Saturday, March 24, 2007
News of Yore: Phil Love Profiled
Phil Love, comic artist and "colyumnist," has just been appointed art director for the Cartoon Advertising Service, 3003 Alameda Blvd,. Baltimore. He is the author of "Nothing in Particular," which appears in Cartoons and Movies magazine each month.
Phil's popularity is attested by the fact that when we inadvertently left out his name from his department in June, several readers wrote asking if he were sick or away on a vacation!
Philip H. Love is also a contributor to Collegiate Wit and Fraternity Fun, Ziffs, Whiz Bang, Follies, Paris, Flapper's Experience, 10-Story Book and other publications, for which he draws or writes-or both.
Phil is modest, but some day we hope he will tell our readers in detail exactly how he "broke into print" as a writer and comic artist, with suggestions to beginners.
Following his career in brief: "My first cartoon work was done at Calvert Hall College, Baltimore, back in '22 when I illustrated the year book; previous to that I had served as editor of the school paper for three years. I got the idea that I was a cartoonist and quit school before the end of the term - thus abandoning my ambition to become a lawyer.
"I got a job as staff artist with The Baltimore Times, now extinct. Later I went with a local commercial artist as an apprentice but soon decided that commercial art held no charms for me. I quit and went to Chicago as art editor and associate editor of The Flapper (later Experience, now Flapper's Experience) to which I had been contributing for some time.
"Later I moved to Philadelphia where I maintained a studio and did free lance work, then went to New York with High Life. After that I returned to Baltimore and have been there ever since (about a year and a half). In Baltimore I have been engaged in the publishing business - Youth - and after selling out my interest continued to freelance, which I am still doing.
"My only art education was a correspondence course with the Landon School in 1919. Since then I have learned by experience and am still learning.
"I am now art director of the Cartoon Advertising Service, a concern making a specialty of direct appeal advertising cartoons and comics for advertising purposes. We have most of the larger local stores in Baltimore as clients and also furnish local druggists with a service - one special frame and two cartoons a month to boost sales."
Friday, March 23, 2007
Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Killed Cartoons
Killed Cartoons: Casualties from the War on Free Expression
Edited by David Wallis, 282 pages
W.W. Norton & Company 2007
Killed Cartoons provides an impressively even-handed look at cartoons that have been spiked by newspaper, syndicate and magazine editors. Yes, many of these examples do show editors to be spineless jellyfish, but on the other hand there's no shortage of cartoonists who, by practically any measure, go beyond the realm of good taste.
The book is organized into five chapters covering cartoons loosely based on their touchy subjects -- religion, politics, race, business, and sex. Each chapter presents a series of cartoons and commentaries. The essay accompanying each cartoon tells the story behind it and how it came to be relegated to the circular file. Many of the cartoons were submitted by the artists themselves, and in those cases the accompanying essays feature particularly enlightening commentary from the trenches. Editor David Wallis thankfully doesn't give the cartoonists free rein to wallow in self-pity, though, but takes the opportunity to elevate the discussion to show the big picture of how the publishing business works, what pressures are faced by editors and how cartoonists fit in the publishing business.
The chapter on sex is, as you might expect, particularly fun, featuring risque and scatological cartoons that failed to make it past editors. Who would have thought that Paul Conrad, for instance, would even bother to submit a cartoon showing a Republican elephant gleefully humping a Democrat donkey, or that Carol Lay would submit a comic strip about anal sex to the San Francisco Examiner. Political cartoonist Matt Davies, who bemoans American editors' reluctance to run scatological cartoons (he says they are considered perfectly acceptable in European newspapers), submits the sample at left which was spiked by his editor.
It's not hard to see why editors would reject some of these cartoons, but other 'kills' are indefensible. The book is replete with cartoons that were rejected because an editor just didn't want to rock the boat. For instance, during the Catholic priest child molestation scandal of 2002 Kirk Anderson penned the cartoon below, an incredibly powerful piece. His cartoon comments on the Catholic church trying to sweep the allegations of priest child sex abuse under the rug, a story that bedeviled the church in 2002.
The cartoon is a masterpiece of art and hard-hitting commentary, yet Anderson's editor at the St. Paul Pioneer-Press decided not to run it. According to Anderson the paper's editor was at the time trying to curry favor with local Catholics by running some pro-Catholic church material to get back into their good graces. This cartoon was deemed a step back in the wrong direction and thus was relegated to file 13.
In essay after essay we meet editors who are unwilling to print cartoons that might stir up a bit of controversy. In some cases the editor's reasoning is defensible. J.D. Crowe, for instance, worked for a conservative paper but regularly drew cartoons espousing liberal views. Inevitably some of his cartoons are going to get spiked. But when an editor agrees wholeheartedly with a cartoon's message and yet won't run it because it hits too hard or threatens to annoy some segment of the newspaper's readership, that's an abdication of the responsibilities of journalism. In an age where many regard newspapers as an antiquated news source on a par with the town crier, is this any time for editors to be publishing a cowardly, limp-wristed paper notable only in its strong stance against relevance?
One piece of wise counsel comes from cartoonist Bob Englehart. He believes that many editors kill cartoons not so much for lack of spine but simply because they're lazy. His suggestion to editorial cartoonists is this: "When editors kill a cartoon it's because they don't feel they can defend it. Sometimes if I can give the editor the words to say to the [reader] that calls him on the phone or the politician ... then he'll let me go ahead and draw the cartoon." A sad commentary on newspaper editors to be sure, but perhaps a useful suggestion for cartoonists.
My bird and I run a similar blog about comic strips with less an emphasis on history and more on the current state of comic strips. We do have some historical strips and commentary as well. Check it out! http://blog.zingerding.com. I just thought I'd leave a comment to introduce myself since we're compatriots of the comic strip cause.
-Marilla P. Alligator
Chief Blogging Officer
The Zingerding Blog
P.S. Thanks for the book tip on this post. I'll definitely go check it out!
Thursday, March 22, 2007
News of Yore: L.D. Bradley Profiled
It would be a hazardous undertaking for anyone to attempt to designate the best cartoonist in this country. One might easily have a personal choice, but here is a case where authorities differ and probably no two people with a right to make such a selection, if anyone has, would agree. One would select some artist for his ideas, regardless of drawing and technique; another would judge on the basis of good drawing; while a third would choose from the standpoint of composition; and a fourth would have a personal viewpoint differing from the others, making the correct choice, if there be such, purely a matter of individual opinion.
It is a good deal like the selection of the best looking girl. Here, each judge, if he be a man, has his own standard of perfection, differing from other men's standards enough to make the selection among a number of real beautiful women largely a matter of chance rather than of any scientific accuracy obtainable in the grading of chickens of the feathered variety, where a certain number of points count for the comb, the hackle, wings, legs, etc.
And this calls to mind what Deacon Jones said about his wife. He was thankful that all men did not see things the same way, for if they did everyone would want his wife; to which Deacon Smith added, under his breath, "If they all saw things as I do no one would want her."
While it might be hazardous to draw comparisons between live cartoonists, it is comparatively safe to mention dead ones without fear of hurting anyone's feelings.
One cartoonist that the writer always admired was the late L. D. Bradley of the Chicago Daily News.
Bradley was one of these workmen who are not afraid to give both time and thought to their productions. Some cartoonists pride themselves upon the rapidity with which they can turn out their stunt. I know of one who showed up in his studio about ten o'oclock, dictated his letters to his private secretary, completed his daily cartoon stunt and had his hat on, ready to leave, about eleven. And, by the way, he is still holding down the job, which goes to show that some men do reach a point where they can do about as they darn please and get away with it. But we would not advise anyone to try the same stunt, for in most cases it wouldn't work.
I have been told by those who worked along side Bradley in the News office that he often spent the entire day at his cartoon and was seldom satisfied with his own work. Everything was worked out in pencil with the greatest care before ink was applied; and then frequent changes were made in the finished pen drawing before it was finally turned over to the engravers.
The Chicago Daily News published a series of war cartoons by Bradley, during the year 1914, that were a fine contribution to the cause of peace on earth, good will towards men. These were published before the U. S. was entangled in the world conflagation, during a period when nearly every cartoonist in the country was getting out anti-war cartoons.
That cartoonists have some power in shaping public sentiment cannot be doubted, but the anti-war cartoons certainly did not cut much ice in this country; and cartoons that were published before the war and applauded would have resulted in the suppression of the paper that contained them, if printed same can be said with truth again. Just why this country was plunged into war after the U. S. went in, and probably imprisonment for the artist, if not bodily injury.
It is undoubtedly true that before the war a vast majority or the American people were opposed to war in every way; and it will not be long before there is another story, nor does the writer propose to take space here to give his version of the matter, though he has opinions quite contrary to those usually propounded.
We are publishing in this issue without further comment a couple of Bradley's anti-war cartoons, also a fine sample of his daily grind. [actually only the two accompanying here were in the issue - Allan]
Young cartooners might well study his work for strength of line, accuracy of drawing and good composition; though it might be mentioned in conclusion that some of his work was more or less stiff, due, we take it, to his painstaking draftsmanship.
Labels: News of Yore
It is of 4 pigs in the moon lite and the capsion is "full moons"
and is signed Bradley 1984 109/400
You can email me at email@example.com
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Obscurity of the Day: Colorful Colorado
Awhile back I reported on an unknown feature that got a mention in E&P called Colorful Colorado. Soon after I was contacted by Van Truan, son of cartoonist Jolan Truan, with this information:
My father was a graduate of the Chicago Institute of Art in early 30s and did a correspondence course from Washington School of Cartooning in late 20s or 30s. He did commercial art for State Journal in Springfield, Ill and the moved to Pueblo and began working for the Star-Journal & Chieftain in 1935. During WWII, he did free-lance art in St. Petersburg for the Florida Electric Comp. and his own engraving company back in Pueblo. He was a fellow Kansasan and was friend of Walt Disney and his brother (they worked in the fields together). Walt asked him to work for him in California, but he didn't want to like in California, (being a Kansas farm boy). Big mistake?
The "cartoons" were done by etching chalk plates (old newspaper style) I even have a few of them. I have a ton of his advertisement cartoons that he did from the mid-30s to late 70s when he passed.
I asked about the use of chalk plates, which went out of favor back in the 1890s, and also whether the feature ran uninterrupted:
I think the series ran of and on. I know he didn't work for the Pueblo Chieftain during WWII, but not sure when he returned after the war.
My dad loved doing chalk plates and was considered one of the best in the country. The owner of the Pueblo paper was a tight wad, so chalk plates probably didn't go out until the late 40s. The local library has copies of all the newspapers since 1872, so I can find dates for you. I know he was still doing illustrations for the "Colorful Colorado" weekly edition in 1968, but it may have ended some time in 69. My fathers most famous chalk plate was of Will Roger's missing plane. It was done just after the wire announced his plane being missing. He did an immediate chalk plate showing the potential location of the plane crash and a portrait of Will. He had it published in the evening news. He completed it in approx. 30 minutes. The Pueblo Star-Journal (the evening Pueblo paper) scooped the Rocky Mountain News & Denver Post, they couldn't believe anyone could get the notice out that night.
The 1978 paperback was completed just after he died, he was completing the
cover, but someone else finished his design. Also, not all planned work was completed, since Ralph had not real artist to work with and he missed his artist buddy.
I was able to find a copy of the 1941 reprint book, from which the samples here are scanned. The 1978 book, by the way, is not really reprints of the feature but pieces by the writer with occasional cartoons.
It amazes me that Truan actually liked to work with chalk plates -- I never heard any cartoonist anywhere have anything but bad memories of them. Kinda neat to know that at least one cartoonist actually preferred them over more modern methods.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Obscurity of the Day: Flora Flirt
Here's an oddball strip that ran in the Philadelphia North American's comic section from 2/23/13 to 4/12/1914. The product of a female cartoonist, Katherine P. Rice, Flora Flirt was a tad racy for the day, featuring as it did a young lass who proves quite amenable to necking with any Tom, Dick or Harry who happens to drop by her panels. Not that romance was a verboten subject in the comics (witness the dreamily romantic panels of Nell Brinkley and her army of imitators), but seldom did those cartoonists allow their star-crossed lovers to get into a wrestling match on the sofa.
Of course, she and he always get their comeuppance for such shockingly immoral behavior in Flora Flirt, but the very idea of a young unmarried woman letting her beau get even half-way to first base in 1913, at least in the otherwise scrupulously chaste Sunday comics, must have raised a few Philly eyebrows.
Monday, March 19, 2007
News of Yore: Jed Cooper Strip Begins
Rare Maps, Books Aid In "Jed Cooper" Strip
By Jane McMaster (3/4/50)
An adventure strip which is historically accurate takes a lot of work, according to Writer Lloyd Wendt and Artist Dick Fletcher of "Jed Cooper, American Scout," Chicago Tribune--New York News Sunday comic.
Months of research were needed before Jed Cooper could return from an Indian campaign to his home town, Philadelphia. Months more will be required before Jed goes to Colonial New York and Boston, they say. The collaborators, co-workers at the Chicago Tribune, chose the early American scene for their strip to accent the inspiration in stories of American beginnings.
But both are qualified to produce the four-color comic about a rugged young scout and his French-Canadian friend, Jacques Pierrot. Mr. Wendt did his MS thesis on Colonial history while at Northwestern. Mr. Fletcher, a canoeist and judo expert, has a hobby of collecting Indian lore.
But even so, the pair had to delve deep for the strip prospectus and the creation of characters. Mr. Fletcher, who was once assistant to Carl Ed on "Harold Teen," made sketches in various museums and pored over old drawings. He now has acquired a number of Colonial etchings and drawings. Mr. Wendt says he has read a small library of diaries, manuscripts, and rare books relating to Indians and early settlers. In addition he's done a lot of travelling—over country scouted by the strip hero. Another tool they use is some rare maps of Colonial America. As a result, they claim authenticity of clothing, weapons, household utensils, homes and even villages and cities in the strip.
"We hope the cartoon story will be welcomed in the schools because of its authenticity," says Mr. Fletcher. "However we consider our first job is to create an interesting story. Jed Cooper's exploits happen against a background of real history. We don't make a point of the history, but it's there, and the kids seem to get a kick out of it."
In the interests of the strip, Mr. Fletcher is busy studying Delaware Indian villages, and Mr. Wendt is trying to learn Leni-lenap, the language of the Delawares.
The strip started in the Tribune Nov. 13, goes into third-page size April 30.
Labels: News of Yore
Apart from your excellent blog, I enjoy a few others. One by my e-mail pal Michael T. Gilbert. He has been posting on the Fiction House artist Al Walker and included information on his (weekly?) newspaper strip Nip and Tuc. Maybe you can add something about that or add it to your own list. Read more at: http://www.michaeltgilbert.com/journal/page6.
Thanks for the link. Pretty neat feature, well drawn and decent gags. I'd certainly never heard of it before. Yet more microfilm I have to order one of these days...
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Obscurity of the Day: Lancelittle
Paul Sellers, a British-born cartoonist, created his first feature to appear in American newspapers in 1964. Although Lancelittle was marketed by Hall Syndicate as if it was a 'native' US feature, my trolling about on the net seems to indicate that the strip ran elsewhere, and that it most likely ran outside the US a heck of a lot longer than it ran here. I hope that one of our international strippers can tell me more about the strip's life outside the US.
The pantomime strip, drawn in that instantly recognizable Brit-toon style, started here on November 30 1964. The hero was a knight of the middle ages, and the gags often played off historical incongruities like the billiards gag in strip two above. The strip was pleasant enough, and being strictly pantomime it was a great candidate for international sales.
One problem was that the art sometimes made small details crucial to the gag. Sellers' artwork, with its combination of thick outlines and Benday shading, often turned those details into mud, defeating his punchlines.
After an initial flurry of interest from newspapers with quite a few sign-ups, Lancelittle must have petered out pretty quick because the strip ended around April 1966, not much more than a year after it was initially offered. (Again, I suspect that it lasted longer outside the US.) In any case, Sellers came back with Eb & Flo a few years later, and that had a far healthier two decade run.
I have inherited some original hot metal print plates from a member of family who used to work for Express Newspapers, he was given them as a retirement present when the production relocated.
They include The Gambols, Maddocks, Lancelittle, Fat Cat & Sporting Sam
Could you tell me if they have any value and if so where could I contact an agent who wmay in interested in making me an offer.