“Now Watch ‘Honorable’ Birdie”


“Now Watch ‘Honorable’ Birdie” (May 28, 1942)
by Paul Frederick Berdanier (1879-1961)
14 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Berdanier was an illustrator for the Post Dispatch in Saint Louis, Missouri from 1902 until 1918. During the summer of 1923 he taught a vocational class at Washington University. He was a United Features Syndicate cartoonist until 1957, when he retired.

In April 1942, Japan was bombed for the first time in the Doolittle Raid. In May 1942, failure to decisively defeat the Allies at the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8), in spite of Japanese numerical superiority, equated to a strategic defeat for Imperial Japan. This setback was followed in June 1942 by the catastrophic loss of four fleet carriers at the Battle of Midway, the first decisive defeat for the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Premiere of Japan Hideki Tojo addressed the Imperial Diet on May 27, 1942.

“At the present time, India is in confusion and in an unsettled state, Chungking is about to collapse, and Australia is isolated. As I review Shonan, Hongkong, and other important bases, peace and order being restored are steadily becoming the (foundation) of Greater East Asia establishment and are making great strides in its rebirth. Our sea power in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean is expanding day by day. Contrary to this, Britain has lost their overseas possessions and the route by which natural resources have been obtained has been taken control of by our forces. As a result it has added a great strain on the British domestic politics, and at the present time, Britain has reached a point of collapse. On the other hand, America that is suffering. repeated defeats is trying to cover its mortal blow by relying on vicious propaganda and is in a desperate condition trying to cover the rising criticism within the country and to preserve the right of neutral countries.”

“Triple Axis”


“Triple Axis” (October 31, 1940)
by Unknown
9 x 10 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

While this drawing is an unsigned sketch, it is a nonetheless clever use of representations and commentary.

Russia was a metastable ally with Germany and Italy, at best, prior to the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Russia had a non-aggression pact with Italy that dated back to the 1920s, but through the 1930s, Italy’s wars with Ethiopia and Spain were against Russia’s interests. Russia’s pact with Germany came in late 1939, just before the invasion of Poland.

Stalin sits upon the Hammer and Sickle… Hitler on the Swastika… and Mussolini on the Fasces (an ancient symbol of power from the Roman Empire, used by the Italian fascists on their flag)… strike their uneasy truce as they move toward the invasion of the Balkans, which began with the Italian invasion of Greece.

Stalin was a known drinker, and often referred to diluted wines as “fruit juice,” which is about as close as I can get to that part.

“Anyone Seen a German ‘Band’?”


“Anyone Seen a German ‘Band’?” (March 1945)
by Samuel (Sammy) Garnet Smith Wells (1885-1972)
17 x 21 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Samuel Garnet Smith Wells was born in North Sydney, New South Wales.

The earliest evidence of Wells’ capacity for artistic drawing was in 1911 when he was a Bombardier member of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery at the Queenscliff Fort. He joined the staff of Melbourne Punch (1922) after the First World War and later he worked for the Melbourne Herald drawing sporting cartoons. In about 1923 he put out a book of cartoons based on his work at the Herald called Wells Cartoons. Wells left the Herald in 1933 to work in England on the Manchester Daily Dispatch. In 1939, fearing Britain would lose the war against Nazi Germany, he returned to Australia to take on the job of principal political cartoonist at the Melbourne Herald, a position he held until 1950 (compulsory retirement age). Wells then took a job drawing sporting cartoons for The Age until 1967. Richard Berry purchased the majority of Wells’ original works at a Melbourne estate auction in the mid 1980s.

The US Army crossed the Rhine on March 22, and the British (Operation Plunder) carried out their invasion the next day.

Diary entries from the German leadership, seen years later, would affirm the handwriting-on-the-wall fear that the end was near. Within 5 days, the Operation was over, and as the historical accounting puts at least 30,000 German POWs taken by the Allies.

Here we have a take on an old German folk song, part of which goes like this:

“Come and hear the German band, German band, German band!

Oh, the weather is so grand for the big parade!”

In the first panel, Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels are trumpeting their victories throughout 1940. By the second panel, Germany is worse for wear and there is nothing coming out of the leadership after the British invasion.

The song is famously parodied by Mel Brooks in “The Producers” in the number “Haben Sie Gehört Das Deutsches Band?”

“The Willing Slaves”


“The Willing Slaves” (June 21, 1941)
by Unknown
9 x 10 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

This drawing is an unsigned sketch, and although undated, I’m assigning it nonetheless.

On June 21, 1941, Winston Churchill made a radio address in which he spoke of “the Nazi war machine, with its clanking, heel-clicking, dandified Prussian officers … [and] the dull, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts.”

Close enough.

