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Exhibition Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times

Herblock (1909–2001). “Man, If It Could Happen to Magic—,” 1991. Porous point pen, graphite, India ink, and overlays over blue pencil underdrawing. Published in the Washington Post, November 10, 1991. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. © Herb Block Foundation (022.00.00)

Hope for Reducing Stigma

Herblock captured the dismay and surprise that many young male admirers of basketball star Magic Johnson expressed the day the news broke that he had been diagnosed with HIV, the virus causing AIDS. The Washington Post front page story stressed hope that Johnson’s case would help motivate the public to face and learn more about the epidemic, paving the way toward ending the stigma of the disease. The young men’s response in the cartoon reflects the perception then common that Johnson’s diagnosis meant certain death. Johnson’s successful treatment belied these fears.