He worked for six years as a copy boy for The Dallas Morning News, where he met famed cartoonist John Knott and became increasingly fascinated with the newspaper business. He was promoted to the art department in 1934 and by 1937 had a regular sports cartoon. After five years of service in the U.S. Army (1940-1945), Ficklen was hired back to the News in 1946, and until his retirement 30 years later, he and Knott alternated daily the editorial cartoons.
Ficklen often received the praise of the people he drew, like Lloyd Bentson, Ralph Yarborough, Preston Smith and John Connally. Perhaps more importantly, he was highly regarded among fellow editorial cartoonists, who consider him to be one of the art's forefathers.
In 1971, Herc Ficklen first drew a little longhorn at the bottom right corner of a cartoon for the Cotton Bowl game between the University of Texas and Notre Dame. Of this addition, Ficklen said:
This is not a new trick in cartooning; many cartoonists had it. I was aware of it and often wanted to have a little "dingbat." So I jumped on it and I began putting the dingbat in there with something funny – that I thought was funny – and in cases where I thought my cartoon didn't explain itself, I let the little dingbat explain it.
Herc Ficklen formed his own one-man syndicate called "Avalon Features" for which he continued to draw until shortly before his death in 1980. His cartoons are widely collected and have been exhibited across the United States.