How My Illustration of Paul Simon Got Into the Library of Congress

Paul Simon

Paul Simon, 1991

I’ve parted with many of my illustrations over the years; a few I’ve sold, others I’ve given as gifts to friends, and yet others I’ve traded with my fellow illustrators.

About two years back, one of the illustrations I parted with resurfaced. I drew Paul Simon for The Detroit News back in 1991 as part of an article about his Rhythm of the Saints album and his related tour, which stopped at the Palace of Auburn Hills just north of Detroit that February.

Draper Hill, a colleague at the News (where I worked as a page designer), saw the Simon original drawing at a gallery show in Detroit and he inquired about it. Back then, I was somewhat in awe of Hill. He was considered one of the deans of editorial cartooning. He was also a preeminent illustration historian, having written the biographies of Thomas Nast and James Gillray. Draper was also a terribly nice guy, unpretentious, kind and supportive of the younger artists at The News.

Draper and I agreed to a trade. In return for my Paul Simon illustration, I received two editorial cartoons by him that appeared in the News. One was of then Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and another of President H.W. Bush, both of which I still cherish.

Draper passed away in 2009 and his estate either donated or sold part of his massive collection to the Library of Congress. In 2011, I was called by a curator at the Library of Congress who notified me that my Paul Simon would be used in an upcoming show, which I thought was a great honor. When the show, Timely and Timeless: New Comic Work Acquisitions debuted, I was even more honored that the Simon illustration was used in press materials and was reprinted by the Washington Post and other beltway media outlets.

Timely and Timeless put me in the company of an eclectic mix of American cartoonists, such as Gillray, Al Hirschfeld, Charles Addams, John Held, Jr., Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks), Bill Griffith (Zippy the Clown), and Steve Ditko (Spider-Man).

Now, I’m surprised to find that reproductions of the Paul Simon illustration are now part of a Library of Congress collection called “Miscellaneous Items in High Demand,” which means that some people out there have purchased prints from the Library.