it, when on Sunday morning, KellyAnne Conway gave me what I thought would make the perfect capper to it.

There's so much lag time between Sunday and Thursday! What was once a clever idea has turned into a cliché. Every cartoonist published cartoons with the administration's new term for its baldfaced lies on Monday morning; the internet memes were already flooding social media feeds before the NFL conference championship kickoffs.

(On the other hand, I remarked on "alternate realities" here over a month ago.)

It shouldn't be long until I find some obscure LGBT issue to draw about all to myself. When I do, hands off my idea, everybody else!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Velie 6

Things found while looking for other things department:

This was an ad in the Chicago Tribune in January, 1917 hyping the Chicago Auto Show. I don't think this ad would pass the standards and practices department of today's newspaper, at least without putting a wet bikini on the lady on the right. And probably replacing the gentleman on the right with another buxom bimbo. Or Matthew McConaughey.

The Velie 6 was a six-cylinder car manufactured out of Moline; Willard Velie, a grandson of John Deere, founded the Velie Motor Vehicle Company (originally the Velie Carriage Company) in 1902. Velie branched out into aircraft construction in 1927, which apparently overextended the company just as the world economy was just about to take a nosedive.

Velie's son, Willard Jr., was not able to keep the auto and aircraft companies solvent after Willard Sr.'s death in 1928; Willard Jr. died the following year. The Velie companies were sold off; Deere bought the automobile company. The Official Velie Register currently lists 221 Velie cars and trucks still in existence.

We'll have some more on the Chicago Auto Show of 1917 here on Saturday.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Passing of the Torch

It's Solemnly Swearback Saturday here at Bergetoons, and at the risk of presuming to put my own juvenalia alongside some excellent examples from the past, I'd like to share a few historical cartoons about this nation's peaceful transfer of executive power.

Inauguration cartoons afford the opportunity to fill the frame with caricatures. As with this bit of wishful thinking, they don't have to be drawn at the time the White House is changing hands; I drew this in June of 1980, before the Democratic National Convention had officially renominated incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

Of course, John Anderson fell way short of becoming the 40th President of the United States. Instead it was that guy partly hidden behind Chief Justice Warren Burger; so come January, I updated a famous New Yorker cartoon by Peter Arno.
Arno's original cartoon of Herbert Hoover riding glumly beside a beaming Franklin Roosevelt, like John Darling's outhouse cartoon, became famous in spite of its not being published. Drawn for the New Yorker magazine cover, it was pulled by the editors after the assassination attempt on FDR that killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak on February 15, 1933. (FDR was the last president whose inauguration date was March 4; the 20th Amendment to the Constitution moving the date to January 20 was ratified between his election and inauguration, and went into effect in 1937.)

Steve Brodner recently posted this tour de force by the outstanding caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) of celebrities who performed at Lyndon Baines Johnson's 1965 inauguration gala:
LBJ Inaugural Guests by Al Hirschfeld, 1965
I'm seeing Elaine May and Mike Nichols, Carol Channing, Barbara Streisand, Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Alfred Hitchcock, Johnny Carson, Ann-Margaret, Woody Allen and Harry Belafonte, and wondering what exactly Alfred Hitchcock performed. I also presume that Nina is in the drawing at least half a dozen times.

When I was growing up, I had a 16-volume set of a History of the United States that was generously illustrated with editorial cartoons. Included was this fascinating depiction of Franklin Roosevelt's first inaugural by Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957), a Mexican caricaturist and muralist who was, by the way, one of Hirschfeld's influences.
"The Inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt" by Miguel Covarrubias in Vanity Fair, March/April, 1933
On the dais with FDR are Eleanor Roosevelt; FDR's first Vice President, John Nance Garner; outgoing President Herbert Hoover and his wife; and outgoing Vice President Charles Curtis. Holding the laurel wreath is a figure who should be familiar to followers of these Saturday posts over the past year: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Charles Evans Hughes. Yes, the same one who resigned from the court to run for president against Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

Smoking a cigar directly below Hughes is another unsuccessful presidential candidate, Alfred Smith (1928); John Davis, who ran on the top of the ticket in 1924 with FDR as his running mate, is the bland-faced man with white hair, glasses and  rounded collar below the middle pillar.

Indeed, almost everybody in the cartoon is a real person; even the guy in the lower right corner with his back to us is identified as J. P. Morgan. I certainly can't argue with that.

I'll close with perhaps my favorite cartoon about Inauguration Day. Even though neither you nor I are quite old enough to remember Calvin Coolidge, I think the humor still comes through Gluyas Williams's (1888-1982) cartoon. It's a truism in cartooning circles that great art never saved a mediocre idea; but it definitely elevates a good one.
"Crisis In Washington" by Gluyas Williams in Life, February 15, 1929
There are many, many more cartoons I could have included here — Mike Peterson ran a large selection from Warren Harding's inauguration yesterday — and I hope to run more in four years to celebrate yet another peaceful transfer of executive power.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Q Toon: Cover-Up at Justice

Donald Joffrey Trump's incoming cabinet is so overloaded with secretaries dedicated to the opposition of whatever it is their department is supposed to protect, it's hard to know where to focus first.

