The Nappanee Six: Hoosiers With National Exposure

By TONI MOREHEAD, Feature Writer

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the first of two installments, Spotlight talks with three of Nappanee’s six famous artist-cartoonists – Merrill Blosser, Mike Parks and Henry Maust, Fred Neher, Bill Holman and Max Gwin will be featured in Spotlight next week.

Nappanee Indiana claims more nationally known artists-cartoonists per capita (population about 5,000) than any other U.S. city.

The artists-cartoonists that Nappanee and Indiana are proud to call Hoosiers are Merrill Blosser, creator of "Freckles and His Friends"; Francis (Mike) Parks, editorial cartoonist; Henry Maust, commercial artist for Kraft and others; Fred Neher, creator of "Some Pumpkins", and "Life’s Like That"; Bill Holman, who draws "Smokey Stover"; and Max Gwin, who does "Slim and Spud" (for Prairie Farmer) and other one-caption cartoons when not running his advertising business in Nappanee.

Patriarch of the group is Merrill Blosser, who was born in Nappanee in 1892. His drawing talent was evident even in childhood, but when he was 12, it was the winning of a writing contest for National Magazine that took him to Washington.

The title of his essay was "The Best Way to Spend $300.00." While he was in Washington, he visited the White House and did a sketch of Teddy Roosevelt who thundered "Bully!" and encouraged Blosser to continue drawing.

Another subject of Blosser’s artistic talent was not quite as pleased, however. When Blosser made caricatures of various high school teachers (he drew the principal as a devil) he was expelled. When asked about the expulsion, he said it was "…best break I ever had."

Blosser’s artistic training consisted of a course with the Landon School of Illustrating and Cartooning, the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and a year at Blue Ridge College, in Maryland. When he sold a cartoon to the Baltimore American he quit school and embarked on his cartooning career.

He worked on "Wheeling (West Virginia) Register" and then was with the Cleveland Plain Dealer for a year before joining the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) in May of 1915.

Blosser drew several regular strips for NEA, one of which he developed onto "Freckles and His Friends". When "Freckles" became a full fledged strip in September of 1915, Blosser dropped the other strips to concentrate fully on "Freckles". And "Freckles" was his friend from that time until he stopped drawing him in August of 1971.

In May, 1965 the National Cartoonists Society feted Blosser at a testimonial dinner in New York.

They honored Blosser for, as the citation reads, "…the oldest regular comic strip still piloted by its creator," and "…in recognition of the wholesome entertainment he has brought his myriad readers…"

Good Humor
Often a cartoonist sneaks in a message or makes political comments through his paper people. Did Mr. Blosser do this? No. He says he sought to do "Simply good humor."

"Simply good humor" is evidently what the people wanted, for ‘Freckles’ was a widely read, popular strip. When Blosser, in 1927 asked that his young readers submit names for a horse, 24,000 of his readers responded.

And, in 1929, when a newspaper dropped the "Freckles" strip, it received thousands of letters, cards and phone calls, and even a petition signed by employees of the paper. "Freckles" was reinstated.

About the time that 24,000 people were naming his comic strip horse, Blosser moved to California. He lives there still, where, he says, he "…travels, swims, and lives a simple life." When asked how he managed to do one strip so long, he answers: "Simply hard work."

Like Merrill Blosser, Henry Maust showed early talent in drawing, "I carried a little notebook…I filled these notebooks with drawings of farm animals, milk cans and abandoned shacks, etc. Later I made profile drawings of my family, hired hands, or anyone who would pose for me.

When he was 14, Maust talked his father into paying for a correspondence course from the Landon School of Illustrating and Cartooning of Cleveland, and thus began his formal training in art.

But he found his greatest inspiration and incentive at this time to be the drawings of Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the famous "Gibson Girl" whose drawings were being run as double page features by Colliers Weekly.

Maust sold a few of his Gibson copies for a dollar apiece, and one dollar was what he was paid for his first ordered advertising sketch. "It was for the Lehman Medicine Co…it showed a pair of galloping horses hitched to an open carriage or wagon. The wagon was filled with people shouting and gesticulating and throwing Lehman Medicine Co. advertising leaflets in every which direction. This drawing was reproduced about post card size and put into the farmers’ wagons and buggies on Saturday afternoon."

Reporter? NO!
When Maust graduated from Nappanee High School in 1913 he did the decoration and cartoons for the class annual he know "definitely that I wanted to be a newspaper artist. After graduating I got a job on the South Bend News Times. I was to do cartoons and be a trained as a reporter."

