Davenport Cartoon Contest

2018 Toon Con

Once again, the Homer Davenport International Cartoon Contest returns to Silverton. After all, a festival that honors a famous Political Cartoonist seems almost naked without some kind of competition focused on that endeavor. To that end, the International Cartoon Contest has returned! As in past years, the competition is for “political” or “editorial” cartoons on any topic as long as they are not libelous, slanderous, racist, sexist or salacious.

As with any activity that as lasted over thirty years, adjustments are often required. In light of that fact, we have substantially increased the prize money award amounts. The new prizes will now be $750, $500, $300 and $200 respectively, with an entry fee of $25. We hope that this change will attract a wider range of entries, and more actively reflect similar international cartoon contests. And frankly, keep our modest competition relevant and competitive. We are especially interested it the work of new and emerging cartoonists including communities of color.

All cartoons will be judged in three categories: Artistic skill, clearly implied message, and the Cartoon’s over all appeal. All prizes will be determined by a blue ribbon panel of judges, with five non-cash “Peoples Choice” awards determined by popular vote, cast during the Festival. Winners will be announced Sunday afternoon at the festival, and announced online on the Web at the “Homer Page.” Entries will be prominently displayed in Silverton during the Homer Davenport Community Festival, (August 4 through 6, 2023). Deadline for submission is Friday, July 28, 2023.

Our 2023 Blue-Ribbon Panel of Judges:

Sen. Lew FrederickOregon State Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) first took office as an Oregon State Representative on October 30, 2009 during a swearing-in ceremony in the House Chambers of the Oregon Capitol Building. Professionally he is a Strategic Communications Consultant, focusing on Strategic Planning, Community Relations, Science/Technical issues and Media Crisis Communications. With an academic background in biology, theater, and political science, his professional life has included seventeen years as a television reporter at KGW-Channel 8 in Portland, thirteen years as the Director of Public Information for the Portland Public Schools, teacher, actor and ranch-hand.

Elvi Cuellar Sutton, is a native-born Silvertonian, and its first Latina City Councilor, who has served the community for the last two years. With the election of Council President Jason Freilinger as Mayor, Elvi was appointed Council President. As a local business owner and active Rotarian, she has enjoyed taking part in all aspects of our town including its amazing festivals. Her latest adventure has been taking part in Silverton’s new All-Abilities Park and she looks forward to providing safe spaces for all to indulge in our slice of heaven!

Rep. Rick LewisOregon State Representative Rick Lewis, (R-Silverton) was appointed to the Oregon House after the resignation of Vic Gilliam. Prior to joining the legislature, Lewis served as the Mayor and as the Chief of Police for Silverton. He is a life member of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and served as the organization’s President in 1991. In 2005, he took a six month leave of absence from the Silverton Police Department to teach the Executive Leadership Program for the Iraqi Police leadership during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rick lives in Silverton with his wife of 39 years, Pat.

We look forward to their collective judgement! Rules, Official entry forms and more details can be found on the Web by Clicking Here:

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Oregon’s Media Super-Star

On Saturday, August 5, 2023, The Davenport Project in partnership with the Silver Falls Public Library and the Homer Davenport Days festival, will reprise our annual presentation on the life and times of political cartoonist Homer C. Davenport, late of Silverton. There will be two showings: 12:30 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m.

Homer C. Davenport

In the decade of the 1890s, just before the dawn of a new century, American society was going through a transition; from horses and trains to automobiles and airplanes. Change was everywhere. Through it all, Oregon-born cartoonist Homer Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene.

Homer Davenport (1867-1912) was Oregon’s first media super-star. Born in Silverton, Oregon, into the pioneer Davenport and Geer families, he became a world traveler and developed a second career of breeding Arabian horses. His life is a story of fame, political influence, family connections, artistic creativity, and discovery. Yet, few outside his hometown are even aware of the impact this self-described “country boy” had on society.

His unique rural Oregon upbringing, along with a supportive and nurturing home life, equipped Davenport with the intellectual tools and the artistic skills needed to hit the ground running, in spite ofsome would say because ofa lack of formal training. He arrived on the scene during a perfect storm of technology and public sentiment. One New York State Senator even sponsored a bill to outlaw political cartoons, because of the influence of Davenport’s work.

For this presentation, Davenport historian Gus Frederick will present a visual overview of Davenport’s art, life and times. With emphasis on the enabling reprographics technology of the era, as well as a snap-shot of Davenport’s contemporaries, Frederick will show graphically how the turn of the Twentieth Century was the golden age of the cartoonist and graphic illustrator. And how a small-town Oregonian occupied a major role. Also included will be an update on recently acquired original Davenport cartoons, and of course Silverton’s annual Homage to its favorite son, the Homer Davenport Community Festival.

Frederick is the creator of The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport, an annotated edition of Davenport’s 1898 collection of cartoons, as well as Silverton from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. He also compiled the extensive social commentary of The Collected Works of T.W. Davenport, comprising Homer’s Oregon pioneer politician father’s writings from the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Most recently, he created an annotated edition of Davenport’s second cartoon collection, The Dollar or the Man, published in 1900. Copies of all four books will be available for purchase. Additionally, he is continuing work on a video documentary of Davenport’s life and times.

The Silver Falls Public Library is located at 410 South Water Street, in Silverton. Doors open at 12:00 p.m. with the presentation starting shortly after. Free and all ages are welcome!

Look Who’s Coming

A Cartoon History of Roosevelt's Career

Several years ago, I encountered a book from 1910 titled “A Cartoon History of Roosevelt’s Career” by Albert Shaw. Knowing how many of Davenport’s cartoons depicted Colonel Roosevelt, I naturally assumed that it would contain at least a couple. There turned out to be a total of ten Davenport cartoons. Several with Uncle Sam, including the famous “He’s Good Enough for Me” piece. And after he left Hearst’s employ, he never used the “Rough Rider” trope employed by many of his contemporaries.

But one cartoon attracted my attention more than any other, as it did not include Roosevelt at all. It showed a barren leafless tree, filled up with a multitude of different African animals. A monkey with a ladder running towards the tree was the only critter left on the ground. The caption was “HIST! Looks Who’s Coming.” It was published in the New York Mail on March 12, 1909, and was referencing Roosevelt’s much publicized post-presidential extended safari to Africa.

The detail of the animals was quite striking (below). Each could easily be identified with its real-life counter parts, (aside from the three monkeys, who were depicted anthropomorphically). Like so many of Davenport’s originals, its fate was unknown.

Until I received and email from Tania from the Digital History Projects Staff of the Oregon Historical Society. She had been contacted by a gentleman from South Carolina that wanted to contact any Davenport family members to see if he could sell the original of that very same piece. He had financial issues, and decided to sell the original, but wanted to contact the family first. I put him in contact with Homer Davenport’s great-granddaughter, Jill, who resides in Seattle. It turned out that it had a hand-written dedication by Homer to his eldest daughter Mildred, Jill’s grandmother. The inscription for this piece reads:

“To my Best Girl, my darling Mildred, that she may ever fight against the wanton slaughter of animals is the hope of her father.” [Signed] Homer Davenport, N.Y. March 22, 1909. Just ten days after it was published. Despite the implied “wanton slaughter” comment, Homer and Colonel Roosevelt remained close friends until his death in 1912. The asking price was too much for them, so they passed. I made a counter offer myself, but he had found another collector from Boston who agreed to the original price.

Several months later, I received an email from the South Carolinian, who recounted how the other collector turned out to be a scam artist, and he had to have law enforcement involved to get the cartoon back. He asked if I was still interested, and within a week, the 3 by 2-and-a-half foot framed “Look Who’s Coming” arrived in Silverton! It joins the other Davenport originals in the collection of the Silverton Country History Museum.

Researching this cartoon revealed the following statement made by Davenport in reply to what he considered to be his best work:

“There was a time when I thought ‘He’s Good Enough for Me’ was the best thing I ever drew, but while it may be the most widely circulated cartoon ever printed, owing to the poster work it served for the Republican National Committee, yet it was not a great cartoon by any means. At other times I think some of the cartoons of mine used in the 1897 campaign were prize winners, and still at other times I think some of the reform cartoons are superior to any others of my creation. So it goes. However, I take a chance and send you what I now consider my best bit of work, ‘See Who’s Coming,’ printed on the day Roosevelt sailed for Africa. I may change my mind next week, but this one right now appeals more strongly to me than does any other one I ever have made.” – September 12, 1909

Additionally, I stumbled upon this short, 30 second animated film, (below) on the Library of Congress website which was obviously inspired by this very same cartoon! In it, the monkey on the ground jumps up and down excitedly, and runs up the tree, as a smallish dot appears in the distance, growing closer. It finally comes up over the hill as a smiling “Teddy Roosevelt” with a rifle. The animator is unknown and lost to history. This was less than five years before Winsor McCay’s ground-breaking 1914 hand-drawn animated classic, “Gertie the Dinosaur.”

The Real Dope on Goldberg

It’s always fun to discover a previously unknown piece by Davenport. Case in point, is this 1909 editorial extolling the greatness of the then-young Rube Goldberg. He would of course go on to a long career, known mainly for his complex devices designed to perform mundane tasks. Before that, he became known for his “Foolish Questions” series, where an observer asks an oblivious question with an obvious answer, (a predecessor to Al Jafee’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” in Mad Magazine.) This article comes to us courtesy Cartoon Historian Paul Tumey, author of “Screwball! The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny” (IDW Library of American Comics, 2018), and contributor to “The Art of Rube Goldberg” (Abrams ComicArts 2014). – Editor.

Tells How the Young Artist Worked on The Bulletin
By Homer Davenport

Rube Goldberg

San Francisco Bulletin – January 15, 1909: While I was being shaved the other day, the barber asked me to tell him something about Goldberg, the Evening Mail’s sporting page cartoonist. He said a lot of his friends were keeping a scrapbook of his drawing and articles. The barber was so carried away talking about his favorite caricaturist that he scraped for five minutes in the same place, leaving a very tender spot. He said hosts of people were seeking knowledge about this man who has broken in on the New York reading public with such a sparkling crash.

After my jaw healed I decided to supply some real information regarding a real humorist. Reuben Goldberg was born in San Francisco, California about twenty-five years ago, of Jewish parents. Like all of his profession, he began drawing before he began to read. Coming of a race of people that are not well represented in poorhouses, his parents were naturally anxious about his business career, and grew especially nervous when they heard him say he wanted to be an artist. His father told him artists were as a rule poor and inclined to be drunken and cheap.

