When I stumbled into this auction for original Katzenjammer Kids art, I was excited to read the story behind the piece:
Grapefruitmoon Gallery just acquired an important collection of pen & ink original illustration art comic drawings from many of the leading Golden Age of Illustration comic strip illustrators that were received by a persistent young girl named Emma Pratt Hall who lived in Mansfield Mass. She wrote many fan letters requesting doodles from her favorite comic artists of the era, nearly one hundred artists honored her requests. These are all from the years of 1939 – 1940 and many have letters that accompany the drawings. It really is amazing the response she received this collection is outstanding. I would guess she was a persuasive letter writer and by the personalized content of many of the letters she was likely a young girl. Her comic art collection gained her some recognition as she received a press newspaper mention from a Sheffield England newspaper that is not included in this auction – but we included a scan of it the bottom of the listing as reference and provenance.
The date of the newspaper clipping is unknown to me, and I’ve no idea what percentage of Emma’s total collection this is, but there’s a wide variety of pieces, subjects, artists, and styles.
Beyond the incredible provenance, and even that this was a child collecting back then, what’s really fascinating about the Emma Pratt Hall collection is the sad fact that it could not be done today.
Unlike those autograph collections we hear about, folks — including children — cannot just write in and request a signature, a doodle, or anything like that today. Nowadays, fans are lucky if they even receive a stamped-signed photo when they mail their favorite celebrities. But to take the time to respond to an individual’s request for a “doodle” from an artist or illustrator?! No way. The more established or famous the person, the more they are likely to charge for an autograph or reply with a price list of available works. Yet here we have a collection which proves that not only could young Emma make a request of a popular illustrator (for all these illustrators were paid and popular at the time) and have her wish granted, but she’d receive lovely little letters showing how happy the illustrator, comic strip creator, political cartoonist, commercial artist, etc. was to have such a request!
All images via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.