CARTOONS The Politics of Humor (or the Humor of Politics)
CARICATURES Political cartoons are for the most part composed of two elements: caricature, which parodies the individual, and allusion, which creates the situation or context into which the individual is placed.
Caricature as a Western discipline goes back to Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic explorations of “the ideal type of deformity”-- the grotesque-- which he used to better understand the concept of ideal beauty. Over time the principles of form established in part by Leonardo had become so ingrained into the method of portraiture that artists like Agostino and Annibale Carracci rebelled against them. Intended to be lighthearted satires, their caricaturas were, in essence, "counter-art"
Benjamin Franklin's "Join or Die", which depicts a snake whose severed parts represent the Colonies, is acknowledged as the first political cartoon in America. The image had an explicitly political purpose from the start, as Franklin used it in support of his plan for an intercolonial association to deal with the Iroquois at the Albany Congress of 1754.
THOMAS NAST Political cartoons were a major form of commentary in late nineteenth-century American life, and Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was the most famous cartoonist of his day. This cartoon, "Milk Tickets for Babies, in Place of Milk," created by Nast in 1876, comments on one debate that raged in the years following the Civil War: should the currency of the United States be based on gold (the "gold standard") or on paper (known as "greenbacks")? These debates about the nature of money, and the meaning of value itself, coincided with equally fundamental social and political debates about the nature of citizenship as it applied to the newly emancipated slaves.
Bill Mauldin © Stars and Stripes "... forever, Amen. Hit the dirt."
Moscow Olympics 1980 President Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the1980 Olympics after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Herblock (one of the most influential political cartoonists in United States)
Paul Conrad, L.A. Times Conrad was among the most poignant of all the master cartoonists.
Michael Ramirez, the current L.A. Times cartoonist, leans far to the right. His work tends to fluctuate broadly between obscure meaning and . . .
Offbeat humor finds an eager audience in the left-leaning alternative media . . .
Peanuts Fore more than five decades, Charles Schultz poked fun at society’s hang-ups. Members of the “Peanuts Gang” were philosophical, ironic, and often politically incorrect.
Doonesbury First published in the Yale Daily News in 1968, Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury has survived wars, impeachments, and censorship.
New Yorker Magazine is well known for the large number of sophisticated comments they present through the medium of cartooning. This helps bestow the periodical with “favorite-read” status in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms across America.