Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dorothy McKay: Christmas Spirits

The repeal of Prohibition took effect on December 5, 1933 with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution. The timing led to an unusual Life magazine Christmas cover by Dorothy McKay. It's not that "Brother Tupper"—nice alliteration—is drinking again already; he never stopped. It's just that his obviously red "nose is legal again," a very satisfactory resolution for the clergyman who has no problem with him being under the influence even while entertaining the children as Santa Claus. The other priest seems to be harboring second thoughts, as he very well should.

There's a lot wrong with the underlying assumptions and stereotypes of this magazine cover, but how was it received by its Depression-era audience? Was the repeal of the Volstead Act deemed a great boon or, more realistically, a mixed blessing? Was an inebriated Santa Claus really the way Life wanted to celebrate this historic crossroads?

"I'm glad brother Tupper's nose is legal again."
Dorothy McKay

Life, December 1933

Scan by Dick Buchanan

A Yuletide thank-you to Dick Buchanan for providing the old blog with the magazine cover seen here from the celebrated Dick Buchanan Cartoon Clip Files. Dick contributes regularly to Mike Lynch Cartoons, most recently a post entitled, "From the Dick Buchanan Files: Holiday and Winter Cartoons 1948 - 1960." Cheers!

Dorothy McKay was a leading cartoonist of her day. Readers are encouraged to contribute scans or photographs of original McKay art or of obscure published cartoons.

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