Someone once asked The New Yorker editor Harold Ross why he had James Thurber doing cartoons for the mag, even though he was a fifth-rate cartoonist. Ross jumped to Thurber's defense: "third rate." Howard Denson III says he may deserve the fifth-rate honors. Even so, he enjoys doodling and occasionally discovers some images that may serve a purpose or merit a smile or two.
In the Christmas issue of "Put It Blountly," the student newspaper at Blount Junior High School in Pensacola, he was asked to draw a nativity scene. He came up with this image, only to have the ink blot on one of the men's faces (see recent white-out to correct it). The figures' anatomy is way off, as you will notice by the rubbery arms. Mary could play center for the NBA if she stood up. Well, the kid did like Plastic-Man and Mr. Basketball, George Mikan.
Now, 18 and 19 years old and a cartoonist and then an editor of Pensacola Junior College's Corsair monthly newspaper, he often drew something to fill an empty space in the newspaper.
Often he would draw something and think of a feature story that could go with it. At other times, when in Bessemer without a wire service of stories and pictures, he and others faced a minimum of 12 pages with few ads during the summer months. A cartoon or photograph could be a God-send as far as getting out the next issue.
At Pensacola Junior College, he surprised himself when his drawing of a physics instructor captured the fellow. That cartoon lay around for ages before he became The Dirty Old Man (who always has sex on his mind). At the Birmingham News, he drew a cartoon of the No. 3 exec in the newspaper and found it remarkably satisfying and accurate from the man's piggy nose to his baggy eyes. He became the Corporate Shill. An experiment with brushes (difficult for an amateur to control) produced a villainous figure. He became the Corporate Bankster. They now appear regularly.
When he was doing newsletters for the Faculty Federation or writing groups, he would want a graphic to break up the gray space. These often appeared under those circumstances. (Alas, the fool rarely sent out his drawings to other publications. The Densonaries were pamphlets for various humanities or composition courses.