Mark J. Cohen

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Mark J. Cohen (November 19, 1942[1] – December 18, 1999) was a realtor and a collector of comic books and comic book art, and a prominent cartoonists' agent and dealer in original comics art. He was an occasional contributor to the Gasoline Alley comic strip.

Cohen was a native of Stockton, California. As a collector of cartoon art, Cohen amassed an estimated 9,500 items of original Mad original art.[2] His collections of comic book art were considered among the best in the country, and parts of his collections were put on national tours.[3]

One notable part of Cohen's collection was begun in 1971, when he decided to collect cartoonists' self-caricatures. His interest was sparked upon seeing an exhibition catalogue from a 1943 exhibit at San Francisco's de Young Museum titled Meet the Artist. Eventually he assembled more than 900 of such self-caricatures. In 1998 The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library published A Gallery of Rogues featuring approximately 100 cartoonists' self-caricatures from Cohen's collection. The Cartoon Research Library also mounted an exhibition of nude self-caricatures called The Comic Strip in 2000. It was composed of work from Cohen's collection, made available by his widow, Cohen having died during the time the exhibit was being planned.[4]

As an agent representing cartoonists in the sale of their original comic strip art, Cohen's clientele included Charles M. Schulz, Lynn Johnston, Pat Brady, Greg Evans and Jerry Scott.[3][5]

Cohen got to know Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, very well, and Schulz called Cohen his "cartoon connection" because of the many cartoonists he met through him. After Schulz' death, the cartoonist's wife started the Charles Schulz Museum, and Mark Cohen became a member of the board of directors. Cohen's wife, Rose Marie McDaniel, later became director of the museum.[6]

A portion of the Gasoline Alley Sunday strip (May 3, 2009) in which the artist paid tribute to collaborator Mark Cohen.

Cohen died at 57 at his home in Santa Rosa, California on December 19. Cancer was said to be the cause of death. His obituary in The New York Times states that Cohen's "comics collection, including about 3,000 books autographed by cartoonists -- many with original drawings -- and hundreds of other cartoon-related items, from Dick Tracy badges to Little Orphan Annie decoders, has been donated to Ohio State University, the repository of the National Cartoonists Society".[2]

His friend, the cartoonist Wiley Miller, memorialized Cohen after his death by creating a superhero, Obviousman, in his syndicated cartoon strip Non Sequitur (comic strip) whose mission in life was to wean people away from the endless stream of information in modern society and get them to think about what is really happening. Just as Superman's "real name" was "Clark Kent," so was Obviousman's real name "Mark Cohen" and his occupation was "realtor."

Cartoonist Jim Scancarelli, in a 1997 interview, had credited Cohen as an unpaid collaborator who contributed a poem or story idea for a Gasoline Alley Sunday page about once a month.[7] Scancarelli quietly paid tribute to Cohen with a 2009 Sunday page that featured a whimsical letter Cohen had written.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JT4T-VMN : accessed 12 Mar 2013), Mark J Cohen, 19 December 1999.
  2. ^ a b [1] New York Times obituary: Mark Cohen, 57, Comics Collector, Published: Monday, December 27, 1999
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2007-12-18.  Web page titled, "Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection" Online bibliography page of works about cartoon and comic art, University of Michigan Library Web site (Item states: "Original Cartoon Art" (Mark Cohen) p. 72-77 in Cartoonist Profiles, no. 112 (December 1996). -- In an interview conducted by Jud Hurd, Cohen describes his business of selling original art for cartoonists."), accessed December 17, 2007
  4. ^ The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library News Notes Online, Vol. XLIX No. 23 June 6, 2000 https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/1811/28743/1/nn000606.pdf
  5. ^ [2] Google Books Web page with text from Whiting, Jim, "Analecta: Selected Reflections of a Cartoonist's Life", Trafford Publishing, 2005, page 165, accessed December 17, 2007
  6. ^ [3]"Transcript: Comics: Charles Schulz Museum/Stephan Pastis" online interview at the Washington Post Web site, conducted by Suzanne Tobin, Washington Post comics editor, dated September 24, 2004, interview with McDaniel and others, accessed December 17, 2007
  7. ^ Hogan's Alley http://cagle.msnbc.com/hogan/interviews/scancarelli/home.asp
  8. ^ Gasoline Alley May 3, 2009 http://www.gocomics.com/gasolinealley/2009/05/03/

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