Captionless Cartoons

Collection Five in Elevator World’s Hall of Humor

by William C. Sturgeon

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When ELEVATOR WORLD expanded to became the sole publication for the global vertical-transportation industry, humor was found to constitute an international language. Of course, our readers overseas were particularly drawn to the captionless cartoons, which had been perfected in multi-tongued Europe. The wordless picturizations delivered the ultimate punch. It is understandable that graphic artists consider the captionless cartoon the most difficult to execute. Chapter Five of this collection contains a number of these “clash in a flash” cartoons without words.

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Working with the Tools

Collection Four in Elevator World’s Hall of Humor

by William C. Sturgeon

ch4-16aDuring my first visit to Vienna, a reference to Syd Chivers’ pair of field men convinced me that graphic humor, like music, mathematics or fine art, represents a global language, often penetrating the barriers erected by linguistic misunderstandings. Host Count von Weidstruck, the owner of Sowitch, a regional elevator manufacturer, invited interpreter Franz Lichtenegger and myself to dinner in the village of Grinsing. Franz, busy trying to bridge the chasm between a non-German-speaking editor and a non-English-speaking host, stopped at one point, shook his head and said, “I don’t understand. He says something about ‘Where is Little Joe.”‘ The Count was frustrated with our continued lack of comprehension and finally dug into his briefcase, pulled out a copy of ELEVATOR WORLD and flipped to a cartoon depicting Syd Chivers’ veteran elevator constructor and his bumbling pint-sized helper, Little Joe. He said, through Franz, “Every elevator company has a Little Joe and understands in a flash the situation depicted.” Although reading very little English, the Sowitch managing director was an avid follower of Syd Chivers’ mechanic and the awkward, mistake-prone helper, Little Joe. No doubt, when Syd Chivers moved into the fine art field many others, worldwide, missed his characters.

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Research Services

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In addition to publishing the monthly magazine, books and other products, Elevator World also offers research services. Our archive includes every issue of ELEVATOR WORLD (EW) going back to 1953. We can also search within EW India, EW Turkey, EW Middle East and our educational books. These resources cover training, safety, maintenance, modernization, installation, inspection and other industry topics. Here are some common research requests.

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