Monday, June 19, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Charles Okerbloom Jr.


Charles Irving Okerbloom, Jr. was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on August 13, 1908, according to the Pennsylvania, Birth Records at, and a news report from the University of Arkansas. Okerbloom’s full name was on his marriage certificate and in publications from Ohio State University and the University of Arkansas.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Okerbloom was the youngest of four children born to Charles and Huldah. Okerbloom’s father was a Swedish emigrant and accountant, however, the next census said he was Swiss. The family resided in Harrisburg at 621 North Fifteenth Street.

The 1920 census recorded the Okerbloom family of seven in Columbus, Ohio, at 351 West Seventh Avenue.

Okerbloom graduated from North High School in 1926. The 1926 Polaris yearbook said his nickname was Chuck who was on the Polaris art staff, and member of Hi-Y and the Art Club. Okerbloom continued his education at Ohio State University. The 1928 Makio yearbook said he was in the Pen and Brush Club and the Sigma Chi fraternity.

The Magazine of Sigma Chi, July 1937, published an article, in part, about Milton Caniff. Caniff’s influence on Okerbloom was told.

…Columbus was full of cartoonists, and so was Ohio State. The late Billy Ireland was interested in Milt’s work and Milt valued his counsel very highly. Milt mixed with the campus artists who fraternized at the Sun Dial office—the University’s humorous publication. Clayton Rawson, Jon Whitcomb, Reamer Keller, and the late Don Barley—they were all Sun Dial artists at that time. Along with Milt, they all passed through the same halls where the late George Bellows had walked during his Ohio State days. Then later, along came Chuck Okerbloom [Alpha Gamma ’30], Noel Sickles, Bill Dwyer, and Charlie Raab, who became Sigma Chi pledges through association with Milt. All these young artists have since attained prominence of varying degrees in their chosen lines of art, and for the most part, Milt gave them all endless encouragement.

Milt’s interest had a profound influence on Chuck Okerbloom’s early Ohio State days. Chuck was no great shakes as a cartoonist when Milt sponsored him for pledging at Alpha Gamma. But he was a good tennis player. This made him an athletic prospect—and his cartooning ability was considered unimportant by most of the members. So Chuck was pledged, and because freshmen weren’t eligible for tennis, but were eligible for Sun Dial, Milt was assigned the task of guiding Chuck toward campus prominence as a Sun Dial cartoonist.

From the beginning. Milt coerced Chuck into turning at least one acceptable Sun Dial drawing to him every week. He figured that anyone as prolific as all that would certainly be well-represented in every issue of The Sun Dial. So Chuck dutifully carried out his weekly assignment, sometimes doing only one—and sometimes doing two or three drawings, and Milt selected the best ones for submission to the Sun Dial. In a short time, Chuck was better represented in the campus humor publication than was Milt. So Milt, when it was no longer necessary to enforce the mandatory requirement, dropped it, letting Chuck be responsible for his own submissions. But at this time, Milt advised Chuck that if he worked hard, he would some day be art editor of the Sun Dial—and he impressed on Chuck’s freshman mind that it was a high campus honor to be the Sun Dial’s art editor—not to mention the fact that in those days the job paid around $700 a year.
The 1929 Makio yearbook listed Okerbloom as art editor of the Sun Dial. Caniff was on the art staff, too.

The 1930 University of Minnesota yearbook, The Gopher, said “Cornell and Young were the only Minnesota representatives at the Conference [tennis] meet. Young lost a hard fought match to Charles Okerbloom….”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Okerbloom was one of five artists who drew Radiotics, later retitled Radiomania. The NEA series began in October 1927 with Joe King, followed by Art Krenz, Dorothy Urfer, Okerbloom, and George Scarbo. The series ended about five years later.

According to the 1930 census, unemployed Okerbloom lived with his parents in Columbus at 351 West 7th Avenue.

The Ohio County Marriages, at, said Okerbloom and Margaret Elizabeth Clymer were married on December 30, 1933 in Franklin County, Ohio.

In the 1940 census, Okerbloom and his wife were residents of Iowa City, Iowa, at 1215 Yewell. Okerbloom was a state university fine arts instructor, and his wife was an assistant professor at a state university.

During World War II, Okerbloom enlisted in Texas on December 4, 1942 and served in the Army Air Corps. According to Okerbloom’s Application to State of Iowa for World War II Service Compensation, he served in the “510th Basic Flying Training Squadron U.S. Air Corps” and “Headquarters Squadron 73rd Bomb Wing 20th Air Force”. Okerbloom was honorably discharged December 1, 1945.

The University of Arkansas said Okerbloom “served as an associate professor at both the Ohio University and the University of Tulsa. An accomplished cartoonist and painter, Okerbloom joined the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas in 1953, reaching the rank of full professor in 1963. He retired in 1969. His works are in collections and art museums in Dallas, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; New Orleans, La.; and Columbus and Toledo, Ohio. His artwork is also in the permanent collection of the State University of Iowa.”

Okerbloom passed away April 6, 1999, in Springdale, Arkansas. He was laid to rest at Middletown Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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