Category: Wall Street Journal

Charles Preston 1921-2020

I was very sorry to hear that Charles Preston passed away on October 2nd, at the age of 98.

He was the cartoon editor of the “Pepper . . . and Salt” humor panel in The Wall Street Journal. As a matter of fact, he was the instigator of the feature, which in the old days consisted of a gag cartoon and a sidebar of humorous prose in every issue. Apparently it took a great deal of effort on his part to convince the managing editors that the paper needed a touch of levity. The first appearance of a cartoon was on June 6, 1950, and they are still appearing daily, although now greatly reduced in size.

As far as I know, Mr. Preston stayed active in choosing the cartoons for all those years, and he hardly ever repeated the same cartoonist for two days in a row. I think it’s safe to say that many hundreds, maybe even thousands, of gag cartoonists (like myself) have appeared there over the decades. Mr. Preston was a renaissance man in every sense of the word, but he also found time to edit and compile many anthologies of cartoons, both of Wall Street Journal reprints and of original gag cartoons on a variety of topics.

I still prefer to remember him the way I first met him, as I entered his office sometime in 1956. In those days he cut an impressive figure of a dashing young man (he was just a few years older than me), and he seemed to be in constant motion — just couldn’t sit still for a minute.

Unfortunately, the only photo op I had with Mr. Preston was many years later, on November 1, 1999. The occasion was a celebration and exhibit of 50 years of “Pepper . . . and Salt” that was held at the World Financial Center in Manhattan (one of the World Trade Center buildings that no longer exists). Here are some photos of the two of us at that event. Sorry to say I can’t identify the woman standing next to Mr. Preston in the last photo.

Charles Preston. RIP.


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Bought and Paid For, But Never Published. The Wall Street Journal, 2001

This is yet another cartoon that was bought and paid for, but for some reason unknown to me, was never published — and once again the culprit is The Wall Street Journal. The above cartoon was purchased by The Wall Street Journal in 2001. I received my payment, but as far as I know the cartoon never saw the light of day in print. 

Over the years, I’ve sold hundreds of cartoons to the Wall Street Journal, and so far in these archives I’ve recorded seven others that were bought and never printed — you can see them all if you select Wall Street Journal under the Publications category in the sidebar column to the right. I have no doubt that there will be more of them in the future, as I continue to go through my files and papers.

I repeat, this is only as far as I know, because The Wall Street Journal never provided me with tearsheets of my printed cartoons, so it was always up to me to check the paper.  I’m sure there must have been issues that I’ve missed (because of vacations, illnesses, etc.), but I was pretty thorough.

So . . . here’s my plea. If there’s anybody out there who has been keeping track of silly things like this, or who has inside information on the workings of The Wall Street Journal, would you please let me know the dates of publication of any of these cartoons? It would clear up a mystery that has been bugging me for a long, long time. Thanks.


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Bought and Paid For . . . But Never Published. The Wall Street Journal, 1999

This is another cartoon of mine that The Wall Street Journal bought and paid for, but mysteriously was never published. It was purchased  toward the end of the 1999 baseball season, and I figured it would show up for sure when the World Series began. But it was not to be, as far as I know, and I'm pretty certain that it has never been printed at any time since then. By the way, if anybody has seen any of my "Bought and Paid For . . . " cartoons anywhere in print, please let me know about it. I like to resolve mysteries like this.

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Bought and Paid For . . . But Never Published. The Wall Street Journal, 1992

One thing I could never understand is why a publication would buy and pay for a cartoon of mine and then, for no apparent reason, never publish it. That has happened to me several times in the more than 50 years that I've been in this business, and even The Wall Street Journal has been guilty of this minor transgression . . . not just once, but several times.

The above drawing, for example, was bought and paid for by The Wall Street Journal in 1992, but as far as I can tell, has never made it into print.

The original drawing was eventually returned to me (The Wall Street Journal has always been very efficient about returning original art). Just one of life's mysteries, I guess. More examples will follow, as I get around to posting them.

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Welcome to the Eli Stein Cartoon archive. To begin, read my introduction and personal notes, and then please look at the cartoons, which are categorized by either decade, publication name or topic. I’ve included some personal comments, memories and photos below many of the cartoons. I’ll be adding cartoons, memories and photos ad infinitum. Remember, your comments are appreciated (just click on the “comment” link at the bottom of each post).