Crosby, Percy

The creator of the popular “Skippy” comic strip appreciates an invitation to attend exhibition drills at Fort Myer, Virginia

Price: $115.00

Description:
(1891-1964) US author, illustrator and cartoonist, best known for his popular comic strip “Skippy”. Commemorated on a 1997 US postage stamp, “Skippy” was an inspiration for Charles Schulz's “Peanuts”. In 1916, Crosby's 1st feature, the daily & Sunday strip “The Clancy Kids”, was syndicated, earning him $135 a week, and he studied at Manhattan Art Students League. While in Army training, he created a daily comic “That Rookie from the Thirteenth Squad”, for the McClure Syndicate, writing and drawing it from the front in France. After the war, he syndicated a 1921-25 series of panel cartoons, some featuring slum children. One series, “Always Belittlin'”, presaged “Skippy”. “Bugville” and “Bug Lugs” later ran as the supplemental topper feature accompanying the “Skippy” Sunday strip. Crosby concurrently became a prolific contributor to Life, where several of his cartoons featured a child named Timmy, prototype of Skippy Skinner. FAfter a full-page house ad in the March 15, 1923 issue, “Skippy” premiered in Life and was a success. It was syndicated 2 years later, initially by Johnson Features, Central Press Association and Editors Features Service, before Hearst signed Crosby to his King Features Syndicate. King distributed its 1st daily “Skippy” Oct. 7, 1926, and its 1st Sunday one April 1, 1929. Crosby retained the copyright, a rarity then for strip artists. The strip focused on Skippy Skinner, a young city boy usually wearing an enormous collar and tie and a floppy checked hat, an odd mix of mischief and melancholy. The popular strip at one point guaranteed him $2,350 a week, an enormous sum then. Crosby published a “Skippy” novel and other books; there were “Skippy” dolls, toys and comic books. The comic was adapted as a 1931 Paramount film “Skippy”, which won Norman Taurog the Oscar for Best Director, with young Jackie Cooper in the title role. From 1928-37, Crosby produced 3,650 “Skippy” strips, 10 books of fiction, political and philosophical essays, drawings and cartoons, and numerous pamphlets, while mounting a dozen exhibitions in NYC, Washington, London, Paris & Rome of his other paintings and drawings. In the mid-late 20s, he became an alcoholic. He continued writing “Skippy” prose vignettes for Life that led to a “Skippy” novel for G. P. Putnam's Sons. With his wife and an agent handling his business affairs, he oversaw a “Skippy” empire that included a radio show, 3 novels, 34 Standard Oil posters, the aforesaid movie and a sequel. In the late 30s, he drew more overtly political and philosophical “Skippy” strips. Following his 3rd “Skippy” prose fiction book, “Skippy Rambles”, he used his writing as a vehicle for his beliefs. His 1931 memoir “A Cartoonist's Philosophy” was self-published; future books were published under his name or by Freedom Press, which he founded in 1936. Life dropped him when Crosby agreed to do humorous cartoons only if the magazine would publish his political work. Crosby lived in McLean, Virginia, outside of Washington, 1929-39. Although he voted for FDR in 1932, Crosby opposed his 1937 “Court-packing” plan and his vitriolic editorials called the President "crazed for power", and referred to FDR’s Fireside Chats as "talking from the Moscow room of the Spite House". When the IRS brought a tax claim against Crosby and his corporation, Skippy, Inc. in 1937, he claimed it was retaliation for his political writing. In 1936, he began drinking again, and in Feb. 1939, his 2nd wife divorced him and he never again saw his children; he remarried in 1940. About the same time, a California food packer began to sell "Skippy" peanut butter. Expensive litigation continued into the 2000’s. His diatribes in the “Skippy” strip became more frequent and, on Dec. 8, 1945, his 54th birthday, “Skippy” was dropped. Alcoholism contributed to his inability to find employment, and efforts to revive “Skippy” went nowhere. In Dec. 1948, he was committed to Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric ward after attempting suicide. In Jan. 1949, he was transferred to Kings Park Veterans' Hospital’s mental ward, declared a paranoid schizophrenic, and spent the last 16 years of his life institutionalized. Crosby died in the asylum on his 73rd birthday. ALS in purple ink on his 8 x 6 personal Langley, Fairfax County Virginia letterhead, February 5th (no year, but 1929-39),to Captain Allen. Crosby appreciates Allen's invitation to attend the Exhibition Drills in the Riding Hall at Fort Myer. He has taken note of the dates and as Crosby is “tremendously interested in cavalry”, he will do everything in his power to attend. With printed copy of a profile sketch of Skippy with caption: “The Percy Crosbys an’ the four little Crosbys sent me over to wish you a Merry Christmas”. Two pieces.

Condition: Very good, letter with horizontal center fold, printed card with light toning at 3 sides, mount remnants verso
Type:Letter






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