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos is determined to build the best private school system anywhere and to make the public schools pay for it. The nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has made a career of suing to stop the agency from protecting the environment. Labor Secretary-designate Andrew Pudzer is devoted to the Republican theory of boosting the economy by depressing workers' wages.

And then there is Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Trump's choice to head the Department of Justice. Sessions, denied a federal judgeship by the Senate in 1986 over allegations of racist comments, has been a voice against the rights of African Americans, Latino immigrants, and LGBT citizens throughout his Senate career, and a champion of voter suppression.

My cartoon this week alludes to the well-publicized decision by John Ashcroft, George W. Bush's first Attorney General, to cover two statues in the Department of Justice's Great Hall. Spirit of Justice and Majesty of Law are a pair of ten-foot-tall art deco aluminum figures on either side of a podium at the front of the hall; Spirit of Justice is a woman, both arms raised, wearing a toga casually draped over one breast and her opposite hip. Majesty of Law is a man, left arm raised, right arm holding a lit torch, with a small towel protecting his modesty.

Installed in the 1930's, the statues have been a source of irritation for Attorneys General for decades. Titillated news photographers elbowed each other in order to get the angle with Spirit of Justice behind Reagan's Attorney General Edwin Meese when he released a 1986 report on the deleterious effects of pornography. Meese's successor, Dick Thornburgh, started the practice of renting drapes to cover the statues during formal events; Ashcroft's decision to cover the statues at all times was reversed by his successor, Alberto Gonzalez.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


In two days, my country turns the highest office in the land over to a self-absorbed, mendacious, double-dealing, amoral con man. A man who lies without even thinking. A man who will take a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and will proceed to turn the United States of America into a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of The Trump Corporation.

One of the blogs I follow noted this week the English word "Trumpery," which has been around since Shakespeare and Milton. According to the Oxford Dictionary, its meaning of "deceit, fraud, imposture, trickery" dates from at least 1847; the definition above comes from my grandfather's 1938 MacMillan Modern Dictionary.

The word derives from the French "tromperie," meaning a cheat, which in turn comes from the verb "tromper," to fool or deceive. The verb also gives us the artistic term describing two-dimensional art that appears so real that you mistake it for being three dimensional — a marble sculpture that appears to be wearing a gauzy veil — wax fruit that looks tempting to eat: trompe l'oeil, literally "trick the eye."

Trompe l'oeil

So be forewarned. From now on, if I refer to KellyAnne Conway, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Rudy Giuliani or any of their ilk as a "Trump loyalist," the pun is intended.

Monday, January 16, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

I had a frustrating evening of drawing last night -- in defiance of gravity, ink insisted upon running up the pen than down it, getting more ink on my fingers than on the page... which was supposed to be coarse on one side and smooth on the other but appears to be coarse on one side and slightly less coarse on the other.

At least the Packers won.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Peace at Hand

Continuing last Saturday's look back at editorial cartoons from January, 1917, it soon becomes clear that any optimism for peace left over from the the holiday season was aging about as well as the family Christmas tree.

Last week, I included a Canadian cartoon that portrayed the U.S. as a fish eyeing bait (Germany's peace proposal) dangled by Kaiser Wilhelm. Below, an Italian cartoonist depicts the U.S. and its own peace proposals as the objects being dangled.
Cartoon in Il Numero,Turin, in January, 1917
In this British cartoon, a Belgian officer (very possibly King Albert I) reacts to "peace notes" carried by Scandinavia, Switzerland and the U.S.
"Why Didn't You Speak Up" by George Whitelaw in Glasgow Evening News, January, 1917
On the west side of the Atlantic, views of Germany and the Kaiser were quickly souring. There were still cartoonists drawing cartoons against war per se, but they were outnumbered by cartoons that argued suspicions against Germany. (Both appear to have been outnumbered by cartoons about the cost of living, but I didn't see any on that topic that I found the slightest bit interesting. So, returning to the topic at hand...)
"Friendly Relations" by John H. Cassel in The New York World, January, 1917
Bernstorff in John Cassel's cartoon is the German ambassador to the U.S., Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff, who was secretly funding extensive sabotage operations against the U.S. and Canada.

He wasn't just threatening to spread rumors of Woodrow Wilson and golden showers, either. His German agents set off explosions at the Roebling Wire and Cable plant in Trenton, New Jersey in January, 1915; and at a munitions depot near the Statue of Liberty in July, 1916. The latter killed seven people and caused $100,000 in damage to Lady Liberty and about $20 million elsewhere. The explosion was felt as far away as Maryland, and blew out windows in a 25-mile radius.
"Lifting the Lid" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January, 1917
As of January, 1917, culpability of the German government in these and other plots had not been exposed; that German sympathizers were involved was commonly suspected, however.

Were he the president-elect 100 years ago, I'm sure that Donald Joffrey Trump would have told the nation that plenty of other countries could have been behind the sabotage, and that “Blowing up stuff is bad, and it shouldn’t be done. But look at the things that were blown up. Look at what was learned from blowing it up.”

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Q Toon: Certainly Not GOP Shy

This cartoon was drawn last Saturday and Sunday, and sent to my editors on Monday morning, well before a certain story leaked out about a particular president-elect of the United States.

So what is it about Republicans and their obsession with excretory functions?

North Carolina Republicans passed their notorious HB2 last year, and even faced with the loss of business, coveted sports events, and the governorship, decided that regulating transgender persons' use of public lavatories was more important than any of that. Charlotte rescinded the equal rights ordinance at the center of the HB2 controversy as part of a deal with Republicans to repeal the state law; but when it came time for Republicans to hold up their end of the deal, they refused.

This year, Republicans in several state legislatures have rushed to the side of their Tarheel brethren, introducing a slew of bathroom bills of their own. In a few, such as Virginia and Minnesota, the bills stand little chance of getting past a Democratic governor. But in others, such as Texas, there is no such check on the legislature, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick there is a vocal proponent. Here in Wisconsin, we have plenty of experience of Gov. Scott Walker quickly signing Republican legislation that he earlier claimed was "not a priority."

So Republicans are all in to confront the non-existent threat of transgender persons launching a wave of sexual assaults in public rest rooms. What can we do about it?

Tell them to piss off.

Monday, January 9, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

The rough draft is probably all you need to see.

Meanwhile, count me among the many who are glad that Meryl Streep found her voice last night after all.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dabber Dan

After only knowing about this incident from what showed up on my Facebook feed over the past couple days, I saw the film of it on TV this morning, and couldn't help but notice that the youngest fellow had his tongue out the entire time.

Did Congressman Marshall put the kids up to this? How else could he have hoped to get so much free publicity out of this biennial congressional cattle call?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Look Back at a New Year

"The Conscript" by W.A. Rogers in New York Herald, January 1, 1917
100 years ago, you might be forgiven for being wary of the new year ahead of you. From our standpoint, we know that 1917 was the year that the U.S. would enter World War I.

But as the calendar turned, there was still some hope that peace might be in the offing. Seizing on a December invitation by Kaiser Wilhelm to the Entente powers to negotiate for peace, President Wilson proposed a series of settlement plans at the beginning of the year. He was also working behind the scenes to get other neutral countries to band together to persuade the belligerents to accept them. The Senate, backing Wilson's proposals by a vote of 48 to 17, thought peace was at hand.
"Released" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, January 8, 1917
Apparently, the markets, flush with two years of wartime profits, thought so, too.
"Did Anybody Say 'Peace'?" by Gibb in The Sunday Chronicle, Patterson, New Jersey, January 14, 1917
Germany, with its troops holding forth in France and Belgium and having success in Romania, had published its own peace proposals in December (meanwhile sending secret messages to Mexico urging President Carranza to declare war on the U.S.  which would be revealed later in January). The Triple Entente of Great Britain, France and Russia decided that German and American talk of peace was utter foolishness.
"Still Fishing" by William "Noax" Noakes in Regina Morning Leader, January 13, 1917
President Wilson's domestic critics joined in the skepticism.
"Experience as a Peace Maker" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, January 4, 1917
Wilson's overtures to other neutral countries further offended Entente leaders when Spain publicly rejected his private diplomacy. The Entente countered with their own peace proposal, consisting of terms the Central Powers would never accept without being militarily defeated: German evacuation of occupied territories; reparations for France, Russia and Romania; liberation from the Austrian and Ottoman Empires of Italians, Romanians, and Slavs; and creation of a "free and united Poland."
"A Common Sense View" by Winsor McCay in New York American, January 10, 1917
Now, if it occurs to you that McCay's focus on the monetary cost of the war, as opposed to its human cost, is maybe just the tiniest bit soulless, hey, at least it's not openly racist. For a truly jaw-dropping counterpoint to peace optimism, here's the first editorial cartoon of the year from Chicago Examiner's Harry Murphy:
"Must Peace Wait for This?" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, January 2, 1917
Yellow Peril, really? Ouch.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Q Toon: So Help Us God

I, Donald Berzilius Trump, don't need to solemnly swear anything, believe me. My presidency will be the most goodly, amazing, amazing presidency you have ever seen, I'm telling you. I have terrific ideas for upholding the Constitution, especially the part about my secret plan to replace Obamacare, which was a terrible disaster, everybody says so. But I can promise that I will, to the best of my ability, which is the best ability, I can assure you, preserve, protect and defend the most exclusive private school system you have ever seen and I'm gonna make the public school system pay for it. You're gonna be so tired of me bringing back jobs from those lying rapists in Mexico that you won't mind losing Medicare and Social Security, or clean air and water, or a free press, or whatever it is that I put Ben Carson in charge of.

Monday, January 2, 2017

First Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon features up to 144 characters, none of whom are wearing pants.