Saturday, August 31, 2019

A Crowded Life in Comics –

A Cartoon Archivist In Our Midst

 by Rick Marschall

Actually, a point of personal privilege, which most of these columns are, after all is said and done (or even before things are said and done).

I have worn many hats and pursued various pursuits in my vineyard toils -- writing, cartooning, editing, teaching; and in fields other than comics: cultural history; criticism; music; publishing; politics; ministry. Something has come along that actually combines several interest areas (or, I would hope to say, specialties).

I have been named Cartoon Archivist at the Theodore Roosevelt Center of Dickinson State University. The connected dots include history, cartoons, and… TR, a lifelong hero about whom I have written two books and many articles. I also serve on the Advisory Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, an organization I have addressed at conferences and for whom I write a weekly Facebook column on (surprise) Theodore Roosevelt and cartoons. In addition to all this, I named my only son Theodore.

I am happy with all these associations, pursued with evangelical zeal for a man I consider one of America’s natural wonders and national treasures. I have many thousands of vintage cartoons in which he is featured; and in fact for the TR Center I will engage in a “Cartoon-Off” with other scholars – displaying cartoons, explaining why we think they are significant (that is, good cartoons, not only good history!), and inviting attendees to discuss and vote. Bully!

I am not going to share contemporary cartoons here and now – but might do so in the future; and I invite readers of “A Crowded Life” in Yesterday’s Papers to forward questions, suggestions, and clippings in the Roosevelt category as in all other categories. Today I will just share a couple of TR images that are not cartoons (not supposed to be funny, that is), the “point of personal privilege,” portraits of TR that I have painted. This little corner of my life will continue as offerings for TRA auctions, and exclusively at the Western Edge Gallery in Medora, North Dakota, near Roosevelt’s cattle ranches.

So that’s it from Johnny Not-One-Note, sharing the news of an exciting opportunity. The Roosevelt Center is in the process of completing a remarkable project: gathering all possible Theodore Roosevelt materials – letters, articles, photographs, cartoons, and associated resources – all possible material from all over the world. Digitally. So, scholars will no longer have to trek to Harvard or to the Library of Congress or the Khartoum Institute, if there be such; as everyone, everywhere is digitalizing everything… the Roosevelt Center is arranging to be the go-to source of research material. And not merely as a vacuum-cleaner, but to provide annotation, background data, in fact metadata as much as possible. For this task they are assembling leading scholars, of which I am supposed to be one in the Cartoon Category.

Again, I welcome feedback and suggestions. One of the joys of this new gig is that I work from the office I currently clog; my current projects, and other future projects, will continue unabated; and that among those pursuits are the revival of Nemo magazine and the weekly strolls through this “Crowded Life” series.

No. 51


  1. That sounds very cool. Congrats on this. Sounds like the fulfillment of a dream. How great for you. I have a few things I will pass along to you from my collection of the 1902 San Francisco Bulletin.

  2. Steven -- I'm glad to hear that someone has some turn of the century SF Bulletin... I was lamenting the lack of any digital collections of The Bulletin from the period just a few hours ago (trying to do some H.G. Peter research).