Monday, October 22, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Foster M. Follett
Foster Morse Follett was born in Sandusky, Ohio on April 11, 1870, according to his 1897 passport application at Ancestry.com. He was two months old in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census and the only child of Foster and Portia. His father was an accountant.
Ten years later he was the oldest of three children. The family remained in Sandusky and resided at 424 Madison Street. His father was a bookkeeper. According to a profile at Lambiek Comiclopedia, written by Douglas Follett, he was ten when his father died and had a high school education. His mother remarried, date unknown, to Henry Gardner. At some point he studied to be an artist in New York City. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 27, 1897, noted his upcoming marriage: “Mr. Foster Follett of New York, formerly of Sandusky, will be married Tuesday [June 29] to Miss Nettie Bell of Columbus.”
During their honeymoon in Europe, he applied for an emergency passport on December 24, 1897. The application showed that he resided in Cleveland, left the U.S. on September 29, and temporarily sojourned in Munich. Follett was described as follows:
Stature: 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches, Eng.
In 1898 or 1899 the couple returned and settled in New York City. He has not been found in the 1900 census. In 1901 their daughter, Helen was born; Foster followed in 1902 and Merritt in 1905; both born in New Jersey. His mother’s passing was reported in the Kalamazoo Gazette (Michigan), September 30, 1906:
Flint, Mich., Sept. 29.—Mrs. Portia Gardner, wife of J. Henry Gardner, the Flint bandmaster, who was awarded first prize for his state band at the exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, died yesterday, at the age of 63 years. She was a talented musician, and at the age of 17 had charge of the music in the public schools of Cleveland. She was a sister of Mayor A.L. Bartholomew, of Preston, Ia. Her son, Foster M. Follett, is a cartoonist on the New York World.
He contributed drawings to the magazine Outing, August 1903. During the 1900s he contributed to Sunday comics sections of the New York World, the McClure preprint section, and the Philadelphia Press. One of his many comic features, Granny Goodthing began in November 1909.
In 1910 the Follett family, with two more children, lived in Montclair, New Jersey at 116 Central Avenue. Follett’s occupation was artist. The New York Press, December 19, 1914, promoted its cartoonists and their creations: Carl E. Schultze’s Foxy Grandpa and the Boys, B. Cory Kilvert’s Dorothy and the Killies, Merle Johnson’s Bill and Bobbie, the Boy Scouts, and Foster M. Follett’s Doctor Zoo and His Pets. He also worked in animation at the Bray Studio. A 1980 issue of Horizon said:
…Foster M. Follett is a lesser-celebrated cartoonist who, after he left strips, pioneered in animation. His creation The See-See Kid was, like many early strips , so popular around the nation that merchandising abounded: songs, plays, reprint books, cookies, cigarettes, clothing brands, not unlike the commercial pervasion of Peanuts characters today.… [Allan sez ... I think they are referring to Follett's excellent feature, "The Kid", which ran in the World 1904-1910; I don't recall ever seeing it titled as quoted, and I don't recall any merchandising, either]
His family resided at the same address in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Follett passed away February 19, 1938. His death was reported two days later in the New York Times:
Montclair, N.J., Feb. 20.—Foster M. Follett, artist and cartoonist, died in a hospital in Richmond, Va., yesterday, according to word received here today. Mr. Follett was in an automobile accident in South Hill, near Richmond, last Monday while on his way to Florida on a vacation, and died of a heart attack. His wife, Mrs. Nettie Bell Follett, who was injured in the accident, is still in the Richmond Hospital.
Mr. Follett, born in Ohio sixty-five years ago, came to Montclair thirty years ago. He had been an artist for more than forty years, having done commercial work for many national publications and cartoons for The Saturday Evening Post and The New York World.
The rest of the week will be devoted to the comic strips of
Foster Follett -- enjoy!
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