Saturday, December 11, 2010

 

Herriman Saturday

Wedneday, December 25 1907 -- Herriman spends Christmas eve at a play to illustrate a review, and gets treated to a stinker rife with production problems.

Friday, December 27 1907 -- An oddly big to-do over whether U.S. Navy hospital ships should be commanded by medical personnel or 'men of the line' leads President Roosevelt to leak his uncomplimentary opinion of Admiral Brownson, which prompts the admiral to resign. For more on the tempest in a teapot, see the New York Times' coverage.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

 

News of Yore 1928: R.F. Outcault in Memorium

R.F. Outcault, Father of Comic Strips, Dies

Creator of Famous "Yellow Kid" and "Buster Brown" Grew Rich on Popularity of His Characters; First Drew "Hogan's Alley" for N.Y. World, Then Shifted to N.Y. Journal; Retired 10 Years Ago

[Editor & Publisher, 9/29/1928]

Richard F. Outcault, 65, generally known as "Father of the American Comic Strip," died at his home in Flushing, N.Y., Sept. 25. His creations, "The Yellow Kid" and "Buster Brown," became popular among newspaper readers all over the world and made Mr. Outcault a fortune. He retired ten years ago, but continued to receive royalties from his work through the Outcault Advertising Company of Chicago, of which he was president until his death, and of which his son, Richard F. Outcault, is vice-president.

The son survives him as does his wife, formerly Miss Mary Jane Martin of Lancaster, O., and a daughter, Mrs. Frank E. Pershing of Flushing, wife of the nephew of General Pershing.

Mr. Outcault was born in Lancaster, O., the son of J.P. and Catherine Davis Outcault. He received his art education at McMicken University. His early years were ones of struggle. While he sold some pictures to the comic weeklies, he pieced out his income by painting landscapes on burglar-proof safes for a Cincinnati firm. But so great was his success later as a comic artist that before he was 45 he was able to take his family on tours of the world and to work at his easel only when he felt so disposed.

Several comic artists, including Frank [sic - Jimmy] Swinnerton and "Bud" Fisher have claimed to be the creator of the first comic strip. Mr. Outcault's claim dates it to 1894. In November of that year the New York World, having purchased a new four-color press, brought out the first colored "funnies." Morrill Goddard was the Sunday editor and prevailed over others who wanted to use the new press to print colored fashions. Mr. Outcault, then a draughtsman for the Electrical World, offered the daily a comic showing a clown and a wolfhound as characters. This was the first Sunday comic.

Mr. Outcault was also a news artist for the World, drawing black and white sketches to illustrate news and feature stories. A copy of the World from December 1895, consulted this week, revealed four drawings with the famous Outcault signature. These drawings typified the sense of humor of the man who later developed the "Buster Brown" series with the humorous "Resolutions" with which for years each comic was ended. One was of a "rocking bath tub" to be installed in the home to provide its user with surf bathing in winter. Another pictured New York street beggars on duty and the sub-heading told that it was "drawn from life at Number 9 Brewery." The other two Outcault pictures in this issue of the World illustrated news stories of the day, one a Japanese facial contortionist visiting the country, and the other a butcher's war during which rival shop owners hired brass bands to lure customers away from each other.

Not long after the World had given Outcault prominence in its colored section, William Randolph Hearst offered the artist more money to join the New York Journal. On the Journal "Hogan's Alley" which later became "The Yellow Kid" was started in 1896.

The name "Yellow Kid" developed from a joke, according to A.T. Crighton [sic - Crichton] who is now on the staff of Editor & Publisher, was on the staff of the Journal as an artist with Mr. Outcault in those early days.

The gutter-snipe character of "Hogan's Alley" that grew to be the "Yellow Kid" always appeared clad in a nightgown. In the first of the series this nightgown was left white. One day, however, Gus Thom, engraving room foreman in charge of selecting colors for the comics decided, as a joke, to print the nightgown in yellow. It immediately caught the public's fancy. The editor ordered this color continued, and eventually the "Yellow Kid" outlived the fame of the original "Hogan's Alley."

"The Yellow Kid" was not popular with all readers. Because of his antics, and particularly because of the nightgown he wore, frequent letters were received from Journal readers asking the editor to reform this character who was corrupting the flaming youth of the '90s. Obligingly, Outcault drew an extra piece on his character's nightgown, letting it fall almost to his ankles.

This first comic flourished in the days of sensational news reporting and the term "Yellow Journalism" grew out of "The Yellow Kid," the connotation that it was the bad boy of journalism.

"Hogan's Alley" and "The Yellow Kid" soon made their debut on the stage and for several years manufacturers in almost every line, from ginger snaps to wearing apparel, paid royalties for the use of the famous character as a trade mark.

"The Yellow Kid" continued appearing in the Journal during 1896 and 1897. In 1901 Mr. Outcault left newspapers for the humorous magazines and his character "Pore Li'I Mose" was created for publication in Judge.

Mr. Outcault told one of his old friends that he lost most of the money he had made from "The Yellow Kid" in Wall Street and that he created "Buster Brown" to recoup his fortune. "Buster Brown" appeared first in the New York Herald in 1902.

The birth of that famous comic was based on Oulcault's son, Richard, and his daughter, Mary Jane, and their bulldog. John Golden, the theatrical producer, gave Richard, Jr., a brindle bull pup and when the dog arrived at the Outcault home, the artist had an idea. He decided he would build his next comic around a Little Lord Fauntleroy, but make the lad mischievous and, although Buster Brown was the antithesis of   the "Yellow Kid" he became even more popular. "Buster Brown" was a success on the stage and in almost every line of trade as well. The royalties again began pouring in.

As "Buster Brown" grew in popularity on the Herald other editors in different sections of the country wrote in to purchase rights for publication in their territory, and it was syndicated. In those days the syndicate idea was new, and the artists were not as well taken care of as they are today. William Reick, James Gordon Bennett's right-hand man on the Herald of 1903, handled the syndication. Mr. Outcault appealed to him for more pay.

Mr.  Reick laughed at the artist.

"You ought to thank us for printing that stuff of yours," he said.

Mr. Outcault threatened to resign.

"Go Ahead," challenged Mr. Reick. "I can get any number of men to draw your Buster Brown."

Mr. Outcault did resign, but first he saw to it he had another job with Hearst at more salary. The Outcault "Buster Brown" began appearing in the Hearst newspapers, and Mr. Reick employed other artists to continue the "Buster Brown" in the Herald and other papers to which the comic had been sold. A court battle resulted which ended in the Herald keeping the name of "Buster Brown." Outcault had to call his strip "Buster and His Dog Tige" and "Buster and His Friends." For many years two "Buster Browns," drawn by different artists, appeared in American newspapers. William Lawler drew the Herald's "Buster Brown" for many years.

While he had not reserved for himself the newspaper rights to his character, Mr. Outcault had business acumen enough to provide that he would own all other rights. When he saw the financial possibilities in his work he formed the Outcault Advertising Company which deals in various kinds of picture advertising today, but which originally sold rights to the Outcault characters.

The New York World, in an editorial Thursday said:
"To say that the late R. F. Outcault was the inventor of the comic supplement is of course to ignore the social factors that lead up to all inventions. There were the comic pages of Puck and Judge, often colored; the immense enlargement of the newspaper-reading public demonstrated by Joseph Pulitzer; the birth of Sunday journalism, and its 'features'; the development from Nast and Kepler [sic - Keppler] of the newspaper cartoon; and the improvements in metal etching and color printing. But it is due Morrill Goddard, Sunday editor of the World, to say that he saw in the early nineties that the time was ripe for 'comic art', and it is due Mr. Outcault to say that his talent made the most of the opening. The Kid of Hogan's Alley, which Mr. Outcault soon made famous, was as genuine a creation as Chimmie Fadden. The creation is said to have been derived from a chance drawing of some dirty urchins rehearsing the Duke of Marlborough's wedding; and, at any rate, every one recognized the street gamin of New York—impudent, clever, somewhat diabolic, and always diverting.

"Our generation finds the comic strip or cartoon in almost every newspaper and has seen it capture half the English press. It is hard now to understand the fierceness with which staid observers denounced it in the nineties, the contempt with which foreigners spoke of its 'childishness.' Vulgar and banal it often was. But the critics failed to realize that there might be an evolution from the early crudity. Mr. Outcault's Buster Brown, which marked a step up, consoled millions of youngsters for the boredom of Sunday without doing them any harm. Today the powerful Katrinka, the Toonerville Trolley, the shrinking Mr. Milquetoast, the affairs of Gasoline Alley and Mr. McCutcheon's country-boy pictures are followed the country over. Some of them are merely amusing, hut others are more; they reflect cleverly and good-naturedly some phase of American life or character which deserves pictorial record."

[Allan's note: the above article is full of factual errors, questionable assertions and fanciful bits of history. Take it all with a grain of salt. I refrained from making any edits except to correct obviously wrong names]

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This stuff is invaluable. Thanks once again for all your research in finding this great history!
 
