Saturday, July 18, 2009

 

(Not) Herriman Saturday

Our Herriman Saturdays, which take me a lot of time to prepare each week, are going to be on hiatus for a couple months. I am involved in a very time-consuming project -- a secret one that I'm dying to tell you about, but can't just yet -- and I just don't have the hours in the day right now to devote to the restoration and research work of our Herriman Saturdays. I promise it will return just as soon as my days become less frantically busy.

Be sure to keep watching this space, though. I hope to be able to break the big news to you about this project very soon.

Our regular weekday and Sunday blog posts will continue as normal. Thanks for your continued visits!

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Hey, since you are taking a short break, let me take this moment to express my appreciation. Those Herriman cartoons are mind-blowing. What a great artist he was!

I hope your announcement involves a book! This material really deserves one.
 
Yeah, me too.

It's been far too long since I commented on how I hit this site every day.
 
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Friday, July 17, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: Zim's Course/Lena Undt Loui

It may seem incredible that Zim, the poster-boy for hard-working cartoonists, created only one continuing newspaper feature. Yet it's true. Eugene Zimmerman, known to all by his famous abbreviated signature 'Zim', was an underachiever in this one particular field of endeavor.

Zim was a top cartoonist at Puck and Judge in the last two decades of the 19th century. However, in the 20th century he found himself scrambling for work and you're liable to find his cartoons in some of the oddest places. He had a penchant for getting himself involved in offbeat publications, like H.H. Windsor's Cartoons and Movies and Guy Lockwood's Art & Life magazines.

Although he created his fair share of one-shot and spot newspaper cartoons, his only series (which you can alternatively count as three to boost his numbers) was for the McClure Syndicate in 1911-12. The feature started out on September 3 1911 as a full page divided into two sections. The top half was titled Zim's Personally Conducted Course of Comic Art and Zimplified Drawing. It featured ersatz drawing lessons like the one shown above. The bottom of the page was initially titled Raphael Rembrandt and the strip featured a stereotypical crazy artist in a gag vaguely related to the 'lesson' above. On October 22 the bottom half changed titles to Lena Undt Loui Took Lessons Midt Art, featuring a pair of caricatured Germans whose children (and eventually they) take a correspondence school art course conducted, of course, by Zim. And yes, Zim really did run a cartooning correspondence school at the time. This frankly seems like really bad advertising for it.

This setup didn't last for long. On November 19 the bogus drawing lessons ceased and the German characters took the page all to themselves. The title and subject of the strip remained focused on art until May 12 1912. Then Lena and Loui went on a vacation and the strip was retitled Lena undt Loui Tooks a Trip. The strip ended on June 9.

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I ran across a cartooning instruction book written by Zim in the school library when I was a kid, and thought he was terrific. I still do, in spite of the racial stereotypes that were part of the game back then. However, this strip doesn't present him very well. For a link that has samples of more typical Zim fare, try

http://www.animationarchive.org/2008/03/ebook-zims-cartoons-and-cariactures.html
 
What an odd gag...that the roosters who were "friends for life" turn into battling English and Irish when painted orange and green. Even in an age steeped in ethnic humor, this is quite a reach!
 
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

 

News of Yore 1950: Pittsburgh Courier Expands

New Sections In Pittsburgh Negro Weekly
(E&P, 8/26/50)

A 16-page magazine section and an 8-page colored comic insert, aimed directly at Negro interests, came out this weekend with the regular news section of the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Courier, national Negro weekly.

The new sections, reportedly a "first" in the Negro press, were launched at a luncheon for newspapermen and magazine editors at the Ambassador Hotel in New York this week.
In the magazine, spot color ads cost 20% more than black-and-white, plus special charges for color plates. Sidney Smith, advertising director of the Courier indicated it was not yet known whether such charges were sufficient to pay off, considering the added services required. Some spot color advertising has already appeared in the Courier.

Circulation at 310,000
Circulation of the weekly now runs about 310,000 in 16 editions, Mrs. Robert L. Vann, publisher, said at the luncheon.

New York newspaper and magazine men expressed special interest in the comic section. All the heroes and heroines, businessmen, soldiers, cowboys, athletes, private-eyes, pilots and glamor girls, were Negroes. Courier editors said eventually white characters would be added.
"These are not new comics," said George S. Schuyler, associate editor. "They have been presented over the years in our columns, and our readers are thoroughly familiar with them. It is the addition of color that makes them new, and of course more appealing."

[Allan here -- we've talked about the Pittsburgh Courier's color comics section here before (links: Torchy in Heartbeats, The Chisholm Kid, Don Powers, Sunny Boy Sam, Lohar, etc.); a tip of the hat to Nancy Goldstein, author of Jackie Ormes - The First African American Woman Cartoonist who providing the pics below from one of these rare sections]


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I'd love to see someone reprint some of this work. Do you know who the artist is on Guy Fortune?
 
Sure do, see this post:

http://strippersguide.blogspot.com/2006/07/comics-of-smith-mann-syndicate-part-i_05.html
 
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

 

News of Yore 1950: Chad Grothkopf Profiled


Animal Artist Admits He Likes Humans Too
By James L. Callings (E&P, 7/8/50)

Chad of the eggbeater-beaten hair, of the large white teeth, of the Don Ameche face, was talking.

"I like people," he said, "in fact, some of my best friends are human beings. But I've been doing animals so long I can think only of fawns, rabbits, bees, squirrels and bear cubs."

Chad, last name of Grothkopf, a St. Bernardish sort of guy himself, is the free-lance artist who has brought the animal kingdom into PM's "Clear, Clean Taste" advertising campaign that has been appearing since last September in some 400 newspapers around the country.

15 Ads
The ads are prepared by Lloyd, Chester & Dillingham, New York advertising agency, and the idea is to convince people of PM's clear, clean taste through the association of an animal with that theme. Ten ads have appeared and five are coming up.

This will give you a clearer, cleaner picture of what PM is trying to do. There's Bill Honeybee, for instance. The copy that goes with him in the ad says:

"No one has ever been able to put into words the taste of prime roast beef or cantaloupe or a drink of fine whiskey . . . but this picture of Bill Honeybee at his morning nectar comes mighty close to explaining PM's 'clear, clean taste.'"

Young Bill is an animated, humanlike cutie, buzzing from every pore.

Likes Animals
Another ad has Br'er Rabbit drooling over a carrot. It's mouthwatering copy, and it's been successful, according to Chad. It's been doubly successful for the 35-year-old artist, matter of fact: as a result of his PM work, he said he has been asked to do a cigaret account and to illustrate several children's books.

Chad grinned. His features are every instrument in the band, all tuning up at once, with a little rumba thrown in on the side.

"How did I get started with animals?" the grin asked. "Well, I like them, that's why. It's easier. They don't care what a man's got, money and things, I mean.

"I suppose this sounds sentimental, but I'll take dogs off the road and give them a home. Dogs, rabbits, chipmunks, a raccoon— I've taken them all in at one time or another.

"It just seems that everything I start turns out to be an animal."

Answer in Animals
Creative people find their ideas hanging from a bough of a tree they happen to be looking at, on a few spare feet of a cloud, in the whisper of the wind. Or in the speed of a hummingbird's wings.
It was no different with the agency executive who for quite a while had been trying in vain to describe the indescribable, taste. He knew that almost 98% of men buy their favorite relaxer because of its taste. Unfortunately, no one can tell what taste is, except by comparison.
At any rate, he and others wanted to put across the PM c-c-t slogan. One day he walked through Central Park Zoo in New York. He watched the animals. In them he found the answer. Animals, birds and insects, he thought, can't use words, but they know what they like.
Brought from Coast
That settled, it was easier to find the man. The agency already knew about Chad and his animal drawings. He was called in from the West Coast, borrowed a friend's studio, spent months on the final illustrations, now is not sure when he'll be able to return to Santa Monica, where he wants to continue as a free-lance.

Chad said he believes animal pictures have an appeal today, especially in the East, where so few people can tell a praying mantis from a butterfly.

"When I grew up in Ironton, Ohio," he said, "animals were the most natural thing in the world for me to draw because they were all around me."

With his new schedule, Chad has turned into a night owl. He himself doesn't get to see many animals outside of those in the zoo and the ones he hires from a model service.

"I can't," he explained, "because I prefer to work all night. I work with a radio going—got to have that radio on—then I sleep all day."

