"Fifty years ago a new strip debuted in papers across the U.S. and featured the adventures of a hard-hitting journalist who made as much news as he reported.
The strip was Jeff Cobb, written and drawn for 24 years by longtime NCS and Great Lakes chapter member and all-around sweetheart of a guy, Pete Hoffman.
Fifty years seemed like a good excuse for a party..."
- from Frank Pauer's "Salute to Pete Hoffman" surprise party invitation
JEFF COBB & PETE HOFFMAN FEATURES:
SCROLL DOWN for GLC secretary Ed Black's report on the event, and photos.
CLICK HERE for a GALLERY OF PETE HOFFMAN TRIBUTE DRAWINGS by members of the GLC.
Read this INTERVIEW WITH PETE HOFFMAN by Dave Karlen on www.comicartville.com
Two new guys and an old guy: L to R: Dan Davis, Dan Collins, Ron Hill
Like the sticker says, Craig Boldman with the sticker-obscured Ed Black.
Roy Doty and his fashion statement, with Tony Cochran of Agnes fame.
Man of the hour Pete Hoffman, with the vegetationless Roy.
AN NCS-GREAT LAKES CHAPTER SURPRISE
Meeting Report by Ed Black
It was planned as a complete surprise and that's how it turned out the afternoon of August 7, 2004 at the renowned Tony Packo's Cafe in Toledo. Totally caught off-guard when he entered the meeting room at the rear of the restaurant was 85-year-old Pete Hoffman. The occasion was the celebration of the creation of his syndicated adventure strip, JEFF COBB for General Features Syndicate.
The idea was conceived by GLCer Frank Pauer and brought forth at the pre-judging meeting at GLC chairman Steve Boreman's home in Columbus in early March (The GLC judged comic strips for this year's Reuben Award weekend). Frank thought it would be good to recognize Pete's efforts in cartooning. Pete and Frank have been friends for quite some time, and he has been to Pete's Toledo home several times on trips northward, so having Frank and his wife, Janet drop by would not arouse any suspicions on Pete's part. Frank used the pretext of being en route to the Ann Arbor Arts Festival (In actuality, the festival had taken place two weeks earlier). Frank suggested lunch before he and Janet continued their fictitious trek to Ann Arbor.
Above: An example of Jeff Cobb, courtesy of Dave Karlin Original Art
Frank's goal was met when he brought Pete into a back room of Tony Packo's and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Hoffman." Pete was taken by surprise by the round of enthusiastic applause from the 25 to 30 GLCers who had shown up to honor Pete and his work.
One question though: How did Frank convince Pete to bring along a daily JEFF COBB strip? Cartoonists don't usually bring original strips with them when they go to lunch. The daily became part of a raffle and was won by GLCer Mark Szorady, who undoubtedly will treasure it. Other items raffled included original illustrations by Ron Hill and Jeff Smith's latest book, "The Complete Bone," a compilation of all of the BONE comic books.
Frank had another surprise for Pete. In preparation for the celebration, Frank had asked each of the GLCers to produce a drawing featuring an eye patch (Jeff Cobb's trademark was his eye patch). The drawings were placed in a large notebook, each one in a plastic sleeve, and presented to Pete.
To Frank's surprise, this was the first time in 65 years Pete had been to Tony Packo's! "I used to hang around here when I was in college," Pete said, "but kind of drifted away afterward."
He 'drifted away' all right. World War II was on and Pete wound up in the army. He'd always been interested in cartooning and did work for the school paper while at the University of Toledo. He drifted to the Security Building downtown where he found Allen Saunders and Elmer Woggon. Saunders wrote the syndicated strips Big Chief Wahoo which Woggon drew and Mary Worth, drawn in Chicago at the time by the late Ken Ernst. Saunders had an office upstairs one floor above Woggon's small studio.
