The Illustrated Mark Twain and the Buffalo Express
10 Stories and over a Century of Sketches
by Thomas J. Reigstad - Foreword by Laura Skandera Trombley Ph.D
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Pub Date 20 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 23 Feb 2024
Globe Pequot, North Country Books
Coming to Buffalo as a young man with a background as an itinerant printer’s apprentice, newspaper reporter, and popular lecturer, Twain began his brief but impactful tenure at the Buffalo Express in 1869. One of his first decisions as managing editor was to accompany each of his Saturday feature stories with an illustration. But the sketches didn’t stop there. For more than a century, illustrators have kept coming back to Twain’s original Express stories to add their own drawings to the humorist’s legacy.
The Illustrated Mark Twain and the Buffalo Express collects ten feature stories published by Twain in the Buffalo Express during his year-long tenure at the publication, accompanied by illustrations drawn by six artists over a span of nearly 115 years alongside insightful analysis from author and Twain scholar Thomas J. Reigstad. There is the drawing by Twain himself, created in 1870; originals by Express staff artist John Harrison Mills in the fall of 1869; and those featured alongside his Express stories by his favorite contemporary illustrator, True Williams, who would be the principal illustrator of Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Sketches, New and Old. This book also includes 11 humorous illustrations created by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Tom Toles for a 1978 Buffalo Courier-ExpressSunday Magazine series reprinted here for the first time, as well as a cartoon drawn in 1983 for the Mark Twain Journal by Bill Watterson, the cartoonist and author of the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” Finally, this volume contains two 21st-century caricatures of Twain, one as he looked in his early 30s in Buffalo and a second of him decades later as a literary lion, drawn by cartoonist Adam Zyglis – another Pulitzer Prize-winner – for the Buffalo News.
Ranging from his first impression of Niagara Falls to the deteriorating condition of a cemetery in his Buffalo neighborhood, to more satirical statements on the state of American journalism, Twain’s Buffalo Express stories from 1869 and 1870 stand the test of time. But their entertainment value is vastly increased when coupled with visual interpretations provided by talented illustrators (including Twain himself) of yesterday and today.
Thomas J. Reigstad is a renowned Mark Twain scholar and emeritus professor of English at Buffalo State university. He is the author of Scribblin’ for a Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo. His articles on Mark Twain have appeared in the Mark Twain Journal, Mark Twain Encyclopedia, Mark Twain Society Bulletin, and other publications.