COVID-19


Anyone remember settings such as this?

Bryant Park, NYC, late December 2019

I was in Beijing and Nanjing during the first two weeks of January 2020. We returned back to the US on January 16, which had been scheduled to simply avoid the crazy-busy travel season around Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) in China. Within days, the news about the coronavirus was making the news. Coincidentally, the first student we met with on January 4 was from Wuhan University.

I was supposed to go to Hong Kong via South Korea in mid-February, and while travel was still allowed at the departure date, things were changing fast in both places, and the night before the morning of my scheduled departure was the day that American Airlines first started to curtail its flights. I called my carrier, and they were planning to follow suit later in the week. No sense getting trapped: trip cancelled.

I got back from San Francisco a week ago. Other than some extra hand sanitizer everywhere, things were not notably different. Today they are in lock-down.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”
Lewis Carroll, 1871

“French Reds Greet New Premiere”


“French Reds Greet New Premiere” (May 26, 1936)
by John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949)
14 x 18 in., ink on drawing board
Coppola Collection

On the Purdue campus, where he was a student, McCutcheon (class of 1889) is memorialized in a coeducational dormitory, John T. McCutcheon Hall. The lobby displays an original of one of his drawings, a nearly life-size drawing of a young man.

After college, McCutcheon moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked at the Chicago Morning News (later: Chicago Record) and then at the Chicago Tribune from 1903 until his retirement in 1946. McCutcheon received the Pulitzer Prize for Cartoons in 1932.

1936… the Olympics in Berlin, Italian aggression in Ethiopia, Germans reoccupying the Rhineland… and a push by Stalin to push Bolshevism through Mediterranean Europe.

After the right-wing demonstrations in Paris of February 1934, Leon Blum worked for solidarity between Socialists, Radicals, and all other opponents of Fascism. In 1932, he had developed a Socialist program of pacifism, nationalization of French industry, and measures against unemployment. These efforts contributed to the formation of the electoral alliance of the left known as the Popular Front, which in the elections of April and May 1936 won a large majority. Blum, its chief architect, became premier as leader of the Popular Front government of June 1936. He was the first Socialist and the first Jew to become premier of France.

Blum’s plans to establish effective state controls over private industry and finance aroused bitter hostility among French business leaders, who refused to cooperate with his government, and it was at this time that sections of the right wing adopted the ominous slogan, “Better Hitler than Blum.”

Blum resigned in June, 1937.

Communist leader Maurice Thorez, supported by Stalin and a Communist Party leader since 1923, presided over massive growth in the Communist Party, beginning with the elections of 1936.

“If They Fought As We Work”


“If They Fought As We Work” (January 24, 1964)
by Burris A. Jenkins, Jr. (1897-1966)
11.25 x 15.25 in, ink and crayon on board

Burris Jenkins Jr. was the son of a prominent Kansas City minister, war correspondent and newspaper editor. Jenkins Jr. was a popular sports cartoonist, whose work appeared in the New York Journal-American from 1931. His humorous published verses were also popular. Although best known for his sports themes, Jenkins was also a skilled courtroom illustrator and editorial cartoonist.

Jenkins was not afraid to provoke, and he has some strong WW2 examples, including one of the rare direct commentaries on concentration (death) camps. Among his best-remembered cartoons are his angry piece on the discovery of the dead Lindbergh baby, and his sentimental image of Babe Ruth’s farewell to Yankee Stadium.

He was fired from his first job at the Kansas City Post for a series of pessimistic Christmas cartoons, a firing that prompted his father’s resignation from the same newspaper.

His father was an interesting guy. Jenkins, Sr (1968-1945) was ordained in 1891 and served as a pastor in Indianapolis. He received advanced degrees from Harvard and went on to serve as a professor and president of the University of Indianapolis and president of Kentucky University. He left Kentucky to return to Kansas City as pastor of the Linwood Boulevard Christian Church. The church burned in 1939, and Jenkins chose Frank Lloyd Wright as the architect for the church’s new home overlooking the Country Club Plaza.

Jenkins served as editor of the Kansas City Post from 1919 to 1921, hoping to fight for the establishment of the League of Nations. The Jenkins, Sr., biography tells the story about his leaving the Post slightly differently that for the son: “After two years, it became necessary for him to choose between the newspaper and his pulpit and, without hesitation, he resigned from the Post.”

“Live dangerously!” Jenkins would thunder from the pulpit, embracing his own philosophy against all adversaries. Unconventional in nearly every aspect of his chosen field, Jenkins often preached from non-Biblical texts, such as the latest book or his travels abroad. The church frequently hosted motion pictures, dances, card games, and fundraising boxing matches. These activities led to opposition to Jenkins and his Community Church from other churches in the city.

