In fall 2020, the Craig Yoe Teaching Collection was delivered to the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library (DMGHL). The shipment consisted of six pallets of materials containing thousands of books, hundreds of periodicals, and numerous original works of art. According to DMGHL curator Skye Lacerte, the acquisition of the collection is a significant milestone, because the materials encompass “the story of the history of comics and their creators.”
Craig Yoe is widely known for his expansive career as a collector, historian, publisher, cartoonist, and art director. He has been an active comics champion since the mid-1960s, when he produced his own fanzines about comics history in his parents’ basement. Yoe has been collecting comic books, artwork, rare books, periodicals, and ephemera for 50 years. The addition of his collection significantly builds upon the DMGHL’s existing materials, which include works of significant cartoonists and several collections of comic books and zines.
Lacerte explains that the “DMGHL contains the work of figures associated with cartooning, such as George Carlson, John Held, Jr., and Rose O’Neill, yet the holdings have not properly addressed the history of comics.” She points out that the Craig Yoe Teaching Collection contains interesting sub-categories within the history of comics, “such as cartoons that reference modern fine art and/or artists.” The various facets of the collection will allow patrons of the DMGHL to integrate the cultures of both cartooning and illustration.
The span of the collection is particularly impressive. A preliminary inventory of the materials has revealed original drawings of gag comics from the 1930s, coloring book pages from the 1950s, comic book pages from the 1980s, and caricatures from the 1990s. What has been most surprising is the amount of information written on the back of some of the original works. These details are expressed in the form of stamps and hand-written notes, which outline the creative process from artist to publisher.
When asked to pick a favorite from the collection, Lacerte chose the original “Mopsy” comic strip by Gladys Parker. This comic includes a recurring feature of paper dolls titled the “Mopsy Modes.” Parker was a cartoonist with a long career; the strip “Mopsy” had an impressive run and was published from 1929-1965. Other notable original works in the collection include E. Simms Campbell’s syndicated comic “Cuties,” Dan DeCarlo’s “Archie” and Otto Messmer’s “Felix the Cat.”
The Craig Yoe Teaching Collection is currently unprocessed and not yet available for research. Questions can be directed to Skye Lacerte, Dowd Modern Graphic History Library curator. A formal announcement of the collection will soon follow.