Friday, November 21, 2008
News of Yore 1965: Bob Stevens' Clementine Released
Clementine and Cat Cavort In Cartoon
By Ray Erwin (E&P, 6/5/1965)
A Girl Scout with big expressive eyes and a pet cat she rescued from a garbage can will enliven newspaper readers soon.
The cartoon: “Clementine.”
The cartoonist: Bob Stevens.
The format: Comic strip or one-column panel six days a week.
The release: July 5.
The distributor: Lew Little Syndicate (210 Post St., Suite 915, San Francisco, Calif.).
Clementine and her cat, Fang, are the creations of Bob Stevens, Mill Valley, Calif., a retired Air Force lieutenant-colonel who has been a free-lance cartoonist for years. Mr. Stevens draws editorial cartoons for the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury-News on a free-lance basis.
After studying art at Pasadena (Calif.) City College, Mr. Stevens joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and won his wings a year later. He was a fighter pilot in the Pacific until the end of World War II, when he became a civilian flight instructor and advertising director of a short-haul airline. He was recalled to active duty in 1948 as a jet pilot and set the world’s speed record in an Air Force F86 in 1950.
While assigned to the Strategic Air Command at Omaha, Col. Stevens drew illustrations for the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald’s Sunday supplements.
Clementine and Cat
Fang, soon after being pulled from a smelly garbage can with a fishbone in his teeth, proved to be quite an education for Clementine. She took him to a bathtub and then wrote with a shaky and bandaged hand, “Dear Diary, Today I learned something new about cats.” After taking Fang to a pet obedience school—with predictable disastrous results—Clementine exclaimed: “My goodness, I thought all pet schools were co-educational.”
Mr. Stevens said his six-year old Danish niece, Majbritt Funder, and Sandra Stevens, his brother’s eight-year-old daughter, provided the inspiration for Clementine.
Labels: News of Yore
I would think he is most famous for his "There I Was..." cartoons for Air Force Magazine. I have the first couple of the books collecting that feature.
In July 2007 that magazine published an article about the Air Force in comics. Here's what they had to say about Bob Stevens:
"Bob Stevens was commissioned in the Air Corps in 1943. He flew just about every World War II fighter the Army Air Forces had except for the P-39. He transitioned to jets and set a world speed record in 1950 in the F-86 Sabre. He later commanded the first Atlas missile squadron and retired as a colonel. In his second career, he was an editorial cartoonist for Copley News Service and his work was syndicated in more than 300 newspapers. He continued to fly his own puddle-jumper airplane.
Stevens’ greatest claim to fame was “There I Was ...,” which appeared on the back page of Air Force Magazine every month from 1964 to 1993. It was one of the most popular features the magazine ever published. (See “Aerospace World: Obituaries,” August 1994, p. 21.) Stevens had to be good. His subject was everyday life in the Air Force and, month after month, he laid it before people who had been there and done that. Fortunately, Bob Stevens knew his stuff, and he did not make many mistakes. Books reprinting selections from “There I Was ... ” sported back-cover blurbs with praise for Stevens from such luminaries as Ira C. Eaker, Francis S. Gabreski, Chuck Yeager, and Milton Caniff."
The entire article about Caniff, Mosley, Sickles, Christman and more can be read here
The article in original format, including illustrations, can be read in pdf format here
Thanks for fleshing out Stevens' bio! Regarding Clementine, it only lasted one year. As with most of Lew Little's proteges, he would have been trying to place the feature with a major syndicate; apparently he could find no takers for Clementine.