Robert Minor : Biography
Robert Minor was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1884 and began to draw, paint and sketch in between odd jobs. Employment was scarce so he amused himself by making cartoons and in 1904 he was hired as a cartoonist by the San Antonio Gazette. He was then hired by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after he moved to St. Louis. He became slightly fed up with his lack of training and when the editor of the New York Evening World offered him a job in 1912 doing seven cartoons a week with a higher salary and leave to study art in Paris, he took advantage of the oppurtunity! He left for Paris in early 1913 and was enrolled in art school, but did not appreciate the staunch “academicism” so he educated himself by studying the work of El Greco, Delacroix, and Daumier at the Louvre. He especially liked the way Daumier depicted the struggle between the classes so he would go to the working-class sections of the city to sketch scenes and discuss revolutionary politics with members of the French anarchist-syndicalist movement.
He had joined the Socialist Party in 1907, but was more inclined toward the revolutionary direct action of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and quit when the party condemned IWW tactics in 1912. He realized that the French militants he had conversed with were right and he claimed himself to be an anarchist when he returned to America. He totally opposed World War I and only when the United States entered the war was he ordered to stop drawing anti-war cartoons. He decided to contribute cartoons to the radical jounrnal The Masses, but it was also forced to stop publication. He was jailed for his anti-war propaganda but never convicted and was released in January 1919 since the war was over.
He was a cartoonist and writer for The Liberator and in 1924 he helped create the Daily Worker. When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936 Minor went to Spain to organize the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, which was an international volunteer unit that helped the Spanish Popular Front government face General Franco and the fascists. He was always a very politically active cartoonist and constant supporter of woman suffrage contributing to feminist journals like Woman’s Jounral and Woman Voter. He campaigned for Black Civil Rights and exposed the involvement of white politicians involved with lynching activities. Minor was bedridden during the terror of the random arrests of theMcCarthy period for involvement with the American Communist Party because he had a heart attack in 1948. He died in 1952 with a collection of works that truly depicted what was actually going on. As he said himself his cartoons were “not to be colored by the sheen of gold lace or the glare of glory, not would they be tragic, sad, or horrific.” Instead, he would depict “the thing as he sees it, for the God of Things as They Are!” (Alan Antliff, 189)