Saturday, April 30, 2016

 

Herriman Saturday



November 14 1908 -- Angelenos saw themselves as the ideal warm refuge for those stuck in Northern winters. Judging by the current population of L.A., I guess they were right.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

 

Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 14 Part 2


This is the Life!

by 

Walt McDougall


Chapter Fourteen (Part 2) - It's a Long Lane that has No Turning








If anything out of the ordinary happens to the average dumb-bell, it's a miracle; if it happens twice to a scientist, it's a queer coincidence; if it happens thrice to a philosopher, it's a Law of Nature. Now, being dumb-bell, scientist and philosopher, I came to the conclusion that my experience of the newspaper game, as it is called, was about what happens to all of its players who are not crooks or rabbits, and I did as most of them do, tried something else.
I rented an office on Broad Street and established an advertising business under the cheeky title of "The Brain Shop," which very likely scared away as much business as it brought. Then there came to me a partner, whereby hangs a tragic tale. A well-known local politician, Clayton Erb, who had been Insurance Commissioner, a man of very wide acquaintance, offered to buy a half-interest in the Brain Shop, a proposition that was very acceptable inasmuch as it would relieve me of the outside work.

I thus became a sort of advertising counsel to several corporations, for one of which I produced a monthly colored comic paper of four pages [I believe McDougall is referring to the publication Giggles here -- Allan], several department stores and merchants, and in order to provide an outlet for my still exuberant energy, for I was only fifty years old, and still devoid of wisdom teeth, I started a little weekly called Sketches that sold about 2,400 every week right in the business section, handled by newsboys alone. I am now inclined to suspect that this would eventually have been my most profitable and pleasing means of support. Incidentally, I made a few cartoons for the Telegraph.

Late one Summer day Erb came into the office and said: "I will hand you a check for three thousand five hundred dollars in the morning. I am hurrying for my train now and can't stop. I am going to get a divorce from my wife and we will settle the matter tonight."

He lived out of town on a fair-sized estate called "Red Gables" from which the tragedy took its name. Next morning, as I entered the train at Pleasantville, somebody remarked: "That was awful about Clayton Erb, wasn't it?" I asked what he meant, and he handed me the morning paper. Erb had been killed by his wife as he rose from the dinner table. The trial attracted widespread attention, but Mrs. Erb was acquitted.


During this period I syndicated the "Log of the Ark by Japheth," which was widely accepted but holding strictly to the literal Biblical narrative it seemed incongruous to prolong it for a much greater period than the duration of Noah's maritime adventure, as any Fundamentalist will admit. When Roosevelt went on his hunting trip in Africa, I produced a series called "Teddy in Africa" that also widely syndicated, but it was not long before many newspapers hinted that some of their readers were indignant at my absurd or sarcastic depiction of their hero, and recognizing gradually that any form of caricature or criticism whatever of Roosevelt would be equally obnoxious, I began to ease up and finally ceased my efforts. This is what has always made the syndicating of political cartoons unprofitable; the protesting readers are always so much noisier than the others that the editors become alarmed at their din.

Next year a number of prominent Republicans induced me to start McDougall's Magazine, a publication designed to muckrake the muckraking magazines, for one thing, and, I presume, to rehabilitate the Republican Party in the estimation of the Best People. Hampton's Magazine, capitalized for millions, started that year, and spent, I heard, $60,000 a month, but it lasted only a few weeks longer than mine. I made the cover designs, cartoons, illustrations, wrote a serial entitled "The Golden Fleece," dealing with conditions in Atlantic City, where we sold ten thousand copies every month, made advertising cuts and everything except the poetry, in spite of which the periodical lasted ten months. It might have survived longer had I not been stricken by a severe attack of gout which laid me low, incapable of movement, for ten weeks or so. When I recovered, the damage was done. Many of those who signed up to take stock in the enterprise reneged and I was broke.

It was my first failure in health and in business, but I was still young. I have observed that the more senile of my old comrades are those who have clung like barnacles to one job, and that the ones who have been fired the oftenest are the most resilient, as if hustling for the meal-ticket keeps the glands in action.

I arrived in New York with eleven dollars in my pocket. Two friends who were awaiting me at the station took me out to dinner and afterward announced that we were booked for a poker game at the house of another old comrade, an opulent Wall Street broker. When I informed them of the state of my finances, they laughed the care-free laugh of those who live by their wits, and said my credit would be good.

I won $94 that night, and something assured me that old Father Knickerbocker's spirit was hovering over his prodigal son who had repented and returned to the old home town. In all my years in Philadelphia I had never won $94 in one night, nor in many nights. The next day I went to the office of the Globe and suggested a daily column entitled "Look Who's Here," in which the most notable of hotel arrivals should be pictured and written up in the style of the little country newspaper. Wright, the editor, enthused over the idea and agreed to pay me $100 weekly for the stuff.

I had singularly good fortune in having as subjects some notable arrivals, among them the Shah of Persia's brother (or brother-in-law—I've forgotten which), but, best of all, Sorolla, the foremost painter of the day, a genial, unassuming, stoutish and bearded genius who posed for me and in a long interview, his first in the country, gave me an opportunity of introducing him to the newspaper-reading public, which does not know a painter from a kalsominer.

He sold a half-million dollars' worth of pictures during one month, and I am convinced that it was all due to my boosting, but of course I may be in error.

At the end of the second week Mr. Wright told me that the owner of the Globe, a Wall Street man named Searles, had become alarmed over my contributions, thinking them largely fakes inasmuch as he could not credit me with a general acquaintance large enough nor the luck nor the ability to bag so many interesting subjects every week and he was afraid of libel suits! So the feature expired and nobody has ever had the nerve or industry to revive it.

I had already planned and now set to work to make six sample pages of a front-page comic, "Hank the Hermit," which on completion I submitted to the World, which was known to be in need of a new feature, but although "Hank" was approved by those in charge of the supplement, I now discovered that Mr. Ralph Pulitzer cherished a personal antipathy to me. His brother Joe told me that Ralph "did not like my style."

I formed a connection with the Western Newspaper Syndicate, managed by Charles Mar, who had been with the American, and in a short time "Hank" was booming, being used by many of the best papers of the country. Later, when it was earning perhaps $500 weekly, the World was again in distress owing to the desertion of their main attraction, George McManus, creator of "Bringing up Father," to the American. Pulitzer had another opportunity to avail himself of the feature, as my partners were very unsatisfactory to me, but I was to witness another instance of a business man allowing his personal feelings to influence him in a business deal.

While "Hank the Hermit" was getting into his stride, for these features take time to establish themselves, I issued, through the American Press Association, a tri-weekly feature called "The Outlet," a quarter-page package of cartoon, verse, wise-cracks and a strip, "Gink and Boob," which was acceptable to about a hundred papers and which certainly was work enough for two men at least. When "Hank" was placed under the management of the McClure Syndicate and his prosperity became assured, I dropped "The Outlet" and went to Florida to recuperate. Henceforth for years I spent eight or nine months in the year at Rockledge, Fla.

Two or three stories that I had written for my own ill-fated magazine I sold in New York, "The Criminal's Hat," which I am now attempting to dramatize, "Pikers Afloat," a novelette, and "The Last Contest," which the American Magazine published in 1912, illustrated by George Wright, and then in 1914 republished, illustrated by Ruyterdal, which was an extraordinary proceeding, for which Orville Wright wrote a commendation. For this tale I invented the launching and landing stage for airplanes on ships, which has been adopted, but as yet I have received no royalties for the invention. The story caused H. G. Wells in his "Predictions" to seriously assert that airplanes would not be used in warfare for fifty years!