One of the characters in Big Chief Wahoo was a secondary character named Steve Roper. Roper began to overshadow the other characters. His hair turned from blond to black and when Pete was discharged from the service in 1945 he went back to the Security Building where Saunders put him to work ghosting the strip, now retitled Steve Roper. Publisher's Syndicate, distributor of the strip had complained to Saunders that Woggon's work was too cartoony for the revamped strip. Roper became an investigative reporter for Proof Magazine.
Pete worked on the strip until Jeff Cobb Took off. Bill Overgard took over Steve Roper after Pete left. It has been done for the last several years by Fran Matera in Florida, and recently ended its long run. Saunders wrote it until his retirement in 1979. His son, John, a Toledo TV anchorman, took over the writing of both Steve Roper and Mary Worth until his death in 2003 (Allen S. died in early 1986).
Toledo, in fact, was quite the bastion of cartooning. Dr. Nick Dallis had a psychiatric practice there and created Rex Morgan M.D. In 1948, Judge Parker in 1953 and, after moving to Arizona, created another strip, Apartment 3-G. For Rex Morgan M.D. Dr. Dallis hired Marvin Bradley to do the drawing and Frank Edgington to do the lettering and backgrounds; for Judge Parker he brought on Dan Heilman to draw it and Harold LeDoux to assist (Alex Kotsky drew Apartment 3-G until his death in September, 1996).
Pete Hoffman also did a panel, Why We Say, about word and phrase origins.
After the demise of Jeff Cobb, Pete did -- and still does -- free-lance work, much of it for his Alma Mater the University of Toledo. He is quite active in the UT Alumni Association.
The afternoon of August 7, 2004, is a day both Pete Hoffman and the attending members of the GLC will remember for a long time.
Download a .pdf of Frank Pauer's invitation to the "Salute to Pete Hoffman" event!
GLC members Dan Davis, Daryll Collins and Craig Boldman get the lowdown from GLC Chairman Steve Boreman at the surprise party for Pete Hoffman on the 50th Anniversary of his syndicated strip, "Jeff Cobb," which debuted on June 28, 1954 and ran 25 years in the U.S. and 28 years in Canada and Europe.
Mark Szorady gets in a few congratulatory comments for Pete Hoffman. In the raffle, Mark had the lucky ticket and won a "Jeff Cobb" original daily strip contributed by Hoffman.
New member Dan Davis (l) talks with veteran GLC member Ron Hill. Dan does licensing artwork and comic book inking, and Hill freelances and teaches in the Alliance, Ohio school system.
Craig Boldman (l) writer: Jughead comic book and Archie comic strip; Tony Cochran (Agnes) and Roy Doty (freelance) discuss matters graphic at the surprise party at Packo's. No, that's not an alien grabbing Craig's head; there were several hanging potted plants in the meeting room.
Editorial cartoonist for the Toledo Blade, Kirk Walters (2nd from right) and his guest Connie Cross (r) thank Frank Pauer for the invite to the surprise party. Next to Frank is Vicky Collins, wife of new member Dan. On the wall, a trademark at Tony Packo's: Hot dog buns signed by celebrities. 1000 of them are framed and sealed in plastic throughout the restaurant.
Pete chats with Janet Pauer. "You set me up! You set me up!"
Some unfinished business: Mark gets his long-overdue plaque for his term as chapter chair.
Frank, Janet, Pete.
Pete has a laugh looking at the chapter's eyepatch tribute drawings to him. You can see them yourself, right HERE.
Don't know what everybody's doing, but they're very busy doing it.
A bunch of hot dog buns and one big weenie. At Packo's celebrities sign buns for permanent display. Of the examples in this photo, one can make out the signatures of Tom and Dick Smothers, and Rodney Dangerfield.
More photo pages: PAGE 2 | PAGE 3
GLC GALLERY OF PETE HOFFMAN TRIBUTE DRAWINGS
# Mark Szorady
* Ed Black
+ Polly Keener
ART CREDIT: Artwork on this page by Pete Hoffman, courtesy of Dave Karlen Original Art, which handles Pete's original art sales. Dave is always looking to represent new artists on his site. Dave also conducted the Interview With Pete Hoffman, linked above.
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