Found in the Collection: Cartoon LPs!

There aren’t just comics in the Cartoon Library! Here are some freshly processed LPs related to comics, cartoon art and conventions from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection. Ah, two of the most collected items in history, together at last!

Maybe we’ll have a listening party in our new building next year.

First up, recordings from The 1975 San Diego Comic-Con, including an opening address from Ray Bradbury! If any of you recognize anyone in the high-contrast banquet photo on the back, please let us know!

Cover of “The 1975 San Diego Comic-Con”, from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Back cover of “The 1975 San Diego Comic-Con”, from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Below: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the first four 15-minute episodes of the CBS radio series from 1932. Dick Tracy in B-Flat, or For Goodness Sake Isn’t He Ever Going to Marry Tess Trueheart? featuring Judy Garland as Snowflake, Bing Crosby as Dick Tracy, Frank Sinatra as Shaky, Bob Hope as Flattop, Dinah Shore as Tess Trueheart, and Jimmy Durante as The Mole- this was a live broadcast for the troops overseas in 1945, put on by the Armed Forces Radio Service. Gravely by Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho reads his short stories on this album with cover art by Gahan Wilson from 1976! Lastly, Al Capp on Campus, a collection of Capp’s speeches given to college students.

Records from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Below, Songs of the Pogo, lyrics by Walt Kelly and music by Norman Monath- but wait- SUNG by Walt Kelly himself! With the help of Fia Karin, Mike Stewart, and Bob Miller. The Terry and the Pirates original radio broadcast, with the charming description on the back “In these, Terry is where he belongs- where the Dragon Lady is scheming, where Pat Ryan is punching, where it is always sometime in the thirties, somewhere in China.” Finally, another edition of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the Dick Tracy original radio broadcast.

Records from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Below, art by the one and only George Herriman for Don Marquis’ Archy and Mehitabel, narrated by David Wayne, with the voices of Eddie Bracken, Carol Channing, and Percival Dove. The Phantom Limbs album Romance, featuring art by Gray Morrow, Charlotte Weaver and Jim Lawrence. The soundtrack to the first animated feature film to receive an X rating in the United States, Fritz the Cat. And finally, Popeye the Sailor Man, musical stories from the original TV scripts, narrated by Harry F. Welch. The back cover of this album states “The Rocking Horse Players and Orchestra have written and produced hundreds of happy records for young folks to provide them with hours of fun-a-plenty.”

Records from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Below, the original radio broadcasts Blondie, and the exclusive Wonder Woman stories “The Amazons from Space”, “The Secret of the Magic Tiara”, and “Wonder Woman Versus the War-God”. A Daily News/Chicago Tribune split of Frank King’s Gasoline Alley and Frank Willard’s Moon Mullins radio broadcasts. Lastly, The Official Adventures of The Shadow, written by John Fleming with cartoon illustrations.

Records from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

The original radio broadcasts of Alex Raymond’s Jungle Jim, followed by Peanuts stories come to life in the voices of Kaye Ballard and Arthur Siegel- which came to fruition when Charles Schulz showed up at one of their performances and the two actors/Peanuts fans acted out a few of the strips they had memorized. The 1966 Batman and Robin soundtrack, and the original radio broadcasts of Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond.

Records from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

And finally, quite possibly the ultimate album artwork in this latest batch, The Groundhogs Who Will Save the World? fully illustrated by Neal Adams.

Neal Adams album art for The Groundhogs, 1972. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Neal Adams inner album art for The Groundhogs, 1972. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Neal Adams inner album art for The Groundhogs, 1972. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

Found in the Collection: Basil Wolverton (1909-1978)!

Basil Wolverton was a true enigma of a man, best known for his work in both MAD Magazine and for his religious illustrations for the Radio Church of God (also known as the Worldwide Church of God, for whom he served as a board member) and of the Old Testament. His unforgettable grotesque and psychedelic style could be used just as easily to convey something hilarious as it could something damning, though there are certainly commonalities to be drawn in his use of exaggeration for doing both.

Basil Wolverton original from MAD Magazine’s “Dining Etiquette Quiz”. From the Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Although Wolverton’s early works of note were Powerhouse Pepper and Spacehawk, it was not these accomplishments that brought his distinctly characterized style into the public eye- but instead a contest that he won within the storyline of Al Capp’s famous Li’l Abner comic to draw the ugliest woman alive. As a smart humor device and a way to keep his readers hooked, in 1946 Capp introduced the now legendary character Lena the Hyena of Lower Slobbovia into the world of Li’l Abner on the premise that she was so hideous that anyone who looked upon her immediately went insane- and he himself never drew her face. Instead, the public was baited with teases of exposing Lena’s visage, which went on for months before Capp finally held a competition for readers to send in their own versions of Lena- the ugliest of which would be selected by Boris Karloff, Frank Sinatra, and Salvador Dali. Yes, this was indeed a time for comics where celebrities of such a high caliber were actually participating as judges for a gag on the funny pages.

Among the couple million other strips in our beloved San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection are chronological clippings of Capp’s Lil Abner, so we thought we’d share some of the build up to Wolverton’s striking national debut. Considering that the Lena the Hyena plot was built up over such a long period of time, we’ll fill in some of the gaps to explain the story as we go.

For starters, Lena the Hyena is the most despised citizen of Lower Slobbovia, the country that fictional cartoonist Lester Gooch (author of Capp’s comic-within-the-comic, “Fearless Fosdick”, a favorite among citizens of Dogpatch) found her living in. Gooch is determined to show Lena’s face to the public by drawing her in his comic, but goes insane after doing so, only to find out that his editor has removed her image from the page because it was simply too vile to see.

Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner”. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

After escaping the sanatorium that he was placed in, Lester Gooch struggles time and again to recreate his drawing of Lena, even going to such lengths as killing a dentist in order to steal his “Freezocaine” so that he can numb himself from the revulsion enough to redraw her. This eventually works.

Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner”. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

However, just as Gooch has finished his masterpiece, the police and doctors break into his apartment to drag him back to the hospital. As he tries to flee by jumping out a window, they capture him but the drawing of Lena floats out onto the wind. From there, its travels in the breeze causes weeks of devastation in the Li’l Abner strips as police officers and top meteorologists trace its path. Below, two of the more ridiculous strips from this hunt:

Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner”. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Mass-hysteria continues, at some point dissuading a gang of “good will” distributing aliens from visiting earth after they catch a glimpse of Lena’s picture through a telescope. Eventually, the President calls for all red-blooded American’s to help:

Al Capp’s “L’il Abner”. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

A jury of Frank Sinatra, Boris Karloff, and Salvador Dali is formed to judge the submissions of the best (or worst) rendition of Lena the Hyena, the 500,000 of which even included an entry from Carl Barks. Below, the reasons for choosing the judges and their response to call of duty:

Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner”. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

After more social upheaval, and as the public impatiently waits to see Lena’s face once and for all- the acclaimed judges survive the process and finally deliver both the verdict and Basil Wolverton’s talent to the national public eye:

Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner”, featuring the winning portrait of Lena the Hyena by Basil Wolverton. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Wolverton’s career was intensely amplified after this (Lena’s face making it to the cover of MAD Magazine), with his portraits soon appearing in Life and Pageant. In tune with his now defined drawing style which Life would coin “spaghetti and meatballs”, these portraits include the two originals below from our collection, of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin:

Basil Wolverton original of Franklin D. Roosevelt. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Basil Wolverton original of Joseph Stalin. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Although his name is not a household one, Wolverton’s influence on countless other well-known cartoonists like R. Crumb is undeniable, and his unique style would become a school of cartooning in itself. Basil would be 103 this year on July 9th.