741.5 Comic Chronicles

Once upon a time there was a lonely rich boy whose mother insisted on dragging him away from home to strange lands. Deprived of friends his own age and missing his father, the boy found solace in becoming a collector of all sorts of odds and ends, of coins and stamps, of beer steins and porcelain. These served as substitute friends. Among his particular favorites were cartoon books filled with images of mischievous brothers pulling pranks on their elders. Nurtured by his love of these cartoon books, the boy would one day become an impresario who helped launch an American art form.

The boy, of course, was William Randolph Hearst.

J.S. Pughe. Puck, June 29, 1904

To the very end, Hearst retained his brilliant eye for cartooning. His modus operandi remained that of the collector and poacher. He would read the newspapers of his rivals and scoop out the best talent with lavish offers. That’s how he ended up hiring Bud Fisher, Hal Foster, Roy Crane and Milton Caniff, among others. He remained the little boy who collected comics.

Jeet Heer, for PBS, on Willie Hearst‘s love of comics and cartoonists.


One day, I will be as dead as Jack T. Chick.

There are several ways in which Jack T. Chick demonstrates his affinity with comic books, but initially I think it’s important to recognize a man with the foresight to give things away for free.

We’ve all heard of Chick tracts – those little rectangular comic books people buy in bulk, and then scatter around public places as a means of witnessing the Gospel of Christ. It was around the same age as my protestations of cataclysm that I found my first such item. I was with my dad and my younger brother at a Domino’s Pizza, and sitting on a bench was a tract titled The Sissy?

It is fitting indeed that Chick should oppose the Catholic Church: that was not an unusual aspect of populist xenophobia for much of the history of the United States.

The Comics Journal hosts Joe McColluch, raised Catholic, reviewing Jack T Chick tracts.


Mark Kaufman and The Nib present a graphic biography in a Chick format.


The Leonard Sansone website.


The National Vaudeville Artists (NVA) was a union organized by Edward Albee, the most powerful man in theatre and vaudeville during the first quarter of the 20th century.

For all the power that Albee had, the one enemy he could not fight was the movies. The 1920s saw the decline of vaudeville, and as there was no New Deal yet in existence to help provide a social safety net, the NVA built a small hospital and lodge in Saranac Lake, New York.

From 1923 to 1929, the NVA put on benefit affairs and published a large yearbook, to raise funds for the hospital, lodge, and vaudevillians in need. Many cartoonists contributed full-page drawings and cartoons to the yearbooks, including Rube Goldberg, Milt Gross, Harry Hershfield, George Herriman, and Winsor McCay. There appears to have been a Hearst connection with the yearbooks, as nearly all the cartoonists worked for Hearst and King Features.

Rob Stolzer presents a score of full page specialty drawings from 1920s cartoonists.

2 thoughts on “741.5 Comic Chronicles

  1. Nice to see the proper Dewey Decimal number used (I worked in a public library as a page for 6 years back in the 1970s).

  2. That was when I frequented the local libraries – cards in two counties. First checking out the new arrivals, then the reference books, finally to the back shelves always checking out the 070/071 and 741 sections at each stop.

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