Secret Political Cartoonist: Remembering Dr. Seuss on His Birthday
Dr. Seuss would have been 109 years old today. The beloved author of Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, was know for his magical children's books that transport readers into unknown surreal landscapes. Despite never having children of his own, Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel had a knack for knowing how to evoke imagination in kids with his ghoulish grinch and furry pom-pomed friends.
Lesser known is Seuss' work in politics which he began at the onset of World War II when he became editorial cartoonist for the lefty New York City daily newspaper, PM. For them, he drew over 400 editorial cartoons that were supportive of President Roosevelt, the U.S. war effort, and criticized Hitler and Mussolini.
His work at the paper allowed him to voice his progressive views, explaining that the publication "was against people who pushed other people around. I liked that." Seuss' cartoons challenged bigotry against Jews and blacks, and tackled everything from union-busting to corporate greed. While he was careful to denounce racism you'll notice that with Seuss' depictions of the Japanese—which call to mind all the stereotypes at the time—its clear his sympathies did not extend to them. A selection of Seuss' black and white illustrations have been immortalized in the book Dr. Seuss Goes to War and images are also available online on UCSD Library's site, which has digitized the original drawings and newspaper clippings produced between 1941 and 1943.
Images courtesy of the Mandeville Special Collections Library, U.C. San Diego