The University Record, October 4, 1999

The Gargoyle focus of exhibition

The Law Giver
Now celebrating its 90th anniversary, ‘The Gargoyle’ is featured in an exhibition at the Bentley Historical Library through the end of the year.

Running through more lives than a feline, and even spending time underground, the University’s humor magazine keeps re-inventing itself and entertaining readers.

Arthur Miller wrote for the magazine in 1937–38 under the name Art Miller. Cartoonists Jerry Ellison and Lee Blaser drew for the magazine in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when it was published nine times a year on slick magazine stock with four-color covers and 54-page issues.

In the mid-1930s, ‘The Gargoyle’ was selected as America’s Outstanding College Comic Magazine. It ceased publication in 1944 due to World War II, re-emerging in December 1945 with its ‘Garg-Back-on-Campus-Issue.’ The Board in Control of Student Publications pulled the plug on the magazine in 1950, deciding it had crossed the barrier of good taste. Forced underground, it moved its offices out of the Student Publications Building into the basement of 211 S. State St.

By the late 1950s, ‘The Gargoyle’ had dropped out of circulation again. It was resurrected by John Dobbertin Jr. in 1962, who latched onto such ‘burning issues’ as co-ed housing and Michigan/Michigan State football. After writing previous editors for advice, Dobbertin learned that the revival issue would have to be clean enough to satisfy the Board in Control, but interesting enough that students would want to buy it. He wrote to Charles Schulz asking for a cartoon. The famous cartoonist obliged and Snoopy made an appearance in The Gargoyle.

In the 1990s, ‘The Gargoyle’ searched for a format, going from the traditional magazine, to a comic book, to a tabloid, and back to a magazine. It disappeared once more, only to reappear in January 1999.

The exhibition was prepared by Marilyn M. McNitt. Located on North Campus, the Bentley is open 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 9 a.m.–noon Saturday. Photo of ‘The Law Giver’ courtesy Bentley Library