Herbert Block

In the field of editorial cartooning, the 20th century belonged to one man: Herbert Block, who has been signing his cartoons since 1929 with the name Herblock. He was born on the 13th October, 1909. At age twenty, his pointed barbs at politicians and other scalawags graced the pages of the Chicago Daily News. Even then, his drawings demonstrated a mastery of the conventions of the political cartoon.
The early 1930s brought Herblock to Cleveland, where he drew exclusively for syndication at NEA. Curiously, as the decade wore on, Herblock grew more liberal as his syndicate's politics became increasingly conservative. By the late '30s, the syndicate shrank the size of his cartoons, and begrudgingly waited out the term of his contract. But in 1939, Herb Block won the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes for cartooning, and he became the NEA's darling again.

After serving in the military during World War II, Herb Block joined The Washington Post in 1946, where he worked as political cartoonist for the rest of his 74-year career, winning his second Pullitzer in 1954 and the third in 1979.

McCarthyism, by Herbert Block

Block was one of the first American political cartoonists to fiercely comment on the communist-hunt of senator Joseph R. McCarthy. He coined the term "McCarthyism" in a cartooning showing a ton of tar and feathers. McCarthy wasn't too pleased with this portrayal.

McCarthyism, by Herbert Block

Herbert Block's poignant pen has harassed American presidents from Herbert H. Hoover to George W. Bush. Especially Richard M. Nixon, who unsuscribed from the Washington Post after Block portrayed him crawling out of a sewerpipe. Lyndon B. Johnson refused to award Block the highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was eventually given to him by Bill J. Clinton in 1994.

Herbert Block died of pneumonia on Sunday, 7 October 2001, at Sibley Memorial Hospital, a week before his 92nd birthday.

photo of Herbert Block

Another Herb Block biography

Series and books by Herbert Block in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.