This blog post was composed by Kristina Benham, a former Ph.D. Candidate graduate assistant and current Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the History Department.
Over the past several years, Professor Emeritus Robert Darden has donated original works of art by editorial cartoonists to the Baylor Collections of Political Materials at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. Many of these works were produced by renowned cartoonists who gave samples of their work to Darden throughout his career as a journalist. The collection features Texas cartoonists whose pieces addressed Texas and national topics in politics.
On September 18, 2008, the Departments of Journalism and American Studies at Baylor University coordinated with the Poage Library to host an exhibit and series of events celebrating Texas editorial cartoonists. The exhibit, titled “Drawing Power”, drew primarily from Darden’s personal collection which consisted of 18 artists and over 100 cartoons.
The exhibit marked the beginning of the Robert F. Darden Editorial Cartoon collection at Poage Library, a collection that is still growing. Currently, the collection houses editorial cartoons by twenty-five artists in a range of topics including U.S. politics and policies, international relations, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Texas politics, Christian living, national and Texas sports, and other drawings of personal interest.
For the exhibit “Drawing Power”, Darden explained the essence and enduring power of editorial cartoons (or political cartoons). The editorial cartoon, he explained, “requires both an uncommon artistic skill with prophetic sensibility of a seer, someone able to perceive possible truth beyond the reporting of daily events.” Darden’s words reflect the emotions one feels when looking through the collection.
The cartoon “Do We Just Learn to Live with It??” by Bob Dale exemplifies this. Depicting a crumbling neighborhood with the words “violence” and “crime” and a falling sign that reads “Home Sweet Home,” the cartoon conveys both the indifference and bleak consequences of violent crime and failing neighborhoods. A man sits yawning in the upper story window, while smoke snakes out of the broken windows and a pair of legs poke out from a pile of rubble. The first effect of this cartoon is that it is immediately relevant despite its creation in 1979. Many of the cartoons have a similar effect, while others capture the attitude, instead of just the facts, of specific moments in American political history.
The collection is now open to the public for research! Click here to access the finding aid.
 Robert F. Darden, in W. R. Poage Legislative Library, Drawing Power: Original Editorial Cartoons, A Guide to the Exhibition (Waco, TX: Baylor University, 2008), 3.