“Let’s Raise the Limit”

“Let’s Raise the Limit” (July 1939)
by Milton Rawson Halladay (1874-1961)
14 x 17 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Halladay was a native of Vermont and a noted political cartoonist for the Providence Journal (Rhode Island) for nearly fifty years (1900-1947). His cartoons were published in countless other newspapers and magazines. He has been called “one of the deans of American political cartooning.” His cartoon commemorating the death of Thomas A. Edison was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.

His great-great grandson is carrying on the artistic family tradition!

Before 1939, Congress explicitly imposed no limit on the aggregate amount of federal debt outstanding. Instead, it restricted issues of individual securities or sets of securities and gave the Secretary of Treasury little authority to conduct debt management operations.

In March 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt and Secretary Morgenthau asked Congress to eliminate separate limits on bonds and on other types of debt. The House approved the measure (H.R. 5748) on March 23, 1939, and the Senate passed an amended version on June 1. On July 14, the amendment was withdrawn in the Senate after the House had disagreed, thus clearing the way for President Franklin Roosevelt’s signature. When enacted on July 20, the law (P.L. 76-201) created the first aggregate limit ($45 billion) covering nearly all public debt. Combining a $30 billion limit on bonds with a $15 billion limit on shorter-term debt, while retaining the $45 billion total limit in effect, enabled Treasury to roll over maturing notes into longer-term bonds. This measure gave the Treasury freer rein to manage the federal debt as it saw fit. Thus, the Treasury could issue debt instruments with maturities that would reduce interest costs and minimize financial risks stemming from future interest rate changes.

“The Foolish Flamingo”

“The Foolish Flamingo” (St. Nicholas, vol 14, p 434, April 1887)
by Reginald Bathurst Birch (1856-1943)
17 x 12 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Reginald Bathurst Birch was an English-American artist and illustrator.

From 1873 to 1881, Birch studied and worked in Europe, attending the Royal Academy in Munich and illustrating various publications in Vienna, Paris, and Rome. On his return to the United States he took up residence in New York City, where he became a magazine illustrator. His work appeared in “St. Nicholas,” “The Century,” “Harper’s,” “Life,” and “The Youth’s Companion,” among other publications. He also became a founding member of the Society of Illustrators in New York.

His first great success was his illustration of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s book “Little Lord Fauntleroy” (1886, serialized in “St. Nicholas” in 1885-86), whose young protagonist’s long, curly hair and velvet and lace suit were widely imitated by mothers as a pattern of dress for their little boys. Birch’s name was indelibly associated with Burnett’s protagonist forever after, rather to the illustrator’s irritation. During the period of his initial popularity he illustrated over forty books, many of which, along with his drawings, had initially seen publication in serial form. He also provided illustrations for books by Dickens.

He produced a series of illustrated nursery rhymes for “St. Nicholas” magazine in the 1880s, including this one, featuring “The Foolish Flamingo,” a popular but anonymous tale of prideful behavior, right about the time that his landmark work on Fauntleroy was published.

Demand for Birch’s work faded after 1914, and by the 1930s he was living in poverty. His career was revived in 1933 by his illustrations for Louis Untermeyer’s “The Last Pirate,” and he went on to illustrate about twenty additional books before retiring due to failing eyesight about 1941.

As can be seen in the published version (below), the artwork was edited considerably to fit into the available space.

The editorial pencil marks for the cropping appear on the original art.

“Six Day Bike Race”

“Six Day Bike Race” (ca. 1930)
by Barbara Shermund (1899-1978)
7 x 15 in., ink on heavy board
Coppola Collection

From about 1890-1930, the six-day bike race was one of America’s most popular spectator sports. More or less, the most laps in six days was the winner. Often called “The Jazz-Age Sport,” it started in Great Britain and quickly spread. It derived from the six-day walking contests as a test of endurance (endurance being a genre of craze, giving rise to dance marathons, flagpole sitting, etc.), which used to bring out tens of thousands of spectators. A British promoter got the idea to put the people on bicycles. It was a big money sport for betting, and was featured in venues such as Madison Square Garden (which is likely where Shermund saw it happen) or the old Chicago Stadium. There was a 1934 film about six-day racing, and Edward “Nighthawks” Hopper made a famous painting about the sport in 1937 (supposedly after a few years of listening to his wife complain about his spending so much time at MSG watching the races). Shermund contributed to The New Yorker between 1926-1944, so I am estimating ca. 1930 for this piece.

