THE OLD SEA-DOG. - an original printed appearance of this cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill from the 12 July 1939 edition of the magazine Punch, or The London Charivari
London: Punch, 1939. This original printed appearance of a Punch cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill comes from the personal collection of Gary L. Stiles, author of Churchill in Punch (Unicorn Publishing Group, 2022). His book is the first ever effort to definitively catalog, describe, and contextualize all of the many Punch cartoons featuring Churchill.
This cartoon titled "THE OLD SEA-DOG" appeared thus on p.33 of the 12 July 1939 issue of Punch. The artist is Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976), illustrator both for Punch and for a number of A. A. Milne’s Pooh books. The cartoon is captioned "Any telegram for me?"
In July 1939, when this cartoon was published, Churchill was nearing the end of his decade-long "wilderness years" which he had spent out of power and out of favor, frequently at odds with both his own Conservative Party and prevailing public sentiment. But as the Second World War became imminent, calls for Churchill to reprise his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty grew. Here Punch joins the chorus. The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought a terrible vindication for Churchill and his return to the Admiralty.
Punch or The London Charivari began featuring Churchill cartoons in 1900, when his political career was just beginning. That political career would last two thirds of a century, see him occupy Cabinet office during each of the first six decades of the twentieth century, carry him twice to the premiership and, further still, into the annals of history as a preeminent statesman. And throughout that time, Punch satirized Churchill in cartoons – more than 600 of them, the work of more than 50 different artists.
It was a near-perfect relationship between satirists and subject. That Churchill was distinctive in both persona and physical appearance helped make him easy to caricature. To his persona and appearance he added myriad additional satirical temptations, not just props, like his cigars, siren suits, V-sign, and hats, but also a variety of ancillary avocations and vocations, like polo, painting, brick-laying, and writing. All these were skewered as well.
Some Punch cartoons were laudatory, some critical, and many humorous, like the man himself. Nearly always, Churchill was distinctly recognizable, a larger-than-life character whose presence caricature served only to magnify. Item #007160