Extended Negotiations

Today on the site we have a holiday double-header:

Michael Dean on the Christmas gift of Greg Theakston's battle with the Jack Kirby Museum, which is a perfect encapsulation of why the efforts of why the efforts of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum are so important.

In what has to be one of the world’s slowest-building controversies, Theakston’s grievance with the Kirby Museum has been building for some time. The short version: Theakston says the museum borrowed from him more than 3,000 photocopies of Kirby pencil art and won’t return them. The museum takes the two-fold — if somewhat contradictory — position that 1) Theakston is not entitled to have the photocopies back because he donated them to the museum, and 2) he never owned them to begin with, having borrowed them from the Kirby family. The museum has asserted that the copies ultimately belong to the Kirby family, and the Kirby estate has officially sided with the museum.

And on a happier note, Paul Tumey tells the story of one mid-century comic fan's dreams come true:

With an out-going mother and a love of comics, it’s no surprise that Peter would go past admiring from afar, and make actual contact with his hero. Mrs. Brown tracked Walt Kelly down at his Hall Syndicate address in New York City, and initiated for her son a correspondence that occurred first around Christmas 1953, and then resumed from September 1958 to May 1961. Over fifty years later, Peter Brown has discovered the letters Walt Kelly wrote, bundled up in a trunk and forgotten for decades. In addition to the letters, the original art and books Kelly sent Peter and his brothers as gifts were also saved. In all, 23 letters survive.

The earliest letter in the bundle is dated December 21, 1953 — written when Peter was six. The short letter is typed on Post-Hall Syndicate letterhead and signed by Kelly, who thanks Peter for a hand-drawn Christmas card. Peter recalled the card in 2014:

“My younger brother and I sent him [Walt Kelly] a homemade Christmas card that we drew up together.  We colored it and added a couple of panels, it was a Christmas greetings.  It depicted how we imagined Pogo and Albert would be enjoying Christmas.  My brother was a very good artist.  After we sent this off to Walt my brother lost interest in Pogo and went on to other art projects.  He is a professional artist today.  I kept up the correspondence. “

Tomorrow we'll have our traditional year-end "best of TCJ". See you then.