Saturday, October 10, 2015

 

Herriman Saturday



Friday, October 16 1908 -- George Herriman endeavors to bring us up to date on ALL the scuttlebutt of the boxing world in a single cartoon. He even has enough space left over to continue his coverage of Bill Desmond's supposed round-the-world trip.

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Friday, October 09, 2015

 

Sci-Friday starring Connie


Connie -- March 12 1939
Courtesy of Cole Johnson

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

 

News of Yore 1927: Canada's Premier Editorial Cartoonist Profiled





Canada's Great Cartoonist

 By C. Whitney Gilchrist (Cartoons & Collegian Fun, January 1927)


I am delighted to know that CARTOONS & COLLEGIAN FUN is giving some of its valuable space to an interview with Arthur Racey. Racey shares the distinction with only a few cartoonists on this continent of having become a local institution. In the popular estimation, he "hits the nail on the head" —a more difficult accomplishment than it sounds—very frequently where serious subjects are concerned. And Montreal gets about one chuckle a week out of his burlesques, which strikes me as a pretty high average.
As I have said, I am glad your magazine is giving Racey this recognition. I do not know any man who has worked more honestly and consistently, or who stands for a better tradition than does he.

Faithfully yours,
E. L Archibald
Executive Editor
The Montreal Daily Star
"Canada's   Greatest  Newspaper."


When Sir Arthur Meighan came into power in Canada, some time ago, he asked Arthur G. Racey and another cartoonist to do some propaganda cartoons for the Conservative Party. The next day Racey sent in forty ideas for cartoons, each numbered consecutively, and followed this up each day until he had submitted about two hundred. "Just mark the numbers you want and I'll do the rest," he said.

Meanwhile, the other cartoonist waited patiently for some time and finally wrote asking why he was getting no work. He had been waiting for someone else to suggest ideas for him!

With this in mind, it is not hard to understand why Racey has done virtually all the cartoons used by the Conservatives in their last three election campaigns and is regarded as the greatest— certainly the best beloved— cartoonist in Canada.

For twenty-seven years he has been staff cartoonist on Lord Atholstan's famous old independent newspaper, The Montreal Daily Star. Before joining The Star he had been employed on an opposition newspaper, The Witness, for seven years, making more than a third of a century in the cartooning profession.

Racey was born in Quebec City in 1871. While attending Quebec High School, he submitted a cartoon to The Witness. It was not accepted, but the drawing showed so much talent that the editor wrote encouraging the young artist to persevere.

After high school came St. Francis College and a B.A. at McGill University, then the position on The Witness.

Besides his permanent newspaper work, Racey has contributed to Life, Punch, and many other foreign and domestic humorous publications. He has also done considerable drawing for MacLean's Magazine. His cartoons have been reprinted wherever the English language is spoken.

Among other things he illustrated Stephen Leacock's "Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town." "In this book," he explained. "I depicted an Anglican canon with spats. Shortly after it came out I received a letter from Bishop Carmichael, which read: 'Dear Arthur: I thought you understood that a Church of England clergyman does not wear gaiters—"I sent the letter on to Leacock and got the following characteristic reply: 'My Dear Racey: If you and I wish to make a Church of England clergyman wear gaiters, he's jolly well got to wear 'em.'"

Just to show that cartoonists slip up now and then, just like other folks, Racey tells this incident:

"Once in a political cartoon I made use of 'Tom O' Shanter' riding over the Brig O' Doon with the witches in close pursuit. The following day a redheaded and much riled Scotsman stamped into the office and bitterly berated me for not studying Burns more carefully. 'Why’ said I aghast, 'what have I done now?' 'Hoot mon!' he cried in indignation, holding the cartoon in front of my face, 'dinna ye ken better at a'? Here ye've made Tam ridin' frae east tae west, when Burns says he rode ower the Brig' O' Doon frae west tae east!"

On another occasion, Racey drew a sketch of all the bald-headed Members of Parliament from the press gallery. Shortly afterward he received a letter of severe reproof from an old French Canadian member who declared he was not bald.

"I believe he did have ten or fifteen hairs, all told," Racey remarked with a grin.

