December 18, 2012
From 1915, Frankenstein’s Monster as War flexes its long claws, brewing Hatred, Malice, Envy and Ambition. Kings scramble, crowns flying off their heads.
Editorial cartoonists adopted the Frankenstein theme as a metaphor for things gone out of control. Until the Twentieth century, when the Karloffian icon — flat head, bolts and all — became the standard image for Frankenstein’s Monster, cartoonists usually represented The Monster as a disheveled, towering giant.
Cleveland-based cartoonist Robert W. “Bob” Satterfield (1876-1958) first achieved prominence when he covered the McKinley assassination in Buffalo, in 1901. He would go on to produce editorial cartoons and illustrated features widely distributed through the NEA Service, America’s first syndication outfit. His favorite caricature subject was President Teddy Roosevelt. In 1924, when Satterfield signed an exclusive agreement with the Publishers Autocaster Service of New York, the company proclaimed him as “America’s greatest Cartoonist” and “the most talented and highest priced cartoonist who has ever produced a feature for this field.”
The illustration here appeared front and center on the first page of The Tacoma Times for November 9, 1915. Curiously, copies appeared in other publications often badly cropped, with the sides cut and the bottom part with signature chopped off. The cartoon also occupied a full page in Chicago’s radical newspaper The Day Book of November 6 with Satterfield’s name painted out. This might indicate use without permission or payment of the syndication fee.
Info updated, with thanks to M W Gallaher.