Caplan graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in fine art. His career as a cartoonist began in the US Army during WWII where he learned he could sell his gags to a civilian market. After the war, he began selling gag cartoons to many major publications, but found that his income did not reflect his success. “Eventually, I was told that
I was the fifth-ranking cartoonist, in terms of sales to the majors,” said Caplan to Editor Jud Hurd of Cartoonist PROfiles in 1972, “but right then and there, I knew there was something wrong with the business because I didn’t have
Eventually, Caplan returned to his native Seattle and began doing graphic design work. It didn’t take long for his cartooning abilities to become part of his design work and for advertisers to see the benefits of using graphic humor to promote their products and services.
Caplan believed that advertising could be an excellent alternative to magazine and syndicated markets for cartoonists. But he did have one piece of advice: “Cartoonists usually aren’t the best at business,” he said. “You have to have some business sense...I would say, Get yourself a good accountant.”
Irwin Caplan died February 22, 2007. He was 87 years old and was proud to be known as an advertising cartoonist.
To read the entire interview, go to R.C. Harvey’s Hindsight’s blog.