Saturday, May 11, 2013

 

Herriman Saturday

Saturday, April 11 1908 -- Herriman correctly predicts that the undefeated Packey McFarland is going to have no trouble this evening taking down Jimmy Britt, who is in the twilight of his career.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

 

Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

Adam Chase (c) renewed 2013 by Russ Morgan. All rights reserved.

Adam Chase strip #20, originally published October 16 1966. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

 

The Chicago Tribune Comic Book: Introduction

In 1940, the comic book publishing business, whose ledgers showed very healthy profits even before the phenomenon of the superhero blew things wide open, was madly booming. Every entrepreneur in publishing was drooling over the money to be made with the 'funnybooks'. Newspapers, of course, were no exception. They already had the Sunday comics section, which was similar, but could they profit more? How could they further bait the rugrats into howling for Pops to buy the Sunday paper?

Most contented themselves with purchasing a comic strip that originated or resembled those in the comic books. The new Superman comic strip, of course, was the obvious choice and a hot property. But some papers wanted to go further. Enter Bell Syndicate, Will Eisner, and their Spirit 'comic book' section. More than a few major papers decided to bite on this attempt to piggyback on the popularity of comic books. However, believe it or not (as Mr. Ripley might say), the Spirit comic book section was not the first of its kind.

No, the first came from the Chicago Tribune, which published their inaugural Comic Book Magazine section, in addition to the regular comics section, on March 31 1940 (the Spirit section debuted on June 2 of that year). However, it is my guess that the Trib was not in any sense a real originator. Bell Syndicate needed time to round up clients for their proposed comic book, while the Trib, alerted by Bell's marketing, only needed to throw together a few features and fast-track the production of a couple extra color pages in order to beat the originators to market.

It was ridiculously simple, too. The 'comic book' was simply a few color newspaper sheets that kids were supposed to cut up and form into an unbound 'comic book'. With a few simple cuts and folds kids would have a 16-page (and for awhile, 24-page) comic book. The cost to the Tribune was comparatively small, especially if they could hold down the costs of producing the material.

And boy did they do a great job of holding down creative costs. In the first issue of Comic Book Magazine, the outlay was about as close to zero as possible. The  kiddies were treated to Old Doc Yak and Bobby Make-Believe strips from the 1910s; a couple of current topper strips from Tribune properties -- Tiny Tim's Dill and Daffy and Smokey Stover's Spooky; and photo montage comics from a pair of movie serials -- Drums of Fu Manchu and Overland with Kit Carson. The former was in theatres at the time, and its appearance here was almost certainly underwritten by Republic Pictures. On the other hand, the Columbia Kit Carson serial probably wasn't even in theatres anymore in Chicago, making its appearance here very odd indeed.

The Comic Book contents varied from week to week. Also regularly on tap were the Harold Teen topper Josie, Sweeney and Son topper Them Days is Gone Forever, and Corky from the Gasoline Alley Sunday. A new addition in the second week's issue was Texas Slim and Dirty Dalton. Although I long presumed these to be reprints from the 1920s series, I now wonder if Ferd Johnson might have been begun producing new episodes of the series somewhere down the line in its Comic Book run.

The inclusion of topper strips in the Comic Book would continue all through the run, but the 1910s reprints, thankfully, were replaced with other material by the end of June. The photo comics, too were phased out. Both Kit Carson and Fu Manchu changed to regular drawn comic strips before being replaced with other strips within the first three months

In June the rival Spirit section debuted, and that seems to have been a red flag to the Tribune to put their game into a higher gear. At the end of June new features were added to the section, replacing all or most of the reprint material, and cutting back the quantity of toppers. The new features definitely had a comic book flavor to them, and no wonder -- many of the creators had been pulled from those ranks. In fact, after researching the comic book careers of the creators, it seems that many had connections with Magazine Enterprises. That brings up the question of whether ME editor Vin Sullivan was perhaps acting as the packager for some of the content of the Comic Book.

Some new features were designed to please the kids, others an older demographic. Brenda Starr was one of the new entries on June 30, and the series created for the Comic Book that had by far the longest and most successful run. Brenda seems meant primarily to appeal to a female audience, but creator Dale Messick knew how to attract the males as well -- Brenda had a habit of spending a lot of her on-panel life adjusting her stockings, running around in negligees and taking bubble baths.

The next year saw the Comic Book section grow incrementally stronger, with more comic book-style strips appearing. Although there was occasional backsliding into reprints, they were at least entertainingly weird choices -- for instance, to absolutely no one's demand, Tack Knight's early-1930s strip Little Folks was offered for three weeks. Even W.E. Hill's sophisticated Among Us Mortals spent a month between Comic Book covers.

