Saturday, July 10, 2010

Novel Staring

Saturday Leftover Day.

While scanning some stuff from late forties issues of Dell's 1000 Jokes magazine for later use, I came across this gem. This must be one of the earliest UPC infuenced cartoons I have ever seen. This is the type of style (and subject for that matter) cartoonists such as Gene Deitch and Jules Feiffer would be using five to ten years later. Unfortunately, the cartoonist Don Calhoun is completely unknown to me. There is no record of him, other than the fact that he drew another (maybe similar) piece for Look magazine in 1946. The vender selling that issue (for a whopping $30, alas) describes it as: "Cartoonist Don Calhoun shows American as run by a baby Michael". Even more of a coincidence that Feiffer would become famous with his cartoon about a boy being drafted into the army.

So I went onto the nternet to try and find more about this cartoonist and I did. But first the article from 1000 Jokes.

It seems Donald Gilmore Calhoun worked in advertising. Now this may have been know by some of you, but it took me a long time to find out. First I had a look for the period Calhoun's 'article' in Look appeared. I quickly found that it was based on a book he did, called The Little President. Here is a sample I found in one newspaper and a review that ran in several. It seems like one of those forgotten precursors of the graphi nove, that keep popping up from time to time.

After that I tried to find out more about the book and if Calhoun might have written more. It turned out the book was still available through Amazon from several sellers and that also gave me his full name and the information that he wrote two more books: Dando Shaft from 1965 and Is There Life After Advertising? from 1974. The latter made me conclude that Calhoun must have worked in advertising, which isn't weird with a style like his. Amazon also had three reader reviews from his now unavailable 1965 book Dando Shaft. Again, t sounds like th sort of clever satirical stuff we have seen above and his other work (as well as the fact that he was in advertising) would make us expect. It seems this was a striaght novel, not a 'graphic' one.

This review from: Dando Shaft (Paperback)
I read this book in the 70s and really enjoyed it. The author is very clever with his unbelievable character development and interaction. I am very sorry it is presently out of print. I had loaned it to several friends and somehow didn't get it back.

This review from: Dando Shaft (Paperback)
This book is about a man that comes up with the scheme to make himself 'Everybody's Millionaire'. Some of the exploits are just hilarious, for instance, the time he climbs upon the top of a car to scare the occupants but he waits until the car is moving then pulls himself to look down through the windshield and the driver slams on the brakes and Dando goes tumbling over the hood to the pavement.

This review from: Dando Shaft (Paperback)
While this book is out of print and dated it had some of the funniest scenarios I have ever read in a book. One example dealt with the account supervisor who resented the owner's son position in the agency. The son had just purchased a new homburg hat and was quite proud of it. The account supervisor bought the same hat in a size smaller and one a size larger and would then periodically switch the hats. There is also an on-going tale of the account supervisor and a woman he sits next to on the train every day during his commute to work. It ends in the most hilarious scene immaginable. This is a light-hearted book that anyone who has ever had anything to do with advertising will find totally enjoyable.

Further searches in the internet didn't yield a lot except for the fact that in 1971 a UK folk band named themselves after Calhoun's "comic novel" hero. But no name of an ad agency he worked for or (animated) commercials he may have worked on.


Coopz said...

Thanks for a great site and article on the author and cartoonist Don Gilmore aka Don Calhoun.
I am interested in researching his work. Do you have any other leads or links? Do you or your viewers know if he is alive?
Best wishes

Coopz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coopz said...

Would anyone know where his copyright resides with his written works?

jcalhoun said...

Don is alive (98 as of this writing) and living in Burlington Vermont. For more information about Don you can contact me at

Thanks, John Calhoun

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I found two more of his ccartoon stories in American Legion, which I'll share shortly.