"The Political Cartoonist as Entrepreneur: Arkansas Cartoonists Working Both Sides of Campaigns," with Revis Edmonds
Thomas Nast, the famed post-Civil War political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, is best known for the cartoons that aroused outrage against the “Tweed Ring.” Even with his fame, Nast was not wealthy, and his salary was not lucrative. One basic truth remained: those who used the editorial cartoon to sway the masses found that in spite of their acclaim, the bills had to be paid. Nast did not prosper financially until he drew commercially and published books.
In Arkansas, that divergence was more pronounced. Early cartoonists whose work was featured in state newspapers had outside income. This changed when the first full time cartoonists were hired. They avoided hard-edged commentary and antagonizing their targets. This mold was broken with George Fisher and his cartoons, which ultimately came to the "Arkansas Gazette." Fisher combined humorous images of public figures with hard-edged commentary that often rankled the intended subject. So how did men who held public figures up to scrutiny square this with being on the payrolls of these same people? Did personal relationships thrive in spite of this dichotomy? This presentation will seek to examine how cartooning and capitalism, within the personal politics of a small southern state, coexisted and clashed.
Revis Edmonds is an Adjunct Instructor of History at Arkansas State University-Newport and a Research Assistant at the ASU Archives and Special Collections. He has a BA in History/Political Science from UCA, a MA in History from UCA, a BA in Heritage Studies from ASU, and will receive a PhD in Heritage Studies in August for his dissertation entitled, “Late to the Party: How the 1990 Gubernatorial Election Shaped Arkansas’s Belated Political Realignment.” He is the winner of the 2016 Charles O. Durnett Award for Civil War History for “The Forgotten Soldiers: Remembering the African American Regiments at the Battle of Helena” and the Lucille Westbrook Award for Local History for “The Kream Kastle and its Place in Blytheville’s ‘Barbecue Mecca” from the Arkansas Historical Association. Edmonds has a 21 year career in public education and six years as adjunct faculty at Arkansas Northeastern College and Arkansas State University-Newport and 10 years as a faculty member at Arkansas Governor’s School.
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