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William Overgard Cartoons

An inventory of his cartoons at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: TRO
Date: Jul 1969

Biographical History

William Overgard (1926-1990) was an American cartoonist and comic artist.

William Overgard was born on April 30, 1926 in Santa Monica, California and graduated from Santa Monica High School. His father acted in silent movies. At age 12, Overgard sent his drawings to cartoonist Milton Caniff, whose Terry and the Pirates, Overgard enjoyed. Overgard enlisted in the armed forces in 1944 and served in Okinawa. During this time he pursued several ideas for comic strips, including one based on the American Civil War. Overgard moved to New York City in 1948, at Caniff's suggestion, after spending several months as an art student at Santa Monica City College. He worked on comics books for Lev Gleason and Dell Comics. These included Black Diamond, (a western), Boy Comics, and Daredevil. Overgard also submitted comic strip ideas to United Features Syndicate and Publishers Newspaper Syndicate.

In 1954, Overgard was hired by Publishers to replace Elmer Woggon as the artist on Steve Roper which was still appearing under the name of original artist Woggon although it had been ghosted for several years by other artists. Allen Saunders served as writer for the strip. Overgard added his own character of Mike Nomad and eventually the strip became officially known as Steve Roper and Mike Nomad. Overgard, who for a time had trouble meeting his various deadlines, shared a studio in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City with artists Leonard Starr (Mary Perkins On Stage) and Tom Scheuer before returning to working outside of his home on his farm in Stony Point, New York. Overgard also wrote the Kerry Drake strip for several years during the 1970s.

After drawing Steve Roper for over thirty years, Overgard left in 1982 for Rudy, a comic strip he created about a talking chimpanzee who previously had a successful Vaudeville career. Rudy, distributed by United Features Syndicate, ended its run in 1985 and a compilation of strips appeared as Rudy in Hollywood (1984).

In addition to pursuing visual art, Overgard wrote thriller novels, screenplays, and scripts for animated series such as Thundercats. Overgard published the books Pieces of a Hero (1973) and Once More the Hero (1974). Overgard was a member of the National Cartoonists Society and one of his Steve Roper strips was used by Roy Lichtenstein in his 1961 painting, “I Can See the Whole Room”.

William Overgard died on May 25, 1990.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Overgard Cartoons consist of a single series containing daily and Sunday panels for the Steve Roper comic strip. There are a total of a 3,046 original pieces of artwork, with 2,728 daily and 307 Sunday strips. There are also 14 copies of daily strips in the collection.

Steve Roper, an adventure continuity strip, features photojournalist Steve Roper who works for the fictional Spotlight magazine in New York City. Roper and Mike Nomad (a character created by Overgard) investigate criminal activity and are often in the company of beautiful women.

Overgard worked primarily in pen and ink on illustration board. Traces of pencil are visible. Dates appear both inked on the cartoon and also at the top in pencil. The original artwork bears both the name of Overgard and writer Allen Saunders. Dates stamped on the back of cartoons precede the cartoon's publication date. Included are also 27 Sunday comic strips which were drawn in color watercolor on paper.

Arrangement of the Collection

Cartoons are divided into daily and Sunday strips and are arranged chronologically. However, within the Sunday strips, the color strips are foldered separately from the black and white strips.


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 Allen Saunders Cartoons collection for additional material related to the comic strip Steve Roper.

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

Subject Headings


Overgard, William.

Corporate Bodies

Publishers newspaper syndicate.

Associated Titles

Steve Roper (comic strip)


Adventure and adventurers -- Comic books, strips, etc.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Photojournalists -- Comic books, strips, etc.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Comic strips.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William Overgard Cartoons
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of William Overgard, 1969.

Table of Contents

Steve Roper