Saturday, March 12, 2011

 

Herriman Saturday

Sunday, January 19 1908 -- John Walsh was a Chicago financier whose bank failed in 1905. The cause, according to his detractors, was creative bookkeeping intended to line his pockets and provide capital for his other ventures. Walsh loudly proclaimed his innocence and maintained that competing business interests had entrapped him. 

Walsh was convicted and went to prison in 1910, but he was released soon after to die in his home. 

This is one of the best realized caricatures I've ever seen by Herriman, beautifully evoking a tired old man, once powerful but now beaten. Unfortunately I was unable to find a photo of Walsh online to compare with Herriman's caricature, but that's of little consequence. The art stands as a moody masterwork whether it matches Walsh's features or not.


Sunday, January 19 1908 -- Tommy Burns goes to England to bask in a little glory and to make some dough after beating their champ, Gunner Moir. His vaudeville routine consists of making comments as a film of the fight is screened, and then sparring for a few rounds "with acknowledged champions." Herriman depicts Jack Johnson still  waiting for his shot at Burns, which will happen but is still a-ways off.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: If

If you just take a passing glance at Walter Wellman's If strips, you assume you're in for some saccharine little versified tales of little boys frolicking in fantasy land. But then you read one and that whole hypothesis goes out the window. Wellman, loose screw that he was, seems to have taken a dare from some bullpen wag to create a strip guaranteed to give kids nightmares. If my vote counts, Wellman won the bet.

If, in which a boy named Willie (of course) is tortured by inanimate objects and animals bent on his destruction, is truly deranged. Given that it ran in the Boston Herald's comic section near the end of its run, you start to understand where ol' sourpuss William Haskell was coming from when he called the section "vulgar" and "tawdry." If ran from March 17 1907 to January 12 1908.

Walter Wellman was an incredibly prolific cartoonist with an immediately recognizeable style, but he's under-represented in my Stripper's Guide listings because he spent a good portion of his time on non-series work. Even some of his series are so quirky that they're hard to track. Luckily in the Sunday color sections at least he toed the line and produced coherent series.

Her's another Wellman series, Oh, Where, Oh, Where, Has That Willie Boy Gone (see what I'm talkin' about with all those darn kids named Willie?).

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So, did Edward Gorey sleep with these under his pillow?

I was doing OK till I got to the darning needle.
 
Injury to the Eye motif!

These things are creepy. They differ from the typical bad-boy strips in that Willie isn't a bad boy. All the things he "pays for" are respectable everyday events (save maybe for carving initials into a tree).

Now I'm afraid to use my pens and pencils...
 
Walter Jesse Wellman was born in East Jaffrey, New Hampshire on May 25, 1879, according to his World War II draft card. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census he was the second of two sons born to Frank and Mary; they lived in Jaffrey.

In the 1900 census Wellman was a lodger in Boston, Massachusetts at 83 Montgomery Street; he was a student. He has an entry in the book "Register of Former Students", published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1909, on page 327: Wellman, Walter J., IV, '02. Cartoonist-Publisher, 395 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

Wellman and his wife, Matilda, lived at 2125 Manhattan Avenue in New York City as recorded in the 1910 census. He was a cartoonist for a publisher. He has an entry in the 1918 book, "Descendants of Thomas Wellman of Lynn, Massachusetts"; from the chapter on the ninth generation:

WALTER JESSE WELLMAN…was born at Dublin, N.H., 25 May 1879. He
married in New York City, 14 June 1905, Matilda Richie, daughter of Hiram
and Eliza Jane Richie. She was born at Mt. Kisco, N.Y. No children.

Mr. Wellman graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
1902, and is a cartoonist in the employ of New York papers and many
magazines. He resides (1917) at Montvale, N.J.

Wellman illustrated a set of postcards on women's suffrage which were printed in 1909. The original art to one of the postcards can be viewed at Heritage Auction, historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=6006&Lot_No=47132.

He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His description was medium height, slender build, blue eyes and light hair color.

In the 1920 census Wellman's surname was misspelled as Welming. He and his wife lived on Fairview Avenue in Montvale. His occupation was cartoonist for magazines. Wellman placed an ad in the April 25, 1920 issue of "The Editor, the Journal of Information for Literary Workers", which was published in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Let me create a new COMIC STRIP or page
for your HOUSE ORGAN or other publication.
I'm doing this kind of work for dozens of high
class house organs now, and I can give you
just what you want.
Send copy of your publication and
ask for particulars.

WALTER WELLMAN, CARTOONIST
Montvale, N.J.

In 1930 the Wellmans remained in Montvale but lived on Hillcrest Avenue. He was a commercial artist. Wellman said he was self-employed when he registered with the draft board on April 25, 1942; he was 62 years old. The date of Wellman's passing is not known.
 
Part 1

Walter Jesse Wellman was born in East Jaffrey, New Hampshire on May 25, 1879, according to his World War II draft card. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census he was the second of two sons born to Frank and Mary; they lived in Jaffrey.

In the 1900 census Wellman lodged in Boston, Massachusetts at 83 Montgomery Street; he was a student. His entry in the book "Register of Former Students" (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1909) said, "Wellman, Walter J., IV, '02. Cartoonist-Publisher, 395 Broadway, New York, N.Y."

Wellman illustrated a set of postcards on women's suffrage which were printed in 1909. The original art to one of the postcards can be viewed at Heritage Auction, historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=6006&Lot_No=47132.

Wellman and wife Matilda lived at 2125 Manhattan Avenue in New York City, as recorded in the 1910 census. He was a cartoonist for a publisher. His entry in the 1918 book, "Descendants of Thomas Wellman of Lynn, Massachusetts" said:

WALTER JESSE WELLMAN…was born at Dublin, N.H., 25 May 1879. He
married in New York City, 14 June 1905, Matilda Richie, daughter of Hiram
and Eliza Jane Richie. She was born at Mt. Kisco, N.Y. No children.

Mr. Wellman graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
1902, and is a cartoonist in the employ of New York papers and many
magazines. He resides (1917) at Montvale, N.J.

He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His description was medium height, slender build, blue eyes and light hair color.
 
Part 2

In the 1920 census Wellman was misspelled as Welming. He and his wife lived on Fairview Avenue in Montvale. His occupation was cartoonist for magazines. Wellman placed an ad in the April 25, 1920 issue of "The Editor, the Journal of Information for Literary Workers" (Ridgewood, New Jersey).

Let me create a new COMIC STRIP or page
for your HOUSE ORGAN or other publication.
I'm doing this kind of work for dozens of high
class house organs now, and I can give you
just what you want.
Send copy of your publication and
ask for particulars.

WALTER WELLMAN, CARTOONIST
Montvale, N.J.

In 1930 the Wellmans remained in Montvale but lived on Hillcrest Avenue. He was a commercial artist. Wellman said he was self-employed when he registered with the draft board on April 25, 1942; he was 62 years old. The date of Wellman's passing is not known.
 
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: Frolicky Fables

If you need to bone up on hip 1920's slang, look no further than Frolicky Fables for the graduate-level course.This swingin' strip, filled with tongue in cheek advice for the Lost Generation, began in the New York Mirror on November 23 1925, and was distributed elsewhere by Premier Syndicate, the imprint reserved mostly for Hearst's scrapings from the bottom of the barrel.

We encounter a credit problem with the strip because of its rarity. Jeffrey Lindenblatt provided the start date, and credited the feature solely to Victor "VEP" Pazimino. However, as you can see from these 1926 samples above, Pazimino has the byline, but the art was by Wesley Morse. Was Morse doing the art on the strip from the outset? I dunno, because 1925 examples of this strip are rarer than hen's teeth and I don't have access to the microfilm of the Mirror. It's perfectly reasonable that Jeffrey might not have noticed the Morse signature -- after all, VEP was a cartoonist, so why was he only providing the prose on this feature? I most likely wouldn't have noticed either, especially since the male characters actually look rather like VEP's work.

The mademoiselles, on the other hand, are vintage Morse, the cartoonist whose main claim to fame was for drawing many of the X-rated Tijuana Bibles of the era. His aptitude for drawing sexy girls is here on constant display. Morse really wasn't much of a cartoonist, but he certainly loved to draw those sweet 'n' slutty girls of his.

Just before the strip ended on April 10 1926 there was another intriguing turn to the Frolicky Fables story. On March 29, all of a sudden, the strip can be found in quite a few papers (no less than four that I know of). In each case the strip replaces Barney Google. Wha-? The Steubenville Herald-Star offers an explanation in their March 27 issue:

Mr. Aesop bas been a long time dead. True, his fables are still pearls of wisdom. But a pretty girl with her wisdom of pearls is far more entertaining. That is why you will enjoy Frolicky Fables by Vep. This is a new comic strip which dresses up the wisdom of the ages in the costume of the flapper of today—short skirts, rolled stockings and everything. You will enjoy this dally fillip of philosophy which replaces "Barney Google and Spark Plug" on the Herald-Star Comic Page, until the recovery of Mr. DeBeck, the artist, who was taken suddenly ill.
Oh, well okay. Well, no, actually not okay at all. Barney Google did not in fact go on hiatus on the 29th. Plenty of other papers continue it as normal the next week. On that date a new story began in the strip in which Barney travels to California to purchase Spark Plug's foal, seemingly business as usual in DeBeck's spot. But then the next week, starting April 5, Barney Google disappears from ALL papers I've checked. And on April 12 he's back, now with a human foundling in tow, as if the story had proceeded without us the previous week.

So I'm mystified by the whole thing, but that's the reason Frolicky Fables got it's two weeks of fame, running in lots of papers and giving us the opportunity to see it outside of the Mirror.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!

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Allan, Victor Pazmino was my great uncle and it is quite possible that he did the majority of the strip, while the female character was drawn by Morse to get the proper vintage look the strip needed for the character. Glad to have stumbled across your post. - H.D. Timmons
 
Hi, Allan,

I've seen examples from as early as Nov 1925, and they are indeed drawn by Morse. But he didn't begin signing his work on the strip till Jan 1926. Hope this clears things up a bit.
 
