Saturday, April 04, 2009

 

Herriman Saturday

Sunday, July 21 1907 -- Herriman contributes a huge cartoon on city folk who get the urge to go out in the woods to blow away some wildlife.

Monday, July 22 1907 -- Herriman spends a day deep sea fishing with the Southern California Rod and Reel Club. In the accompanying story it is mentioned that the club members had a casting competition. Sherman Baker, that fellow caricatured on the right end, won the contest by casting an unbelievable 198 feet. I don't know much about fishing, but that sure sounds incredible to me. According to the article, the cast was one-handed and used a 2.5 ounce sinker.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: Old Black Joe

Maybe some obscurities are better left unearthed, but for better or worse here we have Old Black Joe. If not for all the racist trappings this would be a delightful strip. The gag is strong, Joe is a funny fellow, his song is snappy, and the art is crude yet exuberant.

Old Black Joe ran in the World Color Printing Sunday sections starting on December 1 1907. It ran semi-regularly until April 26 1908, then disappeared for a long time before two final episodes appeared on November 22 1908 and February 7 1909. Alfredo Castelli has the series running in 1910 in Here We Are Again, but I've not seen it in the 1910 WCP sections.

The creator of Old Black Joe signed himself only "Williamson", and sometimes didn't bother signing at all. There were at least three Williamsons working in newspaper comics in the first quarter of the century, but I don't know which if any of them this might be. Frank M. Williamson had a vaguely similar style (if you call utter primitivism a style), but I wouldn't bet a nickel on that guess being right.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Barnyard Club

The Barnyard Club is one of those features that, if we were to be able to unlock its secrets, might be very revealing of the early comic strip business. It was summer 1898, and R.F. Outcault was in the process of moving back and forth between Pulitzer's New York World and Hearst's New York Journal. Somehow in the middle of all this Outcault created a pair of features that, as far as we know, ran only in the Philadelphia Inquirer. We've covered this subject before when we talked about The Country School, and at the time mentioned the existence of a second series by Outcault. Well, here it is, once more courtesy of Cole Johnson.

The Barnyard Club ran July 17 to November 6 1898. An odd side-note (or maybe its crucial -- who knows?) is that J.B. Lowitz produced a Sunday panel by the same name for the New York World earlier that year.

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Alan,

Pepe by Will, Holly Wood by Jack King, Milford, Pam by Gus Jekel, Life Wirh A Wife, Merton Musty by Dick Moores, Sleepy Holler by Jerry Hathcock, Animal Antics by Bob Dalton, Sidetrack by Dick Shaw... have you got anything on these weekly comics? And what's the animation connection?
 
Hi Ger -
That's quite a find you made! No, I certainly had never heard of any of these features, but I jumped onto newspaperarchive to see if I could find the strips you were talking about. Sure enough, a whole page of funnies running in the Redwood Journal-Press-Dispatch starting 4/10/50.

I could find no syndicate stamps, but I do have one clue as to the origin of this bunch of weirdies. Dick Moores, Gil Turner, Ray Patin, Jerry Hathcock and Dick Shaw were Disney employees at this time. Seems we have a whole page of funnies produced by moonlighting Mouse House folks!

Can anybody out there shed any light on this???

--Allan
 
Alan,

Which is exactly what I found (or ran across, actually). I have downloaded the whole run since, which doesn't quite make it to the end of the year. I sort of expected a Mouse group initiative, but don't know of it was confined to the one paper. There is a small change in the runup later.
 
And eh... wasn't Jack King an animator as well?
 
There is also a Tom Ray involved... and there is an animator called Tom Ray (old enough to have been in WWII) who has his own website. Could it be the same and could we ask him? I'll go after this, if you like.
 
Hi Ger -
As I've proved many times on this blog, I'm no expert on animation people. Other than Dick Moores, the only way I found out about the rest of these guys was doing Googling. By all means, please see if you can make contract with this Tom Ray fellow.

