Obscurity of the Day: The Human Zoo

One of the most gifted editorial cartoonists of the past century, C.D. Batchelor flitted from paper to paper in the teens, worked at the New York Post in the 1920s, then from the 30s on was a fixture at the New York Daily News until his retirement and death in the 70s. His Pulitzer-winning 1937 editorial cartoon, a true masterpiece in my opinion, is impossible to forget once seen.

Batchelor’s editorial cartoons are very serious indeed, but he did have a (slightly) lighter side that was put on display in his first syndicated feature, The Human Zoo, and a second, Once Overs. The Human Zoo was syndicated by the Philadelphia-based Ledger Syndicate and ran from November 6 1922 until sometime in 1924, possibly August 2nd. In its earlier days the social commentary in these cartoons was complemented by Batchelor’s strikingly handsome artwork, but later in the series he simplified his style somewhat and the feature lost some of the ‘wow’ factor on display in these gorgeous samples.

9 thoughts on “Obscurity of the Day: The Human Zoo

  1. Beautiful artwork, indeed.

    BUT when I first saw Oswald Snively I thought Hortense was being wooed by a (mannish) woman! Now that would have been social commentary in 1922!

  2. Hi Boyd —
    Hmm. Seems a little late; if it was running in August 1925 I would have expected it to appear in the 1925 E&P directory, which it didn’t. Of course that can be an oversight or the syndicate had already decided to drop it. Is the Age-Herald online, or did you get these dates from microfilm? What other material did they run? (That might give a clue as to whether the material was current or running late).

    Thanks, Allan

  3. That’s from my ongoing microfilm survey of the history of the Birmingham papers; you can get the full story at the link below; my brief comments on the Human Zoo are on the A-H page for the 20’s. You can also search for the contents of all the pages for any given date (although I haven’t gotten that far yet on the Post), so you can do some experimenting on your question. On August 1, the A-H was running the following lineup:

    The Human Zoo
    Moon Mullins
    Gasoline Alley
    Little Orphan Annie
    Winnie Winkle
    The Gumps

  4. Hi Boyd —
    Fair enough, it doesn’t look like the Age-Herald was in the habit of rerunning old material, so I’m going with your date. Thanks for the link!

    –Allan

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