He suggested to his boy that he be a mining engineer, as the youngster was good in arithmetic. Goldberg reluctantly entered the University of California and finished the four-year mining engineering course in three years. He finally landed in the City Hall at $100 per month, an assistant to the City Engineer. But his heart was not in his work, and he was continually drawing and dreaming. He finally left his position in the City Hall and took a position as cartoonist on the Chronicle at less than half the salary he got as a city engineer.

He use to get up at daylight and walk back and forth in a small park near his house trying to think of an idea for a comic or a cartoon. His work was a hit from the first. What he wanted was a position on The Bulletin, and he finally got it.

On The Bulletin Goldberg commenced to stir up even a bigger dust by even harder work. The above sketch shows him in his shirt sleeves, for he is in his element in this rig. He is an incessant worker.

San Francisco has turned out a great many clever caricaturists and comic artists. Several have attracted great attention in New York City, but though Goldberg is the most recent of the many from the Golden Gate, he has made as big a hit as any.

Mr. Goldberg is a young man bordering on good looks, standing about five feet ten, well built for an artist, with plenty of pluck. I admire him for his pluck as well as for his ideas and drawings. Some foolish persons suggested to him when he landed here from the Coast that his name Goldberg was against him as an artist–for a clothier it would be great, but in art it would hold him back years. He informed this philosopher that he wasn’t ashamed of his name; that it had never held him back in San Francisco, and that he didn’t believe it would in New York. If it did, all right–his name was Goldberg.

Mr. Goldberg is a very happy boy. His head works well, and his ability to portray his weird conceptions is very striking. He has never studied art; caricaturists don’t: they are born, not taught. I sometimes wonder if a person with any real knowledge of anatomy of a horse, for instance, could draw as funny a horse as does Goldberg. Hardly less funny than his horses are the noses he sets on the faces of people he draws. But funniest of all are the questions and answers of these bald-headed and hump-back and knock-kneed people. What a simple creation is a parody, and what a world of reality is there in Goldberg’s Foolish Question series!

I should say that with Mr. Goldberg’s ability for work and his fund of humor ever growing he will develop for many years to come.

Robert Crumb Weighs In

In the fall of 2016, I obtained the mailing address for Robert Crumb, cartoonist and 78rpm record collector. At the time, I decided to send him a copy of my book “The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport.” About a month later I received a hand-written reply, with Xeroxed copies of several Thomas Nast cartoons:

December 15, 2016


R. Crumb. Photo by Niccolò CarantiI really enjoyed receiving the book of Homer Davenport cartoons. Thanks so much! I had seen a few of his cartoons before. His work is exceptionally EXPRESSIONISTIC for the 1890s, something a little crazy about it. I also appreciate very much the short biographies and photos of the various political personalities that Davenport caricatured. Not only does this information help us to understand what Davenport is up to, but opens up the world of America in the 1890s for us to look at. That era was uncannily similar to our own in that an obscene level of wealth existed in contrast to most people’s economic status, and these extremely wealthy men had a powerful hold on politicians. I also read somewhere that around 1900 J. Pierpont Morgan more or less OWNED the United States.

Davenport was not the master cross hatcher that Thomas Nast was. Nast is my main man for cross hatching technique, but in fact it was the ENGRAVER who did the final line work on almost all Nast’s cartoons up to somewhere in the late 1880s when photo offset printing took over from engraved or etched plates. So most of Nast’s work was engraved, and these humble workmen were only allowed to put their initials in an unobtrusive place on the finished engraving plates… SOMETIMES.

Do inform me if you get a second book out on Homer Davenport’s cartoons. I must have it!

R. Crumb

With the completion of the annotated edition of Davenport’s second book, “The Dollar or the Man?” I sent him a copy of that one as well. Shortly after he replied by email:

July 18, 2022


Received the book “The Dollar or the Man” yesterday, for which I thank you. I spent a long time looking at it. It’s so uncanny how relevant these cartoons are to our current predicament: the fat capitalists making Uncle Sam dance, shooting at his feet in a barroom — absolutely the case these days as well; “Who Should — Who Does — Pay the Taxes?” showing the robber barons pointing at a boney poor farmer and his son — still totally true. “Is the Old Man Reconciled to His Job Yet?,” showing “Dollar Mark” Hanna in his suit covered with dollar signs and the trusts giant looking on with satisfaction as Uncle Sam is washing windows… Absolutely still the case. Incredible, the staying power of this system of things!

John D. RockefellerI like very much that you included these texts from various sources with each cartoon. Rich background material to better understand Davenport’s message. It’s interesting to note the favorable biography of John D. Rockefeller that you got from Wikipedia. They make him out to be a great social benefactor. There’s only one sentence that mentions anything negative about him: “His company and business practices came under criticism, particularly in the writings of Ida Tarbell.” That’s it. In fact, Rockefeller was widely despised, even among the businessmen he dealt with. It was said of him — maybe I read it in Ida Tarbell’s excellent book, “The Rise of Standard Oil” — that he was ALL BUSINESS, had no hobbies or pleasurable pursuits, always had his nose in the accounting books. He supported the use of internal combustion engines over other kinds of automobile engines (steam, electric) as it vastly expanded the oil industry. He funded the Rockefeller Institute that pushed hard for synthetic pharmaceuticals as the base of medical treatments, to expand his chemical industries, a spin-off of oil refining. His father was a 19th Century itinerant snake-oil salesman, pitching a cure-all that was mostly refined petrol.

John D. Rockefeller’s influence on America and the world is still ongoing. Not only did he push our dependence on petroleum and its by-products, he also had a HUGE effect on the science and practice of medicine through the Rockefeller Institute. Some historians couch this influence as a good thing, asserting that Rockefeller used his wealth to advance and improve medicine and healthcare in the U.S.A., improved medical schooling, closing down low grade medical schools throughout the country. I’m not so sure it was all to the good. John D. was ALL BUSINESS. He helped to bring about our monolithic pharmaceutical industry and helped to make practicing physicians a privileged, elite, highly paid priesthood. Rockefeller was a cold-blooded capitalist. Not at all sure that he had the well-being of the “common people” at heart. The only things I’ve seen written about the influence of Rockefeller have all been positive, as if the authors were receiving payment from one of the many institutions and organizations funded by Rockefeller money. Don’t know of any really critical history of what came after the period described by Ida Tarbell. The power of private wealth is alive and well in our time.

The founders of American industrial capitalism put in place a political system in which big business and high finance were all powerful, and this system is still firmly in place to this day! Communism, Socialism, came and went, rose up and was beaten back down over and over.

I just finished reading “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. Scary stuff.

Thanks again for the book. I hope it sells well. Americans need to see this, to understand how deeply embedded this unfair system is.

R. Crumb

The Dollar or the Man?

Introduction to the Annotated Edition

The Dollar or the Man? The Issue of To-Day, Homer Davenport’s second published cartoon collection after Cartoons by Davenport in 1897, we see a physically smaller book, with less cartoons; fifty-four compared to the eighty-four of the previous collection, which was released as a large “coffee-table” sized bound portfolio measuring 11 by 17 inches. It is also unique in that it was a collaboration with Horace L. Traubel, who curated the selection of images used, as well as providing a 3000 word introduction. Traubel’s legacy includes being the biographer of American poet Walt Whitman, and one who supported a host of what we would today term “left-wing” causes and people.

Unlike the previous collection, the curated cartoons Traubel chose were focused on the monopolistic corporate trusts, and the increasing disparity between the few rich and the multitudes of the poor. They all date from 1898 through 1900, ending after the Presidential election in November. Republican President William McKinley is featured heavily, as is his “henchman” Senator Marcus Alonzo “Dollar Mark” Hanna.

And a new character was introduced by Davenport: The “Trust Brute,” being a personification of the corporate trusts that took root during the Gilded Age. Portrayed as a bearded, hulking muscular brute, with a primitive grass kilt, and often touting either a whip or club. Davenport freely cloned the Brute to represent different trusts: Oil, Sugar, Steel, etc. The sequential order of the cartoons is the same as Traubel’s original curation, with one exception: I placed the introductory cartoon of the Trust Brute as the first cartoon.

The oligarchs of the day, are easily recognized and of course the familiar bulbous form of “Dollar Mark Hanna” returns, pictured as the controlling entity of the McKinley administration. Davenport’s various victims are easily recognized, which frankly assisted in the research of these images: They looked like their photographs available online via a number of digital archives.

Davenport’s “common folk” are pictured as hard-working, yet incredibly emaciated. Children appear as skinny, pathetic waifs with parents to match. Their clothes are torn and tattered, often pictured begging the Trust Brute and Dollar-Mark Hanna for some simple relief.

The obvious purpose of this publication was political. Specifically with a Democratic bias, engineered to support William Jennings Bryan’s second run for President against the re-election of McKinley. What is almost missing, was Davenport’s Democratic foil from the previous collection, Tammany Hall and its political boss Richard Croker. The “Tammany Tiger” does appear in one of the cartoons, but in a “positive” role. During this campaign, both Hearst and Croker supported the democratic ticket of Bryan and his running mate Adlai Stevenson, so somewhat of a truce appears to have occurred, at least in regards to the cartoons in this collection.

The issues of the campaign included the bimetallism vs. gold standard of 1896, but also the growth of international imperialism, corporate monopolies, and increased societal inequalities. Between both of Davenport’s cartoon collections, was the Spanish American War, which resulted in the defeat of Spain, and the acquisition by the United States of many of its former colonies. A war that initially had the support of both the Republicans and Democrats to bring freedom to those places, switched when the Administration decided that a policy of “benevolent assimilation” was more profitable. Filipino “Freedom Fighters” were re-branded “Insurgents” as the occupying forces took control. Puerto Rico likewise was “kept” as part of the spoils of war. Cuba eventually was returned to the locals, with U.S. interests baked into their country, in ways that persist to this day.

Owing to the fact that this book was released several months before the assassination of President McKinley by an anarchist, physical copies are extremely rare. Since McKinley and his administration were the main targets of the work, his death and public sentiment no doubt cut into book sales. Nevertheless, McKinley’s death, and the rise of President Theodore Roosevelt signaled a shift from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era, where many of the issues presented in this publication were somewhat addressed.

Ironically, Davenport left Hearst’s employ in 1904, in support of the progressive Republicans, led by President Roosevelt. Indeed, after a rocky start, Homer and the Colonel became fast friends, sharing a common interest in Arabian horses.

While the original version of this volume is available digitally, I was able to obtain several hard copy originals that I used to digitize the images, and prepare them for republication. The horizontal format of the original has been retained, with the cartoons on the right, and a relevant annotation on the left under the original captions.

For this annotated collection, I have attempted to use as many period sources as possible. Of particular usefulness was The Tammany Times, from GoogleBooks. This was an effervescent weekly newspaper published by the Tammany Hall democratic machine in New York City.

Other sources included both Republican and other Democratic—usually very biased—periodicals and newspaper accounts with similar chronological ties to the images. And as is the case of these sorts of projects, I learned quite a bit myself. Mainly that today’s hyper partisan media environment is by no means new. The election antics of 1900 proved that this is a long American tradition. Indeed, the “Dollar or the Man?” could well be the issue for our times!

Gus Frederick – Silverton, Oregon

The Annotated Dollar or the Man is available from Liberal University Press (see link on the upper-right side bar), or in Silverton from the Silverton Country Historical Society. Additional venues will be added as they become available.

R.C. Harvey: A Nice Notice

Insider's History of Cartooning

Update: We were greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Bob Harvey on July 7. He will be greatly missed. After years of urging me to complete the annotated edition of “The Dollar or the Man,” I finally completed it, and sent him a copy. He immediately wrote up a review, that was posted on the American Association or Editorial Cartoonist site. It may well have been his last review.

Editor’s Note: The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) recently held their annual convention in Portland, Oregon just North of Silverton. The weekend long affair for the most part was private, with strict security measures designed to keep the over zealous fan base at bay. The one exception was an open Sunday morning “Signing Event” where the cartoonists and authors offered their autographed wares for sale. As fellow Silvertonian Bob Foster was autographing my copies of his Moose series, I noticed a gentleman peddling a book entitled Insider Histories of Cartooning at the same table. This got my attention.

Turned out another Bob! Specifically R.C. Harvey, noted cartoon historian and “girlie” cartoonist. I quickly pulled out the bucks and set Mr. Harvey to work autographing his book, when he asked me how to spell my name. In reply, I showed him a copy of Annotated Cartoons By Davenport, and pointed. He quickly handed me back my money and offered to trade! Best deal I’ve made in years. I went to his Website and signed up for his Rants & Raves monthly column on Cartoon happenings. In his recap of the NCS event, he wrote the following nice book review! Reprinted with permission.

Cartoonists Land in Portlandia – The National Cartoonists Society’s Reubens Weekend

Excerpt: “…this year’s signing event will doubtless change all that. It was a remarkably successful event with lots of civilians thronging the room and buying books and sketches … But the big event for me was when a bearded Gus Frederick wandered by and was about to buy a book when I noticed he had a book about Homer Davenport under his arm. Davenport is one of the giants of editorial cartooning in the first decade of the 20th century, but virtually nothing has been written about him. Frederick’s book reprints a 1897 book of Davenport cartoons with annotations that explain their significances; I’ve reviewed the book at greater length down the Scroll. Seizing upon this find, I quickly traded Frederick a copy of my Insider Histories of Cartooning for a copy of his Davenport. And a good time was had by all…”


Book Reviews
R.C. Harvey – Critiques & Crotchets
The Annotated Cartoons By Homer C. Davenport
Researched and compiled by Gus Frederick
200 8×10.5-inch pages, b/w; 2013 Liberal University Press paperback, $20

DAVENPORT is one of the great names in American editorial cartooning, but almost nothing has been written about him—nothing, at least, approaching the scholarship that Frederick displays in this volume. Born in 1867, Davenport grew up drawing all the time near Silverton, Oregon, and eventually, after numerous false starts, he wound up cartooning in San Francisco for the Chronicle, until William Randolph Hearst finally hired Davenport for his Examiner by tripling his Chronicle salary.

Davenport was part of Hearst’s team that took over the New York Journal in 1895 and helped launch “yellow journalism” in competition with Pulitzer’s New York World. Davenport became famous during the presidential contest of 1896, depicting candidate William McKinley’s manager, wealthy industrialist Marcus Hanna, wearing “plutocratic plaid” with a tiny dollar sign in each square, accurately pinpointing the real issues and interests of the campaign. The cartoonist’s work was fierce enough on politicians that it inspired a failed anti-cartoon bill in the New York State Assembly. In 1904, one of his cartoons of Uncle Sam with his hand on the shoulder of Teddy Roosevelt is said by many to have enabled TR’s election. Davenport also bred American-born Arabian horses and wrote a book about it.

On April 13, 1912, Davenport was sent to illustrate the sinking of the Titanic. He contracted pneumonia waiting to interview the survivors and died on May 2.

Two volumes of his cartoons were published during his lifetime—Cartoons by Davenport in 1897 and The Dollar or the Man in 1900. He wrote an autobiography, focusing on his youth in beloved Silverton, The Country Boy (1910). The only biography I know of is Homer Davenport of Silverton: Life of a Great Cartoonist by Leland Huot and Alfred Powers (West Shore Press, 1973), which is a fairly relaxed and casual anecdotal account of his life, mostly chronological but not entirely. Almost half of its 400-plus pages are pictures—photos of Silverton and elsewhere and Davenport’s cartoons. The quality of reproduction is, however, poor. In Frederick’s book, the pictures are superbly reproduced, the finest lines meticulously captured.

In reprinting the 1897 volume of cartoons with extensive annotation, Frederick has performed a monumental service for all students of editorial cartooning in America. The original book printed only cartoons with no explanation. Herein, each cartoon, all from 1895-1898, gets a full page, and facing it is a page of text, explaining who the victims of Davenport’s pen are and what their significance is at the time. Frederick told me he is at work annotating the 1900 [The Dollar or the Man] collection.

Only a few of the cartoons consist of metaphorical messages in the modern manner; most are caricatures that exaggerate and distort their victim’s features, making them all seem highly questionable persons. I’m posting only a few hereabouts, including Davenport’s 1896 portrait of his boss, W.R. [Hearst] himself—a friendly, even complimentary, picture that may well be the most familiar of Davenport’s works: it shows up often in histories of journalism.

(Click Thumbnail for More Detail—Close the Window to Return)
R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1

—Review by R.C. Harvey in Rants & Raves, his monthly online magazine of comics news and reviews, cartooning history and lore, at RCHarvey.com

The City’s Cartoons

Mary Delle & Alice Davenport

In the early 1960s, Homer Davenport’s sisters, Alice Davenport Bernard and Mary Delle Davenport Havens (right), gifted to the citizens of Silverton a number of original political cartoons, photographs and other artifacts from their famous brother. The cartoons have been on display in City Hall for decades, since they were donated to the Silverton Library, then part of the City of Silverton.

Main Street Coffee and Bistro in partnership with the City of Silverton will host a special exhibition of these eight original Davenport cartoons. The cartoons, dating from 1894 through 1904, will be displayed the upstairs gallery in the newly remodeled Wolf Building, located at 201 East Main Street, in Silverton Historic downtown core. All of the City Cartoons along with annotated descriptions will allow visitors to examine up close and personal, the artwork of Oregon’s First Media Super Star. The eight cartoons set to be displayed cover a period of time from 1894 through 1908.

The oldest piece, is a portrait of Davenport’s father, Timothy, (left). It includes the note, “Portrait of My Father, October 6, 1894.” At this period of time, Davenport was firmly established with Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, and was no doubt home visiting.

The next earliest, is an image of lame-duck president Grover Cleveland, sitting secure at work, with a Tammany Tiger-skin rug under his chair, being confronted by an old begger. A partial penciled-in title starts “To Busy…” Owing to Homer’s notoriously bad spelling, it most likely meant “TOO busy…” Probably done in late 1895 or early 1896.

Another Tammany-tied cartoon from around 1896 features Tammany Hall Boss Richard Croker, with his bags packed and ready to head off to his Irish estate, while stuffing the Tammany Tiger up his sleeve…

“Now for Prosperity” features House Speaker Thomas Reed (R-ME) and Congressman Nelson Dingly (R-ME) “shake down” Uncle Sam for the benefit of the corporate trusts. This cartoon was included in Davenport 1897 collection “Cartoons by Davenport.”

“God’s in it. We’re in it. There’s money in it.” Here we see Dollar Mark Hanna and the Trust Brute mugging a Cuban. From Davenport’s second published collection, “The Dollar or the Man?” published in 1899.

Wolf Building Display

The final two cartoons date from around 1904, during Davenport’s post-Hearst period. Both feature person hand-written notes dated August 30, 1908. These he apparently gifted to Dr. Charles H. Brewer, an Oregon doctor and his wife Nettie Mae Brewer, during a visit with Homer, most likely in New Jersey. Mrs Brewer, (formerly Nettie Mae Munkers) was a school mate of Homer’s (albeit in an earlier grade level).

One features a ghostly Lincoln with his hand on old man’s shoulder, holding a newspaper reading “Parker’s Letter – I Will Revoke.” This is in reference to 1904 Democratic Presidential candidate Judge Parker, who vowed to revoke a pension extension passed as an executive order by President Roosevelt for Civil War veterans. The hand-written inscription says: “To Mrs. Dr. Brewer, who as a girl was my school mate. Me at one end of the classroom, and she at the other. (Those that know me will know which end I was). It’s with the greatest happiness that I give her this cartoon which bears a likeness of my father, he of whom all Silvertonians—yea Oregonians loved. [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908” Homer often used people he knew as models.

President Roosevelt on a stage with audience, handing his Message to Congress, over to House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon (R-IL). The hand-written inscription says: “To my dear friends Dr. and Mrs. Brewer who have made me so happy with just a visit, but after all, what is greater than a visit between old friends? Yours with Love, [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908”

The final image is a self-portrait of the artist, possibly done during the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, owing to the appearance.

Eventually all of these pieces need to be re-framed in an archival manner to ensure their preservation for
the decades to come. Here is your chance to help the Homer Festival at the same time as helping to preserve history. By donating to the Davenport Cartoon Re-framing Fund, you will get the same tax-deduction as well as the knowledge that you have personally helped keep Davenport’s art safe and secure for future generations to enjoy. Plus you will be the first in line to view these restored pieces, when they are eventually displayed to the public.

Ask your Homer Day Contact about the Cartoon Re-framing Fund!

