While Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss is celebrated for writing rhyming iconic children’s books, the author and illustrator could deliver political cartoons, too.
Between 1941 and 1943, a decade before he published The Cat in the Hat, Seuss drew over 400 comics for the left-wing political magazine PM.
Seuss, of Jewish German descent and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, was devastated by Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and similarly outraged by America’s initial ambivalence. “I think he just got mad,” Judith Morgan, coauthor of the book Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel, said in an interview with The Atlantic. “He saw the growing threat in Europe and thought the Americans were not paying attention.”
Using his signature style of swooping trees and whimsical clouds, Seuss criticized Hitler and everything he stood for. In his cartoons he rendered the fascist dictator as a mad scientist, a trophy hunter, and a bureaucrat giving orders to the devil.
Even though they are somewhat childlike, Seuss’ drawings tackled the most terrifying 20th-century issues plaguing Germany and beyond. While a significant portion of the U.S. struggles to determine an appropriate reaction to President-elect Donald Trump’s win, Seuss’ drawings represent an example of what it looks like to witness and resist through artistic expression.