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Match to Flame 178

posted on July 30, 2022

The story starts with the drawing board that my father took me to buy when I was in the seventh grade. By then, I had made it abundantly clear to anyone who would listen that my plan in life was to become a cartoonist. Pulling that off necessitated my acquiring a drawing board—right now, if not sooner, because time was a wastin’, as Snuffy Smith was fond of saying in the Sunday comics. The drawing board was made by the Eugene Dietzgen Co. of Delaware. Eugene Dietzgen was a German immigrant who set up shop in America and began manufacturing drafting tables (or drawing boards, as I will be calling them the rest of the way), and the board he built was a beast. It measured 42 inches wide by 32 inches high and was constructed to last the ages—made from solid oak with iron castings for adjusting the height and pitch. It weighed a ton and became a Sisyphean task lugging it from my parents’ house to my first apartment, then repeating the lug to a second apartment, and, again, until it reached its final place of residence in the studio above the garage at the house I fondly refer to as the “cartoon castle.” Bought for the then princely sum (especially to a seventh grader) of $25, it proved strong enough to carry the weight of thirty-two years (as of the strips collected herein) of comic strip creation. In researching this introduction (yes, even though they look like I’ve totally wung ’em, I do research the intros), I found a Dietzgen board up for auction as a “solid oak vintage collectable” with a suggested price of $3,000. Lordy.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 11