The Comic Book was originally meant to serve as competition for The Spirit, but both comic book-style newspaper inserts failed to make much of a splash. The Spirit section definitely won the skirmish for subscribing papers, but was never a real cash cow. The Tribune, however, soon found that they had another reason to be offering circulation-builders. In December 1941, after a great deal of fanfare, Marshall Field's Chicago Sun newspaper debuted on the newsstand as a liberal alternative to the Tribune's arch-conservative editorial policy. Along with the different slant came a surprisingly strong Sunday comics section, also appealing to the comic book readers -- Buckskin Lad, Navy Bob Steele, Captain Midnight and True Comics were obviously meant to appeal to the Chicago Tribune Comic Book readers.

If not for the Chicago Sun, the Tribune Comic Book probably would have been phased out by the end of 1941. But with additional competition for the junior hearts and minds, its lease on life was extended. The page count, though, was reduced back from 24 to 16 in 1942. That was a minor loss, because the new material was continued while more of the secondary material was dropped.

Finally, it was wartime paper shortages that ended the Comic Book in 1943. Even though the Tribune had its own vast corporate-owned forests in Canada supplying paper, the war was, if not the real reason, at least a convenient excuse to drop a feature that never did seem to do a whole lot for circulation. Most features from the Comic Book were then moved into the body of the Chicago Tribune's regular comic section. However, many of them were cancelled shortly thereafter, and it was pretty obvious that the decision had already been made and that the Trib was just being frugal using up stock. A few strips did last longer -- Streamer Kelly, in particular had a long life. Brenda Starr, which only ran in the section for one year and was then graduated to the main comics section of the Tribune, continued for over seventy years.

Starting Monday, and running for about a month, we will shine the spotlight on most of the original features that ran in the Chicago Tribune Comic Book. Alex Jay has uncovered  interesting biographical material on many of the creators, too, for some excellent Ink-Slinger Profiles.

I do have a favor to ask. You notice that I said *most* features? I haven't been able to do posts on two features due to lack of samples. If anyone out there can provide sample scans of the 1940 series Kit Carson (both photo and drawn versions) and the drawn version of Drums of Fu Manchu, I would be most appreciative!


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Didn't Brenda Starr get cancelled recently?
 
Oops, I completely forgot it was finally cancelled in 2011. I'll fix the post. Thanks Tom!
 
I made multiple additions to wikipedia due to this column -- for The Spirit, Brenda Starr and Chicago Tribune. Thanks, Allan!
 
did you do a bit on Streamer Kelly? I have just been scanning a lot of 1943 comic for my blog and I skipped Streamer Kelly, wlthough I did sort of like it. I occurs to me now that I had already skipped it when scanning my Tribune sections (of which I have quite few due to my interest in Ray Bailey (who drew Vesta West). The reason being that I bever was very much int the 'Chicago style' of strips such as Dick Tracy, Smiling Jack, Unvisible Scarlett O'Neill, etc.
 
Yep, the Streamer will get hosed down with his day in the sun on Stripper's Guide (wow -- I mangled some metaphors there).

--Allam
 
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

 

News of Yore 1900: Newspaper Editorial Cartoonists Profiled

 Cartoonists of America

 The Funny Fellows who Furnish Pictorial Political Sermons to the Newspapers

by Miller P. Culvek

Originally published on October 21 1900 in the Dubuque Sunday Herald


Although the modern cartoonist has not exactly pushed the spellbinder and the leader writer from the stool of chief importance, he has given these worthies a hard battle in the race for popularity, and the victor is yet to be declared. The up to date reader now takes a glance at the cartoon in his dally paper as an appetizer for the elaborate details of the news column and the clinching arguments of the editorial page. A happy depiction of the subject of current interest is the great cartoonist's forte. Since the days of Tom Nast, who did "Boss" Tweed to an untimely death with his little pencil, the cartoonist has been an indispensable feature of progressive American journalism. It was the popularity of the cartoon, a popularity due to Nast's brilliant genius, which gave rise to the humorous weekly printed in colors, and as Nast's power waned, more for want of a subject than.a lapse of energy, the public looked with longing for the appearance of Puck and Judge, with their rival cartoons from the hands of Keppler, Wales, Glllam and Opper.

Opper, now one o£ the New York Journal's staff, is among the last of the old school cartoonists, yet few of his admirers would admit that he is any the worse for that. His character studies fairly talk .from the printed sheet, his tramps are redolent of trampdom and his ward politicians seem ready to step out of the saloon and haul the reader up to vote straight. Frederick Opper was born In 1857 and began work for the New York papers at the age of 20. After doing comics for Leslie and Harper, he joined the staff of Puck, where his cartoons alternated from week to week with those of, Keppler and Wales.

