Wayne Stayskal

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Wayne Stayskal (December 11, 1931 – November 20, 2018) was an American political cartoonist for the Tampa Tribune and previously for the Chicago Tribune.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Stayskal was a 1950 graduate of Chicago's Steinmetz High School.[1] He served in the U.S. Air Force, spending a period of time stationed in Paris, France. He married the love of his life, Helen, on September 21, 1951.

Stayskal was the son of Harold Stejskal, a railway mail supervisor for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.  He grew up in Chicago and graduated in 1950 from Steinmetz High School.  Stayskal had wanted to be a cartoonist since he was a boy sprawled on his living room floor, copying the characters in timeless comic strips like Dick Tracy and Blondie, he told the Tribune in 1974.

"His obvious talent to draw…was seen in him as a child by his parents, Mary and Harold (and) they encouraged him to take art classes in school and later attend art school," John Stayskal said after his father's death.  "His wife Helen...also saw his talent and encouraged him to pursue a career drawing."[2]

Professional career[edit]

With the nudging of Helen, and while driving a taxi in the city of Chicago, he enrolled in and then graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1956. After first working in advertising art, he joined the Chicago American newspaper in 1957 as an artist for its Sunday magazine.

While working at the American, which was renamed Chicago's American in 1959, Stayskal drew illustrations for the magazine and occasional sketches to accompany feature stories.  During that time, Stayskal found his real interest was in becoming an editorial cartoonist.

"I decided to go up and talk to the editorial cartoonists at the newspaper, but I couldn’t find their office," Stayskal told the Tribune's Robert Davis in 1974.  “I asked the art director and he told me they were syndicated out of other cities.  We didn't even have an editorial cartoonist of our own.”[3]

After legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker joined the American in 1961, Shoemaker took on Stayskal as his assistant, “and I learned at his side.”

After his mentor, Vaughn Shoemaker, retired, Stayskal became the Chief Cartoonist for the Chicago's American. The American was later renamed Chicago Today and converted to a tabloid in 1969, and Stayskal shifted to having some of his work appear in the Chicago Tribune in 1973 after Chicago Today discontinued its weekend editions.[4]

In January 1973, Chicago Today discontinued its weekend editions, and Stayskal's work began appearing on Sundays in the Tribune's Perspective section.[5]  After the Tribune absorbed Chicago Today in September 1974, Stayskal's editorial cartoons began appearing six days a week in the Tribune.[6]

“Humor has that unique dimension to cut through the seriousness of what’s happening today, though as James Thurber said, ‘Humor is a very serious thing,’” Stayskal told the Tribune in 1974.  “I don’t draw humor for humor’s sake.  My cartoons, hopefully, clarify some very serious situations in the country — things people are thinking about and talking about, that are affecting them — and capture the humorous side of American life.”

Stayskal left the Chicago Tribune in 1984 to become the editorial cartoonist for the Tampa Tribune, where he worked until retiring in 2004. His cartoons continued to be syndicated worldwide until he fully retired in 2010.[7]

Stayskal's cartoons were produced from a conservative political perspective, including staunch opposition to abortion. Stayskal's views on abortion “cost him many clients but won him grudging admiration for taking such a strong moral stance in his work, especially at a time when many editorial cartoonists were going for laughs over substance,” Stantis said.[8]

"Wayne Stayskal was a reliable, thoughtful conservative who was unafraid to state that which he believed. In a cartooning profession that was and remains overwhelmingly liberal, Wayne had the courage of his convictions,” Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis said.[9]

In April 1970, Stayskal published a cartoon that drew significant response from readers, about the failed Apollo 13 mission to the moon.  As the distressed Apollo 13 capsule was returning to Earth after its crippling accident near the moon, Stayskal drew a cartoon showing hands outstretched from the Earth to welcome the capsule.

"People really felt that cartoon; but it’s funny, I don’t want to draw that way,” Stayskal told the Chicago Tribune in 1974.[10]

Stayskal's work was syndicated nationwide by Tribune Media, and he also drew several comic strips for at time, including “Balderdash” and “Ralph,” and under the pseudonym “Hal Trim,” he wrote the single-panel sports strip “Trim’s Arena.”[11]

Stayskal also coauthored several books with his good friend, columnist Cal Thomas, including the 1985 book “Liberals for Lunch.”[12]

Cal Thomas has honored Wayne by saying, "I think he has been one of the greatest cartoonist/commentators of our time, especially on matters touching on faith and culture." [13]

Stayskal was honored by the Chicago Newspaper Guild in 1975 for service to journalism.  He also was honored in 1970 by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge with an Honor Certificate Award for a 1969 cartoon depicting the moon landing.[14]

After retiring from the Tampa Tribune in 2004, Stayskal continued to draw syndicated cartoons until retiring completely in 2010.  Also after retiring from the Tampa Tribune, Stayskal and his wife moved back to the Chicago area, settling first in St. Charles and then in a retirement community in Carol Stream.[15] (Much of this Wikipedia entry was taken from Bob Goldsborough's obituary for Wayne.)

It was said of Wayne, “For four decades, Stayskal’s distinctive, loose style and razor-sharp wit have thrilled his admirers, enraged his political targets, and explored the frontiers of political satire. In short, Stayskal embodies those qualities that make a great newspaper cartoonist: He draws both blood and laughs." [16]


Stayskal died in Carol Stream, Illinois on November 20, 2018 from complications due to Alzheimer's disease.[17]


  1. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  2. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  3. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-sep-6-1974-cartoonist-stayskal-to-join-tribune-20181127-htmlstory.html
  4. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  5. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  6. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  7. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  8. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  9. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  10. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-sep-6-1974-cartoonist-stayskal-to-join-tribune-20181127-htmlstory.html
  11. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  12. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  13. ^ Mott, Shirley (2013-08-09). "Editorial cartoonist Wayne Stayskal's work on display". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  14. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html
  15. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "Bob Goldsborough". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  16. ^ "Loony Tunes | National Review". National Review. 2004-07-20. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  17. ^ https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-wayne-stayskal-obituary-20181127-story.html

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