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Stars of Political Cartooning – Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling

Each day this month I will be profiling a notable political cartoonist. Since the choices are vast, I’ve decided to slim the numbers down a bit and eliminate living cartoonists. Perhaps I will do a current political cartoon stars in the future.

Here‘s an archive of the artists mentioned already.

Today we look at a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist whose cartoons landed him a major position in the FDR administration!


Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling was born in Michigan in 1876. His family moved to Sioux City, Iowa in 1886. When Darling was in college in the early 1890s, he developed his nickname, Ding, which was an abbreviation of his last name.

He would use “Ding” as his signature for the rest of his career.

After graduating college, Darling went to work as a reporter in Sioux City. He moved to Des Moines and began working at the Des Moines Register doing cartoons in 1906. After a few years, he moved to New York to work as a cartoonist, but quickly returned to Des Moines in 1913. He moved to New York again in 1916 to work for the New York Herald Tribune, but once again, he couldn’t stand to be away from Iowa, so he returned to Des Moines in 1919, which is where he spent the rest of his cartooning career, although he was popular enough that the Herald Tribune continued publishing his cartoons until his retirement in 1949.

Darling was mostly concerned with conservation, and conservation themes popped up frequently in his cartoons.

Here are a few:

How Rich Will We Be
When We Have Converted All Our Forest, All Our Soil,
All Our Water Resources and Minerals to Cash?

Wonder What Mother Will Say
When She Finds He’s Had It Clipped?

What a Few More Seasons Will Do to the Ducks

The Only Kettle She’s Got

I love the bit on the last one where Darling notes that his editor is on his case about the cartoons being too depressing!

Due to his widespread popularity on the topic of conservation, in 1934, President Roosevelt appointed Darling as the Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

While there, Darling designed the first “duck stamps,” stamps people needed to have to hunt ducks.

Darling also designed the logo for the United States Park Refuge system…

During this time, Darling continued to produce cartoons, as well. Here are some of his notable ones..

On the topic of racism in America…

Even the Best Flag in the World Has Its Shadow

On the evolution of Harry Truman as President…

The Passengers Are Beginning to Sit Back and Relax

On the folly of trusting Adolf Hitler…

Bluebeard’s Seventh Wife

And, in one of his most famous pieces, a commemoration of Pearl Harbor…


Darling won the Pulitizer Prize for Editorial Cartooning twice.

First, in 1924, for the following cartoon speaking of the importance of putting effort into your life…

And in 1943, for the following cartoon that, well, really isn’t all that great.

What a place for paper waste salvage

Apparently, upon learning he had won the Pulitzer, Darling had to actually dig through his records to find out what cartoon they were talking about, that’s how unmemorable this piece was!

Darling died in 1962, and upon his death, he had his secretary release the following cartoon, which perfectly encapsulated the folksy charm that defined Darling’s cartoons for decades and made him such a beloved figure…

Check out the Jay Norwood Darling Foundation for more cartoons and other information about Darling.


The expressions he could give to a planet are just stunning. The look on the Earth’s face as it sits in the barber chair. The dismay of World Peace as she spies the bodies.

Matthew Johnson

October 17, 2008 at 7:58 am

This is a great series, Brian! I hope you’re going to include Walt Kelly (since you’re discussing political cartoonists, not just editorial cartoonists — though he was that, too, briefly.)

The pinheaded Neanderthal with the look of, “well, where’s the food already?” on what is obviously not his first portion is brilliant.

The Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island in Florida is one of my favorite places to spend time- great wildlife photo opportunities and a beautiful refuge- in fact, on Sanibel as a whole, since most of the island is a bird refuge, motorcycles and large trucks are prohibited. So he did manage to save a tiny little corner of the world.

Is it just me, or does his Hitler look quite a bit like Dr. Seuss’s Hitler?

Re: The Duck Hunt, is that a dragon’s bones in the museum?

To further what Marc Kandel said, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge has a welcome center with some of Ding’s cartoons on the walls. They also sell a small book of his wildlife cartoons to help support the center. The best book by Dalrling is “Ding’s Half Century.” His career spanned almost the entire first half of the 20th century. By the way, Marc, I live in Ft. Myers, FL, not thirty miles from the refuge.

I’m envious. I worked as an actor/tech on Sanibel during the winter season of 97′, and it remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever chanced to reside. I took my wife back not long after we started dating and enjoyed it even more (fun fact, not having to work while you are there helps the experience).

Actually, my Aunt just bought a home in Ft. Meyers, so we’ll probably be back down soon (I’m hoping for November). Enjoy the life Larry, and thanks for the shout-out!

Oh yes, and Ding Darling rocks- the man, the refuge (just to get this thing back on-topic)- if anybody makes it down, rent a bike, bring a camera and really, you are in for a treat. The area is also the shelling capital of the world, and my favorite thing to do there is rent a kayak and explore the banya tree paths where the refuge meets the sea.


Let me know when you will be here. My wife and I will make plans to meet with you. My e-mail address is larrybush@embarqmail.com

We will also invite you to the cartoon library. I have a collection of over 1800 volumes of humorous cartoon books.

I might just do that Larry. Thanks for the offer! Like I said we’re hoping November, but in this economy, travel is a very weighty consideration. Hell, I’m on a comic book/action-figure moratorium until further notice, that’s why I play catch up at CBR!


Where are you coming from? Gas is cheaper than it has been in at least three weeks.

That would be New York. So flying, car rental, boarding the dog, (I can’t bring him to an island where walking next to a pond is pretty much suicide for an animal that’s very low on the food chain of the island- and I’ve had some close calls myself there with the gators), and other assorted stuff. Like I said, we do want to come back, but its gonna take some creative accounting- and that’s with lodging taken care of! But don’t worry, we get down there, I’ll definitely reach out. Thanks Larry!

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