Sunday, October 31, 2010

The More Things Change...

I was fascinated by these cartoons by Winsor McCay, creator of the newspaper comic strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland". He was a superb draftsman and artist who also turned his talents towards political cartoons that addressed the social issues of his day (the 1920s and 30s). The following one is almost 80 years old but still hits the nail on the head in it's critique of the 'cult of celebrity' that seems to dominate our civilization today as much as it did in McCay's time.

The editorial which accompanied the cartoon above, Trying to get there is so prescient about our age of instant celebrity that it could have been written today. It is quite remarkable to think that it was written over eighty years ago.

"This is the age of notoriety and struggle. The scientist and artist that once worked in cloistered seclusion now work largely on the front page of newspapers. The world's struggle is to 'attract the public eye' that Mr McCay shows in this cartoon. It is a ceaseless struggle and many are the strange roads by which men travel to reach their goal, real FAME or mere NOTORIETY. For the goal worth while there is only one road, the same old road painfully travelled for thousands of years. It is not popular, it is not crowded. Its name is HARD WORK."

I would like to have a large version of this one to hang in the front of my classroom. It would remind the kids that hard work today will allow you to be an evil industrialist in the future. We need them too because a hero is only as good as the villains he surrounds himself with.

To see more of his editorial cartoons with comment, clink the link below.


M. D. Jackson said...

I've always loved McCay's work and these editorial cartoons from the 1920's are eerily relevant today. In particular there's one that decries the state of the urban playground that could be talking about today's inner cities.

As I always say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kal said...

And the good old days weren't always good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems...or so says Billy Joel