"It did not take me long," Maust said, "to realize that I was not fitted by temperament to be a reporter, so after a few month I left for Cleveland where C. N. Landon of the Landon School got me a job in the art department of the Cleveland Plain Dealer…Merrill Blosser was for a short time Sports Cartoonist for the Plain Dealer, during the two years I spent with the paper."

From Cleveland, Maust went to the Birmingham (Alabama) Ledger, where he did cartoons and advertising drawings. After a "few more jobs…I went to Chicago in 1917 where I worked for the Lord and Thoman Advertising Agency, and for a commercial art studio."

Realizing that he needed further training, he went to the Chicago Art Institute Night School, and he studied painting with a well known painter on weekends. In 1920 , he spent a summer at the New York Art Students League Summer School at Woodstock.

"After returning to Chicago in the fall of 1920, I set up my own studio, In 1922, I did a painting of a baked ham for a Christmas ad for Swift and Co. That year, this same painting was awarded a gold medal at the New York Art Directors Club Exhibition in New York City. Incidentally, one of the judges was Charles Dana Gibson."

Food Orders
From that time on Maust was "swamped with orders for painting of food." He did paintings for Swift and Co., Libby, General Foods, General Mill, and Kraft Foods, which appeared regularly in the Saturday Evening Post, McCalls, Woman’s Home Companion, Good Housekeeping and others.

Maust feels very fortunate to have come into the commercial art field during what he calls "The Golden Years of Advertising Illustrating" from 1915 to about 1950-1955. During this period there was a great demand for and opportunities for all kinds of artistic talent."

"Simply hard work" seems to have been the motto that he and Merrill Blosser shared for Maust worked only in oil and transparent water color (the latter the most difficult medium of all), and he always tried to produce good art.

"I always had the highest aesthetic ideals and never made a distinction between fine art and commercial art. To me a drawing or painting is good art or bad art, whether it is used for advertising or whether it hangs in a museum," Maust says.

Maust, who worked out of his Chicago office, (with the exception of a 6 year stay in New York City) from 1920 to 1954 when he retired, now lives in Woodstock, N.Y.

He likes gardening, literature, classical music, photography, and he paints an occasional portrait and landscape. He doesn’t care much for foreign travel, but he’s been in "every nook and corner of the U.S….and am particularly fond of Elkhart County."

About retirement , he says "I really am so busy I don’t know how I ever had time to make a living."

Mike Parks was taught that a political cartoonist must be well versed in the Bible, current events and history. Mike Parks was.

His cartoons demonstrate his knowledge, his sense of humor, his curiosity and his deep sensitivity to the importance of the events that he "discussed" with pen and ink.

His knowledge of the Bible and religious beliefs came from being reared in a Presbyterian minister’s home. This knowledge sometimes cropped up in unexpected ways.

"Mike," says his sister, Mrs. Carlyle Mutschler of Nappanee, "was a prankster from little on up. He always had a quick comeback. Well, one day when he was in the second grade, he did something for which he was reprimanded and kept after school."

"His teacher, a Miss Abrahams, was a tall, buxom woman who was extreme in dress – she wore high, high heeled shoes which forced her to lean forward. Anyway, as Franny was leaving to go home, he looked up at her and said: ‘Oh, Abrahams, what has thou in thou bosom’?"

Parks was not a Nappanee native. As he explains it: "I was born in Liberty, Indiana, in 1900. The family moved from there to Cincinnati, Ohio, and being only six years old at the time, I went along." When Parks was small he was always interested in art. Political cartoons were of special interest, he cut out and collected the cartoons of men he particularly admired.

From Cincinnati, the Parks family moved to Nappanee "where I stated the eight grade and went on through high school, graduating in 1917." While in high school, Parks was a popular fellow even though, in addition to his cartooning for the yearbook, he created satirical poems and drawings about the girls in his classes.

"He didn’t care much for girls at that time," says Mrs. Mutschler.

Joins NEA
After high school, Parks went to Wooster College in Ohio for a time, but left there to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, where his teacher was Carey Orr, a nationally known front page editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune.

From Chicago, he went to Cleveland "to take my first art job on the Cleveland Press, later switching to the Newspaper Enterprise Association, also in Cleveland. Merrill Blosser was instrumental in my making this change. He also was on the NEA at the time, only he was an established cartoonist and I was only a cub..

From that time until 1960, Parks worked in New York, Omaha, and finally, San Francisco, and his drawings appeared in most of the nationally recognized publications.

