Saturday, February 25, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: A.C. Hollingsworth
In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Hollingsworth was the youngest of two sons born to Charles and Cynthia. His brother, Roy, was about four years older. The family lived in Manhattan, New York City at 258 West 153 Street, which was in Harlem. His parents were British West Indies citizens; his father, a shipping clerk at a dress house, emigrated 1917, and his mother, a presser in a dress factory, in 1920. They married around 1923 when she was 19.
Bill Schelly's Man of Rock: A Biography of Joe Kubert (2008) has an account of Hollingsworth's teenage years and struggles to get in the comic book field.
…Having grown up poor and black in Harlem, Hollingsworth…likely would have never known Joe Kubert if they hadn't crossed paths at Holyoke [Publications]. This meeting was pivotal for Hollingsworth. It was Kubert who told the young artist about the High School of Music and Art, and suggested that he apply. Hollingsworth was in eighth grade at the time. Subsequently, Hollingsworth did apply and was accepted at M&A for his freshman year. Hollingsworth was Kubert's junior by two years...
…Not that Kubert was the only influence on Hollingsworth. The younger boy's work was also shaped by his West Indian and Caribbean heritage and the world of Harlem in the 1930s, which was a center for African-American culture. Hollingsworth's biographer Valliere Richard Auzenne, PhD wrote, "Harlem was a thriving community which pulsated with life, a convergence of sight, sound and color, and a pivot for people of color. A community which supported art created within it confines, jazz, poetry, murals, sculpture, and paintings. This was the world Alvin grew up in."
In an interview conducted [by Valliere Richard Auzenne] in the mid-1980s, Alvin Hollingsworth recalled, "My first cartoons were city scenes picturing the Empire State Building, cartoons where superheroes would be leaping from building to building. I got my first job [in comics] while I was in junior high school. I couldn't get paid because I didn't have working papers. My father had to take off from work to go down with me to get working papers so I could get paid.
"I would have to get up early in the morning, around six, take the work down to the building and leave it with the elevator driver and come up to my school to be there by 8:00 or 8:30. It forced me to be very disciplined."
...On the weekends, Hollingsworth would visit Kubert at the Kubert home in Brooklyn. [According to his father's, Jacob Kubert, World War II draft card, the home address was 48 East 51st Street.] Kubert said, "We were kids together. We knew each other through high school, I mean, we used to wrestle and stuff like that. Alvin was a good friend."
..."Joe was very nice," Hollingsworth recalled. "Every weekend while the other kids were out playing basketball, I was going over to study with Joe. Joe taught me a lot. He taught me how to cut a line [with] a razor blade…so the line was so sharp it looked like it was printed. He taught me a lot about how to give a picture force by having the punch look like it swept through the page.
…Hollingsworth…struggled doing both school assignments and trying to break into the comic-book business. "I remember one term," Hollingsworth recalled, "[when] by midterm I had failed every course but one because I hadn't done any work. I was getting as much artwork as I could do and going to Music and Art full time. Music and Art was a pretty rough school. I was too busy doing cartoons. Mr. Patterson, who know I was doing comic books, spoke to the administration on my behalf. They lightened my load back to four classes and I passed everything by next term.
"When I got into the field I began running into prejudice, for now I was competing for jobs," Hollingsworth remembered. "I was no longer 'helping people,' " At first he worked for Bernard Bailey, who had a shop operation, just because of the difficulty of lining up his own work. Eventually he was able to find assignments on his own. Hollingsworth went on to carve out a substantial career in the comics field, jumping around the genres, but proving most effective on the horror strips that became popular at the decade's end. Much of his work was for Fiction House, Avon and Lev Gleason.
Hollingsworth is another of those artists whose current reputation is much lower then [sic] warranted by his talent. This is largely because he left the comic book field in the late ’50s first for syndications strips and then the fine arts. It is a recurring pattern that I have noticed that comic book artists who did not take part in the superhero revival of the 60′s and later generally do not get much attention today….
According to Who's Who, Hollingsworth continued his art studies at the Art Students League of New York; his instructors were Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Ralph Fabri and Dr. Bernard Myers, from 1950 to 1952. At City University of New York, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1956, and Masters of Arts in 1959. The Art Students League of New York: Summer Schools in Woodstock and New York City, 1971 catalogue said, "…After graduating from the High School of Music and Art, he went on to City College of New York City and subsequently switched from social studies to a major in art. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate at City where he went on to earn his M.A…."
...The illustrators who provided the fabulous covers of soldiers with anacondas wrapped around their necks surrounded by nymphos—now seen as classic period art—were a breed apart. Many were serious bodybuilders, actually resembling the action heroes on their covers. Art director Mel Blum, for one, was a huge, deaf weightlifter, though he remained terrified of publisher Martin Goodman. "Did Guh-man like it? Is it all right with Gun-man?" he would often ask Bruce Jay [Friedman]. Mort Kunstler was another top-dollar freelance artist, who could command about a thousand bucks for a detailed painting of a civil war death camp. He was the only one who could take Blum at arm-wrestling, in which they often engaged.
James Bama, a first-string artist, was yet another weightlifter, Bruce Jay recalls visiting his studio, where he worked upon a dozen canvasses at once—adding brushstrokes to Mag[azine] Management covers, advertisements, other magazines' covers and back. Finally, there was Al Hollingsworth, possibly the first Black cartoonist in men's adventure, whom Bruce Jay brought in early on. Hollingsworth was an exceedingly jolly fellow who later became a distinguished painter and—needless to—was also a massive weightlifter.
Who's Who said Hollingsworth was a graphics instructor at the High School of Art & Design from 1961 to 1971. Jet magazine, May 16, 1963, said, "Harlemite Alvin Hollingsworth, acclaimed by art critics as an 'internationally significant' painter, is one of the busiest artists in New York. In addition to his art work for the publication Manhattan East, he teaches at the Pan American Art School and the High School of Art and Design." Who's Who said he won the 1963 Emily Lowe Art Competition Award, and the 1964 Whitney Foundation Award. His participation in the Civil Rights movement and the art group Spiral were covered in Artwords: Discourse on the 60s and 70s (1992).
Men of Achievement, Volume 6 (1979) said he married Stephanie Ann Knoepler in 1966; they had four children. At the Harlem Freedom School, Office of Economic Opportunity, he was a consultant on art and the art coordinator, from 1966 to 1967. He was director at the Lincoln Institute of Psycho-Therapy Art Gallery, from 1966 to 1968. That was followed by supervisor of art at Project Turn-On, in New York, from 1968 to 1969. From 1969 to 1975, he was a painting instructor at the Art Students League.
His books include Art of Acrylic Painting (1969, co-author); The Sniper (1969, illustrator); Black Out Loud (1970, illustrator); I'd Like the Goo-gen-heim (1970, author and illustrator); and Journey (1970, illustrator).
The Herald Statesman, March 25, 1970, said he was a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Education of New York University. The ART Gallery Magazine, April 1970, said, "…Hollingsworth teaches full days at New York's High School of Art and Design, continues to work toward his Ph.D. (fluorescent materials), and steadily adds to a seemingly endless series of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints (some 200 at last count), all of which take the Guggenheim Museum as a sort of leitmotif. 'I love that building,' says Hollingsworth, 'and it's a real challenge to see how many creative things I can evolve from that one theme.' " According to an October 24, 1970 listing in the New York Times, "You're Part of Art" debuted October 24 on New York City TV station WNBC. The description said, " 'City Textures and Art', produced in cooperation with the Art Students League of New York. First of ten programs, Alvin C. Hollingsworth is host."
Something About the Author (1985) included a note from Hollingsworth on his recent work: "A mural for Hostos Community College entitled, 'Hostos Odessey'; a commissioned portrait of Rose Morgan presented to her in June, 1981; a commissioned portrait of Lena Horne presented to her in May, 1982 in celebration for fifty years in show business, I am currently a full professor of art at Hostos Community College [New York]."
Hollingsworth passed away July 14, 2000, in Hastings on Hudson, New York. An obituary was published July 17 in the Journal News (Hastings on Hudson, New York).
His art is in the Chase Manhattan Bank, New York; Brooklyn Museum Permanent Collection; IBM Collection, White Plains, New York; Williams College Art Collection; and the Johnson Publishing Permanent Art Collection, Chicago.
