Saturday, August 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 12 1909 -- Amos Pidjin just keeps getting kookier today in the penultimate episode. Herriman really seems to be finding his comedic voice in this short run strip. There goes my ulna!
And as promised last week here on Herriman Saturday we have the fight results for the fourth and final bout between Jack Twin Sullivan and Fireman Jim Flynn. You'll recall, no doubt, that the pair were so evenly matched that two of their three previous bouts ended in draws. And what of the fourth bout?
Aargh! Yet another draw! Boo, hiss! Herriman was so disgustipated that his ringside cartoon barely even mentions the pair, but rather highlights the undercards.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, August 19, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Earl Hurd's Untitled Comic Strip
As long as we are 'Hurd'ling along with Earl Hurd trivialities this week, let's cover a much later obscurity from that camp. We discussed Susie Sunshine
a long time ago on the blog, but I didn't mention then (cuz I didn't know) that the strip seemed to have gone on hiatus for awhile at its home paper, the New York Evening Graphic
. For a span of a couple months Hurd switched gears and did an untitled strip which mostly played off odd news tidbits. This might have been a reaction to the September 1929 cancellation of Ving Fuller's Laffs in the Day's News Dispatches
, which covered the same ground.
Evidently Hurd's humorous take on the news was deemed less entertaining than his pretty girl strip, and the untitled strip was dumped to bring back Susie Sunshine
. The untitled strip ran during September-October 1929, but I'm lacking exact dates because, as I've moaned before, there is no microfilm for most of the Graphic's run.
Thanks to Cole Johnson who discovered this short run item and furnished the samples!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Earl Hurd
Earl Oscar Hurd was born in Atchison, Kansas on February 14, 1880, according to Artists in California, 1786-1940, Volume 1 (2002). His date of birth is confirmed by his World War I draft card and the California Death Index, which had his middle initial "O". (Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database said he was born in September; the source for that information was not stated.) In the 1880 United States Federal Census, the Hurd family lived in Atchison City, Kansas on Kansas Avenue. Hurd was the youngest of two sons born to Oscar and Georgia. His father was a grocer.
Twenty years later, the 1900 census recorded the family in Kansas City, Missouri at 119 Olive. Hurd was recorded as Oscar and was the second of three sons; his occupation was artist. His father was a building contractor. Artists in California said, "Hurd began his career as a cartoonist on the Kansas City Post." According to the Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 at Ancestry.com, Hurd married Edith Vivian Carswell on January 12, 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1910 Hurd, his wife and five-month-old son Earl Jr. lived in Kansas City, Missouri at 2319 East 30th. He was a cartoonist for a newspaper. The date Hurd moved to New York City is not known; the New York Evening Telegram published his strips, Trials of Editor Mouse and Pudge Perkins Pets, in 1911. In chapter five, The Henry Ford of Animation: John Randolph Bray, of the book, Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928 (1993), Donald Crafton wrote, "How Bray and Hurd met is unknown. Hurd had been cartooning in the Chicago Journal since 1904, and his work was reproduced occasionally in the New York Herald, where Bray might have seen it.…In December 1914, Bray Studios Incorporated was formed with $10,000 in capital and a floor of a 26th Street building [in Manhattan] was leased. Bray's immediate concern was to recruit and train artists. Earl Hurd was formally hired, and in 1915 he began his own series of "Bobby Bumps" cartoons…." As Bray patented his animation process, he failed to see the possibilities of using celluloid. Crafton said, "This damaging technical loophole had allowed Earl Hurd…to obtain the rights for the use of celluloid….Hurd's December 1914 patent application contains a wealth of information, but the key concept was that the illusion of movement was to be produced 'by drawing upon a series of transparent sheets'….[Soon] they formed the Bray-Hurd Process Company in 1914, a mutually advantageous alternative to a lengthy battle over rights. Although Hurd's patent eventually turned out to be more important than Bray's, the cartoonist was regarded strictly as an employee of the studio and Bray never publicly acknowledged his partner's fundamental role…."
His strip Bobby Bumps is discussed here and here. The Sun (New York, NY) wrote, on December 2, 1917, "…The real Bobby Bumps is the little son of Earl Hurd, the cartoonist, and the actual experience of this youngster and his dog afford the basis for the series of Bobby Bumps cartoons." Earl Jr. was seven years old at the time. In the late teens, Hurd moved to California. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address in Los Angeles was 833 South Grand; his occupation was animated fIlm cartoonist, and was self-employed at 1133 Merchant National Bank Building. He named his wife as his nearest relative; she lived at 710 East 25th Street, Kansas City, Missouri. His description was tall, slender with blue eyes and brown hair with a gray streak.