To say that he did political cartoons does not tell the story. He did cartoons with heart, humor, and insight. Upon the death of W. R. Hearst in 1951, he drew a picture of a forest with one large tree felled. It was labeled: "W. R. Hearst." In the lower part of the picture was an excerpt from a poem by Edwin Markhan which read:

"…a lordly Cedar, green with boughs, goes down…upon the hills,

And leaves a lonesome place against the sky."

Many of Parks cartoons are as timely today as they were 30 years ago, as with picture labeled "If We Let the Branch Take Root," which shows a tree labeled "Our Democratic Government" uprooted and supported by a branch labeled "Executive Branch."

While Mike Parks was drawing political cartoons, he was also successively doing a quarter page on sports heroes for the Omaha Bee News, a half page titled "Bygone Nebraska" for the Omaha World Herald and a half page called "The First Families at the Films" for the San Francisco Call Bulletin.

All of these featured a center picture, done in Parks’ unique style of line drawing, and smaller cartooned pictures at the outer edge of the page. In the quarter page sports drawings, the cartoons at the outer edge depicted the various abilities of the athlete.

For the "First Family at the Films" page, the outer cartoons made cryptic comments about the quality of a given film. The "Bygone Nebraska" page told interesting stories from Nebraska’s history.

An example: "Shot Out Kaiser’s Cigarette…Asked for Second Shot" tells that Annie Oakley once shot the ash off a cigarette that Kaiser Wilhelm held in his mouth. Years later, when he brought on the World War, she wrote him asking for another shot.

Another time, Parks’ page on Nebraska told about a Dr. George L. Miller, editor of the Omaha Herald, who predicted General Custer’s defeat – three years in advance – with the words "…that Sitting Bull is an overmatch for Custer…we do not hesitate to affirm."

The "Bygone Nebraska" feature surely affirms what Parks’ sister said about him, "He was a great reader of history."

After Parks retired in 1960, he wrote and illustrated a number of articles about the old west for the Omaha Herald. Two series have appeared in book form.

Since 1970, Parks has done little art work because of failing eyesight but he has evidence that the excellence of his work was appreciated by many people. "Among my prize possessions are letters from Bernard Baruch, Jim Farly, Harry Truman, J Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, and Winston Churchill, requesting the originals of cartoons that I had made in which they appear.

Warsaw Times-Union Spotlight September 14-21, 1974


The Nappanee Six: Their Humor Brings Notoriety


By TONI MOREHEAD,Feature Writer

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the second of two parts Spotlight shines on three more Nappanee artist-cartoonists, Fred Neher, Bill Holman and Max Gwin, who round out the half-dozen celebrated men who began their careers in illustration in Nappanee.

Creativity might be in the Hoosier wind. Among the Indiana natives who spelled their success in creative endeavors are Booth Tarkington, Hoagy Carmichael, Theodore Dreisser and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Six more names can be added to the list of notables, and coincidentally, the half-dozen have more in common than their careers as artist-cartoonist and Hoosiers.

They also have Nappanee.

Fred Neher is semi-retired, which means that instead of 12 ideas a week, (as he did from 1934-1972) he now has to dream up six. He figures that, before he dropped his Sunday half-page in October of 1972, he had come up with 23,000 ideas.

A question that would naturally follow then, and one Neher is asked the most, is where do you get all your ideas?

Says Neher: "I usually just admit that I’m naturally nosey. I listen to conversations, Fran (his wife) listens too. And you learn to spot ideas in newspaper stories and magazine articles .

Clothespins & Cartoons
Neher has been spotting ideas ever since he submitted his first drawing at age 12. He was paid $2 for an illustration of a lady hanging up clothes with a new type of clothespin.

When he was 14 and a student in Nappanee High School, he took a correspondence course in cartooning from the Landon School of Cartooning. His first published cartoon appeared in Judge Magazine about 1920.

After graduation from Nappanee High School in 1922, he attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Shortly after graduation from the Academy, he went to work doing backgrounds and lettering on "Doo-Dads", a strip by Arch Dale.

"Several years of work on this strip gave me experience enough to attempt my own strip, "Otto Wall" a radio strip.

"A golf strip, ‘Layon McDuff’, came next followed by ‘Goofy Movies’ an animal strip, and ‘Just Like Us’, a kid strip, which appeared in the first issue of Family Circle magazine and thereafter for four years.

