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Dowd Modern Graphic History Library Acquires the Craig Yoe Teaching Collection

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.”

The book cover for The Best of Beardsley by Aubrey Beardsley shows a woman in an elaborate gown and hat reading on a striped sofa with a bird on a stand nearby.
The Best of Beardsley by Aubrey Beardsley.
Comic book cover for Jack and Jill (April 1949). The cover art shows drawings of colored eggs, one of which looks like a clown's face.
Jack and Jill.
Cover art for Play Hats. The art depicts a child with a bunch of hats - a crown, a raccoon-tail hat, a bowler cap, and more - and reads "7 fun hats to put together and more!"
Play Hats.

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.

The illustration is of a couple in bed with lights, cameras, and a microphone being berated by a director with a script. A suitcase labeled "Just Married" sits nearby.
Box of original artwork.

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.

Sixteen filled scrapbooks of various sizes packed within a collection box.
Box of scrapbooks.
An open scrapbook with clippings from four four-panel "Boots" comics cut and pasted on the two pages.
Detail of scrapbook containing clippings of “Boots and Her Buddies” comic strip by Edgar Martin, ca.1930.

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.

The illustration is a one-panel comic of a husband and wife seated in their living room with a pet parrot on a stand between them. The couple are shocked from their diversions as the parrot is shown calling "Beat it, honey! Here comes my husband!"
Ralph Fuller, “Beat it Honey!” published in Ballyhoo, ink on board, 1933.
The coloring book drawing is of a bird perched on a small, flowering bush.
Joseph Naef, coloring book page, ink on paper, ca.1950.
The back side of a drawing with handwritten notes, dates, and stamps of ownership.
Stanley Rayon, “Gaze and Breezy” original drawing (verso), 1966.

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.”

An ink drawing of a woman harpooning a palm tree.
Gladys Parker, “Mopsy” detail, ink on paper circa 1930.
The image is a four paneled "Felix the Cat" comic by Otto Messmer describing a baseball game.
Otto Messmer, “Felix the Cat,” ink on board, 1933.

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.