25 Cartoonists You Should Know

For the past few days on Cartoon Brew’s Instagram account, we’ve been running a series called 25 Cartoonists You Should Know—an overdue list considering that we’ve got the word ‘cartoon’ in the site’s name. The entire series is below, and yes, the list could easily be twice as long and still incomplete.

Many of the cartoonists below are better known for their work in other disciplines (fine art, caricature, illustration, animation), but to me, they were all highly influential cartoonists as well. Also, until I compiled this list, it didn’t occur to me that the canon of cartooning greats were such an international bunch, with artists from England, France, Norway, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Ukraine, Italy, and the United States.

Cartooning is perhaps the least understood of all major art movements, because of its unlikely combination of grotesque distortion/exaggeration and socio-political commentary. To push that idea one provocative step further, I think it could be argued that cartooning was a specific art movement rooted in and resulting from the uniquely turbulent qualities of the era in which it had its heyday (1860s—1940s). Today, its influence is widely disseminated and its principles have been absorbed into other disciplines, like animation, videogames, and comics, but in my opinion, the type of pure cartooning represented by the following artists simply doesn’t exist anymore, and when it does, it is a specific reference to the past rather than an original effort of its own.

(Note: The artists below are arranged by date of birth.)

1 – James Gillray (1756-1815)

2 – Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)

3 – Honore Daumier (1808-1879)

4 – T.S. Sullivant (1854-1926)

5 – Heinrich Kley (1863-1945)

6 – Olaf Gulbransson (1873-1958)

7 – George Herriman (1880-1944)

8 – Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

9 – Cliff Sterrett (1883-1964)

10 – Otto Dix (1891-1969)

11 – Milt Gross (1895-1953)

12 – Boris Artzybasheff  (1899-1965)

13 – Paolo Garretto (1903-1989)

14 – Robert Osborn (1904-1994)

15 – Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957)

16 – Rowland Emett (1906-1990)

17 – Tex Avery (1908-1980)

18 – Rod Scribner (1910-1976)

19 – Walt Kelly (1913-1973)

20 – Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)

21 – Hilda Terry (1914-2006)

22 – Vip Partch (1916-1984)

23 – Ronald Searle (1920-2011)

24 – Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993)

25 – R. Crumb (b. 1943)


  • Robert Schaad

    Excellent post!!!

  • Bob Harper

    Sergio Aragones should be on that list.

    • FM Hansen

      Very True. But the list is still a great primer.

    • mick

      Along with 7 others… but that would make it the list of ’33 cartooners you should know’ and it hasn’t the same ring to it

      • Bob Harper

        Naw! There are at least five on this list that I would easily cast aside in favor of Sergio.

        • mick

          I think Sergio is deserving of his own list. ‘A Sergio you should know’

    • Caty Ml

      Cierto… +1

  • FM Hansen

    THANK YOU for this list. So awesome. There are a few I was not aware of. Very inspiring stuff.

  • A fan of Borris

    Glad to see old Borris Artzybasheff getting the nod he deserves.

  • DangerMaus

    This list is irrelevant without Carl Barks or Will Eisner on it. Some of these guys are illustrators, not cartoonists and including Pablo Picasso -who never would have considered himself a cartoonist- makes absolutely no sense. Being capable of grotesque exaggeration does not mean you are cartooning. “The Scream” is grotesque and uses massive deformation and nobody would ever call that a cartoon.

    • mick

      This list is irrelevant…. you should have stopped there. It’s a bunch of cartoonists that a blog on the internet said you should know not definitive evidence in a murder case. Lighten up, have a freeze pop, summer is here

  • Aaron

    Can we add Windsor McCay and take off Crumb?

  • martin

    thanks a lot!

  • Taco

    Before this post I already knew & was a fan of George Herriman, Pablo Picasso, Heinrich Kley, Ronald Searle, Tex Avery, R. Crumb, T.S. Sullivant & Walt Kelly… but now it’s great to learn of Boris Artzybasheff & Honore Daumier! Always great to find & become a fan of new artists. Thanks for posting.

  • Caty Ml

    You know what Lenin said… “One step back, two steps forward” How I wish these would be taken in consideration every time I see an animated movie (any movie really…)

    • Rufus

      Yet another Lenin quote:

      “You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.”

      =Al Capp.

  • loltv

    By far the best post in Cartoon breww!!

  • Aneliese

    I was looking for Winsor McKay and William Steig also

  • Eman

    What, no Windsor McCay?

    I mean really, no Windsor McCay?

  • manlio vetri

    Andrea Pazienza is missing!

  • mick

    Gilbert Shelton
    Hunt Emerson
    Steven de Stephano
    Vaughn Bode
    Mort Drucker
    Carlos Nine
    Uderzo
    Simon Bisley
    (to name a few more)
    this could go on indefinitely

  • Henry Cohn

    Next should be: 25 LIVING Cartoonists You Should Know

  • PixiePunch

    Where are all the lady cartoonists?

  • Jelena von Vulin

    Can somebody give me the names of these cartoons? (if all of them are cartoons, not just artist’s work) Thanks :)