Seuss’ style became part of the pop culture landscape as early as the 1920s when Standard Oil of New Jersey hired the artist for an ad campaign that caught on with the national public. The product? A bug spray called Flit. The slogan, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” was spoofed by popular comedians of the time, such as Jack Benny. The successful ad led to work in magazines like Vanity Fair and with major companies, including NBC and General Electric.
Some of those early ads featured beasts with tongue-twisting names, similar to the creatures he would become famous for. Geisel’s freshman creature lineup included the Ero-doccus, a Karbo-nockus, a Moto-raspus, and a Moto-munchus.
In the 1940s, Geisel supported the war effort by designing posters for the Treasury Department and the War Production Board. He joined the army as a captain in 1943, oversaw the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit, and created a number of training films and propaganda movies. Design for Death and Gerald McBoing-Boing (produced by the United Productions of America, which made the World War II training films) won Academy Awards.
Suess drew over 400 political cartoons for leftist New York City daily, PM.
Geisel’s only foray into feature filmmaking was with 1953’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. He wrote the screenplay and lyrics. The movie about a young, reluctant pianist who retreats into a music-filled dream world bombed.