Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Barbara Shermund and E. Simms Campbell: The Same Name

Let's play the name game. The repetition of names—these names belonging to attractive, available young people—is a common element in two rather different cartoons from the cover of Pictorial Review published in the early 1950s. The Sunday supplement was syndicated nationally by King Features and included single panel gags aimed at an adult audience created by leading cartoonists of the day. Karen Miller provides us with photos of the cartoons by Barbara Shermund and E. Simms Campbell.

The Shermund boating cartoon was the first to appear, in 1950. Two boats are named for the same carefree, blonde woman and there's no doubt about which of the two is the superior. Barbara Shermund was certainly an early feminist, but when she left the New Yorker for Esquire and Pictorial Review, she depicted not a few gold diggers like this one. This sort of woman was a standard fixture in men's cartoons of the era, but in Shermund's gags the gold digger often is portrayed as self-empowered rather than a mere object of derision; she uses her sexuality to get and achieve what she wants out of life. Evelyn can do the math and she understands that richer men can afford bigger and better boats. But still…the poor little guy!
Barbara Shermund
"My girl!—my name!—I been double-crossed!"
Pictorial Review (The San Francisco Examiner)

August 6, 1950
Photo by Karen Miller

In 1951, E. Simms Campbell takes the repetition of names a few steps further.
E. Simms Campbell
"They're ALL named William—I'm sort of a 'Bill' collector."
Pictorial Review (The San Francisco Examiner)

January 21, 1951
Photo by Karen Miller

The pun is atrocious, but aside from that the underlying idea of a woman playing the field is meant to highlight her implied promiscuity. The implication of these two cartoons together is that women are willing to use their sexuality to trade up in the world. 
To men of the 1950s, that might just have been exciting and threatening at the same time.

Note:  Thanks to Karen Miller for contributing the images in today's post. She writes, "The Bill one I framed because my husband is Bill, my son is Bill, my Dad is Bill, my Grandfather was Bill, my nephew is Bill and my brother in law is Bill!" Thus life imitates art in a manner I would scarcely have imagined.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:


No comments:

Post a Comment