Scott Brown: Cartoonist is not just a fascinating biography of a mid-twentieth century cartoonist deserving of wider acclaim, but it’s also a heartfelt love letter to family and family history, a glimpse into the surprisingly vast world of Ohio cartooning tradition, and an exciting read full of everything from cats with gold teeth to weather-predicting turtles.
Ben Towle, five-time Eisner-nominated cartoonist & Professor of Illustration at The Columbus College of Art and Design
Scott Brown was a Mansfield native son who came of age in the Great Depression. He flavored the lives of generations of Mansfielders with cartoons and humor from behind the soda fountain of the family’s drugstore on Helen Avenue. His work appeared in national magazines. But he also freely shared his humor about his neighbors and the interesting people around him, Mansfield people, with whoever walked through the shop door. Brown had a love of history, the humorous side of history. His grandson Christopher Kuntz has brought it all together with a huge sampling of Brown’s illustrated humor alongside the history of his Ohio family.
When Scott Brown’s widow, Ann, prepared to move out of her home on Rae Avenue in Mansfield in 2002, she donated the cartoonist’s lifetime accumulation of artwork and related material to several local museums. This made it possible now, twenty years later, for Kuntz to deliver about the most entertaining family history one could imagine. Kuntz took aim at understanding his Ohio ancestors in terms of the events and conditions that surrounded them. He conveys this from the time they came to the region after the War of 1812 up until his last memory of his grandfather in 1982. This parallels the lives of many of our pioneer families, told by someone who clearly sought and found his piece of Richland County history.
Alan Wigton, President, Richland County Historical Society
Scott Brown: Cartoonist is a great read! As someone who grew up in a Mid-Western rural community during the 1950s, I loved the verbal pictures painted by author Chris Kuntz of life in Ohio during the 1800s through the mid-1900s as he traces the lineage of his grandfather, the subject of the book. The story of Chris’ grandfather working in his small-town soda shop by day and drawing cartoons at night captures the essence of a bygone era—and of a unique individual. As the book’s title suggests, Scott Brown’s first love was creating cartoons—and we have a front-row seat in watching him develop and hone his innate talent as the book progresses. The book is peppered with cartoons, collected from museums and family archives, that are enlightening and entertaining—a commentary on humor, politics, and everyday life from the perspective of a creative individual watching the foot traffic in his soda store and on the street in front of it. In fact, in looking at a few of the cartoons, I found myself saying “Aha—that’s where that cartoon came from!” Chris Kuntz’s writing flows beautifully and honors the memory of his grandfather in a wonderful manner. And not far into the book, I was lusting for a chocolate ice cream soda like the ones my hometown drug store used to make. Kudos to Dr. Kuntz for sharing the story of an “every-day man” who was far from ordinary—just like those chocolate sodas of yesteryear.
Major General Richard R Paul
Scott Brown:Cartoonist packs a tremendous amount into a quick, enjoyable read – the perfect companion to our modern lives short on time, long on need for inspiration. The book celebrates the genius of the titular Scott Brown, an accomplished mid-20th century cartoonist, artist, and astute observer of human nature, all packaged into the unassuming proprietor of Brown’s Soda Shop, the proud Mansfield, Ohio, home of the largest, coldest and best chocolate soda on Route 30 (including all detours). The meticulously researched illustrated biography sets the context with vivid stories of the Ohio frontier, generations of the Brown family, and our emerging hero, Howard Scott Brown, prolific artist and soda shop philosopher. Scott Brown: Cartoonist sports a treasure trove for a broad swath of readers. Aspiring and accomplished artists will savor the more than 100 full color illustrations of cartoons, drawings, paintings, linocuts, and sculptures that complement an insider deep dive into the roots of creative inspiration and artistic prowess. History and genealogy buffs will light up with the lively prose of a kindred soul, author Christopher Kuntz, M.D. Kuntz adeptly weaves numerous nuggets of expansive research into a cohesive, compelling narrative of not just human survival, but human thriving, and delight. Moreover, the book ignites the spark of the artist, historian, and humanist in us all, emboldening us to seize the day, every single day, to garner the magic and awe embedded in the ordinary; to create, share, and celebrate the meaning and richness in our own unique life stories.
In Scott Brown: Cartoonist, Chris Kuntz traces the Brown family before immigrating to America, and presents their struggles and movement in Ohio. The story’s star is his grandfather, Scott Brown, a genius cartoonist, artist, and weather predictor. A must-read for Brown descendants, and a great read for others who are not.
Robert A. Carter, Ohio Historian
Scott Brown: Cartoonist is more than just a biography, much more. The titular subject was a nationally recognized cartoonist, living a quiet life in a small town, but a keen observer of the human state. This wonderful book begins by reflecting on the family origins which shaped his personality and skills.
The early chapters trace the family history as the Brown family migrated into the Ohio Valley, establishing themselves as farmers, then merchants. The genealogy is handled in a most artful fashion, dealing with each family by describing the idiosyncrasies which contributed to their personalities and how they shaped each successive generation. Most genealogy books are dry listings of generations, descendants, and dates. These people come to life as they are described as people with personalities and quirks. The family chart appears at the end of the book for those who like typical genealogy formats.
Scott Brown is followed as he developed his Cartoonist skills, and how he maintained a “normal” life as proprietor of a Soda Shop and Pharmacy, following in his father’s business. He can be seen interacting with his environment, and observing all that occurred around him. His ideas for cartoons came from his recognition of what he saw and heard every day in the Soda Shop. His cartoons are included to show how he interpreted events around him. He had a great eye for recognizing the interesting actions of people around him. His work is a perfect example of Americana. For people who grew up in the mid portion of twentieth century, it reflects life as we knew it.
The author obviously did detailed research, as shown by the excerpts from publications of the era, as well as sensitive inclusion of family memories of Scott and his ancestors. The details included, as well as a good selection of Scott’s cartoons and historical documents, make this an engaging read. Hard to put it down.
Frank Victor, MD
Our lives are defined by those who came before us and those who followed. This is evident in Christopher Kuntz’s memoir of his grandfather, Scott Brown: Cartoonist. Beginning with a brief synopsis of his connection to his grandfather, the author takes the reader back to the beginnings of the Brown family in Mansfield, Ohio. Their stories make the character of Scott Brown so unique, caring, creative, and full of humor. He was a people person who loved making chocolate sodas for whoever came into his shop, the Brown’s Soda Shop. But he didn’t just make “the largest, coldest, and best chocolate soda on Route 30.” He took time to share a few words, a story or two, all laced with a touch of humor. He was also an artist. Combining his visual images with his vision of humanity and, of course, his sense of humor, Scott mastered the art of cartooning, carving a niche for himself that saw his work featured in some of the big-name publications of his era: The New Yorker, Collier’s, and the Saturday Evening Post.
Christopher Kuntz demonstrates a strong love and respect for his grandfather as he shares stories in Scott Brown: Cartoonist. The book is part memoir, part biography, part storytelling, and full of life. The story evolves from the Brown family’s historical roots, as so much of the pioneer beginnings of this family found their place in Scott Brown’s paintings and cartoons, not to mention his stories. The author is a detailed storyteller who presents his grandfather’s story as it was meant to be told: like a story. There are many illustrations: family photos, his grandfather’s paintings, and cartoons. This story unravels a deeper meaning of what it means to be a part of a small community, to be a strong person who makes the most of the life they’ve been given, and to be a caring, loving person who puts others first. Overall, this book was an informative and fascinating read.