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Shoemaker, Vaughn (1902-1991) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Shoemaker, Vaughn (1902-1991)

Historical Note: Born on Chicago's South-Side in 1902, Vaughn Richard Shoemaker was educated at Bowen High School and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1922 he began an apprenticeship in the art department of the Chicago Daily News where he became Chief cartoonist in 1925, a position he held until 1952. It was in this position that he invented the beleaguered taxpayer character, John Q. Public, said to been more recognizable by Chicagoans than their own mayor. Shoemaker began to receive honors and awards for his editorial work. In 1938 Shoemaker was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for his Armistice Day drawing "The Road Back." His second Pulitzer Prize came in 1947 for "Still Racing His Shadow." 1945 brought an honorary doctor of letters (LittD) from Wheaton College, a National Headlines Award and the Christopher Medal. Further displaying his popularity, from 1938 to 1946 Shoemaker's cartoons were compiled into six different volumes. Another compilation appeared in 1966. Herman Goering criticized his cartoons as "horrible examples of anti-Nazi propaganda." Shoemaker, nicknamed "Shoe," was an influence upon other cartoonists. He taught at the Academy of Fine Art in Chicago, where one of his students was Bill Maudlin, himself, later, a two-time Pulitzer winner. Shoemaker did not shrink from inserting moralistic or Christian messages into his editorial cartoons. For six months in 1940 Shoemaker drew the cartoon ideas of well-known The Sunday School Times cartoonist E. J. Pace when Pace suffered a stroke. He also founded two Christian fellowship groups for businessmen and artists: the Gospel Fellowship Club (becoming the nucleus of the Christian Businessmen's Committee International) and Christian Artists Fellowship Club. He served as Chairman for both. Converted at age 25 and a member of an Assemblies of God church, it was widely noted that Shoemaker claimed to have started each cartooning task on his knees in prayer. After thirty years at the Chicago Daily News Shoemaker moved the Chicago Tribune and syndication with the New York News. In 1961 he moved to The American, which later became Chicago Today. By 1963 Shoemaker's cartoons were syndicated to more than 75 newspapers. In 1972, fifty years after his entry into his apprenticeship and having drawn over 14,000 cartoons during his career, Shoemaker retired from pen and ink and began dabbling in oils as an avocation in Carmel by the Sea, California. Shoemaker died August 18, 1991 in Carol Stream, Illinois and was survived by his wife, Evelyn and son, Vaughn R. Jr.

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