Richard Felton Outcault was born on January 14, 1863. According to the 1870 U.S. Federal Census he was the first of three children born to Jessie and Catharine. The father was a cabinet maker who made his home in Lancaster, Ohio. In 1880 Outcault was in college. His sister, Perlia, was no longer with the family.

In 1900 Outcault was the head of the household at 453 155th Street at St. Nicholas Avenue in upper Manhattan. He had been married for 10 years to Mary and had two children, Richard Jr. and Mary. His occupation was "Artist". The American Art Directory, Volume 3, 1900, had the same address. In 1904, "Who's Who in New York City and State" was published. It included a short biography of Outcault who lived in Flushing, Long Island, New York, and had an office at the New York Herald Building.

The 1910 census had the Outcault home address as 245 Madison Avenue in Flushing. He was an "Artist" making "Comic Drawings".

Father and son were in business together in the 1920 census. Their occupation was "General" in the "Advertising" trade. The census and the American Art Annual, Volume 24, 1927 had the same address, 245 Madison Avenue. That street name no longer exists. Using present-day street names, Outcault lived on 41st Avenue just east of 147th Street. The neighborhood is now part of the so-called Flushing Chinatown in Queens. Outcault passed away on September 25, 1928.

On September 28, 1928, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published this item:

PRIVATE SERVICES HELD FOR RICHARD F. OUTCAULT
Funeral services were held privately last night in the Gibson Apartments,
1400 Northern blvd., Flushing, for Richard F. Outcault, creator of "Buster
Brown," "Yellow Kid" and other characters for the comic supplements.
Only relatives and a few friends of the cartoonist were admitted to the
service. Mr. Outcault died Tuesday night, in his 65th year. The body will
be cremated today.

An article in the Springfield Republican, September 27, 1928, had the address as "148-09 Northern boulevard". The Gibson apartment building was located on the northwest corner Northern Blvd. and 149th Street. It was about three blocks north of Outcault's former residence.

When Outcault's wife died in Los Angeles, they were interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10336)

On March 23, 1975, the New York TImes reported on the Queens Historical Society's proposal to the United States Postal Service for a stamp commemorating Outcault on the 50th anniversary of his death, coming in 1978. Although the proposal was turned down, Outcault's Yellow Kid got his stamp, on his 100th anniversary, in 1995.
 
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

 

Obscurity of the Day: Little Sister



Little Sister was a cute little panel cartoon produced by Virginia Carman for the Christian Science Monitor. The feature wasn't long-lived, it ran 1-3 times per week from October 30 1941 to May 9 1942. As with most of the Monitor's features it tended toward the saccharine, but Carman's versifying was lively and inventive enough to make the feature an enjoyable little bit of whimsy.

Carman has no other known credits, which is too bad because her cartooning, while perhaps not the most technically proficient, has a nice charm to it.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

 

News of Yore: 1928-29 Mystery Features

Here's a collection of short articles from Editor & Publisher, each of which discusses a feature I've so far been unable to locate. Have you seen any of them?

5/26/1928 -- A new cartoon by C.P. Meier, of the C.P. Meier Studio, Forest Hills, N.Y., will demonstrate a sleight-of-hand trick each day and explain how the trick is done. The title of the cartoon is "Willie Ikindoit." Meier was formerly cartoonist on various metropolitan dailies.

10/13/1928 -- Contracts for two new features were signed by King Features Syndicate this week. [...] The other is a three-column block cartoon called "Cholly, the Classified Kid," to be used on classified pages. It is the work of Milton D. Youngren of Chicago.

11/17/1928 -- The Craig Kennedy Service Corporation of New York has made arrangements with Octavus Roy Cohen, author of humorous stories of negro life, to produce a strip based on his character "Florian Slappey." It is being drawn by Art Helfant.

1/5/29 -- The McClure Newspaper Syndicate has started publication of a monthly house organ for editors. It is called Circulation and is made up of features handled by the syndicate. In the first issue of a new "Feature-of-the-Month Club" plan is announced, by which one special feature each month will be selected by the syndicate and sent to the editors. [not a feature, but a promo magazine somewhat like Hearst's, which oddly enough had the same name]

1/26/1929 -- (King Features ad) -- Inventions of Mr. Knickknack by Don Herold, the nationally famous cartoonist and humorist scores a daily comic strip hit!