Life now moved easily and uneventfully for several years, a big tuna, tarpon or devilfish being something to talk about for days, and a passing automobile with children wanting to see "Hank and his Animals," tourists from every State of the Union passing down the Lincoln Highway, becoming a pleasing interruption to the day's work. In the Spring of 1915, instigated by McClure's, now under the ownership of C. C. Brainard, who had once been a World reporter, I began a daily series, a strip, entitled "Absent-minded Abner," which was subscribed to by some seventy-five important papers, among them the Evening Sun, New York, which was very satisfactory, to me, at least.

It is generally supposed by the cartooning fraternity that each Presidential candidate selects his cartoonist just as he does his manager. As a matter of fact he does once in many years. Usually he does not know a cartoonist exists. The able publicity manager, of either party, takes care of the picking, not of one but many alleged cartoonists, who go on the payrolls of the party and help to swell the bills. In 1904 Davenport was chosen by Roosevelt, making one cartoon, "He Is Good Enough for Me!" among others, that doubtless affected many votes, but he had much difficulty in getting paid the money promised him.

In 1911 I began to flirt with Gov. Wilson and prepare his mind for a vigorous assertion of his rights to have a hand-picked artist, but I found very quickly that cartooning was a branch that he had totally neglected. He seemed quite unaware of the importance or the extent of this means of influencing public opinion, nor was he particularly disposed to learn anything about it. Several times that summer I went to Sea Girt, and also corresponded with the Governor, finding him apparently entirely disposed to place the matter of National Cartooning in my experienced hands.

About a month before the Baltimore Convention I endeavored to screw him down to a decision, having a sort of suspicion that having marooned Harvey, Inglis, Measday, Jim Smith and most of his original workers, he intended to have nothing to do with any of the men who had done so much for his political advancement. The following letter, written after the matter had been discussed often, shows how little real impression my arguments had upon what he called his "one-track mind," being, in fact, pure piffle, although I did not perceive it at the time.

State of New Jersey
Executive Department
May 7th 1912

My dear Mr. McDougall:
I need not tell you how sincerely I appreciate your letter of April twenty-fifth and must ask your indulgence for not having replied sooner.

I am a very barren fellow in ideas as to how I could avail myself of the services of a cartoonist. I am sure that your mind is more fertile than my own in such a matter. I am equally certain that there will be unrivaled opportunities in the approaching campaign for the use of wits.

I should esteem it a real pleasure to have a talk with you, as you suggest. I am expecting to be in my office here on Friday forenoon next and Monday forenoon next. I wonder if it would be possible for you to run down.

Sincerely yours,
Woodrow Wilson.

A few days later I went to Trenton, meeting the Governor on the trolley car and going to his office with him, where we talked for two hours. I found it quite impossible to get a definite statement from him, and it was long afterward that I learned that he hesitated mainly because I had been affiliated with a Republican paper for ten years or so and he was afraid I was politically unsound. Politics was so serious a matter to him, and he was actually at the time in such a nervous state, that even one or two jests of mine were taken up with intense gravity. One of these, that Bill Sulzer seemed to be really his most formidable adversary, actually seemed, incredible as it may appear, to perturb him visibly. In sooth, that day he was plainly depressed and quite lacking in his usual buoyancy. I left him, however, persuaded that everything was all right.

I went to the Baltimore Convention, luckily being able to rent a little house just within the police lines which came in handy for some of my friends. It was the usual sleepless, confusing, harrowing series of scraps. One day I met Harry Walker, Bryan's manager, who dropped a few words that electrified me. I had secured the promise of Champ Clark, Gov. Lowden and others to select me as cartoonist, but I had not considered William J. I immediately asked Walker where he was, and was told that he was in his room.

I found him talking with a man, a stranger, and, dismissing him, he took me into the bathroom, where he at once signified his willingness to use my services. He dropped a significant remark in doing so which led me to think that he had hopes of beating Woodrow. "I am only wondering," he said, "whether we can afford to pay your prices!" The next day he abandoned his opposition, however, and Wilson was nominated.

Not long afterward I discovered that Charley Macauley of the World had persuaded Wilson to accept his valuable services, but nothing was said to me about the matter. I did make an "animated" cartoon for the motion-picture branch of the publicity department under Robert Wooley, which took me two months to complete and was widely circulated.

One day I received a telephone message from Bob Davis, informing me that his boss, Frank Munsey, had just bought the Press and wanted to hire me as his cartoonist. He asked me to come down at once. I found Mr. Munsey in his office in the Flatiron Building, seated on a sort of dais, and he greeted me amiably, stating that he wanted me to make a daily cartoon for which he would pay the sum of one hundred dollars weekly. By this time a hundred dollars for a New York cartoonist was a mere trifle and comic-page men were getting four times that sum. I explained to him that much water had run under the bridge since I received a hundred dollars per week, but that I would make him a daily cartoon for that sum.

"I will want all of your time!" he said suddenly.

When I confided to him that I had two quite successful syndicate features in hand and could not, it was evident, drop them for the insignificant, even paltry sum of a hundred dollars, he snapped out: "Well, I'm taking chances on you! You've been identified with comic stuff for several years and your effectiveness as a cartoonist may be impaired." He was evidently quite piqued, and in spite of Bob's nervous signals to placate him, I retorted, very truthfully: "I'm the one who is taking chances. You have never made a success yet of any newspaper you ever tackled."

I cannot remember the details of the exceedingly animated and delightful conversation. I recall reminding him of the numerous occasions during the last five years when I had been arrested for libel in Philadelphia, but as we both lost our tempers the things we said were of no importance, but I enjoyed it more than anything that had happened to me in years. Bob Davis's distress and horror were simply delightful. My shocking lack of veneration for his boss agonized him. I never imagined Mr. Munsey was so human, and I think the old boy secretly enjoyed the experience, for I doubt if he ever had anybody stand up to him and talk back since he got on Easy Street. Finally, as I walked out, he uttered the last word: "I'll never have a cartoonist on a paper of mine!" He may have considered it a sort of promise, for as far as I am aware, he has never employed one. He fired Bill Rogers as soon as he bought the Herald, and no better man for that paper ever lived.

In nineteen-twenty-three I met him in the corridor of the Herald and he greeted me pleasantly. I said to him: "Mr. Munsey, it seems to me you need a good cartoonist pretty bad!" He smiled and replied: "You come and see me when newsprint gets cheaper." That he has, however, persisted in his silly obsession the following proves:

THE NEW YORK HERALD
280 Broadway
New York,
January 28,1924.

Walt McDougall,
Braemoor, Goshen, N.Y.

My dear McDougall: Mr. Munsey is still disinclined to put a cartoon in the Herald. He simply does not want cartoons in the Herald, and he owns the paper.

Very truly yours,
C. M. Lincoln.

One of the funny things about objections of offended owners who sternly refuse to use the work of men who have disgruntled them is that such men can sell anything that is valuable to their papers by simply using a nom de plume. I have had innumerable pictures printed under various names at one time and another merely to avoid subjecting Ralph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst or Frank Munsey to an attack of cardiac trouble. Many another man has had the same experience.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

 

Obscurity of the Day: Teen-Wise






Certainly Jack Berrill had his heart in the right place when he dreamt up the comic strip Teen-Wise for the New York Daily News' Sunday comics section. His idea was to educate kids to the ways of the world, teach them moral lessons and good citizenship, and warn them away from dangers. But I have to say that the way it was done, by presenting readers with a never-ending cast of losers, most of whom never actually learn their lessons, was in my humble opinion really freaking depressing.

