Saturday, July 1, 2023


“I will get a laugh, I will get it moreover, from the simplest thing, which would, perhaps, never appeal to one person out of twenty as comic, but it’s there all the same. This line drawing — for that is all I do — comes perfectly easy and natural to me. I can go into court, study a person for five minutes, and draw his or her features pretty faithfully days afterward. It is really very easy when you know how to do it! I have never been told so, but I firmly believe that when I was a baby, I drew lines on my feeding bottle.” — T.E. Powers, ‘American Caricature and Comic Art, Part I.,’ The Bookman, La Touche Hancock, Oct 1902

[1] Chicago Examiner, August 14, 1910


T. E. Powers, 69, Noted Cartoonist

Long Beach Resident

Had Been with Hearst

For Nearly 40 Years

Special to the Brooklyn Eagle

Long Beach, Aug. 14, 1939

[2] Chicago Examiner, May 8, 1912

T.E. Powers, 69, noted cartoonist and a member of the Hearst organization for nearly 40 years, died early today after a long Illness at his home, 352 W. Pine St. here. He had been ailing for more than two years.

Mr. Powers, whose political cartoons attracted wide attention throughout America, was a native of Milwaukee. He began drawing at a very early age. His first newspaper work was in Chicago on Victor Lawson's Dally News.

After leaving the News he worked on the Chicago Herald. He came to New York about 1892 and after a brief period on the New York World became a member of the art department of the Journal.

[3] Chicago Examiner, December 22, 1911


Almost dally Mr. Powers' simple line pen and ink drawings on the fads and foibles of the day enlivened the editorial pages of the Evening Journal and other Hearst newspapers from coast to coast. His cartoons were reputed to be very effective in combating political corruption and profligacy and in correcting corporate abuse. Mr. Powers had a keen wit and a sage philosophy, qualities that he readily transferred into picture editorials.

He was the favorite cartoonist of the late President Theodore Roosevelt. His own favorite cartoon was one of President Calvin Coolidge sawing wood.

[4] Chicago Examiner, November 26, 1912


One of Mr. Powers' most cherished mementoes was President Coolidge's request for the original drawing of the cartoon.

The famous “Joy” and “Gloom” figures that embellished many of his drawings became a sort of trademark for Mr. Powers. The appearance of “Joys” chasing “Glooms” or vice versa were highly expressive of the spirit of the cartoon. The fame of the little imps in their field almost equaled that of Mickey Mouse in another medium of a later day. Early In his career, when Mr. Powers worked on Chicago newspapers, he became associated with such men as Eugene Field, George Ade, and John T McCutcheon.

[5] Motion Picture News, January 15, 1916

T. E. Powers, Famed

Cartoonist, Is Dead


Pioneer Political Satirist Member of Hearst

Organization Nearly 40 Years; 'Joy and

Gloom' Figures Known Throughout U. S.

(Special to The Tlmes-Unlon, Albany NY)

NEW YORK, Aug. 14, 1939 — T. E. Powers, famous cartoonist of the Hearst newspapers, died today at his home, 352 Pine Street, Long Beach, Long Island. The body tonight was removed to the Stephen Merritt Funeral parlors, 334 Eighth avenue, New York. Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel of the funeral parlors and will be followed by cremation at the New York and New Jersey crematory in Union City, N. J.

[6] Motion Picture News, January 1, 1916

Mr. Powers, ailing for more than two years, celebrated his 69th birthday anniversary July 4.

He was one of the first and most successful of the political satirists, and his work was known and enjoyed from one end of the continent to the other.

Although his political cartoons and his caricaturing of public men probably had been his most effective work, he was most famous for the little “Joy” and “Gloom” figures with which he enlivened many of his drawings.

[7] Advertisement, 1912


Born in Milwaukee, he had been a member of the Hearst organization for almost forty years.

Illness forced Mr. Powers to retire several years ago. He had been treated several times at Harkness pavilion of Columbia University Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York, and for the last two years had been confined to his home.

His illness became critical Saturday, and he died in his sleep early today.

Surviving are his wife, two brothers and a sister.

Mr. Powers was the first political cartoonist to inject a quality of humor into his drawings and was credited with inaugurating the still effective practice of attacking and exposing grifters and malefactors in public office by making them appear ridiculous.

