John Trever has spent a major part of his life helping New Mexicans laugh about the free roaming culture clashes, the flowing barrage of bad decision making, poor judgment and wrong– headed good intentions by the state’s political leaders. His talent for exploring everyday oddness of life in the land of enchantment enlivened the Albuquerque Journal editorial pages for more than 30 years.
As the Albuquerque Journal’s editorial cartoonist between 1976 and 2011 Trever had the best seat in the state to help make sense of it all. Now there will be an opportunity to revisit Trever at will. He has donated his hundreds of original New Mexico cartoons to the Center for Southwest Research at Zimmerman Library. The cartoons will be digitized and placed in an online archive where they will be freely accessible.
Trever says, “It was great working in New Mexico and I was blessed with editors that gave me free rein.” He said it was interesting to work in the state because the political discourse has always been very lively. Trever continues to contribute one cartoon a week to the Albuquerque Journal so his wry take on current topics is still available.
University Libraries Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources Mike Kelly says the CSWR is thrilled to receive the cartoons because they represent a unique take on issues of the day in New Mexico. “Political cartoons are great primary resources for students and researchers to use as they offer insights into the public attitude concerning an issue in a way that text may not be able to do,” he says.
Political cartoons have been used in the U.S. since the 1700’s. Kelly says their use of humor and satire is able to immediately capture the essence of an issue without much text, and are useful to understand some of the common assumptions of the public mood that might never be written down. He points out, “Political cartoons are expressions of the opinion of the cartoonist. They are evidence of a point of view. It might be a point of view not necessarily held by everyone but a point of view that could indicate the frustrations and confusion held by everyday citizens about the political world.”
Trever’s work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Free Press Association, the New Mexico Legislature and the Albuquerque Arts Alliance. His cartoons have been syndicated to more than 350 daily newspapers by King Features Syndicate and to college papers through the College Press Services.
The cartoons have been collected in three volumes, “The Trever Gallery: A Public Hanging” (1992), “The Trever GallerY2K: Drawing Fire” (1999) and “Mañana Republic (2007). Trever was born in 1943 in California, but grew up in the Midwest. He won the first national Newspaper Comics Council contest at 13 with a drawing of “Pogo.” After graduating from high school in Ohio, he attended Syracuse University where he cartooned for the “Daily Orange.”
Trever served with the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972 as a Minuteman Launch Officer in Wyoming. He moved to the Denver area where he worked for the “Sentential” before landing in New Mexico to join the editorial staff at the “Albuquerque Journal.”
Trever and his wife Karen, a retired Montessori teacher, have five grown children and five grandchildren. He continues doing a weekly cartoon for the Sunday Albuquerque Journal, and to hope that the Chicago Cubs will return to the World Series in his lifetime.
Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277‑5627; email: firstname.lastname@example.org