Saturday, January 02, 2010
Wednesday, October 2 1907 -- Usually my LA Examiner photocopies cut off much of the articles associated with Herriman's cartoons, but here's a rare case where the whole article was preserved, so enjoy C.E. Van Loan's article describing the Angels' prospects for the final weeks of the baseball season. And yes, this florid prose is pretty representative of how most newspaper sportswriters of the day plied their trade.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, January 01, 2010
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: The Life Story of Richard Nixon
In the fall of 1955 President Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack that left the nation wondering if Vice President Richard Nixon would take over the office. Newspapers debated over whether Nixon, already a divisive name in politics, was fit to be president.
News-based comic strips were nothing new in 1955, in fact NEA and the Associated Press produced closed-end strips about major issues on a pretty regular basis. King Features, however, rarely used the form. They broke with this tradition to produce The Life Story of Richard Nixon, a hagiographical portrait of a politician already reviled in some quarters for his Communist witch hunts. Of course this was back in the days when many newspapers were still openly partisan, so Republican papers would have had no qualms about using it.
Or so you'd think. I've never seen this series printed in a newspaper, nor does it turn up in searches on Newspaper Archives or Google News Archive. I only know about its existence because it exists in proof form in the collection of Cole Johnson.
The 6-strip series was drawn by A.S. Packer (who, I assume, is not editorial cartoonist Fred Packer) and the writer is uncredited. The suggested running dates are not on the proofs, so I can only take my best guess that the series was released in the fall of 1955. Has anyone found this series actually running in a newspaper?
The sentence "In 1943, Packer returned to NYC to become the feature illustrator for the Hearst Organization until he retired in 1985" works for him doing this 1955 strip.
Daughter never says what the "A.S." stands for and, amazingly, even the Social Security Death Index lists him as "A. S. Packer".
It seems his full name is Abram Shore Packer however.
The name origin sites say it's a variation on the English name "Millhouse," which was originally attached to people living at mills. There are a lot of Milhouses out there, too. Not that it matters any, but it's interesting.
A bit of trivia: Richard Nixon's mother was born near Butlerville in southeastern Indiana. Nearby is an old German town called Millhousen. That's probably no coincidence.
How many thousands of innocent lives were irreparably harmed or even completely ruined in the pursuit of a few small-fry spies, and, far more often, people of conscience who had merely been open to a different form of government in the depression 1930s? The imprisonment of Hiss, far from an "impressive result" is a prime example of why I used the term 'witch hunt'. The government's case consisted primarily of the testimony of Whittaker Chambers, a questionable source if there ever was one, and a typewriter that has since been pretty well proven to be a rigged-up later model. Hiss may well have been a spy for all I know, but the government's Swiss cheese case shows they were willing to do most anything to fan the flames on behalf of Nixon and the other Commie-hunters, facts be damned. That's a witch-hunt.
And if I thought for one second that Nixon, Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover and the rest of the Commie hunters did it because they truly saw a threat to the country, it might come closer to being forgivable. But they all did it seeking publicity and power, and they couldn't care less how many innocent lives they ruined in the process. Scumbags, every one of them, in my humble opinion.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: The Plunk Family
Hy Mayer was a very highly regarded cartoonist of the late 19th and early 20th century. His work was frequently seen in the humor magazines Puck and Life, and when he did newspaper cartooning it was always treated like a bit of a special event -- the presence of a Mayer cartoon in a newspaper was usually a highlight of advance advertising. He rarely drew any sequential strips, much preferring large single panel cartoons and collections of vignettes, both forms represented above. His very modern style had an air of sophistication yet was never high-brow.
Mayer did quite a bit of work for newspapers in the first decade of the 20th century, and his very first identifiable titled series was The Plunk Family, created for the Pulitzer organization in 1900 on the occasion of that year's Paris Exposition. The series ran from May 6 to July 1 1900, but I don't know if all the installments related to the World's Fair or not.
In the 1910s Mayer shifted his focus to animation and produced film cartoons well into the 1920s.
Tip of the hat to Cole Johnson who supplied the scans from this series. Thanks Cole!
You haven't, by any chance , ever heard from Peter Arno's granddaughter have you. Thirty years ago she was a Syracuse University student- a bright ,vivacious wonderful gal.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: Leonardo
Leonardo was an offering of the Artists & Writers Syndicate that ran from July 26 1976 to March 19 1977 as both a Sunday and daily. The tiny syndicate, headed by comics legend Jerry Robinson, was never more than a niche player. Their only notable success came from U.S. distribution of foreign editorial and gag cartoons.
Leonardo looked like it had a chance at being a real winner. The highly stylized, sophisticated art instantly grabs your attention; a real standout on the comics page. The plot is a slight updating of Wizard of Id -- where that strip had a medieval backdrop, Leonardo moves us up to the Renaissance, but both strips often have their characters acting as if they are in today's world.
Leonardo's gags are quintessential 70's, and are the only weakness of the strip (though a rather important one). Like many other features of the day the subjects of women's lib, disco, dieting, fashion and such are overused, and this feature does little to spice them with any originality.
The strip was the creation of Phil Collins, who despite being a superb cartoonist seems to have popped out of nowhere to do this feature, and then just as quickly disappeared once more. I guess he found his musical career in Genesis more rewarding (kidding). If anyone knows anything about our mystery cartoonist please share!
Thanks for any help.
Thanks for sharing this Leonardo strip; very interesting. Phil Collins artwork (especially his women) reminds me of the art on Bullwinkle & Rocky.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: The Strange Adventures of Pussy Pumpkin and her Chum Toodles
The Strange Adventures of Pussy Pumpkin and her Chum Toodles was by Grace Drayton, who at the time was working under her married name of Wiederseim. This is Drayton's second newspaper strip series, unless you count it as a continuation of her first, Naughty Toodles, which ended just a few weeks earlier. The strip ran from August 2 1903 to January 10 1904 in the Hearst newspapers.
Toodles, obviously, continues from the earlier strip, but here the spotlight also falls on her owner/companion Pussy Pumpkin. The companions engaged in fairy tale adventures that displayed Drayton's subversive genius for pleasing both parents and kids:
Parent (after a cursory look-see): Ah, this is fine reading for my precious little Priscilla. Nothing like those horrid Katzie rascals. Just a sweet story about a little girl and her kitty helping out poor Mr. Alligator.
Priscilla (after a full reading): This is bully! That alligator just tried to eat that sap kid and her alley cat, and now the elephant's gonna break every bone in his body swingin' him like Hans Wagner. Me for more of this!
Although this was very early in Drayton's career, note that Pussy Pumpkin was already a prototypical Campbell's Soup kid, as would be most every kid she ever drew throughout her career. Drayton would gain lasting fame for her iconic contribution to 20th century advertising shortly after this series ended -- either in 1904 or 1906 depending on who you believe.
A tip of the hat to Steven Stwalley for the sample of this strip!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Two books by Jim Ivey are available at Lulu.com or direct from the author:
Graphic Shorthand: Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. 128 pages, coil-bound. Lulu $19.95 plus shipping, direct $25 postpaid.
Cartoons I Liked,Jim Ivey's career retrospective; he picks his own favorite cartoons from a 40-year editorial cartooning career. Lulu $11.95, direct $20 postpaid.
Send your order to:
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807
When ordered direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics