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Karl Hubenthal Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: GBS
Date: Dec 1968

Biographical History

Karl Hubenthal (1917-1998) was an American sports and editorial cartoonist.

Born in Beemer, Nebraska on May 1, 1917, Hubenthal grew up in Los Angeles, California and graduated from Hollywood High School. Hubenthal got his start in 1935 at the Los Angeles Herald-Express, where his first job was with the Art Department. In 1939 he began to do sports cartoons for that newspaper. Hubenthal left to serve with the Marine Corps during World War II and following the war worked as a freelance advertising artist.

But in 1949 he was drawn back into cartooning at another Hearst paper, the Examiner and in 1956 he became the paper's full-time editorial cartoonist. When the Herald Express was combined with the Examiner in 1962, Hubenthal's cartoons were one of the Examiner's features carried over to the newly combined publication. Hubenthal's cartoons were also syndicated to other Hearst newspapers and he continued to contribute sports cartoons to the paper on Fridays and drew other sports-themed commercial art pieces .

Hubenthal's work has been widely recognized. In 1940, he was named Best Sports Cartoonist at the New York World's Fair and the National Cartoonists Society gave him four awards for his sports cartoons. Through his sports cartoons, he supported the effort to bring the Dodgers baseball team to Los Angeles and Hubenthal routinely cariciatured local teams including the University of Southern California. The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists presented Hubenthal with the National Headliner's Award in 1958, 1960 and 1961. NCS also named him best editorial cartoonist in 1961, 1967 and 1970. Twenty-five Freedoms Foundation Medals were presented to him and he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize several times. He served as president of the AAEC and the Society of Illustrators.

Karl Hubenthal retired in 1982 and died of cancer in Los Angeles on August 13, 1998.

"The nice part of what I do is that I get instant responses. I either get panned, or praised, but at least I know what I'm saying is having some effect. When you don't get mail, that's when you should worry." ( Herald-Examiner, 1982)

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Karl Hubenthal Papers are divided into four series.

Cartoons contains 428 original editorial cartoons drawn by Hubenthal for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Hubenthal depicted a mix of national and international issues as well as events specific to California and Los Angeles. At times, Hubenthal advocated in favor of certain issues including the prevention of traffic fatalities, increasing expenditures for schools, and supporting the annual Easter and Christmas seal campaigns. In one cartoon he attempted to involve readers in the issue of Alaska's statehood by drawing a star that the reader could clip out and mail to their senator asking them to make Alaska the 49th state.

In portraying political figures, Hubenthal often drew oversized objects for his caricatures to interact with. California Governor Pat Brown wears a gigantic cowboy hat of Lyndon B. Johnson’s while in another, a donkey is surrounded by towering elephant legs labeled with Republican Party candidates and Hubenthal illustrates desires to cut government spending with a small donkey and elephant trying to wield a bulky pair of scissors.

The cartoons were drawn on illustration board with ink, crayon and captions appear in pencil. Nearly all are dated but several are only marked with specific years.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically and consists largely of incoming letters. The letters primarily include fan mail and requests for original cartoons. Notable correspondents include: Ray C. Bliss (May 25, July 6, 1966), Herc Ficklen (Dec. 29, 1966, Jan. 11, 1967), Barry Goldwater (June 17, 1966), Reg Manning (June 3, June 27, 1966), Wayne Morse (March 4, 1966), George Murphy (July 16, 1965, May 21, 1966), and Richard Nixon (May 12, June 1, 1966), as well as members of President Johnson's staff requesting original cartoons for Johnson (July 23, Sept. 4, Nov. 8, 1965; Jan. 5, March 16 and 19, May 25, 1966- often the letters contain a photocopy of the cartoon that was sent to Johnson). A letter from William Randolph Hearst Jr. (May 24, 1966) discusses the work of cartoonist Richard Wallmeyer. There are also letters from Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen and fellow cartoonists Bert Whitman and John Fischetti.

Writings consists of two articles about editorial cartooning written by Hubenthal that appeared in The Quill and California Publisher.

Memorabilia contains one folder of biographical information, programs and clippings about Hubenthal's visit to the White House as well as a drawing of Lyndon B. Johnson done in ballpoint pen.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence and editorial cartoons are arranged chronologically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-1996 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Hubenthal, Karl, 1917-
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Corporate Bodies

Hearst Newspaper Syndicate.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Associated Titles

Los Angeles Herald examiner.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- California.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Charity -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Editorial cartoons -- California -- Los Angeles.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Labor unions -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Taxation -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Traffic Fatalities -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.


Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Karl Hubenthal Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Karl Hubenthal, 1968.

Table of Contents

Editorial cartoons