David Mruz – RIP

Comics and animation historian David Mruz has passed away.

David Richard Mruz
February 11, 1951 – December 20. 2020

Comics and animation historian, fanzine publisher: Mindrot/Animania

When most of us think of Minneapolis cartoonists our thoughts go back to Charles Schulz,
for native Minnesotan David Mruz his thoughts go back much further to another Charles:

For comics historian David Mruz, the story of Minnesota comic strips begins with a little-known figure who cast a large shadow in his day: Charles Lewis Bartholomew, or Bart. Born in 1869 in Charlton, Iowa, Bart made a name with strips like “George and His Conscience” (1907), “Cousin Bill” (1909), and “Bud Smith, the Boy Who Does Stunts” (1908–12) and editorial cartoons printed in the Minneapolis Journal.Bart was significant for three things, says Mruz: his art, his mentorship of young cartoonists, and the years he spent as dean at the Federal School of Illustration and Cartooning in Minneapolis. One of the cartoonists Bart mentored was Frank King, a Wisconsin boy born in 1883.“A traveling salesman saw some of the work King had done and told King that if he wanted a job, he should go to Minneapolis. So he went there, and Bart took him under his wing,” says Mruz.

Though David didn’t ignore Charles M. Schulz. (h/t to Joel T for a link that works)

While David didn’t create the first animation fanzine, he was an important part of that beginnings:

One of the major contributions Barrier made to animation fandom was to stop publishing FunnyworldFunnyworld was the unquestioned center for animation scholarship and once it disappeared, it forced the development of other magazines to fill the void.

During this period, Mindrot began.  Like Funnyworld, it was designed as an apa zine for Vootie, the funny animal cartoonists’ apa.  David Mruz, editor and publisher, remembered his school teachers warning him not to read comic books or watch cartoons because they would “rot” his mind, so Mruz created a fanzine for others with similarly rotted minds.  The first issue appeared April 1976 and was only two pages long but by the end of the year it had grown to eight pages of offset type devoted to animation and sold to the general public for fifty cents.  A favorable plug for Mindrot in Mark Mayerson’s short-lived animation column for Film Collector’s World attracted the interest of many animation fans looking for a place to share animation information.

This influx of interest encourage Mruz in June 1977 to further expand his fanzine and to develop its familiar format of forty pages in the form of a booklet.  Like Funnyworld, the magazine featured lengthy interviews with animators and historic research.  Unlike Funnyworld, the magazine featured detailed episode listings of animated series and several regular columns by animation historians.  Some potential readers were confused by the title of the magazine so Mruz changed the name to Animania (issue 20, Feb. 1981) and the name change increased sales and recognition (although fans still refer to it as Mindrot when talking).  However, Mruz needed to devote more time to his business and his family and the final issue of Animania was 27 (Dec. 1983).  Mruz made no farewell announcement and over the years has thought about reviving the title.

Mindrot is a fanzine that bring pleasant memories and a smile. I even used it as a header here earlier this month. Yeah, this hit me. But I wasn’t fortunate to know David. So, in lieu of an obituary I can’t find, here is Joel Thingvall’s fond recollections of his lifelong friend.

DAVID MRUZ left us on the afternoon of December 20 A bloodclot in his lung, stopped oxygen to his wonderful mind. He was My Buddy. A lovable, always smiling, good-natured man so full of childlike joy. A Man About Uptown. My Best Friend.

David was an occupational therapist. But then did a unique career move and opened David’s DayCare in 1988. For more than two decades he specialized in caring for toddlers, running their activities, old cartoons in the background, the kid’s rope-line wandering the now upscale Uptown neighborhood. David was the Gentle Giant about town, kinda like Harvey Comics Stumbo. Plus he had the pure innocence and trusting nature of Charlie Brown. And he had the hair cut of Herbie Popnecker.


Big Heart. Bigger Smile.

2 thoughts on “David Mruz – RIP

  1. When I had a class assignment to write an article for publication, I sent it to Dave, and he pubbed it. He didn’t keep publishing for long after that, or I’d have tried for a second one. Thanks for this article.

  2. Much appreciated.

    Hey, the Charles Schulz link ahs disappeared (City Pages went under this year and although they were eventually owned by the StarTribune major daily, their archives got wiped.

    But managed to save the Schulz article. Here is a link to that: https://web.archive.org/web/20170302113736/http://www.citypages.com/news/sorry-charlie-6707579

    If you wish to update. It is a such a great article and a look at how David operates.

    Thanks again for the words on my friend, David.

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