By Michael Aushenker
In 2010, Bay Area collector Vince Dugar came across something of a treasure trove in Alameda, Calif., which would fascinate any Doors fan: a cache of colorful cartoons and writings that frontman Jim Morrison created when he was 14.
Morrison’s connection with the area? Alameda Naval Air Station, where his father was a high-ranking military official. The Morrisons moved to Alameda in Northern California (one of many such moves during Morrison’s childhood) when He was 13 years old, and he made fast friends with a fellow wiseacre named Fud Ford during his freshman year at Alameda High School.
“They did a lot of drawing and writing together, mostly juvenile depictions of naked women and grotesque faces in the style of Don Martin of MAD Magazine,” Dugar said.
Even in his mid-teens, Morrison exhibited his trademark sense of mischief.
“He was always sort of a clown, a prankster,” Dugar said.
Morrison only lived in Alameda for two years, but the work they created during that time was saved by Ford, who was later approached by Danny Sugerman (the Doors’ former assistant and later their biographer with “No One Gets Out of Here Alive,” considered the definitive biography on Morrison).”
These images have never been published before, Dugar said. Before Ford died, he exhibited these works after the book’s release in 1981. The unsigned artifacts have since changed hands over the years until Dugar, under the auspices of his Bay Area auction and publishing business Golden Frog Press, bought them.
“They shared that same kind of twisted sense of humor,” Dugar said of Morrison and Ford. “After high school, Jim went on his way and Fud opened the Record Gallery on Webster Street in Alameda, a wild and crazy record store. Fud died many years ago, but the new owner kept the store going. I befriended him. That’s how I came across it.”
When the record store closed and moved to its new location, the Morrison artwork resurfaced.
“The provenance is rock solid,” added Dugar regarding the items, which came with a letter of certification by Sugerman.
What’s interesting, in hindsight, is that these lost objets d’art reflect the irreverence and ribald humor that characterized Morrison’s all-too-brief tenure as leader of The Doors before he was found dead at 27 in 1971.
“You look at it and you go, it’s 1958,” Dugar said. “We all go through that stage with MAD magazine. That’s pure Americana.”§