Thursday, November 26, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Nutcracker U
Although John Pierotti had a long, varied and fruitful career in cartooning, the only newspaper strip for which we can definitely credit him is Nutcracker U, which debuted October 2 1950. (Hippo and Hookie still has not been proven to have made it into papers, and Pier-Oddities was a sports panel).
Nutcracker U was self-syndicated by the cartoonist, who characterized taking this route to newspapers thusly: "That means footing all the bills, and when a cartoonist does that, he either is crazier than most cartoonists, or he believes implicitly in his product. The latter part of that sentence applies to me." Pierotti had, in my opinion, good reason to take a gamble on Nutcracker U. The delightful art, drawn in a style perfectly suited to the new smaller 4-column size standard in the 50s and on, stood out among all the competition. If that wasn't enough, what red-blooded male reader could peruse the funnies without being drawn to Pierotti's pulchritudinous women? Oh yeah, and the plot and gags were kinda cute, too.
Despite hitting on all cylinders, selling a self-syndicated strip to newspapers is pretty darn close to impossible, and the workload is mind-boggling. Pierotti had this to say about the experience: “...I syndicated my own strip called ‘Nutcracker U’, until I ran out of money and nerve. Worked practically twenty-four hours a day for a year and a half.” Pierotti gave up the strip on October 27 1951.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Reddy the Rooter
Baseball's been over for a month now, and I'm starting to jones for it already, so let's check out a baseball strip today.
Reddy the Rooter was by George Hopf, one of the good bullpenners at the New York Evening World. Reddy was an office boy who spent most days playing tricks on his boss in order to get off work so he could go see his beloved New York Giants play ball. Reddy's schemes aren't especially memorable, but his use of baseball slang is encyclopedic. I'm a big baseball fan, and I've never heard a home run called a "fence-breaker", and rarely heard the terms "grass-cutter" (hard grounder) or "cross the Rubicon" (score a run). Color me impressed.
This strip ran only during the baseball season, completely sidestepping that old problem of what to do with your character in the off-season. In 1907 the strip ran from July 10 to October 7, and in 1908, it ran April 15 to October 8.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
News of Yore 1913: Walker O'Loughlin Profiled
O'Laughlin of the Portland Telegram
(reprinted from Cartoons magazine, February 1913)
That impatient lady known as Miss Opportunity, who, peevish at the slightest delay, flits away unless there is an immediate response to her knock, led Walker O'Loughlin a merry chase, but he was an alert young man and the faintest tapping always found him hurrying to open the door.
Mr. O'Loughlin is the cartoonist of the Portland Evening Telegram, but the numerous visits of Miss Opportunity made him travel a round about path to reach his goal.
Born in St. Catherines, Ontario, he was still a child when his parents moved to Niagara Falls, N. Y. There he attended school, and, as soon as he was old enough, was required to spend his spare time in his father's drug store, the parental desire being that the boy should learn the drug trade.
At an early age the boy began putting in more time around the newspaper offices than in the drug store, so the father seeing that the drug idea did not appeal to the son, reluctantly allowed the youth to have his own way and become a reporter.
While he was still a cub Miss Opportunity knocked. The moving pictures of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight were coming east and O'Loughlin, still a boy, formed a partnership and secured the eastern rights to the pictures. He lectured as the films were projected on the screen.
When the pictures played out young O'Loughlin heeded another tapping and joined one of the racing teams of a well-known eastern bicycle firm. When interest in the racing game died he was offered an opportunity to go on the stage and appeared in a black face and tramp stunt in vaudeville.
He was in New York City when the war broke out and cancelling his theatrical bookings he enlisted for military service. He was mustered out when the war ended without having seen active service in the field.
Returning to New York he became deeply interested in cartoon work. Miss Opportunity was knocking again. He had no art education but he had the time to put in on pen and ink drawings and he went at it. In a short time he was able to do good enough work to secure a place with an advertising firm and as the quality of his drawings improved he developed into a newspaper artist. In New York he did free lance work in general, contributing to the newspapers and to Judge and Life.
Three years ago he became dissatisfied with this life in New York, or the desire to see the country moved him, and he started west. Miss Opportunity brought him into Salt Lake City when there was a vacancy on the art staff of the Salt Lake Telegram.
He remained in Salt Lake one year and then received an offer from the Portland Evening Telegram to do sport cartoons. His work on the sport-pages was too good to be confined to that section of the paper and he is now the cartoonist of the Telegram.
His comparatively brief term on the Telegram has proved him one of the foremost artists of the country and his best work lies in front of him.
Labels: News of Yore
Monday, November 23, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Duke
By 1913, World Color Printing's Sunday comics section was, other than the wonderful front page Slim Jim strip, consisting of two pages of strips shared with the Philadelphia Press, a half page activity feature, plus just one original half page strip. Unfortunately, that extra half page was often wasted on Duke, a pretty awful strip about a pony. In fairness, it was obviously aimed at the littlest kids, and so we can't exactly expect Twain-level humor.
When Duke debuted on May 25 1913, it was credited to "Rutledge", which I have previously believed to be a WCP house name, and the strip was drawn reasonably well. Soon, though, it was signed by Frank R. Leet, starting August 24. Leet was a wonderfully funny cartoonist in his golden days at NEA in the 1900s, but by the time he landed with WCP in 1913 he seemed to be losing his touch. I suppose it doesn't help any that he was working on a strip with a star that he couldn't draw. You might notice that Duke is drawn in the same flat profile in every panel --- Leet seemed practically incapable of drawing a horse in any other perspective.
BUT WAIT! Alex Jay, once again doing the service of taking my foot out of my mouth, has pointed out to me that 'Rutledge' is Frank Leet's middle name! That means it was Leet all along. Unfortunately I don't have a 'Rutledge era' Duke strip handy to show you, but here's the debut episode from hazy digitized microfilm:
I think you can see why I guessed they were by two different cartoonists. While the early Duke was certainly no masterpiece, the strip and the horse in particular were certainly better drawn at the beginning of the run. Evidently Leet got lazier during his tenure on Duke, and decided that perspective was an extra added attraction that his audience could do without.
Leet's two-dimensional horse ran in the World Color Printing section until November 14 1915.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, October 23 1908 --- Hearst's Archbold / Standard Oil letters continue to be published, and many prominent politicians are, as shown by Herriman, being caught in the web. Now implicated as tools of Standard Oil are Mississippi Senator Anselm McLaurin, Texas Senator Joseph Bailey, Oklahoma Governor Charles Haskell, and Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph Sibley.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Perhaps ironically, Haskell would end up going into the oil business after leaving politics.
McLaurin died a few months after this cartoon appeared.
Bailey was the only one whose career seems to have been derailed by the oil scandals.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 4 Part 2
Chapter Four (Part 2) - THE STREET OF A THOUSAND SINS
Those were the Steamboat Days. To every little bayside park and grove ran whole fleets heavily loaded, and the average city dweller then was intimately acquainted with the geography of parts as remote as Port Jefferson or Bridgeport, knowledge that was lost to the next generation until the bicycle opened up the world anew. Other fleets took rotund and stolid citizens far out to sea off Long Branch, where they fed expensive pink bloodworms to bergalls and toadfish for seven hours with an enormous consumption of beer. Other fleets, I know not how many, competed for the Hudson River traffic by day and night. I recall once that during a most bitter warfare I traveled to Albany for twenty-five cents, spent a lovely day, and meditated remaining for another, but strolling down to the wharf, where two boats were about to start for New York, I hit the very apex of the "Steamboat War." I heard a hoarse voice grate out an announcement, "Free trip to New York!" and its instant echo, "Same price here!" and I walked aboard the palatial steamer. I think it was the Daniel Drew. Nobody followed me, and in a few minutes we were racing down river. Last summer, when I paid over six dollars for the same privilege, the recollection gritted.
These flocks of steamboats were a constant menace to canoeists, who were regarded by their pilots as marine vermin to whom the navigation laws did not apply. As a large part of my spare time and that of my chum, George Baxter, a jeweler whose secret aspirations toward the ministry prevented him from acquiring the proper language of the sailorman, was spent on the waters surrounding New York, I naturally developed a gift of direct and pointed self-expression that was valuable later. I also discovered that canoeing literature was rather salable. It was not until '83 that I felt confident enough to devote my efforts solely to Art and Literature.
One day my brother remarked that "they'd be making artificial eggs next!" This led to cogitation, and as a result I wrote a couple of columns describing the manufacture of artificial eggs by a Newark concern, giving an imaginary formula for their construction precise in every detail, as well as many other particulars that gave added verisimilitude to the article, and then I took it to Amos Cummings, the editor of the Sun. To my unbounded delight, it was printed next day, and with my name signed to it, an unusual circumstance. I received fourteen dollars for the story, and I decided that Literature should be my stepmother from that day forth.
Letters began to pour in upon me containing money and stamps from produce-dealers, boarding houses and hotels, all wanting samples of the artificial eggs. My mother compelled me to return the money, and that hurt, but I was rewarded when a well-known dye concern offered me a hundred dollars for the use of the article in a small booklet advertising Easter-egg colors.
During the next three or four years, Baxter and I voyaged in our dainty, mahogany-decked craft some thousands of miles. Our favorite cruising ground was Long Island Sound, although we reached the Lakes via the Hudson and the Mohawk, ran the rapids of many rivers, did the Chesapeake region via the Elk River canal, and once sailed to Boston. Lincoln B. Palmer, afterward editor of Rudder, and Paul Butler, the son of General Benjamin Butler, were as ardent salt-water sailors as we, Palmer being the most expert canoe-handler I have known. There is not a nook nor cove along the Long Island or Connecticut shore from Sand's Point to Montauk or from the Thames River to the Raritan in which we have not at one time or another anchored our craft. Everywhere and always I wrote about the joys of canoeing. Thereby hangs another tale of conceit and vanity rudely handled.
