Meeting Cy Hungerford
An email from fellow cartoonist Justin Green recounted his first brush with a professional cartoonist when Justin was 14. An excerpt:
"How well I remember the cold December day in ‘59 when I marched through the golden revolving doors of the Tribune Towers and demanded to see Carey Orr, as if that was my birthright. I was only 14. It was so windy that I was literally carried aloft for a few steps by my gigantic portfolio on the bridge over the Chicago River. The kindly guard said that he would give my message to Mr. Orr. Fifteen minutes later, he brought down a finished panel with apologies from the old master. “Mr. Orr is not able to speak with you at this time, but he wants you to have this drawing.” I was as overwhelmed by the gesture as by the look of the thing: it was four times bigger than a published piece and it had little notations in the margins and visible blue pencil! I thought his front page cartoons were drawn to scale, directly in ink."
Justin's memory prompted my own equivalent:
A relative of mine in Pittsburgh learned that I’d been hired at the Enquirer and wrangled an invitation for me to visit with the ancient editorial cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cy Hungerford. Cy was maybe 85 at the time and continued to come to work and draw a tired old editorial cartoon daily, even after they’d thrown several retirement parties for him. I drove to Pittsburgh, heart in throat, as I’d never met a cartoonist of any kind before.
Cy was burrowed into this cave of an office like an old badger from The Wind in the Willows. In memory he was drawing with a quill pen, though that is almost certainly not true; but it is true that his inkwell was now a mound like an anthill with a hole in the middle, the result of years and years of dribbled ink. It reminded me of candlewax down the sides of a chianti bottle, or a stalagmite on the floor of a cave. Cy looked at me through his thick glasses and spent an hour telling me about his career: drawing on assignment at the coronation of Edward VI or somesuch, and the drawings he did when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, Lincoln was shot, and Anne Boleyn was beheaded. I felt about three inches tall when he asked to see my work. He swept the Magna Carta and Treaty of Versailles off his desk to make room and I laid out the six drawings that constituted my lifetime output of published editorial cartoons. One, I remember, had Gerald Ford riding an elephant.
The sweet man suggested we trade originals. He picked one of mine and gave me one from his drawer showing his character Pa Pitt sitting atop the courthouse commenting on Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, I think. He allowed me to leave feeling almost like a colleague, which made the six-hour drive home seem like an instant.
Feel free to share any memory you might have of meeting your first cartoonist.