“Pogo” (August 11, 1962)


“Pogo” (August 11, 1962)
by Walter Crawford “Walt” Kelly, Jr (1913-1973)
6.75 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. In 1941, at the age of 28, Kelly transferred to work at Dell Comics, where he created Pogo, which eventually became his platform for political and philosophical commentary.

Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro were both communist leaders during the Cold War. Occasionally, they would take trips to America to extol Communism’s virtues. Some thought that their appearance in Pogo would provoke conflict.

Kelly satirized these trips three times in Pogo. The first time, a pig who bore a resemblance to Khrushchev and a parrot who said “you said it” whenever the pig said something. The second time, the pig came with a goat who was a parody of Fidel Castro. Castro had recently taken power in Cuba in the late 1950s and early ’60s when these strips were written. Many newspapers thought this was going to provoke nuclear war with Russia, and some papers dropped the strip.  Ironically, this strip is from just months before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Embassy complained. The Post Hall Syndicate did not drop the strip, and Kelly continued the satire until it was played out.

Kelly also poked fun of the practice popularized by US supermarket chain Sperry & Hutchinson (“S&H”) of giving out bonus stamps with each purchase. These green stamps could later be traded for household goods of all kind, giving customers the (false) idea of getting something for nothing, while at the same time making them spend more.

Kelly’s “Puce Stamps” were an obvious scam, promoted by Mr. Pig (the barely disguised caricature of Nikita Kruschev) and aimed at abusing the naivity of the denizens of the Okefenokee Swamp.

In real life, a set of nine Puce Stamps, featuring the main characters of the Pogo strip, was created in 1963, and included by publishers Simon & Schuster with the first edition of the Pogo compilation, “The Puce Stamp Catalog.” I have two sets.

“Scrubbin’ Day”


“Scrubbin’ Day” (undated)
by Norman Mills Price (1877-1951)
4 x 6 in., pencil sketch on paper
Coppola Collection

European-trained, Price moved to NY in 1912 and established himself as an illustrator. A stickler for detail, he was almost instantly successful for his well-researched images with authentic costumes and accuracy in all aspects of his portrayals. People generally enjoyed looking at the details of his illustrations. His magazine illustrations were published by American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, St. Nicholas, and Women’s Home Companion. At the time of his death, Price was honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York.

Price had a strong ink line, so it is nice to see this sketch, with its entire atmosphere filled in, as an example of how he worked out an idea.

I have sent this and a few other Price drawings off to the Canadian line-smith, Gerhard, whom I have commissioned to develop inked versions of the drawings.

“Christmas Greeting”


“Christmas Greeting” (undated)
by Norman Mills Price (1877-1951)
4 x 6 in., pencil sketch on paper
Coppola Collection

European-trained, Price moved to NY in 1912 and established himself as an illustrator. A stickler for detail, he was almost instantly successful for his well-researched images with authentic costumes and accuracy in all aspects of his portrayals. People generally enjoyed looking at the details of his illustrations. His magazine illustrations were published by American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, St. Nicholas, and Women’s Home Companion. At the time of his death, Price was honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York.

Price had a strong ink line, so it is nice to see this sketch, with its entire atmosphere filled in, as an example of how he worked out an idea. The card was to come from the US Harvester Co.

I have sent this and a few other Price drawings off to the Canadian line-smith, Gerhard, whom I have commissioned to develop inked versions of the drawings.

“Girl Scout”


“Girl Scout” (undated)
by Norman Mills Price (1877-1951)
5 x 7 in., pencil sketch on paper
Coppola Collection

European-trained, Price moved to NY in 1912 and established himself as an illustrator. A stickler for detail, he was almost instantly successful for his well-researched images with authentic costumes and accuracy in all aspects of his portrayals. People generally enjoyed looking at the details of his illustrations. His magazine illustrations were published by American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, St. Nicholas, and Women’s Home Companion. At the time of his death, Price was honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York.

Price had a strong ink line, so it is nice to see this sketch, with its entire atmosphere filled in, as an example of how he worked out an idea. This was listed as the sketch for a magazine cover, featuring a Girl Scout, in the 1920s.

I have sent this and a few other Price drawings off to the Canadian line-smith, Gerhard, whom I have commissioned to develop inked versions of the drawings.

“League of Nations Summer Session”


“League of Nations Summer Session” (June 5, 1930)
by John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949)
14 x 17 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.

“A debate that promises to enliven the summer session with a lot of fierce shoulder-shrugging”

The League of Nations was an international diplomatic group developed after World War I as a way to solve disputes between countries before they erupted into open warfare. The League achieved some victories but had a mixed record of success, sometimes putting self-interest before becoming involved with conflict resolution, while also contending with governments that did not recognize its authority.

Thanks to the strength of the post-War isolationists, the US did not join the League, and the utter lack of European cooperation meant a lot on infighting and long, drawn-out conferences at which not much happened.

Longtime French Premiere Aristide Briand revitalized the concept of creating a “European Union” as a way to prevent another World War. He proposed to use the League of Nations as his platform.

During the 1929 Assembly, Briand promised the 27 invited European Member States that he would submit a more detailed plan that they could then discuss, including the need for European stamps, a European Customs Union, and a European coinage.

By the time Briand’s proposal was ready for discussion in May of 1930, Europe was in the process of undergoing some drastic changes, resulting from the economic depression, in the form of growing levels of unemployment and nationalism, and, as we now know, the rise of fascism.

The League effectively ceased operations during World War II, but created the foundation for the United Nations in 1945.

“Wings of Spring”


“Wings of Spring” (March 20, 1941)
by Clarence Robert Klessig (1903-1987)
9 x 11 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Klessig was a Sheboygan, WI native and a political cartoonist for the Sheboygan Press. He was active during the 1930s and 1940s, and had some short term dalliance with comic strips. “It’s a Great Life” (1946-49) and “It’s Butch” are attributed to him.

The UK War Office did not treat the threat of invasion seriously until the collapse of France in May 1940.

After the evacuation of Dunkirk (May/June 1940), people believed that the threatened invasion could come at almost any time.

The British anti-invasion preparations ramped up fast, and entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilization in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces. The rapid construction of field fortifications transformed much of the United Kingdom, especially southern England, into a prepared battlefield.

By early 1941, in towns and villages, invasion committees were formed to cooperate with the military and plan for the worst should their communities be isolated or occupied.

The US, in the meanwhile, still had its head in the sand… but it has managed to pull it out of its ass.

January 1941: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew passes on to Washington, D.C. a rumor overheard at a diplomatic reception about a planned surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor.

Spring 1941: Winston Churchill, in a worldwide broadcast, asks the United States to show its support by sending arms to the British: “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.”

March 1941: FDR got Lend-Lease passed, which managed to enable the US to provide arms to the Allies. Captain America #1 was published, and this first cover features “America” socking Adolph on the jaw. The propaganda message could not have been clearer.

April 1941: The first Lend-Lease aid goes to China.

May 1, 1941: The first Series E “War Bonds” and Defense Savings Stamps go on sale in the United States. “Citizen Kane” premieres in NYC.

“Germany’s Iron Cross”


“Germany’s Iron Cross” (August 5, 1942)
by Johnny Draper
9 x 10 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

I cannot find anything out about Johnny Draper beyond what you see here: he worked for the Richmond Times Dispatch in Richmond VA. But, as you can see, the piece was in the hands of Murray A Harris for a long time (see reverse).  Harris was an illustrator and noted collector who died in 1997.

In 1942, the Nazi forces were on the move everywhere.

By July, Germany was making its first direct assault on British military defenses at El Alamein (Egypt). In the east, progress towards Stalingrad was slow and steady. To the southeast, the Russia army was in retreat in the Caucuses, opening up access to precious oil resources. And the systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto began on July 22.

The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its variants were the highest awards in the military of the Third Reich during World War II. This military decoration was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was introduced on June 3, 1940 to further distinguish those who had already received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and who continued to show merit in combat bravery or military success. A total of 111 awards were made in 1942, with the mid-year recognitions going to pilots of the Luftwaffe.

This cartoon is about as self-explanatory as it gets.

“The Disenfranchised!”


“The Disenfranchised!” (undated)
by Burris A. Jenkins, Jr. (1897-1966)
14 x 22 in, ink wash and crayon on board
Coppola Collection

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.

Citizens without time enough to vote.

Disenfranchisement has been around longer than the right to vote, and as voting rights were granted, the ante was upped to continue to find disenfranchisement methods.

Literacy tests, poll taxes, and extensive residency requirements were used to disqualify black and poor white voters. In 1944, for instance, the Supreme Court struck down the use of state-sanctioned all-white primaries by the Democratic Party in the South. States then developed new restrictions on black voting; Alabama passed a law giving county registrars more authority as to which questions they asked applicants in comprehension or literacy tests.

For years, you could only vote on Election Day, hence the cartoon commentary, as lots of working people were excluded.

Early voting is relatively recent and not at all universal. Early voting in person is allowed without excuse required in 33 US states and DC. Absentee voting by mail without excuse is allowed in 27 states and DC. In 20 states, an excuse is required.

“Well Boys… It’s the End of the Line”


“Well Boys… It’s the End of the Line” (July 25, 1942)
by Harold Eugene “Gene” Luttenton (1911-1998)
17 x 18 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Luttenton attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago to become an editorial cartoonist and served in the U.S. Army, both in Europe and in the Pacific during WWII. Later in his life, Gene was a member of the Cape Coral American Legion Post #90, in Florida.

Eventually, the Axis lost its advantage, which derived, at least in part, from the disorganized and depressed world in which the alliance formed. By the middle of 1942, the Allies, joined by the Russians after Barbarossa (June 1941) and the US after Pearl Harbor (December 1941), we begin to see progress as the war starts to be fought on too many fronts.

“Minimum Bridge”


“Minimum Bridge” (undated)
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.

This cartoon is likely to not have been printed. The editorial remark on the reverse side says “killed.”

The message is strong, as keeping citizens from voting is equivalent to codifying an ethos of “all citizens are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Voting Rights Act is considered one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in history.