I had been asked by a canoeing friend to act as judge of a race near Perth Amboy, and took the train attired in immaculate white flannels. When I arrived at my friend's office it was closed, and there I was, all dressed up with nowhere to go, and without even a porch to shelter me from a storm even then splashing down ominous drops. In desperation I darted for a flagman's shanty beside the railroad track, taking refuge just as the downfall came. When the old flagman came, he was soaked. I had observed, by then, with some surprise and elation, that the interior of his shanty was covered with pictures from the World, nearly all of them being my own cartoons and sketches. This circumstance argued that my host was not only an intelligent, cultivated man, but a discriminating one as well. Not content with this assumption, and moved by mere petty vanity and a desire for empty praise, I remarked:
"I perceive that you are an admirer of newspaper pictures, but you seem to have collected only those of one artist."
"That's right!" he replied with real enthusiasm, regarding me with interest. "I keep every one of McDougall's pictures. He's the greatest cartoonist that ever lived!"
I fully agreed with him, but I said, summoning a faint blush: "I can't subscribe
"What McDougall? The cartoonist?" he demanded sharply.
"The same," I breathed modestly.
His cold blue eyes surveyed my white flannels, my dinky sailor hat, and my buckskin shoes with chilling, corroding contempt, even disgust, but he uttered no sound. The rain poured down in thundering torrents for an hour, and I was compelled to sit there and wither. I grew smaller and smaller until I felt that soon I could slip out under the door. Several years passed in a glacial polite silence, and then suddenly the storm ceased and out flashed the sun.
I crawled out, wordless, and many months older, to find my friend Kitchell, who had been held up by the rain, in a buggy before his office. I crept to him, a broken man. A few minutes later, on our way to the canoe club, we had to drive past the little shanty adorned with my masterpieces, and balm was administered to my wounds. The old flagman came out and spoke to Kitchell, who all unwittingly administered the soothing ointment.
"Hello, Sam!" he said to the still affronted man. "Mr. McDougall tells me he's been spending an hour with you. I'll bet you've had a swell time if you made him talk to you. Git ap!"
Over the face of the art-loving flagman came the evidence of conflicting, various emotions—one of those transformations which one rarely has a chance to study—but the horse trotted off before I garnered other than a mere hint of his feelings. Kitchell told me afterward that whenever he felt especially mean he used to go to the shanty and rub gall and wormwood into its occupant, the poor man who could not, nor could many others, conceive that a great philosopher, sage, prophet and humorist could wear white flannels instead of long gray whiskers.
Probably the downtown center of High Art was Stewart's saloon on Warren Street, which seems to have held as many notable paintings as the Academy of Design, or, at least, it did after spending some hours there. Here was displayed Billy Harnett's bit of verisimilitude. The picture represented an old battered nail-studded door upon which were hung an old hat, a powder horn, a rabbit and other game so perfectly painted that, all day long, men stood before it in the blaze of electric light and disputed which portions of the picture were painted and which were real nail-holes, hinges, keyhole-escutcheons and the like.
Harnett could paint a dollar bill or a postage stamp so faithfully that one would try to pick it from the canvas. One day my brother met me and asked me if I had seen "Billy's" nude at the Academy. It was worth going up for, he declared. I took the trouble, as I was rather doubtful of Harnett's rendition of nude flesh, only to find that the picture was that of a dressed turkey hanging from a kitchen door!
Labels: McDougall's This Is The Life
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: H.F. Voorhees
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Voorhees as the second of five children. The family resided in Beloit at 623 Hackett Street. Voorhees’ father was a carpenter.
Voorhees’ childhood was mentioned in the sign-writing magazine, Signs of the Times, September 1923. The article, “Who’s Who in the Craft: H. F. ‘Bert’ Voorhees”, was transcribed at SignWeb:
“I was born in Wisconsin which is known as the biggest cheese state in the union. I was no more than a day when my Uncle Amos, who was staying with us at that time, looked down in the clothes basket where they had me and said, ‘We will hear from that boy some day.’ And they did. That night. They tell me that I cried as though my little clothes basket would break. Some of the neighbors suggested giving me a rattle. But my mother told them that I had contracted a cold during the night, and already had a little one in my throat. From there I went to high school. I did not do so very well there, being stung by a spelling bee at the foot of my class. I used to hang around the sign shop in our town; but father said, ‘You can’t be a sign painter—you ain’t no artist.’ Well, things went along like that until one day my father wanted a door painted. I got him wrong, I guess. He wanted it white, and I gave him a nice coat of black. He was pretty well peeved about it, and told me to go and never darken his door again. So I came to Chicago.”The 1910 census listed self-employed sign writer Voorhees and his brothers, Arthur (photographer) and Walter (electrician), in Chicago at 1801 Warren Avenue.
The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index said Voorhees married Loretta Adlam in Chicago on September 24, 1914.
On June 5, 1917, Voorhees signed his World War I draft card. His address was 5529 Kimbark Avenue, Chicago. He was a sign-writer employed by the Thomas Cusack Company. Voorhees named his wife as his nearest relative. He was described as tall, medium build with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
In 1920, Evanston, Illinois was Voorhees’ home town. His wife and brother, Walter, were in his household at 201 Ridge Avenue. Voorhees’ occupation was advertising artist.
In the mid-1920s, Voorhees contributed several articles to Signs of the Times including: “Flannel Mouth Fallen” (December 1923); “Bull in the Chinee Shop” (January 1924); “Good Yoke” (July 1924); and “Mammoth Electric Dominates Chicago’s White Way” (April 1925).
The September 1923, Sign of the Times, mentioned some of Voorhees activities:
Besides being a signist of the quality type on the staff of the Osgood Sign Co., Chicago, Mr. Voorhees is attracting much attention in his clever caricatures in a national “strip” being syndicated in the daily newspapers. He is doing comic art reviews of several theaters in Chicago and is a staunch member of Local 830.The Rockford Register-Republic (Illinois), September 1, 1923, reported the upcoming marriage of Voorhees’ sister, Dorothy, and said: “…The bride’s brother, Herbert Voorhees of Chicago, will give her in marriage at the altar.”
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Voorhees produced the strip, Jack and Lil, which appeared from 1927 to 1928, for the John F. Dille Company.
Voorhees has not yet been found in the 1930 census.
In the 1940 census, self-employed, commercial artist Voorhees resided in Chicago at 846 Montrose. His wife was not listed but the children, Bob and Nancy were named. Bob was also a commercial artist.
On April 27, 1942, Voorhees signed his World War II draft card. He and his daughter, Nancy, lived at 6214 Winthrop in Chicago. Voorhees was employed at the painting company, N. J. Bohl, 5312 Broadway, Chicago.
The Rockford Register-Republic, November 8, 1951, reported the upcoming wedding of Voorhees’ daughter, Nancy, who had been living with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Doran, in Rockford. Voorhees was still a Chicago resident.
The whereabouts of Voorhees, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was found in the files of the Investigation of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Volume 25, 1964. Voorhees was interviewed by the FBI regarding a possible close encounter with Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico. Voorhees had traveled by train to Mexico where he lived part-time for several years. Coincidentally, Oswald traveled to Mexico around the same time as Voorhees, who was questioned about a particular trip and asked to identify a photograph of Oswald. The eleven-page FBI report can be read here. The National Archives has the Oswald file here.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Jack and Lil
In the mid-1920s The Gumps was one of the most popular comic strips in the newspaper world, and so of course imitators sprouted like weeds in a garden. One of these imitators that failed utterly to take off was Jack and Lil by H.F. Voorhees. The strip seeks to emulate The Gumps with a similar continuing storyline featuring a wacky family. To further trade on The Gumps fame, Voorhees draws the male characters quite freakishly, while the women are relatively normal. That's really where the resemblance ends, though. From there on, for better or worse, Voorhees cuts his own trail.
The 'worse' is that Voorhees seems incapable of organizing a sensible continuity. He jumps all over, as you can see above in this two week sequence. But that's really not of any great consequence, if you ask me, because on the 'better' side we have the creator's great facility with snappy dialog and slang. These are delightful strips to read and savor, even if we only have half a clue what in the world is going on. Voorhees really should have been a gag-a-day man, because the only thing that seems to trip him up is long-range plotting.
I also love the running bit regarding Madame Zaza's radio show. The madame, who apparently we will never actually meet, has famous guests including (see above) Paul Whiteman the orchestra leader, and Rin Tin Tin the movie dog. These strips are filled with great patter from her front man, whose name I never learned.
Jack and Lil was syndicated by the John F. Dille Company, just a few years before that hole-in-the-wall syndicate hit the jackpot with Buck Rogers and could then hobnob credibly with the big guys. Jack and Lil ran from sometime in 1927 to sometime in 1928 (my run ends June 2 in mid-story). I'd love to hear from you if you have any more definitive running dates than that.
Sadly, as far as I know Mr. Voorhees never had another syndicated comic strip credit, but I understand Alex Jay is working on a profile for him, and we'll all learn more tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
H. L. Mencken on Newspaper Artists
Mencken mentions comics and cartoonists quite often in this book, showing a haughty disdain for their capabilities. In fact, he claims that he ended up writing most of the comic strip material as the cartoonists were unable to come up with gags.
Though newspaper art and artists are discussed throughout the book, Mencken devoted one chapter of the book to the subject specifically. I think you'll enjoy this taste of the muscular Mencken prose style ...
Slaves of Beauty
Monday, November 16, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Cooper
As I've mentioned many times here on the blog, the 1980s was a decade in which seemingly every editorial cartoonist had to try out his or her luck on a comic strip, and all the syndicates seemed eager to give them a go. With Cooper we get two editorialists for the price of one.
Mike Keefe of the Denver Post and Tim Menees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette met in 1978 and started talking about collaborating on a strip, but it took until 1985 for the team to settle on an idea and get it accepted by a syndicate. The idea that got Universal Press Syndicate on the hook was Cooper, which focused on the teaching staff at a suburban high school. Cooper himself is a youngish teacher, still somewhat idealistic but also starting to question the wisdom of his career choice; he's accompanied by an assortment of other teachers, a sunny young female principal, and the school's biggest behavior problem, a kid named Dwane.
As with most strips that seek to appeal to a particular demographic, as Cooper undeniably did, it probably would have delighted its intended audience, but failed to impress newspaper editors. If I was one of those editors, I imagine I would have figured that teachers are probably already buying my paper, so do I really need a comic strip to pull them in? While the creators claimed to have a decent list of about 50 papers for Cooper, the short run -- March 18 1985 to January 3 1987 -- would seem to indicate that those clients weren't sticking with the strip, and new clients weren't being added.
