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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Action Figure Museum and Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection Celebrate First Anniversary

CONTACT: Michael Vance,, 918-557-0347 or 918-745-0952 (after 6 pm)

They’re not toying with your affections in Pauls Valley. Well, actually, they are, but that’s entirely appropriate for the exciting celebration of the first anniversary of the world’s only Toy and Action Figure Museum (TAFM) and the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection it houses.

On Saturday, October 14th, the celebration begins with free admission to the museum from 10am to 5pm. There will be free toy give-aways every hour at TAFM, several Pauls Valley merchants will also be giving away toys, and many Oklahoma cartoonists will be autographing their work. Those attending at this time include Jack and Carole Bender, who produce the comic strip Alley Oop, and writers Michael Vance and R. A. Jones, who have worked for more than a dozen comics publishers. More are expected to attend and sign.

There certainly is a lot to celebrate. More than 15,000 tourists have already visited the museum, it was chosen as the 2006 Outstanding New Tourist Attraction by the Oklahoma Tourism Department, it has been featured in dozens of newspaper and magazine articles and on television across the state, and the Oklahoma Centennial Commission has chosen it as an official Oklahoma Centennial Exhibit! And if 10,000 action figures and toys, comic books, Sunday comic strips, original comic book and strip art, and more, aren’t enough to bring out the kid in you, how about dinner!

TAFM will also host a fund-raising dinner from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the museum including a presentation of an overview of the museum’s first year, and a look at future plans. David Toth, the museum’s manager, will present an award to the Volunteer of the Year. Two new toy-lines will be inducted into the Action Figure Hall of Fame, as well as an action figure Sculptor of the Year, and writer Michael Vance will induct six Oklahomans into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame. These inductees include Chester Gould, Bill Mauldin, Clarence Allen, Dick Locher, Ric Estrada, and R. A. Jones.

Cheater Gould was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma, and produced his first professional work for a Tulsa newspaper. His Dick Tracy was one of the most popular comic strips in history. At its peak, Tracy was enjoyed for decades by hundreds and hundreds of millions of readers worldwide, and was featured in movie serials, toys, comic books, books, television cartoons, and as a feature length motion picture. Among his many accolades, Gould won the highest honor possible from his peers, the Reuben Award. Tracy debuted on Oct 4th, 1931, and celebrates its 75th ‘birthday’ this year.

Bill Mauldin was the best know cartoonist on earth during WWII. His first cartoons were published in the Daily Oklahoman, and were republished in hard and soft cover books after the war. He joined the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper in 1958 as their editorial cartoonist, and won two Pulitzer Prizes during his illustrious career. Featured in countless magazine like Life and Sports Illustrated, and having appeared in movies and television, few cartoonists have matched his popularity and success in the worlds most popular artform, comics.

Clarence Allen was one of the earliest editorial cartoonists in Oklahoma. His work was published in the Tulsa World and Tulsa Tribune newspapers starting in 1929 where he served as an artist, art director, and editorial cartoonist. Allen also illustrated a book by Houdini, worked on Mutt and Jeff animated cartoons, as an extra in movies, and created posters for Columbia Pictures. He created architectural designs, Christmas cards for movie stars, published several books, and painted many murals around Tulsa. Allen won ten Freedom Foundation awards during his long career.

Artist Dick Locher is an Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection Associate because of his work with Chester Gould. He has drawn Dick Tracy since 1983, and is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and artist whose editorial cartoons are published in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. His work has been featured in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, and in Time, Life, Newsweek, and many other magazines. Locher also won a Reuben award from the National Cartoonists Association.

Artist Ric Estrada is an Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection Associate because of his work with Oklahoma writer E. Nelson Bridwell in Creepy magazine. He has drawn everything from ‘50s war comics to Wonder Woman during his amazing career. With comics legend and Oklahoma Associate Wally Wood, Estrada helped revive the historically important All-Star Comics title that originated superhero teams, drew Batman and Superman, and worked on He-Man cartoons in the 1980s.

Tulsa writer R.A. Jones has created many of his own characters for comic books, including Scimidar, The Protectors, and Dark Wolf. He has also written extensively for many major comics publishers including Marvel and DC Comics on titles including Bulletproof Monk, Wolverine/Captain American: The Contingency, Metal Hurlant and Weapon X. First establishing himself as a popular reviewer, Jones has written a column for a Tulsa newspaper, and co-authored a book on the history of comics with Michael Vance.

Bring the family and join the fun! Free admission to the museum will continue on Sunday, October 15 from 1:00pm to 5:00 pm as the culmination of the first anniversary celebration. Space for the dinner on Saturday is limited, and reservations are open until Thursday, October 12th by calling the museum. The Toy and Action Figure Museum is located at 111 S. Chickasaw in Pauls Valley. For more information on the museum, go to or to, or call 405-238-6300.

Toy Museum Awarded Redbud Award

By Jeff Shultz
Managing Editor, Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Pauls Valley’s Toy and Action Figure Museum will be displaying something new and it’s not a toy or action figure line.

The museum was named the 2006 Outstanding New Tourist Attraction Monday night by the Oklahoma Tourism Department during the annual Redbud Awards at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Oklahoma City.

When the announcement came, museum curator and co-creator Kevin Stark walked to the podium to accept the award to the theme of “Superman.”

“All entries were judged by people from out of state and we got quite a rousing response when our name was announced,” Stark told the Daily Democrat.

The Redbud Award is the highest honor given for tourism in the state of Oklahoma. The awards recognize the outstanding achievement of businesses, organizations and individuals that help promote and develop Oklahoma tourism.

Since opening its doors almost one year ago, the Toy and Action Figure Museum has welcomed over 15,000 tourists from across the nation and from foreign countries to Pauls Valley.

Stark said the best thing about Monday night’s ceremony was how many people had already heard about the museum.

“All evening, before the awards were given out, people were coming up to me that knew me, or had heard of the museum, and wanted to talk about Pauls Valley and the museum,” said Stark.

Redbud winners are chosen from attractions, organizations, events and tourism groups statewide.

David: The Shepherd's Song, published by Cross Culture Entertainment, 72 pages, $8.99

It would seem that more and more creators are figuring out how to produce Biblically-based comics that are fun to read and a blast to look at. Add Royden Lepp's David: The Shepherd's Song to that list.

The account of a young shepherd boy, destined to be king of Israel, is masterfully told in this extremely entertaining volume, distributed by Vida Enter-tainment. Presented in "flash-back" form, as an adult David hides out in a cave from a murderously jealous King Saul, David addresses his life as a boy-shepherd, his first encounter with the prophet Samuel, his anointing as king and Saul's fall from grace.

Creator Royden Lepp shows off his skills as writer and artist in this book, and hits a home-run on both counts. Young David's fearless demeanor when dealing with the threat of would-be predators to his flock, the derision of his brothers at his anointing and the desperation of Saul to get back into the Lord's graces all share one thing; fantastic characterization. Lepp brings these individuals to life in an engrossing manner that is second to none. Where David is concerned, he even throws in a little adolescent overconfidence during a confrontation with a very big, very angry lion. And it works.

His artwork only sweetens the deal, as Royden's sense of energy, drama and perfect pacing pull the reader in from start to finish. The flashback sequences are a great fit and not forced. The action is exciting, even frantic, but never out of place. And the characters, despite their "cartoony" quality (especially young David) are amazingly expressive and easily relatable. The long and short of it? Royden Lepp is a master storyteller, and I, for one, can't wait for the next
installment. Bring on Goliath!

David: The Shepherd's Song is recommended for all readers. Ask for it at comics shops, and look for it at online retailers and auctions, as well as .

Review by Mark Allen