One of the first female cartoonists at The New Yorker, Barbara Shermund (1899-1978) was one of the most edgy, whimsical, and cutting cartoonists of the past century.

Barbara Shermund produced 599 cartoons in the New Yorker between the ages of 26-45 (1925-1944). From Michael Maslin’s (michaelmaslin.com) Ink Spill blog:

“Barbara Shermund, who died in early September, 1978, had the misfortune of passing away during a newspaper strike that affected the paper of record, The New York Times.  An extensive search has turned up just one obituary for her, a four-sentence notice that ran in a newspaper covering the New Jersey coastal town where she lived for a number of years toward the end of her life.”

“Her subjects, executed in pen and ink and wash, were often hip young women, just a bit jaded – the sort that famously inhabited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. “

She once offered up this brief glimpse into her private life, saying she liked “fancy dancing and dogs,” says Liza Donnelly, author of Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and their Cartoons. “Barbara Shermund was one of the more prolific cartoonists of the early New Yorker. Her breezy drawing style and humor reflected the new attitudes of urban women in the twenties and thirties, and she can be considered one of the early feminist cartoonists.”

I bought up a bunch of her work and I have dedicated a Comic Art Fans gallery to Shermund; and I am slowly (slowly) finding the publication location of these cartoons.

“Noah Chamberlain See a Dove”

“Noah Chamberlain See a Dove” (ca. Sept 1938)
by Charles (Chuck) Werner (1909-1997)
14 x 16 in., ink and crayon on textured paper
Coppola Collection

The world is armed for war on a rocky sea…

and a likely reference to the delusion of appeasement at or before the “peace in our time” speech given by Chamberlain at the Heston Airport (September 30, 1938), just as the invasion of Czechoslovakia launched the historical start of WWII.

Charles (Chuck) Werner won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1939 for a cartoon he did for the Daily Oklahoman titled “Nomination for 1938” which allowed for the transfer of the Sudetenland to Hitler’s Germany (October 6, 1938). At age 29, Werner was the youngest person to win the Pulitzer. Werner left the Daily Oklahoman to be the Chief Editorial Cartoonist at the Chicago Sun in 1941 before leaving for the Indianapolis Star in 1947. Throughout his nearly sixty-year career, many U.S. Presidents expressed interest in Werner’s cartoons, including Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry Truman requesting cartoons for their presidential libraries.

“It’s My Draft Notice”

“It’s My Draft Notice…” (1970)
by Tony Auth (1942-2014)
11 x 14 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

After graduating from UCLA in 1965 and working as a medical illustrator, Auth began doing political cartoons.

Initially he did one cartoon a week for a weekly alternative newspaper, the LA Free Press. Sawyer Press represented Auth for syndication. They also represented Ron Cobb, one of the most widely recognized underground cartoonists of his day. Auth and Cobb were featured together in the Sawyer solicitations with three other cartoonists (Badajos, Evans, and Urbank).

After being encouraged by Paul Conrad at the Los Angeles Times, Auth contributed three a week for the UCLA Daily Bruin. Six years later, in 1971, Auth was hired as staff editorial cartoonist by The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 41 years.

The five examples I have are likely from his work at the Bruin (1970-71) just before he moved to the east coast. They are the earliest known original works from Auth, who won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.

As of this writing (July 2019), the question of women and the Selective Service is by no means a settled issue. Consider this entry a companion to my musings about my 1968 “Fuck the Draft” poster.

February 26, 2019 (Military.com, by Patricia Kime)

A federal judge’s decision Friday that the law requiring men — but not women — to register for a U.S. military draft is unconstitutional has no immediate impact on women or the U.S. Selective Service System. But it does revive debate about whether the country needs a military draft system and, if so, whether all 18-year-olds, regardless of gender, should be required to register.

Judge Gray Miller of the U.S. Southern District of Texas ruled Friday that the Military Selective Service Act discriminates on the basis of gender. He said the U.S. Selective Service System’s arguments in defense “smacked of ‘archaic and overbroad generalization about women’s preferences.'” The arguments, as interpreted by Miller, included concerns that a draft for both genders would have a negative impact on military recruiting because women might believe they will be forced into combat positions if they enlist.

“At its core, the defendant’s arguments rest on the assumption that women are significantly more combat-averse than men,” Miller wrote.

The ruling does not order the federal government to change its policy on who must register, nor does it make any recommendation to Congress, which would have to change the laws governing the Selective Service System to require women to sign up.

A system for conscription has been used off and on since the Civil War. The Selective Service System was created in 1917 to ensure that the federal government had the ability to draft all eligible men as needed for war. The draft was abolished in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, and registration for the Selective Service System was suspended in 1975. However, under the administration of President Jimmy Carter in 1980, it was revived to ensure rapid mobilization in an emergency.

Support for women registering for the system gained steam after the Defense Department abolished all restrictions on women serving in combat positions in 2013. Several plaintiffs, including the National Coalition for Men (NCFM), subsequently filed lawsuits challenging the “men-only” requirement of Selective Service. In 2016, Congress created the blue-ribbon panel to study the issue.

A few samples of 1969 solicitations from Sawyer:



“Of course, Ve didn’t lose the var – ”

“Of course, Ve didn’t lose the var – ” (ca. 1945)
by Frederick Little Packer (1886-1956)
15 x 23 in., ink on heavy paper
Coppola Collection

Packer worked at the LA Examinerfrom 1919-1931, and then moved to the New York Daily Mirrorin 1932.

His cartoons and posters for the World War II defense effort earned him citations from the Treasury Department and the War Production Board. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize on May 5, l952 for his Truman Cartoon, “Your Editors ought to have more sense than to print what I say,” which appeared in the “New York Daily Mirror” of October 6, l951.

In August 1953, he was invited by the Library of Congress to make a gift of his original drawings to its permanent collection.

Between October 17 and February 5, 1945, the total of German POWs taken in northwest Europe increased to 860,000, including 610,541 German soldiers who surrendered on the Western front. By no means the caricature of inferiority that the propaganda painted, the capability of the German army was substantial.

Max Hastings, writing in “Their Wehrmacht Was Better Than Our Army” (The Washington Post, May 5, 1985), notes that tt was the superiority of Allied numbers that was ultimately decisive. The Second World War in Europe was a victory of quantity over quality.

The final German armed forces communique, issued on May 9, 1945, read: “In the end the German armed forces succumbed with honor to enormous superiority. Loyal to his oath, the German soldier’s performance in a supreme effort for his people can never be forgotten. To the last, the homeland supported him with all its strength in an effort entailing the heaviest sacrifices. The unique performance of the front and homeland will find its final recognition in a later, just judgment of history. The enemy, too, will not deny his respect for the achievements and sacrifices of German soldiers on land, at sea, and in the air.”

After the war, Winston Churchill commented on the conflict more truthfully then he had while it still raged. In his memoirs, he compared the record of British and German forces in the Norway campaign of April-June 1940 — the first time during World War II that soldiers of those two nations faced each other in combat. “The superiority of the Germans in design, management and energy were plain,” Churchill wrote. “At Narvik a mixed and improvised German force barely six thousand strong held at bay for six weeks some twenty thousand Allied troops, and, though driven out of the town, lived to see them depart. In this Norwegian encounter, some of our finest troops, the Scots and Irish Guards, were baffled by the vigour, enterprise and training of Hitler’s young men.”

“Unfortunately we are fighting the best soldiers in the world – what men!,” exclaimed Lt. Gen. Sir Harold Alexander, commander of the 15th Army Group in Italy, in a March 1944 report to London.

artillery lieutenant Eugenio Conti, who was deployed along with units of other European nations in the savage fighting on the Eastern front in the Winter of 1942-43, later recalled: “I … asked myself … what would have become of us without the Germans. I was reluctantly forced to admit that alone, we Italians would have ended up in enemy hands … I … thanked heaven that they were with us there in the column … Without a shadow of a doubt, as soldiers they have no equal.”

Milovan Djilas was a senior figure in Tito’s anti-German partisan army, and after the war served in high-level posts in Yugoslavia. Looking back, he recalled the German soldiers’ endurance, steadfastness and skill as they slowly retreated from rugged mountainous areas under the most daunting conditions: “The German army left a trail of heroism … Hungry and half naked, they cleared mountain landslides, stormed the rocky peaks, carved out bypasses. Allied planes used them for leisurely target practice. Their fuel ran out … In the end they got through, leaving a memory of their martial manhood.”

