About this artwork
The editorial cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker created the character of John Q. Public to represent the average American caught between bureaucracy, incompetence, and economic imbalance. John Q. Public first appeared in The Chicago Daily News, where Shoemaker—who later won two Pulitzer prizes for his cartoons—began his career in 1922. In numerous collage illustrations, Shoemaker’s beleaguered fictional character intervenes in actual scenes documented by staff photographers. The combination of seemingly impartial photographs with an indignant sketched figure—all underlined by a pointed caption—vividly outlined imbalances of power and fairness. This 1937 image would otherwise have served as a perfectly lit advertising photograph, but the reaction of the flabbergasted drawn character to the increased cost of living is summed up in a caption suggesting the mismatch between his paltry raise and the skyrocketing cost of furniture.
- Currently Off View
- Photography and Media
- Vaughn Shoemaker
- John Q. Public had planned on buying a double-decked bed for his youngsters to celebrate his raise in salary, but gave up the idea upon discovering that the price of furniture had received about five or six increases on account of higher costs of production.
- United States (Artist's nationality)
- Made 1937
- Gelatin silver prints with paper and paint collaged
- Image/paper: 21.3 × 28 cm (8 7/16 × 11 1/16 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by Robin and Sandy Stuart