• U.S.

The Press: Grin & Draw It

3 minute read

George Maurice Lichtenstein, 49, is a newspaper cartoonist who earns $50,000 a year by illustrating an American homily of good-humored resignation: “Grin and Bear It.” In his satirical, topical “Grin and Bear It” cartoon, which runs in more than 270 U.S. dailies. Cartoonist “Lichty” has created such harried, irascible characters as potbellied, spindle-legged Bascomb Belchmore. Senator Snort, Mr. Snodgrass, and a diabolical moppet named Otis. They are inevitably trapped in ridiculous situations of their own making. In one cartoon Senator Snort, .dressed in flowered waistcoat and bat-winged collar, tells a group of reporters: “I welcome any inquiry into my program for a foreign policy, gentlemen … I have often wondered what it is myself.” Last week Cartoonist Lichty was forced to grin and bear a real-life situation as ludicrous as any he has ever drawn. At his desk alongside the city room of the San Francisco Chronicle, Lichty got the surprising news that “Grin and Bear It” was being shifted from the Chronicle (circ. 166,437) to Hearst’s competing Call-Bulletin (circ. 136,572). But the Chicago Sun-Times syndicate, which owns “Grin and Bear It” and dictated the move, reckoned without Cartoonist Lichty. On the News. The cartoon, said Lichty, might be moved, but no one could move the cartoonist. With the enthusiastic approval of the Chronicle’s editors. Lichty announced that he will stay on at his Chronicle desk even though he will be working for an opposition paper. Lichty wants to stay near the newsroom he knows because he likes to keep his lampoonery of everyday situations tied firmly to the news. Reported the assistant to a corporation president in one recent Lichty cartoon: “A guaranteed annual wage, a guaranteed annual bonus, a guaranteed pension plan is fine with the employees, chief. Except they would like a guarantee you won’t go broke.” Lichty’s one-panel situations take place everywhere, from the home (wife to husband: “I cook, wash dishes, keep house day after day and what do you do? Once a week you swagger in with a paycheck”) to the college (president to professor: “Nonsense, Professor, you don’t need a raise . . . You’re too absent-minded to drive a car, too intelligent to want television, and too preoccupied to hear your wife complain”). From Little Acorns. Chicago-born Cartoonist Lichty has been making a living at a drawing board ever since he graduated from the University of Michigan (’29), after editing the college humor magazine. The Chicago Times hired him, and in 1932 he drew his first “Grin and Bear It.” The cartoon struck such a cheering note during the Depression that it was soon syndicated. Lichty stayed in Chicago until 1948, when he decided that San Francisco was the place he wanted to live. Lichty gets material for his cartoons by reading everything from the Congressional Record to old copies of Russian information bulletins. Although he goes to the office on a regular daily schedule, he rarely does any of the cartoons required of him every ten days until deadline day. His sharp eye for stuffiness spares no one—least of all himself. Says Cartoonist Lichty of his success: “From little acorns mighty oafs grow.”

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