Saturday, February 14, 2009


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, June 23 1907 -- A portrait of Henry Berry, manager of the San Francisco Seals is featured on the front page of the Sunday sports section. The drawing is huge, over half a page.

Sunday, June 23 1907 -- Herriman creates Bugs Bunny, and here you thought he was created by those no-talent animator folks at Warner Brothers.


(Another question from an outside observer; forgive me if it's too ill-informed.) I always wonder when I see these: what would the workload of Herriman have been like at this time? This work looks to me to be quite time-consuming, or would that have been reduced by his skill and experience, giving him the ability to draw faster than we might imagine?
Hi Lyn -
Actually that's a great question.

I think if you pay attention to the publication dates on the cartoons over time you'll see that on average Herriman was getting a large cartoon published almost every day. There were occasional ebbs in his production but they come when he was sent out on assignment or given a short vacation.

What you don't see published here on the blog are all the spot cartoons he also contributed to the paper. Herriman regularly supplied as many as 4 or 5 small cartoons a day, usually to the regular columnists' pieces.

(These spot cartoons were too small for me to get decent photocopies, so these aren't included on our Saturday posts.)

So figure one major cartoon plus a handful of spots per day when he was in the office.

Is that a heavy load? Not really unusually heavy for the anchor staff cartoonist of the day. Outside of the biggest cities (NY, Chicago, etc) the staff cartoonist was expected to produce at this sort of volume -- he was a pretty busy fellow. Staff cartoonists then were expected to be fast and you can often see evidence in Herriman's cartoons when he was in a hurry. There was rarely time to correct mistakes or fine-tune drawings.

One thing to keep in mind is that cartoonists of this day were experts at cross-hatching, practically a lost art today. Cross-hatching of the type you see on the Hen Berry caricature might look to today's cartoonist like the product of hours of painstaking planning and work, but it was second nature for the cartoonists of Herriman's time. Such gorgeous penwork that lends that wonderful feeling of depth to the cartoon was probably produced in practically no time at all with barely a moment's thought.

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]