Saturday, July 30, 2011

 

Herriman Saturday

Sunday, February 9 1908 -- Fireman Jim Flynn and Jack 'Twin' Sullivan have met in the ring three times already, twice ending in a draw. Flynn managed to eke out a win on points once. What will be the outcome of their fourth face-off? Stay tuned to Herriman Saturday!

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Friday, July 29, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: Want Ad Willy




Comic strips and panels that tie-in to a newspaper's classified ad section have been tried many times with varying success. A few ran for decades, but most sputtered. Want Ad Willy, from the sputterer camp, was apparently self-syndicated by creator G.J. Beaty. It seems to have begun in early 1942 and lasted into 1943, but no longer. Beaty's 'home paper', the Bridgeport Post, ran it, and maybe helped with distribution, too.

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Bridgeport, at the time these strips were done, was one of the leading cities in the manufacture of ammunition, and Remington had a major factory there.

Puts that third strip in perspective.
 
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: George W. French, Cartooning "Ads" Up



George Willard French was born in Buchanan, Michigan on November 6, 1883, according to this World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the second of three children born to Willard and Ella; they lived in Bertrand, Michigan. Nothing is known, at this time, about French's art training. He was a cartoonist with the Chicago American. The Elkhart Truth (Indiana) reprinted his Chicago American drawing of stage actor Richard Carle on January 20, 1909.



In 1910 French lived in Chicago, Illinois at 6555 South Park Avenue; he was married to Pauline and had two daughters aged three and 7 months. He was an artist for a newspaper. Around this time he did an illustration of the magician Thurston for the Chicago American. French took over Pete Llanuza's sports editorial panel on October 30, 1911 and changed it to a general humor panel with an occasional sports cartoon. The panel was titled Anxious Moments about half the time, while the rest used one-shot titles. The title was used occasionally in his editorial cartoons; he was "promoted" to editorial cartoonist of the Record-Herald on March 2, 1913.

The January 1913 issue of Popular Mechanics published a Cartoons ad which highlighted an article by French who gives "an explanation of the origin of his Anxious Moments cartoon series." The trade journal, Printers' Ink, published this item on May 31, 1917, "George W. French, formerly a cartoonist on the Chicago Record-Herald, has joined the Ostenrieder Advertising Corporation of Chicago."

French signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 7701 South Morgan Street in Chicago, and was a self-employed advertising designer, with an office at the Kimball Building in Chicago. His description was short height, medium build with gray eyes and gray-brown hair.

The 1920 census recorded the French family at the same address as his draft card. He was a commercial artist in the newspaper industry, and had a successful career in advertising. The trade journal, Printed Salesmanship, in its June 1929 issue, published his article, "Why Pillsbury Uses the Glorified Cartoon to Sell Pancake Flour". He explained why cartoons are an effective selling tool. The journal included this brief bio:

George W. French, the free-lance artist who created the "Ernest McGroucher" series for Pillsbury's pancake flour advertising, was a cartoonist on the staff of the Chicago Record-Herald prior to his entry into the commercial art field.

MagazineArt.org has one of his Pillsbury's Pancake Flour ads.

According to the 1930 census, French had remarried; her name was Hazel. It's not known what happened to his first wife. The family lived in Chicago at 440 Barry Avenue. He was a commercial artist. French signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His address was 415 Fullerton Parkway, Chicago. He was self-employed and worked at 75 East Wacker Drive in Chicago. Excerpts from the 1942 trade journal, Sales Management, article, "Alka-Seltzer's Glad Ad-Artist":


Thousands have chuckled over the doings and sayings of the big-headed little people in the Alka-Seltzer and One-a-Day Vitamins car card advertisements. Their creator, G.W. French, of Chicago, is just as colorful as they are, and he radiates the same cheerful optimism that characterizes them (except those among them who have not yet discovered the virtues of Alka-Seltzer).

Born on a Michigan farm, Artist French has never done any other work except drawing—first for newspapers, as a cartoonist, and later as an independent commercial artist. He started making the Alka-Seltzer drawings in 1934, adopting "large head, small body" figures, so that the "audience could see the facial expressions of the speaker." He writes the verses himself. The characters are everyday people in everyday situations.

Cartoonist French's philosophy is thus summed up in his own words: "I want my drawings to radiate happiness and to belittle distress. I want people to feel better just by reading them and looking at them…"


Samples of his Alka-Seltzer ads can be viewed at Lambiek.


French's death notice from the Chicago Tribune, June 30 1955, contributed by Cole Johnson:



George W. French, 71, of 415 Fullerton Pkwy, cartoonist and commercial artist, died yesterday at his home. Surviving are his widow Mae, two daughters, Mrs. Dorothy Ford, and Mrs. Marjorie Ruud, three grandchildren, and a brother. The funeral will be held tomorrow in the chapel at 5501 N. Ashland Ave.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

 

Reflections on Cartooning by Dick Kulpa

Cartoonist Dick Kulpa has been discussed on Stripper's Guide a number of times; for his involvement with strips Ghost Story Club, Star Trek, Legend of Bruce Lee and Double Eagle and Company. Kulpa recently corresponded with me a little, talking about his newspaper strips and involvement with the Weekly World News tabloid paper. He has graciously allowed me to share his reminiscences with Stripper's Guide readers.


Ghost Story Club was, surprisingly, considered to be one of Tribune Media Service's more stable features during its 146 week run, as we held onto the papers that carried us, as compared to other new features. That being said, we'd continually get panned in surveys, primarily because the strip was written to an 8-year-old level, as compared to the more accepted 12-year-old level.

The actual prime directive behind the strip was to snag young readers through a "learn to read" setting, utilizing ghost stories to entice the kids. This was fine for youngsters, but because it shared a page with dozens of other strips written to standard levels, GSC came across at times as "lame" and so forth, to readers not in the "Learn to read" loop.

We never heard that we were two old guys trying to be hip. 8-year-olds aren't that discerning. Marvel Comics was seen as "hip" in the 1960s, but was driven by guys my age. In GSC's final year I often rewrote the Sunday recap, as the elementary writing format bugged me too.

There was also a code we had to follow: No Guts, No Gore, No Violence -- and no Dead Kids. I subsequently tagged it with "No Story." The "No Dead Kid" rule was occasionally ignored, especially when a strip featured a boy or girl ghost, obviously a dead kid!

However, TMS was not necessarily wrong. On one occasion, I managed to draw a half-assed monster showing brain entrails hanging out, and that week's club membershp signups doubled over the previous week. However, a 'little old lady' complained to one of our major papers, and nearly cost us the client. (I used to query as to how many kids joined the club each week, and soon after that event, how many little old ladies croaked over GSC.

Nonetheless, Zullo came up with some rather humorous and ingenius endarounds, and with some tweaking, the strip could re-emerge as a viable property today, though not necessarily as a newspaper strip. To that end, it's plenty irritating enough to start reading a strip, then to stop at "continued tomorrow."

Artists Claude St. Aubin, Florida caricaturist Rob Smith, and a third whose name escapes me, each drew a week's worth. (That was when health issues started surfacing.) I modified their work somewhat, which I'm sure pissed 'em off. But that was the Weekly World News way...artists there were regarded only as tools. When I helped launch GSC with Zullo, my then-stated goal was to present guest illustrators, since the series was originally intended to be anthological. That, and I knew I did not have the stamina to maintain artistic chores and handle my full time position at Weekly World News in the long haul, an entity hostile to my involvement with GSC during its entire run.

In one exception, however, I was able to secure permission from my then-editor Eddie Clontz (my nemesis), to "guest star" another major creation of mine, Weekly World News' "BatBoy", in GSC. That appeared as a special two week story. As the run date approached, Clontz tried to rescind permission, (which I had in writing). I purposely scheduled a vacation for the week BatBoy appeared, whereby Clontz took it to the then-owners in an attempt to fire me and was rebuffed. That's kinda the story there. Art in each week's strips reflected WWN stress levels at the time.

It should be noted: I drew Bruce Lee dailies and Sundays back in 1983 for 8 weeks, holding down two other jobs. When that ended, I said "never again without GOOD pay."

Years later, when GSC started, My body subconsciously reacted to the expected stress -- and I became painfully ill the very week production began, having to draw the first six months' worth standing up or often, on one knee. But for two and a half years, I was literally the only active mainstream tabloid guy in America to simultaneously be published in mainstream major media, and BatBoy was the pinnacle of that. (I plotted the story, btw). Sadly, no one noticed.

I wanted to steer GSC into themes such as witchcraft, dragons and the like, which is why Jasmine was often dressed in dark clothing. I could not get the powers that be to go along. Sadly, Harry Potter picked up that slack. (Then, of couirse, we had never heard of him.)

When GSC ended, as a result of our loss of two major papers to another "kids read" feature, the dominoes fell. I wound up in the ER with a busted gall bladder and bleeding ulcer, within five months of the ending. That told me why I fell ill earlier and had to hire help. Within a year I was also divorced, an indirect result of my GSC days. By then I was wide open for the CRACKED MagazIne debacle which would occur soon after.

