Saturday, February 27, 2016
Thursday, November 5 1908 -- Okay, okay, enough of all that presidential election jazz, let's get back to something important -- boxing! Tomorrow night Jim Barry will take a decision in ten rounds over Fireman Jim Flynn at Naud Junction.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, February 26, 2016
This is the Life by Walt McDougall Chapter 10 Part 1
Chapter Ten (Part 1) - THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS
He managed after a time to seduce George Folsom into deserting us to manage his ridiculous art department, and about twice a month he would send George over to me to say that he "would give me as much per week as Joe did if I would come over to him!" The offer seemed so ludicrous that I never mentioned it to J. P. I was aware that the name of his brother exasperated him, and a comparison of the World with the Journal infuriated him. His standard, queerly enough, was the Herald. Yet upon this servant-girl's sheet did Hearst build his structure.
As city editor of the Evening World, he soon showed himself capable of holding his own in the peculiar scramble for distinction and power that was just beginning to be discernible in the daily motion of the World. He rose to the very top of the ladder and then took the sudden dive that every man had to who endeavored to match his will with Pulitzer's.
All the evening force were young fellows, but had been long enough on morning papers to lose all liking for early rising, hence few of them could get to bed early enough to meet J. P.'s requirements. I recall dropping in one morning about seven o'clock to catch Tracy Greaves, Freddie Duneka and N. A. Jennings asleep in their chairs with S. S. C. doing all the work and making a sketch of the three sleepers, which I threatened to send to the boss.
In 1888 I attended my first National Convention, at Chicago. Beyond the fact that Harrison and Morton were nominated, its proceedings are dimmed in a golden haze in which appear more or less dimly the forms of Eugene Field, Finley Peter Dunne, Altgeld, George Ade, Charles Lederer, Melville Stone, Bathhouse John, Charles Seymour, Art Young, Tom Powers and others, all vital, uproarious and vehement, and, in the background, the rowdy Whitechapel Club located several flights up creaky stairs above an obscure and noisome alley. What I had seen of the New York Bohemians was swiftly half-toned by the hospitable and entirely unrestricted Apaches of the pen and brush of Chicago. They seem to have been possessed by a wild and boyish yearning for the perverse and diabolic that found expression in such displays as the public cremation of a corpse on the lake front in the moonlight and similar barbaric excesses. A boy named John McCutcheon just about this time began to send me pen-and-ink drawings which led me into a habit of criticizing his work quite like a correspondence-school shark, drawings that even then showed marks of genius. All through this group of wild men was discernible the leaven of genius, aimless as yet and ebullient, just stepping out to supply the mixture of wisdom and nonsense which the new century would demand—and then abandon for puerile vapidity and jazz.
Just when I met Eugene Field I am uncertain, but I think it was this year. Nye, who knew him well, had often described his peculiarities, so that I felt familiar with him, and while visiting Charley Stone, my old roommate, in his office in, I think, the Herald, I learned that Field was in an adjoining room. When I entered, to find him reclining on the back of his neck with his feet upon a table, I seemed to see a resemblance to Nye in the lank, carelessly attired figure.
He looked up dreamily as I waded through a mass of papers, and a glint came into his eyes, caused, I knew, by my dude clothes, for Chicago was then far too dirty for anybody to be decent for three days. I made him a stiff bow and asked:
"Are you 'Gene Fields, the feller that writes poems?"
His eyes glittered as he corkscrewed himself upright and, pointing to a chair, said: "I am the man. Take a seat."
Now I had heard the story of that famous chair, seatless and carefully covered with newspapers, into which he would enveigle the unwary caller and wedge him disastrously, and I remained standing as I explained that I was a manufacturer of shoe polish, wanting eight or ten lines of good poetry to put on a label.
I explained that I was not buying any poetry without seeing it, as I had already tried out two poets, Ella Wheeler Wilcox and James Whitcomb Riley, who both fell down on the job.
"Please be seated!" he wheedled, all aquiver with his eagerness.
"Say, don't you suppose I've heard about that piece of comedy furniture?" I suddenly demanded. "Every hamfat actor in the country has fallen for it! What do you take me for?"
He looked me over, his expression altering, and asked: "Who are you anyway?"
