SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MODERN POLITICAL COLLECTIONS
Walt Lardner CollectionsThe Walt Lardner collection consists of five hundred eighty-five original cartoons representing the thirteen years Lardner spent in association with The State newspaper as a political cartoonist. The illustrations, often drawn to accompany a specific editorial, deal with subjects as diverse as the textile industry, Riverbanks Zoo, foreign investment, civil rights, and individuals ranging from Strom Thurmond to Jesse Jackson. Insightful, witty, and sometimes biting, Lardner's cartoons illustrate an eventful period in South Carolina and the nation.
Lardner was born in Queens Village, New York, in 1931. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, 1953-1955. He sold his first cartoon in 1954, and for the next decade his work appeared in such magazines as Argosy, Collier's, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and True. He also illustrated the Archie comic book series. In 1967, Lardner moved to South Carolina, where he began a long association with South Carolina Educational Television, eventually becoming the network's chief animator. During this period, he was also a regular free-lance contributor to The State.
The topical arrangement of the drawings reflects a wide variety of contemporary concerns of South Carolina and the nation during the 1970s and 1980s. Some drawings are trenchant, satirical comments on national and local politics, while others are empathetic, sometimes whimsical, depictions of everyday human foibles. The handful of color drawings on national topics such as the gas crisis and eroding confidence in government are particularly striking.
Drawings regarding the South Carolina General Assembly concern themes such as home rule, redistricting, sales tax, and legislative pay raises. The illustrator's cleverest, most acerbic drawings in this group are reserved for one topicólegislative inaction. Environmental topics include nuclear waste, nuclear power, pollution, wetlands development, and the vagaries of South Carolina weather. Civil rights drawings convey a very real sense of the challenge of desegregation, freedom of choice, reapportionment, busing, racial policies at major universities, women's rights, and the controversy regarding the flags flown over the statehouse. Textile cartoons include references to organized labor.
The illustrator was a gifted observer of the tenures of governors Robert E. McNair, John C. West, James B. Edwards, Richard W. Riley, and Carroll A. Campbell. The cartoons representing the governors illustrate their triumphs and failures and the dilemmas they faced. Education, foreign trade, state budget, and taxes are all part of the gubernatorial continuum which Lardner documented. Other prominent figures featured in the cartoons include Solomon Blatt, Rembert Dennis, Marion Gressette, Fritz Hollings, Jesse Jackson, I. DeQuincey Newman, Strom Thurmond, and William Westmoreland.
Lardner also looked at local issues and politics. Richland County drawings cover topics such as Riverbanks Zoo, county council, the Chamber of Commerce, and local schools. Agriculture drawings concern the plight of the South Carolina farmer, food sales to foreign countries, and farm credit. Armed Services/Charleston Harbor covers base closings, overcrowding at the harbor, and the gradual decline in shipping. Debates over education funding, teacher pay raises, and Clemson and University of South Carolina football are depicted among the Education drawings.
National issues, arranged chronologically, concern Vietnam, Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court, inflation, the gas crisis, Japanese trade, Iran-Contra, Jesse Helms, the weather in California, and women's rights.
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