Shoemaker Vaughn

Chicago, United States

11.08.1902 - 18.08.1991


American car­toonist and Pulitzer Prize winner bom on the South Side of Chicago in 1902. Vaughn Shoemaker was educated in the Chicago public schools up to the first year of high school, when he dropped out and worked various jobs. For awhile he was a lifeguard, and in that occupation he met a woman, later to become Miss Chicago and still later his wife, who encouraged him to aspire to higher vocational goals.

He enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and took a job as an office boy at the Chicago Daily News in 1919; within six months he was eased out of the academy for lack of talent, but he remained at the paper. In 1922 the News cartoonist Tod Brown and his assistant both quit to join the staff of the New York Herald Tribune. Shoemaker was hastily drafted to draw the day’s editorial cartoon and continued to draw the daily cartoon for nearly 30 years, winning two Pulitzers in that time. Seven years after leaving the Academy, he returned – as an instructor! Through the years his pupils included the likes of Bill Maul- din, Cal Alley, Charles Brooks and Ed Holland.

In 1951 ho resigned from the increasingly liberal News and moved in a trailer to Carmel, California, continuing his daily cartoons to one hundred clients via the Herald-Tribune Syndicate. In 1962 he also be­ came chief editorial cartoonist of Hearst’s Chicago American until Wayne Stayskal assumed more duties and the paper became Chicago Today before merging with the Chicago Tribune. Ho was syndicated by Na­tional Ngwspapyr Syndicate and the Chicago Tribune-New York News. Syndicate during his last ac­tive years. He is retired today.

Shoemaker’s style is one of old-time flavor and good spirit. He is reputed to have contributed the Q. to John Q. Public, and for years his harried Com­mon Man was a symbol as recognizable as Uncle Sam; he belonged to Shoemaker as much as to anyone since Opper. His cartoons were executed in pen and crayon with generous use of cartoon conventions like beads of sweat, motion lines and stars of pain. His pen lines were supple, and there was an air of infor­mality that masterfully camouflaged his technical con­trol and methodical shading. On occasion he drew in a style of handsome realism.

For all the visual delights and up-front humor, Shoemaker drew some of the most powerful state­ments in the history of the political cartoon. His best periods were before World War II, when he rallied against European threats and American intervention, and during the Cold War. when his cartoons formed a virtual textbook of Western anticommunist rationale. He won his Pulitzers for cartoons during each of these periods.

For years he produced Batch of Smiles and dozens of spot drawings a week for the “More Truth Than Poetry” column in the Daily News. He won Freedoms Foundation gold medals every year from 1949 to 1959. the National Headline„ Award of 1945 and numerous National Safety Council awards; he was awarded an honorary LL.D. frr m Vheaton College in 1943 and anthologized seven tin in history-of-our- times formats.

Shoemaker early dedicated his life to Christ and was a founder of the Christian Businessmen’s Com­mittee and chairman of the Cospel Fellowship Club of Chicago. He sought (and succeeded) to reflect his concern for righteousness in his cartoons. His work remains as some of the finest cartooning ever pro­duced in America.

He lived in Carol Stream, Illinois, and died of cancer at the age of 89.

Reference: The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, 1981



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