Franklin, Edward Livingston (1921–2006)


By: Cynthia Marshall Devlin

Type: Biography

Published: March 24, 2021

Updated: March 24, 2021


Edward Livingston “Ed” Franklin, award-winning American/Canadian political cartoonist, the only child of Lorenzo Dow Franklin and Myrtle (Anderson) Franklin, was born on April 26, 1921, in Chireno, Nacogdoches County, Texas. The 1930 federal census listed the family in Angelina County, where Franklin’s father worked in the lumber industry. Young Ed completed four years of high school and worked for his father’s lumber business. The 1940 census listed Ed Franklin as a lodger in Angelina County, where he worked as a surveyor in the timber industry. His address of record was Acol, a post office that served the logging camps of the Angelina County Lumber Company, Franklin’s employer. During World War II Franklin traveled to Houston and enlisted in the United States Army on May 26, 1942. Stationed in England, he served as a top turret gunner on a B-17 bomber in the U. S. Army Air Forces.

After the war Franklin, a self-taught artist, returned to Houston and joined the art department of the Houston Press by the late 1940s. He did illustration work and, occasionally, cartoons. He later worked at the Houston Post. There he met Virginia “Ginny” Hayden Lockett, a former University of Texas student who worked as a lifestyle journalist for the Post. They married on November 29, 1952, and the wedding took place in Boerne, Texas, at St. Helena’s Episcopal Church. They later had two sons—Michael (1954) and Brian (1957). In 1953 the couple moved to New York City where Franklin enrolled at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study illustration for about one year. The purpose of the institute, according to its builder Charles Pratt, was to train artistic people who worked with their hands. Brooklyn provided a milieu perfect for Franklin and his young bride; they embraced the museums, the cafés, and the artistic climate of a city teeming with multilingual residents. During the mid-1950s Franklin’s artwork appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, and True.

In 1959 Franklin and his family moved to Toronto, Canada. Working in commercial art and other illustration work, he freelanced for the Toronto Star. Upon the suggestion of Toronto Globe and Mail editorial cartoonist James Reidford, Franklin focused on cartooning and freelanced for the Globe and Mail while he worked at the Toronto Star. By 1968 Franklin worked for the Globe and Mail. He described his artistic philosophy in a poem that he wrote for The Globe Magazine in 1970 in which he characterized his subjects as people “more often political…pompous people grown fat with privilege…floundering in disparity between promise and production.” He became the newspaper’s daily cartoonist in 1972. Franklin conjured up edgy, hard-hitting political cartoons for the Globe and Mail. He attacked President Ronald Reagan’s stance on acid rain, for example, with a satirical cartoon on the eve of the Shamrock Summit between Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during their meeting in March 1985. That same year, Franklin received a National Newspaper Award. The editors at the Globe and Mail believed in the strength of Franklin’s cartoons to expose the powerful regardless of wealth or status, and many prominent figures became subjects of Franklin’s satirical humor. Franklin maintained the appearance of what may be regarded as an artist and usually wore a blue jean jacket with a turtleneck and a French beret that framed a face decorated with a kempt moustache. He explicitly denied that his Americanism influenced his work; however, he returned to his Texas roots in the 1970s to visit relatives and to reconnect with his childhood memories of the state. He embraced avant-garde films and relished Abstract Expressionism as created by American artists Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Later in life, Franklin bemoaned the restrictions he felt regarding the relationship of cartoonists with the newspaper industry and the editorial tastes of publishers.

Franklin retired in 1987. In retirement he freelanced and experimented with abstract painting. He also reflected on his life through a personal journal. After having separated in the 1970s (Virginia Franklin eventually moved to Boerne, Texas), he and his wife divorced on May 13, 2004. Ed Franklin died of complications due to lung cancer on February 21, 2006, in Toronto. At the time of his death, he was working on an unfinished book of watercolor drawings of Texas flowers.

 

Mickey Bonner, “The Creative Agonies of Ed Franklin,” Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Spring 1984. “Ed Franklin 1921–2006,” January 17, 2012, Bado’s Blog (http://bado-badosblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/ed-franklin.html), accessed March 16, 2021. “FRANKLIN Edward,” Canadian Animation, Cartooning and Illustration: An Ecyclopedia of Canadian Animation, Cartooning and Illustration (http://canadianaci.ca/Encyclopedia/2164/), accessed March 16, 2021. Edward Franklin, personal journal and letter, author’s possession. Anthony Jenkins, “On Edward Livingston Franklin,” e mail communication to author, March 3, 2012. Janiece Chambers Marshall (first cousin of Franklin), Interview by author, 2003. Toronto Globe and Mail, February 25, 2006.

Categories:
  • Visual Arts
  • Cartooning
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Houston

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cynthia Marshall Devlin, “Franklin, Edward Livingston,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/franklin-edward-livingston.

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March 24, 2021
March 24, 2021

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