Saturday, September 29, 2012
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 28, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: J.C. Henderson
James C. Henderson was born in Minnesota on May 25, 1883. His birth date was found on his World War I and II draft cards and a 1927 passenger list, all at Ancestry.com. The passenger list said he was born in Northfield but his World War II draft card had St. Paul as his birthplace. Northfield is about 43 miles / 69 kilometers south of St. Paul.
He has not been found in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Censuses. At this time, nothing is known of his education and art training. The Boston Herald, December 12, 1949, said he “began cartooning 40 years ago…”. In 1913 he produced two strips, And He Did and Noodle the Poodle.
On September 7, 1918 he signed his World War I draft card which said he was married and lived in Providence, Rhode Island at 76 Barnes Street. Based on his employer’s address, 764 Drexel Building, Philadelphia, he was a cartoonist for the Keystone Feature Syndicate. His description was medium height and build with blue eyes and black hair.
The newspaper cartoonist was at the same address in the 1920 census and his wife’s name was Virginia. The Herald said he “…had been employed by the Providence Journal since 1919…” On May 19, 1924, his radio strip, Today's Hook-Up, debuted. The couple was found on a 1927 passenger list; they sailed aboard the S.S. Aurania from Liverpool, England on September 6 and arrived in New York on September 15. Their address was 173 Lloyd Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island. The same address was in the Providence Directory 1928; the listing said he was an artist and named his wife.
In the 1930 census he lived with his mother at 246 Waterman Street in Providence. The newspaper cartoonist was head of the household. The fate of his wife is not known.
According to the 1940 census, he had remarried to Sarah who was 38. They lived in Providence at 35 Linden Street, the same address in 1935. His education included two years of college and he continued as a newspaper cartoonist. Henderson passed away December 11, 1949. His death was reported the following day in the New York Times:
Providence, Dec. 11—James Henderson, an editorial page cartoonist for The Providence Journal, died at his home in Foster Center, R.I., today after suffering a heart attack. His age was 66.
Mr. Henderson had worked for the National Editorial Association, Keystone Features [sic] Syndicate and the old Life magazine, on the last-named as a comic cartoonist, before he came to Providence as a staff artist of The Journal in 1919. He was a sports cartoonist for a time.
Probably his most famous creation was a cartoon series entitled “The Motorization of Mr. Man,” which won a prize in the Safety Foundation contest of 1936.
President Truman requested and received the original of a Henderson cartoon drawn just after the 1948 election. Titled “You Made Me What I Am Today,” it showed the President seated at the piano, staring fondly at a picture of Thomas E. Dewey and singing the words to his own accompaniment. The work has been widely reproduced by other newspapers.
The Herald said he “…originated the first daily radio cartoon sequence. His weekly cartoon on motoring won a national safety award in 1936, his editorial cartoons appeared in a motion picture anthology in 1940…”
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Roger Williams Re-Discovers His Old Home Town
When we cover a locally produced feature about area history, it's usually a ticket to Snoozeville. But not today! Here we have Rogers Williams Re-Discovers His Old Home Town, a rollicking romp around Providence, Rhode Island, hosted by a time-displaced version of the city's beloved founding father. Although a few of the gags can be hard to fathom for this 80-some year removed non-Rhode Islander (what's up with the tag-sellers in the third strip?), it is a delightful slapstick strip that I imagine was a great delight to readers of the Sunday Providence Journal.
The creator of the strip is J.C. "Hen" Henderson, who apparently ended up working for this paper by 1926. Earlier features by him that we've covered are Today's Hook-Up, And He Did, and Noodle the Poodle. I wonder now if Henderson was at this paper all along, and his Associated Newspaper work emanated from here. Ah, yes, the research never ends.
I did not know of this strip's existence until Cole Johnson sent me these samples, and have no definite start or end date to offer -- Cole has samples as early as March 14 and as late as November 7 1926.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: George Olesen
George Evert Olesen was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 6, 1924, according to a 1927 passenger ship list and the U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 at Ancestry.com. The passenger list had his full name and he was the youngest of two sons born to Ole and Elizabeth. They sailed from Oslo, Norway, and their U.S. address was in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn at 7515 Colonial Road.
In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, the Olesen household size and address remained the same. His father, a typewriter mechanic, was born in Denmark, and his mother in Norway. Olesen graduated from Manual Training High School. He was the art editor of the Literary-Art Issues of the Prospect yearbook and drew the covers.
Using the pseudonym Ed Strops, Olesen and writer Bill Lignante produced Ozark Ike when Ray Gotto left the strip. "A Ghost for a Ghost" said Olesen did Red Ryder to its bitter end. His next strip would be The Phantom. Famous B-24/PB4Y Crew Members has a quote from Olesen:
“I might want to add that I actually did pencil both the daily and the Sunday Phantom. From 1962 to l984 I mainly penciled the Sunday story, and from 1984 to 1994 I penciled the daily as well the Sunday story. When Sy Barry retired in 1994, I took over and got my name on the Phantom. In June 2000 I gave up drawing the Sunday stories in order to have more leisure time, but till this day I draw the daily strip.”
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 has an overview of his work. The Grand Comics Database has a list of some of his comic book credits. Smurfswacker’s Words and Pictures has scans of two comic book Western stories by Olesen. Steven Brower Writings has a post, A Ghost for a Ghost: George Olesen, with details of Olesen's life, career and current whereabouts.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: Norb
Reading Norb without any knowledge of whence it came, you'd might well guess that it was an unusually lucid strip from a later issue of Zap Comix. It does seem rather drug-induced, what with the chameleon narrator and all. But no, this was a comic strip actually accepted and distributed by King Features Syndicate
Two very high-profile names were on the masthead of Norb. Tony Auth, who contributed the art, was the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Daniel Pinkwater, writer, is a well-known children's book author and NPR commentator. The two of them came together with the idea of creating a comic strip that harkened back to the humorous serial strips of the past, the great Thimble Theatre being their specific inspiration. The globe-trotting adventures of a wacky scientist and his teenage sidekick put the ball in motion.
Whether Auth and Pinkwater succeeded in their endeavor you can decide for yourself if you have the means -- a compilation book of the strip is available, but scarce and pricey. My opinion is that the strip, while a valiant effort, mostly demonstrates that even accomplished creators can't work miracles in the tiny confines of modern micro-strips. While the Sundays are pretty cute, the dailies (you can see some here at the Comics Journal) just can't keep a story moving forward very well in their tiny confines.
Norb began on August 7 1989, and ended one year later on August 4 1990. Pinkwater says that they actually signed a two-year contract with King Features, but they just couldn't stand to hear the complaints and general abuse from newspaper editors anymore, and bailed a year early with the syndicate's blessing.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: The Mad Monks
Brazilian cartoonist Henfil (Henrique Souza Filho) came to the United States in 1973 hoping to accomplish two things: find some medical relief for his hemophilia, and to become the next Charles Shulz. He returned to Brazil without having achieved the latter; I hope he did better with his hemophilia.
The Mad Monks starred the beatific and unflappable tall monk, King Size, and the short, hunchbacked, evil and nasty monk, Runt. The gags were often about God and religion, and it blows me away that some of it got printed, newspapers being so uptight about such matters . While these Sundays are pretty tame, go check out a few sample dailies here.
Although I do not have Henfil's book, Diário de um Cucaracha, I did find a research paper online that discusses some of the content. Against huge odds, Henfil got a contract with Universal Press Syndicate, who reportedly touted him as the next Garry Trudeau. Although they apparently liked the edgy material, the syndicate typically accepted only a small percentage of the strips he submitted, the rest being considered unprintable. Henfil was thoroughly disgusted by this, but he did eventually come to realize that you don't become the next Schulz with such challenging material. He reconciled himself to the fact that the American newspaper comics market was not the medium for him, voluntarily ended the feature and moved back to Brazil.
I have only been able to verify that the strip ran from November 1974 to January 1975, but the author of the website that had the daily samples claims he started reading the strip in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel around the middle of 1974. If his samples were a bit bigger I might be able to discern the dates, which might very well be the needed proof for moving back the start date. Can anyone supply more information?
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!
The article I read said that he came to the US hoping for help with hemophilia -- it said nothing about AIDS. I definitely meant no disrespect or was making a joke about it when I expressed hope that he got some relief, no matter what the malady.
Some of their early strips succeeded. "Doonesbury", their first comic strip, is still around. Their other hits included the likes of "Cathy", "Tank McNamara", and "Ziggy". Say what you will about those strips, but they were DIFFERENT from what the other syndicates were offering at the time.
But then, for every "Doonesbury" you had this strip, "Kelly & Duke" by Jack Moore, and "Griff and the Unicorn" by Dave Sokoloff (anyone remember those strips?). But that's to be expected in the world of syndicated comic strips.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics