A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 16, 2019
Sistine Chapel of Comic Strip Art (Overlook bar)

Costello’s bar opened in 1974 at 225 East 44th Street (near Third Avenue) in Manhattan. It had murals by cartoonist James Thurber (1894-1961), but Costello’s wanted something more. In 1976, New York (NY) Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo (1922-2011) suggested that he and other cartoonist friends come in for a day and paint the wall.

Costello’s closed in 1992 and the space is now called the Overlook bar, but the cartoonists’ wall drawings from 1976 still exist. In May 2018, the article “The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art” by Alex Vadukul was published in the New York (NY) Times. (The Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City was painted by Michelangelo and is one of the most famous pieces of art in world history.) “A crumbling, beer-stained wall in a Midtown sports bar is a neglected New York treasure. Dating to the ‘70s, it’s a Sistine Chapel of cartooning” was posted on Twitter by The New York Times on May 11, 2018.

Wikipedia: Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel (/ˌsɪstiːn ˈtʃæpəl/; Latin: Sacellum Sixtinum; Italian: Cappella Sistina [kapˈpɛlla siˈstiːna]) is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480.
Between 1508 and 1512, under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the chapel’s ceiling, a project which changed the course of Western art and is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization.

11 May 2018, New York (NY) Times, “The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art” by Alex Vadukul, online article:
This crumbling, beer-splotched wall in the back of a sports bar on East 44th Street is one of New York’s more neglected cultural treasures. Created in the 1970s, it is a veritable Sistine Chapel of American comic-strip art: the 30-some drawings across its face were left by a who’s who of cartooning legends, including a Spider-Man by Gil Kane, a Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker, a Dondi by Irwin Hasen, a Steve Canyon by Milton Caniff, a Hagar the Horrible by Dik Browne, and a Dagwood Bumstead by Paul Fung Jr. There’s also a self-portrait by Al Jaffee, a doodle by Bil Keane, and a Mad magazine-style gag by Sergio Aragonés. Old regulars are familiar with the wall’s past, and comic book scholars make occasional pilgrimages to the bar, but the Overlook’s cartoon mural remains largely unknown and untended.
The wall wasn’t destined to become an artifact when it was drawn in 1976. Instead, it was created spontaneously in under 30 minutes. Although Costello’s opened on the corner of 44th and 3rd, it would relocate three times mostly within the span of a block, before settling at its final address, 225 East 44th Street, in 1974. It was here that the bar’s owner, Timothy Costello, wanted new art to accompany the Thurber murals, which had become famous showpieces of the saloon, so he enlisted the help of Bill Gallo, a Daily News cartoonist. But Mr. Gallo didn’t want to compete with Thurber’s simple, witty cartoons drawn on beaverboard panels. So he proposed to Mr. Costello something of a stunt: “You close this place up for 24 hours and offer up free drinks and food, and I’ll get the best cartoonists in the country to paint your wall,” he said. Thus, that spring, 30 or so of America’s best-known cartoonists gathered to doodle their signature creations in what later became the Overlook.

The New York Times
A crumbling, beer-stained wall in a Midtown sports bar is a neglected New York treasure. Dating to the ‘70s, it’s a Sistine Chapel of cartooning.
10:27 AM - 11 May 2018

Hidden history of NYC: The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art. I had no idea this existed. Am definitely making a pilgrimage on my next trip home. Some of the all-time cartooning greats are up there
10:48 AM - 11 May 2018

The New Yorkian
The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art
The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art
On a beer-splotched wall of a Midtown sports bar, a forgotten relic from the heyday of cartooning, featuring Beetle Bailey, Fred Flintsone and some jokers from Mad magazine. With cameos by James Thurber, Ernest Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe.

13 May 2018, New York (NY) Times, “Beer, With a Comics Chaser” by Alex Vadukul, Metro sec., pg. 1:
In a dark booth at the Overlook, which resides in a little brick building that has defied demolition below the skyscrapers of East Midtown, two men were having a beer. The bar was rowdy with people eating wings and watching basketball on televisions, but the men were busy studying the cracked, aging wall beside them. Twenty feet wide and spanning the room’s length, it was covered with dozens of fading drawings of classic American cartoon and comic strip characters.

Eater—New York
23 Excellent Midtown East Restaurants and Bars to Try
Topnotch ramen, iconic steak and burgers, and numbing Sichuan are in the mix

by Alexandra Ilyashov and Stefanie Tuder Updated Jan 16, 2019, 4:02pm EST
21. Overlook
225 E 44th St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 682-7266
Overlook — a sports bar often populated by Chicago Bears, Cubs, or Islanders fans when a game is on — serves a particularly great burger, plus tasty wings. The pleasantly divey space is covered with a surprising treasure trove of cartoons on a huge wall, and the place was dubbed “the Sistine Chapel of cartooning” by The New York Times. There are 2-for-1 selected drinks on weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 • Permalink