2/9/1929 -- A new two-panel cartoon feature, "This Day in World History," has been started by United Feature Syndicate. The feature is created by Rabbi Maurice Teshnor and Mrs. Teshnor, who do the necessary research work and write the text, and J.A. Knapp, former professor of art at the University of Cincinnati, who draws the cartoons. One panel deals with remote history and the other with more recent events.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

 

Obscurity of the Day: Little Reggie and the Heavenly Twins

Marjorie Organ, one of the first female artists to plant a flag in the world of newspaper funnies, was a gorgeous creature if not an overly gifted cartoonist. When she started producing comics for Hearst's New York Evening Journal in 1902 at the tender age of 16, no doubt the job was easily secured after a little flirting with a swooning editor. Her very first continuing feature was this one, Little Reggie and the Heavenly Twins. It was also her longest-running strip by a long margin, running regularly from October 27 1902 to February 3 1905. The strip was a one-note affair with pathetic little runt Reggie in thrall to a pair of twin beauties who abuse his ardor with cold calculation. One can't help but imagine that Organ was not completely unfamiliar with the concept of leading smitten men around by the, um, nose. It doesn't help Organ's case any that one source, a biography of Robert Henri (we'll get to him in a moment), claims that Marjorie's best friend was Helen Marie Walsh, a similar gorgeous red-head, and that they were quite the madcap pair.

In 1904 Organ began dabbling in other series for the Evening Journal, but they were all short-lived. She left the paper at the end of 1905, and about this time may have enrolled in the New York School of Art. Some say that she met fine artist and ladies' man Robert Henri at the school, others say that she met the influential artist at a dinner following an art exhibition on February 3 1908. The latter story doesn't seem to hold water since the supposed meet-cute had Henri effusing over her wonderful comic strip. Since Organ had been away from the Journal for well over two years, and her only other known credit was a short-lived strip for the New York World that wouldn't start until a week later, the story seems suspect.

In any case, the famed Ash Can School portraitist Robert Henri did indeed meet, paint, woo, and wed the beauteous Marjorie Organ in 1908 and that was the end of her newspaper career. Marjorie Henri did continue to dabble in art after she married but primarily seems to have played entertainment director to Robert's never-ending string of portrait subjects. In 1929 Robert died of cancer, and was followed shortly after in 1930 by Marjorie, struck down by the same disease at age 46.

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Part 1

Marjorie Organ was born in Ireland on December 3, 1886 according to Ancestry.com. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the Organ family having immigrated to the United States in 1895. The mother, Ellen, was the head of the household and had eight children of which seven were living. The census listed six children with "Marjory" being fourth oldest at 13.

In 1908 Organ met Robert Henri at a masquerade ball, the Artists' Ball, at Tuxedo Hall according to the article, "The Romance of a Girl with Red Hair", printed in the New Orleans Item on August 2, 1908. The exact date of the ball was not mentioned but it was in the middle of April. An excerpt about their meeting:

"Pardon me, do you pose?" he inquired, his eyes still fixed on the glory of red gold hair.

"No. In fact, I pose others, a little. I am an artist but an humble one. I have been
doing a little work for the newspapers for two years. I want to get into the magazines.
I hope".

"Yes, yes. You are ambitious." The master had a soothing voice.

"Had you a model for your 'The Girl with Red Hair'?" the girl asked.

The master smiled. "Yes and no. She never sat for me. But I saw her each morning
on the L train, and I made notes of her wonderful hair in my brain. She was a wee,
scrawny, awkward creature, a school girl I should have said. She was timid. One day
I approached to ask her if she would come to my studio and pose for my girl, but
she shrank away from me so that I passed without speaking. I have often wondered
what had become of that little girl. I gave the picture the face of a woman, but I kept
the girl's hair—that wonderful red hair."

Behind the mask the girl's lips parted. They closed again in a smile. Just then the
tiresome boy came up to take her to supper…

"Masks off."…

He saw it at last, the mass of burnished red gold hair.

"I thought so," he said to himself. "I thought there could be nowhere else such
wonderful hair as that. It is my little girl of three years ago. But the wee, scrawny
figure has ripened. The timid face has grown serene. My little Girl of the Red Hair
has grown up."

To one of his disciples he said eagerly, "The girl with the red hair and the beautiful
complexion. Who is she?"
 
Part 2

"That? Oh, that is Marjorie Organ, an illustrator on one of the downtown papers."

"Introduce me." The follower obeyed.

Miss Organ, looking up with laughter in her eyes, saw the hidalgo bending over her.
She rose. He knelt before her in mock humility.

"Forgive me." His voice was beseeching.

"For saying that I was wee and awkward and scrawny? It was quite true."

"But will you forgive me?"

"Certainly, Oh, please get up. Why should the great Robert Henri kneel to poor little
Marjorie Organ, the great painter to the beginner?"

Three weeks later—it was while they were hurrying over to Connecticut on an
impulsive wedding journey—he reminded her of her speech.

On June 7, 1908 the New York Times reported their marriage.

Robert Henri, head of the New York School of Art, it was announced yesterday,
was married on May 5 to Miss Marjorie Organ, who was a pupil at the art school.
The ceremony was performed in Connecticut, according to Mrs. Henri, the
artist's mother, by a Roman Catholic priest, but the bride's mother was not present.

Mr. and Mrs. Henri are now on their way to Spain on board the Moltke. Mr. Henri
is accustomed to take every year a number of his pupils to Spain, and did not
drop this practice because of his marriage. The wedding was announced the day
the ship sailed, last Tuesday.

Mr. Henri is a widower, his first wife having died about two years ago. He is 42
years old and is noted in art circles for the originality of his ideas and his refusal
to be bound by conventions.

His wife is 21 and has been doing illustrating work for the newspapers. She has
been a pupil at the New York Art School for a long time but is said to have met
Mr. Henri only three weeks before they were married.

Their names do not appear in the 1910 census. The reason may have been that they were away in Europe; a passenger list records their return to New York on October 20, 1910. In 1920 they lived at 10 Gramercy Park in Manhattan; their occupation was "Artist" in the "Art" industry. Their work appeared in numerous art exhibitions.

Henri died on July 12, 1929. Organ passed away in July 1930 according to the book, Robert Henri: Painter-Teacher-Prophet.

by Alex Jay
 
Part 3

After further reading, I have concluded that the newspaper account of Henri and Organ's meeting was a fanciful fabrication. In the Delaware Art Museum 1980 exhibition catalogue, "City Life Illustrated, 1890-1940: Sloan, Glackens, Luks, Shinn—Their Friends and Followers", was this reaction:

When the news reached the press, an article about the romantic marriage of Henri
to a "comic artist" was printed, but [John] Sloan declared it "ridiculous and untrue."

In Bennard B. Perlman's book, "Robert Henri: His Life and Art", on page 86 he wrote:

…The July 19 Sunday edition of the American-Examiner carried a story about his
supposed courtship, headlined: "The Romance of a Girl with Red Hair," which
placed his meeting with Marjorie at a masquerade ball….

Henri was sent a copy of the newspaper story, complete with pictures. "Not one
word was true," was his only comment, and that included the location of the
marriage in Connecticut.

Two accounts of their meeting have similarities with minor differences. From page 55 of "City Life Illustrated" was this version:

Marjorie frequented New York Cafe Mousquin, the famous gathering place of artists,
writers, and musicians, and it was here in 1908 that she first saw Robert Henri. At
the coaxing of her friend Walt Kuhn, a cartoonist for the World, she attended some
of Henri's art lectures and was captivated by him. Another friend, Journal artist
Rudolph Dirks, finally introduced the two at Mousquin's in March 1908.

From page 86 of "Robert Henri: His Life and Art", was this account:

Marjorie met Henri at Mousquin's on February 3, 1908, after the opening of The
Eight exhibition, to which she had been invited by Rudolph Dirks. She had brought
along Helen Walsh; it was also the first meeting of Dirks with his future wife. Henri,
dining at another table, walked over to greet Dirks and complimented him on the
painting he had sent to the Pennsylvania Academy. Immediately attracted to the
red-haired, blue-eyed Marjorie, he was even more intrigued when he learned that
she was the creator of one of the comic strips he so enjoyed. He suggested she
join his class, which she did, teasing him during the initial critique by sketching a
caricature of him with enlarged feet. The teacher reciprocated by asking her to
pose for a portrait in his studio, and it was there that the romance blossomed.
 
Perhaps the best account of their meeting is in William Homer's Robert Henri and His Circle, which he wrote with Violet Organ, Marjorie's sister:

"She was often squired about by Walt Kuhn and Rudolph Dirks, Cartoonists working on the World and Journal respectively; ad at Monquin's, sone of their favorite haunts, Henri was pointed out to her as the leader of the Eight. At Walt Kuhn's urging, she attended some of Henri's lectures and was very attracted by his slight southern drawl and electric changes of manner. Finally Dirks, himself a friend of Henri's introduced them at Mouquin's late in March. Two days after the meeting Henri began to paint her portrait in sittings that were kept secret from all but her sister Violet. Indeed, few were aware of their courtship during the spring, so their marriage on May 5 in a civil ceremony at Elizabeth, New Jersey, came as a complete surprise to most of his friends. Reporters on the New York newspapers did not discover the wedding until early in June, after the couple ha sailed to Spain for their honeymoon."
 
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

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