African American Visual Artists Database has an extensive bibliography and list of exhibitions for Hollingsworth.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
I don't think anybody has mentioned that A. C. Hollingsworth also worked on "The Spirit" Sunday section for a while, inking over Jerry Grandenetti's pencils. The dates I have for his collaboration to the page are as follows:
1951: Aug. 5; Aug. 19-Dec. 2; Dec. 16
1952: Jan. 13, 27; Feb. 24; Mar. 9-23; Apr. 13, 27; May 18; June 1
Friday, February 24, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Bill Chase
William Charles Chase was born in Brinkley, Arkansas on July 20, 1910. His birthplace was named at Salute to Pioneering Cartoonists of Color. His birthdate was recorded at the California Death Index and U.S. Veterans Gravesites, both at Ancestry.com. Information on his childhood has not been found.
Chase has not been found in the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Federal Censuses. The date of his move to New York City is not known. Artprice.com said he was a "graphic artist", who studied at Howard University, and exhibited in the Harmon Foundation's 1933 show. The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, Volume 1 (2004) has an article on the Harmon traveling exhibition.
Dark Laughter: The Satiric Art of Oliver W. Harrington (1993) named Chase as an art director and cartoonist at the New York Amsterdam News Magazine.
A sample of his Pee Wee strip is here. A passenger list at Ancestry.com recorded Chase's voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Aboard the S.S. Paris, he sailed, on August 28, 1936, from Southampton, England. He arrived in New York City, September 4. His date and place of birth was "July/20/1911 Brinkley, Ark." and his address was "208 W. 149th Str — N.Y.C.", which was in Harlem. Presumably he spent time in Europe. One of his sports cartoons is here and an editorial cartoon is here.
Some time after the war, Chase moved to San Francisco, California, where he passed away on March 1, 1956. The Plaindealer (Kansas) published news of his death March 9, 1956.
Chase was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, attended Howard University and Traphagen School of Deign in New York.
He was well known as a cartoonist and formerly served as society editor of the Amsterdam News in New York City, where he lived for a time.
He became editor of the Independent in January, 1955.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Next Door
Anyhow, Next Door was a very long-running feature in a field dominated by short-timers. It ran until at least February 22 1953 (date from the Baltimore Afro-American), over a decade, maintaining very high quality art and gags throughout the run. I think near the end Shearer may have self-syndicated the panel, as in the 50s it gains a copyright slug for Paragon Features, a company that has no other credits of which I'm aware.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Around Harlem
Around Harlem doesn't seem to have been syndicated, but only used in the New York Amsterdam News. If it was syndicated the name of the feature might well have been altered to make it less NYC-centric, so I may have seen it elsewhere and not recognized it as the same feature.
Around Harlem was produced while 'Teddy' Shearer was in the service in the heat of World War II, so it's no surprise that many of the gags were about the war and the military. I don't know what Shearer's role was in the 92nd Division of the Army, but it seemed to afford him adequate time to draw his feature on a regular basis. Considering how spotty the production of other features were in the black papers, Shearer was a paragon of punctuality; rarely did he miss a weekly edition.
Around Harlem was discontinued on March 11 1944 in the Amsterdam News in favor of another Shearer panel cartoon, one we'll discuss in tomorrow's post...
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Ted Shearer
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, February 20, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Lohar
By far the most unusual of the new strips that debuted in the Pittsburgh Courier's color comics section in 1950 was Lohar. I believe this may be the only dramatic newspaper strip ever to star a wild animal in its natural habitat. Not only was the premise unusual, but the strip was really well-written and drawn.
Lohar is the story of a leopard in northern India, and the title of the strip comes from the name of a warrior caste there. Eventually the strip gets rather strange -- the leopard at one point ends up in the Arctic -- but I have read only isolated episodes so I just can't say if the storytelling was loopy or if the plot developments were organic.
Paradoxically, although Lohar was the most intriguing (at least to me) strip in the comics section, it was rarely or perhaps never signed. The credit on the strip I determined through the Editor & Publisher listing, which cited someone named Tom Brady. I know nothing of this person, and wonder if it was one of the other section contributors working under a pseudonym. However, the art style is different enough that I really don't think so.
Lohar debuted with the new Courier color section on August 19 1950, and outlived the section, eventually becoming a daily-style strip in the Courier. The strip ended on October 18 1958.
Thanks to the University of Michigan Special Collections Library for photos of their collection of Courier color sections. They have the only known run of the early color sections from 1950-51, and were very gracious in sharing photos of the strips in their collection with me. Above are strips 1-3 in the Lohar series.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics