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The following letter from Karl Hubenthal
was written June 16, 1998, and
read at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists Convention
banquet in Las Vegas:
"I thank you fellow members for allowing me a
few last words.
We founded the AAEC 41 years
ago seeking national recognition of our
craft, and for many years enjoyed a strong relationship with
Washington establishment. Presidents and politicians were almost
available and cooperative. One year I remember Goldwater spoke
to us one
night and L.B.J. was our banquet speaker the next night.
We had style back then and
we had clout, mostly based on a mutual
respect shared by both sides. What an old-fashioned concept!
confrontation is the vogue, civil discourse is out, and we have
clout. Even that ink-bottle logo I designed so long ago is
old-fashioned. Higgins' bottle doesn't look like that anymore.
Everyone knows our business
faces rough times ahead. I urge you to be proud of your profession.
We are a great fraternity. We are not just
cartoonists, we are journalists, blessed with a visual gift that
envy of every other print journalist who must fill a column each
with mere words.
It is difficult in this good-bye
to express how much the AAEC has meant
to Elsie and me. We shall cherish forever the many long-time
friends we have made and all the special memories we shared together.
As the late, great Duke Ellington
used to say at the close of his
musical gigs.... "We love y'all madly!"
Tribute to One of the All-Time Great Cartoonists
1917 - 1998
|Born on May 1, 1917 in Beemer,
Nebraska, Karl Hubenthal (known as "Hubie") graduated
High School (class
of 1935) and Chouinard
Art School in Los
As a teenage cartoonist,
Hubenthal began working with the likes of George Herriman, Will
Gould, and the
great sports cartoonist, Willard
Mullin -- whom
he had always considered his "mentor".
During high school
in 1934, Hubenthal's track coach introduced him to Mullin, then
the sports cartoonist for the Los
Angeles Herald Express
who would later pen the famous 'Brooklyn
Mullin offered Hubenthal
advice and counsel and the pair gradually developed a lifelong
friendship. In fact, when speaking of the younger Hubenthal's
sports cartoons, Mullin would say that "they look mine on
a good day."
Hubenthal (above) - Circa 1937
|Hubenthal started his newspaper
career in 1935, at the age of 17, in the art department of the
Los Angeles Evening
Herald-Express. He began drawing a weekly sports cartoon in
1938, and two years later was named Top Sports Cartoonist of the Year at the New York Worlds Fair.
|The 1935 Los Angeles Herald-Express art department -
with a youthful, wide-eyed Karl Hubenthal (second from the right).
He served in the Marine Corps in World War II and worked after his discharge
as a commercial illustrator in New York and Los Angeles. In 1949,
he became one of the last people personally hired by William Randolph Hearst, when the legendary publisher
persuaded him to return to the newspaper business as sports cartoonist
for the Hearst publishing chain.
"Old W. R.
was also convinced I could become a political cartoonist",
In 1955, Hubenthal
became editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Examiner, and the Hearst chain distributed his political
cartoons nationally for the next 33 years. He continued at the Herald-Examiner until
his retirement in 1982, sharing editorial cartooning duties during
the last few years with Bill
Schorr -- ironically,
a former "student" of Hubenthal's who was hired by
the Herald-Examiner from
the Kansas City
||Hubenthal (circa 1966) at the drawing table
of his Encino, California studio -- surrounded by awards, photographs,
and original cartoon art drawn by his professional peers.
"Hubenthal's cartoons display
an amazing command of composition, anatomy and his media,"
Richard Marschall wrote in
The World Encyclopedia
of Cartoons. "His work is handsome and easy to look
at; Hubenthal can make a hard-hitting point or elicit a chuckle
with equal ease."
In a 1982 Herald-Examiner article commemorating his
retirement, Hubenthal said "The nice part of what I do is
that I get instant responses. I either get panned, or praised,
but at least I know what I'm saying is having some effect. When
you don't get mail, that's when you should worry."
Hubenthal also claimed
that his mail ran about 40% in favor of his work, 60% against.
"But that's human nature", he said. "People who
generally agree with you are not too moved to write. It's the
people who become exasperated with my view who usually write."
a fan of Hubenthal's work, President Johnson is presented with an original caricature
by the cartoonist in the Oval Office
Hubenthal is remembered
for his kindness and generosity. Steve Greenberg, a cartoonist with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
recalled that Hubenthal
the first pro to see my fledgling cartoons at the Los Angeles Daily News, and was always willing to
offer advice to someone just starting out." To freelance
was like a God to me. He was so kind, so generous with his advice
and counsel, and I will always remember with great fondness the
times I spent talking cartooning with him in his Encino studio.
For a sixteen-year-old kid who wanted to become a professional
cartoonist, nothing more firmly sealed that destiny than when
I became friends with Karl in 1974."
After his retirement,
Hubenthal pursued a successful career in Fine Arts, showing his
paintings in galleries in Laguna Beach, California, and in Arizona.
His paintings and drawings are in the private collections of
eight former U.S. Presidents, as well as various personalities
in national politics and sports.
|Revered for his sports cartoons, particularly
by the Southern California sports community, Hubenthal was honored
Angeles Dodger Stadium.
During his 47-year newspaper
career, he received numerous awards, winning seven National Cartoonist Society awards, 25 Freedom Foundation medals, the National Headliners Award, the
Helms Foundation medal, and five Pulitzer Prize nominations.
He was the Past President
of the Society
Past President of the American
Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and Regional Director of the National Cartoonists Society.
|When he wasn't working
at the drawing board on an editorial or sports cartoon, Hubenthal
would turn his attention to the canvas. In retirement, Hubenthal
created hundreds of paintings in both oil and watercolor.
His papers and the bulk of his
drawings are being maintained in permanent archive collections
at the University
of Wisconsin, Ohio State University and the
of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. A terrific designer,
Hubenthal also created the ink bottle logo for the American Association of Editorial
well as the internationally-recognized helmet logo for the Minnesota Vikings.
cartoons", Hubenthal once said, "if you inject a little
humor, you're better off. You just can't be serious every day.
When it comes to sports images, I work with mascots -- Bears, Lions, Rams,
etc. I always try to find a visual gimmick to support what I
have to say and work around it. The irony is that some of my
most intricate drawings got no response at all, but the cartoons
I drew at the last minute, or were very simple in their design,
got a lot of attention. You just can't figure it."
||The Hubenthal Family in December of 1996 :
(Left to right) Kathleen,
Elsie, Karen, and Karl
Married for 58 years, Karl Hubenthal
is survived by his wife, Elsie, of
Laguna Hills, California, daughters Kathleen Ciervo of Malibu, Ca, and Karen Chappell of Iowa City, Iowa, and a brother, John, of San Marcos, Ca.
material culled from news accounts, press articles, and Hubenthal's
personally-drafted obituary. Archive photographs the property
of Elsie Hubenthal. Special thanks to John Hubenthal for digital preparation