"From 1930-34," Neher said, "I free-lanced to magazines, having some 40 markets, including Punch, the English magazine. I was the first American to sell to Punch in 20 years. October 1st of 1934 I started my panel ‘Life’s Like That’ for Bell syndicate."

Home In Colorado
After living and working in New York for 20 years, in 1951 the Nehers decided to move. Upon the suggestion of his brother, Neher wrote to the Boulder, Colo. Chamber of Commerce.

"They sent us a postcard showing the city up to its ears in snow, and that cooled us off for nearly a year…everything else looked good though and we set out for Colorado with a van and a half of furniture. Since we had no idea what we would find when we got there, we told the truck driver to take his time. He wound up visiting his wife in Indianapolis and that gave us time to find the right home for ourselves."

The Nehers live in North Boulder at One Neher Lane on three and a half acres of rolling land where there is room for flowers, vegetables and a horse named Topsy.

As with other kinds of artistic endeavor, cartooning takes both ideas and discipline. So Neher has always kept regular hours, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. He draws the individual cartoons for the daily papers early in the week and then breaks for a day on the golf course on Wednesday.

"Thursday is the day I sit around and play with ideas for cartoons. Over the years I have trained myself to make notes during the week. On Thursday, like an old mother hen, I set on them and try to hatch out enough ideas for the next week. When I can pick up my stack of sketches and tell whether I have enough ideas just by hefting them, then I can quit."

Up to October, 1972 Neher would complete drawings for his Sunday half page on Friday and Saturday. But this time can now be taken for some of the other things he enjoys, golfing, gardening and riding. And he’s considering illustrating a book of his wife’s best recipes.

According to him she’s a gourmet cook who would rather read recipes than a novel.

Recipes, Children
He would also like to write and illustrate children’s stories, and with six grandchildren he thinks he’d have a good critical audience.

Neher’s work reflects a gentile, true-to-life humor that people can identify with. In fact, his cartoons so often pinpoint the fun in a common domestic problem that he is frequently asked for the original of a cartoon. Among those who have requested originals are Presidents Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Nixon.

The very vocal Martha Mitchell also received the original of the cartoon she admired. It was a drawing of a base ball park where a uniformed page was delivering a message that said "Martha Mitchell would like to talk to you" to the umpire.

In addition to letters requesting original drawing, Neher also receives a number from people who enjoy spotting mistakes "…six fingers on one hand, for instance" or giving suggestions and ideas for cartoons. "Of course they are greatly appreciated. The old adage – ‘Two heads are better than one’ still holds water with me."

Neher’s pen has inked through 40 years of cartooning. He is responsible for at least 24,000 smiles. Will he continue? "I plan to continue until I reach a point where it is no longer fun. I doubt that will happen."

Forty years ahead of his time Bill Holman was running his own printed Laugh-In show. What he was doing in his comic strips in the 20’s and 30’s-multi-panel puns, gimmicks, quick belly laughs, situations. – Rowan and Martin were doing in the 60’s and 70’s before television cameras.

As Holman says, "I was borned with an inventive mind and as I grew this streak developed further."

Born two miles from Crawfordsville, which his family left when he was three, Holman and family later came to Nappanee and lived there until he was 15.

"Merrill Blosser’s father owned a shoe store there. His ads read ‘Don’t be a heel, buy Blosser’s Shoes and save your sole’."

Possibly the reason that Holman remembers this so well is that he ran a popcorn machine and candy stand next door to the Blosser family shoe store. He often did his drawings on Blosser Shoe Store wrapping paper.

When Holman was 16, he went to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, quitting after 6 months. "I quit the Academy because of hunger, I took a job with Marshall Fields so I could eat".

Hunger Persuasive
Later, he worked for the Chicago Tribune where he drew a strip called "Billville Birds."

"It was a strip about our feathered friends – Wally Waddle, Duck Down, Owl B. Darned, Izzy Raven, and Ona Goose." N.E.A. paid him $35 a week for the strip.

When "Billville Birds" was cancelled, Holman moved to New York. "I was under contract to the New York Herald Tribune Syndicate for six years drawing a strip called ‘G. Wiz, Jr.’. I had sold hundreds of ideas in panel form to about 30 magazines. Captain Patterson, founder of the New York Daily News, laughed at the stuff and got word to me to try a fireman page for the New York Daily News and his syndicate. I bowled him over with my first Smokey page and I was hired. So far it’s lasted 38 years.

As any Smokey Stover fan can tell you, It’s been 38 years of a unique comic strip that is the last refuge of the good and-or bad old-fashioned pun. They burst out in dialoged (Smokey: I’m the best cake baker in the country – for anybody’s dough.")

