MEREDITH — Gilford author Carol Lee Anderson, will be signing copies her latest book, The New England Life of Cartoonist Bob Montana: Beyond the Archie Comic Strip, at Hawkins Photography and Framing, 73 Main Street in Meredith, on Monday, October 14, from 1–3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Published by The History Press, the book chronicles the life of one of America's greatest cartoonists, Bob Montana, who drew the Archiecomic strip for thirty years at his home in Meredith. Montana's daughter, Lynn Montana, lives and works in Meredith and is a designer/framer at Hawkins Photography and Framing.
Anderson got the idea to write the book when she was conducting research for her first book, The History of Gunstock: Skiing in the Belknap Mountains, also published by The History Press and winner of the 2011 Skade Award from the International Skiing History Association.
It was a 1947 Archie comic strip featuring the main characters (Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica) skiing at Gunstock that inspired Anderson to investigate if other local scenery was included in Archie. She discovered that Montana often tucked local people, places and events into the comic strip more times than not.
"What surprised me the most," said Anderson, "wasn't the fact that people don't know that local people and places were drawn into the Archie strip, but the fact that they aren't aware that Bob Montana had been a permanent, year-round resident of Meredith for thirty years. He raised his family there and drew the strip at his home on Meredith Neck."
The book describes the development of the Archie comic, but Anderson feels that what will amaze readers the most is learning how much Montana contributed to Meredith, but to the state and the country as well. Surprisingly, little has been written about his life in the Lakes Region.
Anderson met with the cartoonist's daughter, Lynn Montana, before she began writing the book. "Lynn has been extremely helpful and supportive all the way through this project. Through her recollections of her father and her family life in Meredith, I was able to write a far more in-depth story of her father's life," she explained. Many Montana family images are included in the book, as well as the memories of Bob Montana's friends, which were gathered by the author during interviews.
"Bob Montana was non-stop action, and he was constantly involved in his community; he was continually striving to make the world around him a better place despite the relentless deadlines of turning out a daily comic strip – including the more elaborate Sunday strip," Anderson said.
She said that writing a book about such a talented and generous man has been a life-changing experience and hopes that readers of the book will come away with a new outlook on life. "Bob's life story is truly fascinating, and no matter where he was or how tough things got, he'd always find the humor in a situation – and that's something so many of us struggle to do," she added.
Books will be available for purchase during the signing. Light refreshments will be served.