Chronicler of Weird Wisconsin | wisconsinacademy.org
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Frank Anderson • Fond du Lac

Frank Anderson knows a lot about Wisconsin. As the founder of the blog Wisconsinology, Anderson is committed to sharing little-known stories about Wisconsin people and events that help us better understand our state and culture.

Born on Basilan Island in the Philippines, Anderson moved to Deerfield at age 11 with his family and was struck by the many strange and fascinating folklore tales about Wisconsin he heard and read about. During his years as an animator and a stop-motion director for film and commercials, Anderson began chronicling these tales of weird Wisconsin and thinking about ways to share them with a broader audience. In Fall 2016, Anderson made his first post to his Wisconsinology blog: the story of Wisconsin Rapids-born illustrator Grim Natwick, the creator of Betty Boop.

“Good or bad, it came from Wisconsin,” he says, citing important and interesting historical figures such as Fighting Bob and Joseph McCarthy, Gary Gygax and Ed Gein, the famous Wisconsin Wilders: Thornton, Gene, and Laura Ingalls. Well-known events like the Great Peshtigo Fire and the 1954 total eclipse over Wisconsin are explored, as are lesser-known ones such as sightings of the Wisconsin Harlequin and the Mineral Point Vampire.

All of these bite-sized stories are collected, illustrated, and occasionally podcasted on his Wisconsinology blog, which Anderson says skews toward the weird and wondrous. “I love the feeling of the old world—monsters, spirits—being so close to the new world,” says Anderson. “I’ve never been to a place, other than the Philippines, where this feeling is so strong as it is here."

Another fun fact, according to Anderson: more posters have been made of Wisconsin than of any other state. Anderson decided to add his own to the mix, with his hand-drawn “Monsters, Myths & Legends of Wisconsin” poster. For Anderson, the blog, hand-drawn poster, and  a few forthcoming video projects are all ways of showing his love for a state he finds “endlessly interesting.”

Contributors

Jason A. Smith is the associate director of the Wisconsin Academy and editor of the organization's quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture, Wisconsin People & Ideas.

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