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Walt Lardner Collection

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-WL

The Walt Lardner Collection consists of cartoons representing the years Lardner spent in association with The State newspaper as a political cartoonist. The illustrations, often drawn to accompany a specific editorial, deal with subjects as diverse as the textile industry, Richland County Zoo, foreign investment, civil rights, and individuals ranging from Strom Thurmond to Jesse Jackson. Insightful, witty, and sometimes biting, Lardner's cartoons illustrate an eventful period in South Carolina and the nation.

Lardner was born in Queens Village, New York, in 1931. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, 1953-1955. He sold his first cartoon in 1954 and for the next decade his free-lance cartoons appeared in such magazines as Argosy, Collier's, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, and True. He also illustrated the Archie comic book series. In 1967, Lardner moved to South Carolina, where he began a long association with South Carolina Educational Television, eventually becoming the network's chief animator. During this period, he was also a regular, free-lance contributor to The State.

The drawings are arranged topically and represent a number of subjects. Within each subject heading are a variety of themes reflecting contemporary concerns of South Carolina and the nation in the 1970s and 1980s. Some drawings are trenchant, satirical comments on national and local politics, while others are empathetic, sometimes whimsical, depictions of everyday human foibles. The handful of color drawings, on national topics such as the gas crisis and crumbling confidence in government, are particularly striking.

Drawings regarding the General Assembly concern themes such as home rule, redistricting, the sales tax, and legislative pay raises. However, the illustrator's cleverest, most acerbic, drawings in this group are reserved for one topic — legislative inaction.

Found under Environment are topics such as nuclear waste, nuclear power, pollution, wetlands development, and the vagaries of South Carolina weather. Civil Rights drawings convey a very real sense of the challenge of desegregation, freedom of choice, reapportionment, busing, racial policies at major universities, women's rights, and the controversy regarding the flags flown over the statehouse. Textile cartoons include references to organized labor.

The illustrator was a gifted observer of the tenures of governors such as Robert McNair, John West, James B. Edwards, Richard Riley, and Carroll Campbell. Events in the careers of important political figures such as Senators Strom Thurmond and Ernest Hollings, Gen. William Westmoreland, Marion Gressette, Solomon Blatt, and Rembert Dennis are highlighted.

Prominent black politicians such as Jesse Jackson and I. DeQuincey Newman also appear in the collection. The cartoons representing the various governors illustrate their triumphs and failures and the dilemmas they faced. Education, foreign trade, the budget, and taxes are all part of the gubernatorial continuum which Lardner documented.

Lardner also looked at local issues and politics. Richland County drawings cover topics such as Riverbanks Zoo, County Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and local schools. Agriculture drawings concern the plight of the South Carolina farmer, food sales to foreign countries, and farm credit. Armed Services/Charleston Harbor covers base closings, overcrowding at the harbor, and the gradual decline experienced in shipping. Debates over education funding, pay raises for teachers, and Clemson and USC football are depicted in the Education drawings.

More than one subject may appear in a given illustration. A number of drawings on education, for instance, can be found with Governor Riley's file. Election cartoons invariably depict multiple candidates.

National Issues, arranged chronologically, concern Vietnam, Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush (No. 41), the Supreme Court, inflation, the gas crisis, Japanese trade, Iran-Contra, Jesse Helms, the weather in California, and women’s rights.


  • 1967 - 2009



Copyright of the Walt Lardner papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina


Library Use Only


25.5 Linear Feet


Walt Lardner sold his first cartoon in 1954 while a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. For the next decade, his free-lance cartoons appeared in national magazines such as Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1967, Lardner moved to South Carolina, where he began a long association with South Carolina Educational Television, eventually becoming the network's chief animator. During this period, he was also a regular, free-lance contributor to The State.


Donated by Walt Lardner

Processing Information

Processed by Terry Morris, 1994; by Craig Keeney & Aaron Marrs, 2000.


Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA

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