"A similar instance,” the cartoonist continued," was when, some years ago, the Montreal Star ran a publicity stunt. Every little girl that would send ten cents and her photograph -could have her picture in the paper and the money thus taken was turned over to some fund or other. This happened before the days of modern engraving, and every photo had to be drawn from the blueprint, blocked and etched by hand. Some job? I'll tell the world.
"And how those photos did pour in; we artists were swamped with work! One day I had an engagement for golf, when just at the last moment a batch of eighty came in! However, we divided up and got to work. The last of my lot was a little Mary Murphy and I'll confess the poor kid got sketchy treatment. Next day one of my colleagues rushed in and yelled 'Beat it, Racey, if you value your life, there's a wild, raging mother stamping upstairs with a club looking for the man 'what drawed Mary Murphy's fice.’ I did beat it."

Racey was a close friend of the late Sir Sam Hughes. He tells an incident of their first meeting, in an article in MacLean's Magazine. During a train journey he had been drawn into conversation with a fellow passenger. The conversation drifted to a newly published book of cartoons, "The Englishman in Canada” by Racey.

Sir Sam launched into a detailed and red-hot criticism of the book and of the artist himself. Finding his companion responsive and interested, he "soared to inspired heights of condemnation, tempered now and then by a bit of praise. Soon the train reached Montreal and, when parting, Sir Sam suggested that having proven such congenial companions it would not be amiss to become known.

"I am sorry," he apologized, "but I was so intent on discussing that rascal Racey that I did not think to introduce myself. My name is Hughes-—Sir Sam Hughes. And yours—?"

"I am very pleased indeed to make your acquaintance sir," said the cartoonist, "and sincerely hope we shall meet again. My name is Racey—A. G. Racey."

With a muttered "Good Lord!" Sir Sam turned on his heel. They met again, however, and very often; their acquaintance grew into a lasting friendship.

Racey is a life member of the Montreal Art Association, having studied oil and water colors under the late William Brymer, R.C.A., and the late Mr. Moss of Ottawa.

Racey has a fertile mind and a fund of humor. Above all he loves a red-hot election battle. During the reciprocity issue of 1911 his powerful stinging cartoons were reprinted all over Canada and the U. S. After the elections he received a letter from Robert Borden which read, "Your cartoons contributed not a little to the successful termination of the eventful campaign we have just been through."

During the World War, although too old to go to the front, Racey made a lecture tour with his war cartoons, throwing them on the screen before wildly enthusiastic audiences in every city and large town all over the Dominion. This tour netted about $45,960 for the Red Cross and other patriotic organizations.

According to Racey there are three things that one who would succeed in the cartoon game must do: (1) work, (2) study technic and (3) work.

Enroll with a good school, study the principles of cartooning and then practice, PRACTICE and persevere. Soon you will find that through your persistent, conscientious endeavor you are steadily climbing the hill to success.

In the beginning you must help yourself and depend on yourself only, let your own unconquerable determination surmount all obstacles and help you over the dark moments. But when at last you have shown your determination to win you will find hands outstretched on every side ready and willing to give you a friendly lift. Such is life.

And when at last you have "arrived" you will find that carping critics, deeply wronged Church of England clergymen, indignant, redheaded Scots, raging Cockney mothers, and irate M.P.’s jar upon you but little—other than perhaps a momentary feeling of nervousness.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

 

Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter One, Part Two



This is the Life!

by 

Walt McDougall


Chapter One -- The First Dozen Years are the Worst (Part 2)


Those were crude, unpolished times when pressed clothing would have aroused hostility, when a man who had been to Europe or parted his hair in the middle was a celebrity, and Roger's Statuary and Prang's chromos were considered High Art; when Birch, Backus and Wambold's Nigger Minstrels furnished amusement highly enjoyable but, as many persons thought, somewhat indelicate, and the Black Crook was mentioned with bated breath.

The atmosphere of godliness pervading middle-class circles which called a local authoress, Marion Harland, the wife of our pastor, to account for her "Ruby's Husband," as namby-pamby a story as was ever written, but it was a "novel," was, of course, nothing as compared with the strictness of ante-war days when a ballet performance would have been instantly raided, but I used to wonder when everybody seemed to be reprobating the Black Crook in unmeasured terms how the theater ever paid expenses.

Along with all this genteel goodness the ethics of business permitted the most flagrant swindles, politics was as rotten and corrupt as is conceivable, and political meetings, and especially party parades, were scenes of carnage and often of manslaughter and mayhem that aroused no particular comment. I have witnessed combats on our streets that were as sanguinary as Bull Run and seen local political bosses lead armed gangs to combat like any medieval barons; one of these, a famous character, Boss Stainsby, was for me a synonym for the much discussed Bill Tweed. Smallpox was epidemic somewhere in town about half the time, bedbugs, ants, fleas and cockroaches were seemingly inevitable pests, and as everybody of any consequence possessed a stable back of his residence, house flies were a third part of the godly atmosphere.

