American cartoonist born in Pleasanton, Iowa, on June 24, 1873. Ole May began his cartooning career in the early 1890´s for newspapers in Los Angeles and Houston; later he drew human interest and editorial cartoons for the Washington Post and also pursued a lifelong interest by playing in the Marine Corps band. May followed Charlie Payne into Pittsburgh to draw editorial cartoons for the Gazette – Times (preceding Billy DeBeck on the staff) before he joined the Cleveland Leader. Cleveland in the 1910´s was blessed with a flock of talented cartoonists, among them two of the nation’s best: May and Joe Donahey. The two were alike in style and treatment. Both relied on a masterful, feathery use of the crosshatch, which gave their drawings balance and an ethereal air when needed. Figures were soundly but comically drawn. Most important, both artists showed a strong preference for sentimental themes. Boyhood, courtship, family holidays—all were handled warmly and evocatively. While Donahey had the greater fame and dwelt more on home themes.
May was the more effective partisan (Republican). His ideas were clear and free of labels, making him one of the first political cartoonists to so liberate himself. His artwork was crisp, animated and arresting. Ole May, influential during his career, gave life to the symbol of Cleveland, Uncle Mose.
He was forced to retire in late 1916 because of his health and died shortly thereafter in Long Branch, New Jersey.
the World Encyclopedia of Cartoons 1981