Out of the inkwell – Gus Frederick releases third Davenport book in time for festival

July 2022 Posted in Community, Events & Holidays, People

By Melissa Wagoner

Gus Frederick has always been interested in the art of cartooning. But in 1972, he’d never heard of the famous political cartoonist Homer Davenport, let alone seen any of his art. It wasn’t until a shift at the local cannery, where he met several other cartoon fanatics, that he learned a famous cartoonist once lived in the town he now called home.

“One of the guys mentioned Homer Davenport and I said, ‘Who?’” Frederick recalled. 

A Homer Davenport cartoon from The Dollar or the Man?

A Homer Davenport cartoon from The Dollar or the Man?

Intrigued, he found a copy of The Country Boy: The Story of His Own Early Life, a memoir written by Homer in 1910. 

“It blew me away,” Frederick said of that first glimpse into the cartoonist’s life and career. It forever changed his life. “Now the guy is a personal project of mine.” 

In fact, Frederick has such an interest in Homer and his family that he’s written three books on the topic. The first, The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport, was published in 2012. It is a historical look at the period between 1895 and 1897. 

“During the three-year sliver of time captured by Davenport’s newspaper cartoons, the Republicans regained control of the White House in what many pundits have identified as the first modern political campaign…” Frederick wrote in a description of the history the book presents. 

“Through it all, Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene.”

Now Frederick has explained their context to a modern-day audience.

“If you’re interested in different aspects of artistry paired with the transition from the Progressive Age to the Gilded Age,” then this is a book for you, Frederick said. 

Silverton author Gus Frederick

Silverton author Gus Frederick

Similarly, his newest work, The Dollar or the Man, was also inspired by a collection of Homer’s cartoons, this time from 1899 to 1900. It focuses largely on that age’s growing disparity between the rich and the poor. 

“People interested in a history of the turn of the 20th century,” are the audience for this book according to Frederick who added, “It is what we would term left-leaning because that was Homer’s bent.”

It’s also one of the aspects of Homer’s work that Frederick finds fascinating and why he wrote his second book, T.W. Davenport: The Collected Works, a deep-dive into the life and work of Homer’s father. 

“Homer was very influenced by his father,” Frederick said, describing Timothy Davenport as a man who worked as a land surveyor, an Indian agent for the Umatilla Agency, a legislator and a writer whose collected essays make up the majority of Frederick’s second book. 

The book allows readers a look into the life of a notable man living in a vastly different era from our own. 

“I think [readers] would get a better grip on what’s happening today,” Frederick said when asked why he thinks republishing Timothy’s essays and Homer’s cartoons is important. 

That’s why in 1980 he also helped launch the very first Homer Davenport Community Festival, an homage to “our favorite son – and Oregon’s first media super star” and a way to encourage future generations of cartoonists through the annual Davenport International Cartoon Contest.

“Political cartooning is still very much alive,” he said, noting the quality of the entries he receives each year. They will be on display at the Silverton Community Center Aug. 5, 6 and 7 alongside copies of all three of Frederick’s books. 

For those interested in getting a more in-depth look at the history behind the famous Davenport cartoons, Frederick will host a PowerPoint presentation at Silver Falls Library on Aug. 6 at 1 and 3:30 p.m.

Davenport International Cartoon Contest Display
Silverton Community Center
421 S. Water St.

Aug. 5, reception 6 – 8 p.m.
Aug. 6: 12 – 1:30 and 4:30 – 6 p.m.
Aug. 7: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Life & Times of Homer Davenport presentation

Silver Falls Library, 410 S. Water St.
Aug. 6, 1 and 3:30 p.m.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.