Just look at the samples above. In the top one we actually have an uplifting story, one with a great message and a good outcome. But in an otherwise good strip, Berrill has to have a loser invade the last panel and almost get the last word.

In the second strip it is abundantly clear that Bernie is embarking on a long horrible life of quiet sniveling desperation, and that his 'friends' are probably all going to end up as worthless trash; thieves and junkies probably. Could we not have ended with Bernie summoning up the resolve to ignore the advice of his loser friends? Is it realistic? Well, no. We all know some Bernies, and the one thing we can count on is that they'll never strike out on their own. But c'mon Jack Berrill, this is fiction -- you could give Bernie the break he'll never get in real life.

Then there's the third sample, a real classic. I don't have the next week's strip, thank goodness, but please Jack, please, cut these teenage pinheads some slack and don't leave them laying defiled and bleeding in a roadside ditch. Sure, that's what's likely to happen in real life, but please ...

Berrill tried to lighten things up with a mascot. Sorry, didn't work. The Teen-Wise Owl (seen in the top two samples), looked for all the world like a bug-eyed flattened piece of roadkill. It was like an angel of depression hovering over the proceedings, always around to taunt the weekly loser, but always sadly ignored.

Teen-Wise, the most effective depressant you can get without a prescription, seems to have begun appearing in the New York Sunday News sometime in 1966 (anyone seen it earlier?) and finally told the story of its last hapless loser on October 9 1977.


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Those word balloons and layouts just scream "Gasoline Alley" to me for some reason.
 
National Lampoon in the early 70s ran a parody by Michael O'Donoghue, "Poon-Wise," which ended with a most temperamental Michael hammering the owl to death ("Goddamn stupid owl!!")!
 
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

 

Obscurity of the Day: Texas History Movies






In 1926 news director E.B. Doran of the Dallas Morning News came up with an idea to tell the story of his state in comic strip form. What better way to get kids interested in the history of Texas than to tell its story in a lively, entertaining way with cartoons? He grabbed staff writer John Rosenfield Jr. to pen the strip, and artist Jack Patton, who was on staff at the Morning News' sister paper Dallas Journal, to draw.

The general concept was not completely new, but it was very young. J. Carroll Mansfield's popular Highlights of History pre-dates it by several years. However, Doran's baby is, as far as I know, the first educational history feature to limit itself to a specific subject like this. Strips and panels about state and local history would proliferate in the late-1920s and 1930s, but this appears to be the first of that particular breed. And not only is it a first, but it could arguably be called the best executed and certainly the most enthusiastically received of all that would follow. Rosenfield and Patton did a superb job of bringing history to life, enough that kids may have actually liked reading the strip, as hard as that may be to believe.

From the beginning, the strip's purpose of educating kids was pushed hard. The strip debuted on October 5 1926, shortly after the new school year had begun, and there is evidence that it was used as a teaching aid in Dallas classrooms right from the start. The Morning News also ran a contest in which kids could win cash prizes by answering questions about Texas history, questions that could easily be answered by kids who were clipping out the strips as they ran each day. The strip was so associated with schools that it even went on hiatus during the 1927 summer break.

Texas History Movies ran for a total of 428 daily episodes, ending its run at the conclusion of the 1927-28 school year on June 9 1928. The strip was so detailed in its coverage of Texas history that this large number of episodes only got it current up to 1885. According to the creators this was by design, "Here the cartoons end abruptly, not because there was nothing else worth telling, but because the things that happened after that make dull pictures; albeit, fascinating reading."

This, however, was by no means the end of Texas History Movies. In 1928 two different collections of the strip were published in book form. One was a complete reprinting by the P.L. Turner Company, the second an abbreviated version published by Magnolia Petroleum. The Magnolia version was printed in huge quantities and handed out free to school children, and was made part of Texas school curriculums. Eventually, in a large number of different printings over the span of decades, the publishing count reportedly went well into the millions. Even today, may Texas old-timers fondly recall the days when reading a comic book in class was not against the rules, at least in this one case.

Most of the information in this post comes from Weldon Adams, a comics researcher who works at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. I met him recently when I delivered a truckload of material to be auctioned there (more about that soon). You can read more about Texas History Movies, including a chronology of the reprint books, at Previews World. Adams also gave a talk about the strip, which is on youtube. Part 1:


and Part 2:


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Hi Allan,

I'm doing some assistant work for a documentary and we're seeking some help tracking down some 1920s comics in the style of Popeye or The Gumps that we can include in the film without having to pay a crazy amount for the rights. If you are able to help point us in the right direction at all given your expertise, that would be most appreciated; please email me at marcusdoherty92@gmail.com if so.

Kind regards
Marcus Doherty
www.marcusdoherty.net
 
Anything published in 1922 or before is in the public domain in the U.S. so it could be used. But this would not necessarily (and probably not) apply to later reprints of those strips.
 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: J.C. Argens




John C. Argens was born in Carson City, Nevada, on February 16, 1897, according to his World War I draft card.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Argens, his parents, Henry and Arzelie, and his older sister Fannie, in Reno, Nevada at 307 Virginia. Argens’s father was an iron molder.

In the 1910 census, Argens and his parents resided in Beckworth, California on Portola. The family later moved to San Francisco.

Argens was a medalist and graduate of the John Swett grammar school as reported in the San Francisco Call, December 21, 1912.

The 1917 Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory had this erroneous listing: “Argens Henry (Arzelie) cartoonist h 2297 Sutter”.

Argens signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1918. He was a San Francisco resident at 283 Church Street and his occupation was newspaper artist at the Bulletin. Argens was described as medium height, slender build with gray eyes and brown hair. Information regarding his art training has not been found.

In 1918 Argens contributed to Cartoons Magazine in its January issue; in March here, here and here; and May.

The Fourth Estate, September 14, 1918, reported Argens’s new job.

J. E. Murphy, formerly of the San Francisco Evening Call-Post, and now on the New York Journal, was succeeded on the Post by John C. Argens, former sports cartoonist on the San Francisco Bulletin.
The Sante Fe Magazine, April 1919, reprinted Argens’s Seeing San Francisco from Cartoons Magazine.

In 1920, cartoonist Argens and his stenographer wife, Ruth, lived at 790 California Street in San Francisco. San Francisco city directories from 1921 to 1926 listed Argens as a San Francisco Call cartoonist residing on Jones Street. The 1927 directory said Argens was a San Francisco Daily News cartoonist who resided in Burlingame.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Argens produced Amundsen’s Life for the Daily News from March 22 to April 9, 1927. Agrens’s cartoons appeared in the Sausalito News, April 7, 1928, and Madera Daily Tribune, April 10, 1929.

Argens home address was 1907 8th Avenue, San Francisco, in the 1930 census. The newspaper cartoonist had two sons, Henry and Jack.

According to the 1937 directory, Argens was Chronicle cartoonist. The following year Argens was at 3536 Kerckhoff Avenue in Fresno, California, where he cartooned for the Bee.

Fresno Bee 12/12/1937

According to the 1940 census, Argens completed four years of college. Sometime after the census, Argens moved back to San Francisco. The directories from the 1940s listed the cartoonist at 1907 Leavenworth.


The Bee, July 7, 1945, reported Argens’s injury in San Francisco.
John Argens, 48, a San Francisco newspaper artist who formerly was a staff artist for the Fresno Bee, was seriously injured yesterday when he was hurled to the floor of a cable car in the bay city when the car’s grip locked on a cable. Argens suffered head injuries and was transferred to the St. Luke’s Hospital...
Argens passed away January 20, 1962, in San Francisco, according to the California Death Index. The 1962 directory had his address as 1390 Filbert Street

—Alex Jay

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My special thanks to you and the blog. Due to the material that was posted on E. B. Sullivan "Sullie." A couple that had some of his art work contacted my sister and they sent us original art work, newspaper clippings etc. I am still sorting through the stuff but among the things is a letter from the Chicago Tribune that they were going to have to cancel the Bucks McKale strip and several other strips due to war time paper shortages. Bucks did run into the middle of September of 1943 in the Boston Post. During the war Sullie was editor of a newsletter for Patterson AFB (now Wright-Patterson). He drew cartoons for the newsletter geared to different groups on the base such as "Private Stuff" "Guard Gags" and others. Thanks again for providing the way to find out more about my relative. Carolyn Yancey Kent carolke5@aol.com
 
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Monday, April 25, 2016

 

Obscurity of the Day: John West




Before World War II, it seemed like every new strip put out by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate was touched with gold. After the war, it was a much different story. The syndicate seemed to be completely clueless, and brought out a long succession of stinkers. The Sunday-only strip John West, which debuted on April 7 1946, was certainly one of them. I'd definitely lose a decent size wager if the strip ever appeared outside of a Tribune-owned paper.

Not that John West was a total loser. John J. Olson was an extremely talented artist, whose evolving style over the life of this strip just got more and more impressive. It was the storytelling that seemed to mystify Olson, who tried to do way too much in each strip. Given that he had a mere third-page per week in which to work, his penchant for cutting from one scene to another two, three or even more times in the space of a single strip was enough to give readers a case of whiplash. Olson also had trouble figuring out what he wanted the strip to be about (or too many directives from behind the scene). The strip started out as sort of a jauntily adventuresome hillbilly strip, but then our hero all of a sudden grew up, got involved in hardboiled plots, and eventually ended up concentrating on, of all things, deep-sea diving.

Olson obviously knew his strength was in his drawing. Before the war, he was reportedly an art assistant for Ed Moore and Norman Marsh, and after John West rode into the sunset on November 6 1949, he got a very long-term gig as Dale Messick's art assistant/almost ghost on Brenda Starr.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

 

Herriman Saturday


Saturday, November 14 1908 -- The highly anticipated annual football game between arch-rivals Stanford and U.C. Berkeley is today, a tradition that began in 1898, and I gather still entails a lot of hoopla today.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

 

Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 14 Part 1

This is the Life!

by 

Walt McDougall


Chapter Fourteen (Part 1) - It's a Long Lane that has No Turning




The distinguishing difference between an employer and an employee is that the former is not expected to keep his personal output up to the maximum when he grows old. As years increase, the employer relaxes more and more, taking up golf as his arteries harden and devoting most of his efforts to seeing that his blood pressure is normal, but the hired man must continue to produce in standard quantity or take the gate. The insatiable greed of proprietors and managers to extract to the last drop the divine essence of talent or genius every day blinds them to the fact that speeding up honest-to-God genius always results in a lessened output, but few there be who can resist the ignoble urge to squeeze out another column, another picture, another poem from the willing worker. Sometimes even a suspicion that an employee is weakening will cause an employer to undervalue him.

A curious jealousy is at times discernible in certain proprietors when a worker makes a marked success; I have often noted an eagerness to prevent or check anticipated conceit or self-appreciation in such, all of which, of course, is merely the evidence of an instinctive fear of having to increase the stipend. All employers love the humble toiler who imagines his job is the only one on earth, just as they dread and suspect him who sits lightly on the perch, knowing that his wings will carry him anywhere.

For a time, ten or twelve years or so, Pulitzer was never troubled by such fears. Hearst, I think, was never embarrassed by them at all, but Bennett, Wanamaker and Munsey were always deeply concerned lest some of their people should get the swelled head. When the "Rambillicus Book" appeared, the department stores of Philadelphia and Chicago made counter displays of it, but Wanamaker ordered his book department to keep them out of sight for fear that I might become too prosperous. I have known men who would spend hours devising methods of keeping too efficient aids from contracting the notion that they ought to be partners.


This desire to squeeze out profits, or at least to even up expenses, brought most of the big papers into the syndicate business. Among the most successful, for a period, was the North American. I did one series entitled "Fatty Felix" for four or five years that was sold to papers from the Atlantic to the Pacific until it grew too heavy a burden for me, owing to the fact that I had unwisely adopted a scheme that called for five or six characters in each picture instead of two or three, as the modern stripper does. Rudolph Dirks in his "Katzenjammer Kids" made the same error, but not being obliged to do any other work, he has been enabled to carry the weekly burden triumphantly for some twenty-eight years with an unimpaired intellect and astonishing variety. 


As time went on, other means were found of decreasing the overhead. I was invited to enter the syndicate myself. A deal was made between the N.A., Riley and Britton, Frank Baum and myself to produce a "Wizard of Oz" page weekly, Baum stipulating to furnish ideas, but he almost totally failed to produce, having no pictorial talent. In this page first appeared the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. Instead of salary I received a percentage which reached a little over a thousand dollars per month, but when the inevitable business disputes began I went back to my original arrangement.



Then came one Joseph B. Bowles, from Chicago, who had syndicated Bryan's trip around the world. He proposed to put "Peck's Bad Boy" into the colored comic pages. An arrangement was entered into with him on similar terms. I at once found it quite impossible to use Peck's Boy, mainly because he was not of the type suitable for this sort of page, as well as because Gov. Peck's humor was not pictorial, but I made the page in my own way, creating a new type of healthy-minded boy instead of Peck's degenerate literary offspring, and it was one of this series that brought Jackie Coogan into the "movies."

Bowles was a small, nervous half-portion of a man and deeply religious. I was in consequence somewhat suspicious of him, but I reflected that if Ed Van Valkenburg had not shied at him I need not. The N.A. had more at stake than I had. Bowles came to my house as I was giving a little dinner to some of Atlantic City's political pillars. He arrived in a big crimson (hired) car, an imposing entrance, as automobiles were still rare and impressive, and I invited him to join us. Quite suddenly, in a pause of the table talk, Bowles said to that bunch of hard-boiled operators, in a high shrill voice: "I do not see how you gentlemen can go through your daily lives without the help of the Lord Jesus Christ!"

A gas bomb exploding on the table would have created no greater sensation, but in another moment the gang concluded that the mean-looking little man must be an entertainer, and all burst into hearty laughter at a unique form of Chicago humor.

This "Peck's Bad Boy" series ran for over a year, and I then abandoned it.

There came to us Charles Nelan, one of those accidental products which confound all theories and perplex the philosophers. A grocery clerk in Ohio, he gained a small prize offered for a cartoon by a local newspaper, and in course of time actually attained to the position of cartoonist on the New York Herald. He was a big, stolid fellow, but with a knack of making the conventional cartoon, such as Uncle Sam weighing the annual grain crop or Father Knickerbocker hoisting the flag on City Hall. He was receiving $150 weekly, when Reick one day told him that unless he got out with the boys, saw some real life, and got a wiggle on, he would fire him. Charley consulted his friends, who advised him to throw a scare into Billy by a threat of resigning, but to his horror the resignation was accepted.

