Herblock / Dr. Seuss Go to War

by Karen Zarker

18 December 2009

 
cover art

Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist

(W.W. Norton)

cover art

Dr. Seuss & Co. Go to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of America's Leading Comic Artists

(The New Press)

Social strife, dirty politics, gadawful war—none of it’s funny, dammit. At least not ‘til some eagle-eyed, tongue-in-cheek talent comes along and nails current events and its players to the seemingly simple format of a single panel cartoon. We check ‘em out, grain of salt held firmly between our back molars, and chuckle at the absurdities of human nature, and marvel that we survive as a species at all. 

Not all political cartoons intend to evoke laughter, but they certainly aim to provoke thought, poke holes in things deemed sacred, and ideally, capture a moment in our historical timeline that will speak volumes to future generations with, maybe, just a few words. Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist, showcases Herblock’s 72-year career under 12 presidential administrations, Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. There’s a lot of history captured between these pages and in the accompanying DVD. The work speaks volumes, as well, about what was in the American headlines, in its editorial pages, and on everyone’s mind during some of the most tumultuous years of the 20th century.

The man who instructed an entire generation on how to behave, Theodore Seuss Gisel, aka Dr. Seuss, had his hand in editorial cartoons covering World War II during his career as a political cartoonist for the New York daily newspaper, PM. The man of morals makes no bones about what he thinks Americans on the brink of war, and largely resistant to getting involved, should do. In the company of fellow progressive cartoonists Al Hirschfeld, Arthur Szyk, Carl Rose, Mischa Ricter and others (the ‘& Co.’ of the title), more than 300 cartoons spanning six years of the war are provided, here. This makes a nice companion book to Herblock for the history buff.

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