In my book I stated that Menees handled the art and Keefe the writing. Articles about the strip that I read in preparation for this post show that I had that wrong. In Cartoonist Profiles #69, the creators say that they both wrote gags, and Menees did layout art and lettering, while Keefe inked the strip.
When Cooper ended Menees and Keefe evidently hadn't had enough of the comic strip world. Less than a year later, they returned with another strip, Iota, another short-run obscurity that we'll cover here one of these days.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to find samples of David Brown's "Today's World" panel on Newspaper Archive, with no success.
If only it didn't have such a generic title...
Keep up the good work.
I haven't visited much lately.....a friend mentioned this book: “100 Years of King Syndicate” book just released .... you probably have already heard.
Reading the Gumps ..... just finished some Out Our Way and a cartoon compilation from England - The Oldies magazine.....didn't understand about a third of it.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Wednesday, October 21 1908 --- Herriman gives an awful hard time to a supposed (high school?) football phenomenon who turns out to have feet of clay when tested in actual combat. Seems like a mighty big cudgel for a very small target, George!
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, November 13, 2015
Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter Four, Part One
Chapter Four (Part 1) - THE STREET OF A THOUSAND SINS
The Bowery of the ancients ... The confiding bank robber ... The coming of the Can Can ... My closest call ... To Albany and back for a quarter ... The making of artificial eggs ... Joys of canoeing ... A humiliating experience
In New York they used to strut and brag in a manner that infuriated their bucolic visitors about their towering six and seven-story buildings. Then came A. T. Stewart's Store at Chambers Street. Over in New Jersey it was mentioned with a gasp. Followed the Elevated Railroad, the Brooklyn Bridge, Grant's Tomb, the World Dome and the Flatiron Building, and the capacity for awe was exhausted. Began then the greatest tearing-down and building-up that any city has ever seen, the end of which is not in sight. Today the towers of Babel climb so fast that soon the only conspicuous building will be a church. Our thoughts, like the woodchuck's, are now below ground.
The only part of town that shows any resemblance to the city of my boyhood is the Bowery, and even there the eager hands of Progress pluck at the grimy crumbling walls. The "Bowerie," still believed by youthful sailors from Oklahoma and citizens of Orange County to be a seething crater of variegated vice, was, most likely, a four-flush and a humbug from the start. Probably it never, even in old Dutch days, had a bowerie anywhere along its whole length, but had the alluring title, as the "Old Grapevine," in Sixth Avenue, from a tavern-keeper's fancy. Washington Irving hints at something naughty, but side-steps in time; evidently even in his days its allure was tinged with impropriety.
A populous, rowdy, rough-house place filled with reasonably sober volunteer firemen in the "Roaring Forties," the White Light District of the city, it had become in three decades a Sodom and Gomorrah to be prayed over by pious folk in Erie, Pa., and Schenectady, N.Y., as a festering plague-spot utterly beyond human cure, inviting the lightning of Heaven, and every hick made straight for the spot from the Erie and the New Haven "depot" the minute he arrived, praying to be on time to see the heavenly pyrotechnics begin. The early students of Realism nibbling on the tender leaves of Howells's novels, flocked to the Bowery for snappy material, city editors thanked God for one spot that could be depended on to furnish at least one daily story of murder, mayhem, suicide or rape, the industrious crimp, a baggage-smasher by day, toiled all night carting the bonnie sailor laddies and their loads down to ships they never had heard of, bartenders passed out stronger whiskey for five cents a slug than the bootlegger gives now for fifty, and Expectation stood on tiptoe day and night—and often got a jolt. All the city's crooks drifted to the Bowery as today they all drift into the taxicab business.
Odd things happened often enough. It was the meeting place—and too, for ages, the manufacturing place—of freaks. Here were made the dime-museum monsters, and here the human monstrosities congregated. Some saloons were frequented by these, others had a clientele of fake cripples, still others were patronized only by panhandlers or pickpockets or pugilists. Andy Horn's, for some reason, was the favorite stopping-place for the newspaper men. I dropped into Andy's one day with Lew Dockstader for a glass of beer. We were followed by a slim young fellow who, nodding pleasantly, seated himself at our table. A moment later Dan Rice, the famous old clown, came in with Tom Powers and joined us, and during the general conversation the young stranger asked me if I had seen the account in the papers of the bank clerk who had stolen sixty thousand dollars a few days before. When I nodded, he whispered:
"I'm the guy. They've been looking for me everywhere except down here. They think I'm too tony to hang out in the Bowery. I'm going to give it up. It isn't worth all the trouble."
In my admiration of this novel form of attack, for I supposed it was a mere preliminary to an attempt to borrow some money, I smiled and jokingly asked him where all the money was.
"That's the funny part!" he said, grinning. "It's in my girl's washstand away uptown. She doesn't know it's there, and I don't dare go near her, for the cops are watching her house, expecting me to come there. I've only got about fifteen hundred dollars of it."
He then revealed bills enough to paper a hennery, and I was convinced. Calling the attention of my confreres to this very unusual young man, we extracted the full particulars of his crime, a simple tale of putting sixty one-thousand-dollar bills in his coat pocket and absenting himself from the bank. When we had recovered our composure in some measure, being full of romance, we escorted the light-fingered moron to a young lawyer named Paterson, who had just opened an office in the new World Building, the same being now, through industry and thrift, a great legal light shining only for large corporations and banks. He so managed matters that when I happened to meet the young man a month or so later in the Hoffman House I was not surprised to hear that he had escaped prosecution, but I was almost bowled over when he informed me that he now had a much better position in the very bank he had robbed.
The theaters halted in the Bowery for a brilliant period on their uptown march to Fourteenth Street, where they lingered long. They were all up there when I began to frequent the town. It now seems as absurd to think of fashionable theaters, all the glitter and flash of gems, silks and feathers, shiny carriages and stiff footmen, here in this squalid street as it would have seemed silly to imagine them in Columbus Circle in 1890. Even yet the drabbled shells of some of these Bowery show houses still remain.
To me the most striking feature of the whole precinct was the bewildering number of saloons infesting it. Perhaps a third of the basements on Park Row held beaneries or saloons, but on the Bowery every other building, and often every building, harbored a more or less disreputable gin mill where liquor could be bought for from three to ten cents a glass. They thrived on the street's ill fame. The Bowery Girl and the Bowery Tough were, even in my day, nearly as distinct a type as were the Whitechapel costermongers. He wore "spring-bottom pants" long after they had been abolished elsewhere.
Beyond the Palisades and to points far West, the jovial Old Hoss Hoey had sung: "They do such things, and they say such things, on the Bowery!" until the name was the synonym for the one wide-open, rip-snorting vestibule of hell and the show window of Vice.
It may have been such in the prehistoric days when it was the first place visited by the hayseed in search of thrills, but it had long since lost its gilding and its tingle.
To be sure, there still was Billy M'Glory's Armory Hall at Hestor Street, seemingly doing a rushing business as late as '86. An extensive establishment, dingy and sour-smelling, cut up with numerous small narrow rooms and passages always crowded with noisy, tawdry girls, tough citizens rushing about with trays frantically asking: "Who wants the handsome waiter?" semi-pickled sailors, dope-peddlers and half-scared hicks, all the flotsam and jetsam of night life ebbing and flowing to and from the big barroom and dance-hall.
The Can Can was the name of the particular Parisian abomination just then undermining the morals of the Nation. On the theatrical stage it consisted mainly of altitudinous kicks at chandeliers or high hats, but in Armory Hall the kick was accompanied by indelicate bacchanalian gyrations and licentious cavortings, usually assisted by such a generous removal of clothing that the hilarious and abandoned dancers exposed their persons almost as freely as do our present-day flappers on the streets.
Nice girls in the privacy of their bedrooms practiced the steps of the devilish Can Can; it, very likely, was the cause of the first loosening-up of feminine muscles since the corset was invented in the time of Henry VIII, yet somehow it was never really popular in good society. One never saw it break out sporadically at a dancing party as we have become used to seeing novel features like the shimmie introduced of late years, for, after all, it was rather strenuously exercising, besides being somewhat hard on silk hats, and the athletic girl had not arrived. They were already on the way, however. One could not expect much of the steel-corseted girls when the men were still skating in plug hats, hunting in long melton overcoats, and rowing racing-shells in pea-jackets! Thousands of cultured persons wore their red-flannel three-ply BVD.'s all summer.
Along about this time I had a curious experience which strongly affected my view of circumstantial evidence and its value, as well as effectually diminished my natural bumptiousness. I had been away for a year, and during the interval John had married and taken up a residence on the top floor of No. 32 St. Mark's Place, a locality with which I was unfamiliar. One evening, finding myself in that neighborhood, I decided to visit him. On reaching the corner of Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street, I asked a passer-by where St. Mark's Place was.
Now I was unaware that these two streets converge at Fourth Avenue, and therefore when he pointed westward into a black gulf lit only by a few dim street lamps, I saw merely the sidewalk of Eighth Street before me, so I proceeded to number 32 and rang the bell. A shrewish, hatchet-faced woman opened the door and, when I inquired for my brother, raspingly informed me that he did not live there. "This is 32 St. Mark's Place, is it not?" I asked.
"No, it isn't! It's 32 Eighth Street," she snapped, and slammed the door in my face.
Returning to the corner, I asked two different men for direction. Each of them pointed out St. Mark's Place, but to me they appeared to point up Eighth Street, which convinced me that the woman of number 32 must be drunk or crazy. I decided to beard her again. Just as I was about to ring her bell, the door opened, a man came out, and politely stood aside for me to pass in. I had never been in an apartment house; had a notion, in fact, that they were like tenement houses. Knowing that John lived on the fourth floor, I started up the carpeted stairs. I was rather surprised at seeing many of the room doors open, but my confidence was undisturbed. I imagine that I was in a rather high-class boarding house. I felt assured when I reached the top floor that I had found John's apartment.
