Tag Archives: Bud Sagendorf

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 4 Gallery

Welcome back to “0*6*Art*Art*0.”

Every Saturday, we share readers’ artwork. Professional, amateur, old, young  — send us your painting, collage, sketch, photo, sculpture, chalkwork, cartoon, whatever.

The only rule is it must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. We’re all experiencing tons of emotions, and art is a wonderful way to express (and share) them. Email your submission to dwoog@optonline.net.

Here is today’s gallery.

PS: Keep the submissions coming. If yours is not posted yet, be patient. There will be more next Saturday. And, unfortunately, for some time to come.

“Social Distancing” (Guy Phillips)

“Happy Homemade Soup” (Penny Pearlman)

“Strength of a Lion.” Lora Mazurak drew this “to remind people that we are all lions, and to give strength and courage to fight this all together.”

“Stay Home. Stay Safe.” (Amy Schneider)

“Cherry Tree” (Myla Saperstein, age 11)

“Taking a Bath in Real Estate” (Nina Bentley)

“The Art of Breadmaking.” Bob Jacobs says, “While we’re not making dough at work, my wife Jane is making sourdough at home.”

Untitled (Elle LaFontan, age 14)

From Beth DeVoll’s collection. The Popeye cartoon strip was drawn for decades by Westport illustrator Bud Sagendorf.

Spotted at an Old Hill driveway, by Miggs Burroughs.

“In Good Shape” (Joyce Landon)

“Peaceful Sherwood Island” (Caryn Purcell)

When Comics Were King

Over the years, Westport has been known nationally for a few things.

During the Civil War, our onions helped Northern troops stave off illness. In the ’70s and ’80s we were awash in marketing companies.

And for a longer period of time — the 1950s through ’90s — we were part of “the comic strip capital of the world.”

Vanity Fair’s September issue explores that funny period in our history. Writer Cullen Murphy — whose father was one of those illustrious illustrators — looks at all of Fairfield County as the world capital. It was

where most of the country’s comic-strip artists, gag cartoonists, and magazine illustrators chose to make their home. The group must have numbered 100 or more, and it constituted an all-embracing subculture …. In the conventional telling, the milieu of Wilton and Westport, Greenwich and Darien, was the natural habitat of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit — and I was certainly aware of the commuters who took the train into Manhattan every morning from my own hometown of Cos Cob. But, for me, those salarymen with their briefcases seemed like outlandish outliers.

Murphy cites Westport’s “large cluster” of cartoonists Bud Sagendorf (“Popeye”), Leonard Starr (“On Stage,” “Little Orphan Annie”), Dick Wingert (“Hubert”), Stan Drake (“The Heart of Juliet Jones,” “Blondie”), Jack Tippit (“Amy”), John Prentice (“Rip Kirby”) and Mel Casson (“Mixed Singles/Boomer”).

Bernie Fuchs’ famous studio. It was demolished earlier this year.

Murphy’s father compared Bernie Fuchs to Degas. The writer adds: “Fuchs’s career was all the more remarkable because he had lost 3 fingers on his drawing hand in an accident when he was a teenager.”

Murphy does not mention Curt Swan (“Superman”). I’m sure he’s missed others.

From the 2002 book “Curt Swan: a Life in Comics”

Murphy offers a few reasons why this area attracted so many illustrators: lack of a state income tax; affordable homes, and of course the presence of other artists.

It was solitary work — which is why so many Fairfield County illustrators got together in groups, here and on Wednesdays when they brought their art to their editors in the city. They talked about their work. They also ate and drank.

Murphy notes:

One defining reality about the cartoonists was that although their characters —Beetle Bailey, Snoopy, Prince Valiant, Blondie — were known worldwide, they themselves passed through life more or less anonymously. Unlike actors or sports figures or reality-TV stars, they were never stopped on the street. They didn’t have a “gal” to protect them or “people” to speak for them.

Semi-domesticated, they depended heavily on their families, especially wives, who in many ways held the entire enterprise together, from basic finances to rudimentary social cues…. Life was interrupted mainly by mundane chores. More than a few collectors have bought original comic strips and found notations like “prescription ready” or “diapers, bologna, Chesterfields” in the margins.

Bud Sagendorf, and his most well-known character.

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Murphy writes:

The concentration of cartoon talent in Fairfield County was a product of special circumstances, and those circumstances have disappeared. Newspaper comic strips are not the force they were, and few magazines still publish gag cartoons.

The New York City newspaper strike of 1962–63 led to the demise of the Hearst flagship, the New York Journal-American, whose funny pages were the best in the country. Making it there was like opening at the Roxy. Now it was gone.

New York remains the center of the publishing industry, but the railroad is no longer a lifeline: the Internet has meant that artists can send their work from anywhere. Connecticut has a state income tax now, though that’s not what has made Fairfield County unaffordable — Wall Street is responsible for that.

Westport, of course, is now a financial capital — both as headquarters to the world’s largest hedge fund, and home to many financial executives.

I wonder what kind of cartoon Bud Sagendorf, Stan Drake, Mel Casson or any of the others would draw about that.

(Click here to read the entire Vanity Fair story. Hat tips: Doug Bonnell and Paul Delano)

From comics to capitalism: Westport is now home to Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund.

You Can Bank On These

Marty Sagendorf grew up in Westport. His family lived here — first on Richmondville, then Washington Avenue — from 1949 to ’75. His father, Bud, drew Popeye for newspapers and comic books.

The other day, while looking through some of his dad’s collections, Martin found bank stock certificates, deposit slips and checks — from the mid-1800s.

A Saugatuck Bank stock certificate, for $100, from 1855.

A Saugatuck Bank stock certificate for $100, from 1855.

They look a lot more serious — and confidence-inspiring — than the flimsy deposit slips and rainbow-colored, cat-festooned checks we use today.

Saugatuck Bank deposit slip for $25, from 1856.

A Saugatuck Bank deposit slip for $25, from 1856.

The names of the financial institutions — Saugatuck Bank, 1st National Bank of Westport — draw us back to a time when bank presidents (with names like Horace Staples) were pillars of the community.

When you secured a loan with a handshake.

And when — to use Westport Bank & Trust’s slogan — our town was filled with hometown banks, in a town of homes.

A $125 bank check, from First National Bank of Westport to Fourth National Bank of New York.

A $125 bank check, from First National Bank of Westport to Fourth National Bank of New York.

What’s in your wallet?

Or attic.