By Joe Gulick
Every tradition has to begin somewhere, and Dirk West’s tradition of drawing Southwest Conference football cartoons for The Avalanche-Journal began on Sept. 24, 1964, with this drawing.
It ran on page 2-E of The A-J’s evening edition to illustrate a story about the Texas Tech-Texas game that would be played in Lubbock two days later.
This first effort, which was drawn at the suggestion of then-Executive Sports Editor Burle Pettit, is very different from the style of cartoons Dirk eventually would create. There were no mascots, no word balloons and no humor.
The man on the horse is Tech football coach JT King. Dirk crowned Tech’s King and based the point of the cartoon on his surname.
Texas was the defending national champion and was an 11-point favorite in the game. However, Tech had upset the Mississippi State Bulldogs 21-7 at home the week before, and Tech fans had gotten their hopes up for another victory.
The night game drew a crowd of 47,100 fans, and Pettit reported in his game story the next day that an estimated 1.5 inches of rain fell between 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. It was a bleak night all around, and the Longhorns took a 23-0 victory home to Austin.
Pettit is now The A-J’s editor emeritus, and I invited him to contribute his recollections about Dirk’s sports cartooning debut. He took me up on it, and his weekly column today on Page A13 has a Burle’s-eye view of how it all happened.
Previous Dirk West Cartoons