Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: How a Man Proposes
Take How a Man Proposes, for example. Cartoonist E.A. Bushnell penned this series with no thought in his mind about licensing possibilities or how he'd come up with a gag that worked for his feature every day for the next umpteen years. No, he just thought of a cute idea, drew as many episodes of it as he could think up, and consigned it to history. Newspaper readers in the boonies (where NEA, the syndicate responsible, was king) opened their papers on August 6 1907 not knowing what particular cartoon entertainments they might find that day, and what they did find was the first installment of this series, which then ran seven times over the span of the next three weeks, ending on the 22nd. No fuss that the delightful little series was over, just the anticipation for what might come next.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.
Obviously no longer, because just like the funnies you described, we have been lost so much of our regional culture that we're all squeezed into that cookie cutter mold, amush in a mass media murk of mediocrity.
In the 1880 census Bushnell was the youngest of three children born to Wells and Emma. The family lived in Warren, Ohio at 65 Prospect Street. Around 1899 Bushnell married Alice.
In 1900 the couple lived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 321 Pike Street. He was an artist for a newspaper. The book, Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary (Kent State University Press, 2000) noted Bushnell's impact on page 135:
Editorial cartoonist, active in Cincinnati (Hamilton) during the early 1900s.
Born in Ohio in July, 1872, he played an important role in the Cincinnati
Post's successful campaign against George B. ("Boss") Cox and his political
"Timeline: A Publication of the Ohio Historical Society: Volume 4" (Ohio Historical Society, 1987) said this about Bushnell's cartoons:
...Foremost in these efforts were the biting cartoons drawn by Elmer A.
Bushnell, who looked to Thomas Nast as his inspiration. Nast, cartoonist
for Harper's Weekly, had helped topple New York City's Boss Tweed.
Bushnell caricatured Cox as everything from a corpulent magnate to a
roaring sea serpent.
According to the 1910 census, Bushnell had moved to Memphis, Tennessee, at 520 Vance Avenue. He gave his occupation as commercial artist for a newspaper. On the move again, Bushnell was a newspaper artist in Cleveland, Ohio, where the couple lived at 987 East 105th Street, as recorded in the 1920 census.
Ten years later he continued his profession in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 970 Locust Street. He was recognized in the book, Ohio Art and Artists (1932); Edna Maria Clark wrote:
A cartoonist with a wide reputation is E.A. Bushnell, who was for fifteen
years or more on the Cincinnati Post. The Cincinnati Times-Star published
his cartoons for a year or two, until his work was distributed through a
Cleveland syndicate. Florida claimed him next, and now he is retired to
free-lancing in Cincinnati. He is a very wonderful draughtsman; his cartoons
sparkle with originality and brilliancy.
The Williams' Cincinnati Directory 1936-37 listed the Bushnell's at 8 Westminster Flats. Bushnell passed away on January 27, 1939. News of his death was published in The New York Times on the 28th.
Elmer A. Bushnell
Cartoonist Formerly on Globe and Journal in New York
Cincinnati, Jan. 27 (AP)—Elmer A. Bushnell, who created Doc, a
short-eared, long-legged dog, for his cartoons a decade ago, died today
of pneumonia. He was 67 years old.
Mr. Bushnell at one time worked for The New York Globe and The New
York Journal. His widow survives.