Dan Fried­man Redis­cov­ers a Car­toon­ist

Forward Magazine - - Contents - Dan Fried­man is the ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of the For­ward. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @dan­fried­manme (Thanks to Eddy Port­noy and Chana Pol­lack for archival and re­search help. Visit for­ward.com for more Mark car­toons. )

Re­cently the For­ward re­ceived a do­na­tion of 66 car­toons drawn by a sur­vivor of Dachau. And they are a lot of fun!

The more ac­cu­rate way of say­ing it, I guess, is that 66 draw­ings by the For­ward’s in-house car­toon­ist were re­turned to our ar­chive. Lil­lian Sil­ver, daugh­ter of for­mer ed­i­tor Si­mon Weber, brought us the work­ing copies from the fold­ers her late fa­ther had taken home with him.

As Chana Pol­lack, the For­ward ar­chiv­ist and chief piner af­ter miss­ing ob­jects, ob­serves, th­ese draw­ings could eas­ily have been lost. Un­wieldy sheets of stiff pa­per with drawn works in progress were not easy to carry home nor were they the sort of items that one would keep safe for­ever.

Sil­ver did say that her fa­ther worked more from home as he aged, but that does not ex­plain the sur­vival of this art. Weber, who shlepped the draw­ings out into deep­est Brook­lyn, seems to have had a soft spot for Paul Mark­i­son — known pro­fes­sion­ally as “Mark.” And we’re grate­ful to his fam­ily for the safe re­turn of his work.

Mark, who passed away in Boca Ra­ton, Florida, in Septem­ber, was born in Bu­dapest. He told our con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Eddy Port­noy that he went to art school be­fore he was im­pris­oned in Dachau, and that he ar­rived in Amer­ica in 1947 at the age of 23. Jack Rich was a well-known la­bor writer and la­bor ed­i­tor of the For­ward. Through fam­ily friends, Rich saw Mark’s work for the “Hat Worker” — the or­gan of the hat cap and millinery union — and brought Mark to the For­ward.

In the early 1960s, as chief car­toon­ist Sa­muel Za­gat ap­proached re­tire­ment, Mark took over for the For­ward. His style is in­fec­tious, whether deal­ing with pol­i­tics like Soviet leader Leonid Brezh­nev or the KKK or so­cial trends such as the ar­rival of “hippy” cul­ture or the en­dur­ing strange­ness of the sum­mer sea­son when wives leave the city and hus­bands stay to “work.” Some of the sub­jects of the car­toons have been lost (or at least mis­laid) — for ex­am­ple. we aren’t sure why the cow

has a lock on her ud­ders

(see be­low left) — but the car­toons are now care­fully archived. They were lov­ingly cat­a­logued by our vol­un­teer ar­chiv­ist Ar­lene Bron­stein, who fin­ished that task just be­fore her own un­timely pass­ing in Septem­ber (see page 9).

Through­out his long ten­ure at the Yid­dish For­ward, Mark needed ap­proval for his car­toons. While that’s a fate that also be­fell Art Spiegel­man, Ben Katchor and Eli Val­ley, his suc­ces­sors at the English For­ward, they at least had a lan­guage in com­mon with their read­ers.

Strange though it may seem, the last full time car­toon­ist for the Yid­dish Forverts spoke Hun­gar­ian and English, but not Yid­dish. Be­cause of his lin­guis­tic lack, the older writ­ers at the pa­per called him “the goy­ishe kid.”

But Mark had the last laugh.

LBJ AND THE KKK: Mark weighed in on Pres­i­dent John­son’s re­sponse to Klan vi­o­lence in the Civil Rights era.

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