Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Review of "The Best of H. T. Webster: A Memorial Collection," introduction by Robert E. Sherwood

 Review of

The Best of H. T. Webster: A Memorial Collection, introduction by Robert E. Sherwood

Five out of five stars

A bit dated, bit still great cartoons by a master

 In many ways, no group of people are better at expressing opinions about the human condition in general and their specific environment in particular than the cartoonist. Harold Tucker Webster, with a career that spanned approximately forty years, was one of the best of his time. His most memorable character was the extremely wimpy Caspar Milquetoast, derived from the two words “milk toast.” He died of a sudden heart attack in 1952.

 This book is a collection of his best cartoons and covers many of the social mores of the United States in the twenties through the forties. There are scenes of people playing bridge, golf and other activities with a boss, and married couples engaged in speech laden with understood inner meanings. This was an expression of public marital discord suitable for the times.

 Other cartoons express some of the issues that children faced. For example, there is the one where a boy brings his mother a bouquet of wildflowers that is goldenrod, a plant she is highly allergic to. Some of the cartoons have a serious political bite. None more expressive than the one that has a KKK member in full regalia and blood on his “dress” throwing a coiled rope to two children and telling them, “Souvenir kiddies.” This points out something that has been mentioned in other writings, that the KKK members that killed the undesirables at night generally went home to their families and thought nothing of their vile deeds.

 Part a history lesson of cartooning and a look back at the nation during Webster’s peak years, this is a book that will entertain and make you think a little different about the world.

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