The Approaching Perils
Herb Block began his illustrious seventy-two-year career in his native Chicago in 1929, just six months before the stock market crash plunged the world into the Great Depression. During his first decade as a cartoonist, the themes of economic catastrophe and war dominated his work. Only nineteen when his career began, Block imitated the Midwestern School of editorial cartooning epitomized by John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Tribune, characterized by sparing use of black space and a loose ink brush line on smooth, layered paper board. Early in 1933 Block left Chicago for Cleveland, becoming the editorial cartoonist for Scripps-Howard’s syndicate, the Newspaper Enterprise Association Service (NEA). By the mid-1930s his characteristic style—the use of strong graphite shading and confident ink brush strokes on stippled coquille paper—had emerged. His characters lost their comic strip roundedness and became more accurate representations as well as strong caricatures. By the time World War II erupted, Block had broken with the Midwestern School and matured as a cartoonist.
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