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 artisic 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, video games, 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.

The artists on the list are arranged by date of birth. To see the images in full, click on them for a redirect to Instagram.

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)

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