They’re crammed into picture frames, lettered on signs, rugs, shirts and ties. As columnist Eugene Deitch once wrote, "He packs his deliriously giggle-enticing strip so full of drollery that it takes the average comic-scanner 15 full minutes to extract the innumerable jests."

Did anyone influence Holman in his choice of career? "I was always a fan of Billy De Beck, who drew ‘Barney Google’ and George Harriman, who drew ‘Krazy Kat’."

Smokey Stover
There is no doubt of the influence that Bill Holman and "Smokey Stover" have exerted over the years. Not only has Nappanee’s Fire Department adopted the name "The Smokey Stovers" but segments of the rest of the country have taken his pet phrases to heart.

"Foo," which Holman says means "Good Luck" in Chinese, along with "Notary Sojac", which is Holman’s phonetic spelling of the Gaelic for "Merry Christmas," have become a part of the American language.

At various times in the past 38 years there have been "Foo" Clubs, "Foo" Dances at colleges, and an intrepid tourist scratched it across Cleopatra’s Needle in Egypt. There have even songs titled "Foo" and "What This Country Needs is Foo."

Holman’s "1506 Nix Nix" is used as a recurring private joke. "I had a good friend at the New York Daily News, the late Al Posen, who did a comic Strip called ‘Sweeney and Son’. Al was a bachelor and his hotel room was number 1506. I began using the sign as a private joke between the two of us. It was a warning to girls to stay away from Al’s room.

In addition to the liberal use of a bandaged-tail cat. "Foo", "Notary Sojac", and "1506, Nix Nix", Holman fills the background of his panels with punny pictures he calls "Wall-nuts" many of which are suggested by readers. What does he think of the puns?

He Loves Puns
"They’re so stupid, but I can’t help it if people like ‘em. Come to think of it, I love ‘em too." His favorite wall-nut showed two pairs of ladies panties hanging on a clothesline, the title line read, "Roses are red, Violets are blue."

One of the things Holman will be remembered for is his generosity to the U.S.O. overseas. In Europe and the South Pacific, including Japan and Korea. "Our tours usually last a month. A group of us played Army installations in and around Seoul, Korea during May of 73, with a quick show en route in Anchorage, and Tokyo. I personally have made 10 trips to Europe, covering Greece, Turkey, France, England, Italy, Crete, Morocco and Germany and talked with many fans of "Smokey Stover."

Despite his free-flowing humor, Holman takes his cartooning seriously. To turn out "Smokey Stover" (and the daily Nuts and Jolts") he puts in a full work week at his studio in New York’s Jackson Heights, working in a clutter of old newspapers and souvenirs.

"My files are in piles," he says, The studio has no telephone, and Holman devotes himself to his drawings so intensively that he rarely goes out to lunch, preferring to nibble on candy, peanuts and crackers.

Gagster At Heart
Away from the studio, however, Holman is a practical joker and gagster. "When I’m asked what my father did I tell them he was an Alley Calculator for the A&P food chain. He drove around the country checking to see if A&P delivery trucks would go up alleys in towns were A&P is located."

And one time he talked a waitress in a New York lunchroom into knitting him a pair of five-toed socks by telling her that the latest thing in knitting was to make socks like gloves. Another time, when a friend complained that someone kept stealing the overshoes from his back porch, Holman scrumptiously nailed his friend’s overshoes to the porch floor.

"He’s just like the people he draws," his wife says, "But you can’t get annoyed at him. He just has an unusual kind of mind."

Like several of the other artists, Nappanee’s cartoonist-in-residence, Max Gwin, acquired his first training via correspondence course.

"The nicest Christmas present I ever got was a little $2.00 cartooning course that I got when I was in late grade school I attended south of Nappanee, there was no teacher of art."

When Gwin entered high school he was able to study art but he also took a gag-writing course from a Warsaw native, Don Ulsh, then living in New York, to whom he made his first sale. "I wrote ideas for him, he would then sell the ideas, and I’d get a commission."

After high school graduation in 1942, Gwin’s additional training came through correspondence course from Minneapolis, art courses while in the service, and courses at Ball State. Beginning in 1947, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute in Chicago.

At the Academy of Fine Arts, Gwin had professional cartoonists as teachers. He remembers especially a Mr. Garrity, "a well known gag cartoonist whose work had appeared in Saturday Evening Post and things like that. A red letter day in my life was when Mr. Garrity told me I was professional."

After leaving the academy, he worked for a while in an advertising agency, but left to work for Prairie Farmer. This proved an invaluable experience because he worked with people in the print shop and learned typesetting, how a drawing had to be done to be reproduced, and what kinds of thing "turn-off" an editor. "In addition, I got to do a lit of cartooning for Prairie Farmer. It was just an excellent job."

"Then after about five years in our trailer my wife decided she want to find an apartment so we could have a bathroom. I don’t know why," he said with a chuckle, "just the way women are, I guess. So, we started liking for an apartment."

But apartments were scarce after the war. "I even drew a cartoon showing us looking for an apartment and we would go through neighborhoods leaving this cartoon. One lady sent my cartoon to one of the TV stations, and it was on television and we never got a call."

Deciding to buy a small home, he asked for a raise, but Prairie Farmer couldn’t give him one so he left to free lance. After free lancing awhile out of the bedroom of an apartment they finally found, the Gwins got a postcard from some people in Nappanee who said their apartment was empty.

"Well", as Gwin puts it, "that caused consternation in the troops!" But the Gwins decided to move back to Nappanee. They based their decision on three things.

They had come to realize that placid little Nappanee was a pretty nice place to live, they felt that free lancing could work just as well from Nappanee as from Chicago, and when they consulted Mr. Garrity and he agreed, they returned to Nappanee where Gwin remodeled his father’s old filling station, a mile south of town, for his office. "And since I’d been used to being without a bathroom for years, it didn’t make any difference."

From this rural office he did commercial art and free-lance gag cartoons, which he’d send out by the hundreds. "At one time I had four nail kegs full of rejection slips…there had to be a minimum of 10,000, but I also sold my work to about 300 publications. I had a hard time getting into the big magazines…I had one in Colliers once – I tell people I had one in and they went bankrupt the next year," he says with good humor.

During the eight years that Gwin was in his gas station office he sold ideas that appeared in Post, New Yorker, etc. He also sold ideas to Hank Ketcham, who wrote and said that he wanted ideas for D.T.M. "He didn’t elaborate, and since I didn’t know who D.T.M. (Dennis The Menace) was and because I was tired of having my ideas appear under another man’s name, I didn’t write any more ideas for Ketcham." Then Gwin adds with a smile, "I goofed."

During the last 14 years, Gwin has worked out of an office in his home and an office uptown in Nappanee. When remodeling on his home is completed, he will return to the residence to continue his commercial art and advertising business, which takes the major portion of his attention now.

He still does cartoon for house and trade publications, and he does regular strips for Prairie Farmer – "Slim and Spud"; for Farm Supplier of Illinois – "Floyd Farm Supply"; and for Roto Rooter – "Rollo the Roto Rooter Man", but for the most part he doesn’t do much free lancing anymore because of the smaller market and the prices paid. "Even today some magazines only pay $5 a cartoon."

Gwin feels that what he is doing now is similar to writing cartoon, "Writing an ad and getting the idea is very similar to writing a gag cartoon and working out the ideas. And the heading is similar to caption in a cartoon."

In addition to writing ads, Gwin designs ads, (he did the advertising and brochures for Nappanee’s Centennial Celebration this year), illustrates brochures, and illustrates assembly instructions for firms like Chore-time, Brock and Starcraft.

Sit and Sweat

Is he ever at a loss for Ideas? "No, I suppose I could write a thousand ideas a year for gag cartoon. I get ideas by sitting down and thinking. Experiences help: studying other magazines to keep up on what’s happening helps, and I keep a file of cartoons – reading them stimulates ideas – but mostly when I need an idea I just sit and sweat."

Does he still like his work? "I like it just as much as I did when I was 16."

Why did so many successful artists spring from Nappanee? There are some interesting coincidences: Blosser and Parks lived across the street from one another, and Neher and Holman used to visit the Parks home to see Parks’ work for his correspondence course.

It could be that Blosser’s success inspired those who followed, (though Blosser thinks not: "They did it on their own") because at least three of the cartoonists worked in Cleveland at one time.

Or could it be as Bill Holman says, "It seems to me it’s in the Indiana wind. I am firmly convinced that a state that produces such men as George Ade, Booth Tarkinton and Hoagy Carmichael can’t help but produce other men of humorous talent."

It would seem that the answer lies in Max Gwin’s final statement: "I like it just as much as I did when I was 16." All of the men loved to draw, lived to draw, and they’ve made themselves and Nappanee famous because of it.

Warsaw Times-Union Spotlight September 21-28, 1974