Charles Kuhn – Cartoonist

Charles Harris Kuhn (March 20, 1892 – 1989), nicknamed Doc Kuhn, was a cartoonist best known as the creator of the comic strip Grandma.

Born in Prairie City, Illinois, he was the son of James B. and Minnie Harris Kuhn. His father ran a restaurant and proudly displayed his son’s drawings in the eatery’s window. At age 12, he decided to become a cartoonist when the sale of his first cartoon brought him 50 cents. Kuhn grew up in Bushnell, Illinois, and later remarked, “I hope some of the oldtimers remember me as a regular fellow.

After high school, Kuhn worked in a plow factory, laboring ten hours a day, six days a week. He moved on to become a freight hustler, mill hand, steel tank worker and sign painter before enrolling at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1913–14), where he studied cartooning in a class taught by Frank King.

Kuhn was a cartoonist with Denver’s Rocky Mountain News from 1919 to 1921. He married his wife, the former Lois E. Stevens of Denver, in 1922, shortly after signing on with the Indianapolis News, filling the position left open when editorial cartoonist Gaar Williams departed to join the Chicago Tribune. Kuhn remained at the Indianapolis News as the paper’s editorial cartoonist for the next 26 years.

Kuhn was 55 when he decided to change careers. He left editorial cartoons behind when he created Grandma, a comic strip inspired by his mother. Grandma began April 14, 1947, distributed by Duke Richardson’s Indianapolis-based Richardson Feature Service. A year later, the strip was picked up by King Features Syndicate which distributed it from June 28, 1948 until 1969. He usually signed his drawings and comic strips Chas. Kuhn.

Kuhn was the author of several art instruction books: Boy and Girl Cartoonist: A Complete Course in Cartooning, published by Saalfield Publishing Company in 1936, Kuhn Course in Cartooning; America’s Number One Cartoon Course (1944), How To Be A Cartoonist and Doc Kuhn’s Chalk Talk Tricks.