Saturday, April 21, 2012

 

Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, March 3 1908 -- Oh no! Finally it's the day of the big fight between Jimmy Britt and Battling Nelson, but the bout is held long after press time of the Examiner! Stripper's Guide readers must wait YET ANOTHER week to learn who won! If only the bout had happened in the dim past and there were some sort of electronic resource that could be used to find out what happened...

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Friday, April 20, 2012

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Frank R. Leet



Frank Rutledge Leet was born in Canfield, Ohio on October 16, 1881, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of four children born to Eugene and Ida. They lived in Girard Village, Liberty Township, Ohio on State Street. His father was an agent of the Erie railroad. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 8, 1949, said, "He was a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art." The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum's Cartoon Image Database has scans of his panels, A Rhyme of Doting Parents and A Rhyme of a Doting Mamma. Chronicling America has some of his sports cartoons and other work here.


Saginaw News (Michigan) 6/1/1907


The Tacoma TImes (Washington) 9/10/1910


The 1910 census recorded Leet in Lakewood, Rockport Township, Ohio at 11825 Detroit Avenue. He had been married four years and was a newspaper artist. He and Nellie had two daughters, Jean and Dorothy. Some of his work for Newspaper Enterprise Association can be viewed at Yesterday's Papers. The Mahoning Dispatch (Ohio), July 18, 1913, reported his latest endeavors.


Warren Chronicle: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Leet, of Chicago, Ill., are guests of the former's parents, Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Leet. For a number of years Mr. Leet has been identified with the N.E.A. syndicate as a cartoonist. Mr. Leet has decided to go into business for himself, and has already contracted with a St. Louis, Mo., syndicate to handle his cartoons and strip work, as well as a Sunday supplement sheet. Mr. Leet began his artistic career in the schools at Girard. His first printed cartoon appeared in the Warren Daily Chronicle about 15 years ago.

The Day Book (Chicago, Illinois) 4/29/1913


Fourteen months later, the Dispatch, October 16, 1914, said: "Frank Leet, son of Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Leet of Warren, formerly of Canfield, is now a cartoonist on Puck. He resides in Warren." His strip, Al Acres, is discussed at the blog, Salmagundi, which says the strip started in 1916 and ended in 1942. On September 12, 1918, he signed his World War I draft card. He lived at 1664 Waterbury Road in Lakewood, and was a self-employed advertising artist. His description was medium height, slender build with gray eyes and black hair.

In the 1920 census, he was at the same address and occupation. His son, Robert, was five months old. His youngest brother, Warren, lived next door at 1668. The Leet family was recorded in the History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Volume 2 (1921). In 1928, his first two books, The Clowns' Acrobatic Alphabet and When Santa Was Late were published by the Goldsmith Publishing Company. According to Lambiek, "Leet became ill with a form of encephalitis that left him with a palsy and unable to draw, thus his son took over the drawing of his syndicated comic strip 'Al Acres' when he was just 12 years old [1931]. Frank Leet would do the writing and develop the concept and his son would do the drawing." Information substantiating Leet's illness has not been found at this time.

According to the 1930 census, he remained in Lakewood but at a different address, 1533 Chesterland Avenue. His occupation was independent commercial artist. In this decade, he wrote a number of books, illustrated by Fern Bisel Peat, that were published by the Saalfield Publishing Company: The Animal Caravan (1930), The Hobby Horse That Learned to Gallop (1930); Hop, Skip and Jump: Three Little Kittens (1936); The Little Brown Dog (1930); Polka-Dot Cat (1930); and Purr and Miew, Kitten Stories (1931). To the Circus the Children Go (1931) was illustrated by Gertrude Alice Kay. When Santa Was Late, illustrated by Buford Austin Winfrey, was published in 1990.

He was not working when he signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He and Nell remained at the same address. Leet passed away December 7, 1949. His death was reported, the following day, in the Plain Dealer.


Frank R. Leet, commercial artist, cartoonist and author of children's books, will be buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery following services at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the Saxton funeral home, 13215 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood.

He died yesterday in his home, 1533 Chesterland Avenue, Lakewood, at the age of 68. He was a native of Canfield, O., and had been a resident of Greater Cleveland since early in the century. He was a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. For many years he had a studio in the Caxton Building.

Surviving him are his wife, Mrs. Nell Wallis Leet, two daughters, Mrs. Jean Barger and Mrs. Dorothy Hanna; a son, Robert, and five grandchildren
.


