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Dick "Doodles" Dugan
From ink to paper to smiles

"I wasn't born - I was issued. My issue date was March 4, 1926 in Pittsburgh."

And with that begins the delightful story of Dick Dugan's life. Dick was the oldest of four children: three boys and one girl, all of who still live in Pittsburgh.

His father died at a very young age and his mother was forced to go to work to support the family. Dick looks back at his childhood fondly. He had a good time and was surrounded by people he loved.

Dugan started drawing in 4th grade. He wanted to be like Willard Mullin, a top sports cartoonist. Mullin had his work on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and New York Daily News. Dugan knew this was for him.

Dick Dugan doing what he does best

Dick Dugan doing what he does best - drawing

During the depression years he would take wrapping paper and paste it together to make murals. He illustrated his high school yearbook, taking every opportunity offered to him to follow his passion for drawing.

Right after graduating from Bellevue High School in 1944 Dick joined the Navy. He was sent to Camp Perry, Virginia. Camp Perry was referred to as "The Little Red School House" of the Navy because of it's training and educational facilities.

Once he finished his boot camp he was scheduled to ship out, along with everyone else in his unit. However, the commander saw the cartoons he drew on envelopes with letters home and liked what he saw. He decided to keep him in camp where he drew educational materials, signage, posters, illustrations and the like.

The rest of his unit was sent to Iwo Jima. "I actually stayed safe and out of the war because of my art". He stayed in the Navy for 2 and a half years. After his discharge he was a member of the 5220 Club - 52 weeks with $20.00 a week!

After that, Dugan went back to Pittsburgh for a while and then to Georgia for about 18 months where he worked with a man he met in the Navy. Together they created original silk-screened art pieces. He also went to art school part time while he was in Georgia at the High Museum School of Art.

By 1947 it was back to Pittsburgh where he enrolled in the Liberty Academy of Advertising Art. Just a year later, a friend of his, who was teaching at Coopers School of Art in Cleveland (55th and Euclid Ave.), got Dugan a job teaching cartooning at the School. The founder of the school, Hal Cooper, was also a cartoonist.

For three years Dick lived at the downtown Cleveland YMCA. The young secretary, Jean, would always light up and smile when Dick came in. He even drew a caricature of her in her lovely pink sweater.

They dated and in 1953 she became his wife and the mother of their six children. (Jim, Linda, Debbie, Kathy, John and Carol). All of the children are or have been active in sports. Dugan also has 9 grandchildren (3 boys, 6 girls). Only his daughter, Carol, inherited his talent and love of drawing, but they all share his love of sports.

Dick Dugan and wife Jean

Dick Dugan and his wife Jean

Dick and Jean lived on Eddy Road in East Cleveland until 1957 when they moved to Willowick where they still live today. "I can't move now. I'd have no idea how to get home". As so often happens, his eyes twinkle with humor.

Dick and three others started J&E Cartoons, a company that basically did cartoon advertising. When one of the three (George Juja) retired Dick and George Green started Cartoon Ad Studio in the Superior Ave. Building across from Plain Dealer.

Dick had known from early on that he wanted to be a sports cartoonist. So when his friend George Juja let him know that the Plain Dealer sports cartoonist, Fred Reinert was going to be retiring Dugan didn't hesitate for a second.

In Feb. 1962 Dugan took over the post and did not leave it for 38 years! Hal Lebovitz was his boss at the Plain Dealer and remembers Dick warmly. "Dick was a very talented man and a nice man. The PD was lucky to have him."

Dick Dugan's creation - Brownie

Dick Dugan's creation - Brownie

His cartoons are legendary. The Cleveland Browns "Brownie" is Dick Dugan's design. He also drew the Cavaliers Logo and Barons logo.

Each group of his cartoons showed some action in it and people couldn't wait to see the next one. Now, according to Dugan, there are no sports cartoonists working full time at the papers, everything is computerized.

Dugan recently had an art show at Gallery One. Both Dante Lavelli and Bob Feller came to his show. The highlight of the show was a drawing of the 50th Anniversary of Municipal Stadium with drawings of all of the top athletes who had played there.

Dick Dugan in Hall of Fame

Dick Dugan in the Hall of Fame

Dugan belonged to the BBWA - Baseball Writers Association. It was this group that "roasted" him in 1962 at their annual "Rib n' Roast" event. He was roasted by such people as writers Hal Lebovitz, Russ Snyder and Chuck Heaton.

Guests included both managers and players. It was held at what used to be the Sheraton Hotel Grand Ballroom. Vernon Stouffer was part owner of Indians then and would always come to the roasts.

Dick Dugan in Hall of FameDick was somewhat of an athlete himself. In addition to playing both slow and fast pitch ball he played football and basketball.

You'll find him in the Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame where he was inducted in 2002. The gentleman that spoke at his induction on his behalf was Dan Coughlin.

Dugan was part of the speaker's bureau at Plain Dealer. He would give talks to rotary Clubs, Lions Meetings and schools. He would show kids how to create a cartoon and would take requests. His most famous was to take the child's initials and turn them into their favorite animal. Never been stumped.

In the early days of his career Dugan was on Channel 5 with Captain Penny doing huge cartoon drawings as well as responding to the cards and letters he got for animal initials. He remembers back to the days when Mr. Nickelsworth was on air with Captain Penny. Mr. Wigglesworth went on to be Mr. Jingeling.

Before that he was on Channel 3 with Tom Fields and Cynthia Parker as part of their newscast at 5:00. Dugan was not just a local talent - he was one of the top sports cartoonists in the entire country. His talent was so special that even Mike Douglas recognized his abilities and invited him on his show. Unfortunately, the Plain Dealer would not give their permission.

