Thursday, March 29, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Ralph B. Fuller
Ralph Briggs Fuller was born in Capac, Michigan on March 9, 1890, according to his World War I and II draft cards. The Art of the Comic Strip (1971), Who's Who in American Art (1938), and World Encyclopedia of Comics (1983) said he was born in Michigan. Wikipedia said he was born in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, but that was where he died.
In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest child of six children born to Arthur and Louise. They lived in Richmond, Michigan. His father's occupation was recorded as "Dealer Drugs". A profile of Fuller said:
…Fuller was 16  when he sold his first cartoon to the old Life for $8. The next mail, he received a Life letter saying, sorry, they had already used that joke and would he please send back the $8. He did. But he soon sold them another cartoon.
He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and while working as a staff artist for the Chicago Daily News, he got $100 for the first colored picture ever reproduced by Life. That sold him on the magazine market. He decided to come to New York.
Fuller has not been found in the 1910 census, but evidently he lived in or near New York City. The World Encyclopedia of Comics (1983) said:
…Fuller's first work in a major market was a drawing sold to Life magazine in 1910. It was incredibly crude and out of place in that journal, but editor J.A. Mitchell obviously had a sixth sense about latent talent….
In short order Fuller was the most published cartoonist in American magazines. His panel cartoons filled the pages of Puck, Life and Judge, as well as Collier's, Harper's, and, later, Liberty, Ballyhoo, College Humor, and occasionally the New Yorker. His work was so popular that in the early 1920's Judge devoted a standing feature—Fuller Humor—to his work, an honor afforded dew others.
In the 1920 census, Fuller, his wife Alexa and year-and-a-half-old son Robert lived in Leonia, New Jersey at 170 Ames Avenue. His occupation was artist. He was recorded at the same address in the 1930 census and the family included daughter Elizabeth. His strip Oaky Doaks debuted on June 17, 1935. The Who's Who in American Art entry had the New Jersey address, and his home address as West Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
He signed his World War II draft card on April 25, 1942. He lived at the same New Jersey address. He was self-employed and described as five feet eight-and-a-half inches tall, 145 pounds, gray eyes and hair.
Oaky Doaks ended its run in 1961. Fuller passed away on August 16, 1963, in Boothbay Harbor. The Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska) reported his death on August 17. Wikipedia said he died on August 17. He was survived by his wife and two children.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles