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Robert Bastian Cartoons

An inventory of his cartoons at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: 15 Oct 2008

Biographical History

Robert O. Bastian (1917-1970) was an American editorial cartoonist.

Robert Owen Bastian was born April 2, 1917 and grew up in Stockton, California. His father was a display designer and the younger Bastian decided in high school he wanted to be an editorial cartoonist.

Bastian received a bachelor's degree in political science from the College of the Pacific in 1940. While a student he contributed to the campus newspaper and yearbook and worked as a photographer to pay for college. He later went on to study at the San Francisco Art Institute.

During World War II, Bastian served in the Marines in the South Pacific, participated in the Battle of Manila in 1945 and achieved the rank of major. Following his service, he returned to San Francisco and worked in advertising illustration and as a newspaper photographer. In 1953 Bastian became an editorial cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle where he stayed until the 1968 San Francisco newspaper strike. Bastian prided himself on creating cartoons depicting local and statewide issues that resonated with area residents. In a 1966 letter, Bastian wrote that he felt the influence of editorial cartoons and the editorial page itself was on the decline.

After leaving the Chronicle Bastian took his skills to television. At San Francisco PBS station KQED, Bastian worked for the show Newsroom where every night he provided commentary and drew a cartoon during the show. During Bastian's time with Newsroom it won a Peabody Award. In 1969 a compilation of his television cartoons were published as The Best of Bastian.

A memorial exhibit of Bastian's work was held in 1971 and a retrospective exhibit was staged at the Landmarks Society Gallery in Tiburon, California, in 1992. Bastian's cartoons have also been exhibited at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Robert Bastian committed suicide on September 22, 1970.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert Bastian Cartoons consist of 284 original political cartoons. The majority have captions written on the back but none are dated. The cartoons measure approximately 14 1/2" x 18 3/4" and were created on illustration board primarily with ink and graphite as well as zipatone screening.

The cartoons are foldered by caption.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Bastian, Robert O.

Corporate Bodies

San Francisco chronicle.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- California.
Editorial cartoons -- San Francisco, Calif.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Political cartoons.
Reagan, Ronald -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert Bastian Cartoons,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert Bastian, 1964, 1967-1968.

One cartoon ("Do not open..."), gift of Richard Butrick, 2011.

One cartoon ("Service -- Business"), gift of Helen Brookman, 2021.

Table of Contents


Index to cartoons


Index to cartoons

The following is a list of predominant people, places and subjects appearing in the editorial cartoons in this collection. The list is not exhaustive. Some subjects may require you to browse with alternative terms.

B= Box, F= Folder. For example: B1F1= Box 1 Folder 1.