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Stars of Political Cartooning – Theodor Geisel

by  in Comic News Comment
Stars of Political Cartooning – Theodor Geisel

Each day this month I will be profiling a notable political cartoonist. Since the choices are vast, I’ve decided to slim the numbers down a bit and eliminate living cartoonists. Perhaps I will do a current political cartoon stars in the future.

Here‘s an archive of the artists mentioned already.

Today we look at a great editorial cartoonist best known for his other doctorate work.


I’m being misleading, of course, as Theodor Geisel used the name Dr. Seuss not only for his children’s books (which began with the 1937 classic, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street), but also for the lesser-known, but just as striking, editorial cartoon work he did during World War II.

Geisel had been working in advertising since he left school in the 1920s, producing some very popular ad campaigns (he also did a short-lived comic strip in 1935). In 1937, as mentioned above, he began working on children’s books.

However, that went on hold in 1941, where he devoted his time to political cartoons, first as a cartoonist for the New York City daily newspaper, P.M., and later on doing work directly for the United States Army.

Geisel was a strictly against the United States’ isolationist position, and mocked that attitude frequently…

He also mocked those he felt were symbolic of the US’s attitude towards isolationism, particularly Charles Lindbergh…

He also took the time to make fun of the “alliance” between Germany, Russia and Japan at the time…

His response to Pearl Harbor was interesting, as it seemed to express more frustration than anger, like most other political cartoonists of the day….

He continued to express that frustration with the early days of the war…

But most of Geisel’s ire was directed at the homefront, particularly those who he felt hampered the US’s efforts – he was strictly a “you’re either with us or against us” type of guy…

Hehe…GOPstrich…as a huge Roosevelt fan, you can only imagine his stance on the Republicans at the time…

A fascinating piece of his work at the time was the way he stood up for the rights of Jews in America…

and Blacks in America…

And yet still portrayed Japanese-Americans like this…

While I suppose it is an understandable enough viewpoint to hold at the time, it is still a strange comparison between his super tolerant views on one end and his hatred for the “enemy” on the other.

Geisel drew about 400 cartoons in total before devoting his time fully to the Army (including producing films for the Army – one of which, Design for Death – a look at Japanese culture – won an Oscar!).

Thanks to the University of San Diego for their archive of Geisel cartoons from this time period. Be sure to check them out! Lots more great looking comics!!

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