Fighting was a necessary part of schooling. Our Academy uniform, closely resembling that of the West Point cadets, was a pregnant source of extreme irritation to every bad, tough boy in every ward, and one was daily compelled to defend its honor and its neatness as well, but I do not recall being worried much on that sartorial account. I seem to have done far more fighting in the school grounds. A family of six boys may be depended upon to produce one or two effective scrappers, and I began early to learn that I must be my own defender, but it was only after I had enjoyed the singular satisfaction of defeating three assailants at once with no other weapon than a bundle of schoolbooks strapped together that I came to look upon pugilism as a pleasurable entertainment as well as a duty.

Across the wide Market Street lived a boy named Jake Haussling who afterward achieved the distinction, several times repeated, of being Mayor of Newark, and whose father kept a prosperous saloon. Jake was bigger than I, but I was considered more respectable, of course. One day he insolently grabbed a fine lignum-vitae top which I was spinning on the pavement, and started homeward with the prize. I think this was my first real fight. Before it was finished—or interrupted, as it likely was:—a pleasant time was had by all of the large and enthusiastic crowd which assembled. Jake was taken home by his mother, and I had the top, but I was afraid to go home, as fighting was one of the outdoor sports to which my parents decidedly objected. I knew that I was in for a notable licking and deferred my homecoming until darkness fell. My sad condition, however, was immediately apparent, but I had concocted a beautiful alibi to the effect that the burly, brutal Jake with a band of ten toughs had attacked me and taken my precious top, subjecting me to terribly rough usage when I defended it. Mother seized my hand and, wordless, hauled me across the street to the Haussling home.
"See what your brutal son has done to my littleWalter!" she protested, pointing dramatically to my palpable facial disfigurement. "He has beaten him black and blue all over, too!"

"Come! See once what your leetle boy has done to my leetle Jakey alretty!" replied the placid Mrs. Haussling, and she led us into another room wherein big Jake, with both eyes tightly closed and beautifully black, purple and green, sat in a bathtub filled with hot water. Mother took one swift look and departed. I got my licking within ten minutes, but I never felt it, so consoled was I by the heavenly spectacle I had just witnessed. Poor Jake was a good fellow, deservedly popular and a competent executive, yet, possessed by a species of melancholic mania, he committed suicide several years ago.

In those days of long ago the founder of one of Newark's wealthiest families used to do odd jobs about the old house, but by industry and acumen he acquired a large fortune through the sale of fertilizers. His wife became a town celebrity for her amusing misnomers. She remarked to mother one day that her daughter had "become so high-toned that she had to have her fingernails manured every week," and on another occasion, when asked what she had found most enjoyable during a recent trip to Europe, she affirmed complacently: "I think I was most impressed in France by the sight of all the pheasants coming down the mountainside singing the Mayonnaise." All this is now tradition. Her husband was succeeded in his work by a genuine Indian named John Teazman, one of the last relics of a vanished tribe once dwelling in the Pompton region. I was just old enough to get the benefit of the friendship of this accomplished aborigine who could do everything from beating a rug or skinning a rabbit to repairing a grand-father's clock in a satisfactory manner.

John was slim, long-haired, dark and taciturn, a genuine Fenimore Cooper Indian, and he loved the toil of pulling weeds, whitewashing fences, cutting grass or shoveling snow exactly as fondly as I did. I wish I now had at my disposal the hours we two spent in exploring, from my eighth to my thirteenth year, the wilds of the Orange Mountains or the wide cloud-mottled meadows, and on the river where smelt, perch, shad and even sturgeon were to be caught or speared.

He taught me to shoot with the bow, to ride, to swim,to cook, to build a bed of boughs, to trap and skin animals, and a dozen other arts, and in return I told him about fossils, which were early my passion, and of pirates and fairies, tales with which he was never satiated. We used to go away for days at a time on what the boy of today would call a "hike," for mother had every confidence in him, and during this time we ate nothing but what we shot with the bow or caught with hook and line, barring, of course, a neighborly lifting of green corn or the like when we encountered a farm. To those sunlit days and the tricks this red man taught me I have owed my preservation more than once, and also, no doubt, a vigorous frame and muscular development somewhat above the average.