The light from the hall revealed numerous photographs arranged along the walls, as was his custom in his studios, and upon a table were piled many large "art" books, apparently. I rummaged around a bureau, upset a powder jar, found matches, and lighted the gas. I almost instantly discovered that the photographs were all quite unfamiliar to me, and as a chill of doubt assailed me I hastily examined some of the art books. These were inscribed with strange, Spanish names. In a flash I realized that the furniture, hangings, pictures, everything about the room were not my brother's and that the woman knew what she had been talking about.
Turning out the light, I hastened downstairs. A fat Negro woman passed me, regarding me curiously, but she said nothing. As my shaking hand reached for the door-knob, it turned, the door opened, and once again a polite man stood aside for me to pass, but outside I heard a shrill voice and turned to face the irate landlady, who demanded to know what I wanted. I felt safe, for I saw that she thought I was about to enter instead of escaping. I suavely inquired if she was certain that a Mr. John McDougall, the eminent painter, did not there reside, as several persons had assured me this was number 32 St. Mark's Place.
Her swift access of irascibility was remarkable. She pushed me from the doorway with energy and uttered some biting words anent my sanity and sobriety as I fled down the steps. Outside, in the dark street, a great throng was moving with eyes directed aloft. Wondering, I asked a boy what was causing all the excitement.
"They are hunting a burglar up on the roofs," he explained. "They caught one over the saloon on the corner and the cops are after the other, but I guess he's got away from them."
Before I reached Newark I had thoroughly canvassed all the possibilities of the dramatic situation. Had that peppery old woman caught me red-handed—or at least, powdered—on her top floor and called the police, it may be conjectured that a few years of my life might have worn a vastly different aspect.
The funny thing is that I never did get to No. 32 St. Mark's Place and never wanted to.
** END OF CHAPTER 4 PART 1 **
Labels: McDougall's This Is The Life
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Tingle
Horace Berchard “Harry” Tingle was born in Cambridge, Ohio, on June 24, 1878. Tingle’s full name was found on his World War I draft card which also had the birth date. His birthplace was mentioned in the book, Men of Illinois (1902).
In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Tingle was the youngest of two sons born to Thomas, a confectioner, and Rebecca. The family resided in Cambridge. Information regarding Tingle’s education and art training has not been found.
Men of Illinois published a photograph and brief summary of Tingle’s career.
Born in Cambridge, O. Located in Chicago in 1896; with the “Cincinnati Post” 2 yrs.. “The Cincinnati Enquirer” 3 yrs., and the “Commercial-Tribune” 2 yrs.; newspaper artist on the “Chicago Chronicle.”The 1900 census recorded artist Tingle in the Atwell household of seven including the servant. He lodged in Chicago at 5737 Kimbark Avenue. The head of the household was a patrolman.
Tingle produced a series portraits of Chicago businessmen in 1904.
American Art News, April 22, 1905, named Tingle as one of several contributors to the first annual exhibition of the Newspaper Cartoonists’ and Artists’ Association at Chicago’s Art Institute (page four, column 3). A catalog of the exhibit was published.
The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, at Ancestry.com, recorded Tingle’s marriage to Mabel Viola Ermen on October 22, 1907 in Chicago.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Tingle produced the Sunday comic strip, Uncle Dan and Aunt Sally, which ran from December 26, 1909 to May 29, 1910. The strip appeared in The Sunday Morning Star (Wilmington, Delaware), Elmira Morning Telegram (New York) and other newspapers.
According to the 1910 census, the Tingles lived in Chicago at 4532 Clifton Avenue. Gordon St. Clair, an illustrator, was lodging with them.
Ester Mable Marie was the name of Tingle’s daughter who was born May 6, 1915 in Chicago. She was best known as Dolli Tingle, an artist who also designed postage stamps.
Tingle signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 5633 Kenwood Avenue in Chicago and had his studio at 21 East Van Buren Street. He was described as tall and medium build with brown eyes and hair.
Tingle passed away January 16, 1919, in Chicago, according to the death certificate which said he was a commercial artist. An obituary has not been found.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Uncle Dan and Aunt Sally
By 1910 World Color Printing was ending a decade of originality and experimentation, and starting on a long, slow slide into oblivion. There were still a few interesting tidbits though. One was Uncle Dan and Aunt Sally, a strip starring a couple of hicks from the sticks. Granted, the Ma and Pa Kettle routine had already been done to death, but this cartoonist, who signed himself Tingle, threw in a few fresh wrinkles. Our hayseeds, Dan and Sally, are taking a trip around the world, and they write back to their son Hiram detailing all the wonders they discover in a new country each week.
The cartooning by Tingle, who has no other documented series with World Color Printing or elsewhere, is quite accomplished -- not exciting, but it gets the job done very well (which is more than you can say about a lot of other World Color material). Alex Jay has sleuthed out the identity of Tingle, and you'll meet him tomorrow.
The strip, and the trip, played out in weekly installments from December 26 1909 to May 29 1910.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ed Carey
Edward James Carey was born in Illinois in October 1871, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.
In the 1880 census, Carey was the oldest of two sons born to Edward and Laura, both Canadian emigrants. His father was a blacksmith. The family resided in Chicago, Illinois at 9 North Hoyne Street. Information regarding Carey’s education and art training has not been found.
Carey had an interest in boxing as told in The Jewish Boxers Hall of Fame (1988) and Sports and the American Jew (1998).
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Carey created at least 17 strips; continued two strips by other cartoonists; and may have contributed art to a few others. Carey’s earliest strips were for the Chicago Daily News from July 1900 to November 1901. The majority of Carey’s work was for the McClure Syndicate from February 1903 to April 1915. He also produced material for the New York World (1911–1912) and New York Evening Telegram (1909–1911).
Carey was a Brooklyn, New York resident according to the 1910 census. The newspaper artist lived with the Rosenfeld family at 1214 73rd Street.
The 1915 New York state census listed Carey the cartoonist with the Rosenfeld family who had moved to Greenburgh, Westchester County at 36 Chatterton Avenue. A 1918 White Plains, New York city directory said Carey’s home was 81 Main Street.
Carey was a lodger in a three-person Chagen family who lived in White Plains at 46 Lexington Avenue. The 1920 census said he was a cartoonist with the McClure company.
Carey relocated again in White Plains, this time at 3 Hunt Place according to the 1925 New York state census. There were seven members in the Isaacs household.
Carey passed away on October 10 or 12, 1928, at the White Plains Hospital. The Times and New York Evening Post both published news of his death on October 12. The Times story had an October 11 dateline and said he died October 10. The Post said he died October 12. The cause of death was believed to have been cerebral hemorrhage. At the time, Carey lived at 15 Oakwood Avenue in White Plains.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, November 09, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Adventures of a Bad Half-Dollar
Here's a superb series from the accomplished cartooning pen of Ed Carey, titled Adventures of a Bad Half Dollar. This continuing series, rather than featuring a human star, instead traces the comings and goings of a counterfeit coin. Carey uses this framework to explore with a jaundiced eye the many shortcomings of humanity, and boy does he have us pegged as a bunch of miserable, self-serving, egocentric, hypocritical schmucks. Spot on, in other words!
While you may think the idea seems sorta neat but extremely limited, Ed Carey was able to dream up all sorts of interesting situations and personality types to be saddled with the bum coin. The best part, though, is that he made it a true continuing narrative, with the coin having to pass from one situation to another in the strip itself -- the coin doesn't just flit from one situation to the next unexplained. The series ran on a weekly or more frequent basis in the weekday editions of the New York Evening Telegram from October 30 1909 to June 18 1910, quite a long run for a series in that paper.
If that seems like a substantial series, though, an imitator of Carey actually managed to outdo him. In 1930, when the Chicago Tribune instituted a new policy that their Sunday comics would include topper strips, Frank King of Gasoline Alley came up with That Phoney Nickel, an outright copy of Ed Carey's by then long-forgotten strip. The only change was the denomination of the coin. The inexpensive coin made the stakes much less dire, and King kept his narrative in a lighter vein. Carey's fifty cent piece in 1909 was a pretty substantial amount in a time when an unskilled laborer might be paid less than ten dollars per week, but a nickel in 1930, even in Depression dollars, wasn't all that much.
What also interested me about this strip is the coin itself. I wondered if a 'plugged' coin, a term used often in the strip, was a counterfeit or something else. You've certainly heard the phrase "not worth a plugged nickel" to mean something utterly worthless. But my online research about the subject has not really led to definitive answers. It turns out that a plugged coin is one that has had a hole drilled in it, and then the hole has been patched, usually with a cheap metal. Although there is a pretty good consensus online that this was at one time done in order to remove a plug of expensive metal (gold or silver) from the coin and substitute a cheap one (lead or tin), there's a problem with the story. When I search for actual examples of plugged coins online, all I can find are ones that have had a small hole plugged --- these are obviously coins that were drilled out to be strung on necklaces, not to remove a comparatively tiny bit of the metal. If you were going to try to turn a profit on drilling out coins, you would certainly make a bigger hole than in the ones I saw.
That then brings up a side issue. If a coin had a hole drilled in it, for jewelry or any other reason, did that make it no longer legal tender? Why else would anyone bother 'plugging' a coin (sometimes quite artfully, I might add), but so that it could be used in commerce? That theory doesn't seem to pan out, though. According to the U.S. Mint, as long as a coin can be identified as such -- in other words, not utterly and completely defaced beyond recognition -- then the coin is valid tender, and if it is so bad that merchants will not accept it, the bearer can take it to a federal bank to trade it in on an undamaged one. Of course that's the rule now. What it might have been a hundred years ago I haven't been able to determine.
The question that I think makes for an interesting little etymological mystery, is whether people referred to outright counterfeit coins as 'plugged' in those days. Perhaps the term, which originally meant a drilled coin, was gradually redefined as a bad coin of any kind. There was certainly no shortage of counterfeit coins then. If you wonder why counterfeiters would bother with the seemingly tough job of making faking coins, as opposed to running fake paper currency off of a hand-crank printing press, the answer is simple -- in those days coins were worth comparatively a lot more than they are today, and people were less likely to carefully examine a coin, as opposed to paper currency, before accepting it. Therefore, there are lots of known examples of coins counterfeited back then, many so well done that even coin collectors are often fooled by them.
But on reading the first few pages, I was already drowning in that purplest prose. I guess I'll stick to Ed Carey's version.