The Price of Freedom
Stop by the SCUA hallway today to see some great examples from our collection of original artwork for editorial cartoons. These are poster-sized work, inked onto card stock, from the days when all the drawing, lettering and inking was done by hand.
Many of the visitors to this exhibit come away shaking their heads, because it can seem as if nothing much has changed over the years. In 1932, Quincy Scott (1882-1965) was worried about Oregon voters who weren’t paying attention to the measures on the ballot. In “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance,” the background to the conversation shown here has a scene from the Revolutionary War, “1776: We fight for the right to govern ourselves. 1932: We govern ourselves.” Scott was the editorial cartoonist for The Oregonian from 1931-1949.
We also hold work by Homer Davenport (1867-1912) of Silverton, Oregon, who became the most highly paid political cartoonist of his time. Davenport started at the Portland Mercury, moved to the San Francisco Examiner, and then was hired by William Randolph Hearst for the New York Journal. Davenport’s attacks on the McKinley campaign and their ties to big business. These cartoons enraged his critics so much that they attempted to pass an anti-cartoon bill through the New York legislature in 1897, but Davenport’s public supporters defeated the legislation.
Compare these cartoons to those you see in today’s newspapers, and you’ll see one huge difference: the amount of text. The visual literacy expectations for the public were much lower, so everything was labeled to make sure the meaning was clear. Here you can see that the Ancient Mariner embodies “Depression Complex” and his deadly weapon is “Voting Without Thinking.” (The dead albatross is “Actual Progress Toward Recovery by the Hoover Administration.”) The title of the cartoon is “The Ancient Marine Made a Mistake.”