Saturday, August 06, 2011

 

Herriman Saturday

Sunday, February 9 1908 -- Herriman has a full page as his playground for this Sunday magazine article about Albert H. Woods, theatrical producer. The text is a bit too small to read on this image, so I'll give you the capsule version:

Woods made his success with unpretentious melodramas, like "Nellie the Beautiful Cloak Model" and "Bowery After Dark", that appealed to common people. His modus operandi was to come up with a catchy title and an eye-catching poster, then have a writer pen the play to fit. Woods had a stable of favorite playwrights, including Theodore Kremer, Owen Davis and Hal Reid. Woods earned the sobriquet 'King of Melodramania'.

Evidently later on Woods made a name for himself in the 'legitimate' theatre

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Comments:
Allan,
I bought a Mutt and Jeff hand drawn framed illistration dated Feb. 26th 1917 and it is signed Dick Didit?

I would like to find out more about this drawing if possible.
Thanks for any help you can give.
 
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Friday, August 05, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Ken Kling



(Part five in the five-part series of profiles on cartoonists and their connection to Bud Fisher. Ken Kling was the youngest of the "Fisher-men" and the only one to apprentice for Fisher. --Alex)


Kenneth Lionel "Ken" Kling was born in New York City on October 18, 1895, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two sons born to Jacques and Mary; they lived in Manhattan, New York City at 24 West 134th Street. Kling was profiled in the July 29, 1946 issue of Life magazine, which covered parts of his childhood.


…He was born in Harlem, the son of an Alsatian butcher who aspired to make an actor of him. Kling took elocution lessons from the age of 6, but these resulted in such violent nightmares that they were discontinued. He was a good ballplayer, and John McGraw, who used to buy meat from his father, made Kling a Giant mascot for a few years….


Ten years later the family resided at 124 West 139th Street in Manhattan. Kling was a high school student. Life magazine said:


...He was also a runner of some ability while in school and held the 50-yard dash record briefly. On leaving high school he got a job in a silk house whose main product was ladies' veils. In those days veils had small chenille dots in them. Kling made the dots.

One day he suggested to his boss that sales could be increased by substituting stars, crescents, small bugs and other designs for the dots. He liked to draw and was put to work designing new and sales-stimulating dots. He was obviously a man to be watched, and his employer was, unbeknownst to Kling, watching him a few days later as he whiled away company time by drawing caricatures of the man who was watching him….

Although he was immediately fired, he left with compliments upon his artistic ability ringing in his ears and he was thus inspired to become a cartoonist. Despite his lack of experience and training, he wangled a job as unpaid apprentice to Bud Fisher, the creator of Mutt and Jeff...Kling watched Fisher at work and practiced furiously for about six months, at the end of which time he was entrusted with the job of blacking in the shadows that Mutt and Jeff cast on the ground. Fisher was anxious to reduce his two-hour working day to even less arduous dimensions, and it was not long before Kling was doing all the lettering and all the backgrounds as well as the shadows.


If Kling finished high school at age 17, it could have been between the fall 1912 to spring or fall 1913. He may have been employed and fired during 1913, then apprenticed with Fisher. His lettering and background work could have started in 1914, which coincides with Myer Marcus' tenure on Mutt and Jeff. There is a second account of when Kling met Fisher in Maurice Zolotow's book, Never Whistle in a Dressing Room or Breakfast in Bedlam (1944).


Kling attended the High School of Commerce. He excelled only in freehand drawing. He was fair at English and history, but flunked algebra and geometry—proving, perhaps, that a mastery of numbers doesn't make superior handicappers. Kling also raced at track meets. He set a P.S.A.L. record for the 50-yard dash which stood for many years. He was captain of the 440-yard relay team. He was fired from his first job, clerk in a wholesale lace house, because the boss caught him drawing a satiric cartoon of the boss. The boss advised him to get a job as an artist. Kling enrolled at the Art Students League. He studied in a life class. He had no patience for the slow, careful craftsmanship that art requires. He would finish a sketch of a model in five minutes. The instructor advised him, none too gently, to resume a commercial career.


Unconvinced, Kling proceeded to write letters to his three favorite cartoonists, Ripley, Rube Goldberg and Bud Fisher. Kling offered himself as assistant apprentice at no salary. Nobody answered his letter. Finally, he learned where Fisher's office was located. Kling swaggered upstairs and knocked at the door. A thin, dapper man with dreamy eyes opened the door a crack and peered out suspiciously.


"I wish to speak to Mr. Fisher," announced Kling.


The man carefully scrutinized Kling. "Oh, Mr. Fisher," he replied, "Mr. Fisher is away. For a year."


Later, Kling learned that it was Bud Fisher who had given him this misinformation. Fisher had mistaken Kling for a process server. Fisher, with good reason, always went on the assumption that any stranger was a man with a subpoena. In 1910, when barely sixteen years old [Kling was 15 years old on October 18, 1910], Kling became Fisher's apprentice and was permitted to stand behind the master and look over his shoulders as he drew Mutt and Jeff. One day, Fisher drawled, "Y'know, m'boy, you've got ambition. You're very perserverin'. But you'll never get t'be a real cartoonist unless you get some India ink in your veins."


"Wh-what— " stammered Kling, starting up.


"In other words," said Fisher, "you ought to drink a bottle of India ink." Kling forthwith hoisted a bottle of India ink, as cheerfully as if it were a beaker full of the blushful Hippocrene, and managed to down most of the ink before Fisher could stop him. After this inky baptism, Fisher permitted Kling to black in the coat of Little Jeff. Ken considered himself an important personage and boasted to all his playmates that he was now helping the great FIsher draw Mutt and Jeff. "Yah," they sneered, "and you also kiss Lillian Russell every night." In order to prove his claim, Kling now and then would sneak a tiny white "k" into Jeff's coat. Then he would say to his doubting friends: "Watch next Friday's Mutt and Jeff and see if there isn't a k in Jeff's coat. The k stands for Ken Kling."



It's possible Kling "worked" for Fisher beginning in 1910. The length of the apprenticeship is not known but it might have ended during 1913, when he turned 18. Myer Marcus drew Mutt and Jeff from 1914 to 1915, and, presumably, he did his own lettering and backgrounds.


In both accounts, Kling did not draw the Mutt and Jeff characters; his role was limited to lettering, backgrounds and filling areas in black. I think his time on the strip happened within a six-year period, from 1910 to 1915; exact dates are difficult to determine at this time. A third account was in Martin Sheridan's Comics and Their Creators: Life Stories of American Cartoonists (1944).


Ken Kling never had any formal art training but always wanted to become a cartoonist. He decided to approach the top-ranking comic strip artist of his time — Bud Fisher — and ask him for a job.

"My plan worked and Fisher made me his assistant," Kling revealed. "After three years I created a feature called Katinka for the New York World."


In this account, the least likely of the three, Kling started work for Fisher in 1920. Whichever account you believe, Kling steadily made progress and sold his first strip, Hank and Pete, to the National Cartoon Service; it began in the Fort Wayne News (Indiana) on April 10, 1916.

Kling signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He lived at 1864 7th Avenue in Manhattan. His occupation was an operator of leggings for Rosenwasser Bros. Inc., which had a contract to manufacture goods for the U.S. military. His description was short, slender, with brown eyes and hair. Life magazine said, "During the first World War Kling enlisted in the Navy." After the war he did the comic strip, Buzz and Snooze; it ran at least October 6, 1918 to March 23, 1919. Kling applied for a passport on June 18, 1919 (see photo). His residence was at 1815 7th Avenue in New York City and occupation was artist. He planned to visit England and France on newspaper business. His traveling companion was Bud Fisher; they sailed aboard the S.S. Lapland on June 21 as reported in the Belleville News Democrat (Illinois) on July 28. They returned on September 13, 1919 aboard the S.S. Aquitania.

In 1920 the Klings lived at 1878 7th Avenue in Manhattan. Kling was a cartoonist for a newspaper. On February 1, 1923 he applied for passport to visit England, France and Germany for "newspaper business for the New York World and London Daily Express." The date of his return is not known. He was very busy in this decade with the strips, Those Folks (1922-23), Katinka (1920-23) and Joe Quince (starting 1923). Life magazine said


...Fisher persuaded Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World to try Kling out as a cartoonist with a strip called Katinka….Klings' artistic debt to Fisher was evident in the fact that both Katinka and her employers were virtually indistinguishable from many of the minor characters in Mutt and Jeff.

But interest in Katinka dwindled, and Kling was told he would have to produce a better idea if he expected to continue on the World. He took a week off to think of something and was invited by Fisher to spend it with him at Saratoga. Fisher loved horses and had a large racing stable of his own. Kling accompanied Fisher to the track the day after he arrived at Saratoga. It was the first time he had ever seen a race….

...Kling went to Baltimore, then a busy racing center, and succeeded in selling his idea on a trial basis to the Baltimore Evening Sun. He named his cartoon character Joe Quince and, to make his first strip as realistic as possible, he looked in the paper for the name of a real horse running at a nearby track the next day. He blindly picked one named Shuffle Along and had Joe put $5 on its nose. The next day he had just finished drawing a picture of Joe hocking a gold tooth to raise another $5 when he was informed that Shuffle Along had won and Joe's bank roll was now $55. In desperation Kling tore up his drawing and looked in the paper for another horse. He decided on one named Aggravating Papa on the assumption that no horse with a name like that could possibly win a race. He put Joe's entire roll on Aggravating Papa. But Papa did win, and Joe's bank roll jumped to $220. Kling was stunned. He was sitting dejectedly in his hotel room, wondering whether to pack that night or the next morning, when the editor of the Sun got him on the phone and said that Baltimore was going crazy. If Kling would forget his original idea of picking losers and pick winners instead, he would raise him from $25 to $100 a week….

