The Cartoon Wall at Overlook – New York, New York - Gastro Obscura

Dwarfed by neighboring skyscrapers, the Midtown sports bar Overlook is easy to well, overlook. Although it caters to thirsty sports fans, Overlook has something amazing to offer those who grew up reading comics rather than playing ball. In the back of the bar is a wonderfully done mural created by some of the greatest artists in comics.

The mural, in fact, predates Overlook. The building where the bar is currently located was home to a hot spot known as Costello’s. When renowned cartoonist James Thurber couldn’t come up with the funds to pay off his rather sizable bar tab, he drew cartoons on the walls in exchange for clearing the debt.

By 1974, New York Daily News sports cartoonist Bill Gallo recruited some of his comic colleagues to fill up the rest of the walls after a marathon night filled with free booze and food.

The result is an awe-inducing collaboration of notable artists such as Mad contributors Sergio Aragones and Al Jaffee, “Family Circle” creator Bill Keane and Milton Caniff of “Terry and the Pirates” fame, among many others. Pop culture icons Popeye, the Phantom, Bullwinkle, Beetle Baily, Archie, Little Orphan Annie, Betty Boop, Fred Flintstone, Felix the Cat, and Spiderman adorn the mural. The cartoon mural is a hidden historical marker of the comic industry in New York.

Know Before You Go

The Overlook bar is located in midtown Manhattan and is easily accessible by public transport.

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