A Guide to the Tony Bell Papers, 1950-1993
Tony Bell (d. 1993) was an artist, model builder, cartoonist, designer, sculptor, and creator of the 1960s cartoon character Wonder Wart-Hog. As a student at the University of Texas (1959-1963), he and Gilbert Shelton worked together on the student humor magazine, the Ranger, and shared editing duties from 1962 to 1963. Bell graduated with honors and joined the Peace Corps in 1964, but quit one year later after being stationed in Lagos, Nigeria. He moved to California in 1965, but soon returned to Austin to work on Wonder Wart-Hog cartoons with Shelton for Drag Cartoons. In 1967 two issues of Wonder Wart-Hog Quarterly were published, and the two designers used the money from the royalty sales to open Austin’s first head shop, Underground City Hall. The business did not do well, and after two changes of ownership became what is now Oat Willie’s, a more successful Austin venture.
Bell designed and produced posters for various rock music events in Austin in the mid to late 1960s before moving back to California. He co-owned and served as chief designer for a string of bars in Venice that were known for extensive interior decorations including stage props and miscellaneous bizarre items. Bell returned to Austin in 1970 and married Claire Jordan. In 1981 Bell, Shelton, and Joe Brown completed a fifty-page Wonder Wart-Hog story, started 14 years earlier. Bell died in April 1993, and later that month Butch Hancock’s Lubbock or Leave It gallery held a retrospective art show of his serious works (oils, watercolors, and sculptures) as well as his cartoons, posters, models, and assorted oddities.
Source: Shelton, Gilbert. "Remembering Tony Bell." Austin Chronicle, April 30, 1993.
Artifacts, drawings, cartoons, photographs, clippings, awards, a diploma, and printed material comprise the Tony Bell Papers, 1950-1993. The papers document Bell’s artistic and professional life and activities. Specifically, the papers pertain to Bell’s work with models for the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum and for Austin Precision Models, Tony Bell’s Belize Journals (illustrated accounts of his trip to Belize, ca. 1990), and specifications for the Alamo Cannon. Furthermore, the collection contains business cards of other artists as well as a copy of Annotated Bibliography of Bilingual Bicultural Materials, No. 23, for which Bell designed the cover art.
The collection is open for research.
Tony Bell Papers, 1950-1993, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
This collection is unprocessed. Contact repository for more information.
Detailed Description of the Papers