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Monday, April 19, 2010

W.L. Evans School of Cartooning

For today’s post, we resume our April Fool’s Month theme of amateur cartoonists. In the early 20th century, most towns had at least one newspaper, and a great many of those newspapers employed their own cartoonist. Aspiring cartoonists could attempt to learn their craft via numerous correspondence schools. One of those schools was run by W.L. Evans.


Shown below is an advertisement for Evans’ correspondence school, from the September 1915 issue of Cartoons Magazine, plus two advertising flyers for the school.

Click on any picture to see a more detailed version.




In 1915, Mrs. Agnes Nelson, of Kendiyohi, Minnesota, responded to an ad such as shown above, receiving in response W.L. Evans’ introductory mailing. Luckily for us, she (or the child she requested it for) never did a thing with the mailing, all of its contents remaining in its envelope. It ended up 90 years later in the hands of an antique dealer, who sold it for the grand price of $5. All but the final two images in this posting, are from that envelope’s contents. Beneath is the post-marked 1915 envelope by Mrs. Nelson, and Evan’s introduction to his prospective pupils.


Receiving the mailing did not mean you were in the school — one had to apply and send payment, after which Lesson Booklets would be sent. Below, is the Application for Enrollment with W.L. Evans’ School of Cartooning, plus a short pamphlet of questions that the prospective student was to return.

Clicking on a book or pamphlet cover, will open up that entire pamphlet.

(Use the CLOSE button found at the far bottom right, to Return.)


Beneath, the miniature cardboard cover of a Cartoon Portfolio from the W.L. Evans School of Cartooning and Caricature, followed by the example cartoons by Evans which were contained within.



Next, two booklets from the mailing — Facts About Cartoonists, and Advantages in Cartoon and Caricature Work.


The contents sent in the Cartoon Portfolio changed over time. The examples below come not from Mrs. Agnes Nelson’s envelope, but from two other potential Evans students — Mr. George Stead, 114 Clay Street, Martin Ferry, Ohio, and a Homer Dallri, address unknown.


Finally, to close out this post, below is a sketch by prospective student George Stead, found in his portfolio.


Doug Wheeler

Teddy Roosevelt


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5 Responses to “W.L. Evans School of Cartooning”

  1. Jeff Overturf Says:

    I love this stuff. Cartooning in the first half of the last century has always seemed a romantic era to me.

    This site is fast becoming a favorite of mine. Keep up all the hard work. It’s much-appreciated!

  2. Super I.T.C.H » Blog Archive » G.H. Lockwood Art School Says:

    [...] Monday, we gave the contents of the envelope mailed to prospective students of the W.L. Evans’ School of Cartooning Art. To close out April Fool’s Month, we show a small handful of publications from a second [...]

  3. Amy Says:

    I have 15 original lessons from W.L. Evans. The dates range from 1909 to 1918 and each one is signed by him. They belonged to my grandfather and had been given as a gift to him when he was a young boy by his uncle. They are in great condition and so cool to look through. I don’t know much about Evans and would appreciate any suggestions on websites to visit for more information.

  4. Doug Says:


    I don’t know about any websites that do more than we did in that post (i.e., scan and make available the booklets). However, Fantagraphic Books is currently planning to publish a book all about the various cartoonist correspondence schools of that era — including the W.L. Evans School — to be titled, “Mail Order Geniuses: The Cartoon Correspondence Schools”. The publication date has not yet been announced, but, it sounds like it won’t be in 2010 — maybe in 2011.

    Doug Wheeler

  5. I Am A Power | Matt Bors Says:

    [...] Facebook Twitter Tumblr RSS Feed Bors BlogI Am A PowerShoot The CopsNew OriginalsFrom ITCH.02.21.2012 | Posted in Uncategorized [...]

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