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: Old Boy Binks

Here's another Ed Wheelan series from his creative coming-out party in the New York American of of 1915-16. Old Boy Binks ran as an adjunct to Wheelan's sports editorial cartoons sometimes, other times as on of his regular weekday strips. Wheelan didn't use this character very often; at the time he was much more enamored of his Old Man Experience series.

Old Boy Binks first ran about June 15 1916 and was last seen on July 29 of that year. Take these dates with a grain of salt, though -- as you may recall, I've commented on the fragmentary nature of the American microfilm before.

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Interesting early use of of "gay" in the modern sense--especially interesting b/c according to slang dictionaries, the word hadn't yet acquired that sense as of 1916.
 
Hi Chris --
Yes, that was an oddly prescient turn of phrase, wasn't it? I assume the word was used in its more innocent meaning, otherwise surely the editor would have nixed the cartoon. Homosexuality was certainly not a subject to be brought up in a 1916 newspaper!

--Allan
 
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: Rooftop O'Toole

St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch cartoonist Jerry Fearing and columnist Bill Farmer joined  forces in 1976 to create Rooftop O'Toole, a strip about a kid who delivers newspapers to the White House. Rooftop, the paperboy, pretty much has the run of Washington's hallowed halls and trades quips with politicos of all stripes, along with the ghost of Millard Fillmore, Hilda the White House maid and Homer the gatehouse security man. The strip was unabashedly political but non-partisan.

Initially the strip ran only as a daily in the Pioneer Press, starting on May 10 1976. However, United Feature Syndicate soon decided to add it to their roster and its national debut came on January 3 1977, whereupon a Sunday strip was added. The feature was modestly successful, reportedly running in as many as 80 papers at its peak. However, after a few years United began to chafe at what they considered disappointing sales and suggested that the strip would sell better if the political content was dropped leaving only gags about a paperboy and his dog. Fearing and Farmer rightly considered this a ridiculous proposal, and rather than dilute the strip preferred to let it end. It was an unfortunate end to a strip that had a lot going for it -- a unique theme, excellent art and solid writing

Jerry Fearing in his book Fearing Revisited says the strip ended on August 30 1980.

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Fearing recently gave his collection of original art to the University of Minnesota Archives and Collections as the Fearing Collection of Cartoon and Editorial Art. Some of his Editorial Cartoons can be viewed online.
 
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Monday, March 07, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Herbert Perry

(from Cartoons Magazine, April 1913)
Not to be outdone by any of the other cartoonists who may point with pride to the fact that they began drawing by scrawling crude pictures on the pages of their first school books, Herbert H. Perry of the Sioux City Journal laughingly begins the story of his career by saying:  

"After the stork had introduced me to my parents and I had lubricated my vocal organs with a war whoop or two, they brought me a bottle of milk which I thrust aside, pulled a pencil out of my father's vest pocket and pointed to a bottle of ink and a piece of paper on the table, and I've been drawing ever since."

Mr. Perry is one of Iowa's native sons and the state is proud of his ability as a cartoonist. He began his career on the Sioux City Journal six years ago, and since that time his cartoons have won a name for him not only throughout the state but the entire country as well.

The Chicago Tribune included Mr. Perry in a group entitled "America's Greatest Newspaper Artists," and the other artists in the group were McCutcheon, Davenport and Bartholomew (Bart).

While at school young Perry devoted much of his time to drawing and from the time that he began on the pages of his first drawing book he had decided upon an artistic career. Leaving school he continued his drawing studies and his first successful result came when he entered an amateur competition inaugurated by "Judge." Hundreds of amateurs contributed to this contest and the young Iowa artist fell justly proud when he was informed that he had won the first prize.

Although a young man, Mr. Perry's work as a cartoonist stands out with the efforts of some of the leading cartoonists of the day. He has a style of his own and he is another of the cartoonists who believe that the brutal and vicious cartoon is not necessary to drive home a point. All of the big questions of the world are touched upon by the Sioux City cartoonist and he scores fully as many successes as the next man in his profession; but, in addition to his cartoons of political nature, or his drawings on national or international subjects, he has running through him a vein of fine humor and his human interest cartoons are so good that they are widely copied. Mr. Perry is one of the few cartoonists who appear able to compel a smile, a frown or a feeling of sympathy, by merely making what in some other cartoons are meaningless scratches of the pen.

Mr. Perry was born in Le Mars, Ia., thirty-one years ago and he has lived in that state continuously with the exception of a brief time spent in Chamberlain, N. D., during the wild and woolly days, when, as he says, the coyotes used to sing him to sleep, and also a year and a half in New York City, where he continued his art studies. Leaving New York he returned to Iowa to become the cartoonist of the Sioux City Journal.

On the Journal he has made the power of his pen felt in municipal campaigns, and his drawings have been a great factor in his paper's fight on different state issues. His cartoons on national subjects have been widely reproduced.

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

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