When I revealed my identity, he seemed amazed and said: "Why, I understood that you were an old man with gray whiskers!" He had no realization of his own values. To his dying day he did not know that what he deemed mere trifles, idle fancies, would brighten his fame year by year, and as for making or managing money, he was far less able than I, for I often had eight or ten dollars of my salary left at the end of a week. His humor was always kindly, although some of his practical jokes seemed cruel to the victim, and one was never safe from his pranks. Of enemies he had none. His appetites were normal, his mind as clean as a dog's tooth.
He had certain comical hobbies, the funniest of which was a custom of collecting nightgowns. From every home he visited he purloined one of these now antique garments, gloating especially over such as were marked with the owner's initials. When he came East, nighties were already obsolete among the best dressers, but a timely hint from Nye enabled me to be prepared. We procured an ordinary muslin robe, embroidered it with a gorgeous monogram like the coat of arms of a Prussian prince, and hung it in my bedroom closet. It was pretty garish, really too ornate, and I feared he would suspect a trick, but when he departed the nightgown had vanished.
Field, like Nye, often deplored the fact that the best things were unprintable at present. I would give much to embody in this volume an imitation of one of Horace's odes done in spurious Latin one damp evening in old Germania Hall. I had for twenty years the only copy of this remarkable production. Nye and I went West with him after this visit, commissioned by Pulitzer to seduce him from his Chicago allegiance. I think J. P. had broached the subject to him but Field had shied. He had an absurd prejudice against New York, as many Westerners still have to this day. I remember Nye's niece, a clever and learned woman, declaring with a shudder that she feared New York more than any other place on earth!
I think it was about this period that P. F. Collier ventured upon a journalistic experiment that was novel but which, considering the psychological effect of the cartoon as an influence upon opinion, might have been expected to have nugatory results. This was the publishing of a Republican and a Democratic cartoon on opposite pages of Collier's Weekly. There always seemed something neutralizing in this effort, as if a catalyzer had entered into the mixture that reduced both cartoons to impotency, and if this impressed me thus, what effect must they have had upon earnest political partisans? I imagined it must seem a sort of sacrilege to the voter to see both parties ridiculed and by the same cartoonist, a two-fold shock. Nugent Robinson, the editor, one of the handsomest, ablest and most affable of cultivated Irishmen, sensed this psychological effect at the outset, but Collier, who would brook no opposition, ordered us to proceed.
Collier was a small, pudgy, rosy-faced man who was fuller of energy and conceit than a hydrogen atom and badly bitten by the social bug. He was for a while addicted to fox-hunting, and in a scarlet coat became a well-known figure in the hayfields around Goshen, N.Y. He presented me with a splendid bay hunter which was all that was desirable except for one little failing. This was an inability to refrain from running away whenever a dog barked! When he ran he shut his eyes, gathered up the bit, and a few yards of reins, in his mouth, and only stopped when back in the stable. I was never certain that Collier was aware of the animal's failing, but the fact that he never showed any desire to know how I had killed the horse makes me think he had an inkling that the beast was not adapted to fox-hunting. Of course, in a dogless land or where the hounds were dumb, he would have served his purpose, but a houndless fox hunt would be an anachronism, hence I was never able to learn even the rudiments of the game, as I was never long enough in the neighborhood of the hounds to even secure my score card.
Several times, when I have been airplaning with young and frolicsome aviators, I have thought of that horse and his unrestrained actions. Had I sent him to the Isle of Dogs he might have been cured, but I sold him to a Newark man whose leg he broke in a week.
The dogma once promulgated by Pulitzer, in a moment of superenthusiasm, that the rest hours of his employees belonged to him and should be devoted to recuperating for his service was, of course, never taken seriously, but like a growing dependence upon wall slogans placarded everywhere, it indicated a change that was coming over his disposition. As his sight became poorer he grew more impatient, and as he was obliged to depend more upon others he became more suspicious. Step by step with the assurance of unbounded wealth and success came the apprehension of blindness and dependence on others. To a man of his peculiar disposition and antecedents, this was calculated to render him irascible and peremptory, and as far as self-expression went, he had never been a patient man.
The usual contentions that arise when two such men as Pulitzer and Cockerill are associated, are subordinated when success is in abeyance; in this case success overwhelmed them before they were able to analyze its constituents. Ten years later neither of them would have wrangled over the trifles that divided them. I was fairly conversant with their dissensions, yet no one thing was important enough to remain in my memory except the matter of financial relations, and that is indefinite.
What I retain is the sense that Cockerill felt that he was as potent a factor in the World's success as was J. P., which probably was true enough. That he had entertained all along a conviction that he would ultimately share proportionately in a moderate success, was known to his friends. But a colossal success is never big enough to be shared. Pulitzer had apportioned a number of shares in the paper to Cockerill at the outset, but on condition that he was not to sell them without giving him the buying option at a certain price. Of course, when the value of these became apparent with the World's amazing progress, Cockerill realized that he had been securely hog-tied by a very common business device and being profanely outspoken, certain debates over the matter were vigorous and ebullient.
It is certain that Cockerill could have made a better bargain in the first place had he been a business man or even ordinarily shrewd, for it is improbable that J. P. would have undertaken the enterprise without him. But John was engrossed in the project itself, eager, for several reasons, to get away from St. Louis, and beside, he had nothing like Pulitzer's faith. Thus he made a bad bargain.
When they parted, it seemed that the bottom had fallen out of the World, nor did J. P. ever find another editor who was worthwhile until Frank Cobb arrived. Tall, handsome, fiery, dark with expressive eyes, Cockerill was a romantic figure upon whom the wear and tear of newspaper management had not made an abrasion, the typical Southwesterner, just the sort to be selected as Exalted Ruler of an Elk's Lodge. He was always debonair, even to audacity, drank freely, but I never saw him affected by liquor. He was intolerant of stupidity or conceit, but very helpful to his friends.
Cockerill's charm was marred by one defect that hampered his convivial intercourse with men of his own mental endowments. This was an unfortunate proclivity to be caustically witty at the expense of one who had just left the festive board. I have heard this trait commented upon by his boon companions, its memory persisting as though the fault were his main characteristic, whereas it was his only blemish and was unknown to those whom he encountered in business hours. The joyous cohesiveness of liberal drinkers is not materially improved by free or even pointed criticism; this has been demonstrated by the long and successful careers of many famous drinking clubs for ages, for few there be who do not quiver at the thought of poisoned arrows winging behind his back. Many a man's departure was delayed by the thought that he would be the next victim, and it also prevented the return on the morrow of sensitive wassailers. Hence one found the witty Colonel often surrounded by men far beneath him in mentality.
Pulitzer and Cockerill parted over differences which, I think, a few years later would have been adjusted, had John lived. The two would have come together from necessity. J. P.'s burden growing heavier every month, and vastly increased by approaching blindness, diabetes, insomnia and other complications due to overwork and anxiety, was now increased by the difficulty of finding a successor to Cockerill. Half his time was spent in devising traps and tests to ascertain the fitness of the men selected as his private secretaries, it seems.
Labels: McDougall's This Is The Life
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: A.B. Frost, Part 2
(Part 1 is here)
The family tree said John Frost was born May 14, 1890, in Philadelphia. Something About the Author said Frost moved, in 1890, to “Moneysunk” farm in New Jersey, and the following year became a pupil of impressionist painter, William Merritt Chase.
Another collection of Frost’s drawings, The Bull Calf and Other Tales, was published by Scribner’s in 1892.
Frost endorsed Higgins drawing inks in advertisements which appeared in numerous publications including the Journal of the Franklin Institute, January 1893 (below), and Pratt Institute Monthly, March 1898.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine published Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer, Detective” in its August and September 1896 issues with art by Frost.
A letter in Mark Twain’s Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893–1909 (1969) said Twain wanted Frost to contribute to his new book:
I suppose A B Frost is an expensive artist; but if he is not too expensive it might be well to get him to make 3 or 4 full-page humorous pictures. He is the best humorous artist that I know of, and he might not be difficult to deal with for the reason that he told me 3 years ago that had long had an ambition to make some illustrations for me.Frost was one of eleven illustrators in Twain’s Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World (1898).
Another profile of Frost appeared in Literature, June 9, 1899, which included a history of the Frost family. Parts of this profile was used in the aforementioned books, National Cyclopaedia of American Biography and Frost Genealogy in Five Families. Other aspects of Frost were in the following passages:
Frost is truly an out-of-doors man; most of his work shows it, but an acquaintance with him will show it more strongly still. Early in life he was a practised oarsman and a prominent member of a boat club on the Schuylkill. He is a sportsman, and has hunted game, big and little, in almost every region which he has depicted in his illustrations of sporting scenes. He is an enthusiastic student of natural history, and when out with his gun he not only brings down his bird with that certain aim for which he has become famous in gun clubs, but he can tell you the genus and variety of that bird, its habits and habitat, the period in which it is allowable to shoot it, and, if you wish further details, will refer you to the page of an ornithological volume in which you can find all you desire.With his two young boys, almost as enthusiastic in the study of nature as is their father, he will spend hours in forcing the streams and ponds in his neighborhood to give up their secrets in the way of fish, newts, and other small denizens of the reeds and water, and from his spoils the most interesting will be carried away to become inhabitants of his aquarium. Nothing in nature escapes him, animate or or inanimate; he perceives the individual characteristics of a tree as he perceives those of a man, and is familiar with the plants of wood and field. He is fond of mushrooms, and can tell you all about them, excepting what medicine to take if you have eaten the wrong ones.The 1900 census said the Frost’s address was 62 Treadwell Place in Chatham. Drawings by A.B. Frost was published in 1904.
Our artist is a wheelman and an earnest golfer, and I think there are few persons who can extract a greater variety of pleasure from the grassy links than he. Good strokes and bad strokes, whether made by himself or anybody else, appeal with almost equal force to his admiration or his perception of fun. It is one of his most prominent characteristics that he is as able and willing to see and make use of the comical points in what he does himself as he is to seize upon them in the performances of others.
Besides being a sportsman and a golfer, and a genial student of natural history, Mr. Frost is a farmer, and his broad acres spread far and away around his stately mansion. Here nature is kind to him, for his fields yield him much more than they would to an ordinary farmer; they give him good crops of hay, corn, and grain, but, in addition to all this, they are the source of inexhaustible crops of fun.
Frost received his passport on June 21, 1906. He was described as six feet, one-and-a-half inches, with blue-gray eyes and gray hair plus beard and mustache. He was an artist who intended to return in two years. Accompanying him were his wife and two sons. A passenger list recorded Frost’s return on May 25, 1914. His ship departed from Cherbourg, France.
While Frost was in Europe, his book, Carlo, was published in 1913 by Doubleday, Page and Company who advertised the book in many periodicals such as Country Life in America and the Garden Magazine. Carlo was serialized in newspapers. (Lambiek Comiclopedia said Frost’s work never appeared in newspapers. The New York Sun published Frost’s “The Suicide” here.) American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Carlo ran from January 4 to March 8, 1914. The New York Sun published The Adventures of Carlo from January 4 to February 22.
The 1919 Morristown city directory said Frost’s address was 60 Maple Avenue. Something About the Author said Frost moved to California in December 1919.
The 1920 census recorded Frost in San Gorgonio Township, Riverside County, California. The occupation of Frost and his son, John, was artist.
Pasadena, California city directories for the years 1921 and 1924 to 1928 said Frost’s address was 529 South Madison Avenue.
Frost passed away June 22, 1928, in Pasadena, which was reported by the New York Times on the 24th and said in part:
Arthur Burdett Frost before the World War was one of the best known illustrators in the country. He specialized in humorous drawings, generally of homely farm and country types and of animals. He is best remembered now as the illustrator of “Tom Sawyer,” “Uncle Remus” and the “Mr. Dooley” books, as well as books he himself wrote, among them “Golfers’ Alphabet,” “Stuff and Nonsense” and “Bull Calf and Other Tales.”The Inquirer, June 26, 1928, remembered Frost.
Few men who have excelled in his field have had a wider vogue, and not many could compete with him in the good-natured humor which infused the greater part of his work. It was Frost who helped to visualize the characters of Mark Twain, Joel Chandler Harris and many other popular American writers. He will be particularly remembered for the way in which he pictured Tom Sawyer, Uncle Remus and Mr. Dooley. Under the magic of his pencil they became realities and lived and had their being. One of the books he illustrated with great success was Max Adder’s “Out of the Hurly Burly.” Here was an instance where author, artist and subject were in happiest accord. He knew how to draw, but he also understood the value of exaggeration; and, as has been well said, “had the faculty of bringing an air of reality into the realm of the ridiculous.”The Times said Frost’s wife, Emily, passed away December 27, 1928 at her home in Pasadena. Frost’s artistic son, John passed away June 5, 1937, in Pasadena, according to the California Death Index, but the family tree said it was June 7. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Arthur Burdett Frost studied at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts under that, great instructor, Thomas Eakins, which is a proof that, he took his art seriously. The New York World in a tribute to his memory says that, when we pass from much of the modern day output to that of Frost we have much of the sensation of “coming out of a cheap cabaret into a delightful performance of Gilbert and Sullivan.”
