University of Minnesota

When I look back to my early years and try to remember what actually got me interested in cartooning, the first thing that comes to my mind is father sending me to the corner newsstand to buy the morning newspaper.

It was the daily newspaper that quite regularly carried a political cartoon 3-4 days a week. The cartoon was by the most famous and popular Estonian cartoonist - Gori, whose work strongly influenced the younger generation of Estonian cartoonists. When some days the cartoon wasn't there I was very disappointed.

Several years later, still in my teens, I happened to see the well-known German satirical magazine 'Simplicissimus', which carried several full-page cartoons often in color. These were masterful cartoons, creations by famous cartoonists like Olaf Gulbranson, Arnold T.T. Heine, George Grosz and many others. Through the 1920s and early 1930s till Hitler's rise to power it was the best well-known satirical magazine in Europe.

These cartoons left the deepest impression on me. Besides being excellent cartoons I considered these as creation [ sic! ] of art. Whenever I saw these cartoons I wished I could draw as well sometimes - my unconscious dream to be a cartoonist.

About that time I became interested in reading the newspapers, particularly about foreign events, because at that time there were countless conferences continuously taking place in many cities in Europe - peace conferences after the end of the war, disarmaments, reparations and the creation of the League of Nations.

The names of the cities like Paris, Versailles, London, Geneva, Locarno, Rappollo, Brest-Litevsk, where all this took place and the names of statesmen like Wilson, Clemenceau, Poincare, Briand, Lloyd George, Chamberlain, whose photos appearing daily in the papers and magazines created in my mind a continuous flow of lively impressions of stately figures in top hats, striped pants and cutaways which to this day has stayed in my mind as an imprint of the times.

Regrettably, at the time I was not ready yet - I was still absorbing.

But my older brother, while still in the gymnasium, had started drawing cartoons and sending these to the papers and magazines till he started getting some published. The summer after he had graduated he started drawing cartoons for a weekly paper. As the paper didn't have the facilities for making line clichés or because it was too expensive, my brother had to draw his cartoon on a piece of linoleum and cut it himself. He cut the linear part out himself while I had to cut out the larger flat areas. That was my first actual apprenticeship in cartooning.

( Edmund Valtman Papers, IHRC3763, Box 1, Folder 1 )

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