Showing posts with label Milton Caniff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Milton Caniff. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Long and Winding Road, or, Ike Liked Cartoons

A Long and Winding Road
 by Stu McIntire
(updated 4/14/2017, see point #8)


A dedicated collector is a scavenger (of sorts) and a patient soul, which is where this story begins.

In the early 1980s my wife and I took a trip to Antique Row on Howard Avenue in Kensington, Maryland.  We weren’t scouting for anything in particular, just out for a fun afternoon.





                  

We wandered in and out of the shops not finding anything until we walked into one which had a pedestal table just inside the front door, on which rested a basket.  The basket held several dozen black and white photographs.  Most were unremarkable but one included President Dwight D. Eisenhower and seven other men I did not recognize.  Eisenhower was looking at a book and it was open to a page with a cartoon on it.  Intrigued, I sifted through the basket, found one similar picture and settled on the two photos, which I purchased.  Price?  One dollar each.




The pictures remained untouched for a couple of years until I decided to learn more about them.  I sent one to Maggie Thompson at The Comics Buyers Guide, offering to share it with the CBG readers.  I also asked if she could tell me anything about it.  A short while later it was published with the following comments:

(Published in The Comics Buyers' Guide #587; February 15, 1985):

"This historic photograph of four National Cartoonists Society presidents meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than 30 years ago was sent to CBG by Stuart McIntire. Stuart asked us to identify the participants; we did, getting confirmation from Mort Walker, Milton Caniff, and Ron Goulart. Eisenhower was presented with a collection of original cartoons, caricatures, and drawings of himself  by members of  the NCS (many of these were collected into a book called President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book), and made an honorary member of the NCS. (Stuart mentions that, using extreme magnification on the original photo, he was able to make out the name "Carl Grubert" on the page to which the book is open; Grubert drew a humorous family strip called The Berrys.) From left to right are: Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates; Steve Canyon), an unidentified man (Caniff said he thinks he was a Treasury Department official); Goulart says it could be Charles Biro), Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon; Rip Kirby), another unidentified man (another Treasury Department official, Caniff guessed), Eisenhower ("probably Eisenhower," said Goulart, living up to his reputation as a wit), Walt Kelly (Pogo), Rube Goldberg (Boob McNutt), and Treasury Secretary George Humphrey. Walt Kelly was then President of the NCS; Caniff, Raymond, and Goldberg were past Presidents. Caniff added that Humphrey arranged the meeting "as a sort of reward for drawings the cartoonists had made in support of the E-Bond sales after the war."

[The Editors of CBG publicly express their deep personal gratitude to Mort, Milt, and Ron - three of the busiest people we know - for taking time to help us on identification.]

Now I had a mission.  Find and purchase a copy of President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book.  For years this was a mental note in the back of my mind but I did frequently scan the shelves at used book stores, always without luck.  Fast forward to September of 2012 and a trip to the Baltimore Comic Con.

Towards the end of a day on the dealer floor I stumbled across a booth with a multitude of items that caught my eye.  This dealer had a lot of merchandise that was comic-related and much of it was old.  I went through boxes of very attractive swag.  I knew not what I wanted but I’d know it when I saw it.  When I came to the box that held a copy of the President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book it was like the scene in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold found the perfect Christmas tree.

with dustjacket

without dustjacket

                                     

My main goal at the Con was collecting autographs in a couple of my Sandman hardcover collections (check) and perhaps to see a few friends (check).  I never imagined I’d score a long-sought piece for my collection but I struck a deal for this and one other piece (Badtime Stories by Bernie Wrightson).

Flash forward again.  Curiosity has the better of me.  What else can I learn about the background story of this book?  How about:

    1.     An Internet search turned up other photos taken at the same time as the pictures I bought on Antique Row:

             



   2.     In 1954, President Eisenhower was made an honorary member of the National Cartoonists Society. He and Treasury Secretary George M. Humphrey were awarded the Silver T-Square, given by the NCS to persons who have demonstrated outstanding dedication or service to the Society or the profession.  The occasion was celebrated at a formal breakfast in Washington, attended by the President and several NCS members.








Stamped on the back of the above photo:
Photo shows: Milton Caniff, creator of famous comic strip, STEVE CANYON at microphone with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Walt Kelly, creator of POGO seated at table during a United States Savings Bond Program breakfast in Washington honoring the National Cartoonists Society for patriotic service on the Savings Bond Program.

Also stamped on the back:



   3.     Note the name Toni Mendez.  Toni Mendez, a huge influencing force behind the creation of the National Cartoonists Society, was Caniff’s agent (as well as several other prominent cartoonists).  She was also once a member of the famed high-kicking Rockettes dance troupe!



4.       4. Here is a picture of the volume of original cartoons presented to Eisenhower as well as a few samples of the work contained therein (by Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, and Walt Kelly):







                       

    5.     Eisenhower himself was a known ‘doodler’ and here is but one example:




    6.     Fans well-versed in comic book history may recall that it was earlier in the very same year these cartoonists broke bread with the President that Milton Caniff and Walt Kelly testified before the infamous United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.
    
    7.     One of the ninety-five artists represented in President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book was Bill Crawford, once an artist who worked at the Washington Daily News and Washington Post.
 

8.      I bought this one on eBay in April 2017. Next to Ike is Rube Goldberg. Next to Rube, behind Ike is Walt Kelly. On the left hand page to which the album is opened is a drawing by Jay (Modest Maidens) Alan. The drawing on the right is by Jerry Robinson. The caption under Robinson's drawing says "Thank you Mr. President --- for the wonderful laughter! Especially if the joke is BY us --- but even if it's ON us! J.R. N.C.S." 




       The caption reads: (WX4) WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 -- CARTOONS OF, AND FOR, IKE -- President Eisenhower is pleased by this gift from White House callers today, a bound volume of cartoons of himself drawn by members of the National Cartoonists Society. Standing at right are Rube Goldberg, honorary chairman of the Society, and Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, right. The drawings on the opened pages are not identified. (AP Wire photo) (EE31038 stf-hlg) 1954

So there you have it.  This story was thirty years or so in the making, but slow and steady wins the race!




Sunday, December 01, 2013

Collecting Steve Canyon

Local journalist and comics fan Michael O'Connell is collecting pieces of a Steve Canyon collection originally assembled by Richard Bauman, a former Coast Guard officer. Mike tells ComicsDC he has interviewed the Bauman family and is working on a story about it. Meanwhile, he's started to post some of the Steve Canyon images on his Pinterest and Facebook pages, along with tidbits regarding how he acquired a few of the pieces.

Courtesy of Michael O'Connell

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2006 Smithsonian lunchbox exhibit

In 2006 the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History had an exhibit of lunchboxes, many of which featured comic and cartoon characters, outside of its cafeteria. I've loaded the pictures on my Flickr site, but here's a few to whet your appetite.

100_1879
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet - a tv show, but soon a Dell comic book too.

100_1894
How many Peanuts lunchboxes have there been?

100_1873
It looks like late-period Caniff, but Steve Canyon is still cool.

100_1891
Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker is essentially forgotten now, but was big in its day.

More pics at the flickr link above...