Hall, Patricia.  Johnny Gruelle, Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy.  2nd printing.  Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-88289-908-2.
    This was the first book of Hall's trilogy on cartoonist Johnny Gruelle. Originally published in 1993, Hall followed this biography with a book on his dolls and merchandise (see IJOCA 3:1, Spring 2001 for a review) and most recently with Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works.
    Hall has worked hard to rehabilitate Gruelle's reputation and to rescue him from both the obscurity of a career sixty years in the past and the shadow cast by his creations who remain American icons. Attractively and extensively illustrated, Hall's biography is a straightforward and uncomplicated one. As an outgrowth of her love for his characters, it is definitely prejudiced in Gruelle's favor and was supported by his family. That caveat stated, I believe it is a valuable addition to the paucity of cartoonist's biographies, especially ones designed for the mass market.
    Hall's first chapter is a heartfelt introduction to Gruelle and his creations and makes it clear that this biography will be a friendly one. Gruelle was born in 1880 and his parents soon migrated to Indianapolis. Johnny's father, R.B. Gruelle was a self-taught landscape painter who assisted his son's efforts to become a cartoonist. By 1903, Gruelle was cartooning for the new Indianapolis Star.  While there, Hall notes, "On a single day, it was not uncommon for the Star to feature three or four different kinds of cartoons by Gruelle: a sports cartoon, a masthead-headline illustration, or even a comic strip" as well as front page editorial cartoons. Gruelle's versatility in comic art continued throughout his career, and he regularly created new comic strips and features. After Gruelle's "Mr. Twee Deedle" strip was collected by Cupples and Leon in 1913, a new career as a book illustrator, and then author of children's books began. By 1915, he had developed and trademarked Raggedy Ann. She became extremely well known and the merchandising of her and other of Gruelle's creations became a significant issue in his career. Like the rest of America, Gruelle suffered financially during the Depression especially with lawsuits over trademark infringement ownership of Raggedy Ann. Gruelle died in 1938, but his family kept his creations in the public eye until the present day. Hall essentially ends her book with Gruelle's death, but provides some brief information on the family's continuing licensing of Raggedy Ann. She closes with a concluding chapter examining Gruelle's influence and relative anonymity. Hall's persistence in examining Gruelle's life and career have made this book worth acquiring for anyone interested in early twentieth-century cartooning, children's books or licensing.

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