Saturday, July 07, 2012
The Hen Berry weasel hat story continues...
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Charles Bowers
Charles Raymond Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa, on June 7, 1889, according to his World War II draft card. In many newspapers, his middle name was Ray. Find a Grave has his birth as June 6, 1887, and Wikipedia has it as June 7, 1877 or 1887. The New York Herald-Tribune and the Associated Press said, in November 1946, that he was 57 years old at the time of his death, which would make his birth year 1889. After examining census records and newspaper articles, I believe his birthdate was June 7, 1877.
Ancestry.com has a family tree for Bowers' mother, Isabel Belle Lorimer (her maiden name) who was an Iowan native born in August 1850. Her mother was a French Canadian and her father a Missourian. Her name appeared in the 1856 Iowa State Census and 1860 U.S. Federal Census. She married around 1872.
In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Bowers was the third of four children born to C.E. and Bell Lormer [sic]. They lived in Vernon Springs Township, Iowa. His father, a North Carolina native of Irish parents, was a physician and surgeon. Five years later, the 1885 Iowa State Census recorded Bowers as the third of five children. His parents were Charles E. and Mary I., and they lived in Cresco, Iowa; Cresco is part of Vernon Springs Township.
Michael Sporn Animation has scanned pages of the Cartoonist PROfiles article by I. Klein who wrote about his time doing animation for Bowers. The article begins with a transcription of Bowers' obituary in the New York Herald-Tribune, November 27, 1946: "…Mr. Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa, and started in the career of amusing his fellow man by appearing in a tightrope act in a circus at the age of six, and in the next twenty years he played in the circus, in stock companies, painted signs, designed posters and painted murals." The February 1928 Photoplay magazine published an advertisement for Educational Pictures, which was a profile of Bowers written by the magazine's editor: "…His life has been almost as goofy as his genius. His mother was a French countess, his father an Irish doctor, and Charley was born in Iowa. After that anything was possible. It happened. At five a tramp circus performer taught him to walk rope. At six the circus kidnapped him. He didn't get home for two years and the shock killed his father…." Mug Shots is a website devoted to several forgotten silent film comedians, including Bowers. The site has a timeline of his career: "c.1889: Born in Cresco, Iowa; c.1895-1898: Worked as a circus performer. Began walking the tightrope at age six." According to the 1885 state census, Bowers was 7 years old and at home with both parents.
Information regarding his education and art training has not been found. The Herald-Tribune said, "...he played in the circus, in stock companies, painted signs, designed posters and painted murals." Bowers moved to the east coast and found work as an actor. The earliest reference found, so far, was in The New York Dramatic Mirror, May 13, 1899, which published a "Letter List. Members of the profession are invited to use The Mirror's post office facilities. No charge for advertising or forwarding letters. This list is made up of on Saturday morning. Letters will be delivered or forwarded on personal or written application. Letters advertised for 30 days and uncalled for will be returned to the post office. Circulars, postal cards and newspapers excluded." In the list, his name appeared as "Chas. R. Bowers".
The Dramatic Mirror, September 9, 1899, list of theatrical productions included A Temperance Town, with Bowers in the cast. The tour was scheduled to begin at Bar Harbor, Maine, on September 14. The Sun (New York), October 6, 1899, noted a change: "Edgar Temple appeared for the first time in 'Cyrano de Bergerac' last night. He replaces Charles Bowers." The January 6, 1900 Dramatic Mirror said, "…A good farce-comedy well played is always welcomed with delight by our theatergoers, and A Temperance Town drew large houses at the Empire 25–30. The play is as entertaining as ever…The supporting co. was in every way satisfactory, the principals being…Charles R. Bowers…" On November 24, 1900, the Dramatic Mirror noted "Joseph's Haworth's tour in Robert in Sicily will open next week. In the cast will be…Charles R. Bowers…" Bowers' name appeared in the Letters List of several issues of the Dramatic Mirror during 1901 and into 1902.