Hurd has not been found in the 1920 census. Apparently he returned to the New York City metropolitan area in the 1920s. His late 1920s strip Susie Sunshine is discussed here. The 1930 census recorded Hurd in West New York, New Jersey at 101 Twentieth Street. He was an artist at an art school. Apparently, he had remarried to Svea, and they had two daughters, the oldest was 10. If these were his biological children then he divorced his first wife Edith around 1919; she and Earl Jr. resided in Queens, New York. In the late 1930s Hurd returned to California where he found work at the Walt Disney studio; his Disney credits include the short, Pluto's Quin-puplets, and the feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Hurd passed away on September 28, 1940 in Los Angeles. His death was reported two days later in the Los Angeles Times, "Funeral of Film Cartoonist to Be Tomorrow in Burbank; Earl Hurd, Disney Studio Artist, Innovator in Animated Drawing Method, Was Ex-Newspaperman." (ProQuest subscribers, please help us with the details.)
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Brick Bodkin's Pa
While not the longest lived of Earl Hurd's comic strips, Brick Bodkin's Pa
was certainly the most visible, running in the New York Herald
's Sunday comics section. Hurd was otherwise mostly confined to the Herald
's evening paper counterpart, the Telegram
, which was not a big seller. Hurd worked for the Herald/Telegram combo from about 1911 to 1915, and Brick Bodkin's Pa
was a semi-regular feature of the Herald's Sunday section from May 12 1912 to April 26 1914. It seems to have always run on an interior page (which is why our samples are 2-color jobbers), the mark of a strip that was not considered much of a pull for readers. And no wonder. Hurd's stiff, mannered art and creaky gags are instantly forgettable.
The strip might not have been a reader favorite, but Hurd must have thought a lot of it. When he left the Herald to start his own animation studio, Brick Bodkin had a name change to Bobby Bumps and he starred in a series of primitive animated cartoons. For more about Bobby Bumps see this post
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
News of Yore: E. Simms Campbell
(Famous Artists & Writers, King Features Syndicate, 1949)
In a manner of speaking, whatever E. Simms Campbell is today, he owes to women. Not to a woman. To women.
These days, Simms is generally recognized as one of the greats of the cartoon and illustrating trade; his Cuties comic panels syndicated by King Features are a daily feature in newspapers throughout the nation.
But a decade or so ago, he was just another good artist—selling his share of drawings, raking in enough commissions to keep body and soul together, and getting a small share of recognition. Then he met Russell Patterson, the famous and fabulous cartoonist—and Patterson promptly took him to task.
"Look," the veteran artist told the young Negro from St. Louis, "you're a good cartoonist—but you draw everything under the sun…men, women, cats, dogs, landscapes...everything. Why don't you specialize, my boy? You might stick to women. If there's one thing I've learned in this screwy business over the years, it's that you can always sell a pretty girl."
Ever since that lesson from Patterson, it is doubtful if Simms has drawn ten cartoons that didn't include a pretty wench somewhere in the picture. And has it paid off? Well, today he lives on a lush four-acre estate in White Plains, N.Y., and has acquired an international reputation for his work in pen and ink and water color.
Campbell, one of the few Negroes ever to reach the top in this profession, was born in St. Louis on Jan. 2, 1906, son of Elmer and Elizabeth Simms Campbell. Both of his parents were schoolteachers; Campbell Sr., was assistant principal at Sumner High School in St. Louis and had been one of Howard University's great track and football stars.
His father died when Simms was four, and the boy was taken to Chicago by his mother, who wanted to finish her schooling at the University of Chicago. So Simms was schooled both in that city and St. Louis, being graduated from Englewood High School in Chicago and then spending a year at the U. of Chicago.
It was at Engelwood High, incidentally, that Simms became cartoonist for the weekly school paper—edited by nobody else than Seymour Berkson, now general manager of International News Service.
After a year of university life, Simms switched to the Chicago Art Institute, and on graduation went to work—as a waiter in a dining-car on the New York Central Railroad.
He finally hooked up with the Triad Studios, one of the midwest's largest advertising art agencies, and remained there for two years, until 1929, when he came to New York at the start of the celebrated depression. After month of pavement-pounding, he hooked on with the Munig Studios, a small advertising studio, went to the Academy of Design in his spare time—"I don't think any cartoonist can be really good unless he knows all the fundamental principals of art"—and began branching out as a magazine artist. The old Life, Judge, College Humor—most of the big slick-paper periodicals of that day soon were using his work. Simms lived with a maiden aunt, Miss Alice Simms, during these early days.
"I guess you might say I really got started in 1933, however," Simms says now. "That was when Esquire was starting. Dave Smart, the publisher, came to my apartment and asked me to contribute to the magazine—and in those first two years of Esquire's existence, I drew many cartoons a month and contributed heavily as a gagman…forty or fifty ideas monthly."
