Nast-y Cartoon Art in Sacramento

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By: Dave Astor

California’s capital city has at least two things that make cartoonists very happy: larger-than-life Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and an amazing piece of art Thomas Nast drew on a wooden block 137 years ago.

“Thomas Nast is the founder of our craft, as far as we’re concerned,” said Draper Hill — a former Detroit News cartoonist who is writing a biography of Nast — as he discussed the block at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention Saturday.

Nast drew the 1868 cartoon, which shows President Andrew Johnson being toppled off his “throne,” for the Illustrated Chicago News. If the News had run it, the block would have been destroyed after it was engraved for publication. But Johnson barely survived impeachment proceedings, and the drawing never saw print.

The four-pound block eventually came into the possession of the McClatchy family, owners of The Sacramento Bee.

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