Leet's passing was also noted in the New York Times, December 8, 1949, and in an issue of the Wilson Library Bulletin, Volume 24, 1949. His wife passed away the same day in 1974, according to Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007 at Ancestry.com.

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Thank you for providing this information on my grandfather,
Frank Leet. My father, Robert, did indeed draw the strips after my grandfather contracted his illness, which left him bedridden for more than 20 years. He passed on when my oldest sister was an infant, thus my sisters and I never had the pleasure of knowing him. The Internet has provided us with a treasure trove of his work to add to some of his original work that we possess. On behalf of our family, I am expressing our appreciation for your research and for sharing some samples of his prolific work. Thomas R. Leet
 
Leet's signature was all over the sport pages circa 1910. The Chronicling America link and the Tacoma Times strip show in the blog barely touch the surface.

Search through that 1910 Tacoma Times day by day from April through August and nearly every day you will see a one-panel baseball drawing by Leet in the sports page. These appeared in many papers (and Leet wasn't the only one supplying them, "Meek" also drew many). They usually accompanied the article about the local team's latest game, along with a caption that related the comic to the game. I assume that they were not drawn in response to the game though, and that they were essentially stock artwork that the cartoonist had supplied ahead of time.
 
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Dic and Doc

 


I was surprised to find that I have never yet done a posting for Frank R. Leet, so let's correct that sad situation today.

Leet was the #1 workhorse cartoonist at NEA from 1907 to 1913. He created over a dozen comic strip and panel series, plus uncountable one-shot cartoons and news story illustrations. His output was so great you have to wonder whether he wore out pen nibs or if they melted from all the furious drawing.

Dic and Doc is one of his earlier series, and a fun one, about a kid who really loves dime novels, and a dog who really loves the kid. Can you imagine the uproar today if a strip had a kid character who smokes! Dic and Doc ran from October 19 1907 to sometime in January 1908

Whether Leet burned out at NEA, decided he wasn't paid enough, or something else, he left in 1913. In 1914-15 he produced a couple of minor features for World Color Printing. Then, according to Lambiek.net, he became ill and was unable to draw. By the early 1920s he was producing a strip called "Al's Acres". I have a nice long run of the strip but have had a devil of a time figuring out where it ran based on the clips -- I think it was in an agricultural journal called Ohio Farmer. Finally, Leet pops up again in the 1930s as the writer of some children's books.

I asked Alex Jay to see if he could find out more about Frank Leet, and he sure did. Look for his Ink-Slinger Profile coming tomorrow!

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Jesse Harrison Mason



Jesse Harrison Mason was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 7, 1891, according to his World War I and II draft cards at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two sons born to William and Gertrude. They lived in Baltimore at 1610 East Lanvale Street. His father was a butter merchant.


Ten years later, the family lived on the same street but at different number, 1705. Mason was an engraver at the Maryland Lithograph Company. His marriage was recorded in an issue of the Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume 14, 1973: "Virginia Baker Heard & Jesse Harrison Mason, April 20, 1912". On June 5, 1917, he signed his World War I draft card. He lived in Baltimore at 1406 Ashland Avenue and had one child. His occupation was advertising artist at the Baltimore News. His description was medium height and build with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

In the 1920 census, Mason lived with his wife, daughter and mother at 4 Holly in Baltimore. He was an artist at an engraving company. According to the Baltimore Sun, January 17, 1969, he founded, in 1924, the Mason Company, an advertising firm. Printers' Ink, Volume 147, Issue 2, 1929, reported his success:


J.H. Mason Leaves Graphic Advertising, Inc.-- Jesse Harrison Mason has resigned as vice-president and art director of Graphic Advertising, Inc., Baltimore, in order to devote his entire time to Mason & Company, advertising illustrators of that city, of which he is a resident.


An issue of Printed Salesmanship, from Volume 53, 1929, said of Mason: "…self-taught insofar as he has not had much formal instruction in art, but a keen sense of perception plus a native skill in technique, which he is constantly developing..."

On July 15, 1929, Mason married Thora Bistrup in Baltimore, according to the Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), July 26. It is not known what happened to his first wife.

The 1930 census recorded Mason and his family in Linthicum Heights, Maryland on Maple Road. He was an advertising artist. In the mid-1930s, he and William D. Tipton (1892–1945) collaborated on the panel, Flight, and strip, Air-Minded Junior.


