Last week, I discussed Zim’s Cartoons and Caricatures. Here are some more examples of the genius of Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman from another vintage "how to" book… How To Draw Funny Pictures by E.C. Matthews. This chapter deals with a topic that is widely discussed today, racial stereotyping.
Ethnic humor was Zim’s stock-in-trade. He once joked that he and his fellow cartoonists at Puck magazine treated the various races and creeds that made up America with gloves… the kind boxers wear. Perhaps this is why he is virtually unknown today. But it’s unfair to sit like an armchair quarterback a century later judging an entirely different time by our own standards. Zim approached every person as a peer. He made fun of all of them equally.
Stereotypes are still part and parcel of caricature and cartooning. Pirates have eye patches and parrots on their shoulders. Surfer dudes wear baggy shorts and have long blonde hair. These are the generally understood symbols that represent specific types of people. How does a cartoonist utilize these common perceptions to communicate clearly while still remaining honest? Here is an important first-hand document of how Zim himself explained the purpose and limits of ethnic caricature in the "melting pot" of the early 20th Century.
Take note of this advice from the conclusion of this chapter…
Greatness makes one tolerant. Great men are not ashamed to stop on the street and talk to the man in overalls. They recognize the bond of friendship between the common people and themselves. The social sheik who feels above talking to a mere laborer is fooling only himself.
Take this little sermon to heart and treat every man as your equal; it will help you get ahead. How truly the Bible says, "The greatest among you shall be the servant of all."
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit devoted to Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman.
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.