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Gus Edson Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MD
Date: 8 Dec 2008

Biographical History

Gus Edson (1901-1966) was an American cartoonist and writer who created the comic strip Dondi.

Edson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on September 20, 1901 to Max and Emma Edson. At age 17, Edson joined the army and served in Australia in 1918. After briefly studying at the Pratt Institute and also at the Art Students League of New York, Edson embarked on a career with a string of newspapers in a variety of capacities.

Edson worked as a sports cartoonist for New York Evening Graphic from 1925 to 1928. He then spent a year with the Paul Block Chain of Newspapers followed by a year at the New York Evening Post. Edson also pursued freelance work and served as a standby ghost for the King Features Syndicate. Edson eventually ended up at the New York Daily News once again as a sports cartoonist from 1931 to 1935. While at the Daily News, Edson created his first daily strip Streaky in 1933 which he wrote until 1935.

In 1935, Joseph M. Patterson, president of the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate selected Edson to take over The Gumps following creator Sidney Smith’s sudden death. But Edson’s style did not meet the expectations of Smith's loyal readers and the strip was eventually cancelled in 1959.

By this time Edson was also regularly working on his most well known feature, Dondi, about a WWII orphan, which he created with Irwin Hasen in 1955. Hasen drew the strip while Edson wrote the storylines. The strip’s popularity with the public prompted Edson to write the film Dondi which was released in 1961 by Allied Artists. Edson planned and wrote a proposed sequel, The Carnival Kid.

Edson volunteered his time and skills for several causes and fundraising campaigns. In the fall of 1952 Edson was one of several cartoonists with the National Cartoonists Society who participated in a European USO Tour. Edson also worked for several savings bond drives. The Treasury Department routinely recognized these efforts and he received a Distinguished Service Award in 1954. Edson held membership in several organizations including the Society of Illustrators, the National Cartoonists Society and the Writer’s Guild of America.

Gus Edson died of heart failure September 27, 1966 in Stamford, Connecticut.  

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Gus Edson Papers consist of a variety of material related to Edson's career. There are 10 original Dondi comic strips, including 5 in color as well as fan mail related to the strip. Material related to the Dondi film includes promotional material, photographs and scripts. Included are also several of Edson's awards as well as clippings and photographs. Of particular interest is a scrapbook containing clippings of Edson's sports cartoons.

Arrangement of the Collection

The Gus Edson Papers are arranged into 5 series: Cartoons; Dondi (film); Correspondence; Photographs, Clippings and Scrapbooks; and Awards.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the Irwin Hasen Cartoons for additional Dondi cartoons.

See also the National Cartoonists Society interviews.

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Edson, Gus, 1901-1966.

Corporate Bodies

Chicago Tribune Syndicate.
Daily news (New York, N.Y. : 1920)

Associated Titles

Dondi (comic strip)
Dondi (film)


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Orphans -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Sports -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Albums (books)
Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Promotional materials.
Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Gus Edson Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Gus Edson, 1966.

Table of Contents


Dondi (film)


Photographs, clippings and albums