Some of Frost’s artwork can be viewed at the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center Digital Collections and a list of books illustrated by Frost are at the Online Books Page. Thornton Oakley wrote about meeting Frost in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, January 1947. The A.B. Frost Book by Henry M. Reed is available in two editions from 1967 and 1993.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: A.B. Frost, Part 1
Frost’s parents were John Frost (1800–1859) and Sarah Ann Burdett (?–1882). An obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, December 30, 1859, said:
John Frost, LL. D., died in this city on the evening of the 28th instant, after a brief but severe illness. He was born in Kennebunk, Maine, in 1800…Mr. Frost was always an earnest laborer in the field of letters. He entered Bowdoin College in 1818, and 1819 went to Harvard University, from which institution he was graduated in 1822….In 1828 he came to Philadelphia…Dr. Frost was engaged in writing, compiling, and publishing school and juvenile books, and popular works on the history of America and its most prominent citizens…He was well read in the voluminous theology of Swedenborg, and was a strict adherent to the faith in that religion. He leaves an amiable wife and several children to deplore the loss of an estimable father, who in the thorny path of literature struggled, if not, wisely, yet well, for forty years.According to the family tree Frost was the youngest of nine children. Wikipedia said Frost was “the eldest of ten children”. Frost’s eight older siblings were Mary Cordelia Frost (1831–); Caroline Augusta Frost (1833–); James W Burdett Frost (1835–1835); Sarah Annie Frost (1837–); George Frederick Frost (1839–1864); Frances Emily Frost (1842–1846); Morton Frost (1845–1847) and Charles William Frost (1848–). A search found a tenth child, Frost’s younger brother, Francis Burdett Frost, whose passing was reported in the Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), April 17, 1857: “On Wednesday, the 15th inst. Francis Burdett youngest child of John and Sarah Anne Frost, aged 17 months.”
In the 1870 census, enumerated in June, Frost and his sister, Mary, were in the household of their mother. They resided in Philadelphia. Curiously, Frost’s occupation was recorded as “Insane”. In column 18, “Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic” was written, in another’s handwriting: “Feble Minded” for Mary and “Insane” for Frost. There was second enumeration in November which included Frost’s older brother, Charles. This enumeration recorded just the names, age, gender and race.
City directories for the years 1870 and 1871 listed Frost as a designer whose home address was 2028 North 7th.
Frost was profiled in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, October 1892, which said:
[Frost] went into hard business of life at fifteen years of age, in an engraver’s employ. For six months he ran errands, and scarcely touched a block. Then, according to his own account, he was told that he had no talent for drawing, and very little for running errands. It was then that he became a lithographer….
Mr. Frost has been his own drawing-master for the most part; but he attributes his first acquirements in “solid drawing” to his evening studies in the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins. For about a year, from 1877 to 1878, he worked in England, but the cloudier heavens had no charm for him, and he returned to the neighborhood of Philadelphia to work at his art and play at farming….A Pennsylvania passenger list recorded Frost’s arrival in Philadelphia on May 27, 1878. He had departed from Liverpool, England and his occupation was artist.
Frost’s earliest published work were his drawings for the 1874 book, Out of the Hurly-Burly, by Max Adeler, the pseudonym of Charles Heber Clarke, who wrote in the preface:
If this little venture shall achieve popularity, I must attribute the fact largely to the admirable pictures with which it has been adorned by the artists whose names appear upon the title-page…I wish to direct attention especially to the humorous pictures of Mr. Arthur B. Frost. This artist makes his first appearance before the public in these pages. These are the only drawings upon wood that he has ever executed, and they are so nicely illustrative of the text, they display so much originality and versatility, and they have such genial humor, with so little extravagance and exaggeration, that they seem to me surely to give promise of a prosperous career for the artist.
After the publication of Hurly-Burly, Harper’s said:
…within a year he was working on the New York Graphic. In 1876 he entered the studio of Messrs. Harper & Brothers, and drew side by side with Mr. Abbey, Mr. Alexander, and Mr. Reinhart—surely a remarkable quartette in the silent art.
The House of Harper: A Century of Publishing in Franklin Square (1912) revealed that Frost was colorblind.
