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“Today we have a new group of satirists who, at the same time that they bite the bourgeoisie, use only their lips, but not their teeth”
October 29, 2011 11:55 AM   Subscribe

While he was contributing to the New Yorker as Syd Hoff, he was also contributing to the Daily Worker and New Masses as A. Redfield — the pseudonym he adopted for his radical work, The Ruling Clawss (Daily Worker, 1935) a collection of surprisingly relevant cartoons.
posted by The Whelk (21 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great stuff.

Nearly a decade ago I was saying I though we might be repeating the 20’s and 30’s, but I was mostly talking out of my butt and hoped it really wasn’t so. I didn’t think we’d be exactly repeating things.

WWIII is going to suck.
posted by bongo_x at 12:02 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if those cartoons, especially the "relevant" one, could be published in a newspaper today.
posted by DU at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the only reason it couldn't be published in an alt weekly is that it's a little too on-the-nose and completely lacking in the required drench of irony.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, I guess I was assuming they were published in mainstream newspapers at the time, but obvs not.
posted by DU at 12:20 PM on October 29, 2011


I only remember one kinda subversive/ mock the elites cartoon in the New Yorker at the same time, Peter Arno's "Lets Go To The Trans-Lux And Hiss Roosevelt!" which isn't in the Cartoon Bank archive for some reason. (probably cause they don't have the original,)
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tangential.
posted by telstar at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great quote in the title; of course, today's satirists would rather use their tongues.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2011


Also the author of kids books like Grizzwold and Sammy the Seal.
posted by box at 12:38 PM on October 29, 2011


And Captain Cat, the prototypical DADT yarn. I had no idea this author had this whole other life. Must I now google every name I come across?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:09 PM on October 29, 2011


whoops, Captain Cat
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2011


I wonder if those cartoons, especially the "relevant" one, could be published in a newspaper today.

Sure, but at least one of the two subscribers would surely complain.
posted by three blind mice at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2011


This one is oblique enough to have gone in the New Yorker itself.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 4:53 PM on October 29, 2011


The last page of magazine The Walrus has politically tinged comic strip. One issue made this very same complaint about Rick Mercer's brand of satire.

I'm not entirely sure I agree. There is a long tradition of slyly making a very specific point using the language and manner of your target.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:00 PM on October 29, 2011


The Syd Hoff children's books are great for beginning readers. His books tend to be eclipsed by the zanier Dr Seuss stories. Hoff's stories are insipid by comparison but when you're teaching a five year old how to read, the general wackiness and made up words in the Seuss books are a bit of a distraction. The Hoff books are just entertaining enough to keep a young child interested (if not so much for the adult reading along) with a simple, limited number of words.

Sammy the Seal was first published in 1959 and the illustrations show a racially integrated classroom. We take it for granted today, but it would have been a conscious decision at the time.

If you have a preschool or kindergarten kid starting to read, you really should have some of Syd Hoff's books around.
posted by Loudmax at 6:53 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Syd Hoff's kid's books. Now I love him even more.
posted by Duffington at 7:12 PM on October 29, 2011


Ah Berlin! So quiet - so calm - so serene.
posted by telstar at 12:06 AM on October 30, 2011


Those Redfield cartoons are less subtle than Chick tracts. I'm happy this work is forgotten. There's a line between art and propaganda.
posted by Yakuman at 12:07 AM on October 30, 2011


I recently posted about a new book that details the surprising number of 20th century children's classics authored by people with ties to the left.
posted by Miko at 6:39 AM on October 30, 2011


Thanks to The Whelk for the link! This morning, I noticed that I was getting a lot of comments on this Syd Hoff blog post from February. Turns out Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing saw your post, and then linked to my blog.

Hoff had a long affiliation with both The Daily Worker and New Masses. You'll find, at the bottom of the post to which you linked, a link to a letter from Hoff to me. All this attention inspires me to post another Hoff letter, in which he details how he got involved with "the 'movement'" (as he calls it).

The Redfield cartoons are angry and incisive. They're probably surprising to people who know Hoff from Danny and the Dinosaur, or his New Yorker work, or his syndicated strips Tuffy and Laugh It Off.

Anyhow, I'll get that letter up later today. Thanks again for the notice!
posted by philnel at 10:35 AM on October 30, 2011


Hoff's childrens books are really wonderful. Sammy the Seal was one of my favorites as a kid and I recently read it to my four year old niece. Has a few nice quiet jokes for the grown ups too. Sammy, freshly freed from the zoo, looks up rapturously at the New York skyline while two pedestrians behind him snark: "That seal must be from out of town."

And there's a nice tie-in in the book to his previous political cartoons. A fat society woman with a fur coat admires Sammy's coat which makes the seal rather nervous. The woman is drawn almost exactly the same as the ones in his previous work.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2011


Awesome stuff, sharp, poignant and funny all at once.

"Those Redfield cartoons are less subtle than Chick tracts. I'm happy this work is forgotten. There's a line between art and propaganda."
posted by Yakuman

lol.
posted by marienbad at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2011


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