Saturday, August 01, 2015

 

Herriman Saturday


Tuesday, October 6 1908 -- Milwaukee lightweight boxer Maurice Sayers comes to LA to face-off against San Franciscan Johnny Murphy in a 25-round bout tonight. The fight will go the distance, and the decision will go to Murphy. Neither fighter had a particularly distinguished career.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

 

Sci-Friday starring Connie



Connie, January 1 1939
courtesy of Cole Johnson

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Al Demaree



Albert Wentworth “Al” Demaree was born in Quincy, Illinois, on September 8, 1884, according to his World War II draft card. Wentworth was his mother’s maiden name. Information about Demaree’s education and art training has not been found.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Demaree was the oldest of two children born to Albert, a typesetter, and Ella. The family resided in Cicero, Illinois.

The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, at Ancestry.com, said Demaree married Alpha C. Windle on March 31, 1909, in Chicago.

The 1910 census recorded commercial artist Demaree, but not his wife, in his father’s household, which included his brother Eaton. They lived in Chicago at 3739 Humboldt Avenue. The census said Demaree was a widower, but his wife was named on his World War I draft card and in future censuses.

According to Wikipedia, Demaree was a pitcher in the baseball Major Leagues from 1912 to 1919. He played for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Boston Braves. Two of his cartoons can be viewed here and here. Demaree was profiled in the El Paso Herald (Texas), October 2, 1913.





American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Demaree drew Alonzo Pest Becomes a Giant in May 1913, and Red and Rube from 1915 to March 18, 1916.

When Demaree was with the Cubs, the Santa Fe Magazine, April 1917, published a story about his mule ride at the Grand Canyon.

Demaree signed his World War I draft card, on September 12, 1918. He resided in Manhattan, New York City, at 51 St. Nicholas Place. His occupation was draftsman at Federal Shipbuilding Company in Kearney, New Jersey. The description of him was tall, medium build with gray eyes and brown and gray hair.

Demaree returned to Chicago. In the 1920 census he resided at 1096 Pratt Blvd. He made his living as a commercial artist. Collier’s, August 3, 1929, published Demaree’s illustrated article, “Bumping the Umps”. An excerpt from Demaree’s account about “baseball daisies” was printed in Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime (2005).

Ten years later, the census said Demaree was a newspaper cartoonist who lived in the same neighborhood. Demaree, his wife and mother resided in an apartment building at 1140 Pratt Blvd.


The Lawrence Daily Journal-World (Kansas) carried Demaree’s sports column in 1930 and 1931. The column covered baseball, bowling, boxing and golf.

American Newspaper Comics said writer Paul Fogarty and Demaree produced Rube Appleberry beginning August 3, 1936.

Demaree illustrated Edwina Guilfoil’s Major 1st Events in a Century of Base Ball which was published in 1939 by Charles E. Line.




Rainier Valley (2012) shows a card from Demaree’s 89-card set of Pacific Coast League players.

Demaree has not yet been found in the 1940 census. He signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His residence was the Niagara Hotel in Peoria, Illinois. Demaree’s employer was the Peoria Star.

The California, Death Index said Demaree passed away April 30, 1962, in Los Angeles. He was buried at Harbor Lawn-Mount Olive Memorial Park.


—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 

Obscurity of the Day: Rube Appleberry






In baseball lore there's no shortage of tales about the corn-fed plowboy who appears out of nowhere at a big league tryout, pitching 100-mph curveballs and hitting balls out of the park like birdshot from a shotgun. Among the earliest and most famous is Ring Lardner's novel You Know Me Al. The 1916 story was immensely popular, and begat a string of imitators that has still yet to cease.

In the newspaper comic strip realm, Lardner's novel itself was adapted as a daily strip that lasted almost four years, despite being hobbled by the semi-pro artwork of Dick Dorgan. Other strips plied the same trade, though, and today we look at one called Rube Appleberry.

The story of this phenomenal baseball player started not on the newspaper comics page, but on radio. In a WGN series initially titled Big Leaguers and Bushers that hit the air in 1932, Rube took the baseball world by storm in stories mainly written by Paul Fogarty. The radio series is pretty well forgotten today, and apparently no recordings are available of the episodes, but seems to have enjoyed some popularity back then. One aspect of the program that may have helped garner fan interest is that the names of real major league clubs and players were freely used. Despite Rube Appleberry generally besting all the major league stars that were named, apparently the real players had a distinct fondness for the program, and sometimes appeared on the show playing themselves.

The problem with baseball radio shows (and comic strips) is that once the baseball season is over, what do you do? The standard solution is to have the hero turn out to be a superstar in ALL sports. Once the baseball season is over, your leading man becomes a champion quarterback, then a great point guard, then a superb goalie, etc. etc. until, thankfully, baseball season finally rolls around again.

Big Leaguers and Bushers followed that formula, and that was probably its eventual undoing. Fans can get over their disbelief that someone could be the ultimate player in one sport, but in every one? Come on now. The series left the air in 1935 after its third season.

Fogarty, though, wasn't content to give up on the character and somehow hooked up with Al Demaree, veteran of several different baseball strips, to provide art for a newspaper comic strip. Demaree had begun his comic strip career, believe it or not, while he was himself pitching in the major leagues. His major league career spanned 1912-19, and he left baseball with a more than respectable 2.77 lifetime ERA. Though Demaree was no Rembrandt of the comics page, his cartooning was perfectly fine, and his name in the masthead of a baseball strip certainly gave fans a respect for the strip right from the get-go.

The John F. Dille Company syndicate took on the strip, but had little luck selling it. That could be because the theme was already considered too hackneyed, and frankly it was. The strip debuted on August 3 1936 and seems to have had its final strikeout as of June 19 1937. Dille always numbered their strips so late-comers could start at any time, so for those keeping score, the ending number was #276.

It may seem odd that the strip was tagged out in the middle of the baseball season, when readers would be most interested in it, but the answer seems to lie in extenuating circumstances. According to one newspaper that commented on the end of the strip, creator Paul Fogarty had fallen ill and could not continue to produce it. I don't buy that, though. The real reason seems to be that Fogarty convinced WGN to give the radio show another chance. The show returned at the end of August 1937, but didn't last long. And that, then, was finally the end of Rube Appleberry's extra innings.

For more about Rube Appleberry, check out this history of the radio show, and read Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile of Al Demaree coming up tomorrow here.




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Pete Rose would enjoy the second strip where Rube admits to betting on a baseball game.
 
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

 

News of Yore 1926: Walter Wellman's Career Traced

 

Walter Wellman's Wit

by Martha Conway

reprinted from Cartoons & Collegian Fun, June 1926

Walter Wellman was born in Dublin -- in Dublin, New Hampshire, May 25, 1879. Had it been Dublin, Ireland, things would probably have shaped up differently, for he would have become a policeman, or a politician. As it was, he became a cartoonist -- but we're getting ahead of our story. Passing over the earlier years, he entered Murdock High School, Winchendon, Mass., in 1896, and graduated at the head of his class in 1898. He then entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology, choosing the course in architecture.

During the four-year course at M.I.T., Wellman became the art editor of the weekly college publication, The Tech, and held that position for the last two years of his course. As art editor of this publication, he designed the special covers, and furnished most of the matter for the rest of the magazine. He also contributed to the annual publication of the college.

It was during the course in architecture in Boston that he met and became acquainted with one of the editors of The Boston Globe. Through this connection, he began producing picture puzzles for The Globe, and these were the first drawings actually sold by him. On graduating from Tech in 1902, as a full-fledged architect, it was natural to suppose that he would start designing such structures as the Woolworth building, but no! That editorial position on The Tech and the work for The Boston Globe had shown him a more congenial field. Life class was a part of the training at Tech, and that also stimulated the desire to draw pictures for a living.

During the summer of 1902, he started shooting comic "pitchers" to Life and Judge and Puck. Life, Judge and Puck reciprocated, and shot 'em right back. Finally, in desperation, he wrote to a school of caricature in New York and mailed some of his work. The reply was surprising. It advised that the work was salable, and urged Mr. Wellman to come right on. Packing a bottle of India ink and a pair of pajamas and a little cash, Wellman started for the big town. At the end of three weeks, he still had the pajamas.

Shortly afterward he landed his first work, and was soon contributing, as a free lance artist, to most of the daily papers published at that time. He was soon contributing a daily comic strip to The World, and Sunday pages to the colored comic sections of The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. At about that time he also connected with The International Syndicate, and has been selling them his work regularly ever since.


In 1905 Walter took an office in the World building, New York, and started designing comic postcards for the larger publishers, and soon started publishing his own designs as postcards. At that time the demand for comic postcards was very large, and many editions of cards ran to several millions. During this time, he kept on with his newspaper and magazine work. When the bottom fell out of the postcard business, he again gave his entire attention to cartooning.

After spending about ten years in New York, he built a home in Montvale, N.J., and has been there ever since. During the last several years, he has probably designed many comic greeting cards, and most of the largest publishers of greeting cards look to him for new material every year. During the last year he has added a line of stock cuts of his own designs, and the business in this line is growing month by month. The stock cuts are being used by house organs, plant publications, advertising agencies, printers and in direct mail material all over the country and in Canada. Competition in the stock cut game is very keen, however, and one must have exceptional cuts to get away with it. Mr. Wellman's line now consists of hundreds of snappy little cuts.

Wellman states that, at the time he started in the comic game, women actually wore clothes, and it was comparatively easy to draw the flapper of 1899. His study of anatomy came in very handy, he says, when the ladies started to discard. He has followed the flapper through many evolutions, and has always tried to keep he just a little ahead of herself all during that time. It has now reached the point, however, where he has got to let her catch up before he dares to go ahead.

Walter seldom visits the big city now, as his work is practically all done through correspondence, and his kept so busy that it is next to impossible to get away. Over his two-car garage, he built a studio last year, and now does all his work there. He also handles his stock cut business from this office. He is married and has a bull terrier and a cat, and is living the life of Reilly in the hills of northern New Jersey. He has consistently refused to tie himself down to a cartoonist's job, preferring to free lance, and be his own boss.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

 

Obscurity of the Day: Chubby's Diary



Some cartooning fans make fun of William Gordon "Jack" Farr's cartooning abilities. I've never been one of them, perhaps because I've been exposed to so much truly bad newspaper cartooning that to me Farr's workmanlike drawing looks pretty darn fine. And make no mistake, Farr was a workman at cartooning. His immense productivity in the 1910s bespeaks a guy who needed to put the meals on the table every night. He'd work for anyone if there was the hint of a paycheck.

Unfortunately, Farr was about to hit on hard times at the time his Chubby's Diary strips were running in the Sunday New York Herald, from April 4 to October 24 1920. This was his last work for a major New York newspaper, and hereafter his output was relegated to hole-in-the-wall outfits that sold and resold the same comic strips for years to penny-pinching newspaper clients.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples.

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