Currently, I plan on repackaging GSC, with some artistic and editorial tweaking. Having drawn 25,000-some kids in real life since 2005, I am primed for it.

Now you know, as Paul Harvey once said, "the rest of the story."

To sum things up, after I graduated high school In 1971, my work suddenly morphed into an appearance of viability faster than my perception of it. Further, it appeared to reflect the work of two artists, one good, one not so good. I would not become aware of what "right brain" was until the mid 90s.

When I drew GSC during vacation time from Weekly World News, it elevated by about 25 percent.

Nonetheless, with no mentor to speak of, I learned to draw by sight, rather than by phonics. This past year I have worked to change this.

Some will say my stuff has a "hard edge," and that's because the great bulk of my work was done in hostile surroundings. My father threw out all the Double Eagle originals, business partners also dumped me over this same strip.

My capability was not in question. It was "if you get sick, we can't do the work."

When I drew Star Trek I had to find time after work, and between  government council/committee meetings, which would occur two to three times a week at night, as I was a sitting councilman back then. In fact, I drew one week's worth of Star Trek overnight. My big mistake there was in trying to get the hometown daily to carry it, something they steadfastly refused to do. That frustration certainly impacted my work, as it denied me a direct audience (of critics), something I needed and thrived on through my regular political cartoons at the local weekly newspaper.

GSC did appear in a local Florida daily, however. But input came from fan mail, which, regrettably, I had neither time nor energy to read. But I did get TMS to Fedex me a Chicago-style pizza once!

Of all my work, Bruce Lee was seen as the overall best. At that time I worked for the family-owned (and friendly) Testor Corporation.

In comparison to the 300-some Double Eagle 1975-76 strips, however, everything else was drawn at half the original sizes. I regret that. That was to save time, and I shaved an hour off each strip, as compared to the Double Eagle.

When I joined Weekly World News/Enquirer, the hostility continued, as established artists there were, well, "not nice." I had doors slammed in my face, other things, etc...several years later they apologized, with an admission that they did not know where I "fit" in the system, since I was the only artist there with "editorial" responsibilities. Oddly enough, they also admitted they could not put a finger on as to why they were so nasty toward me. Go figure. I really am a nice guy. One does not get elected to small town government office three times in ten years, as a jerk.

The WWN editor, admittedly fearing a potential cartoon "cult hero" status for me, similar to what occurred with then-columnist Ed Anger, threw everything he had to break my art, including forcing me to write a "help wanted: illustrator" ad for the paper. Whereas I was hired to be that illustrator originally, he routed me to the "desk", i.e. headline writing and page design. It was a classic "bait and switch."

I eventually rose to art director, and designed the vast majority of "page 1's," the most important page of that circulation-driven paper.

But that's why you never saw a Kulpa comic strip in Weekly World News. It's not that I didn't try.)

As a direct result of all that, I hesitatingly accepted the GSC assignment, as my "hoped for escape" from that terrible place. I suspect many of my "adult heads" appearing in GSC (looking oddly narrow from the side) were a subconscious result of my perception of "narrow-mindedness"-- a mindset which I think permeates the newspaper biz.

Anatomically-speaking, I know better, and "narrow profiles" were never an issue in previous work. I am fixing those now.

WWN editor Ed Clontz died in 2004. I envision a guest appearance in a future GSC reincarnation, LOL. "The Boss From Hell!"

You can see GSC (these are holding pages) at http://www.ghoststoryclub.com.

I also maintain
 http://www.iudexonline.com
http://www.southfloridafuntimes.com
http://www.captcartoon.com

--Dick Kulpa

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

 

News of Yore: The Chronicles of Russell Henderson



The Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) covered Russell Henderson's early cartooning career.

9/7/1909
Mr. Russell Henderson, the talented young cartoonist of The Charlotte Chronicle, leaves this morning for Durham to enter Trinity College. Those interested in his work will be glad to know that he will continue his contributions to the paper….

3/11/1912
Mr. Russell Henderson leaves tomorrow night for Pittsburg, Pa., where he has accepted the position of sporting editor and cartoonist of The Pittsburg Post....

2/26/1913
Mr. Russell Henderson, who for the past year has been cartoonist on The Pittsburg Post, arrived here yesterday to spend a while. He has resigned his position there after achieving much success. He is considering a number of offers.


3/16/1913
…By special request Manager Gidley has secured as one of the features for the first half, Mr. Russell Henderson, well known in Charlotte and Pittsburg, for his ability as a cartoonist. Mr. Henderson will present a delightful act entitled, "Chalk and Talk."

3/18/1913
The center of attraction at the Piedmont Theater for the first three days is Mr. Russell Henderson, a Charlotte product who has won a reputation for himself as a cartoonist. Mr. Henderson is doing lightning cartoon work….His work is done on black crayon, and is creating considerable praise. The young man has talent, and works with the ease and swiftness of professional cartoonists of the stage.

5/4/1913
The only school of illustrative work in the South Atlantic States has been opened in Charlotte. It is known as the Southern School of Cartooning and Illustrative Drawing. The studio is located on the third floor of The Observer building on South Tryon street. Mr. Russell Henderson...will be in charge of the teaching, being president and general manager….

12/26/1913
Mr. and Mrs. William Crittendon Scott
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Gladys Freeman
to
Mr. Russell Spain Henderson
on Tuesday evening, January the sixth
nineteen hundred and fourteen
at eight o'clock
Saint Peter's Episcopal Church
Charlotte, North Carolina.
Reception
immediately after the ceremony

3/1/1914
Mr. Russell S. Henderson, formerly of the staff of The Evening Chronicle but now connected with The Chicago Record-Herald as cartoonist, has been highly honored in that he has been put in charge of the cartooning department of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

12/18/1915
Mr. and Mrs. Russell Henderson and son, Billy, of Westerville, Ohio, will arrive in the city next week to spend Christmas with Mr. Henderson's parents….Mr. Henderson is cartoonist for The National Anti-Saloon Magazine of America.

6/5/1917
Russell S. Henderson, cartoonist for the National Anti-Saloon League, has resigned his position with that organization and will become cartoonist and feature writer for The Richmond Virginian, the daily organ of the Anti-Saloon League of Virginia….

4/19/1918
...Mr. Henderson is connected with the American Issue Publicity company of Columbus. He has met with splendid success.

His cartoons of political nature have been reproduced frequently in Review of Reviews, Literary Digest, Cartoons Magazine and other publications during the past three years. His cartoons for "dry" publications at national anti-saloon headquarters have been reproduced in various publications in eight different countries. He is now drawing a page of cartoons each week for The Richmond Virginian and two cartoons a week for American Issue. He will be in Charlotte about a month and will then go to Black Mountain, where he will spend a year illustrating two books.

3/5/1920
Russell S. Henderson, well-known cartoonist, has recently gone with the N.W. Ayer & Son advertising agency in Philadelphia….

2/2/1921
…dinner given by the North Carolina Society of Pennsylvania, at the Manufacturers' club in Philadelphia…This was the first annual dinner tendered by the Society after its inauguration in Philadelphia in 1920.…Russell Henderson...is now holding a splendid position as cartoonist with the Philadelphia papers.

[Russell Spain Henderson was born in Summerton, South Carolina on September 21, 1890, according to a family tree at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the second of five children born to James and Ida; they lived in Spartanburg, South Carolina at 86 Oakland Avenue.

In 1910 they lived in Charlotte, North Carolina at 804 West Trade Street. The census recorded Henderson's occupation as newspaper correspondent. He married Gladys Freeman Scott on January 6, 1914; they lived in Chicago. A sample of his work on The Adventures of Ziggy and Zim is here. From the June(?) 1914 issue of Cartoons Magazine:


When The Cyclone Struck

With the consolidation of the Chicago Inter Ocean and the Chicago Record-Herald, Russell S. Henderson, the sport cartoonist of the latter paper, began looking for new worlds to conquer. The coming in of the new management is referred to by Henderson as a cyclone which swept him, together with others, overboard.

During his connection with the Record-Herald Henderson had gained a wide following, mainly through his "Poker" series, picturing various phases of the national pastime. Before joining the staff of the Chicago paper he was connected with the Pittsburgh Post and the Sun. He filled the vacancy on the Record-Herald left by Ed Mack, who went with the Hearst syndicate in New York.


Henderson signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He was a cartoonist for the American Issue Publishing Company. His address was 92 University Street in Westerville, Ohio. His description was tall height, slender build, with brown eyes and black hair.

The 1920 census recorded Henderson, his wife and three sons in Blendon Township, Ohio at 92 University Street. He was a cartoonist for a newspaper. His wife passed away on December 1, 1929, as recorded in the book, Cowherd Genealogy (1962). Henderson has not been found in the 1930 census. According to the family tree, he passed away in 1959 at Winnsboro, South Carolina.]

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Monday, July 25, 2011

 

Obscurity of the Day: Baby Peggy






Baby Peggy, as best as can be determined, was distributed free as a promotional comic strip for the child star of the same name. For a time I believed it to be a feature produced by the New York Evening Graphic, but further research shows that it ran in quite a few smaller papers, and in the sort of haphazard manner common with free promo material. One example of the strip has been found with a copyright on it, to some mysterious entity called S.N.A.F.S. I thought myself pretty darn Sherlockian for coming up with the solution that the copyright was a cloaked reference to Essanay Studios, an early movie company (SNAFS = Essanay Feature Syndicate) but Cole Johnson tells me that they had gone belly up a few years earlier and were not connected with Baby Peggy films. Oh well, I tried.

