Annual Convention

Annual Convention October 3-6

The AAEC and Association of Canadian Cartoonists will be teaming up with the Université du Québec à Montréal for a 3-day celebration political cartoonists, October 3-6, 2024.

Online registration coming soon!

Founding Member Jim Lange, 82

04Obit Jim LangeJim Lange,
who for 58 years contributed cartoons to the editorial page of The Oklahoman,
and was one of the founding members of the AAEC, died on April 16.

Lange, 82,
retired in October after a prodigious career for the daily newspaper in
his adopted hometown. From 1950, when he joined The Oklahoman at the age
of 24, until recent years, Lange produced seven cartoons a week. At retirement,
he was still drawing five a week. No one, not even Lange, knew exactly
how many cartoons he had published over his career, but it probably exceeded

tenure was the longest of any newsroom employee in the history of the newspaper,
which has been published continuously since 1894. He was the only employee
in the history of The Oklahoma Publishing Co. to work closely with the
three generations of the Gaylord family, who have owned The Oklahoman since

his wife Helen, survivors include two sons, Jim and Robert, both of Oklahoma
City; a daughter, Nancy, of Columbia, Tenn.; and 11 grandchildren.

James Jacob
Lange was born Aug. 15, 1926, in Winnebago. Minn., and spent most of his
early years in Dubuque, Iowa. Following a stint in the U.S. Air Force during
World War II, he spent his GI Bill funds at the Chicago Academy of Fine
Arts. He had always wanted to be an artist, he said. When he was a child,
his parents kept him quiet in church with a pencil and paper.

He worked
in a series of temporary, adventurous jobs until he met the woman he wanted
to marry. One of Lange’s favorite stories was how his wife, the former
Helen Johnstone, prompted him to come to Oklahoma. She refused to marry
him, he said, until he had a real job.

So he began
researching newspapers that had no full-time political cartoonists. Not
knowing the protocol, he wrote to E.K. Gaylord, the editor and publisher.
Gaylord personally negotiated the terms of Lange’s employment, which began
Oct. 1, 1950.

His first
cartoon featured then Gov. Roy Turner. Before long the trademarks of Lange’s
work began to appear, such as oil wells scattered in the background that
identified scenes as Oklahoma. His most notable character was John Q. Public,
Lange’s cartoon sidekick who represented the common citizen trying to understand
the political maneuvers of the powerful.

his career, Lange’s most advanced technology was a black felt-tip pen and
poster board. Occasionally he would whip out a pen and draft an idea on
a handy napkin.

Each morning,
he checked newspaper and broadcast reports, so that he arrived at his office
with several ideas for the day’s cartoon. He made rough sketches of a half-dozen
or so, then submitted them to the publisher or the editorial page editor.
He completed the one selected. He once said in an interview that the newspaper’s
executives rarely told him what to draw; his political philosophy was close
enough to theirs that he knew what they wanted.

Lange was
one of the founding members of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists
and served a term as its president from 1983-1984. His work was frequently
included in the annual publication, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year,
and a collection of his best work was published by The Oklahoman in the

Lange punctured
the posturings of many famous people; he insulted, scolded or ridiculed
them when he thought it necessary.  In
a 2000 interview, on his 50th anniversary on the job, Lange said that the
worst thing someone in his line of work could do to a politician, except
ignore him completely, was to laugh at him.

He also
praised them when he deemed it appropriate. He didn’t dislike anybody,
he said once; he just didn’t agree with some.

Often, his
subjects called as soon as their morning papers were delivered to request
the original sketches, no matter how insulting they were. His work hangs
in many government offices, and the morning’s cartoon was often the topic
of conversation across Oklahoma.

He received
one of the first AAEC Ink Bottle Awards in 1983 and was inducted into the
Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993. Lange was also a director or
officer of several civic and professional organizations, ranging from the
Oklahoma City Zoological Society to the Oklahoma City Gridiron Foundation.

Lange was
a natural entertainer and storyteller. With drawing pad and pen for props,
he performed for banquets, club meetings, conventions and fairs across
the state. When he told jokes, he laughed more heartily and with more delight
than his audience.

Steve Artley,
writing on the AAEC-L, recalled: “Jim hosted the first AAEC convention
I attended in the mid 1980’s and made it among the most memorable. It was
the most meat I’d ever eaten in any given four day period. Over the years
spending time with Jim and Helen was always a highlight, regardless of
the setting. He will be truly missed.”

In the 2000
interview, Lange responded to a question about why he hadn’t retired when
the appropriate age arrived. He said his job was just too good to leave.

“Jim had
a very long, successful life and career doing what he loved to do in a
place where he loved to do it,” said cartoonist Wiley Miller. “You can’t
ask for more 
than that.”

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The AAEC aims to be an international leader in support of the human, civil, and artistic rights of editorial cartoonists around the world, and to stand with other international groups in support of the profession.


Cartoons in Education

Every two weeks throughout the year, The Learning Forum and the AAEC offers CARTOONS FOR THE CLASSROOM, a free lesson resource for teachers discussing current events.  Visit for more lesson plans.