Drawing

Early cartoon
Early cartoon (detail) published in Central High’s newspaper The Recorder, 1920.
Photo from the archives of the Wood Museum of Springfield History.

Ted was always drawing, even as a young boy, and his parents encouraged his artistic expression. On Sundays and holidays, Ted’s father took him on behind-the-scenes walks through the Forest Park Zoo, and Ted brought a sketch pad with him to draw the animals during these trips. He had a tendency to exaggerate their features and combine elements in new and strange ways. Ted’s clever sense of humor was often apparent in his drawings.

Later during Ted’s first day of art class at Central High School, he was scolded for turning his drawing board around and working on the image upside down. His teacher told him that he would never succeed as an artist if he always broke the conventional rules of drawing. Ted decided to transfer out of art class after that first day.

This negative comment from a teacher did not stop Ted from drawing, however. Rather than in formal classes, Ted turned to extra-curricular activities to develop his artistic talent. His first printed illustration, “Frawncis Blinn Graduates,” appeared in the January 21, 1920 issue of The Recorder. Other published drawings, including “The Invention of Professor Keepem Workin” and “The Herald of Spring,” make it easy to see why Ted was voted Class Wit.

Saturday Evening Post coverThe Saturday Evening Post had purchased one of the cartoons that he created during this interim period in Springfield.

Ted continued to draw during college and graduate courses at Oxford University, where he filled the margins of his notebooks with doodles. After he returned from Europe in 1927, Ted set up his drawing board and typewriter on his father’s desk in the house on Fairfield Street and began creating humorous pieces and cartoons, sending them in packets to New York editors in hopes of landing a job.

Finally, in June of 1927, Ted received word that The Saturday Evening Post had purchased one of the cartoons that he created during this interim period in Springfield. It appeared in the publication on July 16, 1927 and was signed with the name “Seuss.” Excited to launch his professional career, Ted took the twenty-five dollar check and moved from Springfield to New York.

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