Cartoonist and comic art collector Bill Wilson has passed away.
William Breckinridge (Bill) Wilson
February 23, 1930 – April 29, 2022
William Breckinridge Wilson passed away peacefully.
Bill was talented and creative. He loved music, especially Dixieland jazz. He had excellent rhythm and played the drums and harmonica. In his early teens he was the drummer in a swing band and was paid “a dollar a gig”. His band was featured in Life Magazine. Bill was also an artist and became an accomplished cartoonist.
Bill loved the Air Force. He was a Captain and a flight instructor for the T33/ F80, America’s first fighter jet by Lockheed. He felt that “Flying a jet was like nothing else on this earth.”
Bill was a life long collector of original political cartoons and comic strips. As a boy he began his collection when he and his friend rode their bicycles to Charles Adams’ house in Westfield. He gave each boy an original drawing. From that point on Bill was hooked. He amassed a large and impressive collection which was his pride and joy. Throughout his career, in his business and personal travels he would reach out to well known cartoonists in other cities, states and countries, arrange to meet with them and procure an original. He made lifelong friends with every cartoonist he met. He became a member of the National Cartoonist Society when he retired in 1992 (an organization reserved only for professional cartoonists) and attended many conventions, immensely enjoying the camaraderie of brilliant and talented cartoonist friends.
From a 2013 Ladue News article:
If you flip through the funnies or skim the editorials, you might miss what Bill Wilson calls a “fine art” often overlooked by its audience. This resident of Aberdeen Heights in Kirkwood is not only a former cartoonist—he’s an avid collector of editorial cartoons, illustrations and comic strips.
“It’s an art that very few people pay any attention to or understand,” Wilson explains, noting that he started his collection in this 1960s during business travels. “I’d stop by a newspaper and try to meet the editorial cartoonists (or whoever was on the art staff) and get to know them and try to get an original drawing.”
Wilson says his collection includes a “couple of hundred” pieces, ranging from editorials to classic Disney characters. “When it comes to favorite artists, that’s a hard question to answer because there’s so many,” he explains while naming a small handful, including Dan Martin, the man behind the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Weatherbird. “Probably the finest piece I have is Prince Valiant, done by Hal Foster—he’s like God in the comic business.” Other collection notables include pieces by late editorial cartoonist Joe Parrish and Beetle Bailey artist Mort Walker.
Bill’s National Cartoonists Society mini-bio card below.
About the same time as his collection began, Wilson started creating his own cartoons. He says his pieces were primarily black-and-white editorials using a brush and ink, pen and ink, charcoal and black crayon. “I started doing some drawings for one of the New York investment trade papers. Once a year, we put out a parody newspaper full of drawings and comics about different guys in the business, and it was really a slam on a lot of the big guns—all in humor and good fun.” Because this was a published newspaper, Wilson explains, it earned him the right to apply to the National Cartoonist Society after his 1991 retirement. Now a member, he typically attends the annual convention, which he dubs the ‘cartooning Oscars.’ “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of the people whose work you see in magazines and newspapers,” he says. “It’s been interesting and a lot of fun—a great bunch of people!”