Frost’s next book was Elbow Room (1878). He belong to the Philadelphia Sketch Club. The Inquirer, January 4, 1879, noted the following:
The Philadelphia Sketch Club have elected officers as follows: President—William J. Clark, Jr. Vice President—Edward B. BeaselL Secretary—George Wright. Treasurer—George D. MeCreary. Curator—Joseph C. Ziegier. Executive Committee—Thomas N. Dixon, Arthur B. Frost, Charles V. Brown and Joseph Day.The 1880 census recorded “Anthony B. Frost”, a Pennsylvania-born artist, who lived in Philadelphia, on Cherry Street. In his household were his bedridden mother, “Mrs. J.B. Frost”, his aunt, Mrs. Shields, and cousin, William Shields.
City directories dated 1880 and 1881 said Frost lived at 2046 Cherry and worked as an artist at 1330 Chestnut.
Frost’s mother passed away November 29, 1882.
The Inquirer, October 23, 1883, noted Frost’s marriage:
Frost–Phillips.—On October 19, 1883, at the Church of St. James the Less, by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Newlin, Arthur B. Frost to Emily Louise, daughter of Moro Phillips.Harper’s said, “His wife is an artist, trained in the German school, a daughter of the late Moro Phillips, of Philadelphia.” A profusely illustrated profile of Frost, in Pearson’s Magazine, April 1908, elaborated on Frost’s relationship with his father-in-law:
At the time of his marriage, the struggling illustrator and his newly-acquired father -in-law were upon terms which, to put the matter mildly, were of a strained and unlovely nature. The elder man, self-made and the possessor of a fortune, was in no way inclined to favor the poor artist suitor for his daughter’s hand, and made it plain to young Frost that he would have none of him. But, after the manner of lovers, the world over, the threat of parental displeasure did not dissuade the present pair from an early and defiant marriage and, as has often happened before and since, they were cut off from participation in the money-bags of pater families. To Frost this was no blow, since he had deliberately invited the drastic measure by declaring he would not accept a penny of his wife’s father’s money and advising the old man to save up his dollars against the day when he should need them with which to buy the masterpieces of one A.B. Frost.In 1883 Frost illustrated Lewis Carroll’s Rhyme? and Reason?. Charles Scribner’s Sons published Frost’s Stuff & Nonsense in 1884. Two more books illustrated by Frost followed, Rudder Grange (1885) and Story of a New York House (1887).
Frost’s success was mentioned in an article about the income of illustrators as reported in the Fort Worth Daily Gazette (Texas), April 11, 1887:
Arthur Burdett Frost, who got a fortune with as well as in his wife is now the strongest man in picturing American contemporary life. He, too, makes about $8000, but he has a separate income of $40,000 a year.Frost’s sketches (below) were featured in the November 1891 issue of Art in Advertising.
On a sketching trip south Frost called on Harris in Atlanta, and the two men—both different redheads, both modest and strong-minded—traveled companionably together into the Georgia countryside. The outcome was a lively, longtime correspondence and a fruitful partnership. Harris’s one complaint about Frost’s illustrations in their first collaboration, Uncle Remus and His Friends (1892), was that there were not enough of them, a deficiency Frost remedied in the remake of Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1895; 1921 revised edition is here.) This classic edition, which Harris famously dedicated to Frost (“The book was mine, but you have made it yours, sap and pith.”), boasts 112 small drawings spotted tellingly through the text.Something About the Author, Volume 19 (1980), said Arthur Burdett Frost Jr. was born December 11, 1887 at “Prospect Hill” Farm in Pennsylvania.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: Carlo
Even though he is credited as an important popularizer of the comic strip form in America, famed illustrator A.B. Frost was content with book and magazine work, and seemed to have no interest in bringing his gifts to the newspaper realm. While most of his illustrating brethren took a whack at newspaper illustration and cartooning, and quite a few refocused their careers there, Frost stayed above the fray.
Even though Frost's Carlo comic strip series ran in newspapers, it can truthfully be said that Frost never did a newspaper series. That's because the newspaper Carlo series is merely a reprinting of the contents of a book.
In 1913, Frost's book Carlo was published by Doubleday, Page & Co. It was the first book of cartoons that he had produced in many years, and despite a marketing push timed for Christmas gift-giving, the book's sales were disappointing. Perhaps after such a long time out of the public eye Frost's name no longer had the winning credentials it did back in the 1880s and 90s.
Doubleday may have seen the writing on the wall, because in an astoundingly craven move, they were peddling the contents of the book to newspapers at the same time, for publication beginning in January. I can only imagine the consternation of those who bought the book, or gave one for Christmas, only to find its contents given away in their Sunday papers weeks later.