...Meanwhile the New York World had heard about Kling's Baltimore gold strike and was frantically wiring him to come home with his new idea. Kling was soon syndicated in 83 papers.


Joe Quince was renamed Joe and Asbestos in 1924 and ended its first run in 1926. Kling then created Windy Riley, which began on December 12, 1927.

According to the 1930 census, Kling married Mayme when he was 26 years old. The family of three lived at 27 West 86th Street in Manhattan. He was a cartoonist for a syndicate. Kling revived Joe and Asbestos in 1932. At first it was syndicated, but later became an exclusive for the New York Mirror.

On April 26, 1942, Kling signed his World War II draft card. The card said he lived in New York City at 300 Central Park West, and his employer was the Daily Mirror. His description was "5' 5", 170, brown eyes, brown hair." Kling passed away on May 3, 1970, in Great Neck, Long Island, New York. The next day, many newspapers, including the Trenton Evening Times (New Jersey), published the Associated Press story.


Ken Kling Is Dead; Horseplayer's Pal

New York (AP)—Ken Kling, whose "Joe and Asbestos" cartoon was followed avidly by horseplayers for nearly 40 years, died Sunday after a long illness.

Kling's last wish was that his pallbearers be beautiful girls and his age not to be revealed, according to a family spokesman, who said Kling was "in his 70s."

"Joe and Asbestos" was a daily feature in the New York Daily Mirror for 35 years, then was seen in the Daily News for three years after the Mirror folded. Kling retired a year ago.

Hidden Horse Clue

The cartoon would contain a hidden clue to the identity of a horse running that day who was regarded highly by Kling. Kling was reputed to be one of the nation's leading handicappers.

His widow, Mayme, survives, along with two sons, Heywood and Ken Jr., and three grandchildren.

Although he long insisted "I don't know a thing about horses," thousands of racing fans bet the way "Joe and Asbestos" did. Kling estimated once that $3-million was placed on the horses he picked each day.

"Luck is still 85 percent of winning," he said. He said, too, that his tips "have paid off mortgages on old homes, paid for babies, bought tombstones, wooden legs, glass eyes and helped hundreds of kids make the mistake of going to college."

Profitable Picks

His selections always showed a profit, a spokesman for the family said yesterday. He was once listed among the 10 most successful one-man businesses in the country in a magazine survey, the spokesman added.

The idea for the comic strip came when a conventional strip Kling was drawing for The New York World was sagging. Something of a racing fan, he thought of doing a strip with a bettor as the chief character—one with whom other $2 form scholars could identify who would regularly lose his shirt.

The editor of The Baltimore Sun agreed to try out the strip with "Joe" as the protagonist, betting on real horses. To Kling's surprise, every horse he backed the first day won.

His luck stuck with him, and soon owners, jockeys, trainers and clockers began feeding him tips, which helped, and he gradually learned more about the science.

"You may think you can beat the races," he cautioned once, "but remember, it's the bookmakers who ride in Rolls Royces."

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Ed Mack



(Part four in the five-part series of profiles on cartoonists and their connection to Bud Fisher. Ed Mack was a "Fisher-man" who drew six months worth of Mutt and Jeff strips which were never used. --Alex)


Edward Frank "Ed" Mack was born in Sibley, Illinois on August 28, 1881, according to his World War I draft card. Information on Mack's education and art training has not been found. There is an Ancestry.com family tree for Mack and his parents, John and Anna, who married in 1880. It was her second marriage; she had four children with Frank Hrdlicka, who died in 1877.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census Mack's family lived in Sibley; he was the oldest of two sons. The household included his half-brother and half-sister. His father was a painter, who died in 1904 according to the family tree.

In 1910 Mack lived with his half-brother, John Hrdlicka and his family, in Chicago, Illinois at 6551 Ingleside Avenue. Mack's occupation was cartoonist for a newspaper. He did Locating Mutt and Jeff for the New York American for a little over a week in 1910, a fill-in strip for Mutt and Jeff. For the Chicago Record-Herald he did the Adventures of Ziggy and Zim in 1912-13. The date of Mack's move to New York City is not known. Apparently he lived there by the time his strips, Hilda and Sime the Simp, were published starting in December 1913. He continued producing strips for Hearst through October 1916, and a panel that seems to have run into 1917, At the Movies also known as The Movies and Made in the Movies.

Mack definitely worked for Bud Fisher in 1918, but probably earlier. Fisher and Mack (see photo) applied for passports on March 25, 1918, to go to England. For the purpose of the visit Mack wrote on his application, "In line of my business as employee of Bud Fisher. Invitation of British Pictorial Service." On his application Fisher wrote, "Invitation of British Pictorial Service to accept position on staff of Lord Beaverbrook." On the back of the Mack's application, Bud Fisher identified him and said he knew him for "ten years." Mack returned the favor and identified Fisher. The passports were issued on March 28 and they departed. Four months later, Mack returned aboard the S.S. Lapland on July 30, 1918, as recorded on the passenger list. Fisher returned on October 19.

