Monday, July 05, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Animaldom

Joseph Jacinto Mora, who worked as Jo Mora and J.J. Mora, was an accomplished artist, sculptor and illustrator who at least once dabbled in newspaper cartooning. His only documented newspaper series is Animaldom, produced for the Boston Herald from January 13 1907 to January 19 1908. His Wikipedia bio also credits him as working for the Boston Traveler, but I saw no series produced by him there.

Mora evidently enjoyed drawing animals, and also produced several children's books featuring his  anthropomorphic characters. Seems to me that in this series the vaguely sinister drawings were more likely to produce nightmares for the kiddies than the light entertainment and morals the Herald was probably intending.

Mora's artwork is certainly intriguing, but the doggerel verses are downright painful. The comics pages were never a place to expect the next Keats, but Mora's poetry manages to stand out even among the lightweight competition. Dare you to read the two samples above without wincing a few times.

An interesting factoid about Animaldom. Mora was originally from Uruguay. Does this strip then qualify as the first American newspaper comics by a Latino creator?


I have to agree on both the doggerel and the dourness of the art. On the other hand, I am impressed not only by the high quality of the illustration but the creative variation in layout and coloring.

I'm reminded once again how much effort was once considered reasonable to put in on a single Sunday strip, for both the creator and the reader.

Another great find!
News item from the Seattle Daily Times, October 11, 1947

Noted S.F. Sculptor, Jo Mora, Succumbs

Monterey, Calif., Oct. 11.--(AP)--Jo Mora, 71 years old,
noted sculptor, died yesterday after a year's illness.

A native of Montevdeio, Uruguay, he started his career
as an artist on The Boston Traveler. In 1900 he turned
to writing and illustrating animal stories for children. In
later years he confined himself largely to sculptoring.

He created the Will Rogers Memorial in Oklahoma, the
Statue of Cervantes in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco,
and heroic figures in Los Angeles, Portland, San Jose
and other cities.

He painted the huge dirama [sic] for the state buildings
at the international exposition on San Francisco's
Treasure Island, He was a member of the Bohemian Club,
which has his statue of Bret Hart.
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