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Off the Bandwagon and Leading the Thought Parade - The Political Evolution of Dr. Seuss


The blogosphere buzzed like crazy earlier this month when news that the UCSD had unveiled their Dr. Seuss artwork digital image archive. Everyone, including me, jumped on the bandwagon, blogging, tweeting, facebook-posting their favorite images from the vast collection of Theodor Geisel's advertising art that he created before his famed and beloved children's books.

For those of us who aren't Seussiana scholars, it is a joy to see this trove of early advertising, full of wacky characters in a zany yet familiar world. It's almost as if there's a new Dr. Seuss book, just for grown-ups, and of special interest to us in the vintage/collectibles world.


When I saw Collectorsweekly.com's post on this same Dr. Seuss Library, I assumed it was just another entry in the growing parade. But, I was wrong. This one was written by Lisa Hix, who's the sort not to follow, but to lead her own parade, and she delved deeper into the socio-political aspects of Geisel's early political cartoons, and WWII work. Read it in full here:  When the Wild Imagination of Dr. Seuss Fueled Big Oil







And in tribute, here's a little poem by me (Marianne Dow)

Ahem...

Pay attention cried the bloggers.
Those internet bit-floggers.

Look at this they all bleeted.
Then the news was re-retweeted.

One link led to others, and more.
Dr. Seuss did ad art in his days of yore.
A zany parade of characters drawn, creative and fun.
That remind us of books read when we were young.

Now that's where most stopped writing.
Time to change bandwagons they said.
But seeing some things needed righting
Lisa Hix did something better instead.
Not one to just follow the band-leaders
She forged a new route for her net-readers.

Prejudice had surfaced in fair Seuss Land.
Someone must take the matter in hand.
Upon seeing imagery of the incorrect kind
Lisa learned the good doctor did change his mind.
By chatting with scholars of Geisel's art history
And using her noggin she solved the mystery.
Dr Seuss's brain did evolve, becoming aware
Of pre-conceived notions that shouldn't be there.

People can and do change. Geisel grew and learned that all people matter. His consciousness raised to new heights.

"A person's a person." -- Dr. Seuss

"...Geisel became a voice opposing racism..." -- Lisa Hix

“I think it’s a wonderful tribute to his sensibilities about being in the world that as time went on and these things became known, he changed. I mean ‘The Lorax’ is nothing if not a big environmental message. ‘The Grinch’ is anti-consumerism. ‘The Butter Battle Book’ is about the idiocies of nuclear war etc. If nothing else, he kept up with the times.”  --Lynda Claassen
[Lynda Claassen is Director of the UCSD Mandeville Library (The Dr. Seuss Collection is housed in the Mandeville Special Collections Library, located within Geisel Library.]
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