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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Playing Catch Up

If this site was a child, DHS would haul it away, due to neglect. Thankfully, it's not. Ready for a lot of stuff? 'Cause here comes an update on O.C.C. member Steve Irwin, as well as a news release concerning a recent donation to the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection. As soon as I can secure some pictures of Irwin's books, I'll be posting them to this site. Enjoy!
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Steve Erwin is working with an old inking buddy from his DC days who is heading a small contingent of cartoonists who are producing history comics for Capstone Press (http://www.capstonepress.com/). They specialize in books for libraries and Erwin and friends are creating short, history overviews for them in the format of hardbound comic books. "I would not call them "graphic novels", as they are way too brief in context and content to come
even close to that," said Erwin, "but they are an introduction to historical events and people for elementary-aged kids, a glimpse into our national past and heritage that (hopefully) many readers will want to learn more about.

"I just completed penciling the Lewis & Clark/Corps of Discovery story, which was a real kick for me, as I am so into history of the era of the early 19th century. I really enjoy drawing flintlock muskets, frontiers-garb, Indians...had a blast with it. Then again, I'm a history nut and this gives me an opportunity to indulge myself in two of my favorite passtimes, history and comics. And to be honest, I'm learning stuff I didn't know as I go along, so it's an educational experience for me as well."

These books are intended for a very juvenile audience. A small army of historical experts behind the scenes provide the illustrators with visual reference up front, and check for accuracy on the back end. Though the end user is an elementary school boy or girl, the intended buyer is a library, whether a school library or public library. These are not books that you will find in a comics shop or book store.

The books Erwin has worked on so far are:

The Founding of Jamestown
The Battle of Gettysburg
The Hindenburg Disaster
The Story of Mother Jones
Lewis & Clark and the Voyage of Discovery
(and he penciled the cover to The Cesar Chavez Story)

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(The following story originally ran in the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat.)

What is to be seen but not heard? The traditional answer is children, but so is a major gift of more than 2,000 comics books, magazines, and strips to the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection that is housed inside the Toy and Action Figure Museum (TAFM) in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

Doctor Jon Suter recently donated this large collection featuring the work of Oklahoma cartoonists. A former librarian at East Central University in Ada, Suter is also a writer whose work is featured in the Collection. Dr. Suter is now Director of Libraries and a teacher of graduate classes in the liberal arts at Houston Baptist University; his courses include one on the history of comic books.

Born in Holdenville, Dr. Suter was among the earliest major collectors of comic books and strips in Oklahoma. His donation includes more than 500 magazines collecting comic strips and/or featuring articles on the history of the art form. The more than 1,500 comic strips that will be displayed from the Suter gift include Dick Tracy, Broom Hilda, Alley Oop, Glamor Girls, and the editorial cartoons of Clarence Allen. Additional comic strips from Suter’s donation will be added at a later date.

The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection already features the work of more than 50 Oklahoma cartoonists and their associates. TAFM currently showcases over 7,000 toys, 300 pieces of original comics art, a large selection of published comics by Oklahomans, and books and magazines on comic book and strip history.

“My goal is to expand our existing display for the enjoyment and education of the public,” said Michael Vance who procures and prepares materials for the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection. “The addition of this major gift is an important step in realizing that dream. It would literally take weeks to view the original art in the museum, and read the magazines and comic strips
soon to be on display. I hope to have Suter’s donation in the museum by May.”

Those Oklahoma cartoonists with work in the Collection now include Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Archie Goodwin (The Hulk, Spider-Man), Dan Piraro (Bizarro), Russ Myers (Broom Hilda), Jack and Carole Bender (Alley Oop), Zack Mosley (Smilin’ Jack), E. Nelson Bridwell (Superman), Steve Erwin (Batman), Jim Lange (editorial cartoonist), Don Flowers (Glamor Girls), R. A. Jones (Captain America), John Wooley and Terry Tidwell (Miracle Squad), Michael Roberts (Dinosaurs for Hire), Butch Burcham (Dark Wolf), Dayne Dudley (sports cartoons), Michael Vance (Straw Men), Dave Simpson (editorial cartoons), and Jon Suter (Craig).

Current Oklahoma associates include Gray Morrow (Buck Rogers), Don Martin (Cracked), Dave Graue (Alley Oop), Ande Parks (Green Arrow), Tom Derenick (Superboy), Wayne Truman (Eclipse Monthly), Richard “Grass” Green (Wildman and Rubberoy), Duane Hanson (Craig), Stan Timmons (X-Men), C. T. Smith (Charlton), Bruce McCorkindale (Twilight Avenger), James Baldwin, Rob Davis (Star Trek), Mike Miller, Scott Youtsey, Steve Stiles, Dave Simons, Tom Floyd, Gary Dumm, Dave Hoover, Russ Sever, and Doug Hazelwood.

“We will soon be adding more than one hundred pieces of original art,” added Vance. “This will include expanding the collections of cartoonists already in the Toy and Action Figure Museum like Dave Graue (Alley Oop), E. Nelson Bridwell (Superman) and Stan Timmons (X-Men). It will also include work from new members like editorial cartoonist Chan Lowe, Frank Bolle, who draws the comic strip “Apartment 3-G”, Clarence Allen, one of the earliest editorial cartoonists in the state, and Jaxon Renick, who worked for Marvel and DC Comics. There is really nothing like the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, and these new additions will require return trips to the museum to see everything on display.”

The Toy and Action Figure Museum is located at 111 S. Chickasaw in Pauls Valley. For more information, go to www.actionfiguremuseum.com or http://www.fourcolorcommentary.blogspot.com/, or call 405-238-6300.