Dick has 4-5,000 of his drawings stored in various places many of which are autographed. Autographs include people like Muhammad Ali, Joe DiMaggio, Jim Brown, Joe Frazier, Margaret Hamilton, George Steinbrenner, Greg Pruit and Brian Sipe. Woody Hayes told Dugan "You don't flatter me" after seeing Dugan's caricature of him.

A Dick Dugan drawing of Bob Feller

A Dick Dugan drawing of Bob Feller

It's hard for him to pick a favorite but he is very proud of his drawing of the Big Four Indians all in one: Early Wynn, Bob Feller, Mike Garcia, and Bob Lemmon. Another of his favorites is of the astronauts who landed on the moon - and it is signed by all of them!

His drawings have always brought happiness to people who saw them, but they also served a more practical use when a good cause came along. Dugan generously provided caricatures or portraits for auction at fundraisers - and they always brought in a good price.

He remembers when Indian's pitcher Mike Garcia was dying of cancer. His friends in baseball wanted to raise money. Dugan created a drawing that resulted in a donation to Garcia of about $50,000.00. Sadly, Garcia died a few weeks later.

Portraits and caricatures have always been his favorite. He used to do "That Was The Week that was" cartoon strips from all sports from the week before. This covered all sports including wrestling and horse racing as well as baseball, basketball, football and hockey.

He also did the portraits for the All-Scholastic boys and girls' high school achievements. Now they use only photos or computer-generated art. When he was doing this he drew a minimum of one cartoon, portrait or caricature a day, but when he did the all scholastics it was 8-10 a day. Dick always loved to do the covers of the Plain Dealer Friday! Magazine and TV Guide.

Dick Dugan caricature

A Dick Dugan caricature

Dugan's style is "Disneyesque" - it has straight, clean lines and often is just pen and ink. He doesn't have much appreciation for the modern method of cartooning, which he finds to be busy and stiff. Referring to the "Disneyesque style" he says, "I mean Disney of the old days - not so much today. It's the computers. Everything looks harder, not as soft."

The Plain Dealer sent Dugan to classes in Akron to learn computer drawing. He went. He learned. He never applied the skill.

"Now" says Dick "Humans don't look human - there's a sci-fi edge to all of them"

Dugan used to enjoy looking at a normal scene, like people in the park and exaggerate some sports angle. For example, in an otherwise quiet park setting he would have a Little League fastball go out of control and his cartoon would be based on the ensuing havoc. Some people would drop their hot dogs; some would hide under the benches. None of it would be violent - it was all done with humor.

He applied the same technique to wrestling and football and would actually like to do more of these scenes.

Jim Dugan, Jean Dugan and Dick Dugan

Jim Dugan, Jean Dugan and Dick Dugan

His son Jim (seen above with mother Jean and father Dick) recalls growing up with a sports cartoonist for a father "Dad was always happy and positive in his cartoons. He always made people smile.

Dugan illustrated a Christmas book about 40 years ago with Joe King and Del Thomas. The book was based on a song written by King and sung by Linn Sheldon. It is the story of Santa Claus's Dog - when you hear the dog barking you know it's Christmas Eve. That was in 1957.

Dick Dugan's Boofo the Dog

Dick Dugan's Boofo the Dog

In 1995 a reporter from the Wall Street Journal called King. His wife was from Cleveland and remembered the song. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about it and Pelican Publishers called.

The book, Boofo Goes Where Santa Goes, was a great success and is still available today. Dennis Kucinich helped with the marketing of the original book. Tragically, all of the original drawings from the book were burnt in a fire.

Dick also illustrated Finally, Something to Cheer About: A Fan's View of the 1991 Brave's Season as well as a local book, "Gaels of Laughter and Tears" which is a compilation of Irish nicknames heard so frequently in the Cleveland area. Dick Dugan is no exception to this Irish tradition - his nickname is Doodles!

Drawing inspires him and makes him feel entirely different when he's drawing especially if it goes the way he wants it too. "Writing is tougher than drawing. If the words are right the illustrations will come together."

When he left the Plain Dealer Dugan started Dick Dugan Advertising Company. Dugan drew portraits for many years for Gino Jewelers, which they then made into plaques. His plaques are hung in some very prestigious places around town.

Dugan has had some bad physical luck since the year 2000 when he had a bad fall, which resulted in a torn rotator cuff. Then he had heart surgery twice and had both hips replacements. Of course there's also the two cataract surgeries. "You could say I'm bionic now!"

Now that he's retired Dick enjoys going to dinner and movies and he especially likes the time he gets to spend with his children and grandchildren. "Jean and I are very lucky to have each other and to have such a good and caring family."

Dugan doesn't follow sports much now - not like during his time at the Plain Dealer. "They're not athletes anymore - they're overpaid and pompous and they don't put their heart and soul into it. LeBron James is different - he has the spirit. But most don't play a quality game. Not like the good old days when people like Feller played."

Dugan is still sharing his special talent with friends and family. He has made his own Christmas cards for the last 50 years and it is a lucky person who is a recipient of his delightful illustrations. But even without his art just knowing Dick Dugan is a gift unto itself.

Dick and Jean Dugan

Jean and Dick Dugan

Just as he knows where to put ink to paper, he instinctively knows when are where to add humor and tenderness to create a smile and a feeling of content.

Both Dick Dugan and his drawings are in a class of their own, a class reserved for the best of the best - and that's where they belong.

Click to see see more samples of Dick Dugan's drawings

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

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