LIFE magazine never carried cartoons as its newsstand rivals did. In the 1940s, though, they had several advertisers who used drawings by top cartoonists, and often reported on what was popular in the cartooning field.
Beginning with the famous Lena the Hyena search by LI'L ABNER creator Al Capp, that focused national attention on Basil Wolverton as winner (from 500,000 entries), LIFE covered George Baker's Sad Sack, the surge of popularity of cartoon books, and YANK magazine's use of cartoons.
I took these pages from Google's digital LIFE collection online. You can find it here. Unfortunately, the scans are low resolution, sometimes hard to read. I enlarged the pages from 685 pixels to 800 (doubled for two-page spreads), then darkened and sharpened the images where I could.
Copyright © Time-Life, Inc.
From October 28, 1946:
From May 7, 1945:
From December 31, 1945:
From November 27, 1944:
From February 18, 1946: