Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

E&P 1939: Burris Jenkins Bio


Noted Preacher-Editor's Son Won Success in Cartooning
Burris Jenkins, Jr., Whose Father Edited K. C. Post, Noted for Sports Work, Sees Big Field for Pro and Con Editorial Cartoons

Burris Jenkins, Jr., of the New York Journal-American, who has an enviable reputation as a sports cartoonist and also does outstanding work on news assignments in his serious moments, is one of the few metropolitan newspaper artists who writes as cleverly as he draws.

Son of the one-time preacher-editor of the Kansas City Post who today is the Missouri metropolis' "first citizen," 42-year-old Burris Jenkins, Jr., inherited his father's ability to drive home a point. Dr. Jenkins still is spellbinding the largest congregation in Kansas City every Sunday. In New York, every day except Sunday, his son uses pen and ink to send home to readers his unusual sports ideas with the impact of a baseball against a catcher's mitt.

Literary Sentimentalist

A literary sentimentalist if ever there was one, Mr. Jenkins long ago left the beaten path of sports cartooning and many of his verses turned out with his daily cartoon sparkle with a spontaneity seldom displayed by writing artists.

His wide following among sports readers of the old New York World, where he broke into metropolitan journalism in 1921, and of the New York Journal and the Journal-American since 1931, has grown with a succession of rib-ticklers like one he did last May on the eve of the Kentucky Derby. Entitled "If Wishes Were Horses," it was Jenkins' parody of the current song hit, "Three Little Fishes," illustrated cleverly with Chico, Challedon and Technician in piscatorial roles as the "Three Little Wishes" looking down from the opening bars of the song on the verse and an equine shark named Johnstown. Here's how it ran:

Burp Burp Gittem Uppem Gettem Whoa!!
THREE LITTLE WISHES
(NOT by Saxie Dowell, to Whom We Apologize)

Down in a meadow where the grass grows blue
Stood three little WISHES (and a Big Wish too!)
"Run," said the little Wishes, "Run if you can,"
And dey ran and dey ran and dey ran and dey ran.

One little Wish is for "Chico" (So?)
One is a "Challedon" fan (Well!)
One loves a horsie called Technician (Whew!)
So dey ran and dey ran and dey ran and dey ran.

"Stop!" said a little Wishie, "This is far enough
"You must lay it on the line or I'll call your bluff!"
Then the three little Wishers went out on a spree
And dey dwank Mint Juleps till half past three.

One had Bourbon in his Julep (Bloop)
One had 40 year Rye (Gulp)
One had mountain dew corn (Burp)
And dey dwank and dey dwank without batting an eye.

"Whee!" yelled the little Wishes, "Here's where I win!"
"We'll dwink and we'll dwink till my wish comes in!"
So they dwank and they dwank from dawn till dark
Till all of a sudden they met The SHARK!

Clop clop whatten what-tha hel-lum (Whoa)
Clop clop-gettum up and gettem (Go)
Clop clop-just try-em ketchum (Oh)
And dey ran and dey ran and dey ran and dey ran.

"Help!" cried the little Wishes, "Gee! he's out for blood!
"He swept past us like the Johnstown flood!
"But we'll keep on running just as fast as we can."
So dey ran and dey ran and dey also ran.

Gulp gulp give-em up-em ketchem!
Gulp gulp justem gottem quittem!
Gulp gulp fillum up-em and drinkem!
So dey dwank and dey dwank until it didn't
make any difference any more . . .

Writes as Spirit Moves Him

A "daily double" like that may wow the sports fans, but it's a little too much to expect any newspaperman to do the trick every day. So his contract with the Journal-American - his fourth signed with the Hearst evening paper - requires Jenkins to do a twin trick at typewriter and drawing board only twice a week. In recent months, however, the artist has done fewer than two articles weekly. Instead of a story or verse he turns in an extra cartoon, under an arrangement with the newspaper. He writes as the spirit moves him, several times a month.

Because his batting average for timely topics is 1.000 and his cartoons with few exceptions pack the punch of a ring champion, it was surprising to hear that this outstanding sports cartoonist seldom attends sporting events. To him every baseball game is the same old story - something he's seen before. He hasn't seen many full baseball games in recent years, and even World Series games fail to interest him after the 7th inning.

Jenkins attends principally the championship fights and the most important races and football games, yet his cartoon always has the dramatic touch of a dyed-in-the-wool devotee of that particular sport.

His own sports cocktail consists of yachting and golf - and frequently he delays work on the next day's cartoon while he pursues the elusive pill and an even more elusive 80 on a golf course near his home in Pelham, N. Y. He has broken 80 but several times in his life and it's a sure bet his copy will arrive late at the Journal-American on the day he thinks he's going to break 80 again.

Deadline a Daily Adventure

Making his deadline is a daily adventure for Jenkins and his secretary, Herbert Storlie. His cartoon is supposed to be at the Journal-American office at 9 each evening, but it seldom arrives earlier than 11 p.m. Sometimes it's the wee small hours of the morning of publication that Storlie dashes into the Journal-American to catch a bit of engravers' hell to be passed on to his boss.

Jenkins has an unusual temperament when it comes to his drawing board. Often he cannot get started until darkness descends on the Hudson River and casts its peculiar spell on the artist fighting his deadline in a thirteenth floor studio on Riverside Drive. His mind works best at night, and the late sunsets now often find him just beginning his next day's cartoon after long pursuit of an idea through the afternoon.

Right now cartoonist Jenkins is trying to "reform" with respect to his unorthodox working hours, and has set 11 a.m. as the time for his arrival at the studio from his home at Pelham, Westchester county. He reports progress but the 9 p.m. deadline is still a daily bugaboo.

Occasionally Mr. Jenkins delves into serious topics. At such times he faces his ever-recurring dilemma- whether to hit heavy subjects daily or to continue skimming the cream off the sports subjects upon which his reputation has been built.

A night of indelible memory for newspapermen and parents, May 12, 1932, when the body of kidnapped Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., was found, brought this cartoonist's pen into swift action. After hearing the radio bulletin in his home, Jenkins poured a father's hatred of the unknown murderer into a dramatic cartoon which he rushed to the Journal for publication the following day. It depicted Uncle Sam holding aloft Old Glory and the battered body of the Lindbergh child above the quotation:

"My Country 'Tis of Thee."

During the trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Mr. Jenkins did a notable series of cartoons on courtroom scenes. For here he was in his element - interpreting the drama of a significant news event into a news cartoon with a few pungent captions to give the busy reader the entire situation for the day at a glance. Last year, at the trial of Jimmy Hines, he also found an opportunity to do his unusual reporting in keynote sketches and captions.

Sees Big Field for News Cartoons

Mr. Jenkins believes there is a big field for news cartoons and for pro and con editorial cartoons-giving both sides of a question presented to the reader.

"I couldn't say that cartooning in general needs a renaissance," he said in answer to a question, "but I do think a fresher and more forthright presentation in cartooning would be more convincing to a public educated above the old-fashioned school of cartooning."



Cartooning, he continued, is the "quickest way" of putting over an idea. "The visual reaction can hit you so much quicker than a column of type. A well thought out cartoon can tell the reader the story in a second. One that sticks out in my mind is one Rollin Kirby did after a submarine disaster some years back. It showed a diver tapping on the side of the lost submarine and was titled 'Taps.' One word and a picture, and you've got it all."

By an "educated public," the cartoonist explained, he means "a public, brought up on radio, that is greatly interested in and is familiar with politics." People have a more thorough knowledge of what is going on about them, "so that if you throw the old type of cartoon at them with only one viewpoint presented, they just don't believe it.

"The public's got to believe again that a newspaper can have ideals and a heart. There are two sides to any argument and the side a newspaper has decided is right can be stressed along with a fair presentation of the other side in such a way as not to insult the public's intelligence.

"Cartoonists should be on the level and not hold anything back from the public. Nowadays the readers often think there must be something in it for the paper or it would not be plugging a certain policy."

Two Brothers Are Newspapermen

Burris, Jr., is one of three sons of Dr. Jenkins, who was the Kansas City Star's war correspondent before he became editor and publisher of the Kansas City Post under the Bonfils and Tammens ownership. All three sons have become newspapermen. Burris' younger brothers, Paul A., 40, and Logan, 28, are owner-publisher and city editor, respectively, of the El Centra (Cal.) Imperial Valley Post-Press. Paul worked on the Post and Star in Kansas City before he went to California three years ago. Logan started as a reporter on the Denver Post under Bonfils.

Dr. Jenkins was president of the University of Indianapolis when Burris, Jr., was born Oct. 8, 1897. The preacher took the editorship of the Kansas City Post shortly after the war to fight the enemies of the Wilsonian ideals of international relationships. He quit at the end of 1920 when Bonfils fired his son "over his head" for a pessimistic Christmas cartoon which the paper's owner had described as "the last straw."

Burris, Jr., didn't know until 10 years later that he had been fired from his first newspaper job. The cartoonist, then on the road to success, was telling his father in New York that "every newspaperman should be fired from his first job because it does him good." He was expressing regret that he had never been fired, when Dr. Jenkins let the cat out of the bag. As his son explains the incident, Dr. Jenkins was apparently dissatisfied because Bonfils and Tammens had not given him the free hand that was promised in the conduct of the Post. When the editor heard that Bonfils had told Dick Smith, managing editor, "This is the end! Don't print another one of those cartoons," Dr. Jenkins told the owner, "You can accept my resignation, too," and then induced his son to make a trip abroad.

Got Job on N. Y. World

It was this trip to Europe and the Near East, long planned by young Jenkins, that finally landed him in metropolitan journalism. He had saved $900 from his pay on the Kansas City Post after his graduation from Harvard, and by traveling steerage most of the way he stretched the trip into eight months. He wrote an article, illustrated with his own cartoons, on the Jewish situation in Palestine, and this material was exactly what the New York World had been looking for, so he was hired to do a series.

The late Jack Tennant, managing editor, might have fired Jenkins when the last of the Palestine articles was written, but blustery Jack Rainey, then city editor, liked the newcomer and told him, "I'm going to make you or break you." He gave Jenkins a job as police reporter. For a year Jenkins covered the West Side and eventually he began to illustrate his own feature stories. Late in 1922 he started doing sports cartoons, modeling his creations after those of the famous Bob Edgren. Gradually he developed his own distinctive style, in which he mixes sentiment with an interpretation of the sports subject covered, and his rise became rapid as sports readers welcomed his deviation from the unemotional cartoons of the old school of artists.

Within a few years his police reporter's weekly stipend grew into $210, plus $25 for each column he wrote and illustrated-and there were usually two of these every week. His contract with the World had a year to run when the paper was acquired by Scripps-Howard.

Believing himself out of a job, Mr. Jenkins answered a call from E. D. Coblentz, of the New York American, to discuss terms, but landed instead in the office of William A. Curley, editor of the Evening Journal, when he got off at the wrong floor. A contract was signed with the Journal, instead of the American, but there followed a legalistic tug-of-war between the Journal and the World-Telegram over the cartoonist because of the unexpired contract with the old World. After three days Jenkins was released from the old contract and he has been with the Journal and Journal-American ever since.

Reunion in France

Two unusual incidents involving father and son are worth brief mention. While Dr. Jenkins was in France as war correspondent for the Kansas City Star writing stories on the numerous fatalities among aviators, his son was "somewhere in France" with the air service, completing his training before going to the front. Dr. Jenkins, fearing he might never see his son alive again, appealed to the night editor of the Paris edition of the New York Herald to publish a brief notice for his son to meet him for a final farewell. It brought them together.
Young Jenkins became so proficient in squadron flying that he remained behind the lines as an instructor for the duration of the war.

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Comments:
Thanks Allan. This was a truly wonderful read!

Best,
Rob
 
Are you aware of any books specific to the drawings/ artwork of Burris Jenkins Jr?
 
Hi Tarpit --
Not that I can think of. Would be a good project for someone.

--Allan
 
I understand a gentleman in NY is writing a book about his life. He purchased a few of my original Burris art pieces for the book. I aquired about 10 of his original drawings concerning baseball, football, horse racing and boxing plus some insperational pieces. Tom
 
Nice piece.

I am looking to get in touch with someone from the Jenkins family to get permission to use a painting in a scholarly publication. Might anyone have some contact information?

Tom, you mentioned you were in contact with an author - perhaps he have family contacts? Feel free to email me a jarring at gmail.com. Cheers, AR
 
Tom,
Do you have that person contact information?
I have some originals that he did for the NY State Police.

 
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Friday, September 22, 2006

 

E&P 1939: Buck Haney Announced


Lardner, Powers To Do Comic Strip For Bell
by Stephen J. Monchak, 8/19/39

A new sports writer - artist team entered the syndicate field this week with announcement by Bell Syndicate that it has prepared for release Aug. 21 "Buck Hanson of the Badgers," a daily cartoon strip depicting the adventures of a baseball player.

The writer-artist team is made up of John Lardner, North American Newspaper Alliance syndicated sports writer, and Grant Powers, veteran sports cartoonist.

They Know the Game
Friends for years but working together for the first time, both Lardner and Powers bring to their strip a first hand knowledge of the great American pastime gathered during years of covering the major league teams. Their character, who will cavort in the strip the year around, Lardner describes as "a southpaw pitcher with a southpaw brain but a right-handed heart."

Lardner, 28, a newspaperman since he left Harvard in 1929, has established himself as a leading sport columnist in 10 years. He first went to work for the Paris Herald, European edition of the New York Herald Tribune, and got his early newspaper training under Stanley Walker, then Herald Tribune city editor, now editor of the Philadelphia Evening Ledger.

With an unusual style of sports reporting, Lardner has acquired a reputation as a humorist, following, it appears, in the footsteps of his father, the late Ring Lardner, famous American humorist. NANA has distributed young Lardner's column, "From the Press Box," since 1933. He also writes a weekly column, "Sport-Week," for Newsweek magazine. Married, he is the father of one child.

Powers Now Free-Lancing
Starting out to be an architect, Cartoonist Powers' career was sidetracked by the World War and he was assigned to mapping the war's battlefields for the National Museum. During those days, he also was a regular contributor to Stars and Stripes.

He joined the staff of the New York Daily News in 1921, and remained there for 17 years, illustrating the sports columns of Paul Gallico and others and covering sports on assignment.

The Buck Hanson strip (then titled Buck Haney - Allan) appeared for a time in both the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune in 1937. Resigning last year from the News to free-lance, Powers does his work in his cottage at Auburn, Maine.

Bell this week also announced Sept. 18 as the release date for "Old Timer", a daily panel drawn by Ed Wheelan, creator of the comic "Minute Movies" for King Features Syndicate, believed to be the first comic strip to introduce serious continuity and straight drawings.

Wheelan, veteran penman, after leaving behind the art editor's post on the Cornell Widow, college monthly humor publication, drew cartooons for the old Brooklyn Standard-Union. He subsequently worked for the New York Journal, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Call, and the New York American. It was on the latter paper that his "Minute Movies" strip was created.

Note from Allan - has anyone seen "Old Timer"? I've never found a sample.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

E&P 1939: T.E. Powers Obituary


T. E. Powers, 69, Retired Hearst Cartoonist, Dies
Favorite of Presidents, His Political Cartoons Were Nationally Known

Thomas E. Powers, 69, political and satirical cartoonist for the Hearst newspapers for nearly 40 years until his retirement in 1937, died Aug. 14 at his home in Long Beach, Long Island, N. Y., after a long illness. His wife, Mrs. Louise H. Powers, two brothers and a sister survive.

Mr. Powers' political cartoons had a wide following and two elflike characters, "Joy" and "Gloom," with which he enlivened his drawings-always signed "T. E. Powers"-became one of the trademarks of his work during a career which made him one of the country's best known and most successful cartoonists.

Favorite of Presidents

A favorite cartoonist of the late President Theodore Roosevelt, his work attracted the attention of other Presidents, and the late Calvin Coolidge was so amused by one caricature of himself that he asked the cartoonist for the original. That letter, on White House stationery, was one of Mr. Powers' most cherished mementos.

Mr. Powers first attracted the attention of Theodore Roosevelt when he pictured the President threatening tall, silk-hatted figures labeled "The Trusts" with the then famous "big stick." His satirical thrusts at "grafting politicians" or others whose right to public office he challenged, however, usually were tempered with broad humor.

The veteran penman's cartoon series, syndicated to Hearst papers in many states, included "Mrs. Trubble," "Never Again," "The Down-and-Out Club," "Sam the Drummer," "Married Life From the Inside" and "Charlie and George."

The veteran cartoonist retired two years ago because of illness, though up until last September he turned out an occasional drawing at home. Since early this year he had been confined to bed or a wheel chair. On Saturday he took a turn for the worse. His butler found him dead early Monday.

Using a relatively simple line drawing technique, which looked easy to duplicate but was not, Mr. Powers had a gift for caricature. His pungent comment in pen and ink drawings on the fads and foibles of the day enlivened the editorial pages of Hearst newspapers from coast-to-coast. Possessor of a keen wit and a sage philosophy, he had the ability to transfer these qualities into a biting picture editorial with a few sure, quick strokes of the pen.

Mr. Powers was born in Milwaukee on July 4, 1870. He moved to Kansas City, where he was educated in public schools and got his start working for a lithographer at $2 a week. In 1906, after his cartoons had attracted nation-wide notice, he gave an Editor & Publisher interviewer the following account of his youth:

"I was born in Milwaukee . . . but before I was old enough to appreciate the product on which the 'fame' of that fair city rests, my 'cruel' parents dragged me away to Kansas City. I had to stay in the latter place until I could earn enough money to make a 'get away.'

"I began to draw pictures at a very early age. One of my first efforts was a portrait of my teacher sketched on the schoolroom blackboard. I was too modest to sign the picture but the teacher discovered its author and I received my reward.

"When I was about 17 years of age I went to work for a lithographer who estimated that I was well worth $2 a week. I also received a goodly amount of advice on the subject of saving money. But, in spite of all he said, I squandered my money, with carelessness, recklessness, and negligence.

"My employer said that I would never be able to draw. I was offended and resigned. My first newspaper work was in Chicago on Victor Lawson's Daily News. I brought in some sketches and submitted them to Lawson, who accepted them and offered me a permanent position."

Mr. Powers later worked for the old Chicago Herald and in 1894 was offered a job in New York with the Evening World, after the late Arthur Brisbane had seen and liked his work. When Mr. Brisbane entered the Hearst service in 1896, Mr. Powers transferred with him to the old New York Evening Journal.

The characters "Joy" and "Gloom" which he used so often, cavorted in the corners of his cartoon. If optimism was in order, "Joy" chased "Gloom," and vice versa. "Gloom" was a mournful imp with a black beard, and "Joy" wore an eternal grin.

Mr. Powers also drew "John Q. Taxpayer," stripped down to a barrel.

For many years Mr. Powers had owned a farm near Norwalk, Conn., but since his illness became serious, he had not visited the place. He once wrote: "My favorite recreation is farming."

Note from Allan: not mentioned in this obit is Powers' distinction as the first American to draw a newspaper color comic strip.

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Comments:
Maybe I'm missing something-- Powers doesn't look African American at all in the accompanying photo. What is the basis for the claim?
 
Huh?
 
Doh! i misread your comment to say: '...first African American to draw a newspaper...'

A non-American was the first to draw a color newspaper strip? who/when/where was that?

tim
 
I have read that there may be color comic strips/cartoons/graphics/something or other predating his in the Petit Journal (of France). I have never seen them, doubt their existence, and question whether that publication is a newspaper in the way we normally define it. But best that I make the qualification in case I otherwise put my foot in it.

Would love to hear from anyone who can tell us about the Petit Journal.

--Allan
 
Hello, Allan---The PETITE JOURNAL was a weekly cartoons-and-politics magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They had color covers and sometimes a few color inside pages. This was a popular variety of publication back then. In America we had equivilents in PUCK, LIFE, and JUDGE. Most countries had these type publications, some of the more famous being England's PUNCH, Russia's KROKODIL, and Germany's SIMPLICISSIMUS and KLADDERADATSCH. ---Cole Johnson.
 
Hi Cole -
Petit Journal was a daily paper with an illustrated weekly supplement. From what I've seen of the supplements (just the covers) they were more in the vein of news magazines -- I'm thinking the Harper's or Leslies type, not Time or Newsweek. Maybe the insides were all cartoons though.

The real question, though, is whether these supplements were printed on newspaper on high-speed presses. That is an important part of the definition of color newspaper comics. I've been told that the Petit Journal supplements may qualify, but don't know how far I can trust my source, who just mentioned it in passing. I really need to order a few of the supplements on eBay, but its quite a pain to order them, typically from France, and get the right sort of dates, which would be 1892 or before for my purposes.

Just another item on my long To Do list.

--Allan
 
Allan,

I just came across a newspaper clipping from The New York Evening Journal May 14th 1903, "What Shall They Do With The Man?"by TE Powers and On the back is a document on the wounded and starving jews in streets. Do you have any information regarding this cartoon.
 
Information like what, Anonymous? Seems pretty cut and dried.

--Allan
 
If you do not know Powers's work for an 1890s little magazine called M'lle New York, you simply must see it. This magazine was a New York based publication edited by Vance Thompson and James Huneker -- with illustration by Powers and Thomas Fleming. It modelled itself after the French illustrated weeklies. It is extremely rare. I own quite a few issues (it ran from 1895-96 and then again briefly from 1898-99). I have scanned an issue on my website on American Decadence http://www.crcstudio.org/americandecadence/viewtext.php?s=browse&tid=20&route=bytitle.php&start=36
 
Very cool Kirsten! What a depressing comic strip he produced for that magazine -- was that typical?
 
i have an old comic of t e powers from the ny evening journal. I is from 10/11/19??. It is entitled hats off to the cardinals , it shows a yanky baeball player with a money bag tipping his hat to a st louis player who is wlking away carrying a money bag abd a black penant. gloom is standing at home platesulking and joy is celebrating . can you tell me the year, the yank player . any value thanx bob edelman
 
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

E&P 1939: Bill Holman Bio


Holman Renews Contract; To Do New Daily Panel
by Walter E. Schneider
Editor & Publisher, 7/8/39

Holmania, a virulent but harmless form of in(s)anity rampant in recent years in "Foo Clubs" of adolescents and detected in the high school generation’s jargon expressing the comic page “foo-losophy” of cartoonist Bill Holman, seems to be spreading. The Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate July 1 renewed the Holman contract for two years and this week added to "Smokey Stover" and "Spooky," the Sunday half-page comic strip vehicles for the cartoonist's "foosayings," a new daily panel named "Nuts and Jolts."

The new comic, two and three columns in size, will consist of Holman gags and his inexhaustible supply of "fool-osophic" mottoes. "Zipper," a nondescript dog with a curiosity complex who has cut capers heretofore in one of Mr. Holman's numerous daily comic strips, will appear Thursday as a panel under its own name.

"Nuts and Jolts" Included

The syndicate, Mr. Holman explained, is concentrating his cartooning efforts in the daily field under the titles "Nuts and Jolts" and "Zipper" because the numerous titles used previously were "somewhat confusing." These included "Problems Made Easy," "It's All in Fun," "There's One in Every Family," "Something Ought to Be Done About This," among others.

To look at Mr. Holman you'd never suspect that he's the man behind all this zany humor appearing now on the comic pages of some 90 daily and Sunday newspapers. Thirty-six, and a bachelor with his eye on the right girl, he grins quite innocently all the way up to his bald spot above his forehead, as he confesses he "thinks so much about this foo stuff that I'm beginning to lose my own identity."

During the interview Mr. Holman let us in on his secret - the origin of the word "foo" which tickles juvenile funnybones when it appears in such mottoes as "Fifty-four Forty or Foo," to use one of his fooier (fooey, he's got us doing it) tomfooleries.

"It's just a silly word that doesn't mean anything," the cartoonist confided. "About ten years ago when I was doing a panel for Collier's I needed a name for a car and used 'Foo.' It tickled me and I started using it often on badges or license plates or wherever a space filler was needed."

It's a Mania

The word insinuated itself into every Holman cartoon. It became a sort of mania with him and by the time he signed his first contract with the Tribune-News Syndicate in 1935 to do "Smokey Stover," his "foosayings" were decorating the walls of every drawing in that strip. With the dog with the gloved tail and all manner of mice and men carrying signs inscribed with his nonsensical mottoes, the comic with a firehouse background went like a house afire with the younger generation.

Within the last foo years scores of Foo Clubs have been organized independently by high school and college boys whose first official act is to elect cartoonist Holman "honorary foo" or honorary president. Fraternity dances often take on a foo motif with Holmanisms plastered all over the walls and at one of these hops recently a huge cardboard "Spooky" was made the vehicle for announcing dance numbers and amusing the dancers with Holman "foo-losophies." To wit:

"A critic says a sharp nose indicates curiosity. A flattened nose indicates too much curiosity."

The Holman brand of humor is strictly slapsick, of the "Hellza-poppin" variety. Anything goes, so long as it is considered funny. It reminds one of the custard pie throwing of early film comedians.

Foo Fans, Foo Pipes

According to Mr. Holman, more than 100,000 copies of 10 cent "Big Little Books" on Smokey and his firehouse chief, "Cash U. Nutt," who smokes a double pipe, have been sold. Nickel and penny books also have appeared with these and other Holman characters. Foo has made such an impression on blase New Yorkers that a metropolitan tobacco shop makes up to order the fire chief's familiar foo pipe and a number have been sold at $2.50 each to foo fans. And speaking of foo fans, an Indiana admirer of the strip turned out last fall a silly symphony called "What This Country Needs Is Foo."

Considering the fact that Holman started from scratch four years ago as a syndicate cartoonist and today is earning in the neighborhood of $1,500 a month, his career might be called successful. It began at birth, Holman insists, and in his typical cartoon screwballese here's his autobiography:

"To make a long Foo short, here is the dope, and I do mean me. I was born in the state of frenzy, but for present purposes let's make it Indiana. At an early age my father died and I was sent out into the world to make a living for my mother, one cat with a sore tail, and no kitten. This all happened in Napanee, Indiana.

His Autobiography

"My first job was running a popcorn machine for the local dime store. This is considered excellent training for a comic artist and no doubt accounts for a certain corny touch which so many of my gags seem to have. At 16 I was working in the art department of the Chicago Tribune. Having lost my eraser, I realized I could afford to make no more mistakes so Scripps-Howard made the next one and hired me. For the next two years I drew no crowds but plenty of drawings. My strip act laid an egg, the art editor threw it at me and I was on my way to New York.

"After seven years of itch and drawing a kid comic for the New York Herald Tribune I entered the magazine field. The following five free lance years were happy and profitable. Hundreds of my drawings infested the pages of Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, Life, Judge and Everybody's Weekly of London. This work drew the attention of the Tribune-News Syndicate and I was asked to submit a Sunday feature. The outcome was "Smokey Stover,' 'Spooky,' the cat, seven daily cartoons and Foo.

"I have always liked firemen. And now that I'm being paid to draw about their adventures, I can tell you I'm just crazy about them."

Note from Allan: the 'new' panel Nuts And Jolts mentioned here was the one Holman took over from Gaar Williams on his death. Holman took over the panel in July 1935, and, as described here, originally used a number of different titles. The panel did indeed settle down to be called Nuts And Jolts on July 3 1939.

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Comments:
Allen,

This has nothing to do with Holman, but I'll get round to it. I posted this on a yahoo group about comic publshers: "I recently bought two issues of a pocket book sized cartoon magazine which I believe to be from the early years of WWII. The first issue is called The Nirth Of A Nation, is published by Reminton Morse and has a note saying 'this entire book was created and produced by Harry A Chesler Jr. Features Syndicate. It has letters from a Private Bill and other material that all seems to be gathered from syndicated stuff. Some of the cartoons seem to be by Jack Cole, but there are two sorts... the older ones about a group of hillbillies called The Dewlittle Family, which only vaguely remind me of Cole and a couple of newer ones, which clearly are his work, even though they are signed. There are also a couple of cartoons that are not by Cole. There are also ten numbered columns by a Vera Smart under the heading My Daze.

The other one is Private Bill #3 and seems to be a continuation of the same series, with letters by Private Bill under the heading First Class Male. There are no more contributions by Jack Cole, it seems. As in the first issue Private Bill sometimes seems to write to living people and get ansers from them, similar to a couple of books that were done in the eighties by Henry Root and an American comedian who posed as a 'father'. In this issue, he writes to Fred Allen and gets a funny reply.

I did not know Chesler had a features syndicate as well and although it doesn't surprise me Jack Cole did cartoons for him, the dates seem a bit off. The Dewlittle Family cartoons are in Cole's oldest style and fit in with the time period of his work at Chesler's studio. The four of five later cartoons are more like his 1942 style and bear resemblance to the Ralph Jones material he did for Quality."

Anything you can add is welcomed.

As for the Holman link.. in the same lot I had a comedy magazine by Dell from the late thirties that had a couple of Holman cartoons. They looked very rough. I'd be curious to see his Nuts and Bolts from that early period.
 
Hi Ger -
Holman's Nuts And Jolts was done in the same style as Smokey Stover artwise. The jokes, though of the zany variety, were a little more down to earth than the humor in Smokey.

As for Chesler, I've seen a few of his digests with what appear to be newspaper strip attempts, also a prospectus that he issued for an adventure strip (the name I can't recall at the moment), but the only Chesler material known to have actually made it into a newspaper is his revival of Little Nemo (by Winsor McCay Jr) that ran at least 16 weeks in a few papers in 1937. Of his many other apparent attempts at newspaper strip sales I have never been able to find a printed example.

Best, Allan
 
Could that Chesler adventure strip be
Dan Hastings? He's listed in your Mystery Strips "D".

In Comic Book Culture Ron Goulart says that when it was first published in Star Comics #1 in 1937 it contained a 1935 copyright. From there he conjectures that Chesler probably tried, without success, to syndicate it then (1935).
 
Hi DD -
Good eye, that would be the one. A sales letter with samples of Dan Hastings was auctioned on eBay something like a year ago. I recall that it went for big bucks. I refrained from bidding because I could see no indication on the letter that the strip was actually successfully syndicated (for instance, something to the effect of "...already a favorite in the Dungville Shoveler and other fine papers").

Best, Allan
 
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

E&P 1939: Navy Bob Steele Strip Announced

Today I'm going to start on a new series of posts relating news stories from Editor & Publisher from 1939. Here's the announcement of the new military adventure strip Navy Bob Steele. Interesting to me was that they seemed to want editors to think of the new strip as a complement to Superman. Considering the great syndication success of the superhero strip, I suppose I can understand McClure hoping that another adventure strip could ride its coattails.


Half-Pages by McClure (9/23/39)

"Navy Bob Steele," a half page Sunday strip in full color, by Lieut. Wilson Starbuck, U.S.N.R., is being offered by McClure Newspaper Syndicate. Its introduction will come in mid-November, the syndicate said, at the same time that "Superman," now a daily strip distributed by McClure, appears in Sunday half page size. The latter comic, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, of Cleveland, was introduced last January.

The Bob Steele strip, which will be sold separately or with "Superman," will be "the inside story of the United States Navy," according to the announcement. Many of the incidents were inspired by active service experiences of Lieut. Starbuck, who at the age of 19 won a commission and was placed in command of U.S. submarine chaser No. 20 at New York in 1917. During the war he also served on the U.S.S. Shawmut and engaged in mine laying in the North Sea. After the armistice he was transferred to the air detachment of the Atlantic Fleet, where he learned to fly. He is now a senior grade lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.

"Superman"’s debut in the fall as a Sunday strip will bring new laurels to two youths in their early twenties who conceived the idea for their strip during their days in Cleveland high school. The strip deals with the adventures of the sole survivor of a cataclysm on a distant planet, sent to earth as a baby on a small rocket ship. In manhood "Superman" becomes a reporter and uses his gifts of strength and super-intelligence to combat evil-doers. Shuster is the artist and Siegel does continuity on the strip.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

 

Obscurity of the Day: Heine Himmelbleu


Here's one last Philadelphia Record strip before we change the subject. Heine Himmelbleu is just another in a practically infinite series of strips ridiculing Germans. This one portrays accents so thick that the reader has to decode the dialogue almost like a puzzle. In this case the work is worth it as the gag is well and skillfully told.

The strip ran on the Record's Sunday humor page 1/28 to 5/19/1912, and was penned by a fellow who signed himself R.Pechner (when he bothered to sign at all). Pechner's only other known comic strip credit was Highbrow McAllister, a short-lived feature that ran in the New York Evening World in 1909.

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I just acquired a set of artist illustrated New York City postcards featuring immigrant characters (I'm a postcard collector) signed by R. Pechner and published by PCK (Paul C. Kroeber) in about 1906. It appears to be the same as your cartoonist based on a similar sensibility about immigrants, a similar 2-dimnsional illustration style style and a signature that uses characters similar to the lettering used in this strip. Do you have any additional information about this artist?
Thanks,
- Hy
 
Sorry, Hy, but the above brain dump is complete. I know nothing else about Mr. Pechner.

Best, Allan
 
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Obscurity of the Day: Cousin Sammy Green

Continuing with our Philadelphia Record strips, here's an interesting one. As we discussed way back when, Willie Green was the Record's marquee strip - it ran for at least two decades starting in 1907. However, back in the days when cartoonists were allowed vacations, Willie Green cartoonist Harris Brown began occasionally taking time off in 1911. In place of the vacationing Willie Green strip came this strip, Cousin Sammy Green.

Apparently the Record considered Willie Green to be a big draw for their Sunday edition, so the replacement strip, by John F. Hart, was designed to be its doppelganger. The premise was that Willie had a cousin, Sammy, who engaged in the same sort of adventures as did Willie. Sammy would relate his escapades in the form of letters to Willie.

Cousin Willie Green debuted on December 10 1911, and would continue to spell Brown's strip on a regular basis through at least 1916 (the extent of my research thus far).

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