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CSBG Archive

A Month of Pulitzer Prize Winning Cartoons – Day 24

I thought it would be an interesting look into our nation’s political cartoon history if, this month, I took a look at a different editorial cartoon each day that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Do note that we’re talking basically 1922-1967 here, as since then, the Committee has almost always awarded cartoonists generally for their work, not for an exemplary single cartoon. So in many ways, this is a snapshot of American politics (for better or for worse) over a forty-five year period. Here is an archive of the cartoons featured thus far.

Today we look at Vaughn Shoemaker’s 1938 award-winning cartoon.


Yesterday I showed you Vaughn Shoemaker’s second Pulitzer Prize winning cartoon and today I’ll show you his first, which is a pretty straightforward (but powerful) anti-war piece from 1937.

The piece came out on Armistace Day in 1937, celebrating the end of World War I, but as we all know by now, 1937 was an uneasy time in a world seemingly destined for a great conflaguration.

The work was titled “The Road Back,” and it shows a soldier (the soldier appears European) walking backwards in time to the time of the first World War.

The world is shown aghast that the soldier is willing to go back to such a terrible time in World history…

It’s a powerful image, but it’s interesting to note if perhaps Shoemaker is getting the roles reversed a bit. When it came time for World War II, it was really “the world” that was pushing the issue, certainly not the soldiers who were fighting in the battles.


Still a damn good image…

Maybe one day people actually will start to learn from History…

Ah well…

World War II had not yet officially started, but the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were already taking part in a proxy war in Spain where to varying degrees they had their fingers in the Civil War there; meanwhile, Japan had long been engaged in a war of conquest against China, which was also beset by a civil war between Nationalists and Communists. Then there was also Mussoliini’s war of conquest against Ethiopia. In the era of fascist tyrants, if you wanted peace, you just had to hold your head back and let them cut your throat or be willing to live under their tyranny while they murdered everyone they considered sub-human or a threat to their regimes.

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