As time went on Geisel produced more children’s books and started working on a project that was called The Seven Lady Godivas. Its intention was to be an adult retelling of the Lady Godiva saga, but it ended up being one of the largest flops Geisel ever worked on. Geisel’s illustrations that were supposed to be adult content were childish and did not fit the adult theme. This was also created during the depression. The cost was two dollars, but in Geisel’s words, “Nobody had two dollars” (qtd. in Fensch 78).
He ends up working at a newspaper called the PM where another form of work of his comes into light, political comics. World War II started and Geisel was a strong advocate. He wanted people to know what was happening and encourage America to join the war. He illustrated Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota as a hours’s ass because he encouraged the US to say out of the war. He also made a comic with Australians as kangaroos and Japanese eating their tails with Nazis as dachshunds (85). He went on a political comic streak until he himself was called to be Caption of Information Education Division in Hollywood (86).
He was assigned to a training film team. They noticed the soldiers would not listen to everything with a boring narrator and low grade illustrations. So Geisel and his team created the SNAFA, which was Army slang for: Situation Normal All F-ked Up. This was unacceptable so they changed it to Situation normal ALL FOULED UP. Everyone seems to like the videos and responded to them much better than the old films used (87). After he got back from the war and not writing for seven years he went on a writing spree writing a book almost every year.
After much success with some of his largest hits, Cat in Th Hat in 1957, Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish in 1960, he decided to make beginner books called, “The SIMPLEST SEUSS for YOUNGEST USE,” in 1963 (147). This includes; Dr. Seuss’s ABC, Fox in Sox, I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew and I Wish I Had Duck Feet. Jumping to 1996, Dr. Seuss books sold over 150,000,000 copies, and in 1997 many of his books are at or near their hundredth re-printing (109,152). But October 23, 1967 was a fateful day for Geisel and Helen.
This is the morning where Helen is found to have overdosed on her sodium pentobarbital tablets because of her depression (154). In her letter she wrote, “I feel myself in a spiral, going down down down, into a black hole from which there is no escape, no brightness. ” but she also writes, “I love you so much…. Jam too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you… Sometimes, think of the fun we had all thru the years” (qtd. in Fensch 155). If people just looked at his work after the death of his wife, they would have never guessed.
He created The Foot Book, one of his first book series called the Bright and Early Books (156). Many people ask him about his inspiration and one of the answers was being a world traveler. He explored many places with his wife including; Europe, Peru, Turkey, Mexico, Hawaii, Cambodia, India, Tehran, Jerusalem, Paris, London and New York (159). Closer to the end of his life he obtained cataracts that were fixed and tongue cancer that was removed. With everything he went through he passed peacefully in his sleep on September 24, 1991. With no children, he gave his love to the children who read his books (176).
Almost all of Geisel’s books contained strong moral points such as in Bartholomew and the Oobleck, “Sometimes you have to say I’m sorry, sometimes you have to say it’s my fault, even if you’re a king,” and from Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person, no matter how small” (Fensch 128). With these thought provoking morals, creative rhymes and colorful illustrations no wonder The Cat in the Hat broke sales records selling over 50,000 copies with its first printing (128). Before Geisel was a children’s book illustrator and writer, he created comics. Many of his comics, focusing on the Prohibition and the foibles of the rich and famous.
One of his more political comics was posted in the PM on October 1, 1941, called, … and the Wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones… (Nel 61). This comic is an illustration of a woman, with America First written on her sweater. She was reading a book called. Adolf the Wolf, to two young children. The woman reads, “… and the Wolf chewed up the children and spot out their bones… Both those where Foreign Children and it really didn’t matter. ” For one, this shows that Geisel understood how much children’s books can affect children’s thoughts and ideas.
This comic was written after his first four children’s books. This comic also shows how dedicated he was to getting people to join the war. In a book called, The Seuss The Whole Seuss And Nothing But The Seuss the author Charles D. Cohen states how he wanted to get people to , “… look beyond themselves to understand that other people mattered—even in other countries” (Cohen 217). Geisel was a strong advocated of equality which can also been seen in Horton Hears a Who, where Geisel writes, “I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all, a person is a person, no matter how small” (qtd. n Cohen 220).
To create his comics he used pen and paper (Cohen 222). Geisel wrote and illustrated 69 books, according to Thomas Fensch (Fensch 179-182). With his first being And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Cohen 152). Number eighteen in this list, written in 1960 is a book called, Green Eggs and Ham. Its page length, word choice and illustrations can be compared with one of his other well known work, The Cat and the Hat. (Fensch 136-138). Both were short stories which had a restricted word choice. He first made a list of 500 words then asked his editor to whittle the list down to 250.
The reasoning behind this decision was to help children to read. The fewer words with repetition and rhyme helped children learn to read. The Christian Science Monitor states, “… he does seem to know exactly what children just beginning to read find unbearably funny” (qtd. in Fensch 137). One difference between the Cat and the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham is that Geisel used only 50 to write Green Eggs and Ham. He did this because of a bet with his editor. The bet was 50 words for $50. Geisel worked long and hard to come up with rhyming words, but he did it, using exactly 50 words (Fensch 138).
Green Eggs and Ham shows how dedicated he was to his work. He loved to try new things and a change was something he seemed to love as well. Working long and hard he was able to create not only a book containing only 50 words, but also a very successful child’s book. According to Publisher Weekly, Green Eggs and Ham was the fourth best seller, hard cover, english children’s to be sold, selling 8,143,088 copes by the end of the year 2000 (All-Time). With the illustrations, he ties everything together, using mostly the primary colors to help bring out the green eggs and ham.
He also used both pages for his illustrations. This creates a fluid monition between pages, with the primary color plait everything just seemed to flow. Geisel was a character and a half. Reading about him was almost as enjoyable as reading his children’s books. I have reiterated many pieces of his history to friends of mine because of how fascinating each part of his life was. One of my favorite facts I learned about him was learning about his personality. There were so many parts of his life that I wanted to add to this paper that I just could not fit unless I wrote a full bibliography.
While researching Geisel, my perspective on art did change for the better. Throughout his actions and art, he pushed through critics telling him what not to do. I found this when his art teacher in high school shames him for flipping his work upsidedown. He drops the class and became the manager of the soccer team. They lost every game but Geisel still had a positive audited because he was, ”free from art-by-the rule book”(qtd. in Fensch 30-31). I have experienced this many times, but not all art related situations, people just telling me to stop acting in strange ways.
I like to crawl under tables and climb trees, but this was scolded out of me until I got into college. I admire Geisel’s and his ambitions for doing what he wanted and not caring what other people thought. He also reminds me of a friend of mine, Shelbi Graham. She is an artist who draws strange and unusual artwork, a one eyed, heart head hovering over its body, but she keeps drawing even though people shame her. Another way I can connect with Geisel through Shelbi is with their similar wit. Geisel was having a conversation with is wife after hearing the Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota talking on the radio.
He urged Americans to stay out of Japan, Germany and Italy because of World War II. Ted blurted, “That horse’s ass! ” with his wife responding, “Ted, don’t use language like that! ” He responds, “But he is a horse’s ass! I’ll draw a picture of him as a horse’s ass and put in the MP! ” (qtd. in Morgan 101) This was a newspaper that informed people about politics. Helen said that he should not do this vulgar idea. But he did it anyways. These are just a couple examples of his amusing character. Fitting everything would create a book that I am would not mind writing if it meant more people would know about Geisel’s story.