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Barbara Smaller has done stand-up at a Playboy Club, worked nursing shifts at hospitals and clinics, and earned degrees in labor studies and graphic arts.  “My best job is I was a night guard at the Art Institute [of Chicago],” she said from the Hudson Valley, where she now lives after decades on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “It was a great job—and very influential.” 

Clearly: She has since published hundreds of cartoons in publications such as The National Lampoon, Cosmopolitan and The New Yorker. Her work has also appeared in psychology textbooks, where her drawings illustrate some of the quirks that drive and motivate us. 

“I’ve had a checkered life, what can I say?” she said. 

And that wit and perspective, along with a dash of eccentricity, will now also have a place in this newspaper and online: Ms. Smaller is joining The Chief-Leader as a regular contributor. 

Every week in these pages, her drawings and accompanying captions will take on lives of their own. “That’s part of the fun,” she said of her compositions. “I just feel that if I know what it’s going to be like before I draw it, it’s not going to be that interesting.”

We look forward to hosting that spontaneity of both line and thought, communicated old-school, through a crow quill pen and India ink.


A few of our stories and columns are now in front of the paywall. We at The Chief-Leader remain committed to independent reporting on labor and civil service. It's been our mission since 1897. You can have a hand in ensuring that our reporting remains relevant in the decades to come. Consider supporting The Chief, which you can do for as little as $2.25 a month.
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