Arthur V. Buel - Biography of a Nevada Caricaturist

Arthur V. Buel (1877-1952) has been described as Nevada's most prolific editorial cartoonist. His long newspaper career started in the mining towns of the Yukon Territory and took him to Tonopah, Nevada, where he honed his distinctive approach to the art of caricature. In 1922, Buel moved to California where he spent the next 24 years working for the McClatchy-owned Sacramento Bee and Fresno Bee.

A caricature of a robust Arthur Buel by Lew Hymers's (1892-1953) in a 1940 issue of the Nevada State Journal was captioned "Art Buel: Fresno Cartoonist Formerly of the Reno Evening Gazette." Hymers added a character behind Buel named "Klondike Joe" who says, "Well if it isn't the old "Sourdough." A sourdough was an early settler or prospector, especially in Alaska and northwest Canada. In that one caricature, Hymers managed to sum up many facets of Buel's colorful life as an editorial cartoonist.

Born in San Jose, California in 1877, Arthur Buel was 20 when he struck out for Yukon Territory. In addition to taking jobs on several newspapers, including the Dawson Nugget, the cartoonist engaged in a favorite activity, taking part in amateur boxing matches in nearby mining camps.

The call of a new mining frontier brought Buel to Nevada in 1905, to the rough and tumble town of Tonopah, where he took a job with the Tonopah Sun. Over the next three years, Buel immersed himself in the social and political life of communities in central Nevada; his pen and ink drawings offered up a steady line of often bitter visual and captioned tirades against politicians with whom he or his editor had differences of opinion.

Buel's cartoons contained several stock devices. His subjects most always had large heads and small bodies, a technique that allowed the artist to exaggerate the facial features of his targets. Every drawing that Buel penned included a prospector's burro in the lower corner, a stubborn little protagonist who seemed to act as Buel's, or his editor's, alter ego, often asking prickly questions about current political matters.

Buel left Tonopah in 1908, and for the next three years worked for the Reno Evening Gazette before moving on to newspapers in California. He died in San Francisco in 1952. Buel's son, Hubert, was a staff artist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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