Tuesday, January 01, 2013

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Carl Hubbell


Minor Carleton “Carl” Hubbell Jr. was born in Culver, Indiana, on July 27, 1916, according to passenger lists found at Ancestry.com. His father and mother, Elizabeth F. Callingham, both teachers, married June 12, 1915 in Spokane, Washington, as recorded on their marriage certificate.

Hubbell and his mother have not been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, but his father was in Union Township, Indiana, where he was a teacher at a military school. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, Volume 37, 1922, listed him in the appendix: “Hubbell, Minor Carleton, Head of Modern Foreign Language Department, Culver Military Academy, Culver, Ind.”

The family traveled frequently to Europe. He and his mother sailed from Cherbourg, France, June 2, 1924 and landed in New York City, June 14. In 1927, the two sailed from Le Havre, France on September 21 and arrived in New York City on the 29th. Their address was 503 Madison Street, Culver, Indiana. A similar trip was made a year later.

The 1930 census recorded Hubbell and his mother in Culver at 503 Madison Street. She was a music teacher. His father resided in Manhattan, New York City, at 122 East 33 Street; he was a travel agent in the tourist industry. In September 1931, Hubbell and his father sailed from Southampton, England to Quebec then to New York City. Their address was 522 Fifth Avenue, New York City. A 1932 passenger list had all three of them but his father’s name had been crossed out. In 1937 Hubbell sailed with his mother from Southampton. His father made at least 16 overseas trips.

At this time, little is known about Hubbell’s childhood education and art training. In 1935 he was a freshman at Ohio Wesleyan University, where his father had received a masters of art degree in 1916. The school yearbook, Le Bijou 1935, listed Hubbell as a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

He and his father have not been found in the 1940 census which was enumerated in April; his mother was living alone in Culver. Hubbell’s father signed his World War II draft card April 26, 1942; self-employed, he operated Carleton Tours at 11 Charles Street in Manhattan, New York City. On the draft card, he named his son, who lived in Manhattan at 60 Hudson Street, Room 315, as the person who would always know his address. The Kingston Daily Freeman (New York), July 7, 1949, said:

...Hubbell came to New York in 1940 where he hoped to have a B.A. degree in fine arts and had done extensive work and study on murals. His first job, a far cry from what he had in mind, was that of apprentice to a cartoonist. He worked only half days and received $5 per week. Although he spoke of those days in an amusing tone, nevertheless, he agreed that was the beginning of his career as a cartoonist.

According to Who’s Who in American Comic Books, 1928–1999, his comic book career spanned from 1941 to 1969. A list of his credits can be viewed here. A profile of Hubbell’s wife, Virginia, appeared in the Daily Freeman, August 8, 1951. To a group of artists she explained how she and Fritzi Striebel developed their play. About Virginia the profile said:


…Early in the summer of 1943,  war year, Ginny saw a sign in a window concerning barges on the Erie Canal. Married but a year to cartoonist Carl Hubbell, and having given up her job as a copy writer for advertising  for Westinghouse, she pointed out the possibilities of a good berth on a barge to her husband. They obtained a Coast Guard card as a barge captain and wife and set out in a taxi with most of their possessions for the pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

…The Hubbells…spent the summer on the barge, making two trips to Buffalo and back, living a wonderful life aboard traveling river and canal. It took four days to make the trip from Brooklyn to Albany and an entire summer to make the two round trips…

The group of artists who listened to Ginny’s outline of the Foundation play were particularly engrossed in her fabulous plot. They might not all have been aware that plots are really her business. She produces on an average of six complete stories a month for Dare Devil Boy Comic magazines, good practice she says, for learning to tie up a plot with no loose ends.

Writing for the comic strips began shortly after her marriage to Carl in 1942 when she was working for Westinghouse during the day and Carl was working most of the night on his cartoons. Carl’s editor asked her: “Since you like to write, why don’t you write for comic books?”

A visit to the Hubbell home on Ohayo Mountain is a story book experience in itself. A knock on the door after a walk across an inviting terrace and play-yard will probably produce an eruption of three dogs, two cockers and a giant black Newfoundland, two small boys, Jonathan aged three, and Craig, aged two, and Ginny and Carl. Somehow in the midst of this lively happy household the Hubbells manage to produce comic strips, stories and in the space of three short weeks a complete script for the Woodstock Foundation play...

The October 12, 1946, Daily Freeman, noted a social visit: “Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hubbell had as their week-end guests Mr. and Mrs. Charles Biro. Mr. Biro is Mr. Hubbell’s editor.” 


