Carl E. Akeley, Action Hero

At the dinner reception at the Clarendon Historical Society before the unveiling of the Akeley monument stone in New York, a display was presented featuring various memorabilia from the life of Carl E. Akeley. Mostly provided by taxidermy historian John Janelli of New Jersey, this display featured letters, photographs, documents, banquet programs, and literature inspired by the amazing experiences in Akeley’s life. As such, he was a favorite subject for the men’s adventure magazines and comics of the early twentieth century. One of the items was an action-themed comic book showcasing the African adventures of the honoree. Since the statute of limitations on the copyright had expired, I photographed the pages of the comic book to read at a later date. I am presenting the entire strip here for the enjoyment of our readers.

“Two-Fisted Tales” EC Comic Book from the early 1950s

One of the first and most successful men’s pulp magazines was Argosy, published from 1882 to 1978. Men of Daring was a series of biographies of characters drawn by Benjamin David Stookie Allen. This feature on Carl Akeley probably appeared in the 1930s.

Artistic Treatments of Akeley’s Leopard Encounter

There have been many versions of artwork depicting Akeley’s encounter with the leopard through the years. This famous photo, taken in the aftermath of the leopard attack, is the basis for most of these depictions.

While researching this article, I came across this alternate photo, taken a few seconds before of after the more famous photo, showing a slightly different angle and expression on Carl Akeley’s face.

Comic artist Wally Wood’s version of the leopard fight was features in the March 1955 issue of “Two-Fisted Tales”, which was the last issue ever published. The creators of Two-Fisted Tales, Harvey Kurtzman and William Gaines, later went on to publish Mad Magazine.

This unknown artist’s depiction of the battle was used in a promotional video for the Project Hyena Diorama donation campaign for the Field Museum in Chicago.

This illustration is from The story of Carl Akeley in a 1946 comic drawn by a Mr. Simon. It was a six-page feature in the “Land of the Lost Comics”. I wonder if it is the same Mr. Simon who has the huge bear in the popular taxidermy email scam.

This men’s pulp-magazine cover from the mid twentieth-century featured a romanticized version of both the leopard and Mr. Akeley. Artist unknown.

This depiction of the leopard fight by an unknown artist was from the cover of a June 1946 comic book called “Real Heroes”.

This black-and-white treatment of the encounter was from another talented unsung illustrator of the time.

This version of the struggle was published in Breakthrough Issue 15 in the summer of 1987. I have firsthand knowledge of the origin of this work of art. The illustration, previously unattributed to any artist, was actually drawn by a young Tom Sexton, who was a contributor at the time. A young Ken Edwards, the managing editor at the time, was asked to stand in for a Polaroid instant photo as a pose reference to be used by Tom to create the illustration.

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New Jersey: A Tale of Two JJs

Last month our industry scored a victory against anti-hunting zealots in the state of New Jersey, largely due to the efforts two men; the amazing John Jackson of the Conservation Force, and unstoppable taxidermy advocate John Janelli. These two JJs joined with the Garden State Taxidermy Association and five New Jersey big game hunters to file suit against the state of New Jersey in Federal court. On August 29, Federal Judge Freda Wolfson found in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down the African trophy import ban which had been signed into law earlier this summer by Governor Chris Christie. For those who haven’t followed the chronology of events of this strange journey, here is a recap. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Taxidermist’s Table 1898

I had known Stephen Rogers for 30 years, but we had never met in person until last month. As a contributor to Breakthrough Magazine starting in 1986, and later as one of our most prolific and appreciated writers on the Taxidermy Net Forum, we have corresponded countless times throughout the three decades of our long-distance friendship. I have been a fan of his writing since the beginning, always looking forward to his fascinating articles. As the Collection Manager of Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles at the prestigious Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Steve rarely got the chance to attend national conventions.

This all changed when the National Taxidermist Association came to Seven Springs, Pennsylvania for their 45th annual convention. I was happy to meet Steve and his wife for the first time and was delighted to see that he had brought his very own competition entry based upon his profound interest in the history of taxidermy. As our own resident historian on the Forum, Stephen’s love of taxidermy history is evident in everthing he writes. Just browsing through the historical posts he has made as “PA” is like reading a master textbook on our profession. Read the rest of this entry »

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2016 Texas TTAI Award Winners

It’s a long, long ride to Lubbock from just about anywhere. Even most Texans had to drive all day to get there. But once they arrived, it was well worth it. Lubbock, Texas is a great city with an outstanding Civic Center. It seems like every eight years I wind up at this beautiful facility, having attended two National Shows here in 2000 and 2008, and now the Texas Taxidermy Association, Inc.’s 2016 convention.

The more time I spend in Texas, the more I truly believe that the Texas Association puts on the best state show in America. The depth of talent and intelligence in their organization is without equal. Scores of enthusiastic volunteers make everyone feel welcome and do whatever is necessary to pull off this massive undertaking without drama or anxiety. Their entire convention seems to run like a Swiss watch, humming along with efficiency and accuracy, while putting all attendees at ease. Read the rest of this entry »

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NTA 2016 Major Award Winners

As Mike Kirkhart pointed out when he gave the invocation at the awards banquet, The National Taxidermy Association is like a family. And just like a family, we have gone through many highs and lows during the past 45 years, but now all indications reveal that we are in a definite upward trajectory. At the annual convention last week in Pennsylvania, you could not have asked for a more beautiful facility, better weather, higher-quality entries, or nicer people attending and running the show. Every aspect of the convention was indeed top-notch. Even the food was great! Out of the hundreds of banquet meals I have endured in my life, I believe this one was the most delicious!

Last week in Seven Springs Mountain Resort, the National Taxidermists Association met for the 45th time to hold their annual convention and competition. For most of those conventions, I have had the privilege to serve as the show photographer which allowed me close access to see every mount. The quality of the taxidermy work was the finest I have ever seen at a national convention. Several entries actually got perfect scores! Read the rest of this entry »

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