Tom – 1928

9th April 2020, 11:31 am

The drunks did bad things in the house. / (They) were driven quickly away. / There they went, one after another. / Driven to the neighbor’s, there the dad called the police and told the police to round them up.

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1928, Graphite on paper, 8.00” x 5.88”
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 2020 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom’s love of the comic book format was life-long. This early work from Touko, when he was only eight, shows his natural gift for storytelling and his love of comic strips. Fortunately, Tom had the foresight to save his early works, allowing us to see the evolution of a master. Note the the police arresting the robbers, giving an inkling of his later devotion to men in uniforms.

As might be expected in a family headed by two teachers, Tom’s home life was heavy on culture. He and his siblings grew up steeped in the arts. Even their play involved music, art, theater, literature. Those are subjects not usually found in children’s games. Many a boy would have spent such a childhood moaning and squirming, but Tom loved it. He quickly established himself as a child of many talents, especially adept at playing the piano.

Tom loved best of all to draw pictures. In mild weather, he hunched over a table on the summer porch, executing one drawing after another. When winter came and the temperature dropped, he would move inside next to the hulking ceramic stove, which radiated heat for hours on one little load of wood, giving him time enough to create a whole art gallery.

He was especially attracted to the comic-strip format. It enabled him to practice several of his talents at the same time, because the humble art of the comic book requires multiple abilities, not only visual but dramatic and literary as well. Tom confessed that many of his childhood strips were blatantly plagiarized from other comics, but they nonetheless showed remarkable ingenuity.

 

– F. Valentine Hooven III, originally published in Tom of Finland: His Life and Times, 1992

 

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