The complete works of nationally acclaimed editorial cartoonist Randy Wicks, who drew sharp and poignant illustrations of local and global life for The Signal, have been donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
The collection was in the care of Kiza Hilton, who led a group of more than 300 volunteers in collecting, organizing and preserving the 504 local cartoons and 3,182 national cartoons after Wicks’ death in 1996. Hilton has noted that completing the task took several months.
“It was my way of mourning,” Hilton said. “They were treasures. Randy used to call cartoons his kids.
The donated cartoons range in size from the standard 8 x 10 inch to much larger formats, and include smaller sketches found in his Signal studio. Volunteers working on the collection have noted how his works have become more sophisticated over his years at the newspaper.
“It is heartwarming to donate this collection to the Historical Society,” Hilton said. “Randy was such a big part of this community. Everyone knew who Randy was and appreciated his understanding of local and national issues. Always professional, he was exceptionally aware of what was happening in our community and in the world. He was creative, brilliant and had a heart of gold.
Hilton said Wicks did not sell his cartoons for his own benefit, but instead donated them to non-profit organizations for their fundraisers. She also said that if he gave away a cartoon he liked, he would often redraw the same cartoon.
Historical Society archivists got to work placing the original comics in archival sleeves to preserve them, although most of the collection is in very good condition thanks to the efforts of the original volunteer group. . Once archiving is complete, the cartoons will be made available to interested parties on-site through the Research Library and may be part of rotating exhibits in the developing local history museum at Heritage Junction.
Wicks was born in Belmond, Iowa, and attended CalArts, graduating in 1980. He had a deep admiration for Signal editors Scott and Ruth Newhall, and he soon joined the team as an editorial cartoonist. Always the first person in the newsroom on weekdays, he read The Signal and the two major Los Angeles newspapers before reporters arrived and was eager to discuss the news with anyone who would listen. He drew his thought-provoking cartoons for 16 years before his sudden death at the age of 41.
The Wicks collection joins another major donation linked to The Signal, as publisher Richard Budman gave the Historical Society nearly one million images from The Signal’s photographic archives, dating from the late 1960s to the early 1960s. 2000s.
The Wicks Collection also includes a set of 31 “reader” binders containing copies of each cartoon, organized by subject. Four sets of workbooks were created; one was donated to the Historical Society, another resides in the Los Angeles County Library at Stevenson Ranch, another went to the library in Belmond, Iowa, and one is in the collection of the National Cartoonists Society , now the International Museum of Comic Art at Ohio State University.
“Our community is indebted to Kiza for her careful preservation and stewardship of Randy’s work over all these years and for finding her the perfect permanent home, where she can continue to entertain and enlighten current and future generations.” , said Leon Worden, Vice President. President of the Historical Society. “I’m not sure people realize how unusual it was for a community our size, as small as it was 40 years ago, to have its own full-time, professionally trained editorial cartoonist. .”
“It’s bizarre how many caricatures of Randy could have been drawn today, with topics ranging from local housing development to abortion and high gas prices, which had just skyrocketed to a dollar and a quarter in 1995,” Worden said. “You could easily waste an afternoon leafing through the beautifully housed drive set.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, whose home is decorated with a few special framed Wicks cartoons, is glad another generation can enjoy her work.
“We all wanted to see Randy’s work – a lifetime achievement – accessible and seen by the public,” Weste said. “He was an incredible gift for our community, no, for the world. His kind of art took understanding. He thought about the things that were happening and boiled them down into something you could immediately understand.
“He started out as a farm boy in Iowa, but his work turned into amazing pieces of Americana,” Weste said. “No matter when he was drawn, his caricatures bring out a new awakening of the stakes. He will always be punctual.
“Randy’s cartoons, especially as part of a collection, will forever provide a critical look at our valley’s history, values, way of life and sense of humor,” said the ex-Signal editor Tony Newhall, who remembered hiring the young Wicks. “Having a personal cartoonist of Randy’s caliber on staff at The Signal was a luxury few community newspapers ever had. Randy had a talent that was not learned, but something he was born with. His cartoons have become part of the community and an important part of Signal readers’ lives.
“Randy Wicks was a community treasure and a good friend,” said Signal editor Tim Whyte, who worked closely with Wicks for seven years. “I feel privileged to have had a front row seat to see his creativity first hand. One of the highlights of my day was always when Wicks stopped by my desk to show me what he was working on for the next day’s edition. I am delighted to hear that his originals will be preserved for future generations to enjoy. His cartoons are a window into 16 significant years of our shared history.
“Asking Randy to create political cartoons for a small-town daily newspaper was like St. Peter showing up at the local archdiocese to give the Midnight Mass sermon,” the Signal columnist said. , John Boston. “You had – literally – one of the best political cartoonists WHO EVER LIVED working at The Mighty Signal. Wicks was part angel, part genius, part little kid, part tireless cheerleader of Santa Clarita and planet earth and if that quote comes across to him, I deny it and punch the leaker in the nose.
“In all our years of friendship, I’ve seen the guy eat, like – once. How one guy was able to muster the energy to create this staggering work over the years out of 37 cups of coffee from cheap vending machines is mind-blowing,” he continued. “You could lend Randy six curved ink lines and he could draw a lion, Nixon, Mona Lisa and Tommy Lasorda kissing – all in the same cartoon.”
Heritage Junction remains closed to visitors due to an extensive restoration project currently underway, but Randy Wicks cartoons can be viewed online at RandyWicks.com.