Thursday, February 07, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: True Comics
True Comics was an exercise is making comics that were 'good' for kids. In 1941 a company called Parents Institute, a publishers better known for its parenting magazines, decided to create a line of educational comic books. Designed to wean kids from "blood and thunder" comics, the concept by the publishers own admission was a flop. That didn't keep them plugging away with the idea for almost a full decade. The flagship Parents Institute comic book title, True Comics, appeared on the newsstands in early 1941. Not long after that the company also put together a newspaper comic strip, also titled True Comics, along the same lines. It was distributed to newspapers in conjunction with Bell Syndicate.
The Sunday strip started on November 2 1941, and the earliest dailes I find are from the first week of December. Both the daily and Sunday strips told stories about famous people and events; the lives of Wild Bill Donovan, Amelia Earhart and Cordell Hull were early subjects.
The daily told rather long stories, while the Sunday at first had stories that continued anywhere from 1-5 weeks. After the first ten months the Sunday changed tactics and made all the stories self-contained each week.
Quite a few cartoonists contributed to the feature; unfortunately many of them didn't bother to sign their work. The most frequent artist was Sam Glankoff, who probably did well over half of the entire run, but Chad Grothkopf did some Sundays and dailies in 1942, and others such as Ed Smalle, Lew Glanz, and George Andrew Corley each made an appearance. Of particular interest is the very odd pairing of Joe Simon and Milt Gross who subbed for Glankoff on the Sunday every 3-5 weeks during much of 1945 (the sample above is a Simon-Gross production).
The daily, which some papers titled Real Heroes for reasons unknown, seems to have ended on February 6 1943, while the Sunday soldiered on until November 25 1945. (The comic book version ran until 1949.)
Here's a good Time magazine article on Parents Institute, and an interesting blog article on the comic book series.
Wendy Snyder / email@example.com
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Franklin Booth in the Sunday Funnies
If you're not familiar with Booth's work, it is absolutely fabulous, breathtaking stuff. Go check out his work on this site and this one. And now that you're a Booth fan (and who wouldn't be after even a small taste!) get a copy of this wonderful collection of his work.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
News of Yore: Marty Links Tells Her Own Story
Being a word-by-word account via New York and California of the correspondence between the editor and a contributor—the creator of "Bobby Sox"—our Miss Marty Links.
Would you like to do a story for "The Cartoonist" about yourself, describing your hectic and unglamorous role as mother and cartoonist? Please let me know.
Dear Alfred —
Will try. Love, Marty
Just a quick note to give you a deadline. I must have material by March 10th.
Many thanks, Alfred
Would it upset your schedule if I withdrew my proposed story? I'm so swamped with cub scouts, school bazaars, dripping noses, sore throats—and I haven't even thought up a Sunday page idea for this week! Anything I wrote for the magazine no one would believe anyway.
Dear Desperate —
If you are too pressed—or too shy— to write about yourself, can you have someone else write a truthful story about you—perhaps your husband?
Signed, Very Desperate
My husband!?! God forbid!
Dear Marty —
Deadline looms. Are we going to press without the whole truth on our Marty?
Love, Still Very Desperate
Dear Alfred —
I airmailed a stirring story, exquisitely illustrated, over which I slaved for weeks! If it is lost I will kill myself!!!
March 8 Via Western Union:
DON'T! STORY ARRIVED. ALL IS WELL. THANKS A MILLION.
Dear Alfred —
As a female cartoonist the only difference between me and other housewives is that I draw instead of making beds and doing dishes. And drawing is more fun.
I have three children. Alex, eight, Elizabeth, five, and Victoria, three. In addition to these adorable, beautiful and loathsome children, I have one husband. Handsome, kind and understanding, his name is Alex Arguello and he is an attorney in our home town of San Francisco. We are both natives. Alex's great-great-grandfather was first governor of California. I met my husband the first day of high-school. He wore his hair parted in the center and was a sophomore!
We were married some years later when he was in law school. When he entered the Navy and went overseas, I already had been drawing weekly cartoons for the San Francisco Chronicle for a year or so. From the back of a book on how-to-cartoon, which he had given me as a gift, I found a list of syndicates with addresses. This gave me the idea of writing to them. I received answers from all, even one syndicate which wrote it also sold art courses accompanied by real nylons (this was war time, remember).
I decided that Joe Agnelli of the Bell Syndicate had written the nicest, most pleasant letter, so I signed with them and have been associated with them ever since.
Larry Fanning (who is now with the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate) was my boss on the Chronicle, and due to the fact that he didn't fire me when he should have, I had many samples of work in print to send out. George Lichty also has been a great help, advising me many times and steering me in the right direction.
Also involved in all this were a few lucky breaks, which is a good basic factor to start with in any career. Mine was in coming up with the idea of a teenage cartoon just as the public was becoming aware of that particular age group. Jeans, bandannas, sloppy shirts and Sinatra were their trademarks and they became mine. A good subject for gentle humor.
Here's how it goes. Running the house, husband and three children come before drawing. Although there is a question of who runs what. As soon as Elizabeth and Alex are off to school, I sit down in my studio—which is a sunny, pleasant room off the kitchen, overlooking the laundry room—and start to draw feverishly. When school is over (which is much too soon) and the children arrive home with their little friends, everything starts going down-hill.
Elizabeth is still in kindergarten so the working day actually consists of only two and a half hours. After that I draw intermittently all through the rest of the day, grabbing ten minutes here or there whenever possible. The baby alone is no trouble, but the others love my studio and the baby does everything they do. They spend the afternoons at my desk, using up good paper, ruining brushes or anything else they can lay their hands on.
When I first started with the syndicate, I drew only daily panels. After we sold to a few papers, they asked for a Sunday page. This was impossible to handle alone, so Jerry Bundsen and Ted Martine came into my life.
Jerry, who works for the San Francisco Examiner with Herb Caen, the columnist, has been writing my daily gags for eleven years. Once a week he sends me a large batch of gags from which I select what I want and like. If there aren't enough to make up a week, I fill out with my own ideas-which drives Jerry mad! He claims if he sent me sixty gags I would be unable psychologically to select more than four out of the bunch. This isn't so at all.
After selecting the four best gags, I pencil in the whole week of dailies. These go to Ted Martine, the world's best artist (I should be working for him). He inks in all the pencilled backgrounds. When they are returned I ink in the figures. I have pencilled them in rough enough so that I change as I go along. This keeps the action loose and fresh. In addition I draw from models constantly, then use the sketches as reference. With the outlines of the furniture inked, for instance, I add details like prints and upholstery, flowers in bowls, fringe on curtains, etc. My husband claims I can't stand a plain white space. But it's this detail which gives a homey touch. As a matter of fact I draw all the furniture in our home. I often think I'd like to recover the worn upholstery in a popsicle-colored background so the popsicle stains will not show.
As to the Sunday panels, these I dream up myself, and it is more work than everything else put together. I feel each idea is the last one I'll ever be able to eke out. Also I meditate (or should I say brood?) on my own girlhood, which was a long time ago, believe me. But once the mind starts going back it's amazing how much it remembers.
In addition, some ideas come from parents of teenagers, sometimes from a teenager who will call or write about some funny experience.
Well, Alfred, this is the end of the fascinating, stimulating, glamorous story of a career woman versus marriage. From now on if anyone should ask you if they mix, refer them to me. I'll tell 'em!
Writ by hand, Marty.
Marty Links passed away on January 8 2008 at the age of 90.
Labels: News of Yore
I am Marty's daughter-in-law and widow of her son, Alex Arguello. Thank you so much for this information. No one in the family has this correspondence and it is precious to us.
Thank you again,
Monday, February 04, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Sports Hall of Shame
The panel feature ran both Sunday and daily starting May 7 1990 and ended on October 22 1994. Maul bailed on the feature on January 15 1994 and a cartoonist named (Marty?) Bucella took up the reins until October 22 1994. The strip was retired without ever having much caught on with newspaper editors.
Nash and Zullo had quite the little cottage industry going with sports anecdote books. They published a slew of different titles, but my impression is that only two, Sports Hall of Shame Cartoon Classics and Sports Hall of Shame Golf Cartoons Classics, are reprints of the newspaper feature.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Order Jim Ivey's new book Cartoons I Liked at Lulu.com or order direct from Ivey and get the book autographed with a free original sketch.
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Saturday, February 02, 2008
These cartoons are from December 20 and 21 1906. Pretty self-explanatory and I'm in a bit of a rush this weekend, so enjoy...
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, February 01, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Honor Eden
The 44-year old Jack Sparling created the new strip in 1960 and he apparently thought this was going to be the big one after a string of less than stellar syndicated outings. Alas, 'twas not to be. Between a weak syndicate, snappy patter that was probably unintelligible to most of the newspaper-reading public, and a subject that was similar to an already successful strip (On Stage) and Honor Eden didn't stand much of a chance.
As capsulized in the promo above, Honor Eden was a housemother to a group of girls trying to make it in the big city.
The strip started either in January 1960 (according to Leiffer and Ware's E&P index) or April 11 1960 (the start date in my samples from the San Francisco Chronicle). The strip was advertised in E&P until 1963 but good luck finding any that late -- this is one very elusive strip. One reference claims that the feature lasted until 1972, which is patently ridiculous.
Or ws he there later? He was with Bell-McClure...