Bowers has not been found in the 1900 federal census. Maybe his theatrical career floundered and he looked for other opportunities. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, Volume 2 (1999) has an entry on Bowers (but with Thomas as his first name) which said: "…In 1905 Bowers secured a job as a cartoonist on the Chicago Tribune, later going over to the Chicago Star." I have not found samples of cartoons from that year, but a few of his 1916 cartoons, in the Chicago Tribune, are here. Bowers' antics were covered in "Bright Lights of Bohemia," published in The Sun, October 29, 1906. Eventually, he found work on the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, New Jersey, and, at this time, his earliest known cartoons are from July 1907.
Charley Bowers and his Saturday cartoon, "A Sad Home Coming," is to blame. The cartoon, with the "dead" Jersey, "looking natural" in his coffin, and the weeping fans, got the Jerseys' "goat" and what they did to the Orioles Sunday and the Indians yesterday was simply "fine business."
…Jack Ryan showed them [the team] Charley Bowers cartoon.
The treatment acted like magic. "Huh! Dead ones are we?" muttered the tail-enders. "Bowers has another guess coming!"
Around this time, Bowers directed and wrote a handful of live-action shorts: Domestic Difficulties, Promoters, The Prospectors, A.W.O.L., and The Extra-Quick Lunch. In an issue of Cartoonist PROfiles, Isadore Klein wrote about working for Bowers, starting in the summer of 1918. His previous employer was Hearst's International animation studio. He traveled from Newark, New Jersey to Fordham in the Bronx, New York City. During the interview, he told Bowers he was familiar with his editorial cartoons for the Newark Evening News. "After hemming-and-hawing, Mr. Bowers said he believed there was room on his staff for me...not as a full animator, but he would have me do an occasional scene between some other studio work. He told me my salary and that I could start as of then." Klein went on to explain how Bowers was pushed out of his job.
...The studio was buzzing with excitement and surmises. What could it all mean? We found out soon enough. Dick Friel had double-crossed his boss, Charles Bowers, by informing on him to Bud Fisher. The behind-Bowers'-back information was that Charles Bowers had been padding the payroll. In other words, Bowers' list of employees' salaries as given to Fisher's office was higher than what the studio staff was receiving. The charge was that Bowers pocketed the difference...The motive on Friel's part was to dislodge Bowers from his top job and for himself to take over. He was successful....Friel was now head of the studio....Well, Charles Bowers was not as easily buried as it at first appeared."
In 1920, Bowers and Josephine lived in Manhattan, New York City at 551 West 156 Street. He was a cartoonist who aged just three years since the last census. His wife did him one better at two years. His mother lived with her oldest daughter in Montana. According to the family tree, his mother passed away around 1925.
Around February 1920, Klein had quit the studio and began work in the art department of a trade magazine. "...About two weeks later, while at work I received a phone call at the office. The call was from Charles Bowers....He asked me to come up and work for him. I answered that I had decided to change profession from animator to commercial artist. He then offered me a tempting salary, as an animator. I weakened and agreed to see him in Mount Vernon (N.Y.) where he lived...." Klein accepted the job offer, and later said, "...This operation at Mt. Vernon, N.Y. continued for about a year, when suddenly Mr. Bowers announced that we were moving back to New York City, not downtown, but to Fordham, about one mile north of the Fordham studio....Bowers spent most of his time in his small laboratory rooms. He not only did his plastic puppet thing there but also wrote our cartoon stories...." Bowers also illustrated four volumes of The Bowers Movie Book, which were published by Harcourt, Brace & Co. in 1923: book one, Mother Goose; book two, Aesop's Fables; book three, The Circus; and book four, Once Upon a Time.
