comic art by Will B. Johnstone

Newspaper artist Will B. Johstone was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Both an artist and athlete, Johnstone studied at the Chicago Art Institute and upon his graduation, he became an artist with the Chicago Interocean. He illustrated the daily news events, and Johnstone was the first person to diagram football games showing every play for each team. He eventually moved to New York City, where he began doing illustrations for William Randolph Hearst's newspapers. Later on, he moved to The New York World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, which was later renamed to The New York World-Telegram. He did a comic strip based on the news of the day. This feature had a recurring character which depicted a victimized tax payer. The man in question had been literally stripped down in the nude after paying his taxes and therefore walked around wearing nothing but a barrel. This has become a stock image in many humorous cartoons and comics.

comic art by Will B. Johnstone

Before being replaced by Dick Dorgan, Will was the original artist on comic strip 'You Know Me Al', which ran between 1922 and 1925 and was based on author Ring Lardner's series of letters from fictional baseball player Jack Keefe to his hometown pal Al. Around this time, Johnstone also started to write plays, often in collaboration with his two brothers. Eventually, he became one of the writers behind the Marx Brothers' films 'Monkey Business' (1931) and 'Horse Feathers' (1932). Although his focus now lay on writing, Johnstone made several war cartoons during World War II.

Who was Will B. Johnstone?
More about Ring Landner, the writer of You Know Me, Al

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