Baylor Bear: "Football ain't a matter of life or death. (sob) It's more important than that..."

American cartoonist (1930-1996). Birth name: Gerald Glynn West. Born in Littlefield, Texas, his family moved to nearby Lubbock before he'd had his first birthday. He eventually attended Texas Tech, where he cartooned for the University Daily, the campus newspaper. After graduating, he appeared for three years as Uncle Dirk on a local children's television show, but gave it up when his advertising agency, West Advertising, grew large enough to need all of his attention.

Raider Red: "Good gracious! I ain't seen nuthin' that ugly since I had a blind date in Muleshoe!"

In the early 1960s, West began contributing sports cartoons to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He drew two cartoons a week during football season, with each cartoon appearing in the sports section of the newspaper. The single-panel cartoons featured the mascots of the Southwest Conference standing around and talking -- there wasn't much room for action or continuing storylines. Besides, the only storyline anyone cared about was the football season; who won, who lost, and who could say funny stuff about the teams' games.

TCU Horned Frog: "Well, I've won one in a row..."

West's cartoons were wildly popular in Lubbock. He created Raider Red to represent Tech's Red Raiders. Red looked like Yosemite Sam's taller, cuddlier cousin, and readers could count the number of Tech losses by the bullet holes in his cowboy hat. (Red wasn't West's only mascot creation -- he's also credited with creating the University of Nebraska's Herbie Husker.) West's other characters included the Texas A&M Aggie, an A&M cadet who personified the Aggie joke and started every sentence with "Duh"; the Texas Longhorn, a bovine whose arrogance was usually justified by his impressive won-loss record; the Baylor Bear, a good Baptist who never seemed to stop crying; the Houston Cougar, an alley cat who lived in and scavenged from a trash can; the TCU Horned Frog, a scrawny and un-toadlike horny toad; the Rice Owl, a fairly nondescript owl; the SMU Mustang, who usually wore blinders and tended to pronounce his name as "Smew"; and the Arkansas Razorback, a filthy pig. The two non-mascots were a chicken/pigeon/something-or-other called Boo-Bird and a guy named Moss, who was always standing facing away from the reader so that no one ever saw his face.

Raider Red: "It's shore hard to concentrate on anything but the Aggie game."
Aggie: "Duh... You think you're havin' trouble, try it with a head that's solid bone!"

Tech's coaches were also frequently caricatured in Dirk's cartoons. Coach Jim Carlin, known to be a bit of a moralist as well as a fine coach, had a halo, sometimes attached with a stick and some string. Steve Sloan carried a golf club everywhere he went and had a T-shirt labeled "Kid Coach." And Rex Dockery was so short, you rarely saw anything of him but the top of his head.

Aggie: "Duh... A tie is kinda like gradyewatin' from A&M... You'd druther not talk about it..."

Whenever one team was having a good season (or had just stomped on another team), West usually portrayed them a lot larger and more dangerous-looking -- the Longhorn and the Razorback, in particular, looked downright scary when they had a good season. On the other hand, if a team was having a lousy season, or if they'd been skunked badly in a game, they tended to shrink in stature or to look like they'd been on the losing end of an especially savage beat-down. While West's cartoons were popular with Tech fans, they were much less appreciated by other teams. The Aggies, in particular, took great offense at the way their mascot was portrayed. West, of course, took their angry letters as a sign of a job well-done.

Moss: "Dirk is gittin' the Aggies a new Big Chief tablet an' Crayolas so they can write some more letters..."

Even outside of cartooning, West had a great sense of humor and a quick mind, which led to a love of practical jokes. Johnny Gamble, a childhood friend of West, tells that he was once at one of Tech's games against A&M. Gamble was carrying a load of snacks and drinks from the concession stand back to his seat through a crowd of Aggie fans when he heard someone call out, "Hey, Dirk West!" Gamble turned to see West himself, grinning wickedly, sitting in the stands above him. The Aggies immediately assumed that Gamble was West and started pelting him with food.

Baylor Bear: "Oh wow! The way things are goin' is enuff to confuse a one car funeral!"

West entered politics in the 1970s, serving several years on Lubbock's Parks and Recreation Board and city council and being elected mayor in 1978. By most accounts, he was a good mayor, but he disliked politics so much that he refused to run for a second term. After getting out of the government biz, he returned full-time to cartooning and his advertising agency, which he continued clear up to his death of a sudden heart attack in 1996.

Boo Bird: "The three shortest books in the world are Aggie Table Manners, Ethics in Recruiting at SMU an' Offensive Plays at Texas Tech..."

Research: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, July 27, 1996
Some of West's cartoons can be viewed at

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