The Daily Star (Queens Borough, New York), July 9, 1924, reported the new industrial plants in Long Island City, Queens. One of them was "…Old Dominion Motion Picture Products Corporation, manufacturers of motion picture cameras, who will erect a building on First avenue, Long Island City…." Three days later the Daily Star reported the following: "At the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Queensboro Chamber of Commerce, twenty-one new members were elected. The list of new members with their addresses and business connections follows: …Charles R. Bowers, Old Dominion Motion Picture Company, Long Island City…." In Cartoonist PROfiles, Klein wrote:
The Herald-Tribune obituary said he was survived by his wife, Winifred. The fate of his first wife is not known. The 1930 census recorded Bowers and Winifred in Norwalk, Connecticut on RFD Weed Avenue. His occupation was inventor of commercial inventions. He misrepresented his age as 40 years old. His wife was 27.
I. Klein wrote: "…he did persist with his animated plastic puppets. In 1940 when I returned from Hollywood with my wife and two daughters, we all attended the first New York World's Fair several times. On one visit we encountered a Charles Bowers Production in one of the exhibition halls. it was a motion picture of animated plastic puppets combined with live action. The theme was wax. It showed the multiple uses and application of wax. It was a very well-executed job…."
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Happy Fourth of July!
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: W.O. Wilson
(Identifying anyone who uses their first and middle name initials is a challenge. I found several references to the artist W.O. Wilson in books, periodicals and on the web, but not one had any hint to his first or middle names. I searched “W.O. Wilson” at Ancestry.com and found a candidate on a passenger list, which had his age, place and date of departure. With the year of birth and, possibly, place of birth, I had just enough information to narrow my search. The censuses gave me several candidates who had the same first, William, and last names, but it was the occupation of artist that pinpointed him. Other important documents were two naturalization applications with additional details. Also, knowing when he produced his newspaper comics convinced me that I had found him. With this circumstantial evidence, I present the following profile.)
William Oliver Wilson was born in Natal, South Africa on January 31, 1867, according to his United States of America Declaration of Intention application from the Department of Commerce and Labor Division of Naturalization Petition for Naturalization, which was filed on April 26, 1909; this document is at Ancestry.com. According to the declaration, he, a British citizen, arrived in New York City on February 4, 1890 from Durban, South Africa; his former residence was in Barberton, Transvaal, South Africa. His occupation was artist, age 42, who lived at 53 South Lena Air, Freeport, Nassau, New York. He stood five feet seven inches, 145 pounds, with brown and gray hair and gray eyes. The passenger list had his arrival in New York occurring on February 13, 1890, having sailed from Liverpool, England. His age was listed as 24 (birth year 1866) and occupation as builder. Presumably he received his art training in South Africa.
The United States of America Petition for Naturalization application, from the same federal department and division, was filed on December 8, 1911 and it said he “resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least, immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 6 day of May anno Domini 1901, and in the State of New York, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 6 of May, anno Domini 1901, being a residence within this State of at least one year next preceding the date of this petition.” He was an artist living on Chippewa Avenue in Hollis, Queens, New York City with his wife, Nellie, and three children, who were born in 1904, 1907 and 1911. His petition was witnessed by author George Folson, and artist Frank Crane. Wilson became a naturalized citizen on March 21, 1912.
The earliest mention of him, so far, is at R. Michael Wilson’s WildWestTales.com, who transcribed a number of articles from the San Francisco Chronicle. In his article “Illustrating America’s Newspapers in the 19th Century”, he said: “…The Chronicle, in early 1897, decided to host an art show and sale to support its charitable project. There was a [call] for donations of artwork and the Chronicle received sketches from newspaper staffs across the continent. In anticipation of the art show, scheduled for February 27, 1897, Chronicle writer John Bonner wrote an extensive article on the history of newspaper illustration from 1842 to 1897…His article appeared in the February 24 edition.” The transcription of the article, “The Chronicle’s Exhibition of Pictorial Art in Journalism”, had a list of the contributing artists including W.O. Wilson of the New York World. On February 27, J.H.E. Partington, of the Chronicle, wrote:
The Chronicle exhibit of original newspaper drawings this day opened to the public at 424 Pine street marks an era in the history of art in San Francisco and is likely to have a profound impression on the public and the artists of the city. One thing is quite clear that the artists or, to speak more accurately, the painter in oil and water colors, has got to accept the fact that his exclusive claim to the title of artist is now triumphantly disputed by a band of newspaper art workers, growing every day in power and popularity and quite capable of proving their right to the name.