The Brooklyn Citizen: 1896

Arthur E. Jameson

Arthur E. Jameson

On Sunday, October 25, 1896, just a bit over a week before Election day, The Brooklyn Citizen, one of many daily newspapers in New York City, ran a short biographic sketch on Political cartoonist Homer Davenport. This piece ran just one year after Davenport arrived in the Big Apple after his boss William Randolph Hearst’s acquired the New York Journal.

This also appears to be the earliest biographical piece about Davenport to be published. There were many more over the next decade. It was written by Arthur E. Jameson (1872-1957), a fellow Hearst comic artist. At the time of the article, he had himself embarked in what would be a long career with Hearst and Company, eventually specializing in what would be now termed graphic novels. His work in fact predates a style that would become popular by later artist’s like Hal Foster and his Prince Valiant strip.

Why he would write a piece in a non-Hearst paper, seems like a contradiction, but no doubt was part of Hearst’s well-known approach to self-promotion. The inclusion of an image of John M. Palmer the “Gold Democratic Candidate” for President was interesting as well, since Hearst openly supported William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate, who espoused a “bimetal” approach using both gold and silver as an economic base.

The page from which this article was reproduced, had these Davenport caricatures sprinkled throughout the page, even though the article on Davenport was only a dozen or so column inches on the upper left corner of the page. The paper was donated to the Silverton Country Historical Society by the Digerness family, whose ancestors include another talented Silverton cartoonist, the late Knute Digerness.

Work of a Cartoonist
Influence of the Pencil in Line with the Pen
The Varied Career of One
By Arthur E. Jameson

Dollar Mark Hanna and McKinleyPublic interest has been so universally centered in the political outlook, and in the principals who are to engage in the coming battle, that the men who are really to shape their destiny have been overlooked. The writers and artists representing some of the largest newspapers in the country form no small part of the large army of men which is to comprise the opposing forces. Among them are men who have achieved reputation and fame in their respective capacities, and are the chosen ones of their profession. They are as prominent in the newspaper field as are the political figureheads to the laity, and what they will accomplish during the campaign will be watched as carefully by the interested public as by the politicians themselves.

One of the men who will do much to shape and disfigure the hopes of the political aspirants is Homer C. Davenport, of the New York Journal. Since the time of Nast there is no man who has jumped so suddenly into prominence in the field of caricature. Within four years he has acquired a reputation which extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and his original drawings adorn the sanctums of most of the prominent politicians in the country. They watch his work as closely as Tweed and Blaine did that of Nast.

Of all the checkered careers to which a man can fall heir, his is the most versatile. He is probably one of the quaintest and most original characters to be found in the profession. His academy has been the practical school of observation, and there has been nothing for him to acquire but facility; the last was a natural inheritance.

It is hard to realize that a man who can now make political monarchs bend in fear and submission, has been a jockey, a waiter, an engine wiper, a clown, a fireman, and a steamboat stoker. But such is Mr. Davenport’s repertoire of accomplishments. They were not forced upon him through necessity, of course, for his father has always been in a position to help him. They were merely the result and deserts of his boyish waywardness and recklessness. He was always a source of constant worry and annoyance to his parents. When he ran away with a circus during harvest time his father’s hair, he says, first began to turn gray and Has been turning ever since until about five years ago. Then it began to return to its original color. It was the arrival of this circus which cut short his career at school, but his knowledge was afterwards acquired in the manner most self-made men boast of. He cares more for game roosters and bull pups than he does for books, and though he may not be able to quote Shakespeare or Byron, he can sign his name to as large a check as most learned pedagogues.

It is always interesting to know what event marks the inception of a successful career, and it seems odd that in Mr. Davenport’s case his first effort should have been at the expense of his long-suffering father. His younger sisters, possessing the same humorous instincts had plaited the fore-locks of their paternal ancestor’s hair while he was taking a nap, and had tied a red ribbon on it so that it resembled the topknot of a pickaninny. When he removed his hat later in the evening to introduce Governor Pennoyer to a large audience the red ribbon jumped out and stood straight up, to the intense amusement of the audience and the consternation of the principals. It was Homer’s first motif and the result was conspicuous for a day on the post office bulletin board.

Through a friend of his Mr. Davenport later got an offer from the Portland Oregonian to make advertising cuts. The first drawing was a stove, but the legs had such wiggle and the door such a mark that the advertiser refused to run his “ad” if the cut had to go with it. He was compelled to seek “green fields and pastures new” after this failure, and finally wound up in. San Francisco. An admiring friend introduced him to the art manager of the Examiner as “the greatest artist in the country.” The faces of those around him fell away into a peaceful smirk at this announcement and Homer thrust his precious samples through the linen of his coat. He was willing at that moment to go back to ploughing without complaint. But they gave him a trial at $10 per week with instructions not to be too original. When he eventually grew tired of copying A. B. Frost and drawing bridges and buildings it was the signal for his dismissal.

After a short stay on the Chronicle he went to Chicago, where he did some serious comic stuff for the Herald during the World’s Fair. Mr. Hearst of the Examiner returned from Europe about this time end noticing Davenport’s work, sent for him, He was given free scope at once, and his successful career dates from that period—-two and one-half years ago. When his fine page cartoon of Sam Rainey, the Tom Platt of the Pacific Coast, appeared, it set everybody wild. It was as big a hit to the West as was Gilmans’ celebrated drawing of Blaine, the tattooed man, and it was the political death of the great “boss.”

When Mr. Hearst bought the “Morning Journal he brought Mr. Davenport with him. The people realized his genius at once, and he soon created a stir in national politics. His “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” cartoon was copied from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and when his drawing of Reed punching the bag, the famous Republican leader wrote and asked him for the original. His success was instantaneous.

Dollar Mark HannaBut since that time he has devoted most of his energies and wit and genius to the much-abused Mark Hanna. Indeed, Mr. Davenport has been as merciless in his attacks upon the stage manager and press agent of the Republican candidate that overtures have been made to have the cartoons stopped. The check suit with the dollar marks has wrought great havoc with “Mark” and has caused him many sleepless nights. But they still continue appear, and when the campaign is this check suit will pass into history and continue to haunt Mr. Hanna, as did the famous money bag face of old “Boss” Tweed.

It is scarcely credible to believe that this young genius had never earned a dollar from his pen five years ago. Although he is the same unassuming fellow who entered the Examiner office with his high-water pants and a seedy overcoat to cover up the patches, he is, of course, more metropolitan. But he possesses none of the vices which usually accrue from success. He never touches liquor or tobacco and has only hobby, as was said before, is keeping game chickens and bull pups. There is no more entertaining or original talker. His conversation is like his drawings—full of humor and lasting impressions. Everything he does is tinged with humor; he cannot it. If his drawings were only funny, Davenport could scarcely be less great; but they are full of serious thought and need no letter press to tell the story. No cartoonist can excel him in drawing, and when he introduces animals into his work he is superior to all. Before the national campaign is over he will have shattered many political aspirations beyond hope. Though he has already achieved much, he is only at the inception of his career.

How little the farmers thought when they used to laugh until their sides ached at his early sketches at Silverton, Oregon, that with as much ease he could make the whole world laugh or frown.

Arthur E. Jameson

In Sack-Cloth & Ashes


When he moved to San Francisco in 1892, Homer Davenport worked first—after a brief stint at the Mark Hopkins Art School—for Hearst’s Examiner. He was let go, apparently due to his “lack of artistic skill.” He then found work, at a higher salary, on Michael de Young’s San Francisco Chronicle, before eventually being re-hired by the Examiner, (at Hearst’s personal request) for an even higher salary in 1894.

This period has been lacking, not only in content, but in relevant facts relating to this period, which included a brief stint in Chicago drawing horses for the Herald during the 1893 World’s Fair, before returning to the Bay Area and de Young’s Chronicle.

I discovered “Fold3,” an outstanding online historical archive, that had relatively high resolution scans of each and every page of that San Francisco publication. I discovered a number of examples of Davenport’s work, hereto unseen for over a century. Many include dramatic outdoor scenes of horses and hunting.

One series stood out, and represents some of his earliest published work. It contains five illustrations by Davenport that were published in the February 19, 1893 edition. A seasonal column, it was titled “In Sack-cloth and Ashes,” and featured a tongue-in-cheek overview of how various noted citizens observed (or not) the Christian fast of Lent.

These pieces employed a “silhouette” technique. He also used this effect in the only surviving comic strip he didfeaturing himself as the foil, with pigeons in Venice’s St. Marks Square. The quality of course is what would be expected from online reproductions by way of archival microfilm, but still shows the gist of his illustrated jests. With one exception, his Chronicle work was signed with his initials, “H.D.” like some of his previous work on the Portland Oregonian. It could be assumed that newspaper artists had to earn the right to even have their initials included, so there may well be more images he drew that remained un-signed. Most of the “cuts” are anonymous, and were similar in form and function to our current concept of “clip-art.”

The author of the column is unknown, perhaps by design, as the tone and tenor of the article could conceivably be interpreted as border-line blasphemous by some. This would not have deterred Davenport however, having been raised by “intellectual infidels” in Silverton, Oregon. Below are the original captions, with relevant passages from the original column.

lent_hdA: Louis Lissak runs to eating because it disagrees with him. “That’s just it; I am careful of my stomach for ten months and a half during the year, and when Lent comes I let loose and eat everything my depraved and gluttonous appetite calls for. I get sick then. That is my penance.”

B: Bob Grayson makes penance by eating a tough steak. “Bob Woodward is a better man than I at almost any stage of life,” he acknowledged in his own modest way, “and he quit the table right after the fish was eaten. But I think I did more penance than he will in the balance of this season by trying to chew through the steak they served me. The weight of that leather boot top, with a fine French sauce, I swallowed is resting now with a deadly weight right under my chamois chest protector.”

C: Eddie Dunn comes 3000 miles from New York to eat rubber doughnuts. Dunn has been a little wild in his day, and decided he would leave the tempting haunts of New York, travel 3000 miles and repent during lent by feeding upon one of the lunch counters of a first-class saloon in this city. The tank was more than he could stand when he discovered that the cold pig’s feet and brown rounded doughnuts were some of the most perfect products of the rubber company.

D: Johnny Byrnes ends his mortification in wine. “I refrain from intoxicants the whole year round,” he says, “because they do not agree with me. When I cover myself with sackcloth and ashes I start in the day before and drink beer, topping it off at night with wine, and the next morning I feel that I am buried in the debris.”

E: J. B. Casserly neither borrows nor lends during lent. “I am mortifying my friends,” he said, “more than I mortify myself. During the penitential season I neither borrow nor lend—especially the latter.”