Monday, December 01, 2014


A Trove of Specialty Drawings, Part 1 of 4

As the fellow who has been entrusted with most of Jim Ivey's cartooning files, I could easily spend a year going through all those musty (and cigar smoke-filled) files and still not check out everything. In a recent spate of cleaning up, I came across this pamphlet, one I've filed and refiled a half-dozen or so different times over the years without even taking the time to look inside:

Finally I wondered why Jim had held onto this unassuming little publication from Washington and Lee University, whose subject was to give itself a hearty pat on the back for making it to 200 years of age. On paging through, I saw that there were congratulatory drawings from cartoonists. As I continued paging, they just kept coming. By the time I had looked through the whole booklet, I realized that more than half of the publication consisted of full page drawings from famous cartoonists!

Why the devil, I wondered, was Washington and Lee University so crazy for cartoonists? I eventually found my answer on this page:

Oh ho! Art Wood, perhaps the most devoted cartoon art collector who ever was, was in charge of this little pamphlet! No further explanation necessary. Gee, I wonder how many of the originals ended up in his collection?

The possible mercenary motives of Art Wood notwithstanding, he sure did bring together a real who's who of cartooning for this publication. Although many cartoonists tend to slough off requests like this with a standard page of printed art, accompanied by a quickly jotted 'hail and fare thee well', Art must have really applied the pressure. He got a lot of really nice original creations, with only an occasional standard piece of fan giveaway art mixed in.

Let's start off today with the editorial cartoonists, who were lightly represented. Which isn't a bad thing, because though they went to the trouble of producing special art, most ended up flogging pretty much the same idea. Tomorrow we'll start in on the strip folks:

Tom Little, editorial cartoonist and creator of the daily panel Sunflower Street

The great editorial cartoonist of the Washington Star, Clifford Berryman, who helped to popularize the Teddy bear

Edwin Marcus, editorial cartoonist of the New York Times

Fred O. Seibel, distinguished cartoonist of the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Joseph Parrish, editorial cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune

George Scarbo, NEA staff cartoonist and creator of The Comic Zoo

I wonder what Tom Little's cartoon meant in its time. In 1949, Washington & Lee University didn't have any black or female alumni. Whatever kind of bigotry he saw the university as defeating, I would like to know.
As you might have expected, many of the original drawings that were published in this pamphlet are in the Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature at the Library of Congress (not yet digitized for online access). Wood began collecting original cartoon art before he graduated from high school.
Sara Duke, Curator of Popular & Applied Graphic Art, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
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