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Match to Flame 104

posted on July 25, 2019

Speaking of pretty darn cool, around this time there was a poster created to raise money for the benefit of the Child Welfare League of America that featured a cartoon character choir made up of all of the characters from the existing newspaper comic strips of the day. A print of it hangs in my studio today; it’s a remarkable piece of American comic strip history. The original piece was mailed around the country so that each cartoonist could add his or her character to the choir, and, when it got to me, it even came with some instructions as to where I should put one of my characters. Paul Burke, the owner of Stabur Graphics (the company that was producing the poster), called me and told me that when Bil Keane (the creator of Family Circus) was adding his characters to the piece, he said that the perfect character to be directing the choir would be my band director Harry L. Dinkle, the World’s Greatest Band Director. I was very flattered by Bil’s incredibly kind and generous suggestion and somewhat intimidated as well. I never would have elected to do something like that on my own. I have as big an ego as any other cartoonist (it’s what allows us to spend the better part of our lives alone in a room and not mind it because we find the company so fascinating), but, given some of the names and characters who were already on the poster, that would have been a pretty daunting thing to do. As it was, when the poster arrived at my studio, I opened the bottle of India Ink I was planning to use in the other room just to avoid any accidental spills. When I was done, my band director was on the podium in front with Charles Schulz’s Schroeder playing the piano just to his right. Pretty heady stuff. And back in the choir, John Darling and Funky are singing in between Dagwood and Beetle Bailey. Awesome. It’s an amazing snapshot of a generation of comic strip creators who, by the way, all signed the litho copies of the prints. Paul Burke actually drove the finished piece around to each cartoonist so they could sign all of the litho copies. When he got to my house, Rog Bollen, the creator of Animal Crackers and a mentor to me from before I was even syndicated, joined us to sign the prints.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Six