Ivan Licho’s ‘Militant’ cartoons exposed capitalist rule

By Edwin Fruit
July 9, 2018
Militant cartoons by Ivan Licho. Left, from July 16, 1976, cartoon illustrated attack on working class by U.S. Supreme Court legalizing death penalty. Above, cartoon from Nov. 30, 1979, issue depicting blood-soaked hands of shah of Iran. Revolution there earlier that year overthrew his dictatorial rule, forcing him to flee. Accompanying article was titled, “Why Iran Wants Him to Stand Trial: Firsthand Account of Torture and Murder.”

SEATTLE — Ivan Licho, a former member and lifelong supporter of the Socialist Workers Party, passed away of complications from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases in Edmonds, a suburb here, June 2. He was 78.

After four years in the Navy, Licho went to UCLA where in the mid-1960s he joined the growing movement against the U.S. imperialist rulers’ war against the people of Vietnam, participating in marches and rallies, including actions led by active-duty GIs and veterans. He met the Young Socialist Alliance and Socialist Workers Party in Los Angeles, joining the YSA.

He joined the SWP in 1969 and accepted a party assignment to move to New York where he served on the staff of the Militant   and other party publications for some 10 years. He was well-known for the caricatures and political cartoons he drew highlighting the outrages of capitalist exploitation and battles of workers against them that were run in the Militant. He also worked on a team translating works by Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution, and other revolutionary leaders from German and Russian for publication. This was the first time much of this material became available in English.

Licho also worked in the party print shop helping produce the books and the Militant. He was known for his skills on the party’s web press.

He transferred to Tacoma in 1980, and then, when the Tacoma branch of the party closed down, moved to Seattle. He participated in party trade union fractions in machine shops and the shipyard here before leaving active party membership.

He continued to attend Militant Labor Forums as well as other party events and contributed to party funds. Jeanette Dawson, his long-time companion and fellow party supporter, said Licho’s family members will be hosting a celebration of his life July 21. For more information, call (206) 434-2021.