Seattle Daily Times 6/19/1935


Seattle Daily Times 6/21/1935


His design work was praised in American Aviation, June 15, 1937.


We've had so many compliments on American Aviation's masthead and stationery that we might as well break down and confess that it's all the doings of Jesse Harrison Mason, that dynamo of dynamic hurricanes from Baltimore. Jess not only contributes regularly to the National Aeronautic Association's magazine, but he has become overnight the latest sensation in the world of aviation art and designing. His St. Louis air race posters are undoubtedly the classiest conception of all time for air race posters. We think he did a grand job for us. Someday an airline is going to be begging Jess to do some designing for it, and then we'll begin to see some effective advertising.


Mason signed his World War II draft card April 27, 1942. He lived in Linthicum Heights at 4 Sycamore Road, where he was self-employed. He was described as 5 feet 10.5 inches, 165 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair.

Mason passed away January 14, 1969, in Baltimore. His death was reported in the Sun on January 17. He was buried at Loudon Park National Cemetery in Baltimore.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

 

News of Yore 1964: Richard Q. "Moco" Yardley Profiled


Moco the Magnificent by Charles Bissell
(originally published in AAEC News, April 1964)

There are two cartoonists in America who cannot be copied. One of these is Chas. Addams, intimate of ghouls, gourmets, poltergeists, calcars, spoorns, octopi, devils, demons, morticians, witches, werewolves, weirdos, and all the forces of evil. The other is Dick Yardley of Baltimore's Morning Sun, whose perhaps even more sinister playfellows are the world's captains and kings. Of course any fairly competent lifter could handily appropriate their styles. A truly skilled copyist might begin to get some of the other stuff. But if perfect copies were possible, they would have to carry the signatures too—so indelibly is the mark of exclusive possession stamped on their work.

The most remarkable thing about Yardley (avaunt, Addams!) is that he is an editorial cartoonist at all. In a field bound by tradition and usage, limited in subject matter, regenerating on its own cliches, he has operated almost as if all the rest didn't exist.

His style, which might be described as early Ming, middle comic strip, late Picasso, and all Yardley—or perhaps better some other way-is not suitable for editorial cartoons. To begin with, it's not serious. We all know how you've got to be mighty serious about lots of things-atom bombs, for instance. You couldn't put over something big and profound by drawing a couple of nudeniks with four heads, a little banjo-eyed character in a beret and maybe a cat, all caught up in some sort of symbolical astral soup and expect to scare daylights out of your readers. Well, no, you couldn't—but Yardley can.

And when you think of it, hasn't he made his point in the most logical and familiar way? Aren't we all familiar with nightmares, subconscious thoughts, subliminal images? Don't we all have a horror of crawly and shapeless things, of mutations and monstrosities? Aren't we awed by the stars and galaxies? Isn't there a spooky ancient memory of signs and symbols, runes and cryptograms? And isn't comedy always there in our minds too, flickering like so much heat lightning?

Yardley's world is tremendously animate and in this quality too, it accurately reflects the state of the planet. Like something seen in a microscope, there are unexpected and beautiful mosaics, mysterious shapes and zillions of things whirling about in every direction. Oddly enough, the figures that suggest this motion are not in violent action. There are no flow lines and no straining for movement. Yet everything in the picture—houses, trees, water, animals, people—has a vitality of its own. The girls are corn fed and lovely, nubile and nifty. Villains are mean, ambitions are raw, politicos are crafty, embarrassments are keen. There is nothing static, nothing detached. Everything is involved with everything else as if in some over-sized, many-triangled love affair. Often as not, hovering over all this, may be a very special Cupid with wings sprouting from the glutei maximi rather than the shoulder locations favored by Fra Angelico, Rembrandt, Rubens and other knowing masters.

In fact, it is safe, I think, to say that love, more than anything else, make Yardley’s pictures go round and round. There is love of the work that shows in every line. And there is love of life, and humanity, and of things as they ought to be, that comes across, no matter what else he may be saying.

The experts on cartooning, who rise up every so often and tell us how bad we are, and what, on the other hand, great cartoons should be, are in agreement on several points. Foremost is the notion that all cartoons should be something like Goya's war etchings. Another is that they should be biting caricature in the manner of Daumier. All agree they should be simple, direct, forceful, uncluttered, understandable at a glance, the pen lines jagged, the ink acid, and never, never, never, should they be full of little labels, signs and explanations.
Yardley's great cartoons are great in spite of all this. He will probably never get any splendid prize or citation for conformity. If his work is Goyaesque in any way—it's 'La Maja Denuda' Goyaesque. (Some of his figures wear less than Adam). And it's hard to tell about his caricatures. Some are true, most are flattering, and others may be spitting images too, but not necessarily of the people depicted. His manner is often indirect, terribly cluttered, and even the Greek choruses (beret and cat) seem to have Greek choruses of their own. His lines are not jagged but flow as smoothly as Maryland rye, and as for labels— they are not only numerous but at times in foreign languages. You couldn't possibly understand one of these cartoons at a glance, but that's the point—you have to stay a while and look and think and enjoy.

I am not artist enough to know how much art goes into his work. These pictures may be thought out in almost mathematical precision, or, more likely, they come out spontaneously. Certainly the designs are intricate and inventive. Certainly there are complicated and sophisticated constructions.

Before becoming an editorial cartoonist, Yardley did a back page panel largely about the pleasures of Baltimore, that had no equal anywhere. We didn’t have the bomb then and he could give a lot of attention to crab cakes and high prices and a curmudgeon of a boss and the bounties of Chesapeake and the activities of a very lovely little girl who happened to be his daughter. His drawing, always beautiful, foliated into elaborate maps, nostalgic wood-cut effects and simulations of old engravings. They still do now and then – weight of the world or no – and an added nifty on rare occasions may be an old photo or painting retouched into some hilarious caricature of itself. As clever as things are, you never think of them being clever because there is no self-consciousness or striving for effect. They are the right thing at the right time and just what you can expect one day or another from Yardley.

Since he has no peers it is hard to evaluate him in relation to other cartoonists or even in relation to the profession. He probably never broke up a Tweed ring or cleaned up a rat alley. He has probably never ruined any public figure through merciless caricature. He doesn’t, as a rule, lend his talents to furthering the routine good causes, and if he has a hobby of collecting medals or doing woodwork, he doesn’t mention it anywhere. On the other hand, though, he can hit very hard while not seeming to do so. His likes and hates are intense and constant and there is never any doubt which side he is on. His touch is often light and always whimsical, but as with all the greatest satirists, his concern is with the largest things. About the state of the world and the state of man, Dick Yardley probably has more to say than any of us.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Our Ancestors




Richard Q. Yardley was best known as the longstanding editorial cartoonist of the Baltimore Morning Sun, but for a short stint he also moonlighted with a daily cartoon panel, Our Ancestors, produced for NEA. The panel was no great shakes as humor, with punchlines that seemed limp from years of use, but the art made the feature worth perusing.

Yardley was in the vanguard of the so-called new wave of editorial cartoonists. Although he started out with a pretty conventional style in the 1930s, he soon tossed out his grease pencil and stipple board and adopted a clean-lined, animated style more closely associated with gag cartoons. His editorial cartoons, though often packed with details and labels, have an openness, an airiness, about them that is amazing to behold. These qualities made his editorial cartoons stand out from the pack. It also, unfortunately, kept Yardley from being taken very seriously by some of his peers. (However, one who 'got it' was Charles Bissell, whose profile of Yardley in the AAEC News will appear tomorrow here on the blog.)

Yardley used his middle name, Quincy, as the credit line on Our Ancestors, indicating that he either didn't feel any great desire to be associated with it, or that his bosses at the Baltimore Sun weren't happy with his moonlighting. My guess is the latter, since Yardley is reported to have been quite a history buff. I'm guessing he probably delighted in coming up with these history-related gags, even if they often play flat, at least to my ear.

Our Ancestors was added to the NEA line-up on March 27 1961 and was cancelled on September 4 1965. The series was revived, presumably in reprints, for their weekly Suburban Features offering from May 12 1975 to 1981.

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Notice the little cat in Yardley's cartoons, who also appeared on his ed cartoons. Many editorial cartoonists have used a mascot such as this, but few, if any, appear in strips. Any come to mind?
 
How about a mascot who got his own strip:

http://strippersguide.blogspot.com/2007/08/obscurity-of-day-sunday-punk.html

--Allan
 
Thank so much for posting this Allan. Mr. Yardley's daughter has been a longtime client of ours so I've gotten a peek at his wonderful originals (and some of them are HUGE) and really wanted to learn more about him.
 
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

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Repeat after me, Jim: "Them sidewindin', bush-whackin' varmints went THAT-a-way!
 
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