He took a position with the North American at $65 a week, forty-five of which he probably saved, and died, with a goodly fortune in the bank, of tuberculosis some ten years later.

For a time he worked in my sumptuous office, but the Turkish rugs and imported water colors oppressed him, and finally Wanamaker placed him in a less gorgeous workroom. T. B. used to send me every week all the Paris papers, usually translating many of the jokes in a small, neat handwriting. One day Nelan carted these to his home, and when I asked for an explanation of the unusual proceeding, for he knew not a word of French, he replied with much heat: "I want you to understand I'm as much of a humorist as you are!"

One day Sutherland, the editor, brought in Pearson, owner of the London Mail and other papers, then looking into American journalistic methods, and we had a long and very interesting conversation, mainly upon the subject of Ernst Haeckel's "Riddle of the Universe," a work that requires considerable biological training to properly appreciate, and I was delighted and amazed at the great editor's grasp of the subject, in view of the enormous drafts upon his time and energy. Nelan scratched away at his drawing, probably not comprehending a word of the talk, but during a pause he suddenly wheeled around and in an earnest, almost solemn tone, said:

"Well, all I've got to say is that if a man has a good home and a good wife he oughter be happy."

"Ham" Marshall was another character who gave distinction to the staff. Ham was one of the few remaining Bohemians of the old times. Carelessly dressed, even seedy at times, he was a gifted and erudite man. Always with a volume of Italian poetry in his pocket, homely to painfulness, yet fascinating to women, he made a sort of specialty of testing each boarding house in a street until he had occupied them all, thereby acquiring an immense acquaintanceship. Once with a friend in New York, I met him along about midnight and he invited us up to the room which he was occupying with a man whose name I have forgotten. There he soon produced a faro-bank outfit, and in a few minutes we were busy gambling. When in the small hours my friend and I were cleaned out and prepared for departure, Ham accompanied us downstairs. At the door, with every evidence of deep gratitude, he shook hands and said: "My God, Walt, I am mighty glad you dropped in! We were worrying over how we were going to pay our rent today, but now everything is all right."

When he had a difference with Van Valkenburg and resigned, he almost threw the boss into a state of coma by producing a bank book with some thousands to his credit.

I bought a house in Pleasantville, N.J., a suburb of Atlantic City, in 1907, devoting a portion of my time to pheasants and Plymouth Rock Chickens. Within two years I was an authority in the poultry journals and a judge at the chicken shows! Merit is always recognized. My farm was on the water's edge, and upon it was an ancient "kitchen midden" or prehistoric shell heap replete with neolithic stone implements; the hotels of the summer resort were amethyst against the horizon four miles distant across Absecon Bay. When I sold this place to a Salt Lake man, there were 2,300 chickens, 700 pheasants, 86 turkeys, uncounted guinea hens, 75 mallard ducks, eleven Llewellyn setters, one cat, one horse and one cow on the six-acre demesne which had been christened "Windy Top." The necessity of keeping up with the schedule of syndicated comic stuff largely inhibited going to conventions, flooded districts, country fairs and baseball games as of yore; the daily cartoon usually went up to Philadelphia by the train conductors, and I led the life of a portly English squire. I received a hundred pair of quail from the State Game Commission and broadcasted them on my estate, where they throve to the benefit of gunners next autumn.

The differences between the city administration and the virile North American had grown so pronounced as to be almost savage. The Mayor, Reyburn, a somewhat eccentric and anomalous individual, by his marked peculiarities gave Van and his editors many opportunities for sharp and bitter comment; his habit of prowling about at night and attending banquets where he spoke in language so incoherent and wild as to create the belief that he was intoxicated, afforded me the chance for a series entitled "The Reyburn Nights Entertainment," which I, at least, enjoyed exceedingly.

Van Valkenburg was arrested, charged with libel, about every fortnight. About once a month I was caught in the net, but we were invariably victorious and went right back and did worse things to them. When Van and Arthur McEwen really tried to be scurrilous and vitriolic, the output was simply sizzling, and if Mayor Reyburn was not crazy, as he accused us of hinting, it was only because he had a stronger mentality than anybody suspected, for we drove him almost frantic. Even if the paper won no political victories, it established a reputation for high moral aims, vehement rectitude, militant municipal purity and general uprightness never exceeded by any purely commercial-and-political outfit ever seen in Pennsylvania. When, however, in 1911 I think it was, they succeeded in winning one contest and elected Mayor Blankenburg, Van, like a mere politician, promptly installed his Brother Fred, in one of the fattest offices in the City Hall.

One of the humorous things, and one that sheds a light upon human frailty, which has always inordinately interested me, happened about this time, when Sarah Bernhardt was making her last (guaranteed) farewell performance in America, at the period when the managerial hogs compelled her to appear in a circus tent. Her manager wrote to a friend of mine, a Chestnut Street confectioner of note, that the great tragedienne would exchange an autographed testimonial to the excellence of his wares for a specified sum. On his declining, the sum was materially reduced, the offer now coming from some far Western city, and just before Sarah sailed she came down to five pounds of chocolate f.o.b. the steamer at Jersey City!

At the Buffalo Exposition, Julian Hawthorne and I were the first to take a ride in the Loop-the-Loop, that day completed and opened to the public; the next year, in a carriage driven out Market Street to test the first wireless apparatus ever devised; that same year, to ride at twenty-five miles an hour on the beach at Atlantic City, and a year later, with Cressy doing a mile in 37 seconds, which quite satisfied my greed for speed, never very pronounced; at the Jamestown exhibition I had my first ride in a dirigible, in 1907, a funny little object motored by a 12-horse-power Mianus marine engine but quite practicable and very enjoyable.

In 1908 I again appeared for a few weeks in vaudeville, doing my newspaper pictorial work, as did Winsor McCay, in the dressing room of the theater, in a talk entitled "The Mystery of the Female Shape," the assumption being that the feminine attire of certain periods implied a similar anatomical construction. The only notable thing about the proceeding was the revival of the old song "Silver Threads among the Gold," which I had dug up to accompany the picture portraying the female form of the '70's and which has continued to be popular.

As part of my education in the Wilkes-Barre park* I had learned the word "graft," then signifying the particular form of chicanery practiced by the outdoor show men, fair-workers and the like, such as cane-racks, fishponds, wheels of fortune, and one momentous day in the N.A. office when we were discussing the need of a new and non-libelous word as a substitute for boodle, spoils, rake-off, etc., I suggested this perfectly good and little-used synonym. The suggestion was applauded and we started the campaign with a picture of a sort of hideous prehistoric animal similar to the Rambillicus. It was immediately adopted all over the country, caused our opponents unheard-of misery, and is now in the dictionary. This alone should make me famous; many a man is in "Who's Who" for far less, yet that inestimable publication, for no discernible reason at all, dropped me out in 1916 after harboring my record since it started business. However, as it rejects Jim Corbett, my fellow author, I have no right to complain.

It was about this time that I wrote a story about double-yolked eggs that I meditated hatching into double-barreled hens but only procured two-headed roosters, and somebody copied it that afternoon and sold it to Von Hamm, editor of the N.Y. World, causing him extreme mortification and obliging him to apologize to the Philadelphia sheet that had these nifty up-to-date ideas.

I have mentioned that my contract was for a five-day week, leaving my Saturdays and Sundays free for scientific pursuits, painting and other recreation, but out of pure good nature and an interest in the paper's welfare, I had continued to make a cartoon on Saturday for the city editor, James Benn, one of Van's political creatures.

One day in 1908 I was called upon to preside over a banquet given by all the cartoonists of the land to Mark Twain at Delmonico's, which was a notable event, for which I left the data at the office for an inside story, which did not appear although all the other Philadelphia papers gave much space to the event.

On Monday I was informed that Mr. Benn, who had about as much to do with my affairs as Archbishop Ryan, had ordered the cashier to deduct twenty-five dollars from my salary because I had failed to furnish the Saturday cartoon. I repaired to Van Valkenburg's room, where I found Mr. Barclay Warburton, the owner of the Telegraph, with Van, and I made a vigorous and pointed protest against the action of Benn. He began winking rapidly. I made him admit that the proposal of a five-day week was his own, and said that unless the palpable outrage was rectified I would consider myself discharged. Poor Van tried to sit upon two stools, much to Warburton's amusement, and the upshot was that I withdrew in a huff, followed by Warburton, who asked me to promise him that if I left I would come to the Telegraph.

Van, of course, found it impossible, for unknown reasons, which may be guessed, to turn down Benn, and I did not return, but a week later he sent for me to ask me, pathetically, if I were going to put him in a hole with all these syndicate contracts for my work at stake. Yet he did not offer to soothe my offended dignity by a recognition of my rights. In disgust I told him that I would do a comic page every week for one hundred dollars until his contracts expired. This agreement I kept, but did not renew it, nor, I may mention, did many of the N.A.'s customers renew theirs. Herbert Johnson took up the daily cartooning most efficiently, and with Bradford's humorous daily strip to console their readers I suppose my departure was quite unnoted, but one delightfully satisfying reflection remains permanently with me: from that day the circulation of the North American began to drop until it became merely a third-class also-ran instead of the foremost paper in Pennsylvania, and recently, in his old age, Van Valkenburg forsook it, and it fell into the hands of Cyrus H. K. Curtis and ceased to be.

* McDougall never names the amusement park which he operated. We know that it was in Wilkes-Barre, and that he referred to it as a "trolley park", which generally means that the park was situated on a (customer delivering) trolley line. The park that best fits that description is the Sans Souci Park, which was in business from about 1880 to 1970.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

 

Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Alan Maver


Alan B. Maver was born in Manhattan, New York City, on July 5, 1909, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at Ancestry.com.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Maver lived with this Scottish-emigrant parents and four, older New York-born siblings in Manhattan at 727 Columbus Avenue. His father was a carpenter.

The 1915 New York state census listed Maver and his family at 108 West 102nd Street in Manhattan. The address was the same in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. 


Information about Maver’s education and art training has not been found.

In 1930, the census said Maver was a newspaper reporter and cartoonist. The Town Times (Watertown, Connecticut), February 2, 1978, said, “Maver…began his career as an assistant to Feg Murray, whose work was appearing at the time in the New York Sun. He took over the sports cartoon production six years later when Murray left the paper.” It appears Murray’s sports cartoons began in 1923 with Sports of 1923 from Associated Editors. Presumably, Maver assisted Murray beginning sometime in the mid- to late 1920s. Maver’s sports cartoons were distributed by United Features Syndicate followed by King Features Syndicate in 1948, according to The Day (New London, Connecticut), May 24, 1984. Some of his cartoons, from 1946 to 1967, are here.


Heritage Auctions

American Newspaper Comics said Maver drew the World War II series, Stars in Service, for the United States Treasury Department. Maver also had a brief career in the comic book industry. Some of that work is here.

In the 1940 census, Maver lived with his parents and two siblings in the Bronx, New York, at 334 East 205 Street. Manhattan, New York city directories, from 1944 to 1948, listed Maver at 640 Fort Washington Avenue.

At some point Maver moved to 72 Flag Swamp Road, Southbury, Connecticut. Town Times reported Maver’s 1978 art exhibit at the library. Maver had taken up watercolor painting in his spare time. (see page 7, column 3)

Maver passed away May 22, 1984, in Southbury, according to the Connecticut death index. His death was reported two days later in The Day.



—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

 

Obscurity of the Day: Stars in Service




During World War II our government issued a lot of patriotic material to newspapers, quite a bit of which was in cartoon form. From the U.S. Treasury Department came a number of features whose message was for newspaper readers to buy war bonds.

One of those features was Stars in Service, a panel series highlighting famous people who were serving in the armed forces. The root message was that if these famous folks can put their lives on the line, surely you, Mister and Mrs. America, can at least buy some bonds to support the war effort.

The series was drawn by veteran sports cartoonist Alan Maver, who drew for King Features for close to half a century. Naturally given Maver's specialty, the lion's share of the Stars in Service subjects ended up being sports figures.

As with most features issued by the government, Stars in Service would have been issued in batches to newspapers. Editors were free to run them when and as often as they wished. They were great items to fill holes, and for smaller papers they were welcome free substitutes for the comic strips and panels they could barely afford.

As best I can tell, the Stars in Service series was first issued to newspapers around April 1943. It's tough to determine just how many were issued, or if there were multiple batches issued over time, but I've not seen a tremendous number of different panels, so perhaps just 30 or so in all?

The samples that are shown above are sort of interesting. They come from the Waukesha County Tribune, which was evidently so short on material to run in their paper that they scratched out the word "WAR" on these panels and ran them after the end of World War II. I wonder how many of the stars profiled were casualties by then? (I checked on the two fellows above -- they came through unscathed.)

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

 

The Marketing of The Mighty Bunyan

A short while ago, I discussed The Mighty Bunyan as our Obscurity of the Day. I described Clyde Yeadon, the creator of the strip, as a one-man show. Well, turns out my assumption was dead wrong, and I was very politely corrected via email shortly thereafter.

It turns out that Paul Bunyan Enterprises was very much a collaborative effort, and that Clyde Yeadon's partner in the venture was a fellow named Les Kangas. Kangas was obviously a marketing prodigy, and he went all out in service of Yeadon's concept.

Kangas' son, who sent me the email, sent this fascinating bunch of items that show some of the extent and ingenuity of his dad's very impressive marketing efforts:

Parade float advertises the current giant mosquito continuity in Mighty Bunyan

Bunyan 'formal' dance -- come dressed as a lumberjack. Note the Bunyan doll displayed at left front.

Stationery sample


Photos of Les Kangas at work, with Mighty Bunyan ephemera on desk

News story, unfortunately missing a few lines that seem to have been clipped off. Note pic of giant 'diaree'.


Thanks very much to Les Kangas Jr. for submitting these delightful and interesting pictures. If the Mighty Bunyan didn't catch on, it sure wasn't from your Dad's lack of effort!


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Monday, April 18, 2016

 

Topper Strips: The Lovebyrds


Paul Robinson's long-running teenage gal strip Etta Kett, which began in 1925, added a Sunday version in 1932. From the first installment of the new color strip on January 10, The Lovebyrds topper strip was riding astride it. I tend to think of young married couple Horace and Peggy of The Lovebyrds as a glimpse into the likely future of Etta Kett and her beau Wingey. Their hijinks betray the same stunted emotional status as teens, despite their more advanced years.

Paul Robinson's lovely fine-line drawing style makes it easy to forgive the silly goings-on, and just enjoy the ride. Unfortunately that ride for The Lovebyrds ended in 1942 (June 28 as best I can determine), when Etta Kett was, formally or informally, demoted to King Features 'b-list'. From then on the Sunday Etta is seldom seen running anywhere, though it continued to be produced until 1974.

