National Cartoonist Day is celebrated every year on May 5. If the papers are less about the news and more about the comic strip for you, then National Cartoonists Day is your day! This day is held in remembrance of the first comic strip featured in a newspaper (more on that later). It also honors all cartoonists, past and present, and their amazing creations.
History of National Cartoonists Day
In 1943, a bunch of cartoonists — Gus Edson, Otto Soglow, Clarence D. Russell, Bob Dunn, and others — did small cartoon shows in hospitals to entertain the troops during the Second World War. The group expanded and performed across hospitals and various military bases. Then, while flying to one of the military bases, Clarence D. Russell suggested the group form a club so they could keep meeting even after World War II ended. And so, the National Cartoonists Society (N.C.S.) was born in 1946.
They launched a celebration in 1999 and called it National Cartoonists Day. It was a dedication to all cartoonists and the cartoons they created. News articles credited two co-chairpersons from the National Cartoonists Day Committee, Polly Keener and Ken Alvine, for this idea. This special event was inspired by the first color newspaper cartoon called “Hogan’s Alley.”
On May 5, 1895, the Sunday morning paper held a little surprise for its readers. Readers of the New York World discovered a single-strip, full-color drawing of a big-eared, barefoot little boy with a mischievous grin. Created by American comic strip writer and artist Richard Outcault, this comic strip (called “Hogan’s Alley,” and later, “The Yellow Kid”) became the very first commercially successful cartoon. This famous character soon appeared on postcards, billboards, cigarette packs, and other product advertisements.
The name itself, “The Yellow Kid,” reportedly inspired the phrase ‘yellow journalism,’ although there is little evidence to prove this. Side note: ‘Yellow journalism’ refers to newspapers that don’t rely on facts but instead sell newspapers through catchy headlines and exaggerations.
By the end of “The Yellow Kid” series in 1898, cartoons were a popular newspaper feature. As a result, the demand for talented cartoonists and illustrators also subsequently increased.
National Cartoonists Day timeline
Richard Outcault creates a single-panel color cartoon for the New York Sunday World, with the main character called The Yellow Kid (or Mickey Dugan).
Cartoonist Winsor McCay creates “Little Nemo in Slumberland” for the New York Herald; it has a story that continues each week, which is unusual for this time.
Graphic novel sales fall by 20%, and digital sales go up 1,000%; everyone wants to read comics on the go.
Comics like “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” are adapted for the screen and make huge profits; “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the top Box Office movie of the year and earns more than $333 million.
National Cartoonists Day FAQs
Who are the best cartoonists in the world?
Notable cartoonists include Charles Addams, Attila Adorjany, Sarah Andersen,
Do cartoonists make money?
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no concrete information regarding the salary of cartoonists. However, other sources indicate cartoonists make around $30,000 to $60,000 a year, and some even less.
Is it hard to become a cartoonist?
Special programs to train cartoonists are hard to find in many universities, although some educational institutes offer one-year, two-year certificate programs and a related degree. Also, some places don’t require cartoonists to have specific training, only good talent.
National Cartoonists Day Activities
Share your work with the world
Are you a cartoonist? If so, share your creations with people. Only an amateur or a simple doodler? Go ahead and let the world see your creations anyway.
Celebrate your favorite cartoonist
Love a certain cartoonist's work? Show some love by learning more about them, their work and by giving them a shout-out on social media.
Enjoy your favorite cartoon
Grab a bowl of popcorn and settle down with your favorite cartoon(s) of all time. Explore new episodes and re-discover old favorites, and maybe even expand your horizons beyond your current favorites.
5 Important Facts About The Greatest Cartoons Of All Time And Their Creators
“Calvin and Hobbes” (1985 - 1995)
Cited as 'the last great newspaper comic,' this little boy and his stuffed tiger — created by cartoonist Bill Watterson — ruled the comic strip for 10 years, enjoying widespread popularity and influence.
“Peanuts” (1950 - 2000)
Who doesn't love Charles M. Schulz's creations — Snoopy and the gang — which are going strong (via reruns) even today?
Created by Jim Davis, this chronic American strip was initially released under the name 'Jon.' We don't know about you, but we definitely want a greedy, snarky orange cat just like Garfield, and maybe an Odie too.
Debuting in over 200 newspapers, Jim Borgman's popular cartoon about teenage Jeremy Duncan and his life has won many awards for its realistic portrayal.
Scott Adams created this satirical office-based comic strip; it became a cultural touchstone for many frustrated workers.
Why We Love National Cartoonists Day
We love cartoons
They are a great stress buster, they take us right back to our childhood and make us laugh. The creative and inventive storytelling leaps off the page to inspire us and give us a break from reality. What more can we say?
We love cartoonists
Cartoonists have made our lives better. Their cartoons are an endless source of humor, and they provoke thoughts and debates.
Cartoons are for everyone
There's a special cartoon for everyone across races, cultures, and genders. We love a day that helps us honor those who thought up such fun ideas and then shared them with us.
National Cartoonists Day dates