Who was drawing Mutt and Jeff during their absence? Was there four months of inventory to cover their absence? Were strips produced in England then shipped to New York? Had Fisher hired another artist to draw the strip in New York? The answers are unknown. Did Fisher and Mack really know each other in 1908? During that year Fisher was producing the strip Mr. A. Mutt for Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. If Fisher and Mack did cross paths, was it in Chicago, where Mack lived, or San Francisco? Maybe they stretched the date a bit.

Take a quick look back to see how Mack got involved with Mutt and Jeff. In May 1909 Fisher moved to New York and his strip continued in Hearst's New York American. Six years later Fisher accepted an offer from John Wheeler to move the strip to his syndicate. Meanwhile Hearst developed its version. Editor and Publisher published an interview, "Wheeler Recalls Mutt and Jeff's 60 Year Story", on November 11, 1967. Wheeler recalled,


…there was a lawsuit which made new law. The Hearst forces had planned to put out an imitation—drawn by an artist named Ed Mack—and had him preparing strips for several weeks before Fisher's departure. The court ruled the trademark and copyright were the property of the artist. Incidentally, in later years Fisher hired Ed Mack as an assistant.


So Mack started drawing Mutt and Jeff in 1914. How much material he produced was answered in the Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer article, "The Mutt and Jeff Pictures", published on September 15, 1915:


…The Hearst Company asked for an injunction to prevent Fisher from using the word "Mutt and Jeff," claiming a trade-mark. Fisher sought an injunction to prevent Mutt and Jeff being drawn by anyone else. The Star Company admitted that it had had cartoons of Mutt and Jeff drawn by another cartoonist, enough for six months' service in anticipation of Fisher's withdrawal. Supreme Court Justice Weeks granted both injunctions temporarily. He decided that Fisher could not be prevented from drawing figures, but delayed decision on the use of the three words "Mutt and Jeff" in conjunction….


Myer Marcus had been employed by Fisher to draw Mutt and Jeff. He started in 1914 and his run was interrupted in January 1915. Presumably he continued to produce new material, during the litigation, to the end of the year. His strips resumed in August 1915. If he had produced material through all of 1915, then his run could have ended in the summer or fall 1916. It is not known exactly how long he worked for Fisher. Mid- or late 1916 may have been when Mack started on the strip; perhaps coinciding with his start on Mutt and Jeff, his strip, Living in Lonesomehurst, ended in late 1916.

Mack signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918, and gave his occupation as newspaper cartoonist at the Bud Fisher Films Corp. (The Internet Movie Database has a filmography that starts in 1913.) Mack and his wife, Edith, lived at 640 Riverside Drive in Manhattan. Bud Fisher also lived on Riverside Drive, according to passenger lists.

In 1920 Mack remained at the same address and worked as a cartoonist for a newspaper. He copyrighted Mack's Movie Mob (an illustrated sheet measuring 37 3/4 by 24 1/4 inches) on February 24, 1923, according to the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, Leaflets, etc.; Lectures, Sermons, etc. 1923, New Series, Volume 20, No. 4. In 1925 Mack and Fisher sailed to Europe; the purpose of their trip is not known. They returned from Cherbourg, France to New York City on October 19, 1925.

Mack was still at the same residence in 1930; he worked as a cartoonist for a magazine. Books and web sites say Mack passed away in or around 1932 but the source for that date has not been identified. In 1934 Mack was alive. The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume 439, May 1, 1934, published the following entry on page 43:


312.602. Series of Cartoons. Edward Frank Mack, New York, N.Y.
Filed January 6, 1934. Serial No. 345.718. Published February 20, 1934. Class 38.


It's not known what the invention was or if he received a patent. Lastly, the Ancestry.com family tree has the date of Mack's passing as December 25, 1935.

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Comments:
This is a great series! I own an original drawing for a 1922 Mutt and Jeff, and I've been trying to figure out, fruitlessly, who drew the damn thing.

Of course, it doesn't help that Fisher was such a notorious credit-hog. The fact that he liked to claim that he drew all the frames of the animated cartoons makes it unlikely that a single strip drawing can be securely attributed.

Keep up the good work!
 
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Billy Liverpool



(Part three in the five-part series of profiles on cartoonists and their connection to Bud Fisher. Billy Liverpool was identified by the late Bill Blackbeard as one of the artists who drew Mutt and Jeff. And you know what, he was right. --Alex)

Billy Liverpool was the pseudonym Myer Marcus used when he produced the comic strip, Asthma Simpson, the Village Queen. On November 25, the New York Times reported Marcus's death, and credited him with Asthma Simpson, which appeared locally in The Evening Sun. The most convincing evidence supporting the Times, was found in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4: Works of Art…, 1915, New Series, Volume 10, No. 2, on page 228, first column.



Marcus copyrighted Asthma Simpson which included the byline, "by Billy Liverpool." Why did he choose this name? When he and Tom McNamara, as Mack and Marcus, toured England they may have performed in Liverpool or used it as a port of call or both, so that may be the connection. Or maybe he adopted the name because met or knew someone with that name. (In the U.S. census records, there were several people named William Liverpool but not a cartoonist among them.) Later, Asthma Simpson Sundays, from October 15 to December 19, 1915, were copyrighted by the Newspaper Feature Service as recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries Part 4: Works of Art…, 1915, New Series, Volume 10, No. 4, pages 542 to 543. How Marcus and the syndicate resolved the copyright ownership is not known.

A number of artists have been named as ghosts on Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff, including the pseudonymous Liverpool. I believe Marcus was indeed a Fisher ghost. Graphic evidence can be found in his final month on Excuse Me, found in the Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). In December 1913, Marcus's drawing style changed in some of the strips, which were undated and published out of order. A strip published on December 2 was typical of his style, but two strips published on December 3 and 23 are significantly different and include a Mutt-like character. I think this was Marcus's public audition to Fisher.


Jersey Journal 12/2/1913


Jersey Journal 12/3/1913

Jersey Journal 12/23/1913
Jersey Journal 12/23/1913

During December 1913 Marcus left the strip, which was continued by Joe Doyle. It's possible Marcus began ghosting Mutt and Jeff early in 1914. His name did not appear on any comics from 1914 to 1915. For two years he may have been an employee of Fisher.

While Marcus was working on Mutt and Jeff, Fisher and William R. Hearst's Star Company were in a dispute. It was explained in Decision of the Commissioner of Patents and of the United States Courts in Patent and Trade-mark and Copyright Cases 1917 on pages 2 and 3.


…In May, 1909, Fisher went to New York, and his cartoons of Mutt and Jeff began to appear in the New York American, a newspaper published by the Star Company, the petitioner herein. On August 8, 1910, Fisher made a five-year contract with the Star Company. In this contract, paragraph 4, appears a statement to the effect that Fisher is the originator of the series of comic strips "Mutt and Jeff." Fisher continued to furnish cartoons for the Star Company, which were printed in the American and in many other papers under the control of the International News Company, which is the syndicating agent of the Star Company, with the titles to the cartoons printed exactly as he had written them. On December 11, 1914, the title of the cartoon as it appeared in the American was changed after it had been written by Fisher. No change was made in the title of this cartoon as it appeared in other papers receiving it. Fisher protested against this change, and he and the officers of the Star Company being unable to agree upon the subject of the titles to his cartoons he refused to furnish any cartoons to the Star Company after January, 1915, and the last "Mutt and Jeff" cartoon appeared in the American on January 29, 1915. Fisher made a contract with the Wheeler Syndicate on December 7, 1914, to draw his comic strips or cartoons for it after the expiration of the contract of August 8, 1910….

It is shown that the words "Mutt and Jeff," "in collocation," as some of the witnesses express it, first appeared in the cartoon published November 20, 1909, as follows:

Mutt and Jeff do a little ticket scalping at the big game—by Bud Fisher.

The cartoon of December 11, 1914, contained the title "Mutt and Jeff" with a dash after the word "Jeff," which was followed by the words "The little fellow also knows some law and proves it." These cartoons appearing in the American from January 19 to 29, 1915, contained the caption or heading "Mutt and Jeff" only, although Fisher protested against the use of these titles as a violation of the contract with him….


Fisher had to decide whether Marcus should continue producing more strips or take a long vacation during litigation. Although that decision is not known, the fact that Marcus adopted a pseudonym suggests he worked on the side while producing new Mutt and Jeff material. Marcus considered his options. He may have heard Ed Mack had been hired by Star Company to produce Mutt and Jeff strips. Marcus realized he would be out of work if Fisher lost in court. I believe that Marcus took steps toward a future without Fisher. Born out of necessity, Marcus developed a couple of ideas and pitched them to Newspaper Feature Service. He obtained a copyright to a strip or panel called Brow Brothers (Hiram and Lowell) on November 7, 1914, as recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc. 1914, New Series, Volume 9 Number 4, on page 523; Brow Brothers would remain on the shelf until 1916. The other idea was Asthma Simpson, the Village Queen, which was accepted by Newspaper Feature Service. The strip was published in the Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) beginning on December 28, 1914. (The strip can be viewed at Chronicling America.) Below are samples of Excuse Me and Asthma Simpson for comparison.


Jersey Journal 12/5/1913



New Orleans States 4/21/1916
Jersey Journal 3/27/1913
New Orleans States 4/27/1916
Jersey Journal 5/23/1913
New Orleans States 5/5/1916

With the expiration of Star Company's on August 8, 1915, the Marcus-drawn Mutt and Jeff strips reappeared on August 9, 1915. If Marcus produced strips during all of 1915, his run could have ended in the summer or fall 1916. The apparent end of Asthma Simpson came on July 18, 1916 in the Daily Eastern Argus, but Marcus was still busy with the Brow Brothers; the start and end dates are not known at this time, but Newspaper Feature Service held the copyright to the strips as early as April 1, 1916, as recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2: Pamphlets, Leaflets, Contributions, etc: 1916, New Series, Volume 13, Number 5. His Fuller Bunk strip followed in 1917. In 1920 he moved to The World, where he worked until until his death in November 1923.

Billy Liverpool's star shone brightly for a year-and-a-half and then he vanished. Described as obscure and mysterious, he was the brilliant creation of Marcus, a showman to the end. I believe Marcus's time on Mutt and Jeff covered most of 1914, at least five-and-a-half months of 1915, and possibly into the summer or fall 1916. The question of who came next may be answered in Ink-Slinger Profiles: Ed Mack; stay tuned!

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Myer Marcus



(Part two in the five-part series of profiles on cartoonists and their connection to Bud Fisher. A select group of men worked on Fisher's Mutt and Jeff comic strip; I call them the "Fisher-men". Myer Marcus's connection is revealed at the end of his profile. --Alex)

Myer Marcus was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 14, 1887; the birthdate is from his World War I draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Marcus was the first of two sons born to Abraham and Esther. They lived in Philadelphia at 1517 Park Avenue. Nothing is known about Marcus's art training. A New York Times obituary said his cartooning career began at the Philadelphia Inquirer, and some of his strips were: Percy Vere (1905-06); Doubting Thomas (1906-07); Acrobatic Trix of Hix and Nix (1907); and Sheer-luck Homes (1907).

Marcus ventured to the West where he met another cartoonist, Tom McNamara; they formed a vaudeville team, Mack and Marcus. Their act was described in the Salt Lake Evening Telegram (Utah) on November 21, 1908.


Salt Lake Herald (Utah) 11/20/1908


Salt Lake Herald (Utah) 12/13/1908


Though hampered somewhat by the lack of proper stage equipment, the team of cartoonists, Mack and Marcus made a distinct success at the tryout at the Orpheum yesterday. They responded to the hearty applause with an encore number. "Mack" is T.A. Macnamara, for some time cartoonist on a local paper, having come here from San Francisco. "Marcus" occupied a similar position on the Philadelphia North American. The two met in Denver recently and worked out the idea to which they gave form yesterday at the Orpheum.

One of the ideals of vaudeville they have successfully attained—that is, they keep something doing all the time. The interest of the audience is not allowed to lag an instant. That requires speedy and accurate work, but they proved themselves equal to the task.

The curtain rises on Mack, in the garb of a Latin quarter artist, discovered lying asleep along a garden wall, the panels of which subsequently prove to be paper. The artist starts in to draw simple objects such as a mitten, an egg, or a fancy drink—cherry and all. Along comes Marcus, as the negro minstrel, and with a few deft touches the mitten "evolutes" into a "mutton head"; the egg into an "old hen" of the kind that deals in neighborhood scandal. The fancy drink is as if by magic turned into a fancy drunk, and the Irish shamrock becomes a loyal member of the Salt Lake police force. The stunt is entitled "Evolution."

As a finale, the two work together on one paper, producing a beautiful woman's figure, which they entitled "Miss Salt Lake."

For an encore the artists started at either end of the wall and told the story of a man and a woman who got acquainted and finally married. Pictures in each pair are concluded at the same identical moment, Marcus being especially fine with the woman's figure. The climax of the little story in crayon is a pair of noisy twins.

The turn took well yesterday, and is well up to the high standard required for Orpheum attractions.



Deseret Evening News (Utah) 1/1/1909


During one of the overseas tours, Marcus met his future wife. On March 20, 1911, the Philadelphia Inquirer gave this account of their meeting.


Philadelphian on Pier for Fiancee

Miss Van Den Broucke Comes to Be Bride of Myer Marcus, Artist

One of the happiest passengers on board the Lapland, which arrived late today from Antwerp and Dover, was Miss Helene Van Den Broucke, of Brussels. The young woman crossed the Atlantic to become a bride. Her fiance met her on the pier. He is Myer Marcus, a young artist of Philadelphia. They met when he was rambling through Europe last year, making sketches here and there. Not long after they were introduced, Miss Van Den Broucke was wearing an engagement ring.

Mr. Marcus was called back to this country on important business. A correspondence followed in which Mr. Marcus timorously suggested that both would be happier if his fiancee could arrange to come to America. Her answer arrived much sooner than he expected. It was in the form of a cablegram announcing Miss Van Den Broucke would leave Antwerp on board the very next departing steamship. Her family provided a chaperone, and the girl and the chaperone said tonight that the journey had been exceedingly pleasant.

The marriage will take place tomorrow. It will be informal, with half a dozen relatives and friends there to congratulate the couple after the knot is tied. Mr. Marcus has a home ready in the German section of Philadelphia and the honeymoon will be spent there.


During the week of April 3, 1911, the Philadelphia Inquirer introduced three strips by Marcus: Excuse Me (April 3, 6 and 7, then daily starting on 10), Mrs. Make-Over (a one-shot, April 4) and Hector the Inspector (a one-shot, April 5). Excuse Me, which was undated, also appeared in the Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey); in December 1913 his run ended. The strip continued with Joe Doyle. Marcus obtained a copyright to comic strip or panel called Brow Brothers (Hiram and Lowell) on November 7, 1914, as recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc. 1914, New Series, Volume 9 Number 4. Two years later, Newspaper Feature Service held the copyright to it; presumably Marcus was the artist (Allan's note: the only record I have of Brow Brothers appearing was in 1919, from King Features, by a G.V. Dyer). In 1917 his strip, Fuller Bunk aka Fuller Bull, saw publication. Marcus signed his World War I Draft Registration Card on June 5, 1917. He was a cartoonist for the Newspaper Feature Service and lived at 622 West 141st Street in Manhattan. He was described as "5 ft 4, medium build with brown eyes and hair."

In 1920 the Marcus's lived in Hempstead, New York at 17 Woodview Road. They had a daughter, Louise, who was 11 years old and born in Belgium. On December 21, 1922, Marcus's wife and daughter returned, after nearly seven months, from Bermuda; her passport application stated she lived at 84 Grove Street in Manhattan.

Marcus passed away on November 24, 1923; he was 36 years old. On November 25, the New York Times reported his death.


Myer Marcus, director of the comic art department of The World, died of heart disease yesterday at his home on Woodview Road, West Hempstead, L.I., in his thirty-seventh [sic] year. He started as an artist on The Philadelphia Inquirer, but a gold prospecting venture led him westward and in 1908 he became cartoonist for a Denver paper. He tried vaudeville with success as a partner of Tom McNamara, touring this country and Europe. His comic strips of Asthma Simpsons [sic] appeared in The Evening Sun here. After several years with the Hearst publications he went to The World three years ago. Services will be held at his late residence at 2 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.


According to the Times, Marcus created Asthma Simpson, so, that means he was Billy Liverpool. This story will continue in Ink-Slinger Profiles: Billy Liverpool – stay tuned!

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Monday, August 01, 2011

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Tom McNamara



(Starting this week, the first of five profiles of cartoonists who had links to Bud Fisher, the man behind Mutt and Jeff. Each cartoonist's circuitous connection to Fisher will be told with long-forgotten or little-known facts gleaned from numerous books, newspapers, periodicals and databases. And most of the cartoonists had a hand on the Mutt and Jeff strip. Look out for a few surprises! --Alex)


Thomas Joseph McNamara was born in San Francisco, California on May 7, 1886. Little is known about his childhood. In Edan Hughes' book, Artists in California, 1786-1940, he wrote, "Tom McNamara studied at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute and began his career as an illustrator for the Chronicle at the turn of the century." (One of the book's sources is an obituary published in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 20, 1964.)

In the Overland Monthly, August 1912, Elizabeth Anna Semple wrote an article, Successful Californian's in New York, that included McNamara; from page 116:


The first San Francisco newspaper Tom McNamara worked for was the Chronicle, where he made "frames for society pictures."

Next we hear of him "rustling all sorts of jobs in a boom mining camp somewhere in Nevada; Later I went to Salt Lake and worked on the Herald; went to Denver, and from there started out in a vaudeville sketch under the team name of Mack and Marcus—I was Mack—in which we traveled all over the United States, and finally went to London, where we played one night for the late King Edward VII. When we came back home the team dissolved, and I started on the New York Journal. I'm there yet."


Deseret Evening News (Utah) 12/26/1908


Salt Lake Herald (Utah) 1/3/1909

McNamara's original middle name was Aloysius as reported in the following newspapers: The Salt Lake City Evening Telegram (Utah), November 19, 1908, "Tom Mack," known locally as T.A. McNamara, cartoonist and newspaper writer…."; The Salt Lake Herald (Utah), February 17, 1909, "T.A. McNamara and Myer Marcus, the two Salt Lake boys who have been on the Orpheum circuit with their cartoon sketch of 'Evolution'…"; The Salt Lake City Evening Telegram, March 12, 1910, sports columnist F.V. Fitzgerald wrote,


…Mr. McNamara will be remembered by Salt Lake fans as an extremely clever illustrator of sport pages and as an entertainer of rare ability. Under the stage name of "Mack," Mr. MacNamara joined forces with Meyer [sic] Marcus, a clever Philadelphia illustrator, and the two toured the Orpheum circuit last season as headliners. Their lightning drawing act made a hit everywhere they appeared. Last year Mark and Marcus went abroad and showed for forty weeks in the British isles and on the continent. Within a short time Mr. MacNamara will close his European engagement at the Theatre Majestique in Paris and will return to Salt Lake. Welcome to our fair city, Thomas Aloysius.


After his return to Salt Lake City, McNamara moved to New York City. In October 1910 he and Bud Fisher performed together at Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre in New York City. The Salt Lake Telegram gave this account on October 29.


