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Bowl Opinion- October 2016


By Jim Goodwin

Cartoonists Make The World A Better Place

You may have noticed the press release about the newest exhibit at the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in Arlington. It is called Peanuts for Bowling and it features the bowling cartoons and other works of the legendary American icon Charles Schulz.

As you will read in the release, Schulz loved life, and he left us with an incredible body of work that will span centuries. His Peanuts characters showed us the joys and challenges of life through their everyday ordinary interactions with each other, and with the world around them.

Schulz was brilliant at capturing through his art what most of us experience as we go about our jobs, raising our families, and just simply getting from one day to the next. Schulz preferred to do it with a smile and a laugh, and he helped us do the same.

I never had the honor of meeting Schulz, but I was part of a committee that honored him with the Bowling Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1997. The award was presented by the Bowling Writers Association of America, now called the International Bowling Media Association – IBMA.

At the time, bowling had its own unofficial resident cartoonist; a wonderful individual that spent more than half a century writing and drawing cartoons, mostly about bowling, but also about other subjects that touched us and made us laugh and think.

His name was Walt Steinsiek.

In the early ‘90s, Walt served as president of BWAA, and not long after that, he started the Cartoonist Award. It was his baby, but every member of the committee was behind it 100%, and it brought atten- tion to bowling every year by honoring some pretty famous people, Charles Schulz being a great example.

When Schulz found out he had won the award, he was very grateful, and graceful in sending a personal letter to Walt to say thank you and express his regrets because he could not travel to accept it. I think Walt also got a nice phone call from his fellow cartoonist, and he was rightfully proud of the selection.

The BWAA Cartoonist Award started in
1994. The first winner was Walt Ditzen, a very famous WWII era cartoonist who created the syndicated comic strip Fan Fare. Ditzen was also well known for his work in Stars & Stripes and numerous daily news- papers depicting humorous drawings of soldiers during an awful war; bringing smiles when they were really needed.

Ditzen also did many cartoon illustrations for companies like Brunswick and others to advertise their products; and he was a mentor for the man who became even more famous than himself – Charles Schulz.
Steinsiek was a big fan of Ditzen because it was during WWII that he first started drawing cartoons to pass the time while serving in the Merchant Marines. He brought joy to his fellow sailors during those long and often dangerous Atlantic crossings.

In 2000, the Bowling Cartoonist Award went to Dean Young, creator of Blondie. It was not a surprise that Dagwood’s favorite sport seemed to be bowling; and Young used the sport’s image many times in the strip.

2002 was an interesting year for the award. It went to a fellow named Ted Drake. Old timers will remember the incredible caricatures Drake did of almost every famous bowler during the team era; and they were so good they appeared in most major newspaper sports pages, and in many books, including a couple written by the late great Chuck Pezzano.

Drake loved bowling, but he was most famous for creating an image seen in college sports . . . it was his image of the Fighting Irishman that became iconic for the University of Notre Dame.

The next year, Garfield the cat was linked to bowling when the award went to Garfield’s creator Jim Davis. I think Garfield liked to eat lasagna while bowling with his friends.

In addition to the very famous cartoonists, the award went several times to those who labored mostly within the bowling publications. The first, of course, was Steinsiek himself. In 2001, the committee decided to present two awards. Lola Goelet Yoekem of California became the first woman to win the award, and it was announced at the annual luncheon by BWAA President John Falzone. Falzone then made the surprise announcement that Steinsiek was also a winner, and he got a standing ovation from the room full of bowling writers and officials. He humbly accepted with a tear in his eye.

Other prolific bowling cartoonists that received the award were Bubba Flint, whose work primarily appears in the Dallas-Fort Worth based Bowling News, Bill Finch from Oregon, who did a lot of illustrations for the American Bowling Congress and other groups, and Maurice ‘Mo’ LaRochelle, whose work first appeared in Stars & Strikes. Mo created the Bowl-A- Rama cartoon series and his cartoons have been used in calendars and other bowling papers. He also has a syndicated series appearing in daily newspapers around his home in Louisiana.

Cartoons have been around for centuries, and the incredible people who create them are true artists who fill a special place in our world and in our hearts.

It seems that brilliant people like Schultz and Steinsiek have also inspired a new gen- eration of artists to try their hand at cartooning. Over the years this newspaper has received cartoons from many different young artists. The latest is Andy White. His ‘Hip Shot’ cartoon appears on this month’s Funny Page. Here’s hoping Andy and many others find as much success in their careers as the other cartoonists we have been honored to know in bowling.

Kudos to the Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum for recognizing the importance of cartoons by hosting the Charles Schulz Bowling for Peanuts exhibit. I wish our dear friend Walt Steinsiek was around to see it. We lost Walt in 2010, but I know he is smiling down from heaven, where he is still making people happy with his wonderful cartoons.

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.

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