His sly shafts of humor and his biting sarcasm often wielded more power than columns of editorial copy.

[8] Chicago Examiner, August 21, 1913


His simple line drawings were so effective in combatting political corruption and profligacy, and in correcting physical abuse, that more than one public plunderer trembled when he saw the famous “T.E. Powers” signature on a cartoon directed at him.

Almost daily for forty years, his pungent comment, in pen and ink drawings, on the fads and foibles of the day enlivened the editorial pages of the Hearst newspapers from coast to coast.

Possessor of a keen wit and a sage philosophy, he had the ability to transfer these qualities into a biting picture editorial with a few sure, quick strokes of his pen.

He was the favorite cartoonist of the late former President Theodore Roosevelt, and his own favorite cartoon was one he drew of the late former president Calvin Coolidge sawing wood.

[9] Chicago Examiner, 1910


President Coolidge saw and liked the picture and his request for the original drawing, on White House stationary, was one of Mr. Powers’ most cherished mementoes of his long newspaper career.

The famous “Joy” and “Gloom” figures with which he embellished many of his drawings became a sort of trademark for Mr. Powers, and the appearance of “Joys” chasing “Glooms” or vice versa, indicated at a glance the tenor of the event he was picturing.

The appeal of the Powers’ cartoons combine drollery with a penetrating social criticism and often were as full of indignation as any editorial, using the irony and satire of caricature, rather than the ringing phrases of the written word.

He was born in Milwaukee July 4, 1870. At an early age his parents moved to Kansas City, where young Tom Powers attended school.

[10] Chicago Examiner, May 8, 1910


Even as a boy he displayed marked artistic ability, and his efforts to find a job where this talent would be useful soon landed him in a lithographer’s plant at $2 a week.

Later a better opportunity called him to Chicago, and it was here while studying art at night, that he began the newspaper work that was to make him famous.

He had canvassed the editorial offices of all Chicago newspapers without success until one fortunate day, when the sample cartoons with which he had bearded every editor in town caught the eye of Victor Lawson, who made a place for him in the art department of the Chicago Daily News.

[11] Chicago Examiner, May 22, 1913

He worked on various Chicago newspapers for several years, where he became associated with such men as Eugene Field, George Ade, and John T. McCutcheon.

One day the late Arthur Brisbane, famous Hearst editor and columnist, then working on the old New York World, saw and liked one of Powers’ cartoons, and immediately wired the young artist an offer to work for him.

That was in 1894. Mr. Powers accepted the Brisbane offer, and for two years his cartoons appeared in the World. In 1896 Brisbane transferred his editorial genius, and many of his best men, to the Hearst organization. Tom Powers was one of the men who went with him, starting an association with the Hearst newspapers that lasted until his retirement.

[12] Chicago Examiner, January 19, 1913

In an interview soon after the death of Mr. Brisbane in 1938, Mr. Powers remarked:

“Under Brisbane I was busy. Today I am still busy. People wonder how I get ideas for the cartoons every day. My answer is by keeping fit and reading the news.

I finish my daily cartoons by noon. The rest of the time I devote to getting up ideas for the day following. If time permits, I paint or design bungalows.”

[13] Chicago Examiner, June 15, 1910


So important was his work in the New York newspaper field that the World instituted suit to prevent its star cartoonist from working for any other paper.

Once the legal difficulties had been ironed out, Mr. Powers’ drawings became a regular feature in the Hearst newspapers.

H was quick to find humor in any phase of the days activities and to find material for his cartoons in many of the popular songs, sayings, and utterances by public figures.

One of the songs popular soon after the turn of the century concerned “The Saucy Little Bird on Nellie’s Hat,” whose refrain, “You Don’t Know Nellie Like I Do,” scared away many of her suitors.

Powers adopted the idea for one of his cartoon figures.

Among his other cartoon series were “Jersey Gloom,” “Mrs. Trubble, “Never Again,” “Down and Out Club,” “Sam the Drummer,” “Married Life From the Inside,” and “Charlie and George.”

These were laugh provokers, and added to his fame, but his greatest forte was the caricaturing of public men.

[14]'Tom Powers,' by Walter Hoban, Motion Picture News, May 21, 1928

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, John! Thanks so very much. I find Powers' work to be acquired taste. Early in my collecting, I was not a fan, but he grew on me as time went on. Now I yam a huge fan!