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Always wondered about what it must have been like to work on a legacy b-list strip at the end of its days.. putting in the effort, cashing the checks, and all the while knowing full well that your readership is nil. Reminds me of Barton Fink, getting paid to produce screenplays for films that will never be made.
 
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

 

Herriman Saturday



Friday, November 13 1908 -- One final cartoon from Herriman flogging the big Elks' get-together here in LA. Thankfully, we're now safe from the BPOE cartoons for another year.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

 

Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 13 Part 2

This is the Life!

by 

Walt McDougall


Chapter Thirteen (Part 2) - A New One is Born Every Minute







With [Philadelphia North American owner Thomas Wanamaker's] amazing capacity for details and a commercial acumen akin to genius, he would permit a petty incident to blind him to his own interests, and make hasty decisions that [North American editor] Van [Valkenburg]was obliged to readjust. This was illustrated in my own case. He had himself employed me, and five years later, when all of the other imported talent had deserted, I imagined myself his one ewe lamb. One election night, as we were awaiting the returns, he asked me why I preferred to live in Atlantic City, and when I had given my reasons he sniffed in contempt and said that if I would come to Philadelphia he would give me rooms in his own apartment.

I laughed, thinking the suggestion a mere whim, and said that to an outdoor man like myself it would be like putting a ball and chain on me. I explained that my boating, shooting and fishing in early morning hours were the antidote to eyestrain incident to working on glaring cardboard, which, according to the famous Doctor George Gould, had caused my gout. Instead of receiving my excuse in his usual scoffing manner, he walked away, and I knew I had offended him. I was never again to see him in the flesh, for his search for a cure kept him away until next spring, when I received the following curious epistle from him:

April the Nineteenth 1905

Dear Mr. McDougall:
I write you this out of a spirit of friendship and kindness without the knowledge of anyone.

I think that the wisest thing you could do would be to send your resignation as a member of the North American staff to Mr. Van Valkenburg, or propose to him that he pay you space for whatever the paper buys. I know that dissatisfaction with your services has been increasing monthly for the last two years until it is believed in the office that either you are too sick to work or that you are so well that you are fishing and anything you send up from your seashore retreat is an act of pure condescension on your part.

I therefore thought it would be an act of kindness on my part, and I wish you would put that construction on it, if you were to send in your resignation at this time, which would perhaps make the long Summer in front of us easier for you, and I am,

Yours very sincerely,
Thomas B. Wanamaker.

Instead of hurrying to him and falling on my knees for mercy, as he had fully expected, I at once wrote him thanking him for his kindness and saying that I wished to draw further upon his friendship by asking him to write me a testimonial to the effect that for five years I had turned out a daily cartoon, also two and a half pages weekly of comic-supplement stuff which he had contracted to supply to divers papers at a profit of two thousand dollars monthly (he had forgotten all about this in his heat), a full-page weekly fairy tale for children, also widely syndicated, as well as countless illustrations and articles.

He did not answer my letter, but left it among his papers, where it finally came to Van Valkenburg's notice. I did not resign but took the train for Wilkes-Barre, where I remained six months engaged in nursing an infant trolley park and regenerating a much abused eyesight. I had become entangled in this enterprise through my interest in a young inventor of a roller coaster of great monetary prospects and, having formed a company, rented land and erected many buildings, was not averse to undertaking the management of the enterprise although I knew no more about an open-air show than I did of Hebrew logarithms.

It rained for sixty days out of the ninety of the season, but in so far as keeping ahead of the sheriff was concerned, I managed to pull it through successfully. One might write a volume on my experience. I there became well acquainted with John Mitchell, the labor leader, a man of high character and immense influence, as unspoiled and ingenuous as a boy. We contemplated collaborating on a book, but he conceived the queer notion that it would be taking advantage of his leadership of 150,000 workmen. I launched into journalism one of its brightest ornaments, a young lawyer named Frank Ward O'Malley, who was threatened with a pulmonary trouble and whom I induced to come out to the park and help me with a weekly advertising sheet. Some of his contributions to our Park News were so clever that New York papers copied them, and later he was captured by the Sun. He was a slim, handsome, vivacious fellow with all of the outward marks of genius as I had learned to recognize them in a long course of study.

At the end of August I returned to Philadelphia, meeting Felix Isman, the realtor and author, just outside the station. Excitedly he demanded where I had been hiding. When I explained he took me by the arm and led me up into an office in which sat Senator Boies Penrose, Boss Jim McNichol, Senator Vare, David Lane and one or two others, all declared enemies of the North American. I held up my hands and said: "I am not heeled! Don't shoot!"

"Are you going back to the N.A.?" demanded Penrose without prefatory remark.

"I don't know," I replied. "I've got to earn a living."

"What'll you take to stay down in Atlantic City until after election?" he asked in his plaintive nasal whine.

"It's a mighty expensive place, as McNichol can tell you. He knows it costs about five hundred a week to live there," I replied jocularly, never expecting my reply to be taken otherwise.

"How will that suit you?" Penrose asked McNichol, the city's boss, and as Jim nodded, the Senator reached for his check book and, chuckling, said: "After this you can spit your venom into the ocean and not through the N.A."

Dazed, I took his check for fifteen hundred dollars, and after a brief chat, during which nothing more was said about this shameful prostitution, as Van Valkenburg termed it when he learned of it, and which I admit would have been a correct definition had I been bribed by the unconscionable Democratic bosses, I took my train for home, where I remained listening to the voices of the waves for ten or eleven placid weeks. This was my only contact with practical politics, although campaigning with Van had afforded me glimpses of doings the practicality of which were evident, and this was in the nature of a life-saver, for I was down almost to my last dollar when these unscrupulous tempters beguiled me.

After the election, wherein the Wanamaker forces were beaten to a jelly, I strolled into the N.A. office.

"Where on earth have you been?" demanded Van, winking nervously.

"Running my old trolley park into the ground," I replied.

He fumbled in a drawer, drew out my answer to Wanamaker's letter, and asked: "What does that mean?"

"Just what it says. It's plain enough," I said.

"I found it among T. B.'s papers," he explained. "I don't think, however, that he intended me to see it."

I happened to have Wanamaker's letter in my pocketbook and produced it. After reading it, Van said: "Well, T. B. hired you and, it seems, he fired you. I guess he didn't know you were loaded. Now I'll hire you!"

I resumed relations, with an increase of fifty dollars a week in salary and a five-day week, which, to me, was a sufficient answer to T. B.'s curt and kindly epistle and repaid me for six months of financing an outdoor show, nursing lost babies, running a baseball team, and listening to the band spiel out "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" and "Everybody Works but Father" four times an hour from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily.

I stayed this time for four years.

In 1903 the "Rambillicus Book" was published with gratifying success. It was a collection of the "Fairy Tales for Children" which had appeared weekly in the N.A. and a number of other papers, in which an undercurrent of humor, intended solely for grown-ups, was injected. I named my first motor boat the Rambillicus and became a devotee of the gas engine and grease. Gasoline cost five cents per gallon, and half of the fuel was dissipated by the "vaporizer," as the primitive carburetor was called; her speed was nine miles an hour, but the demon that is in every gas engine made vigilance the price of pleasure. Angelic patience and ingenuity were required by every motor-boat sailor, hence the pursuit was fascinating. I once brought my craft home with the aid of a hairpin as a tripper-spring. Selden, who controlled the American rights of the gas engine, lived near me; he more than once assured me that his royalty of five dollars per engine did not pay his rent, yet within a few years he was a millionaire.


