Saturday, July 30, 2022

Art Vs Opinion

Saturday Leftover Day. 

For me Hank Barrow is one of the biggest talents to come out of the Associated Press art department in the thirties. Okay, there was Al Capp. And Noel Sickles. And Milt Caniff. And Mel Graff.  And George Wunder. And Doin Flowers. But they all made their biggest splashes after they left the bullpen. And there was Morris, who took over AP's Scorchy Smith in 1959-61. Barrow was definitvely better than him.

Hank Barrow first became visible, when he took over the daily panel The Gay Thirties from Milt Caniff, who took off to do some adventure strip. But he really came into his own when he started doing political cartoons for the AP pares in the early forties (alongside Noel Sickles). I have a large collection of those cartoons and have shown quite a few through the years (and I am still not done yet scanning). His cartoons were sharp, very well drawn and may have had the best comic strip lettering I have ever seen.

After the war, he took on a weekly feature called Things To Come, about possible future inventions. It was similar to the later Radebaugh feature Closer Than We Think - but funnier. I have shown as many of those as I could lay my hands on as well.

In august 1949 he joined the Omaha World-Herald as a regular political cartoonist. It seems he did not like being told what to draw in the AP bullpen and took the opportunity to strike out on his own. This implies he had been doing AP cartoons after the war as well, although I did not see a lot of them.

Unfortunately, although the art remains as fresh and captivating as ever, on his own his political power was decidedly less. As a conservative man in conservative times, he had very little to atttack. Most of his cartoons are illustrations of popular opinions rather than a specific attack on a point. Like saying the Britsh are descending into socialism (with 'our' money even), without giving specific examples. He also seemed to have a thing about taxes being too high all the time and every december every other cartoon seems to have been about drunk driving accidents around Christmas. But the art is so pretty and sharp. And , as I said, the lettering is a pleasure to behold.

I am not certain yet how long Barrow stayed at the World-Herald. It may even have been until his retirement. I will dive further into this rabbithole and show you some more later.


Rob Stolzer said...

Those are terrific! They have a bit of a Dorman Smith vibe to me.

Alejandro Capelo said...

The signature in the first cartoon looks like Walt Scott, not Barrow.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Alejandro: indeed the first one is by Walt Svott, who had taken over from Brrow at AP (togetehr with Morris). I had clipped it because I like his owork as well.

Rick Marschall said...

Terrific artwork (as always with Barrow). The Conservative Party cartoon is great, could run today -- although Labour hates Boris, he ran on the Right and His policies are Center / Left. Barrow was still drawing for the World-Herald in 1962, probably later. I have an original his, "Things To Come," about the modern world, gadgets, etc. The logo was (beautifully) hand-done. I recall that I have a political cartoon original, too, on the Reds disrupting the Four-Power Talks. (About post-war Germany and Berlin, I assume)...