[Allan here -- bet you're wondering what the heck PM is -- watch this promo video, directed by Chad to learn the bizarre answer! Oh, and the reason this is on the blog is that Chad was a cartoonist on several strips -- Famous Fiction, True Comics and Howdy Doody.]

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Is this misguided ad campaign supposed to appeal to childish adults or whisky-loving tots?
 
Judging from the salesman's comments at the end about the print ads, it appears that this cartoon was directed toward PM's own sales force -- or at least the ones with IQs well below average. I can't imagine showing this cartoon to a group of liquor salesmen in the 1950s and getting a favorable reaction from them.

Maybe children under age 5 would appreciate the repetitious dialogue, the half-hearted rhyming, and the cute animals, but I don't think most people 6 and over would get too much enjoyment out of this cartoon.
 
Contributing his voice talent was not one of Art Carney's proudest moments.
 
nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)

bathmate
 
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: Hunter Keene








Norman Marsh, the creator of that 'me too' detective strip Dan Dunn in the 1930s, came back from the war to find that his strip had been a stateside casualty. Undaunted, he jumped right back on the horse and created Hunter Keene, yet another hardboiled detective strip. It first appeared on April 15 1946 and was distributed by King Features as a daily only strip.

Dan Dunn had achieved a measure of success in the thirties mainly because it was one of the first Dick Tracy imitators in a crime drama field not yet crowded with lantern-jawed sleuths. Hunter Keene, on the other hand, had no such leg up on the competition and sales were abysmal. King pulled the plug on the strip at the end of a one-year contract. The strip last ran on April 12 1947.

Marsh was a smart cookie, though, and didn't let this setback keep him on the sidelines for long. After a survey of the field Marsh came right back with Danny Hale, a strip about pioneer days. While not a major success (it merited an Obscurity of the Day posting) it did keep Marsh busy for the next fifteen years, riding the tide of the Western craze.

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If I'd seen this strip by itself I'd have sworn it was from the early to mid-1930s. It must have looked ancient to the postwar audience.
 
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Monday, July 13, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: Johnnie Bostonbeans


William F. Marriner, the originator of the oft-copied spidery lines and giant heads school of cartooning, drew the occasional daily of Johnnie Bostonbeans from October 4 1901 to October 7 1904 for Hearst's New York Evening Journal. Marriner produced a whole slew of series in the oughts for just about every syndicate under the sun, but this was his longest running effort for Hearst.

The strip starred a bespectacled little smart-acre, a poke at the academic intelligentsia up in Beantown's Harvard Yard. Apparently the Bostonians didn't take offense at Marriner's creation because the strip also ran in Hearst's Boston port of call, the American.

Tip of the beanie to Cole Johnson, provider of the samples.

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This strip surely predates other early daily strips like A. Piker Clerk and Mutt & Jeff. Should that give it some historical value as well, or was Marriner simply not dependable enough to make this a true daily strip, as the two mentioned above were?
 
"..occasional daily.."

Believe me, I'd make a big deal about a true daily from the oughts.

Suggest you read my article, "The Daily Show" in Hogan's Alley #12 for the straight skinny on the first true daily strip.

--Allan
 
Thanks Allan. I'll try to check that out.
 
Most other "big head" strips from this period appear dated, but something about Marriner's line here is very contemporary. With a change of clothing and better lettering this art could fit in with present-day humor strips.
 
So that's his name! I am still learning the basics of these early American comic strips (everything more obscure than the likes of McCay or Branner), and came across a wonderful and prolific artist whose signature was sometimes WFM and sometimes something that looked like Marrinelos to me. William F. Marriner! You can probably fill a whole month with great obscurities by him.
 
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


As mentioned in this episode of Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics, Jim submitted a strip called The Retreads to syndicates. He'd been told by someone at a syndicate that a retiree strip would probably be a big hit since the audience of newspaper readers just keeps skewing older and older.

Unfortunately The Retreads didn't sell, so we'll 'print' it here for the first time ever over the coming weeks. Yo syndicates, it's still available!

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Hello All----Even though newspapers are being read more by an older, conservative audience, blinkered editors insist on aiming to to the same demographic as television does--the young stupids with money to spend and have no taste (and don't read newspapers). Then they scratch their heads about why their ships are sinking!
 
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