Leave it to a legendary cartoonist to collect the stories of San Jose’s historical heroes and package the whole shebang into 40 pages of wonderment. Jim Hummel, a longtime fixture at the Mercury News, has now supplied the youth of the valley with an easy-to-grasp mechanism for retaining historical tidbits.

The Adventures and History of San Jose, California creates a gorgeous mishmash of colorful characters, new and old, and tells their story. Or to be more precise, two sisters, Morgan and Parker, lead us through the legends and yarns of San Jose history. Quite a few folks get their due in this elegant little paperback.

For example, in a side-splitting juxtaposition, the two Steves—Jobs and Wozniak—occupy a page directly opposite Tiburcio Vasquez, every local historian’s favorite forgotten troublemaker, who rampaged across California during the postGold Rush era. Jobs had the Midas Touch, as we all know, so in the cartoon, he touches a gold sphere in the air, while a light bulb appears over Woz’s head. Floating in the air between them is the proverbial apple with a bite taken out of it.

The very next page features Vasquez, who traveled throughout the land stealing gold, acquiring ammunition and charming as many women as he could. Even though the garage where Steve and Steve built the first Apple is 12 miles away in Los Altos, and Vasquez is buried in Santa Clara, they each had enough of a connection to San Jose to warrant inclusion in the book. To me, it doesn’t matter anyway.

Others depicted in the book, and those with much more direct connections to San Jose, include Madison Nguyen, Charles, “Doc” Herrold, Sarah Winchester, Yoshi Uchida and many more. Sports fans will dig the pages on Bud Winter and Brandi Chastain. Students at Andrew Hill James Lick will dig the fact that their namesakes are also included here, in picturesque cartoon quality.

Hummel also calls to our attention other historians, like Clyde Arbuckle, Leonard McKay and Pat Loomis, the latter of whom wrote 40 zillion “Signposts” columns in the Mercury News eons ago. Every single one of us owes a great deal to those three individuals. Without their tireless advocacy of crackpot San Jose lore, much of the history of this place would have been lost a long time ago. And thanks to the whimsical theatrics of Hummel’s cartoons, many school kids can now get their history fix.

The Adventures and History of San Jose, California
By Jim Hummel; Trafford Publishing