Daily Freeman 5/2/1947

News of his father’s death was published in the Springfield Union (Massachusetts), January 11, 1948:

Minor C. Hubbell, Sr., Monson Teacher Dies
Monson, Jan. 10—Minor Carlton [sic] Hubbell Sr., 66, a member of the Monson Academy faculty, died suddenly at his home, 87 Main St., yesterday afternoon. Born May 26, 1881 at Bryan, Ohio, he was a resident of New York City for many years prior to coming here four years ago to teach French, German, and Latin. He was member of The Little Church Around the Corner in New York City and served as deacon there for many years. He leaves one son, Minor Carlton Hubbell Jr., of Woodstock, N.Y….


About seven weeks later, sadness turned to joy with the birth of their first child, Jonathan Nichols. In 1949 there were two major events for Hubbell: first was his new comic strip, Merrie Chase; and second was the September birth of Craig Timothy. The Daily Freeman, July 7, 1949, reported the upcoming release of the strip:

Hubbell’s Cartoon Is Accepted for Early Publication
Woodstock, July 7—Months of diligent work by Carl Hubbell, local cartoonist, have been rewarded by the acceptance of his comic strip, “Mary Case” [sic] which will appear daily including Sundays in newspapers across the country through the McNaught Syndicate, New York, beginning July 31.

Hubbell describes his character, Mary [sic] Chase, a beautiful blonde sleuth as the “kind of girl every mother would like her daughter to be as well as the kind of girl every girl would like to be.” The script for the cartoonist’s new strip is written by Rennie McEvoy of Hollywood, Calif.

For the past eight years, Hubbell has been cartooning for comic magazines and is particularly known for his comic book “Sniffer.” What will become of the slapstick character, Sniffer, now that Mary Chase is about to be launched, Carl would not commit himself more than to say it will continue for the present….

To keep up with daily deadlines, Carl hides away in his studio each morning and remains there until late afternoon.


In 1950 he produced the Sunday strip to February 19, and the daily to February 4. Paul Reinman succeeded him. Samples of the strip by both artists can be viewed here.

Hubbell was a musician and thespian. The Daily Freeman, November 26, 1949, said he was a member of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra which performed at the Masonic Square Club’s dance and benefit show:

…The weird thin notes of reed instruments, camel bells and beating drums penetrated the curtains which parted to reveal a cluster of squatting white-robed Arabs. A sort of Arabian nightmare broke loose. From that point on the boys were off in a wonderful set of rhythms, from Araby to Basin Street with Clementine Nessel on the piano, John Pike with his guitar, and Dave Huffine on his amazing contraption rigged out of a washtub and a broom handle taking the beat that would be the envy of any good base fiddle slapper. Other stars in the ensemble were Sidney Berkowitz, drums; Bill Pachner, accordion; Carl Hubbell, harmonica, and John Striebel, violin….

A brief look at his acting career was told in the August 29, 1951, Daily Freeman:

Foundation Play Now in Rehearsal
Bettina’s Promise or the Broken Divining Rod, the new play which the Woodstock Foundation is presenting Sept. 14 and 15, at the Woodstock Playhouse…

…Another first in connection with the play will be the appearance of John Striebel, noted creator of the Dixie Dugan cartoon strip, in an acting role. Striebel succumbed to the plea of Virginia Hubbell and his wife Fritzi….Carl Hubbell, the cartoonist, who plays the hero Horace, extended his theatrical experience last week by appearing at the Woodstock Playhouse as a sheriff in The Respectful Prostitute. Hubbell has had several previous goes at acting with the Island Players at Anna Amaria on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where he and his wife, Virginia Hubbell, spend their winters….


A photo of Hubbell and some cast members was published September 6, 1951.



Bettina’s Promise was co-authored by Virginia and Fritzi, who would collaborate on other productions. Hubbell performed in other Woodstock productions. At some point he and Virginia divorced. His mother’s death was reported in the Culver Citizen, (Indiana), April 1, 1965:

Elizabeth Hubbell, Well Known Music Teacher, Dies
Mrs. Elizabeth F. Hubbell, 84, of Culver, died Thursday morning, March 25, at the Wesley Manor, Frankfort, Ind., where she had been staying since 1963. She had been in poor health for the past two years.

Mrs. Hubbell, a member of the Culver Methodist Church, was born Oct. 10, 1880, in San Francisco, Calif., to William and Jeanette (Callingham) Chambers. She came to Culver about 1915 and taught music here for many years. She was married to Minor Hubbell who preceded her in death several years ago.

She is survived by a son, Carlton [sic], Hubbell, Woodstock, N.Y., and many friends….


In the mid-1960s, he worked in the bullpen of Marvel Comics, and in the late 60s did work for other 
comic book publishers. At this time, no information on him has been found from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Hubbell passed away January 28, 1992, in Sarasota County, Florida, according to the Florida Death Index at Ancestry.com, however, the Social Security Death Index has the day as the 27th. Virginia passed away April 15, 2006 at her home in Woodstock.

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