I thought it would be an interesting look into our nation’s political cartoon history if, this month, I took a look at a different editorial cartoon each day that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Do note that we’re talking basically 1922-1967 here, as since then, the Committee has awarded cartoonists generally for their work, not for an exemplary single cartoon. So in many ways, this is a snapshot of American politics (for better or for worse) over a forty-five year period. Here is an archive of the cartoons featured thus far.
Today we look at John McCutcheon’s 1932 award-winning cartoon.
I featured John McCutcheon (1870-1949) during the Month of Political Art Stars.
McCutcheon was a powerful satirist as well as one of the more dramatic commentators in the United States’ news industry in the first half of the 20th Century. His paper, the Chicago Tribune, treated him like a veritable institution (he worked there from 1903 until his retirement in 1946), and he was given a spot on the front page of the paper for his commentary, which most likely is what led to McCutcheon’s status at his death as the “Dean of the American Cartoonists,” because his status was what almost all other political cartoonists aspired to – he was a clear star.
He won the Pulitzer late in his career, for the following cartoon in 1931.
To set the cartoon up, well, generally speaking, you get the idea 1931 was right smack in the midst of the Great Depression. However, more specifically, McCutcheon is commenting on the bank crisis of the early 1930s, and even MORE specifically, McCutcheon is reacting to the bank panic of April-August 1931, which saw the failure of 573 banks, ONE-THIRD of which were located in the Chicago District, making this matter particularly personal for McCutcheon and his Chicago Tribune readers.
So “enjoy” the following brilliant piece of social commentary by McCutcheon, titled “A Wise Economist Asks a Question”…