Monday, July 12, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Has This Ever Happened to You?

V.F. Macom sure does sound like a pen name, but he (she?) actually did two different relatively long-running Sunday strips for the Philadelphia North American from 1913-15, and was even touted in a promotional ad at least once, so apparently it was a real name.The cartoonist, who was no great shakes by any means, never bothered to sign their second feature (Movie Mat) and often signed this one simply as Mac, so evidently there was no burning desire for fame.

Has This Ever Happened to You? was the first of the two and ran from November 16 1913 to December 6 1914. The subject matter, embarrassing moments, was already being plied by better cartoonists, so this entry really wasn't too memorable for any reason. But we'll give it a day of its own anyway!

Alfredo Castelli's Here We Are Again seems to be making the case that this series is actually a reprinting of a similarly titled World Color Printing series of 1905-07, but I may be misunderstanding the Italian, and if not I don't buy it.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan!


I believe V.F. Macom is Voorhees F. Macom who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1893, according to his World War I draft card. Voorhees was the oldest of two sons born to John and Mary; his father was born in New Jersey, and his mother was from Ireland. His brother George was born in New Jersey in 1899. The Macoms were living in Camden, New Jersey as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

In the 1910 Census, Voorhees' profession was a designer at a factory; the Macoms were still in Camden. His art training may have been in Philadelphia which was just across the Delaware River. Voorhees' comic strips for the Philadelphia North American were a stepping-stone into another lucrative industry.

On June 5, 1917 Voorhees filled out his World War I draft card. He was employed as an "illustrator and idea man" at the advertising agency N.W. Ayer. He commuted from Collingswood, New Jersey to Philadelphia where the agency was based.

By 1920 Voorhees was the head of the household; it is not known what happened to his father. Voorhees was still employed as an artist in advertising and resided in Collingswood.

In 1927, Voorhees was commissioned by the American Telephone and Telegraph
Company for an illustration; it was reprinted in the "Bell Laboratories Record". A Google Books search displayed the title and caption but not the illustration.

As an artist visualizes our workplace

This drawing by V.F. Macom based on photographs taken
in several of our laboratories, was an illustration for the
souvenir booklet prepared by the Information Department
of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and
presented to the Telephone Pioneers at their recent
convention in New York City.

In 1930 Voorhees was the sole caretaker of his mother; they lived in Palisade, New Jersey. In the book Advertising and Selling, Volume 15 (1930), Voorhees was associated with two New York ad agencies, Young & Rubicam and Pedler & Ryan; it appeared that he moved from the former to the latter or vice versa. In November 1935 the periodical, Tide, A Monthly Review of Advertising and Marketing, reported the following:

Resigned from Fletcher & Ellis: Arthur If. Munn, vice-
president and art director, and Voorhees F. Macom, a
member of the art staff; to open a studio in Manhattan.
Associated with them will be Marie Jacobi, heretofore
Fletcher & Ellis' art buyer.

On October 23, 1935, Voorhees' mother passed away. The April 18, 1937 New York Times reported in "Wills for Probate" that Voorhees was the executor of his mother's will. Later that year on December 19 the Times published a photo of Voorhees' new house with the caption:

New Jersey Residence with Studio Attached
Voorhees F. Macom, illustrator, had this house built to
order at 178 Engle Street, Tenafly, by Clinton Towers
Construction Company. Alexander Summer was the broker.

Voorhees's name is not in the Social Security Death Index; presumably he died in New Jersey.
Super detective work Alex!

Thanks, Allan
Hello, Allan--My two cents--The girl's outfit shown here clearly is from 1914, no way 1905. Besides, the North American was always awash in new product, no reason to revive a nine-year-old obscurity from a competitor. ---Cole Johnson.
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Hello, Alan and Alex.

Here Professor Pau from Barcelona, Spain.

My sincere congratulations for your posts rescuing the Macom art and bio!

For your own information, Macom also signed a large illustrated campaign for Budd Wheel Company (based also in Philadelphia), advertising the automobile Budd-Michelin Steel Disk Wheels, a technology compiting in 1920s against wood-artillery wheels and wire-wheels.

He illustrated near twenty entire single-page ads (two in double page version) printed in two inks (red and black) and published during 1926 in The Saturday Evening Post.

Best wishes from Barcelona mediterranean sea coasts, and sorry for my horrible english level!

Professor Pau Medrano Bigas
Allen, Alex, & Prof. Pau, thanks for the history. I'll keep a copy of this history with my 1925 ink drawing of a N.J. beach scene by Macom. P.S. I'm also related to Macom. John
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