The earliest example of the strip I can find ran in February 1924 in the Bakersfield Californian, and the latest example ran in December 1925 in the San Mateo Times, obviously long past when the strip was supplied. Almost a dozen papers have been found that ran it, and not one of them ran it with any regularity, or for more than a half-dozen or so episodes -- many seem to run only one or two strips.The strip was drawn by editorial cartoonist Charles Macauley, whose bio and only other comic strip series have been covered on the blog.

The 1924 Editor & Publisher directory does have a listing for the strip -- it is advertised as a daily, distributed by Thompson Feature Service. Maybe it was a daily, but no paper yet found has run more than the free samples sent out by the syndicate.

I asked Cole Johnson, who is an expert on both comic strips and silent movies, and supplied these samples, to kick in with some info about the real Baby Peggy -- he has this to say:

Hansel and Gretel (Century/ UNIVERSAL 12-26-23) Buddy Williams, Baby Peggy Montgomery
Baby Peggy Montgomery was, for a brief period, a famous child movie star.  She was born on Oct. 26, 1918 to cowboy stunt man Jack Montgomery and his wife, Marion. Receiving word that producer Julius Stern was looking for a child co-star for his series of "Brownie the Wonder Dog" comedies, she was brought down to the studio. The two-year-old proved to take direction well and got the job. Julius and brother Abe Stern ran the Century Comedy studios, which was actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Universal Picture Co., and the Sterns, like most of the management at "Big U", were relatives of founder Carl Laemmle. Conditions at Century were crude, and the working conditions harsh. They thought nothing of working the toddler eight hours a day, and in such situations as a burning set, riding on a moving car's spare tire, and in the proximity of wild animals. A particularly vivid memory of hers is of seeing a poorly-trained elephant stomp a man to death.

Few of the Century comedies have survived, but the several I've seen are cheap, routine affairs mainly. One (non-Peggy) Brownie adventure has an actual baby alligator snapping and biting a crying baby boy! Then an actual fight between Brownie and the gator!

Baby Peggy was subject to an early media promotion blitz, with dolls, songs, planted publicity articles, newsreel segments, and this comic strip produced. She was presented as "mascot" for the 1924 Democratic convention, posing with Franklin Roosevelt.   
                                        
Sol Lesser, owner of the lucrative Tarzan movie franchise, as well as one-time producer of Jackie Coogan movies, picked up Baby's contract in 1923, and put her in feature films, including one, CAPTAIN JANUARY, later made into a Shirley Temple picture. Peggy's shortsighted and greedy father got into a squabble with Lesser, and outside of some bit roles, she was essentially blackballed from the film industry. Her father further mishandled her career in vaudeville.  The money made during her four years of stardom spent on foolish luxuries, by the 1930's the family was surviving hand-to-mouth in extra parts. She did her last film work in 1938, when she got married and left Hollywood. Baby Peggy was but a dimly remembered novelty until the 1990's, when she wrote a memoir of her brief moment of stardom so long ago titled What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star.

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In the wake of the Arbuckle and William Desmond Taylor scandals, the top studio men get together and to show the world that Hollywood was devoted to high minded morality and all American purity. But how? They decided to have a parade down Sunset boulevard featuring all the virgins in town. But it had to be cancelled because Baby Peggy had a prior engagement.

(1923 joke)
 
She worked for Sol Lesser from September 1922 - to September 1924 was when her contract with Sol Lesser ended by mutual agreement. She began to write professionally in the late 1940s - and has been a professional writer (non-fiction) ever since.
No idea about SNAFS - although one of the money guys behind Lesser, name started with S.
 
Maybe the -NAFS part of it is Newspaper Association/Alliance Feature Service. Does that ring a bell with anyone?
 
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

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Loved today's strip a lot. I'm 52 and met Jim when I was probably 17. Some folks hate getting older -- no one loves it -- but Jim just embraces it. I learned a lot from Jim but his "enjoy life" philosophy is right up there!

I love the fact that each Sunday, we get a new Jim Ivey strip. Thanks to Jim for doing them and to Alan for posting 'em.
 
I think cartoonists stay young forever. My father used to always tell me that you'll notice all the old time comedians (Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle) lived to ripe old ages because they always were laughing, their whole life was jokes and comedy. Same with cartoonists, I think.
 
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