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Preston Allen Dean Jr., 1915-2011
posted January 1, 2012

imageThe cartoonist know as Pap Dean, a legendary cartoonist of Louisiana who worked for the Shreveport Times as their editorial cartoonist and newspaper illustrator for nearly 40 years, died on August 15 in Alexandria, Louisiana. He was 10 days shy of his 96th birthday.

Pap Dean was born Preston Allen Dean Jr. in Colfax, Louisiana. Like many children, Dean was a fan of the then-burgeoning comics pages, in particular George McManus and E.C. Segar. Dean graduated from high school in 1932, already having taking courses from the Landon School Of Cartooning, the mail-order service influential in developing and/or encouraging several cartoonists of Dean's era. According to an amazing story on his wikipedia page, the young Dean lost his college funds when an uninsured bank went under during the Great Depression. Having to drop out of Louisiana Normal (later Northwestern State), Dean wrote of his plight to Huey Long. Long interceded on his behalf and had him enrolled at Louisiana State University. Dean graduated in 1937, and for a time was enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Art.

Dean was given the nickname "Pap" by a young bully in his elementary school class.

Dean first stint of employment with the Shreveport Times actually came with an affiliated company, Shreveport Engraving, in 1938. The Times was then and for a long time remained the largest newspaper in northern Louisiana, as well as one of the more influential publications in the American South.

That tenure was interrupted a few times, the first during a three and a half year period serving in the US Military during World War 2, where Dean was among those that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He joined the reserves after the war, and left the service as a lieutenant colonel. In the mid-1950s he worked as an illustrator for a company called Arklas Gas and ran an art studio. He also worked as an art director for the Shreveport Journal from the late '50s into the early '60s.

The majority of his professional career was with the Times, however, and he became known for his largely genteel approach, which was buttressed by the fact he did a lot of work for the publication in an illustrative as opposed to more exclusively providing commentary. He later described his approach to cartooning as definitely having a point, but going for a "side blow" rather than a direct hit. He retired in 1979.

Dean was a founding inductee into the Louisiana Political Museum And Hall Of Fame, and for years prepared a caricature to stand alongside the exhibit honoring each fellow member. Dean was also a prose author, penning historical volumes on Louisiana generally, and separate volumes on the towns of Colfax and Natchitoches. He also authored a book of pen-and-ink drawings of Louisiana homesteads. Dean eventually donated his archives to the Louisiana State University campus in Shreveport.

Dean had three children with the former Doris Moore, and later remarried.

Dean eventually retired to a small town near the place of his birth, and kept a studio in Alexandria twenty-five miles away. Near the time of his death, he had moved into Alexandria itself and passed away in Rapides Regional Medical Center. Any memorials were asked by the family to be sent to the Boy Scouts of America and to the United Methodist church in Dean's hometown.

He is survived by two sons, a daughter, several grandchildren, and various relatives of his second wife, who like his first preceded him in death.