Most papers began printing the full-page series on January 4 1914, and some finished on February 22 with a half-pager, while others ended on March 8. Unfortunately I have not been able to do an exhaustive comparison to see why that is. I suspect that some papers may have omitted an episode, or printed two half-page installments as single full-pagers. In any case, it appears that the newspaper series encompassed nearly if not the whole book. The Louisville Courier-Journal, for instance, ran a total of 90 panels out of a total possible 104.
Th Carlo comic strip was superbly done, full of Frost's expressive personalities and panel design, and the dog was a great character. It was a delightful newspaper series, so it's a shame it happened for all the wrong reasons. Still, if it exposed a new generation to Frost's work, I suppose it wasn't a total loss. It certainly seems to have inspired a fellow named Clifford McBride, who was 13 years old at the time. I can't imagine that Frost's Carlo was not an important inspiration to McBride, who would create the characters of Napoleon and Uncle Elby in the 1920s. The two dogs have a resemblance in both looks and personality that cannot possibly be a coincidence.
Monday, February 22, 2016
The Mysterious Adam Ames Sunday Strip
In 1959-62, Fine produced a soap opera strip titled Adam Ames. If it weren't for Fine's art, I don't know that you could really claim there was anything terribly memorable about it. But it was by Fine, so it is definitely of interest. So I was pretty stoked when I came across an eBay auction for a stack of Minneapolis Tribune Sunday comic sections from the early 1960s. In the description listing some of the strips the Tribune was carrying at the time, I saw something completely unexpected. The seller mentioned that Adam Ames was one of those features.
The reason that was so unexpected is that Adam Ames was a daily-only strip. It was advertised as such in Editor & Publisher, and I've never found any reason to believe different. Could the Minneapolis Tribune have been running an ultra-rare Sunday version of the strip, so short-lived or experimental that it was unadvertised by the syndicate, that had somehow managed to get marketed to this one taker? Well, I thought, crazier things have happened. Thankfully the eBay auction wasn't eliciting any big bids, so I managed to snag it.
When the package arrived, I tore into it like a kid on Christmas morning. Nothing I enjoy more than a mystery! As I went through the comic sections, half-expecting to find nothing at all, lo and behold but here I was seeing Adam Ames strips!
There was just one problem. While the rest of the section was in color (except for Feiffer -- another bizarre find that I never expected to find running in a Sunday comics section!), the Adam Ames strips had just a single spot color. Here's a sample:
I smelled a rat, and I bet you do, too. The title panel seems far too generic, and the panels are positioned and spaced awkwardly. This, I believe, is not a Sunday page that Lou Fine would produce. Not to mention that there would be no reason to print a single Sunday strip in mono-color in a Sunday section full of four-color strips.
Some sleuthing revealed an answer. This Sunday above, which ran in the Tribune's October 16th 1960 edition, is actually an edited version of the daily strips that would appear in daily papers on the 17th through 22nd. Here are the daily strips as they were meant to appear (sorry about the bad microfilm copies):
As you can see, someone (at the Tribune? in the syndicate bullpen?) has edited down a week's worth of dailies into a Sunday format. In the process seven panels have been eliminated, and one word balloon moved. I have to say that the effect, story-wise, is not bad. The repetition of events from day to day is deftly eliminated, and almost none of the actual story is sacrificed.
That leads me to wonder ... did writer Elliot Caplin and artist Lou Fine structure their strips so that this could be done? Did they get an edict from the syndicate that a certain number of panels each week had to be the equivalent of Sunday 'drop' panels? Or was this production of a Sunday strip out of a week of dailies something that was cooked up and handled by the staff of the Tribune with no input or assistance from the syndicate?
The more basic question, though, is WHY? Why was the Tribune so hot to trot over an Adam Ames 'Sunday' strip that they were willing to do a lot of extra work? Why were they willing to print a mono-color strip in amongst the rainbow of the rest of the section? I mean, if you're going to go to all that trouble, heck, you may as well do a proper coloring job on the darn thing, right? And once they saw what it looked like (and it really did look like crap in amongst the four-color stuff) why did they keep on running it month after month (I have samples of it appearing well into 1961)?
I don't have any answers, but I sure wish we could talk to Lou, or to an old Tribune staffer who was in on this deal, to get some!
By the way, if you'd like to see quite a long run of the Adam Ames daily strips, head on over to Ger Appeldoorn's The Fabulous Fifties.