CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An exhibit showcasing the cartoons, columns and correspondence of James F. Dent opens Monday in the State Archives Library in the Culture Center.
Dent, who worked at The Charleston Gazette from the time he graduated from West Virginia University in 1952 until his death in 1992, is probably best known for his daily humor column — the Gazetteer — which he began writing in 1962. In the years that followed, Dent’s columns were excerpted for use in Readers Digest nearly 200 times, and were compiled in two books, “The Dog With the Cold Nose” and “James Dent Strikes Back.”
Dent’s work as a cartoonist dates back to his days as a student at Charleston’s Stonewall Jackson High School, where his work appeared in the school newspaper, and at WVU, where his cartoons were seen on the pages of a campus humor magazine. At the Gazette, Dent created thousands of editorial cartoons, covering themes ranging from politics and sports to space exploration and celebrities.
“In all, there are more than 6,000 cartoons in the Dent Collection,” said Randy Marcum, a historian for the Division of Culture and History, who compiled the materials included in the Dent exhibit. “There are 62 boxes of them, and each box seems to follow a thread of a different theme.”
Dent was a man of many trades at the Gazette, where in addition to writing columns and sketching cartoons, he was the newspaper’s chief book reviewer and television critic (for which he used the pen name Jay Fredericks). He began his career at the Gazette as a reporter, but soon began working as an assistant to W.E. “Ned” Chilton III, who in the early 1950s was in charge of promotions and special events for the newspaper, but would later become its publisher and leave the job of promotions manager to Dent.
Dent became the Gazette’s editorial cartoonist in 1968. Cartoons featured in the exhibit come from the early 1970s, and include Dent’s take on the 1972 presidential primary races for both parties, as well major sporting events of that era.
“He had a wicked sense of humor, and there were plenty of cartoons displaying that humor to choose from,”said Marcum…