It will not do any longer to deny that men who have such mastery of line, of drawing, of values, of composition and of dramatic power in telling a story as Keller or Jefferys of the New York Herald, as Trowbridge and W. O. Wilson of the New York World, as Miss Underwood of the New York Press, as Gruger of the Philadelphia Ledger, as Fiala of the Brooklyn Eagle and a score of others represented in this exhibition are infinitely ahead of the average painters of the country in artistic gifts and capacity….
In 1898, Wilson was sent by the New York Herald to the front lines of the Spanish-American War in the Caribbean, according to New York and the War with Spain: History of the Empire State Regiments (1903). After the war there was an inquiry, by the House of Representatives, into the conduct of Admiral Schley. During the conflict, Wilson was one of the newspapermen on a press boat which was in contact with Captain Sigsbee of the ship, St. Paul. Wilson was not called to testify.
The 1910 census recorded Wilson and his family in Freeport, Hempstead, Nassau, New York at 53 South Lena Avenue. He was married to Ellen, who was Irish, and had two children. His parents were born in England. He was a portrait artist. According to the 1915 New York State Census, he lived in Union Course, Queens, New York at 449 Lott Avenue. The household included a third child and his wife used the name Nellie. A World War I military record for him has not been found.
In the following federal census, he remained in Queens, New York but at 8409 105th Street, where he continued as an artist. The 1925 state census, recorded him on the move again, this time at 90-24 178 Street in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
The Long Island Art Guild on Wednesday night will open its first show at the Queens Borough Public Library, 159th St. and Shelton Ave., Jamaica….
…Ebbitt A. Levitz, secretary of the guild, says that the feature of the show will be new and younger artists, who reside on Long Island, and have not as yet been able to show their work to the public. The oldest entrant is W.O. Wilson, 70, who will show a painting entitled “5th Ave. and 42nd St.” The composition was five years in the making….
In 1940, he, his wife and youngest child, William O. Wilson Jr., lived in Long Beach, New York at 161 West Hudson Street. Apparently, their son, a clerk, cared for them. A World War II draft card (the so-called “old man’s draft” in 1942) has not been found for Wilson Sr. According to draft documents, Wilson Jr. enlisted on February 24, 1941 and was single without dependents. Apparently Wilson and his wife were still self-sufficient or cared for by their other children.
[Updated 4/9/2013] The Brooklyn Eagle, June 9, 1950, reported the passing of Wilson:
William O. Wilson, Artist
Long Beach, June 9—William O. Wilson, former commercial artist and newspaper cartoonist, died Wednesday [June 7] at his home here. He was 84.
Mr. Wilson had been with a number of Manhattan and Philadelphia newspapers prior to his retirement 25 years ago. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ellen Beirne Wilson; two sons, James P. and William O. Wilson, Jr.; a daughter, Helen M. Wilson, and three grandchildren.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, July 02, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Horace the Hero
Yet, bizarrely, there seems to be no one who knows anything about the guy! I looked through every reference book that seemed likely to yield a crumb or two about him, and I came up dry -- not even a first name! So consider this obscurity of the day more rightly a plea for information -- are you able to contribute? Will our ace people finder Alex Jay work some magic? We'll see...
Today's obscurity is Wilson's first known series, and it was a cute effort, but short-lived. Horace the Hero ran only from April 13 to May 4 1902 in the New York World. It features a fellow who fancies himself a daredevil, and who, predictably enough, has his stunts backfire.
Quiz: only three American newspaper comics that I know of featured a character named Horace in the title; this one, another 1900s obscurity called Hallucinations of Horace, and one more that ran for three decades -- can you name it? And no fair Googling...
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!
Dotty's hubby was Horace, but he wasn't in the title, so honorable mention to ShadZ!
Sunday, July 01, 2012
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics