Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Perilous World of Uncle Wiggly: Illustrations by Lansing Campbell (flickr link)

Before being immortalized as a children's board game, Uncle Wiggly was the beloved hero of a long series of children's books.

American author Howard Roger Garis (1873 - 1962) wrote dozens and dozens of Uncle Wiggly stories, beginning in 1910.

Before being collected into books, the first short stories initially ran in a New Jersey newspaper, the Newark News.

The formula for the stories remained a fairly constant cycle of commerce mixed with confrontation.
Lovable elder rabbit Uncle Wiggly runs some errand or another, usually going to fetch an item requested by his muskrat housekeeper, Nurse Jane.

During his outing he runs into one of his many friendly animal pals, a small bit of mischief or adventure ensues, and Wiggly is then ambushed by one of several large 'bad' animals, who usually want to 'nibble his ears'.

More often than not, whatever item he's just purchased is then succesfully used as a weapon to aid in his deliverance. Wiggly is not unlike a lagomorphic MacGiver in this respect.

'The Bunny Gentleman' also seems to be fond of employing jovial banter during these potentially life-threatening encounters. The practice reminds me a bit of Spiderman, or perhaps Robin, The Boy Wonder*, though if I were a bit more well-read I wouldn't be surprised to discover it goes back at least as far as The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Musketeers, Cyrano, or part of that crowd...

In addition to tales of Uncle Wiggly, during his career Howard R. Garis (using several different pseudonyms) wrote many books in various classic junior lit series, including Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins, and The Campfire Girls. His wife and children wrote similar material, also using pen names. Collectively they authored over 1000 books.

The images in this set are from 'Uncle Wiggly's Picture Book', first published in 1922. This edition was printed in 1940, by The Platt & Munk Co.

I'm a bit surprised to not find more information available regarding the illustrator Lansing Campbell. A prolific artist, Campbell's work would appear in many other children's books over the years, including (predictably) Bre'r Rabbit.

Perhaps you have some background info to provide regarding Lansing Campbell? If so, please leave a comment on this post for all of us.

Link to my flickr set: The Perilous World of Uncle Wiggly: Illustrations by Lansing Campbell

ADDENDUM 5/19/07: Aha! Here's a bit more info on Lansing 'Lang' Campbell over at Lambiek. Thanks to Lex10 from Glyph Jockey.

*(Speaking of The Boy Wonder, I can't imagine a more off-subject reference, so here it is!)

1 comment:

glyphjockey said...

More Uncle here at my blog:

Freshly-stirred links