Saturday, May 22, 2010
The really interesting part of this cartoon, though, is the gentleman shaking Berry's hand in the middle vignette. Am I crazy or is this fellow the very image of another character who will be making his debut a mere three days hence up the coast a bit in Frisco?
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, May 21, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Jed Cooper, American Scout
In any case, today's obscurity is Jed Cooper, American Scout by writer Lloyd Wendt and artist Dick Fletcher. You'll find an article describing the strip and the creators in this News of Yore posting. Eye-pleasing Frank Robbins-esque art on the strip belied a pretty humdrum Colonial-era story of adventuring. The strip was hobbled by running as a third-page Sunday-only feature, so the story moved along at a very slow pace.
Jed Cooper was just one of a pretty long list of ChiTrib adventure strips of the 40s and 50s that just never seemed to be able to attract a newspaper clientele. Nevertheless, the Trib and partner NY Daily News kept some of these strips going for years despite the lack of interest. This one made it over a decade, starting on November 13 1949 and ending March 26 1961.
PS: It has since been established beyond all doubt that Rick and Richard Fletcher are indeed two different people, just an odd coincidence that they were both drawing for the ChiTrib.
Richard M. Fletcher and Dick Fletcher is the same person. He is the creator of Jed Cooper and Surgeon Stone, and I know this because he is my grandpa.
The artist is credited as "Richard," not "Dick," and the drawing style is visibly different from Jed Cooper and Surgeon Stone, with heavier inks, dramatic angles, and a more dynamic page composition.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Cynthianna Blythe
Cynthianna Blythe, the tale of a young beauty and the beaus who pursue her, ran on the back cover of the Herald's magazine section from at least October 1909 to February 1910 (probably longer at both ends, I haven't found a paper on microfilm that has the complete series - anyone have correct running dates?).
The feature sports art by Wallace Morgan and verses by Harry Grant Dart. While I realize that Morgan was the more celebrated illustrator in his time, I sure wish they'd traded places -- I just love Dart's draftsmanship and page layouts.
I agree that Dart did great drawings, too. I especially liked the science-fictiony "future glimpses" he did for Judge.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Little Umjiji
Little Umjiji was created by the great Ferd Long for the New York World comics section on November 4 1900, but he failed to follow up after that single episode. Griffin picked up the title and produced episodes between February 24 and May 19 1901.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Joe of the Musical Habit
Joe's inconvenient habit is that whenever he hears music he gets the urge to dance. In the sure hands of cartoonist Ed Carey this leads to predictably boisterous and hilarious action. While the joke is, of course, repetitive, the humor is in how the wild action is depicted. I particularly enjoy this example, where Joe's habit seems to be contagious and the hoity-toity assembly joins right in.
Joe of the Musical Habit was a feature of McClure's top-of-the-line version of their Sunday comics section from July 30 to October 1 1905, too short a run if you ask me.It only got full page color billing a couple of times, usually relegated to half-page interior appearances instead.
A tip of the hat and a little soft-shoe to Cole Johnson who provided the sample. Thanks Cole!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Four Comical Coons
The series appeared in the New York World comics section from August 12 to December 9 1900, and when the standard title wasn't used the number of kids was sometimes cut back to just two or three.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples.
Now, these cartoons are ultimately cowardly, and racist as hell, presuming a philosophy and message that go beyond cartooning, now that we view all art as being an explicitly drawn message. At the time, they might've believed or laughed off those images in a more thoughtless way, but they did their share of harm. Now of course, the comics themselves say way more about those attitudes than any newspaper article.
Did the artist want to draw cartoon blacks, feeling impelled to script them toward these stock characters, or vice-versa?
If you believed we were worse off for having this record, you could easily not have posted it, so I suspect there's your message is that artists must be politically and socially conscious? When we ask the type of visual artists who are 'only an eye' to broaden their range, will they still have a drawing ability? Sorry for sounding so goddamn ponderous, but it's almost like there's another issue at work here besides racism, the 'tunnel vision' of many artists.
I'm not excusing the artist's intent or the harmful effect on black people, I assume he found this funny, but like Robert Crumb, I doubt if he could pinpoint where his intent lied. Authors may write when they make a judgment, but I don't see artists working in the same way. They tend to draw when they find something, even if it isn't 'the truth' and may have a lot in common with prevailing attitudes.
Please keep in mind that people come to this blog in many different ways, oftentimes for reasons having nothing to do with an interest in comic strip history. I feel it is important to point out on any blog post that deals in racist imagery that I don't condone or celebrate the content but present the material because it is historically interesting and arguably important.
If someone arrived at this post because they were, say, Googling for racist websites, I want it to be clear that they haven't found a place where these outmoded, unfunny and frankly repugnant views are shared by the proprietor. Ok?
As to the cartoonist's actual intent, my vote is laziness, as it usually is with stereotypical comics. Notice that there is no real attempt at being funny in these cartoons -- Griffin merely trots out the tired old chicken-snatching and other material as if it is all just so inherently hilarious that there no need for any injection of any original humor. I consider it rather pathetic frankly. Same goes for Zim, who was notorious for this kind of garbage. E.W. Kemble, on the other hand, dealt in what we call racist imagery, but I've always felt that a case could be made that his cartoons were sometimes (not always) a cut above this sort of trash.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics