Ralph A. Hershberger, Cartoonist

Cartoonist born in Shanesville, Ohio, raised in Millersburg and Berlin, Ohio, graduated from Millersburg High School in 1907.

Cartoonist born in Shanesville, Ohio, raised in Millersburg and Berlin, Ohio, graduated from Millersburg High School in 1907.

This post is a transcription of an entry taken from the 1816-1966 Sesquicentennial History of the Berlin Community, author unknown. If you know who wrote this piece, or if you have any further information about Ralph A. Hershberger, let me know! Ralph A. Hershberger “Funny Business” Cartoonist Ralph A. Hershberger, former Berlin resident, gained international renown through his “Funny Business” cartoons. These cartoons, about 10,000 in number, were published in more than 500 newspapers, including over a dozen in foreign countries. He was born in Shanesville, Ohio, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John J Hershberger. His father taught school, both elementary and high school, for 30 years. He also served as county school examiner, with the late John A. McDowell and O.O. Fisher, for a period of 10 or 12 years after 1905. When Ralph was six years old the family moved to Berlin, where they lived until his father began teaching in Millersburg. Ralph received all his education in the Berlin schools, except his last year of high school. He graduated from Millersburg High School in the spring of 1907. On one of his personal appearances a few years ago, Hershberger commented, “When in my teens, I was more interested in medical business than in ‘funny business ‘ I had planned to go to Cleveland to begin medical training, but found that I was a year too young ot enter medical school. That was when I decided to go to art school.” His previous art experience had been of a practical nature–painting scene and signs on barns. Ralph Hershberger received his art education at the Cleveland School of Art, now know as the Cleveland Institute of Art, a nationally recognized school where his cartoon instructor was also a top-ranking cartoonist. His record of achievement reflects the professional instruction he received. In his own words, “I wanted to succeed in cartooning so I chose a successful instructor.” R.A. Hershberger Comic His professional career began on the Cleveland Press, where he served as cartoonist and staff artist. He drew a daily comic strip and the full page Sunday comic strip for “Dem Boys,” under the pen name of “Karl’s” for the former Cleveland Leader, one of Ohio’s largest dailies. The comic strip was distributed by the McClure Syndicate. He drew caricatures for the McMahon Syndicate and was art director for Artfilm Studios, of Cleveland, Ohio, makers of animated cartoons. Mr. Hershberger created, wrote and illustrated the popular comic panel “Funny Business” for nearly 20 years. It appeared in 465 daily papers in this country and also in foreign countries. It was distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA Service, Inc.) , a Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate, one of the largest int eh United States. “Funny Business” appeared in such papers as the New York World Telegram, detroit News, Washing, D.C. News, Chicago Daily News, Houston Press, Denver Post, San Francisco News, Indianapolis Times, Cincinnati Post and many others. His magazine cartoons were printed in many of this country’s foremost magazines, such as: Redbook, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Life, Liberty, American Magazine, Country Gentleman, Judge, New York American, Screen Book, College Humor and Ballyhoo. In London, his cartoons appeared in such magazines and newspapers as Everybody’s Weekly, Passing Show, London Daily Mirror, Sunday Referee, London Pictorial News, Sporting and Dramatic, The Leader, Woman’s Companion, Guide and Ideas, Printer’s Pie and others. In India, the cartoons were popular in “My Magazine of India,” the country’s largest humor publication. The have also been reprinted in humorous publications of other countries, including “Lustige Blaetter,” of Berlin. Mr. Hershberger is listed in WHO’s WHO IN THE MIDWEST and in London, England in the DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL BIOGRAPHY, and has for many years been a member of the National Cartoonist’s Society. He is listed as one of the Forty Famous Artists and Writers whose work appeared in “Printer’s Pie,” a London publication which accepts contributions by invitation only. He is listed with such prominent writers as H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Ferrier, Sir Phillip Gibbs, Gilbert Wilkinson, Lord Dunsany, A.C. Barrett, Rafael Sabatini, Ridgewell and others, a distinction never accorded another American cartoonist. The subjects of Hershberger’s cartoons invariably are people. Only on rare occasions did he use animals, birds or fish, endowing them with the gift of speech and human perception and portraying them in whimsical roles. During the personal appearance mentioned earlier, Hershberger explained that “most of the ‘Funny Business’ cartoons were drawn six weeks in advance of their publication. I have a four week advance supply deadline, but usually have a six-week reserve.” When contacted for information for this story, he wrote, “I retired from doing ‘Funny Business’ just recently although repeats will be running for some years. I stopped doing the series in order to devote my full time to my correspondence school, and to other publications.” Mr. Hershberger is presently Director of the National School of Cartooning in Cleveland, Ohio. He resides in Brunswick, about 20 miles from Cleveland, commuting between the school and his home.”

From Popular Science Magazine, April 1939.

From Popular Science Magazine, April 1939.

Further information based on genealogy research at the Holmes County District Public Library: Ralph Adlai Hershberger was born on December 18, 1890 to John J (April 20, 1862-Feb. 6, 1955) and Emma (Troyer) (1867-1951) Hershberger in Shanesville, Ohio. Ralph Hershberger was one of five children, along with siblings Miles, Vera, Elvara and Evora. He learned cartooning from the Landon School of Illustrating and Cartooning and married Opal A. (Dalby) Hershberger at age 25 (exact date not yet known). The 1930 Cleveland, Ohio directory places Ralph and Opal Hershberger at 1633 Bunts Road, Lakewood, Ohio. His 1942 draft card places him and Opal at 2166 Mars Ave, Lakewood, Ohio. According to census records, Ralph and Opal had no children. His 1917 draft registration card describes him as tall and slim with blue eyes and black hair. Opal Dalby Hershberger died at Lakewood Hospital on February 6, 1947. Ralph A. Hershberger died at Southwest General Hospital in Berea on March 6 ,1970 at age 79. There’s a blog post here by Allan Holtz about the Dem Boys strip, which Hershberger’s biography describes as his work created under the name “Karls.”

Ralph, Opal and both of Ralph’s parents are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg, Ohio.

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