Many people think they’ll be ‘shushed’ entering a library, but at Wilton Library this month, people will chuckle out loud as they move through the galleries during the National Cartoonists Society Connecticut Chapter‘s exhibit of noteworthy cartoons from recognized artists, which opens Friday, Oct. 14, 6-7:30 p.m.. Notably, several Wilton cartoonists are featured in the exhibit, including Chance Browne, the family dynasty of Mort, Greg, and Brian Walker, and the late Dick Hodgins.

Other CT cartoonists who are part of the group exhibition are Mary Anne Case (New Canaan), Jerry Dumas (Greenwich), Bob Engelhard (Middletown), Bill Panocha (Stamford), Sean Kelly (Southport), Maria Scrivan (Stamford), and Rick Stromoski (Suffield).

The group exhibition features original cartoons created for newspapers, greeting cards, licensing, children’s books, magazines and other popular media. The reception is free and open to the public.

According to Ed MacEwen, Wilton Library’s volunteer art chairman, “We’re always looking for fresh ideas for our monthly art exhibitions. We’ve never had a full exhibition of cartoonists, so this is a first and we’re happy to have the opportunity to show this genre of work by such an extremely talented group.”

Some more information about the Wilton cartoonists included in the exhibit:

  • Chance Browne attended The School of Visual Arts and Park College and distinguished himself as an illustrator, art director and musician before eventually going to work for his father, Dik Browne. After Dik launched “Hagar the Horrible” in 1973, Chance stepped in to help with “Hi and Lois” and has been the primary artist on the strip since the mid-1980s. He also serves as the editor for “Hagar the Horrible,” which is drawn by his brother, Chris Browne. A true renaissance man, Chance still finds time to paint, do freelance graphic design and play guitar with a variety of blues bands and jazz ensembles.
  • Brian Walker graduated from Tufts University and has a diverse background in professional cartooning and cartoon scholarship. He was one of the founders of the Museum of Cartoon Art and has served as the curator for 70 cartoon exhibitions. He taught cartoon history at the School of Visual Arts and was editor-in-chief of Collectors’ Showcase. He has written and edited 40 cartoon-related books, including the definitive history, The Comics–The Complete Collection, for Harry N. Abrams, Inc. He has been contributing to both “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois” since the early 1980s.
  • The veteran cartoonist Mort Walker was born in Kansas in 1923 and is probably best known for his “Beetle Bailey” comic strip. “Beetle Bailey” debuted inauspiciously in twelve newspapers on Sept. 4, 1950. After six months it had signed on only twenty-five clients. King Features considered dropping “Beetle Bailey” after the first year’s contract was over.  The Korean War was heating up at the time, so Mort decided to have Beetle enlist in the army.  He quickly picked up a hundred papers. After the Korean War was over, the strip was banned in the Tokyo Stars and Stripes because army brass thought it disrespected officers. The sympathetic publicity enhanced the strip’s circulation status, and provided Mort with the National Cartoonist Society’s award as the best cartoonist of the year in 1954, the year that he started “Hi and Lois.” By 1968, the circulation of “Beetle Bailey” grew from 200 to 1,100 newspapers. “Beetle Bailey” was the second feature in comics history, after “Blondie,” to appear in over 1,000 newspapers when it passed that milestone in 1965. The award-winning cartoonist also founded the International Museum of Cartoon Art in 1974.
  • Greg Walker studied liberal arts and journalism at Syracuse University and has worked in film, commercial photography, newspapers and graphic arts. He started his cartooning career writing and drawing comic books, including such well-known titles as “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Barney and Betty Rubble,” “Underdog,” “Sarge Snorkel” and “Beetle Bailey.” He began providing gags to his father’s strips in the early 1970s and, in addition to writing, currently does the inking and lettering on “Beetle Bailey.”  In the 1980s, Greg also collaborated with Guy and Brad Gilchrist on the Rock Channel comic strip and with brothers Brian, Neal and Morgan on “Betty Boop and Felix.”
  • Dick Hodgins, Jr. (May 9, 1931–April 3, 2016) was an American cartoonist whose work included illustration, comic strips, and political cartoons. The son of Orlando Sentinel cartoonist, Dick Hodgins, Sr., Dick Jr. was 12 years old when a sale to the now defunct New York Mirror for one dollar spurred him to a cartoon career. After attending the School of Visual Arts and military Service (editing and drawing for a base newspaper in Osaka, Japan and contributing to Pacific Stars and Stripes) Hodgins returned to the educational film industry. He then joined the Associated Press illustrating feature news stories. Hank Ketcham, creator of “Dennis the Menace,” selected Hodgins to draw his second comic strip, “Half Hitch,” for King Features Syndicate. Hodgins also created editorial cartoons for the New York Daily News. After cancellation of “Half Hitch” he took on the production of King Features’ iconic comic strip “Henry.” Hodgins worked full-time preparing and renovating the end-product art of Dik Browne’s popular comic strip “Hagar the Horrible” and continued to create editorial cartoons for several Connecticut newspapers along with the occasional advertising assignment. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to the National Cartoonists Society website, “the group is the world’s largest and most prestigious organization of professional cartoonists. It was born in 1946 when groups of cartoonists got together to entertain the troops. They found that they enjoyed each other’s company and decided to get together on a regular basis.  Today, the NCS membership roster includes over 500 of the world’s major cartoonists, working in many branches of the profession, including newspaper comic strips and panels, comic books, editorial cartoons, animation, gag cartoons, greeting cards, advertising, magazine and book illustration and more.” The representatives in the exhibition are from the Connecticut Chapter.

The exhibition runs through Friday, Nov. 11. Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Rd..