He came with KFS in 1939, and it was the late Joseph V. Connolly who dubbed his panel, Cuties.
Proud of never having missed a deadline, Simms works from 9 or 10 a.m. daily until 11 p.m.—six days a week. It wasn't until four years ago that he stopped working Sundays. He is a perfectionist—and that trait keeps him glued at his drawing board until late into the night.
The original booklet in its entirety, can be seen here.
[In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Campbell and his mother lived with her father, two sisters and a female boarder in St. Louis, Missouri at 3307 Arsenal Street. His name was recorded as "Elmer C. Campbell." In the 1920 census they lived next door at 3309; his name was recorded as "Elmer S. Campbell." After his time in Chicago, Campbell was recorded, in the 1930 census, in St. Louis at 4223 Enright Avenue, Apartment 401. He lived with his maternal grandfather and a boarder. According to African Americans in the Visual Arts (2003), "he moved in with an aunt in the Harlem section of New York City in 1932. He studied at the Art Students League, where his mentor was German-born artist and caricaturist George Grosz." One of his strips for the Amsterdam News was Did you Know. African Americans in the Visual Arts said, "When Playboy…began publication in the early 1950s, Campbell drew cartoons for it too. His work also appeared in such leading magazines as The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan. During his most productive years he turned out as many as 500 cartoons and other pieces of art a year….In the mid-1950s, tired of racial prejudice he experienced in the United States, Campbell and his wife moved to the tiny village of Neerach, Switzerland. 'Out here in this little off-the-wall village we don't have to prove nothin' to nobody,' he said in a 1966 interview. Campbell remained in Switzerland until his wife's death in October 1970. Then he returned to the United States…" Campbell passed away on January 27, 1971 in White Plains, New York. His death was reported in the New York Times on the 29th.]
Labels: News of Yore
Monday, August 15, 2011
...The Rest of the Story
In early 1926, a future cartooning star was just another Southside Chicago teenager with dreams of the bigtime. One day he would be noted for his incredible drawing ability, but at the cusp of his twentieth birthday he was still wet behind the ears.
Elmer was lucky in that there were, in those days, publishers in his vicinity. And there was one that must have seemed particularly accessible to him. Elmer was a black man, and to walk into a 'white' magazine office looking to be published would have been an act of tremendous courage, if not just a downright waste of time. But the William B. Ziff Company was different. Not only did they publish a 'white' magazine (Ziff's
), they also handled a lot of advertising accounts for black newspapers. Perhaps Elmer though he might get a gig doing ad layouts for those ... and maybe he did. If so, it doesn't seem to have made it into any accounts of his life. However, I can say that he did come away from Ziff having sold at least one item.
, which printed grade-C humor and grade D short fiction, also printed cartoons. A lot of cartoons. Most of them were just clipped from other (better) magazines, but some were originals. Few of these were very good. Zim, who seemed to have a cartoon in any magazine that came off the press no matter how obscure was an exception, as was Nate Collier. But in the main the original cartoons were pure amateur stuff. So when Elmer walked in the door with his portfolio, his less than polished work was no barrier. And neither was the color of his skin.
It was in the spring of 1926 that Ziff's Magazine
was renamed America's Humor
, and the name change signaled a need for cartoons in even greater quantity. Perhaps because of this fact, someone at Ziff's thought Elmer's work was deserving of a full page and a byline in the table of contents. Or if not deserving, at least a cheap way to take up a page in the 164 page monster of a magazine that was planned for summer release.
It is no great stretch to assume that Elmer's page of jive-talking black characters was sold for no more than a couple of bucks, or perhaps was consigned free in exchange for the 'exposure'.
That 'exposure' did nothing for Elmer's career. He instead dropped out of trying to sell his amateur cartoons and enrolled at the Chicago Institute of Fine Art. He graduated from that institution as an artist to be reckoned with. Soon his work was appearing in major magazines and syndicated to newspapers. Elmer's artistry made him a well-to-do fellow, enough so that he eventually had the wherewithal to leave his home country, which did not really like well-off black men, especially those who specialized in drawing gorgeous white women. He lived in Switzerland for most of the rest of his life, where, as he put it, "Nobody starts looking as if they're thinking, 'Ugh, there's a nigger in here.'"
So here it is. Probably Elmer's first published work, from the first issue of America's Humor
, dated Summer 1926. And, as you may have figured out by now, Elmer later went by a classed-up version of his given name in print. He was known in the pages of Esquire
, and every newspaper that printed his Cuties
cartoons, as E. Simms Campbell. And now you know the rest of the story ... with apologies to Paul Harvey for stealing his schtick.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics