The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 180
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
doctorate at Vanderbilt University by writing about such things, my historical
comic book work being one of the three subjects critically analyzed. And me
with a lowly BBA in accounting! At least Spiegelman's acclaimed Maus went on
to win a Pulitzer Prize, an honor shared by Austin's Ben Sargent for his American-
Statesman editorial cartoons.
The latest offering in the Popular Culture Series is a combination art and
text book about the Gordo syndicated strip by Gus Arriola, in which this native
of Florence, Arizona (born in 1917), is styled an "accidental ambassador"
between mexicanos and norteamericanos. Written by noted comic historian
Robert C. Harvey and lavishly illustrated with Arriola's art, this oversized book
is certainly a unique package from a university press. It will be cherished by all
readers who admired Gordo over its forty-four-year run in American newspa-
pers, both as a daily and Sunday feature. He started the strip in 1941 and
ended it in 1985. In addition to its wit, Gordo taught us a lot about Mexican
culture, ancient (Arriola was fascinated by pre-Columbian artifacts) as well as
We in Texas, of course, have been exposed to historical comics since the
appearance of Texas History Movies in book form in 1928. In the beginning it was
a newspaper strip created for Texas school kids, later distributed as a free book-
let by Magnolia/Mobil Oil Company, and still available for use in the public
schools through the TSHA. This reviewer has produced four "graphic novels," or
illustrated biographies, involving Texas history--not counting an X-rated histori-
cal fantasy about silver-exuding cosmic slugs in the neighborhood of Spanish
San Sabi. My late friend, Pat Boyette, also turned his considerable cartooning
talents to Texas history at the end of his life with a book called Texas Days of Glory
(Eakin Press, 1998).
The latest use of the comic-strip medium to tell Texas history is Patrick M.
Reynolds's A Cartoon History of Texas, issued by Republic of Texas Press in
Plano. These pages-like the old Movies-first saw print in the Dallas Morning
News. They are designed in a "splash page" format rather than in sequential
panels, but there is continuity from page to page and the story line progresses
with each "installment." Reynolds's art is not on the level of Arriola's exquisite
renderings, but it is adequate to get his point across. Also, his drawings, cap-
tions, and text show that he has done a lot of research for accuracy's sake. The
book is divided into six sections, one of which focuses on "The Big D."
Another is about "People and Places," but most full-page "panels" track Texas
history from the age of dinosaurs to the empresario era and the Fredonian
Both of these publications demonstrated that comic art can be very education-
al and appeal to adults as well as children. History is best told with a touch of
humor, as most old Texians were well aware. It is hoped that young artists appre-
ciative of their heritage will come forward to continue this maverick Texas tradi-
tion. Few other states in the Union have a comparable one.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/188/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.