He was the pioneer of American political cartooning as well as its greatest practitioner. For 30 years, his drawings reduced infamous politicians to clownish characters. His work, one journalist wrote, was “savage and bitter,” and stung like a whip. “He tells in 10 strokes of his pencil what it would take volumes to express.”
So vicious could Thomas Nast be in expression that many Americans considered him the basis for the adjective “nasty.” Yet, he gave shape to one of the most beloved figures in American mythology – Santa Claus.