In December of 2005, the late great Eldon Dedini donated his original art and personal papers to us here at the Cartoon Library. Known for his voluptuous and fantastical Playboy cartoons and his contributions to Esquire and The New Yorker, Dedini’s collection contained not only 1,500 original cartoons, but also correspondence, business papers, idea files, rough sketches and more.
As our steadfast and enthusiastic MLIS practicum student (yes, we take MLIS practicum students!) Caitlin Naber from The University of Illinois processes Dedini’s collection, she continuously uncovers jam-packed folders of fascinating gems! The “oohs” and “ahhs” from her corner of the archive seldom cease. One of the great blessings of working on a collection like Dedini’s is that he was incredibly meticulous and organized about keeping his collection comprehensive.
In one of the 13 folders of Dedini’s eloquently titled “Doodles” in his collection, there are a great number of fantastic quick sketches of famous folks. It’s quite a random selection, but we wanted to share some of our favorites.
Perhaps, dear reader, you are curious about what processing a collection such as Dedini’s entails.
While we would love to appease the envy of those who may think that archiving the collection of a cartoonist just means reading comics all day, rest assured there is indeed a science to the sorting. In order to make the Dedini collection accessible and easy to navigate for researches, scholars, students, and the general public- we will be making an online finding aid for the collection. When the Dedini collection arrived here at the Cartoon Library, it was comprised of 103 boxes of materials, containing everything from Chinese restaurant menus, to rejection letters, to oil paintings, to the original character sketches of Mr. Toad for Disney’s The Wind in the Willows. When we receive a collection as broad as Dedini’s, an initial organizational plan of attack must be made on how to categorize the materials in a way that makes sense of their career, and will be most understandable to a researcher. This requires going through all of the boxes, and all of the folders and sub-folders within those boxes, and sorting out materials into their appropriate series.
The categories that have been designated for the Dedini collection are as follows:
Series I. Playboy (Subseries 1. Correspondance, Subseries 2. Sketches and Roughs)
Series II. The New Yorker (Subseries 1. Correspondance, Subseries 2. Sketches and Roughs)
Series III. Esquire (Subseries 1. Correspondance, Subseries 2. Sketches and Roughs)
Series IV. Advertising Illustrations
Series V. Book Illustrations
Series VI. Freelance Works
Series VII. Sketches, Drawings, and Scrapbooks
Series VIII. Original Art
Series IX. Research Files (Reference Pictures, Picture Files- Organized alphabetically by topic)
Series X. Cartoonist/Professional Organizations
Series XI. Correspondence (fan and personal, organized by year)
Series XII. Personal and Family materials (photographs, genealogy info, wedding anniversary)
Series XIII. Memorabilia
We hope that this not only gives our readers some insight on how materials are processed, but for the cartoonists reading out there with a flare for organization (and perhaps a desire to donate their collection to a certain cartoon library and museum someday), we hope we can help provide a framework for thinking about your own paper trail. And remember: save everything!
As our trusty practicum student continues to sort through Eldon Dedini’s collection, we’ll certainly be posting more of his materials as they are processed. June happens to be Dedini’s birth-month, so what better time for it!