Homer Davenport, the westerner whom the New York Journal has been starring, is ten years younger than Opper and has been in journalism only eight years. Born and reared .in a small town, in Oregon, he had. few advantages, and owes his skill to natural genius, supplemented by hard work. There are judges who place Davenport at the head of the American cartoonists of today, but in any contest for honors in that field Mr. Pulitzer would beg to present as a rival, The World's well known artist, Charles Green Bush.

Bush is a worker who at least did not come up in the irregular way. He believes that the cartoon should be an editorial in picture form, with a dash of humor thrown In. Before Bush found his element he studied art three years in Paris, and even after that was compelled to give lessons in drawing to make both ends meet In his little household, for while abroad he found an American girl courageous enough to marry a struggling artist. While drawing weekly cartoons for the New York Telegram, Bush made a few hits that brought him fame. One of these was his "Klondike," a powerful sermon against the lust for gold which even the religious papers copied. Then he gave David B. Hill the little hat with its big streamer bearing the legend, "I am a Democrat." Being well read in the classics, Bush draws upon history and mythology for characters and settings, while the main idea of the cartoon is often developed in a chance conversation or even worked up after the artist sits down to his task with the feeling that something must be done.  "Study, application and hard work" is his stereotyped advice to beginners who burn for fame and yearn for emoluments around the art sanctums of the New York press.

The career of Charles Nelan, cartoonist of the New York Herald, is an illustration of the fact that the cartoon is an old feature breaking into a new field. The press is growing, and the cartoon is essential to the new development. Nelan was an Ohio boy, and says that, after losing several positions for drawing funny pictures, he concluded that funny pictures must be his forte. He made his first cartoon for a weekly paper published in his native town of Akron. This drew the attention of Cleveland editors to the budding genius, and he got regular work there. Finally he engaged with a league of papers and manipulated the chalk in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago, by which time his work was known in the east, and The Herald took him on the strength of his western reputation three years ago.

For a real free lance cartoonist one instinctively turns to Leon Barrit, now of the New York Tribune, hence a free lancer no longer. Barritt, like Topsy, "jest growed." He began active life as a newsboy in his native town of Saugerties, N. Y. From selling newspapers to reporting, editing and publishing was a natural step, but meanwhile young Barritt kept his eye upon art. He had learned wood and photo engraving, and, working at that in Boston for a year, returned to journalism and finally launched his bark upon the troubled sea of Gotham life as a contributor of cartoons to any paper which would buy. His name appeared regularly in nearly every daily of consequence, and, his ideas not being narrowed down to the requirements of a single sheet, his work had a wide range.

A newspaper man whose, name is known to the public as a clever correspondent from the seat of war in the Philippines and South Africa is John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Record. His letters have been extensively copied, but it was only the accident of happening to be in the Pacific when Dewey sailed to Manila that caused him to put pen to paper as a journalist. He says that while at school in his native town of Lafayette, Ind., he developed cartoon symptoms, and they have stuck to him ever since.

Crane, the Boston Herald man. is new to that paper, but his work is well known In New York, having appeared in The Recorder, now defunct; The World and The Herald. He was art editor of the Philadelphia Press four years and held the same position on the New York Herald two years.

The traditions of life in America are rather reversed by the career of Felix Mahony, cartoonist of the Washington Star. Born In New York of cultured ancestry, he passed through school and college and began the study of art in Washington. Mahony Is now 30 years old and has delighted readers of The Star with cartoons and caricatures for the past three years.

A. J. Van Leshout now enlivens the Chicago Inter Ocean with a pencil once devoted to rough caricatures of railroad men who came under his notice while a telegraph operator. Finally his contributions to the press were accepted and he abandoned the key to become a cartoonist. After working two years on the staff of the New York Press, he engaged with The Inter Ocean.

Ryan Walker, whose signature—a black cat—has become famous in the St. Louis Republic, where he is the all round "funny man," is a Kentuckian 30 years old. He worked at everything from engraving to pork packing, from publishing to reporting, in order to study human nature. He turns out two or three cartoons a day, besides managing the comic supplement and doing outside work.

W. R. Bradford, who contributes an occasional cartoon to tho Chicago Tribune, is a machinist by trade and a cartoonist by nature, having inherited skill with the pencil from his father.

Hedrick of The Globe-Democrat has had a varied career as a. self-taught newspaper artist. He emigrated from the Texas prairie to the St. Louis sanctum three years ago.

"Donnie", J. H. Donahey of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, began work as the "devil" of the Ohio Democrat, and by hard study has won reputation for high art in his cartoons.

A glance at a cartoon signed "Bart" (C. L. Bartholomew) in the Minneapolis Journal is like a hasty survey of a well ordered dinner table: the beholder is conscious of being up against a feast, details of which may be left for future investigation. He is the pioneer cartoonist of the northwest, and The Journal set the pace in the matter of printing a daily cartoon.

Harper's Weekly clings to the feature which made it a power in the fight against Tweed 30 years ago. The cartoons now appearing- in that journal are the work of one of the editors—W.A. Rogers—who, like Opper, is something of an old timer. Rogers worked on The Daily Graphic in the seventies. He made a hit with a political cartoon in the Garfield-Hancock campaign, and his pencil has never since been idle. He is an all round illustrator for the weeklies and magazines.
[thanks to Cole Johnson for submitting this article]



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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Jack A. Warren




Alonzo Vincent Warren aka Jack A. Warren was born in Montgomery County, Indiana on April 20, 1886. There are two family trees, at Ancestry.com, devoted to him. One tree cites the Montgomery County, Indiana, Index to Birth Records, 1882-1920, Volume III, page 147, for the birth information. His parents were Ora and Mary who divorced in 1886. His mother remarried in 1891 to John L. Vanarsdall, a farmer.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the family in Union, Indiana. The Hastings News (Hastings on Hudson, New York), February 7, 1936, said he was born in Crawfordsville and

…In his youth Mr. Warren accompanied his father, Ora Warren, a stock man, to Montana and Wyoming. From those wide, open spaces they brought back wild horses. These they tamed and divided into their proper classes: saddle stock, light harness and farm horses. They then took them to the great horse markets in Indianapolis.

It was not long, however, before Jack Warren, who really wanted to paint, left for Cincinnati, the Queen City of the Middle West, to study art at the Art Academy in Eden Park. There he studied under the great American painter, Duveneck. Later he came east to complete his studies at the Art Students’ League of New York.


A profile in the Chatham Courier (New York), February 21, 1952, said he studied commercial art at an unnamed school in Michigan. That school may have been the Lockwood Art School in Kalamazoo.

Warren was recorded twice in the 1910 census: in Crawfordsville with his parents, and in New York City. In Manhattan, he, artists Bert Carmichael and a Japanese man boarded at 147 West 84th Street. At some point he returned to Indiana.

The family tree said he married Dorothy in 1911. According to his World War I draft card, signed September 12, 1918, they lived in Indianapolis at 2219 North Alabama Street. He was a commercial artist employed by R.W. Franklin, 424 North Meridian Street. Warren returned to New York City.

In 1920 he, his wife and four-year-old son, John, lived in Manhattan at 42 West 92nd Street. He was an artist working at home. The Knickerbocker News (Albany, New York), February 12, 1952, said he did work for the The Sun. His drawing appeared in the Urbana Daily Democrat (Ohio), August 26, 1922.

The 1925 New York State Census recorded him and his family, which included four-year-old daughter, Mary, on Lefurgy Avenue in Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York. He was a commercial artist. In this decade, according to the family tree, his father passed away in 1921 and his mother in 1929.

According to the 1930 census they resided in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York at 40 Fairmount Avenue. He was a magazine artist. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012) Loco Luke was his first comic strip, which ran from July 5, 1935 to April 4, 1936. Next, he and writer, Tex O’Reilly, transformed the strip into Pecos Bill which ran from 1936 to 1937. Both would be reprinted (or continued? -- Allan) in comic books, a field to which he contributed much material in the 1940s.

For the Works Progress Administration he painted a mural for the high school in 1936. And as a band leader, the Hastings News said he did fundraising for the local Boys Scouts.

If plans do not fail him, Jack A. Warren, cowboy-artist leader on the 2-R Cowboy Band, will be taking his boys, known as the Explorer’s Group, to Camp Wiccopee, the official Hendrick Hudson Boy Scout Camp near Cold Springs, next summer.

“We’ve got to get a chuck wagon, otherwise known as a truck, to carry our duffle, and we’ve got to get teepees to establish a 2-R outpost at the camp,” he told a reporter of the News.

…The band, an unique musical group, was organized several years ago through the suggestion of Dr. Theodore Myers, principal of the Hastings High School, who was instrumental in stimulating the growth of the Scout movement here.


Mr. Warren, who is particularly suited for leadership of the band, was appointed by the Hendrick Hudson Council of Boy Scouts of America to the position….

…The boys of the band, following the tradition of Camp Wiccopee, wear costumes patterned after clothes worn on the Western frontier during pioneer days.

“They get a big kick out of it,” Mr. Warren. “Because, you know, all boys of the ages of sixteen to twenty like to identify themselves with the cowboys and Indians of early American days. It provides the romance, color and heroic feeling they need.”…


He has not been found in the 1940 census. The Chatham Courier, October 19, 1944, profiled Warren’s daughter, Betty. (In the 1920 Federal census and 1925 New York State Census her name was recorded as Mary.) At the time her parents lived in Elmridge Farms.

The Knickerbocker News, March 19, 1949 reported his new job:

Ex-New York Artist Joins Albany Firm
Jack A. Warren, former New York City free lance artist, has become art director of Argos Associates Inc., Albany advertising and public relations firm.

In nearly 40 years of advertising art experience Mr. Warren has worked for the New York Sun, trade publications such as Iron Age and Motor Boating and the George Matthews Adams and King Features syndicates. He has free lanced for New York City agencies in national advertising campaigns.


The Albany City Directory 1950 listed his address as Malden Bridge, and his occupation as art director.

His daughter was director of the Palm Tree Art Gallery in Sarasota, Florida, and she exhibited her father’s work including drawings from his book, Horse and Buggy Days. The exhibition was announced in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 1, 1953.

According to a family tree, Warren passed away November 1955 in Albany. An obituary has not been found. His daughter was profiled in the Schenectady Gazette (New York), January 9, 1987, She passed away November 9, 1993. His grandson, Michael Lancaster is a ceramicist.

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Thanks for this information on Jack Warren - whose "Calling 2R" series in "Target Comics" piqued my interest. - John H (4CP.posthaven.com)
 
Some of this is interesting and accurate. However Jack's daughter (my mother) was Betty Warren, renowned portrait painter. She died November 8, 1993.
 
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Monday, May 06, 2013

 

Obscurity of the Day: Loco Luke


When George Matthew Adams decided in 1935 that he could make money selling a pre-printed tabloid color comics section to small papers, all of his much-vaunted salesmanship and positive thinking didn't help him one bit to make a success out of this stinker of an idea.

I don't know whether Adams, who was running a small but successful syndicate, had some angle that he thought would put the idea over, but the fact was that in the middle of the Great Depression, small papers were just as poor, if not poorer, than their unemployed and underemployed readership. But even if a small paper editor had the desire and finances to get in on this color comics section scheme, the minute he saw it he'd probably bust out laughing -- and not because the comics were so funny.

Although the art in these comic strips was generally professional, most of the writing is almost too bad to be believed. The editor of this section seemed to be entirely without a clue. Although today's obscurity, Loco Luke, was one of the brighter lights in the section, the top sample is a good case in point of a gag that just never seemed to happen. Where was the editor to ask Jack Warren what rock the gag was hidden under?

Loco Luke, as you can see, is a slapstick, zany cowboy strip. The venue makes sense because,  according to a short bio by his grand-son submitted to Lambiek, apparently Jack Warren was quite a fan of all things western. That really shows in the Cowboy Primer topper, which has some interesting tidbits to share about cowboy lore and legend.

The bio also states that Loco Luke is a child, but I think that's just a misreading of Jack Warren's character design on the strip. I believe Warren was just going for a rubbery, loose, animated feel to the characters, and the result makes the characters look a bit like kids, I suppose.

Loco Luke ran in the George Matthew Adams color Sunday section from July 5 1935 to April 4 1936, the entire (known) life of the ill-fated experiment. When the section ended, only two features hadn't entirely worn out their welcome at the syndicate. Al Carreno's Ted Strong was eventually reprised as a daily strip, while Jack Warren's Loco Luke was revamped into Pecos Bill, and a writer was added to prop up the quality of the gags. Unfortunately, even with the addition of a gag-man, Pecos Bill came and went in a hurry, but that's a discussion for another Obscurity of the Day post.

Jack Warren then made the shift into comic books where he produced a great quantity of material, including a lot of work for Novelty Press. His humor strips were a real leavening to the otherwise deadly serious (and often quite dull) doings of Dick Cole, Edison Bell, and The Cadet.

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Love the art, so I hope you'll be able to show Peos Bill soon.
 
I have many of my grandfather (Jack Warren's) Pecos Bill strips
 
Great post on grand daddy - Pappy Warren. My mom Betty Warren died on Nov 8, 1993 (correction). The Pecos Bill strip, which according to Lowell Thomas, was co-created by Tex O'Reiley and Jack Warren.
 
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Sunday, May 05, 2013

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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