I have heard him say: "Wash no good! Make man weak—like squaw! See big fat pig! Plenty dirt, plenty fat!" I believed him but found it practically almost impossible to live up to this theory with a whole family opposed to it. However, one blissful week that I spent camping out with him in the Orange Mountains, several miles from any human habitation, demonstrated the scientific value of his belief, for I did not wash face or hands for seven days and I gained four pounds in weight, as I triumphantly proved at the grocer's on my return.

We have killed the woodcock in swamps now covered with tall structures, rabbits in fields now blocks of buildings, caught pickerel in brooks buried deep underground today, and shot ducks where miles of factories blacken the sky with smoke. From him I learned to use the filthy weed, but by his wise counsel avoided liquor until I became a newspaperman and in constant contact with corruption and vice.

I have never fully believed that John was purely Indian, as he never revealed the least bloodthirstiness or savagery whatever. Repeatedly during our travels through dark Essex County we found opportunities for gory homicide, even for torture at the stake, but although warmly, even fervently urged, he manifested a singular reluctance to commit murder that was discouraging to an ardent devourer of Beadle's Dime Novels, which dime, by the way, was a recent innovation, shin-plasters having driven all silver coins into desuetude. Once in a deep valley we found an old peddler lost in the huckleberry growth and instead of killing, scalping and despoiling the God-given prize the Indian conducted him to the turnpike to my intense disgust, afterward severely reprimanding me because I criticized his lack of aboriginal ferocity and craft.

Although John had the mentality of a mud turtle, being quite unable to understand such simple matters as the rotundity of the earth, its orbit around the sun, the changes of the moon, its effect upon the tides or the nature of an eclipse, which are taught to school children and which every white man fully comprehends, of course, he became, under my father's tuition, a competent taxidermist and in that capacity went to Mexico or some-where and so I lost my redskin comrade.

I had long been at the Academy when he departed, and missed him only when my soul revolted from the monotony of drill and uninteresting lessons. Nobody knows how I learned to read; very likely it was the effect of absorption, perhaps from alphabet blocks, but at the age of six I was an omnivorous and untiring borer into books. I remember suffering at times from severe headaches, which, it seems, attracted no particular attention, for at that time little was known about eyestrain and its effect upon the other organs of the human body, and that I was shortsighted neither my parents nor teachers ever suspected, although at school I had to approach within ten feet of the blackboard in order to read what was written thereon. It was left for Teddy Roosevelt to inform me, when about twelve years of age, of my deficiency.

Four or five years at the Academy followed our removal from the old Market Street home to a modern brick and brownstone residence on aristocratic High Street, where life began to assume a more serious aspect. Before the Civil War our family life had been somewhat peripatetic, father painting portraits in Charleston, S.C., during the winters and in Saratoga in summer, but now he added a large photograph gallery to his painting studio and settled down to the humdrum life of a country town. His experiences comprised a prairie-schooner trip across Indian-infested plains to far-off Minneapolis and a voyage down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and he was regarded as something of a Ulysses. His gallery lost him much money, for he was in no sense a businessman, despising the petty details of moneymaking, although in his painting no man was ever more finical.

The Military Academy, an institution dating from pre-Colonial times, provided preparation for college unsurpassed in America, beside supplying military instruction under an army officer, a Major Hopkins. The students under military teaching numbered several hundred boys, its combination of mental and physical activity attracted me and before I was fifteen I had been elected captain of a company, an honor due less to my ability or size, I am assured, than to my capacity for making friends.
I hated arithmetic and music, alas; history fascinated me, geography was merely a diversion, but composition was play. I supplied compositions to four or five boys, who in return attended to my arithmetical and Latin labors, but drill, gymnastics and boxing must have taken most of my time. Greek I was never even introduced to, I imagine.

One day, feeling more than usually loath to endure a Latin lesson, on a sudden impulse I forged an excuse, copying my mother's writing, jerky and uneven from rheumatism, and handed it to our Latin instructor, Professor Davis, a typical ancient Roman with side-whiskers. With the criminal's usual lack of forethought I continued to hand in similar excuses until old Davis's personal vanity was wounded and he came to mother to ask why she did not seem to wish me to learn Latin, bringing with him all the forged excuses, and at the sight of these my mother's brain reeled. That they were actually in her own handwriting she had no doubt, but she had no recollection of having written one of them. She did manage to retain enough self-possession to acknowledge their authorship, probably from the maternal instinct of protection, and he subjected her to a long tirade on the value of the dead languages before departing.

A little later I came home and was confronted with the bale of forged excuses which Davis had forgotten, a portentous and disconcerting mass of evidence. I saw the game was up and promptly confessed. Between her consternation at the enormity of my crime, the terrifying prospect of others to come, with my ultimate end on the gallows and the amazingly perfect imitation of her cramped chirography, my poor mother was completely overcome and flabbergasted. I was too big to be punished in the ancient customary manner, and in her horror and weakness she fell on her knees and laid the whole matter before the Almighty.

I have never, even when solemnly reproved by the Supreme Court of the United States for caricaturing its eight tobacco-chewing justices in session (which is a story in itself), had so saddening, mortifying and so utterly reforming an experience as this. In her presentation of the awful charge and the incidental mention of other little peccadillos, inconsiderable trifles such as stealing doughnuts and beating up my little brother, who always deserved all he got, alternated with heart-rending appeals for my forgiveness and ultimate salvation through the blood of the Lamb, she was so transcendentally impressive that I sweated and shivered by turns in the apprehension that the Almighty would attend to m ycase right then and there. However, nothing happened except that I was saved as by an unseen miracle. I have never forged a signature since that day, having a sort of uneasy feeling, when tempted to do so, that I was on probation, and the nearest I have ever come to it was the imitation of the style of other and, so to speak, greater artists like Gibson and Kirby, which, after all, is a compliment and not a crime.

My brother Harry, afterward a clever writer under the nom de plume of "Harrimac" and one of the proprietors of the Newark Sunday Call, about this period of my early adolescence perpetrated a trick which filled the sleepy old town for some weeks with intense excitement. Across our street was the Breintnal estate with an extensive lawn, a fine mansion approached by two rows of stately elms, the very presentment of refined austere opulence. Off to the left, back of a row of shops, stood a ruinous structure which had once been Newark's water reservoir, a circular amphitheater about twenty-five feet in diameter and twelve high, its concrete wall lessening within by a series of steps toward its top. To the boys of my decade the interior of this ancient ruin was as unknown as Tibet, but Harry's gang knew it well. Mounting the tank by a ladder that was drawn up after them, they lowered a cardboard effigy of a ghostlike figure, one side of which was white and the other dead black, suspended by a fishpole. This they moved slowly along the turf to simulate a floating specter.

It was not long before a horrified yell from the distant street announced that the "High Street Ghost" had been discovered. A crowd assembled and some venturesome individuals were observed by the operators of the hoax within the dark circle of the wall to be stealthily approaching. A string enabled the manager to reverse the figure, when it instantly became invisible and could be hoisted quickly over the parapet.

Enormous assemblages of men and women used to gather nightly on our quiet street to witness the spectacle, but it was quite impossible for the perpetrators of the trick to give nightly performances for the reason that such curiosity had been excited that at times they could not even approach the tank from the rear without detection. The structure itself was never under suspicion nor examined during the whole period of this spectral puppet show. I saw the apparition three or four times and can testify to its startlingly supernatural appearance. Its action was precisely what is expected traditionally from a disembodied spirit; in the faint and flickering light of a few distant street lamps it seemed to drift gracefully and fitfully across the blank gray wall and fade into the gloom in an instant. Revolver shots frequently rang out and the concrete of the wall became scarred with bullet marks that summer. Among the crowds assembling nightly it was rarely that there appeared individuals courageous enough to venture far within the gloom of the elms, and even policemen some-times refused to approach the specter.

The New York newspapers contained columns concerning the "High Street Ghost" and yards of spiritualistic discussion were printed, but the secret was not disclosed. I was forty years old before I learned the names of the perpetrators of the hoax, three of whom were then highly respected lawyers and one was a priest!

While not strongly moved by religious belief, both of our parents were strict in opposing certain tendencies just then coming into view. Card-playing was taboo but kissing games quite unobjectionable; dime novels extremely pernicious while Petronius and Smollett's works seem to have contained no moral dynamite at all. Father's conscience was most tender on the matter, a vital one, of staying out late of nights. A man who remained out after ten at night, he maintained, was out for no good or proper object. Harry, when an embryo reporter, was the most frequent offender in this respect; protests and reprimands seemed unavailing.

In the stairway leading to the top floor where Henry slept in the rear and my brother Frank and myself in the front room, was a board which, when stepped on, creaked stridently, betraying the careless late arrival like a village fire-alarm. The very sound indicated a jovial carelessness that was suspicious, for it was well known that we usually avoided the telltale plank at such times.

About dawn one summer morn the alarm awakened me and I saw Harry slip across the hall to his door. Soon a second poignant squeak indicated the stealthy approach of father. His gray head, which resembled that of William Cullen Bryant, appeared white against the gloom of the stairway, and as he peered into Harry's room I saw a start of surprise agitate him and then another complaining sound from the step announced his retreat. I awakened Frank and gleefully informed him that things were about to become interesting in our domicile. The faint daylight strengthened and our patience was being sadly strained, when, without warning, father appeared in the hall armed with a bed slat. Then he tiptoed into Harry's room slowly. We slid out of bed instantly and saw the cause of his strange actions. There on Harry's disheveled couch, half covered by the bedraggled sheets, sprawled a burly form in seeming stupor, fully clothed even to hat and shoes, a disgraceful and revolting spectacle. Our stern and suspicious parent had more than once accused Harry of drinking lager beer, but here was ocular evidence of gross intoxication, and in my youthful righteousness I felt not the least pity for the delinquent.

The bed slat was raised aloft, poised and then descended upon the central rotundity of the besotted wretch with a dull sickening thud. Up flew the boots to the ceiling, the hat flipped wildly over the headboard, and a motley mass of old clothes, towels and other rubbish curled and writhed about the bed slat for an instant and then flopped upon a bed devoid of human occupant. Father took one swift look at the scattered pile which Harry had so skillfully shaped to resemble his own form, and then we, the least of his progeny, thought it was time to leave the vicinity. From our darker room we saw him steal silently to the stairway and vanish. A moment later Harry emerged quivering with elation and peered down the stairs, then he hopped into bed.

No mention was ever made of this occurrence, but father never again opened his mouth about staying out late of nights. He was a man who was able to develop even the tiniest hint into a practicable and efficient working model; besides, he had a keen sense of humor and the point of Harry's joke must have been at once perceptible to him.

I have always cherished the thought that I was a trifle nearer to my father inasmuch as I was the only one of the boys who painted for years in his studio, played chess with him, and was as inordinate and insatiate a reader of every kind of literature. Unlike the modern artist, he despised all forms of studio decoration, preferring an almost bare apartment, ridiculed the collection mania which after the Centennial Exposition began to adorn studios and homes with old armor, weapons, furniture and ceramics. He abhorred everything that was ancient except the ruins of castles and old trees. He claimed that all these antiques collected dust, the painter's greatest foe, as well as diverted his mind from his work, and it seems that most of the painters of his time held the same opinion.

In our immediate neighborhood lived Henry R. Poore,a boy of gentle manners and lively disposition, who became a distinguished painter; beyond his home dwelt Walter Rankin, a lad of my own age, afterward head of the Green School of biology at Princeton; another boy, further away, was Wood Adams, who developed into an artist of much merit, and on the next block lived Marion Harland, mother of my first love, Christine Terhune, afterward Mrs. Herrick, as well as of Albert Payson Terhune, who was for many years a confrere of mine on the World.

Paul Du Chaillu, on his return from his extensive travels in Africa, lived with the Rankins for a period, bringing with him a young gorilla, the first ever seen, I believe, in the United States. The simian escaped and, it was supposed, perished in the woods west of town, although I remember it being often jocularly suggested that the animal would turn up in the possession of Barnum's Menagerie. Du Chaillu was very fond of children and delighted in telling them of his adventures, but I was most impressed by his account of a period of prolonged hunger and thirst which he endured somewhere. This was tragedy which I could visualize and it touched my sympathetic heart. In those early days hunger seemed to me the climax of all miseries, and the very thought of it was painful, but I came to think that cold is a far greater evil.

Around the corner lived Wambold of the famous minstrels, and to sit at the bottom of the stairs of his high stoop and listen to the droll sayings and quaint anecdotes of the members of the company on a Sunday night and feel the subtle difference between these antic unrestrained and jocund souls and the demure long-faced austerity of those who regarded them as pariahs was what first led me to analyzing my own impulses and emotions. I felt that I was somehow akin to them despite their frequent oaths and obscene stories which compelled me to laughter by their wit, akin to them in their unrestrained individuality and lack of pretense and desire to amuse, despite the fact that my religious training assured me that all were traveling along the path leading to destruction. This was long before I was permitted to view them on their stage in blackface, and when I repeated at home one of their somewhat equivocal jokes I always created dismay and consternation, but I never revealed the source of my material. I have no doubt that I gained a certain facility in the remembering and telling of good stories that was of value to me in life, from my contact with these hard-working, sharp-witted and painstaking performers.

About the time of the Chicago fire and the great comet which hung in the west day after day to the vast discomfort of the superstitious, there came to the house two doors from us, occupied by Colonel Edmund Joy, a still greater wonder. This was "Buffalo Bill," the altogether superhuman hero of a series of thrilling tales in the New York Ledger by "Ned Buntline," who came almost daily to confer with the famous scout about characters, scenes and such in the lurid soul-gripping plots he concocted. Every boy in the land was reading these stories, but very few ever recognized in the tall, long-haired and slim man of perhaps thirty, with rather pensive eyes, the death-dealing, hated and feared foe of the red man. I used to snuggle in beside the two in silence and listen to their discussions, at first with awe and admiration, but gradually I came to detect the motion and the sound of the machinery of fiction, and my keen sense of the verities was shocked more than once at the casual addition of eight or ten redskin victims of the hero's unfailing revolver, as if Indians were mere vermin, or the insertion of more startling details in an already too heart-rending episode, events plainly invented at the moment for the sole purpose of injecting more ginger into the narrative.

Cody's manner was so tame and subdued, almost shy, that I began to harbor a clammy suspicion that Buffalo Bill's sanguinary reputation was founded entirely on the clever author's invention and that it was quite possible that there was no human blood upon his hands at all. He certainly did not appear a fifth as homicidal as did the man who delivered charcoal at our house, who killed his wife and was hanged for the crime; there was nothing of the relentless, panther-like killer about this serene, amiable, quiet person; why, even Thomas Bailey Aldrich,who had written what was called a lifelike and snappy book about a bad boy, had a far more truculent air when once, with Du Chaillu, he had endeavored to probe two or three of us about our acts and thoughts. I concluded that Bill was largely a fake, and Buntline's stories gave me a pain in the neck.

Texas Jack, on the other hand, had all the elemental qualifications of the bad man, being as hard-boiled and low-browed as any of our Seventh Ward Democrats or Morris Canallers. I was willing to believe that he had a bad heart without any proof whatever, but I was keenly disappointed in Bill. He could not look at one with the dark and murderous glance that chilled the blood, as did Texas Jack, nor did he exhale that pungent aroma as of a brewery and a distillery on the same block on a summer night.
These feelings were somewhat modified when one day Buffalo Bill and his gifted author came riding up to Joy's on spirited steeds from the livery stable and Bill made his animal do stunts that he didn't know were in him, by sheer skill in horsemanship. Then I got a glimpse of the real rider and scout, but it was not until I had seen him in his magnificent, almost imperially proud entrance at the Wild West Show years later, that I grasped the full splendor of his being.
I was to meet him, travel with him, and make his newspaper pictures for twenty years, but of that in its place.


*** END OF CHAPTER ONE ***

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Locher




Frederick Hyett “Fred” Locher was born in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, on October 6, 1886. Locher’s middle name and birth date were on his World War I draft card, and his birthplace was on his World War II draft card. A 1927 passenger list recorded his full first name.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Locher in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. He was the oldest of four children born to James, a retail druggist, and Capitola. His father was born in California and mother in Illinois.

In Artists in California, 1786–1940, Edan Hughes wrote: “Locher lived in Chicago before moving to southern California in 1921. Self-taught, his only art training was a correspondence course taken from Landon Cartooning School.” City directories and the census show that Locher lived in Los Angels much earlier.

Los Angeles city directories for 1907 to 1909 list three different addresses for Locher, a stenographer: 214 South Fremont Avenue; 514 South Figueroa; and 917 West 5th Street. The 1910 census has Locher and his wife, Etta, in Los Angeles at 1931 Darien Place. Locher was a stenographer for a paving company. A 1910 city directory named the business, Barber Asphalt Paving Company. In 1912 Locher was at 1318 Colton and two years later at 511 South Boylston. Locher was the assistant secretary at the California Arizona Construction Company in the 1915 city directory with his residence at 557 South Fremont Avenue.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Locher’s earliest work was An Embarrassing Moment which he drew from March 2 to 8, 1916 and August 25 to October 1916. It was followed by There Was a Time (1916), The Pest Family and Barnum Was Right, both in 1917. All four had brief runs in the El Paso Herald.

On June 5, 1917, cartoonist Locher signed his World War I draft card. He lived at 1133 South Hope Street. Locher named William Randolph Hearst as his employer and wrote, “Work at home mail cartoons to N.Y.” His was described as tall and slender with gray eyes and dark brown hair.

The 1920 census listed Locher, but not his wife, in Chicago, Illinois, at 1726 West South Prairie Avenue. He was doing “cartooning advertising.”

Locher produced Cicero Sapp from 1921 to 1928. Every Man for Himself was the Sunday topper which began in 1926.

It’s not clear what happened to Locher’s wife, Etta. A 1927 passenger list has Locher and new wife, Jeanne, sailing from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. New York City was identified as their home.

The couple has not been found in the 1930 census. During this year, Locher started the long-running Homer Hoopee on March 17. His involvement ended April 10, 1943; the strip was continued by others. Homer Hoopee was one of several new cartoons introduced in the Sarasota Herald (Florida), on March 16, 1930. (Editor & Publisher, February 8, 1930, was first to announce the lineup.)




A 1938 Los Angeles city directory has a Fred Locher at 1817 Hillcrest Road.

Santa Monica was Locher‘s home in the 1940 census. He resided at the Charmont Apartment on “California & 4th.” The freelance cartoonist had completed four years of high school but no college.

Locher signed his World War II draft card on April 25, 1942. At the time he resided at 1201 North Crescent Heights Blvd. This address was crossed out and written in its place was 111 South Carondelet Street with the date September 28, 1942. Locher named the Associated Press as his employer. His description was five feet, ten inches and 125 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair.

Locher passed away February 25, 1943, in Los Angeles. He was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The Evening Star (Washington, DC), February 27, 1943, published the Associated Press obituary.

Fred Locher, Cartoonist, Dies in Hollywood
Hollywood, Feb. 27.—Fred Locher, 56, veteran cartoonist for the Associated Press feature service, died at his home here Thursday of cerebral hemorrhage.

Mr. Locher started in the newspaper business as a child, at Cerro Gordo, Ill., his birthplace. His father, the town druggist, also published the weekly paper, and as Mr. Locher himself put it, “I made myself generally useful about the place.”

He originated the comic strip “Cicero Sapp” in 1920, drawing it for the old New York World until it suspended. He joined the Associated Press in 1930, drawing the comic strip “Homer Hoopee.”

Alex Jay

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Monday, October 05, 2015

 

Obscurity of the Day: Barnum was Right




It seems to me that a comic strip creator, if he or she can do nothing else well, ought to at least be able to follow their own self-imposed rules. In other words, if a comic strip creator does a strip about a little girl, they can't just change her into a little boy for a day. Charles Schulz can't have Charlie Brown berate Lucy for snatching away the football, Calvin can't start paying attention in class, Garfield can't purr contentedly in Jon's arms, and Dagwood can't flirt with the gals in the office.

Once you make up the rules of your feature, you've got to stick to them. It's really not that hard. But for Fred Locher, who had a long career as a newspaper cartoonist, even this basic requirement seems to have been beyond his capabilities. In the short run 1917 strip Barnum Was Right, the self-imposed rule is perfectly simple. Based on the title, our protagonist must be revealed in each strip to be a sucker, as of the "one born every minute" variety. How hard can that be?

In the top strip above, Locher executes the rule perfectly. The strip not only obeys the rule, but frankly, the message about the treadmill of life is really quite effective and, dare I say it, touching!

But then Locher blows it. In the next two strips, our little mensch is in one case revealed to be uninformed about a train schedule, which is unfortunate to be sure, but certainly doesn't make him a sucker. He would be a sucker if some smart-ass had told him to wait for the bus there. But that's not what happened.

In the last example he has lost his key, which perhaps makes him an idiot. Then he is snagged by a suspicious cop, which makes him very unlucky. But neither of those things makes him a sucker.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the gags, though they're about as weak as Gandhi after a long fast. They're just not right for this comic strip. If Locher couldn't abide by his rule, he should have just changed the name of the strip. Howzabout They'll Do It Every Time or It's a Great Life if You Don't Weaken. I like the ring to those, and they fit the spirit of the strip. 

Locher did this sorry excuse for a strip for Hearst's Newspaper Feature Service for an undetermined amount of time in 1917. I have only seen isolated examples that ran in the Philadelphia Bulletin in September of that year. 


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Sunday, October 04, 2015

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics



(Jim reviews the second volume of Bobby London Popeye reprints)

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