Art Wood, founding AAEC member, passes at age 87

Art Wood, editor, cartoonist and comic collector, passed on November 4 at the age of 87. He held one of the largest private/personal comic collections – which he donated to the Library of Congress. He was also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

From his obituary:

His own original cartoons have been displayed at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Hirschorn in the Nation?s Capital and the National Gallery in London, and featured in two World?s Fairs. He was included in the International Touring Exhibit ?The Great Challenge.? President Truman framed one of Art?s original political cartoons over the door to the Oval Office. His work is also represented in Presidential Libraries.

Art Wood?s collection of original cartoons and illustrations, some 40,000 drawings, was the largest private collection of that genre in the world. He gave this collection to the Library of Congress in its Bicentennial Year. The Library of Congress has published a table top book, Cartoon America, based on his ?Gift to the Nation.?

Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson posted a tribute to him on his blog on Saturday.

Whenever he visited my studio, Art would sit on the floor like a little kid and go through piles of originals. To his utter delight I’d say, “Keep what you want.” I figured he’d take better care of anything I gave him than I would. I mean, a guy with not just an animation cel hung on his wall but a cel with all seven dwarves signed, “To Art from Walt Disney” is at least trustworthy, monomaniac though he be, right?

Art sold his collection for just under a million dollars (though technically it was priceless) to the Library of Congress, where he’d worked as a boy (he’d also attended Hearst school, a public school in northwest DC, like my brother and even went to kindergarten in the same room). They had a nice ceremony in one of the fancier rooms attended by many cartoonists and Woodses and a show drawn from the collection. Art was expansive.

4 thoughts on “Art Wood, founding AAEC member, passes at age 87

  1. When I joined the AAEC back in 1979, Art Wood was one of the first friends I made there. He was a wonderful guy and his cartoon collection was legendary. He told me that he got started collecting as a kid. His dad was a salesman who called on newspapers. During the summers Art would accompany his dad when he stopped at daily papers. He would always ask the resident cartoonist if he could have one of his originals. The answer was usually, “Sure, take what you want”.

    The Library of Congress is the perfect place for this collection which chronicles the history of editorial cartooning in the 20th. century.

  2. Sorry to hear of Art’s passing. He visited me at The Free Lance-Star when I first started there. I think he was with Bill Rechin who lived in the area and also passed away a few years ago.

    Art asked me to send him an original as he didn’t pick one out that day. Being a cartoonist I’m a natural procrastinator and I never sent him one. As time went by I lost his address and never bothered. I wish I had.

    He was a really nice guy.

  3. My Art Wood story is identical to Paul’s. Newly minted cartoonists attending AAEC conventions could count on meeting Art followed by a promise to hand over original cartoons.

    He has three of mine and I have one of his. I came out ahead in the exchange.

    He was a great guy and one of the best things to happen to cartooning.

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