Susan Frith Lonkevich
oversized Phi Beta Kappa key dangled from his waist, regardless
of the occasion. His briefcase bore the monogram I.Q. And no matter
how much fashions changed, he always sported a pointy beard, an
upright sprig of hair atop his balding head, and a floppy bow tie.
Though it wasnt clear which academic discipline he was trained
in, he assured his department chair that he had indeed published:
two letters to The Philadelphia Inquirer and one to Ann Landers.
25 years the cartoon character known as Professor Quagmire livened
the pages of the Gazette with his quirks, confusion, and
misadventures. The creation of Robert F. Bo Brown Sr. C28 L31,
Quagmire showed up for the Ivy Day Planting Ceremony with poison
ivy and bandaged hands. He dressed for Evening School in a tuxedo.
He tried to tell winning football Coach George Munger how to do
his job and got dragged onto the field in perhaps the smallest football
jersey ever made.
he was supposed to be the absent-minded professor, although he was
pretty much on top of things if you read the cartoons, recalls
Michel Huber W53 ASC61, former publisher of the Gazette and
director of alumni relations, as well as a friend of the late cartoonist.
The cartoons are always relevant to the University and what was
going on at the time.
1946 to 1971, the cartoon observed the return of World War II veterans
to campus, the admission of women to Wharton, the election of the
first woman student-council president, and protests against the
cartooning career began while at Penns Law School, when he submitted
a cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post. The magazine bought
the cartoon for $35. After selling a second piece, Brown took a
leave of absence from law school to devote his time to drawing cartoons.
He went on to publish thousands of them internationally until his
death at age 90 in 1996.
delightful to work with, says Robert M. Dusty Rhodes, editor
of the Gazette from 1961 to 1971, adding, He gave the magazine
a certain characteristic most of the other magazines didnt have.
No other alumni magazine I knew of had a regular cartoonist who
dealt with things going on on campus.
popular with many alumni, the professors stance on the generation
gap didnt endear him to everyone. When a gaggle of shaggy-bearded
young men paraded by him with anti-war signs, an indignant Quagmire
remarked to a colleague: Sometimes I feel like shaving off mine
cartoon generated at least one angry letter to the editor. Unless
or until you begin serious consideration in the Gazette of
the issues facing our nation, wrote Joseph Schwab C61, your cartoon
says to me that your view of the issues is: Beards are of more concern
than bombs, burning draft cards is of more concern than the burning
of people, peace is dangerous, and democracy must be brought to
Vietnam by compelling our young men to go there and fight.
says he thinks the letter writer misunderstood the intent of the
cartoon. He was poking fun at people growing beards, but it cut
both ways. I think that remark was also kind of a jibe at people
who couldnt stand students with long hair and beards.
very much a traditionalist and a conservative, I think, but yet
he was able to accept the changes. Huber recalls how Brown, an
officer in the Friars Senior Society, welcomed women to the group
once its membership opened up to them. He was kind of like an uncle
to them. He didnt like to see things change, but when they did
change, he accepted it and went along with it, and ended up enjoying
active involvement in Penn alumni affairs helped him keep the cartoon
topical. A lot of active alumni take [their volunteer work] very
seriously like its another job, but Bo just enjoyed it, Huber
says. He liked being around other people.
was Brown that he used cartoons to communicate the most mundane
of messages. When he lost the red and blue rosette that was given
to him upon receipt of the Alumni Award of Merit, he mailed Huberthen
still the director of alumni relationsa cartoon.
Huber: There was a picture of Bo down on his hands and knees looking
under his desk, with his wife standing behind him. He was saying
to her, I guess Im going to have to ask Mike Huber to send me
a new one. That probably took him no longer [to draw] than it would
take me to write a note.