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Stars of Political Cartooning – Art Young

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 finish the month out with a look at another cartoonist who was put on trial along with Robert Minor and Boardman Robinson, only this fellow was a bit more like the James Connolly to their Patrick Pearses.


Art Young was born in Illinois in 1866. As a teenager, he decided he was going to be an artist, and in fact, by the age of 17, he was a published cartoonist.

In 1895, he moved to New York and became a cartoonist, first working for humor magazines like Puck and Judge as well as Life magazine (which used cartoons before it became famous as a photography magazine) before becoming involved with newspapers, as well (Young came around at an opportune time, for cartoonists were just becoming accepted as parts of newspapers at the time).

At this point, Young was mostly known as a conservative cartoonist, but as he began to follow the news more as a member of then newspaper fraternity, he began to change his viewpoints and slowly became more and more liberal until he was a socialist.

In 1902, Young was commissioned by Life to do an anti-immigration piece. After it was published, he refused his fee and determined that he would never again draw anything he did not believe in. Luckily, by this point, he was famous enough that the newspapers were willing to give him freedom.

In 1910, he helped co-found The Masses, and here he did some of his most powerful socialist cartoons.

Here is Young describing Capitalism…

Young was noteworthy in his frequent use of a hell motif, like THIS look at Capitalism…

He also spoke out about the ills of modern society…

These, too, he would tie into the hell motif…

Like Boardman Robinson, Young was a big fan of Daumier, as seen in this take on Daumier’s classic Gargantua cartoon, this time responding to the struggles for reasonable working hours for workers…

Here’s a great cartoon directed at one of Young’s least favorite people, J.P. Morgan…

This is a great satirical look at the plight of strikers that works now as well as it did then…

Young was not unable to poke fun at radicalism, either, though, as seen in this cute anarchy joke…

Young loved the fact that The Masses was outside of the standard news system, as he deplored the news system, as seen in this piece about the “freedom” of the press…

In 1913, he produced the following cartoon about the Associated Press…

They responded by suing him and he was indicted for criminal libel.

After a year, they dropped the suit.

Young was so out there that he actually responded to them dropping the suit…

And since he never knew when to stop, he continued mocking the AP…

In fact, Young seemed to get off on the fact that The Masses was so controversial, so he celebrated when it was kicked out of libraries…

or whole countries!

However, it was Young’s views on war that ended up getting him arrested.

Young, like many socialists, felt that the capitalist system was what was driving the war in Europe, and hoped the US would keep out of it.

Here is a classic cover to The Masses by Young expressing his disgust with war…

Here are a pair of QUITE strong anti-war pieces, showing you exactly where Young stood on the issue…

Ultimately, though, it was this cartoon that got Young arrested in 1917.

Even during this time, Young drew cartoons mocking censorship…

Mocking the Capitalist system…

And even mocking the fact that he should at all be concerned with the trial…

In 1919, Young and the others were released (after TWO hung juries and the end of World War I).

Afterwards, Young helped start two other radical journals, The Liberator and Good Morning.

He continued contributing politically charged cartoons to various magazines and journals until his death in 1943.

The images are courtesy of this great piece at Graphic Witness as well as this neat gallery at the marxists.org.

Okay, that’s it!

Hope you all enjoyed the month!


Ha, I really enjoyed this one, Cronin. Especially the way the Young just didn’t know when to stop. Love that.

Keep up the good work.

Tom Fitzpatrick

November 1, 2008 at 5:43 am

“Especially the way the Young just didn’t know when to stop.”

Not only that, but you’ve definitely got to admire the “stones” of that guy.

Saying “F–k you” to all and still keep going ’til the end of his life.

Yep. Got to admire that.


“Thank you for your kind attention – I’m outta here!”?

Great piece. Thanks, Brian.

Wow. Like others have said, you have to admire his dedication.

It’s been a great month, Brian. I hope to see more like it in the future.

He sounds awesome.

[…] Comic Book Resources posted their last profile of historic editorial cartoonists. Go read about Art […]

[…] Stars of Political Cartooning – Art Young from Comics Should Be Good! […]

Thanks for doing this great overview of the work of the wonderful Art Young. I’ve done a lot of research about Young and The Masses crew for a book I’m doing, and I’m glad someone is out there spreading the word. What a fun guy he was. His memoir is good, too, BTW.

In case anybody comes through here, we’re publishing a lost-for-half-century manuscript of Art Young’s titled Types of the Old Home Town…

You can see it here:

We’re also trying to revitalize the legacy of the great Art Young, “The Dean of American Cartoonists”…

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