Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Jay Irving
The 1920 census said he lived, with his parents and siblings, in Manhattan, New York City at 450 West 149th Street. His occupation was animation cartoonist. Maybe he worked at the Bray Studios. His father was an insurance agent. In the World Encyclopedia of Comics, Maurice Horn wrote: “…After studies at Columbia University, Jay Irving shifted from one newspaper job to another, then became police reporter for the New York Globe, and later a sports cartoonist. After a stint with the Universal wire service, Irving created a sports strip for King Features Syndicate, Bozo Blimp (1930), which sank with hardly a trace.” Another source said Bozo Blimp was created in 1923. An advertisement, above, for the strip appeared in the June 1921 issue of Circulation. [Allan's note: I have not been able to find this feature running in any newspaper - does anyone have proof that it ever actually appeared?]
“Irv Jay Rafsky” was the name recorded in the 1930 census. He lived in Manhattan, at 214 West 91st Street. He married Dorothy when he was 23. He was a manager at an advertising agency. Rob Stolzer, in his profile of Irving, said: “…Irving was also married. He and Dorothy Prago, the daughter of restaurateur Willie Prago, were secretly engaged; then secretly married. Their son Clifford was born to them in November 1930….” Stolzer also said he drew a week of George Herriman’s Embarrassing Moments panel, and some panels of Billy DeBeck’s Bughouse Fables. A New York City Directory 1931 listed him at 160 Riverside Drive. Horn said he joined Collier's Weekly, in 1932, and stayed for 13 years. He did a weekly panel, Collier's Cops, and a few covers. Time magazine, February 21, 1972, said Irving, “…changed the family name from Rafsky in the mid-’30s…”
Draw Me a Laugh runs about 10 minutes too long, a common failing among cartoon teleshows, and impresses, if properly trimmed, as being a salable property. It has a multiplicity of gimmicks, many of which show considerable inventiveness, and it has certainly come up with something new in the use of a quick-rhyming balladeer to cue in some of the other gimmicks, including the prizes awarded to viewer-contestants. The folk-singer, Oscar Brand, does a capital job, adding considerably to the show’s enjoyment.
The basic gimmick is a contest wherein viewers submit gag lines and cartoon ideas to match. These are quick-sketched by Mel Casson, with a guest cartoonist competing. The latter is given only the gag line and has to come up with his own sketch, a panel of four of the studio audience picking the cartoon they think the better of the two. Other gimmicks include a blindfold cartoon bit by Jay Irving, with Casson a regular on the show; impressions drawn by Casson and guester Bill Holman of a man described to them by Irving, but whom they are unable to see, and a doodle drawing bit by Casson. It’s just this excess of bits which detracts from the show’s total impact. Anyhow, it’s about time that the formal 15-minute and half-hour pattern adapted from radio be given the heave-ho; here is a perfect instance where that credo is hurting a show that's too good to waste.
A 1980 issue of Cartoonist Profiles had this anecdote:
But what the members of the Nat’l. Cartoonists Society remember Jay for was his overwork of the phrase “the body politic.” He liked to speak at meetings…“If it please the body politic”; “I appeal to the body politic.”
It was Otto Soglow who rose to rebut Jay.
“Kiss the body politic’s ass,” said Otto. (And the motion was seconded unanimously.)
Irving passed away June 3, 1970 according to the New York Times. The World Encyclopedia of Comics said he died June 5, while Wikipedia and other sources have the date June 4. The Times obituary was published Friday, June 5, and the first sentence said: “Jay Irving, originator of the comic strip ‘Pottsy,’ died Wednesday, apparently of a heart attack, in his home at 650 West End Avenue.”
Stolzer’s in-depth profile is at Hogan’s Alley.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles