Herblock

Herblock
by Haynes Johnson & Harry Katz
W.W. Norton & Co. 2009

A well-annotated collection of the cartoons of Herbert L. Block, who started his career at The Washington Post as an idealistic 20 year-old just before the stockmarket crashed in 1929, and continued to comment on American society and politics for the next seventy years. His cartooning style looks a bit old fashioned now (like most political cartoons,) but c’mon! This is the guy who inventedĀ the term “McCarthyism”! Also, in an era when way too many editorial cartoons are smug, safe reiterations of reader prejudice and the newspaper’s official line, it’s refreshing to read the work of an artist who actually expressed opinions.

This handsome book reprints 200 cartoons and includes a DVD with 18,000 more, which kind of puts my own efforts into perspective. I think the cartoons were selected on the basis of their contemporary relevance – either that or he was positively Nostradamus.

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