Al Martinez and wife, Joanne, outside their Topanga home, are both thrilled with the news from the Huntington Library. “Maybe all those years of writing haven’t been in vain,” he said.
Martinez will be only the third L.A. Times person ever to have his works collected by the Huntington. The other two are editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and columnist Jack Smith. Conrad died last year and Jack Smith in 1996.
Since leaving the Times in 2009, Martinez has written two columns a week for the L.A. Daily News that appear on Mondays and Fridays. In addition, he is working on his thirteenth book, freelances for various magazines and conducts the Topanga Writers Workshop, which he created three years ago.
I feel terrifically honored to have my work recognized in such a manner, Martinez said. Maybe all those years of writing havent been in vain.
Not at all, says Sue Hodson, Curator of Literary Manuscripts at the Huntington. Theres a reason why Martinez is rounding out the triad of the librarys other two Times notables.
It was an easy decision for us to collect these papers, says Hodson. They are each hugely popular with their reading public and we thought these were the best cartoons and writing. These are people who make their living from writing; journalism is such a different way of writing and it was important to us to document the very best of these writers.
The library has collected Martinezs columns from the Oakland Tribune, the L.A. Times, the L.A. Daily News and the Topanga Messenger, as well as his books, TV scripts, hundreds of magazines he has written for, plaques, scrolls, photographs of him at war and writing, his Pulitzer Prize, pictures and letters. The library is currently producing recordings of him and his wife, Joanne (aka Cinelli), reading some of his columns for the exhibit.
I grew up reading the L.A. Times and read Al for years, says Hodson. Hes witty, warm and profound and now, to collect and read his papers well, its a thrill beyond measure. Als the voice of L.A. Hes a huge treasure here in Southern California. The collection belongs here.
It has been a massive job collecting all the stuff and they're still doing it, Martinez marvels. I hadnt even realized I had all that stuff. I write. I dont amass things.
Well, anyone who has tried to downsize a lifetime of collected stuff, or even clear out the attic, can understand.
The big difference is the Huntington Library has never expressed interest in just anyone, and thats as it should be.
Congratulations, Al and Joanne from a grateful community.