Dr. Seuss' children's books aren't comics, but they're probably kissing cousins. And it's hard to imagine that any comics reader — or any reader, any kid at all — didn't start out reading such classics as One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat. While it's not widely known, however, those books were preceded by a short-lived 1935 newspaper strip called Hejji.
Yesterday would have been Theodore Seuss Geisel's 105th birthday. In honor of the event, Google changed the logo on its homepage to spell out its name in Seuss characters. (The inventive logos used for holidays and other special events are why, even though my browser has a Google search box in the title bar, I have Google's homepage set as my default when I open new windows in the browser. You can check out 2009's specialty logos to date, and navigate to previous years', here.)
As an RC my senior year in college — most schools call them RAs, resident assistants — I enjoyed organizing storytime socials, which were particularly good for first-year students still transitioning to dorm life. Milk, cocoa, and cookies were served, and I took out bunches of classic storybooks from the town library. Any students who were still questioning the whole thing regressed with the rest of us when I explained that, it being a social, we were to break into groups and take turns reading the books to each other, holding up the pictures to show everyone else after we read each page just like the teacher or librarian did during storytime in kindergarten.
Sadly, Dr. Seuss passed away that same year. I can remember drawing a memorial cartoon for The Oberlin Review as a friend and I watched Saturday Night Live's season premiere, which eulogized Geisel on Weekend Update by having Jesse Jackson — the real Jesse Jackson — read from Green Eggs and Ham.
Ted Geisel did more than write and draw books as Dr. Seuss, although he'll likely always be remembered for the 50-year career that spanned And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street to Oh, the Places You'll Go!. He was a successful commercial artist, selling cartoons to the likes of Vanity Fair and Life, as well as illustrating an immensely popular ad campaign for bug spray that added the phrase "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" to the popular lexicon in 1928. He co-founded the Beginner Books imprint at Random House, which launched with The Cat in the Hat in 1957 but also published books by other authors and artists, notably Stan & Jan Berenstain. He wrote the screenplay and lyrics to the bizarre 1953 film The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, and after Chuck Jones' brilliant adaptation of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Geisel himself wrote a number of animated television specials, including 1972's The Lorax.
You can find a Dr. Seuss biography and catalog, as well as games based on his books, at Random House's Seussville website; the low-bandwidth choice is recommended as it's much less annoying. There's a comprehensive Wikipedia entry, of course, and numerous books showcasing Geisel's lesser-known work. Random House's The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss offers astounding oil paintings, while The New Press' Dr. Seuss Goes to War reprints with commentary the artist's political cartoons from World War II; the former is introduced by Maurice Sendak, and the latter by Art Spiegelman. Checker Book Publishing Group has published two volumes of Theodore Seuss Geisel: The Early Works. And for those who want to explore the man's more familiar work from new perspectives, there's Philip Nel's recent but already out of print The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats.
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