Cartoon Philosophers

by John Holbo on November 30, 2022

At night I just can’t deal with words no more, man, so I draw pictures. I like to have some graphics project I can chip away at – like gardening. For the past year-or-so it’s been: trying to cartoon 100 philosophers in a symmetry-ish, geometry-ish style. I think I’m up to 64 or so. Plus I did Lovecraft, Kafka, Poe. For variety. (Or you can declare them honorary philosophers.)

I’ve shown his stuff off, a bit, here at CT, but I’ll see fit to share more now. You can buy ’em on mugs and stuff, if so inclined. ‘Tis the season!

Speaking of which, I’ve posted good old “Mama In Her Kerchief and I In My Madness”, in readable form, so you can give yourselves a shiver around the fire with that.

As to the philosophers, I like to draw ’em nice – kinda elegant, I hope – then make ’em silly in faux-retro or disco style. Also, repeating wallpaper-style patterns. I like that. So! A small sampler, for your amusement and edification.



Bob Michaelson 11.30.22 at 12:45 pm

For pictures of philosophers, I like Existential Comics. (Though it also has words).


PatinIowa 11.30.22 at 4:32 pm

I like these immensely. I can’t choose one though.

Who I thought I was when I graduated HS: Nietzsche
Who I thought I was when I was a philosophy major: Wittgenstein
Who I thought I was when I was an English grad student: Foucault (also Geertz)
Who I think I probably was all along: Rorty (maybe Dewey)
Who I’m reading the heck out of now: Judith Butler (especially the recent stuff)


Jim Harrison 11.30.22 at 6:27 pm

How about a cartoon of John B. Watson asking his bride on their wedding night, “Was it good for me too?”


Ray Vinmad 12.01.22 at 11:05 am

These are fantastic. Love them.


John Holbo 12.02.22 at 3:32 am

Thank you for the kind words! The whole project of trying to sell them started when I noticed that most of the Kant swag for sale was actually that picture of Jacobi. I resolved: I can do better! Turns out I don’t have a prayer of pushing ‘Kant joke t-shirts with pictures of Jacobi on them’ off the top ranks. They are a marketing juggernaut, the biggest fish in this small pond I’m dibble-dabbling around in.


David in Tokyo 12.02.22 at 2:00 pm

Sheesh. From the title (and author), I was expecting some exquisite snark, and all I got was exquisite drawings.


Alan White 12.02.22 at 4:57 pm

You have a tremendous gift John–make the most of it!


Phil Bold 12.04.22 at 8:35 pm

Awesome. Would LOVE to have the Nietzsche design on T-shirt… and/or poster…

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