Seeing Stars (The Capital Times, 14 April 1929)

Don Wootton was a mid 20th century cartoonist, caricaturist and commercial artist, who mostly worked for Cleveland newspapers and the NEA syndicate. One of his most memorable features was 'Seeing Stars' (1929-1930), a biographical newspaper comic about Hollywood celebrities, in cooperation with columnist Dan Thomas.

Early life and career
Donald Bedell Wootton was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio in 1896. The family moved to Detroit 15 years later, but eventually returned to Mount Vernon. The young Donald showed off his skills in baseball throughout the Ohio area, but right when he got the opportunity to play in the major league, he was drafted for his military service. He served as a private during the final months of World War I in 1918. Upon his return to civilian life, Wootton attended the Cleveland Art School, while sharing a studio with illustrator Rico Tomaso.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
He began an association with the local newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer. A staff member of its art department from 1919 to 1926, he not only made editorial cartoons, but also a Sunday strip called 'By The Way', which ran from 29 June 1919 to 27 May 1923. By 1922 the art staff was reinforced by Walt Scott. Wootton left the Plain Dealer in 1926 and worked as art director for the Cleveland Press for a while.


'Bugs' (The Daily Press, 13 November 1927) and 'Ol' Trusty' (The Battle Creek Enquirer, 16 October 1927)

NEA Syndicate
By 1927 Don Wootton had an association with the Newspaper Enterprise Association as both a caricaturist and cartoonist. Among his early tasks for this syndicate was continuing features like 'Bugs' (August-September 1927) and 'Ol' Trusty' (July-November 1927), which appeared in the radio and automobile sections of newspapers, respectively. Both had previously been drawn by other NEA artists like Charles D. Small, George Swanson and a certain Sefcik. Some of the later 'Bugs' strips are credited by Wootton, but signed by Joe King, however.

Seeing Stars
Another feature drawn by Wootton for the NEA was 'Seeing Stars' (April 1929-1930), which also appeared under the title 'Seeing the Stars in Hollywood'. Each installment offered a short biographical introduction to a popular Hollywood star, drawn by Wootton in six panels with text captions. Underneath the strip more detailed information was provided in a lengthy typeset text by Hollywood columnist Dan Thomas. The strip, credited to "Don and Dan", therefore had a similar approach as Westphal's 'Star Dust' (1929-1931), which ran through Midwest Feature Service in the same period. Subsequent "illustrated trivia" columns about celebrities presented all the information in one big illustrated panel with captions, such as Bud Thompson's 'Screen Oddities' (1931-1943), Wiley Padan's 'It's True' (1933-1947) and Feg Murray's 'Seein' Stars' (1933-1951).


Mibbsy (The Reading Times, 3 May 1934)

Later career
During the 1930s Wootton worked mostly for commercial journals as a caricaturist and cartoonist. He also returned to the Cleveland Plain Dealer with illustrations for the news-oriented 'The Week On Parade' and its successor 'Personalities on Parade' (29 January 1933 - 8 July 1934). He also had a daily kids' strip called 'Mibbsy, the Gritty Mibster' around 1934, but it is unknown through which syndicate is was distributed. Don Wootton spent most of his later career working for the D'Arcy Advertising Company. He left in 1961 to set up his own shop. The artist however passed away of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a park near his home in April 1962. In an obituary published in the Plain Dealer on 20 April 1962, his wife Ruth declared that the sensitive artist had been worried about the success of his own art studio.


Caricature by Wootton of William Randolph Hearst, during a 1927 Senate investigation for the Public Opinion.

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by Don Wootton in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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