I checked Cartoonist Profiles #30 that has a bio of Moores. Turns out in 1950 Moores and Tom Boyd had a start-up business called Tele-Comics doing TV animation. It says they had 43 cartoonists working for them. Maybe they tried to syndicate this weekly comics offering as a sideline?

I also wanted to check my E&P files. Unfortunately I don't seem to have the bound volume for January-March 1950, but I do have April-June 1950 and I found no mention of the venture there.But the announcement would be more likely to be in the volume I'm missing.

I'm also going to try contacting Alberto Becattini, the ultimate Disney expert, to see if he can shed any light on this.

Newspaperarchive crapped out on me after November 8 1950 -- were you able to go farther with that paper?

--Allan
 
Alan,

Nothing after Nov 8 for me either. I did find mention of something called NBC Comics, which was a television program featuring 'animated comics'. The four titles mentioned were all not on this comics page (and in fact, I have found them nowhere). From the Ceda Raids Gazette, April 15 1951: This comes from Don Dewar, former lawyer and film studio executive, who now heads Tele-comics, Inc., one of the few firms making cartoons for television. Dewar and two partners - Jack Boyd, formerly with Walt Disney and Dick Moores, veteran newspaper cartoonist. (...) The 15-minute program was devoted to the adventures of three heroes: Danny March, private eye; Boxer Kid Champion and Rocketman Space Barton.
 
The comics page did continue after Nov 8.
Keep on looking. :)
Just grabbed a page from march 1951 with a slightly different line up. Bob Karp doing "The Middles" and "Merton" is now signed by "James".
Thanks for sharing your find with us Ger!
 
Hi Joakim --
When I say newspaperarchive crapped out on me, I mean literally. The dates were listed, but when I tried to show them the site freaked out. If you're having better luck, any chance of telling me dates and page numbers so I don't keep hitting those errors?

--Allan
 
The page began on April 19, 1950 (There's a notice about it on the first page that day.) and the last I've seen is from May 1951. But there might be more.
They all appeared in the Wednesday edition.
The Newspaperarchive didn't work properly for me either so I searched for "Sleepy Holler", "Gil Turner" etc instead and got direct links to the right pages. :)
 
When The American Way by Tom Ray is ot on the comics page, it is on another page (maybe because of it's political anti-red content). It continues after most strips have stopped. So there probably was a gradual fade-out of strips, while other weekly strips were added. In july 1951 I have Indian Summer by John Zima, which according to your I-list was from an outfit called Atlas. In August it was drawn by Jay Ganschow, who also delivered Heavy Hannah (also from Atlas, as per your H-list attributed to a John Haslemo). He also did Famous first, which is not on your missing list, so it's still open if Ganschow was part of the crew or someone attached to the paper. But why would he take over two Atlas strips?
 
Alberto Becattini sent me quite a bit of information regarding this mystery. Following is from several emails:

"Yes, as far as I know most of these people were working at Disney during the early 1950s. And I do think that they were also part of Moores and Boyd's moonlighting Tele-Comics (aka NBC Comics) crew.

Notice that some of them were writers, but they could obviously do storyboards.

Specifically:
Will - Should be James Will - animator. I have him at Disney in the 1940s, but perhaps he was there even later

Mitchell should be Dave Mitchell - story-man at TV Art Productions
Late 1940s

Jack King - Longtime Disney animator/director, was there from 1936-48

Gil Turner - Warner Bros. and MGM animator, comic-book writer/artist
at Western Publishing

Gustave (Gus) Jekel - Disney animator in the 1950s

Dick Moores - Disney comic-strip artist, 1942-56

Gerald (Jerry) Hathcock - Disney animator, 1940-58

Bob Dalton - Might be Cal Dalton, animation writer at Disney in the
early 1950s

Ray Patin - Disney animator 1937-41, story-man 1946-47. Ran his own studio later on.

