In my high school world history class*, we were once assigned to create a political cartoon about some historical event, person, or idea we had studied. I chose to make mine about the Mongols, and because I’ve always had a Seinfeldian inclination to make things silly whenever possible, I drew a speeding freight train labeled “Mongols” with a terrified, screaming Superman in its path. Because, you see, Superman is purported to be more powerful than a locomotive, and his being afraid of this particular locomotive illustrates just how powerful and seemingly unstoppable the Mongols and their empire were in the Genghis Khan days (jokes are always better when you explain them, right?). Fifteen-year-old me was pretty proud of it, and I’m still happy with the concept today.
Alas, my political cartooning career ended that day, mostly due to my complete lack of drawing ability. As my middle school art teacher can attest, all my renderings of people come out blocky, which was fine when I was drawing the kids from South Park, but less fine for more traditional, human-looking humans. Fortunately, the political cartoon game didn’t need me and has done just fine with a wealth of clever, insightful people who can actually draw. Many of those people have produced cartoons about Texas politics (a topic on which there is always much to say) over the years, and the library is currently hosting an exhibit that showcases some of their finest work.
“Cartooning Texas: 100 Years of Cartoon Art in the Lone Star State” is a traveling exhibit developed for the Center for Texas Studies at the University of North Texas and made available by Humanities Texas, and it delivers precisely what it promises. It features ten panels, each of which presents political cartoons on key Texas events and issues from a specific decade from 1890 to 1990. Each cartoon is accompanied by commentary that provides information on the person, event, or issue being depicted, so you get to learn whilst being dazzled by the wit of the artist.
The exhibit, which we’re hosting partially in honor of Texas History Month and partially because it’s always a good time (in Texas, at least) for some Texas history, is free to view anytime the library is open until March 26. We hope it’s a real…draw.
*To be clear, this was a class about the history of the world, not a class about the history of the world’s high schools.