Cool Things - Christmas Cartoon
Albert Reid (1873-1958) endures as one of Kansas' most famous and popular cartoonists. This original drawing, "Hello! Santy!" illustrates his considerable talent.
Although he aspired to be a painter, it was Albert Reid's ability to depict everyday life in Kansas as well as national political events with wit and sarcasm that brought him fame.
Albert was born in Concordia, Kansas, but after the death of his father the family moved to their mother's home in Clyde. Reid thought he might pursue either art or music and was talented in both. He audited courses at the University of Kansas as he could afford them, teaching at local colleges to pay tuition. He eventually went to work for a bank in Clyde after being turned down for artist positions with various newspapers.
After much prodding, Reid's brother persuaded him to submit a political cartoon to the Topeka newspaper, Mail and Breeze. The paper was having a contest which would award the winning artist $15 for the best political cartoon. Reid won. After several other successful awards and increased recognition, young Albert was invited to Topeka by newspaperman Arthur Capper. Albert accepted and thus began his foray into Kansas politics.
The political scene in Kansas and the United States during the late 1890s provided plenty of fodder for Reid's cartoons. Progressive politics sought to bring down big business interests and bring humanity to a higher level through the enforcement of such behavioral control laws as constitutional prohibition. Elements of the Spanish-American War and the building of the Panama Canal were often depicted in Reid's cartoons, with the Kansas or U.S. governments shown in various lights.
In this humorous cartoon, Reid depicts the cultural icon Santa Claus as he is about to fill a stocking with gifts. Santa is shocked and alarmed when the newfangled phonograph blurts out a recording of the child's Christmas wish list. The phonograph, while invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, did not become commercially popular until the 1890s. Reid depicts a phonograph in several of his cartoons; typically, the faces of his subjects in these cartoons are drawn depicting disgust, as if to show that the characters hope the machine will not catch on.
In addition to working for and starting newspapers on his own, Reid was involved with efforts to promote Kansas agriculture (a somewhat strange calling since the Reid family never farmed.) Working with fellow Kansas artist George Stone, Reid helped lay the ground work for what would become Washburn University's art department. Reid left Kansas for good in 1919 when he accepted a position to become director of pictorial publicity for the Republican campaign of 1920.
The cartoon pictured here can be found on display in the main gallery of the Kansas Museum of History.
Entry: Cool Things - Christmas Cartoon
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2001
Date Modified: March 2013
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.