Santa looks like such a contented fellow. The red and green color scheme, the Dalmatian pup, the fishing lures placed inexplicably on top of a drum. Fred Guardineer, the illustrator, lived in Babylon and wrote a “Fish & Game” column for The Babylon Beacon. So what does he have to do with Montauk?
Fishing lines – especially those of a publication covering Long Island and metropolitan New York – do tend to be cast as far east as “the End.” As the last issue of the year 1984, this particular magazine was geared toward anglers who were about to head to Florida. But there was also a backward glance at the year that was receding, and of local note to Montaukers were a 350-pound mako caught aboard an open boat, Muddler, as well as an 85-pound codfish that Fred Shay Jr. caught on John Rade’s party boat, Marlin V. The latter was a state record-breaker.
Off Long Island, Guardineer may have been better known for his work as a comic book writer and illustrator in the 1930s and ‘40s, the genre’s golden age.To Action Comics, which spawned Superman, he contributed the adventures of a character named Zatara – a magician in top hat and tails who cast spells by pronouncing words backward. There also was the Durango Kid, a handsome masked horseback rider who fought crime in the Wild West.
After leaving comics for a 20-year career with the Postal Service, during which time he contributed to The Beacon and The Fisherman, Guardineer was invited in 1998 to attend Comic-Con International in San Diego, where he rose from a wheelchair to accept an Inkpot Award. He died in 2002.
A subscriber, Ed Hocker, donated nine boxes of the Fisherman’s weekly publications, dating from the 1970s to the late 1990s, to the Montauk Library Archives. The front cover from December 19, 1974 may resonate for some. Happy holidays!
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