…Bud Fisher, to whom "Mutt" and "Jeff" owe their fame, has taken the couple into Hammerstein's New York theatre, and with the assistance of Tom Mack, a former St. Louis cartoonist, draws just one series of the two with "Mutt" chasing "Jeff" in the usual style and "Mutt" down and out at the finish, with a bucket of paint over his head. A second series brings "Mutt" to the altar. As a finish Fisher and Mack appear to be picking their subjects from the audience, drawing grotesque figures which brings light laughter….Mr. Mack is quite as important in the specialty as Fisher, assisting in the drawing and adding speed to the arrangement.


McNamara's comic strip Us Boys was published from 1910 to 1928; a strip published on April 3, 1918, in the Washington Times (D.C.), mentioned the Mack and Marcus Cafe. Teddy, Jack and Mary ran from May 19, 1929 to August 24, 1930. A strip titled The Sandlot League is also frequently cited, though its existence has so far resisted verification by Alex or Allan.



R.L. Polk's 1915 Trow General Directory New York City listed McNamara on page 1216, "McNamara Thos artist h562 W191st." In the 1917 edition, page 1316, the listing read, "McNamara Thos A cartoonist h423 W120th."

McNamara signed his World War I draft card, on September 12, 1918, as Thomas Joseph McNamara. Did he change his middle name because of cartoonist Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, aka TAD? He lived with his wife, Bertha, at 423 West 120 Street, Apartment 37, in Manhattan, New York City. He was a cartoonist with the International Feature Service. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair.

In the 1920 census, McNamara was at the same address as above but his wife was not listed. A year later he moved to Hollywood. He lived alone in Los Angeles, California at 1737 North Whitley Avenue, as recorded in the 1930 census. His occupation was cartoonist for a newspaper. In the book, Artists in California, it said, "The years 1921-54 were spent in Hollywood as a writer and director for the 'Our Gang' series and director of Mary Pickford in 'Little Annie Rooney.' " Actually, McNamara returned to New York City in the mid-1930s. (A timeline of McNamara's career can be viewed at the Lucky Corner website.)

McNamara signed his World War II draft card on April 25, 1942. He resided in New York City at the St. Paul Hotel, 44 West 60th Street. He gave his occupation as "free lance artist and writer." He was described as "5 foot 7, 160 with blue eyes and gray hair." During his time in New York City he wrote and drew stories for several comic book publishers. Many of his credits can be found at the Grand Comics Database. A sample of his comic book work can be found at Lambiek Comiclopedia.

The date of McNamara's return to California is not known. In the book, The Funnies, Ron Goulart wrote, "More than twenty years later [mid-1950s] McNamara was down on his luck and living in a Tenderloin hotel in San Francisco. [Cartoonist Tack] Knight, comfortably retired, was also living in the city and he and McNamara became friends." The book, Artists in California, 1786-1940, said, "Nearly blind, McNamara spent his last ten years in San Francisco at the Laguna Honda Hospital." McNamara passed away on May 19, 1964, in San Francisco. The Independent (Long Beach, California) reported his death on May 20.


'Our Gang' Creator McNamara, 78, Dies

Tom McNamara, who made a fortune as a cartoonist, movie director, gold miner and all-around adventurer, died Tuesday at a public home for the elderly. He was 78.

McNamara, creator of the "Us Boys" and "Our Gang" comic strips, had been living on a small pension since 1955.

Once the bosom companion of Damon Runyon, Charlie Chaplin and Rube Goldberg, McNamara got his start cartooning on the San Francisco Chronicle before the 1906 earthquake.

He later joined a vaudeville team and toured Europe, playing at a command performance for England's King Edward VII.

In 1911 he returned to New York City and created two strips that made him famous.

In 1921 he joined the Hal Roach movie studios where he directed Mary Pickford in "Little Annie Rooney."

During the 1930s and '40s McNamara free-lanced as a writer and cartoonist. He once admitted that his free-spending habits resulted in virtual bankruptcy but added that "it was worth it."

Before his rise to fame he often prospected for gold in the mountains of California and Nevada.

He was born in San Francisco in 1886. He was a widower with no children and no close relatives.

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Hello, Allan-The LONG BEACH INDEPENDENT Had a few things mixed up. MacNamara joined the film industry in 1920, doing dialogue titles for Paramount. In 1922 and '23, he was given director credit on seven of the earliest "OUR GANG" shorts. He went on to co-writing and additional dialoge credits on several more films, specializing in children's roles, such as in SPARROWS (UA 26) and LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (RKO 32). His last film work was a 1933 entry in RKO's unsuccessful Tom Keane western series. He recieved directing credit on only one more film, LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY (UA 25).
 
Hello - The only notable non-kid film work that I can find for McNamara is his work on the BEAUTY PARLOR SERIES comedies produced and released by Film Booking Offices in 1927-28, and starring Al Cooke, Kit Guard, Lorraine Eason, Thelma Hill and Danny O'Shea. He adapted the films from stories by H.C. Witwer. Frank Flood
 
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