Franklin Lewis Folger (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1919 – 2007)
Untitled (abstract portrait)
Ink drawing on paper
Signed to lower center
Franklin Lewis Folger was a Cincinnati artist known for his widely syndicated comic strip The Girls, which ran in over a hundred newspapers from 1952 – 1977. In the series, Folger created caricatures of “the ladies who lunch”, the housewives and society ladies who populated the American middle and upper classes of the time. His treatment of his female characters was gentle but humorous, as they often found themselves in everyday but quite ridiculous circumstances. His light-hearted yet clever approach resonated with readers, especially women, launching the cartoon’s success and syndication across the country and worldwide. The series was additionally compiled into seven books by Doubleday and its followers included such notables as Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gloria Swanson.
Folger, a descendant of Benjamin Franklin, came from a long line of Cincinnati artists, with his father a city photographer and his grandfather a noted wood engraver, all three working for The Cincinnati Enquirer. Franklin Folger began his art career early, publishing cartoons in the Cincinnati Times-Star at age 14. During high school, he was a cartoonist for the Withrow High School newspaper and designed and illustrated the school annual. He went on to study at the Art Academy of Cincinnati before becoming a freelance commercial artist and selling cartoons and illustrations to various magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Esquire. His career was interrupted by World War II, when he was drafted in 1942. Drawing cartoons for the Army newspaper, he served in Texas until 1947. Upon returning to Cincinnati, he continued to freelance and was known for seven-day-a-week work ethic. Following The Girls release in the The Enquirer and throughout his career, Folger continued to produce a prolific volume of work, creating dozens of illustrations and cartoons to sell to various publications and advertising agencies in addition to developing six cartoons a week for The Girls. Sometimes described as reclusive, his success allowed him to pull back from society to a degree, functioning mainly through his business manager for the remainder of his career. Throughout his life Folger was an avid collector and supporter of the arts, particularly in Cincinnati. He often went for walks around the city, and could be found people watching at art galleries and exhibitions as well as department stores and the local health food store.
- toning and wear to sheet edges.