When I was a child, my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Howard, gave me a cartoon anthology compiled by Thomas Craven called Cartoon Cavalcade. I still have it today, though the spine has long since worn off due to my numerous perusings over the years. It covers cartooning by the decade, starting with the late 1800's through the 1940's. It's a great overview of many of the early comic strips, gag panels, and even a few Disney stills are included.
I can still feel that rush of excitement that I had as a child whenever I open the book. It was my first exposure to early masters like Charles Dana Gibson, Gluyas Williams, Rube Goldberg, and Charles Addams. The idea that there were grown-ups in the world getting paid to draw funny pictures was a thrilling idea for a fourth grader. And it's still an amazing concept to me today.
It's hard to measure the impact that book had on my development as a cartoonist, and I am so grateful my teacher had the insight to give it to me. I notice the book is available on Amazon today from various used booksellers. I could probably get a fresher copy, but it's kind of like a badge of honor to have my worn-spine version. It's a reminder of how dedicated I was to learn my craft.