Rifles Mutiny in Tanganyika

In January 1964, trouble broke out in all four East African territories that had just won independence from Britain.

Tanganyika had been independent for two years, Uganda and Kenya for less, and Zanzibar for only six weeks.

A bloody revolution broke out in Zanzibar on January 11. A week later, it was Tanganyika’s turn when the 1st Battalion Tanganyika Rifles mutinied at Colito Barracks, just outside Dar es Salaam.

On January 24, Ugandan soldiers defied their officers at Jinja barracks. The mutiny in Tanganyika was the result of well-intentioned but muddled policies, as well as failure to detect the resentments of disillusioned troops and the opportunism of activists.

The mutineers at Dar es Salaam had two main grievances. They resented the fact that there were still almost fifty British officers and NCOs employed by the Tanganyikan government to run the fledgling army that had evolved out of the East Africa-wide King’s African Rifles (KAR). The problem was that the British still commanded the new Tanganyika Rifles. This pattern had been successfully followed after the independence of India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria: but in this case, it had not been clearly enough explained that the presence of these white officers would come to an end in the next year or two.

There was also a pay-dispute. Although the KAR had not been badly paid in comparison with the general population, since independence, the Tanganyika Rifles had fallen behind. The well-planned mutiny succeeded. The British officers and NCOs were bundled out of the country at once; and the Tanganyikan government promptly caved in, awarding a major pay increase, as well as accepting the nominations for new officer appointments decided by the mutineers.

“Peace at Any Price?”


“Peace at Any Price?” (undated, WW2 era)
by James Harrison (Hal) Donahey (1875-1949)
15 x 21 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

James Harrison (Hal) Donahey was the chief editorial cartoonist for the Plain Dealer from 1900 to 1949. Before working for the Plain Dealer, Donahey worked for the Ohio Democrat in New Philadelphia and as an illustrator for the Cleveland World. According to A History of Cleveland (vol.1), “As a cartoonist Donahey wields an exceedingly clever pencil; his humor is never offensive and shows the man of heart. He is of a creative mind, studious, modest, and altogether a charming fellow, and a real artist.”

“Peace at Any Price” became an attack phrase for political appeasers.

The economic problems that resulted from World War I and the Depression led people to question whether democratic government could improve their lives. Totalitarian governments rose up in the 1920s and appeared to provide a sense of security and offered a strong direction for the future. Stalin… Mussolini… Horihito… Franco… Hitler…

Putin… Kim…

As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked if the framers had created a monarchy or a republic. “A republic,” he famously replied, and then added,

“if you can keep it.”

“Unlike Her”


“Unlike Her” (July 28, 1947)
by Paul R Carmack (1895-1977)
11 x 15 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Paul Carmack was a staff cartoonist for the Christian Science Monitor.

Resettlement of the displaced persons (DPs) outside continental Europe proved to be a huge political obstacle immediately after liberation. The Allies were prepared to help the people reclaim their homes, but no one was ready to open their gates and offer the DPs new homes. Sympathy was high, but there was a strong notion that the survivors would only hamper already war-weakened domestic environments, the Allies deliberated and procrastinated for years before resolving the emigration crisis.

President Truman said in his annual message, on January 6, that the United States was not doing its part in admitting displaced persons. He urged that Congress “turn its attention to this world problem, in an effort to find ways whereby we can fulfill our responsibilities to these thousands of homeless and suffering refugees of all faiths.”

The Exodus 1947 was carrying 4,515 Jewish DPs when it was stopped by British forces on July 17, 1947. The crew and passengers resisted surrender, prompting a British attack in which three men from the Exodus 1947 were killed and many others wounded.

Hearings were held in June on a bill [HR 2910] by Rep. Stratton (R., Ill.) to permit the entrance of 100,000 refugees a year for four years but the bill had not been acted upon by either house when the session came to a close.

 

“Our Civilian Defense Program is Weak”

“Our Civilian Defense Program is Weak” (undated, WW2 era)
by Unknown
11 x 14.5 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Given the clues, it ought to have been easy to nail this one down. Two names… one a judge… a radio broadcast…

World War II, with its greater real threat to the US homeland, engaged a significantly greater use of civil defense than WW1. Even before Pearl Harbor, the Council of National Defense was reactivated by President Roosevelt and created the Division of State and Local Cooperation to further assist the Council’s efforts. Very soon, however, the idea of local and state councils bearing a significant burden became viewed as untenable and more responsibility was vested at the federal level with the creation of the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) within the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP) on May 20, 1941.

This scenario strikes me as something reasonable after Pearl Harbor but still in the days of early response. I am thinking that these characters might be local rather than national, making the identification more difficult.