Governor Pennypacker issued a vehement broadside against cartoonists that year; a fiery message to the Legislature, in which he savagely anathematized all and sun-dry cartoonists as pestilential evils, and advocated that they "be drawn and quartered," was widely published, and a bill was introduced in the Legislature by Assemblyman Fred. Pusey, prohibiting "the depicting of men in an inhuman manner or as birds or animals." Whereupon I made a whole page of portraits in which every prominent official from the Governor down was portrayed as a vegetable, some of the portraits being exceedingly felicitous, and the bill died a natural death from ridicule [actually, it apparently passed into law, but was never enforced - Allan]. Pennypacker, a scholarly old soul, slow to wrath, but devoted to Quay, was much disappointed over the result, as well as angered at being depicted as a beet, and he always refused to acknowledge my courteous salute thereafter on the street.

Two Sundays later, chugging down the "Thorofare," as the waterway back of Atlantic City is termed, I saw a man and a boy standing dejectedly on a wharf. Slowing down, I accosted them to find that they had been disappointed in connecting with a boat in which to go fishing, or some such misfortune, and I suggested that they go with me. This was agreed to with avidity, and for the rest of a perfect day we fished and chatted to our mutual edification, for he was an agreeable, intelligent companion. It was only on our return that my guest asked my name and, after a stare of astonishment, revealed that he was Assemblyman Pusey, whom we had been cartooning vigorously for some time. Such little adventures add spice to a dull life.

The Clover Club was at the beginning of its decadence at this time, having lost much of its spontaneous brilliancy through the passing away of its cleverest, most irreverent members. I had attended its unique dinners from that remote period when they were held at Boldt's Sea Girt Hotel at Spring Lake. They were meetings of bons vivants, intolerant of twaddle, buncombe and bull, but to an orator who succeeded in passing through an initial barrage of annoying, disconcerting interruptions without succumbing, they were all that could be desired. I have witnessed many comical and some depressing instances of self-important dignitaries losing their tempers under the studied affronts of the members, which, it must be confessed, became, in time, rather stereotyped, as, for instance, in the reply to a nervous speaker who asks: "What shall I talk about?" which was: "Talk about a minute," and which, after twenty or thirty years' wear, is still as sharp as an Indian arrowhead.

One night Grover Cleveland resented one of these flippant sallies so strongly that much diplomacy was needed to prevent his departure, but he never had any sense of humor. Most speakers were warned beforehand that they would run the gauntlet of a rather banal form of wit, and stiffened themselves for the ordeal. I well remember Col. Pat Donan of Dakota, a picturesque and admirable character, launching into a stream of liquid eloquence in a voice like a silver bell and carrying the gang of charmed scoffers, in an ecstasy of speechless rapture, clear to his peroration without an interruption, but he was the only man who ever got away with it, I think.

With the years the Clover Club grew tamer—but the wine improved with age—and the terrapin smaller. There were fewer guests of distinction and more conviviality as the members, grown more staid, less cruel, came to depend on themselves for their amusement. I recall one gay night when Charles M. Schwab, Lieut. Gov. McClain and myself stood in the alcove of the Bellevue-Stratford banquet hall and sang a ballad in a manner that drew tears from nearly all eyes, and discovered when we had finished that the gallery was filled with hilarious ladies. I have never sung in public since, but Schwab and McClain are still addicted to the vice under certain conditions.

Another club there was called the Terrapin, of ancient lineage, originating in Revolutionary officers and perpetuated by their male descendants, at which the Madeira was always the oldest obtainable and only four guests were invited. I ventured to suggest Elbert Hubbard, who happened to be in town, and was deputed to invite him. Old Hughie Dougherty, the minstrel, was also invited, and he proved a bonanza of humor. Hubbard's talk was flat and pointless in comparison, and he left after he had spoken but sent a bill next day of $150 for his services.

No city on earth was as bibulous as Philadelphia before the World War, nor was vice more rampant anywhere, I think, or more profitable to its officials. Even Atlantic City, governed by a gang of gamblers and saloon-keepers, was a kindergarten compared with the City of Brotherly Love, beside being far cooler in Summer. I had a large cottage on Arctic Avenue, near Rodman Wanamaker's house, to which for six or seven years superheated friends flocked for comfort and rest. Had I kept a visitors' book, it would show some notable names.

Ex-President Cleveland came for two days of the most remarkable yellow-leg shooting we ever had, T. B. and Van, McEwen, Pillsbury the chess-player, old John L. Sullivan, reformed and bone-dry, Victoria Vesta, John Sousa, Campanini, John Kelly, Hawthorne, Dave Warfield, Gov. Bill Bunn, Frank Baum, Gov. John Tener, and so on. In the Winter of '04 I encountered in Washington a Baron Von Sternberg, who was one of the Kaiser's physicians, and later resumed his acquaintance in Atlantic City. I surmised that this German nobleman, alert, suave, refined, was here for special purposes of state, but foreign espionage of that sort was common enough and nobody thought anything about it.


One night after dinner we were discussing the character of his Imperial Majesty, whom I had observed closely when I went abroad with the Wild West show, and whom Doctor Von Sternberg did not seem to hold in special veneration, and I remarked that I desired but one thing from the German monarch and that was one of his brown dachshunds, which he never gave to any but his own relations.

"Why don't you ask him for one?" queried Von Sternberg. This aroused some laughter, and he explained that a king is like God and cannot be offended by any request—indeed, is pleased with that form of homage. He assured me that at least I would receive a reply to my prayer.

Anxious to test his statement, but utterly without any expectation of any result, I wrote a letter in my best handwriting, couched in the form dictated by the doctor and upon expensive stationery, and dropped it in the letter box.

On the 27th of August I received the following:

Berlin, W.G.
Potsdammerstr. 22
the seventyn' the August 1904

Sir.

Accordingly to your request of the twenty-first of February his Majesty the Emperor has condescended to favor you occasionally with a young dachshund of the royal kennel breed.

You will be informed as soon as the right pup will be found.

Your devoted
Baron Heintze.
Ober Yagermeister.

I was even more elated than astonished. I mentally pictured that imperial hound with his beautiful brown streamline body, wriggling down the gangplank of the steamer, already the first dog in the land, with every newspaper camera trained upon him and his picture in every Sunday supplement from New York to Los Angeles, but alas, instead of an "occasional" pup appearing, days, months and years passed, whole generations of dogs were born, but I never saw my promised dachshund. Whether Kaiser Bill forgot about it or some low-down human hound poisoned his mind against me or Baron Heintze double-crossed both of us and sold my pup, may never be known, for William and I have not corresponded since. Now I don't care, as the dachshund is quite out of style, but at times the memory rankles and the old sore is inflamed.

That same Spring started the Clamshell Check on its voyage around the world. This was a clamshell picked up on the beach, drawn upon the Marine Trust Co. of Atlantic City, and paid to my friend Leonard D. Alger by that bank, much to his amazement. The bank, appreciating its advertising value, encased it in rosewood and velvet and exhibited it in their window, after which it journeyed from city to city through the U.S., Canada, India and Australia. This little sample of pen-and-ink work served to give me repute in the world of finance and has more than once helped to get a check cashed for me in a strange place where my looks might have been against me.

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