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The Merle H. Cunnington Collection

Political cartoons are valuable sources that can distill the social and cultural norms of an age. This distillation occurs because political cartoons portray common issues and events in terms that are meant to be easily understood by the general readership of a given publication (or publications). Their use as primary sources requires the understanding of several concepts including symbolism, metaphor, irony, and caricature.

Merle Howard Cunnington made his living as a middle school teacher in the San Fernando Valley. He taught at Pacoima Junior High School for 3 years and then at Columbus Junior High School until his retirement in 1990. He also taught cartooning for children at Pierce College, and an Experimental Cartooning class at CSUN in 1977. In 1975 he illustrated a History of The San Fernando Valley by Dr. Jackson Mayers . He was also an editorial cartoonist with the Valley News & Green Sheet from 1964-1978.

The Merle H. Cunnington Collection of nearly 1700 editorial cartoons covering a wide array of topics. It includes a short handwritten autobiography, beginning with remembrances of Cunnington’s mother, and ending at the approximate time he stopped drawing for the Valley News.

Examples of Cunnington’s work reminds one of the saying "the more things change the more they stay the same." Recurring themes include the legalization of marijuana, rapid transit in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, the environment, the state and national budget crises, education funding, and the fiscal infeasibility of Social Security.

Political cartoon regarding the national debt. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on October 28, 1971.
Political cartoon which warns of a "Day of Reckoning" due to the the rising national debt. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys in 1971.
Political cartoon demonstrating the relationship between environmental issues and the job market. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on March 5, 1972.
Political cartoon regarding the California Marijuana Initiative. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on July 21, 1972.
Political cartoon noting a decline in public enthusiasm for easing Marijuana laws. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on April 16, 1974.
Political Cartoon regarding the United States Social Security System. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on June 30, 1974.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon which characterizes the demise of rapid transit in Southern California. June 25, 1965.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon characterizing the need to support the development of rapid transit in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. April 2, 1967.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon which comments upon Senate's attempts to divide the LAUSD. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on August 14, 1970.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon depicting the LAUSD as an inescapable government power. Published in the Valley news, Van Nuys on September 15, 1970.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon regarding DDT pollution in the Santa Monica Bay. Published in the Valley news, Van Nuys on October 2, 1970.
Preliminary drawing for a political cartoon which illustrates the difficulties faced by taxpayers in Los Angeles. Published in the Valley News, Van Nuys on June 10, 1971.

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