“No Honest Man Need Fear Cartoons,” a Homer Davenport cartoon from 1898. If this cartoon were to be published today, there would be a lame attempt to work in a reference to the song “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.”
Hey, it’s hard to convince the kids today to take up political cartooning. The pay is bad, cartoonist jobs at local newspapers are being cut by the dozen, and even if you do make it into national syndication, some smug asshole on the Internet is just going to make fun of all your hard work. But if you fight the critics and stick it out, you just might be remembered by your hometown racing sofas in your honor.
Yes, last weekend was marked by Homer Davenport Days in Davenport’s home town of Silverton, Oregon. Homer Davenport, a Hearst employee, was one of the most influential political cartoonists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His crusading little drawings so enraged the New York political machine that the state legislature actually tried to outlaw certain types of cartoons. Davenport’s work continued unchecked until, assigned to draw some sort of grisly comic about the Titanic disaster, he caught pneumonia waiting at the New York docks and died.
Homer Davenport Days features a race by wheeled couches (or “davenport sofas,” for the 90 percent of you who’ve never heard the term), a parade, a BBQ contest, and an entertainment line-up featuring a band called “Greatful Fred.” Come 2071, Oliphant should be so lucky. It seems a little churlish to point out that attempts to irritate politicians in power are notably absent from the festival schedule.