“Father was Right”

“Father was Right” (02/22/1939)
by Leo Iven Egli (1892-1966)
14 x 18 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

The official start if WW2 was still months away, and Pearl Harbor even longer. Coming out of WWI, US isolationism was exceptionally high, and FDR’s belief that the US had a importance global role was tempered by popular opinion.

Egli was the cartoonist for the Ohio State Journal (1937-1947). Egli’s signature character, Leo the Lion Cub, appears here (Egli also worked at the Wichita KS Eagle 1932-1937; Licking County Weekly 1949-1951; and the Zanesville Times-Signal 1952-1953). His widow bequeathed their collection of more than 500 original cartoons to the Ohio State University libraries.

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)
by Tom K. Ryan (1929-2019)
22.5 x 11.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Dedicated to the memory of Tom Ryan

From 1965-2007, with his clean art lines and classical, gag-a-day wit, Tom Ryan led a 42-year stint on telling the story of the denizens of Grimy Gulch (population 49), the 6 7/8 Cavalry from the nearby Fort Ridiculous, and the members of the Poohawk tribe.

A classic gag featuring the Poohawk named Limpid Lizard is presented here.

“Tom K. Ryan died March 12, 2019 in Florida. He had devoted 42 of his 92.8 years to the production of a daily comic strip that was among the bellwethers of fresh comedy in newspaper comic strips in the middle of the 20th century. Westerns were all the rage in television of the 1950s and 1960s, and Ryan caught the wave with Tumbleweeds and helped turn comic strip humor in a new direction.”

Introduction to the obituary from The Comics Journal (www.tcj.com/t-k-ryan-dies) written by RC Harvey

“Go Out and Announce the Wage Cut…”

“Go Out and Announce the Wage Cut…” (July 19, 1938)
by Mischa Richter (1910-2001)
12 x 9 in., ink and wash on watercolor paper
Coppola Collection

Mischa Richter (1910-2001) was a well-known New Yorker, King Features, and PM newspaper cartoonist who worked for the Communist Party’s literary journal “New Masses” in the late 1930 and early 1940s, becoming its art editor in the 1940s.

On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes 9 days after Congress had adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 121 bills. Among these bills was a landmark law in the Nation’s social and economic development — Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).

Against a history of judicial opposition, the depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, more than a year of Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.

In this piece, from the July 19, 1938 issue of the New Masses, you see a larger than life factory manager, or its owner, ordering his underling to deliver some bad news… and to make sure the laborers like it.

“Go out and announce the wage cut, Smithers. Make them like it.”

The New Masseswould be pro-union, for sure, in this likely response to the “Fair Labor Standards Act.”


“Concerning Our Parrot”

“Concerning Our Parrot” (ca 1901)
by Paul Clarendon West (1871-1918)
6 x 7 in., ink on heavy board
Coppola Collection

This entire drawing and its verse just cracks me up.

A playwright and a songwriter, West was also a cartoonist for the newspapers and humor magazines. He moved from the Boston area to New York City in the late 1800s, adding newspaper editor to his resume credits.

In 1908, he co-wrote a comedy called “The Newlyweds and Their Baby,” with Aaron Hoffman, which was based on the cartoons by George McManus.

A captain in the service, he joined the battle of Château-Thierry, NE of Paris, a May 1918 action during a German spring offensive in WWI, as a part of a Red Cross support unit. He was hospitalized for some time after being gassed.

In mid-October, West disappeared. A week later, his body was found in the Seine.

Paris (The Sun), Oct. 29 —The body of Paul West of New York, who came to France to work for the American Red Cross and who disappeared last week, was found yesterday in the River Seine.

The Paris edition of the New York Herald says the body was found close to the bridge where he left his cap with a note, and which was found after his disappearance. The body had lodged beneath a barge, and was fully dressed in the Red Cross uniform and overcoat.

In general, West’s drawings have not been well loved for some of their exaggerated cartoon style.

This example is quite different, and the verse highlights the poetry that West was renowned for.

I found three examples of this one-panel strip, with verse, in “Life Magazine” (Feb 21, Mar 7, and Mar 21, 1901), with none before or after. My drawing shows the word “Life” circled with what could be “March 6” written next to it. I am guessing that this nasty parrot never saw the light of day.