Shaenon K. Garrity (shaenon) wrote,
Shaenon K. Garrity

Anne Cleveland and Jean Anderson

A while back, there was a debate about why women don't get no respect in comics, like there always is, and a cartoonist by the name of Anne Cleveland came up. Basic summary: Anne Cleveland was a little-known cartoonist working from the 1930s to 1960s, starting with a series of cartoons about campus life drawn while she was a student at Vassar College (class of '37). She often worked with a collaborator, Jean Anderson, although it's unclear how they split the duties. It seems likely that Anderson was a writer only, but I have no confirmation on that. Besides her Vassar cartoons, Cleveland is best known for a humorous guide to postwar Japan called It's Better with Your Shoes Off.

Anyway, the online dustup got started with Heidi MacDonald demanding to know why gifted female cartoonists like Cleveland aren't better known, to which Tom Spurgeon basically replied that Anne Cleveland totally isn't all that. There was a scuffle, and some harsh words were probably exchanged, and eventually everyone settled back down and returned to important matters, like Frank Cho getting hired to draw Spider-Woman's ass. Why am I bringing the whole thing up again? Because, as it happens, I'm a Vassar alumnus (class of '00), and I happen to be a fan of the Cleveland/Anderson cartoons from way back. I really like this style of 1930s cartooning, and Cleveland's linework reminds me of Gluyas Williams, one of my particular favorites.

These cartoons are all scanned from the booklet Everything Correlates, first published in 1946. I also have another booklet, Vassar: A Second Glance. The booklets contain no information whatsoever about the cartoons or their creators, so I don't know if these were drawn while Cleveland and Anderson were students, or, if not, when, where, and why they first appeared. Cleveland also painted murals on the walls of the Vassar Alumnae House pub which were still there when I was a student, but I don't have pictures of those.

Anyway, for the curious, here are Anne Cleveland and Jean Anderson.

The building in the background is the campus library. You can also see it at the beginning of "The Muppets Take Manhattan." The building where the Muppets hold their senior revue is the campus dining hall.

"Euthenics" was Vassar's disturbing term for Home Economics. It was added as a department in the postwar era, when there was a big get-the-girls-back-to-the-kitchen movement in American society. Female college enrollment plummeted when the men came home, and one way schools like Vassar tried to cope was by selling homemaking as something that required an Ivy League (or at least a Seven Sisters) education. Euthenics hasn't been a major at Vassar for many years, and the beautiful old Euthenics building now houses a variety of departments that spun out of home ec (Psychology, Economics, Education), but the on-campus nursery school is still up and running.

As far as I know, the All-Girl Pagan Toga Dance is not actually a campus tradition, just something that happens a lot, usually when my parents were visiting. However, in the background you can see an actual Vassar tradition: the Daisy Chain, a group of sophomore girls chosen to carry a long garland of daisies at the seniors' graduation ceremony. I was nominated for Daisy Chain in my sophomore year but didn't get in.

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