Saturday, June 15, 2013

F.O. Alexander (1897-1993)

Here is an unusual book called Joe Doakes' Great Quest, written and drawn by F.O. Alexander and published in his retirement. Franklin Osborne Alexander was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 3, 1897. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Northwestern University. During World War I, Alexander served with the Camouflage Engineers in Europe. (I think that outfit was more properly called the American Camouflage Corps.) In so doing he would have followed a path laid down by another artist, Abbott Thayer (1849-1921).

Alexander drew three newspaper comic strips between 1925 and 1939, the most well known of which was the cliffhanger Hairbreadth Harry. In 1941, he signed on with the Philadelphia Bulletin and enjoyed a second career as an editorial cartoonist. F.O. Alexander retired in 1967. The following year, John Knox Press of Richmond, Virginia, published his book Joe Doakes' Great Quest, a cartoon odyssey in which the title character tries to discover his purpose in life. The model is Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, but it looks like a sequential editorial cartoon. I suppose you could make something of a connection between editorial cartooning and literary allegory.

F.O. Alexander died on January 17, 1993, in Philadelphia at age ninety-five. His papers are at Syracuse University.

The cover design of Joe Doakes' Great Quest is by Doyle Robinson. The photo of the author is by William Conn.

Text copyright 2013 by Terence E. Hanley