Dick Shaw - Disney animation and comic-strip writer, 1941-46/1951-53

Thomas (Tom) Ray - I have him at Warner Bros. in 1957-63 and later at Chuck Jones/MGM, but I guess he was at Disney prior to that. And yes, he is still active and has his own website.

You can view more complete profiles and credits for these artists at my website:
http://www.immaginariofiorentino.com/albertopage/

I then asked Alberto if he recalled reading any quotes from these guys regarding the newspaper venture:

"No, Allan, I don't remember anybody mentioning these strips. The only information I have concerns the strip The Middles, which was written by Bob Karp (longtime Donald Duck newspaper strip writer), and drawn by
his brother Lynn Karp (Disney animator and then comic-book artist at Western and Fawcett). This strip is said to have appeared in Australian
papers as late as 1955, having started in 1944 according to some
sources and in 1950 according to others.

This is all very interesting, and I look forward to knowing more. I'll be looking at the blog in case somebody comes up with more insights.

Anyway, the best way to know something is to get in touch with Tom Ray who is, as far as I know, the only surviving artists among all these."

I responded, regarding The Middles:

"It was distributed by Consolidated News Features. According to Paul Leiffer, start date is 4/13/44 (I have samples from '44, so the 1950 start date is definitely bogus). I have a note that the strip may initially have been a daily, but I haven't checked through my files to figure out why I said that. The feature was also distributed as part of the Western Newspaper Union package. The strip was advertised in E&P through 1955."

More from Alberto:

Looking more carefully at the Milford Muddle strip in the PDF page you sent, I can see that it was drawn by Jack Bradbury (Disney animator 1936-41, then Warner Bros. animator 1942-44). I have no doubt about this. Lettering on the strip is by Melvin "Tubby" Millar, a Warner Bros. story man.

What I gather from this is that these strips were not coming from the Tele-Comics staff, but more probably from the Sangor Studios staff. This was an outfit led in California by animator Jim Davis, producing funny-animal comic-book stories for such publishers as ACG/Creston, Better/Standard and DC/National from 1944-52. Davis employed about 70 moonlighting story-men and animators. Evidently at a certain point Davis & Co. decided that they would also try their hands at newspaper
strips. Of course this is just an educated guess, but 90% of the people involved here were also part of the Sangor Studios freelance crew."

Thanks Alberto!!
 
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Lesson The Bible Teaches


Good thing there's no commandment against being a copycat. Or is that covered under the coveting clauses? The Lesson The Bible Teaches seems to have been created to compete with the surprise 1954 success of John Lehti's Sunday bible strip, Tales From The Great Book.

The creators of this feature completely missed the reason for Lehti's success. Lehti's feature, at least within the confines of Bible stories, was full of action, whereas The Lesson The Bible Teaches was utterly static, a series of talking head panels with enough yada-yada to make most Sunday funnies readers pass right by to find Pogo and Peanuts.

The Lesson The Bible Teaches made its pilgrimage into the Sunday comics section on September 25 1955 (a year and a half after Tales From The Great Book debuted). It was distributed by Hall Syndicate and was "by permission of the International Council of Religious Education." A Google of this organization results in a list of very long dry PDF documents. Turns out this researcher isn't committed to the project to the extent of reading them to find out what this council was all about.

The author of the strip, R. Paul Caudill, was a preacher, missionary and writer. You'll find a capsule bio and photo of him on this Wake Forest Alumni News page.

If there is a bright spot in this strip, it's the well-drawn art. Despite being hampered by scripts full of talking heads and long soliloquies, artist Ralph Keenon managed to make the strip look attractive, though perhaps a little stiff. I can find no information or other credits for this Keenon fellow. Is it my imagination or does Keenon's art look an awful lot like the work of Jay Disbrow?

Unlike Lehti's livelier competition, The Lesson The Bible Teaches was a flop, and deservedly so. The latest strip I've been able to find is from November 1956, and I assume it didn't last much longer than that. Anyone know a definite end date?

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There was another in this genre, in 1948 the sunday Des Moines Register ran a thing called Jack and Judy in Bibleland. Two modern American Sunday school children return to the ancient holy land and see for themselves selected biblical events take place.
 
Hi Anon -
That was another Bible strip with nice art by a relative unknown (William E. Fay). For some reason those religious strips usually have excellent art.

--Allan
 
Allan, I don't know if it was true in every case, but apparently Catholic-oriented "Treasure Chest" comic books paid very well back in the day, providing work for Reed Crandall, Joe Sinnott, Murphy Anderson, etc. On the Protestant side of the divide there was David C. Cook's adaptation of Bible stories, with fantastic art by Will Eisner alumnus Andre LeBlanc. But this was for comic books, which I know is somewhat off topic.
 
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

 

News of Yore 1949: Lawrence Lariar Profiled



How Busy Can Man Get? Answers by Lariar

By Ogden J. Rochelle (E&P, 3/19/49)

A job description of Lawrence Lariar would be pattern for most of the tasks in the production of comic strips. Few, if any, continuity writers bring as much experience and training to their work as Lariar. "Bodyguard," an adventure strip with a straight man, distributed by New York Herald Tribune Syndicate, is authored by Lariar with the sure touch of one who is both writer and illustrator.

Yet, the strip, which became a daily feature March 7 after running 10 months as a Sunday page, is drawn by John Spranger, 27-year-old war veteran, whom Lariar recruited from the comic books.

Draws, Writes, Teaches

Lariar had 15 years of cartooning and illustrating when in 1942 he began writing. He is now author of 16 published books, has a serial in the current Liberty magazine, and is working on another book, "Careers in Cartooning," for Dodd-Mead & Co. He also is executive director of a professional school of cartooning in New York City.

"Bodyguard" has the plot of a mystery story, begins in India, is sprinkled with exotic and American beauties, and has a central character that's different — a saucy, precocious, fat child with enough on the ball to run a kingdom and a child's desire to play ball. It is a swift moving story, a vehicle giving scope to Lariar's broad background.

Cartoon editor of Liberty for the past seven years, Lariar began the Thropp Family there, first comic strip to run as a continuity in a national magazine.

As a free-lance (1930-1938) Lariar did advertising and direct mail cartoons, comic strips and spot drawings and contributed political cartoons to the New York Journal-American.

In 1935, Brooklyn-born Lawrence Lariar married his agent, Susan Mayer of Brooklyn. They have two children. Lariar says his wife was one of the first cartoon agents in the magazine gag panel field, and was a gag creator on her own.

Three Young Adventurers

Lariar's training began in the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. For the first six months he was on commercial illustration, then switched to cartooning. After graduation he started out with two buddies, Jack Arthur, now a school teacher in the New York system, and Adolph Schus, now a designer in fabric house.

The trio set up a cartoon agency in a flat in the 80's in New York, sold vignettes to College Life, for which the editor wrote two-line captions. They also got in America's Humor magazine, primarily because it couldn't pay as much as Life or Judge, says Lariar. Arthur, the oldest of the three (he was 21) would contact various outlets and say he represented a dozen different artists, which Lariar, Arthur and Schus tried to prove. One of their "artists" was named Baron de Shebago, who drew a full page of zanies.

In 1927, Lariar went to Paris on a scholarship to the school of dynamic symmetry. He was accompanied by Arthur. Later, the third musketeer, Schus, joined them. They went into the same routine in Paris, and did a big business with British magazines and Fleetway House, then one of the big magazine publishing houses of the world. Much of their work was for The Looker-On, which folded but paid off — fortunately for the sake of their fares back home. They did work, too, for Boulevardier, a Paris publication operated by Erskine Gwynn, an American.

Come Home for Depression

The trio caromed back to New York in October, 1929, a few days after the boom had burst.

"To make a living, we did everything," says Lariar. "We had a service for printers, drew cartoons for calendars, played messenger and did some of the first work for the slicks."

The boys hit upon a deal that brought home the bacon when they did a series of cartoon postcards, designed to save Boy Scouts time in writing home to mother. They sold over a million of them in a direct-mail campaign.

Flushed with success, they then embarked on a venture that sank them. In Paris, Lariar had picked up a book reproducing the etchings of a Rembrandt exposition. The plates were excellent, and they had sold many of them to friends back home without any other effort than razoring them out of the book. Reproduction by a photographic process was expensive, and they moved in trade as slowly as coal buckets from a hardware merchant's shelves in the summer time.

"I still see them in shops around town," remarks Lariar sadly. "They're very good, too."

So the combine broke up, and Lariar rented offices on 45th Street where he turned to strip cartooning, drew some of the first comic books in 1933, and for Stuart Shaftell's Young America created "Inspector Keene of Scotland Yard."

He took the Walt Disney aptitude test in 1938 and went out to Hollywood briefly. Not liking the Disney factory approach, he soon returned to New York.

He emceed the CBS television show, "Draw Me Another," in 1947, and created the "Happy Headlines" show.

He is editor of a juvenile book publishing company, director of sketch units for hospitalized servicemen, and was president of the American Society of Magazine Cartoonists (1943-1946).

Among his writings is a winner of the Dodd Mead $1,000 Red Badge Prize.

He claims he has several hours' leisure time every day.

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I gather "The Bodyguard" must be "Ben Friday," the Spranger strip Lariar shows samples from in one of his books. Do you have samples? Also, do you have any idea if wife Susan Meyer is the same Susan Meyer whose credit used to appear on Dell Comics?
 
Susan Meyer? Didn't she move to some suburb? I alwyays wondered if he was the same Lariar who did all those 'best of' cartoon books and although it isn't mentioned, I guess that's him.
 
Ben Friday, aka The Bodyguard, aka Bantam Prince was covered back on this post:

http://strippersguide.blogspot.com/2006/03/identity-crisis-on-funnies-page.html

And Lariar is indeed the editor of those Best Of book. Curious that they didn't mention them in this article.

Best, Allan
 
Lawrence Lariar was my Grandfather. To answer your question Ger Apeldoorn, he was the same Lariar who edited and compiled all of the Best of Cartoons books. He edited the books for 20 years starting in 1942
 
Hi, this is a question for S. Lariar, the grandson. I have recently found in a state sale 2 small enamel paintings signed Lariar. I was wondering if your grandfather was also doing this kind of artwork as well as cartooning. They are very funny and with a sense of humor so I thought that he could be a possibility. Thanks in advance.
 
Hi Anonymous,

This is his other grandson, and yes he did do enamel paintings. Would be great to see pictures.
 
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Monday, March 30, 2009

 

Go Away! To Yesterday's Papers, That Is

I don't normally do a post just to tell you to go check another site; seems a bit of a cop-out. But I can't let the March 26 post on Yesterday's Papers go by without directing you to it. John Adcock has unearthed a superb 1935 article about newspaper comics in something called New Outlook. The article, written by William E. Berchtold, is incredibly well-researched. That's something you just never see from that era (about comics, that is).

Go and enjoy, and then we'll get back to business as usual tomorrow.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics



Jim Ivey's new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from Lulu.com for $19.95 plus shipping, or you can order direct from Ivey for $25 postpaid. Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. The book is 128 pages, coil-bound. Send your order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807

Also still available, Jim Ivey's career retrospective Cartoons I Liked, available on Lulu.com or direct from Jim Ivey for $20 postpaid. When ordered from Ivey direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.

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I never became a major force (hardly even a minor one) in cartooning, but sports cartooning (really, illustration) is where I started, at an area newspaper. Went from there to book illustration, comic books, editorial cartoons, etc. So if an editor is imaginative enough and brave enough, it can still happen.
 
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