Saturday, March 26, 2016
Wednesday, November 11 1908 --- The Elks' Harvest Festival is running all through the week, with entertainment nightly featuring talented Elks from all over the country. The Examiner butters them up in hopes of stimulating regular visits in the future.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, March 25, 2016
Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chaper 12 Part 1
Chapter Twelve (Part 1) - The Wolf Enters the Fold
In 1892 I received the following letter:
July 5th, '92.
My dear McDougall:
I think you are getting to be a very good boy—pictorially and humorously—unillustrated as well as illustrated— Now don't this spoil you [sic]—but please go on; and go downstairs to Brother Shaw, when you take your vacation, and upon showing this, he will give you two weeks' extra pay.
This may, I hope, help you to have a good time.
With cordial good wishes,
This was written in his own handwriting and at a period when his historians seem to be agreed in stating that he was totally blind. I remember that he had already become a sort of absentee proprietor. This and one other are the only letters that I ever received from him. The other was in response to one written to him at the time of his daughter's death a few months after my own daughter died. The 1892 letter reveals him in a light in which, it seems, none of his biographers were lucky enough to photograph him, simple, kindly, uncritical, just as I had always known him. Intending one day to frame the letter, I placed it in my coat pocket, and it thus escaped the fate of all my household effects, which
were burned in 1910.
By '96 the effect of J. P.'s system of dual management had produced a condition of office politics which reacted upon the World's owner and which might well have been the cause of the seemingly constant irascibility ascribed to him.
In the spring I had gone to Punta Rassa with Henry Guy Carleton tarpon-fishing, and met J. P. with William H. Merrill in Washington quite accidentally, when he told me that he had been informed by Brisbane that nobody in the office knew my whereabouts, whereas everybody should have been aware that I was on my regular vacation, it having always been my claim that a spring vacation is the best—if taken in Florida. This illustrates the condition of things in the World office.
Isabelle Urquhart of the Casino, Henry Guy Carleton deserted to write plays, Reginald De Koven to write light opera, and somewhere about this period J. P.'s son Ralph, an awkward, gangling youth with a pale complexion, entered Journalism, taking a course in each department of the paper. He began his career in the art department, then managed by Folsom, perhaps considering it the very lowest level, but, having no artistic talent, he merely gained a knowledge of its general routine.
We newspaper men deplored the engineer's craven caution that held us back for the best part of an hour, but when we entered the city and beheld the full horror of the disaster, we were rather grateful that he had not ventured out upon the bridge. It seemed as if colossal harrows of steel had ripped away portions of solid granite structures as if they were papier-mache, dead bodies were everywhere amid the piles of splintered timbers, brick and stone, and it seemed as if the whole city had been destroyed; yet, withal, the greater part of the city had escaped serious damage, and with it, unless my memory errs, the Convention Hall.
A few days later, while in the World box with Phillips, William Jennings Bryan, then working for the Omaha Bee, emerged from the understage depths and asked me if I could get him a seat, as his boss, Mr. Rosewater, had taken his. I told him to occupy Creelman's seat in our box, as Jim would not use it. So, for two or three days, the last days of obscurity for the Boy Orator of the Platte, he sat there and took obvious pride in his good fortune. I had met Bryan a year or so previously, when he came to New York to obtain a job as press agent, and had given him a letter to Mark Twain and Frank Mayo (then putting on "Pudd'nhead Wilson"), addressed to Nick Engel's Cafe.
He departed without telling me the result of his quest, but some time afterward I asked Mayo if Bryan had looked him up. Mayo recalled him and said that he had declined to employ the applicant although he seemed to have plenty of nerve and energy. "Why didn't you hire him?" I asked.
"He looked too damn much like an actor," responded Mayo, frowning.
William J. was two years younger than I but far more imposing and serious. He was not conceited, however, at that time; simply a rather troubled opportunist of the country lawyer-journalist type, concerned more immediately with a meal ticket than anything else and wearing the long-skirted coat, flowing tie and broad-brimmed black hat affected then by all politicians, gamblers, ministers and undertakers west of the Mississippi. I did not attend the Democratic Convention but "faked" a lot of sketches of well-known Democrats and stole off to Greenwood Lake for a few days' bass-fishing and, while there, was tremendously amused when the railroad telegrapher informed me that one William Jennings Bryan had been nominated by the Democratic Convention. I told him that he had probably mistaken the signature on a newspaper dispatch for that of the nominee.
Pulitzer promptly disowned him, and Bryan intimated to my brother Harry that I had influence enough with my boss to have prevented such action had I cared to exert myself! He would not notice me for two or three years, and in the next campaign, when Hawthorne and myself, representing the Philadelphia North American, traveled on his train when he stumped New York, he never invited me into his private car. Eventually, however, he mellowed with increasing age and our friendly relations were resumed.
At this period the aspect of Newspaper Row began to alter. The shabby buildings were refurbished, stores superseded saloons, and restaurants faded away. Ann Street lost the last of its famous gambling houses, "Number Eleven," long a downtown annex to "818 Broadway," the most prominent in town, lingering until the last. At 818 one might see all of the city's best-known sports every night, the same who frequented Daly's Club House at Long Branch and Canfield's at Saratoga. Here one night I encountered Murat Halsted and William Berri of the Brooklyn Eagle, both plainly out of their element and as interested as two hayseeds. A little later, as I was about to withdraw, having lost all interest in the proceedings, I perceived the two sitting at the roulette table with amazing stacks of yellow chips before them. As Halsted raked in another stack, I edged up and asked him if he knew what the chips were worth. With a wide and boyish grin he confessed doubt, but thought they were a quarter each.
"Those yellow chips are twenty dollars and the blues five and the whites one dollar. Cash in, for God's sake, and skip!" I urged feverishly.
He paled, nudged Berri, and the two hastily cashed in several hundred dollars apiece and agitatedly withdrew with me. They had each bought five dollars' worth of chips just to enjoy the unwonted sensation, and had won at almost every roll of the marble. The episode gave me the plot for a page story published in the Sunday paper, entitled "Number Eleven," which was my first attempt at newspaper fiction.
At this time ended the career of Ross Raymond, a celebrated crook who managed somehow to maintain certain connections with newspapers which aided his nefarious schemes. He was a handsome man of affable yet dignified mien, who slightly resembled the then Prince of Wales. He was a frequenter of my studio occasionally, but made no attempt to victimize me, for which I was duly grateful when his character was exposed. Long afterward I learned that for many months Raymond had impersonated me in various haunts of pleasure about town so successfully that I had acquired a reputation in certain dubious quarters as a high roller without having to earn it. I never could understand his purpose in thus masquerading, but had his career been unchecked his motive might have become apparent. I believe he ended his days in prison.
That summer, when President McKinley was the guest of the Plattsburg Hotel on Lake Champlain, he invited me to spend a week there. In turn I extended the invitation to Maggie Cline, whose uproarious song "Throw him down McClosky" was then convulsing the town. A pleasant time was had by all, Mrs. McKinley, although an invalid, taking a sincere delight in the antics of the big, straightforward and wholesome Irish lassie. I took several long walks with the President and found him much changed from the jolly open confiding friend of previous years. When I commented on the change, he explained at considerable length how the responsibilities of the Presidency burdened him and how he had become chary of speech because every word he uttered was likely to be distorted. He asked me if I would like to be one of the commissioners to the Paris Exposition, but I told him that Pulitzer would very likely oppose my accepting the position. We were seated deep in a wood when Cortelyou, his secretary, found us and notified him of important visitors waiting at the hotel. I think I shocked both Cortelyou and Major Pond, the military functionary at the White House, that evening by earnestly asserting that I would not be President for twice the salary. I saw the President only once afterward, two or three weeks before the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, when he congratulated me with great good humor on at last getting a job on a Republican newspaper, where I naturally belonged.
Although politics was like a religion to William McKinley, he never, like Wilson, was suspicious and wary of every man whose views differed from his. To me the tariff was a monstrosity and a pest as well as a puzzle, but my divergence from his most cherished belief merely amused him; Wilson would never have admitted me to his presence if I had dared to say that I opposed one of his pet notions.
The flood tide of the bicycle craze was now flowing in and New Yorkers, for the first time in their lives, were becoming acquainted with local geography; Long Island had been explored even to Greenpoint, Feather Bed Lane became a family word, every Sunday train returned from New Jersey at night with two baggage cars loaded with bicycles carried free as baggage, and in the city certain thoroughfares such as Eighth Avenue were already provided with yard-wide concrete side-paths for the sole use of wheelmen. At night this avenue was a spectacle! Two moving processions of fire-flies, alluring and impressive.
I resisted the lure until I had exhausted its possibilities in comic art, but having to make many advertising illustrations, for some of which I received wheels as bonuses, I secretly took lessons in an uptown riding academy in order to surprise my children. In this academy I saw a lady barred from riding a man's wheel because she wore bloomers! It was a great moment, that, when I nonchalantly pedaled up to my dooryard in Glen Ridge on one of Stearns's yellow wheels, attired in the most approved biking costume, and I got an immense kick out of it. After that, most of my afternoons were devoted to this, the greatest of outdoor sports.
It had all previous crazes totally eclipsed for magnitude and endurance. Old and young were infected, and as a result a demand for better roads was created which, starting in Union County, N.J., spread through the whole land and never subsided, making the advent of the automobile possible.
I published and sold 100,000 copies of a little guidebook entitled "Fifty Miles around New York," which were so completely absorbed that I never saw but three riders using the worthy little volume on the roads. I think this was the happiest period of my life; with different enthusiasts I penetrated into the unknown roadways of the land, on one trip as far as Chicago, on another to the Virginia battle-fields and the Mammoth Cave. For five or six years I almost completely forsook salt water and became really an expert rider, although I never went in for speed as did my nephew Duncan McDougall, who became the world champion.
I think I possessed enough saddles, lamps, cyclometers, bells and other devices to stock a shop. In a comic-supplement page devoted to the humors of the craze, I depicted various means of utilizing the wheel, such as attaching it to a grindstone, a circular saw and a coffee mill, and a few months later was presented with a large scarlet coffee mill, patented, which the makers thereof ingenuously assured me had been devised entirely from my picture! They are still selling these mills in rural communities.
It was only when the Negro element invaded Riverside Drive on wheels that the New York upper classes abandoned it and resumed horseback riding, but far into the next century certain obdurate and persistent characters persisted in the use of the wheel. Franklin P. Adams, the well-known columnist, then on the Mail, even when his muscles were flexed from age, used to ride down Eighth Avenue and Mulberry Street daily in an unremitting but unavailing protest against the rapidly increasing horde of smelly gas-wagons, until at last, aided by a greatly increased salary from the Tribune, he reluctantly joined the ranks of the joy riders.
Labels: McDougall's This Is The Life
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ned Hilton
Ned Hilton was born Edward Aitken Hilton according to a family tree at Ancestry.com. He was born in Alhambra, California, on March 4, 1904. His parents were Edward and Lillian, whose maiden name was Aitken.
The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Hilton, his parents and sister, Lillian, in Alhambra at 100 South Monteray Street. His father was a clerk in a tax collection office. The family tree said his father passed away October 7, 1912.
The New York Times, August 18, 1967, said Hilton was fourteen when the San Francisco Chronicle accepted his art.
The American Magazine profiled young Hilton in its July 1919 issue and explained how he became interested in cartooning.
At that time he was in a California boys’ camp. The sensation and idol of the place was a Hawaiian of sixteen, who was himself a good cartoonist. His sketches impressed Ned Hilton so much that he set to work himself, with the Hawaiian as a volunteer instructor. In a few weeks the pupil had eclipsed his teacher. He illustrated postals for his companions to send home, copied from the press every picture he could find, struck out in his own way, and really began his career. Within six months one of the largest newspapers in the West was publishing his drawings, and he was still only a little over twelve years of age.
The 1920 census listed Hilton, his sister and mother, who had remarried to J. Leroy Tope, in Newark, New Jersey, at 454 Broad Street.
Judge published Hilton’s cartoons in two consecutive issues, November 4 and 11, 1922, on its Beginner’s Luck page here and here.
Advertising Arts and Crafts (1927) had a listing for Hilton.
Hilton, Ned, 216 Market, Mul 3608 Newark, N. J.The New York City-based magazine, Motor Boating, January 1928, published a short story with three illustrations by Hilton.
Character Studies, Cartoons, Decoration, Design, Direct by Mail Art, Fashion, Figure, Heads, Historical Subjects, Layout, Lettering, Magazine Covers, Ornamentation, Poster, Still Life, Black and White, Charcoal, Color, Dry Brush, Line Drawings, Oil, Pencil, Pen and Ink, Tempra, Wash, Wood Cut Rendering.
In 1928 Hilton moved back to California and found quickly found work.
Hilton was a regular contributor to The San Franciscan, a monthly magazine started in 1926. He contributed illustrations, cartoons, humorous maps and wrote the column, “The White Card.” (Volumes are available for 1929, 1930 and most of 1931.)
The Sausalito News published Hilton’s artwork and articles for several years beginning in mid-1929. And he was the subject of a profile on June 28, 1929.
In 1929 Hilton’s art graced the covers and interiors of National Motorist magazine.
The Chronicle, June 2, 1929, announced the forthcoming annual exhibition of the Marin Art Association of which Hilton was a member. On June 16, 1929, the Chronicle said, “Few attempts at modernism have been contributed to this showing. Ned Hilton’s ‘Unorthodox Experiment in Emotion’ and George C. Ashley’s somewhat mathematical conceptions of ‘Late Afternoon’ and ‘New Roads’ are rather out of place among the literal landscapes.”
Freelance artist-writer Hilton, his wife, Katharine, and two-month-old son, Edward, resided in Sausalito, California, at 841 Sausalito Boulevard, as recorded in the 1930 census. The family tree said Hilton divorced around 1932.
Hilton explained how he creates a cover for Judge magazine in the April 4, 1930 edition of the News.
According to the Times, Hilton moved to New York City in 1933 and was on the staff of Esquire magazine for three years. However, Hilton was still a California resident according to the News, January 12, 1934.
Ned Hilton, Sausalito artist, has been appointed by the regional directors of the Public Works of Art project to act as roving pictorial reporter. He will make sketches of other PWA artists at work, which will be used as publicity and as a permanent record of the project.The News, May 18, 1934, reported that “Mr. and Mrs. Ned Hilton and their little son are all back in Sausalito once more at their residence on West street.”
Sketches made by Hilton of CWA work near Point Bonita and at the North street steps are now on exhibition at the H. M. de Young Museum.
Shortly after the vacation, Hilton moved to New York City. His family followed as noted in the News, June 15, 1934, “Mrs. Ned Hilton and little son. left Tuesday for New York City to Join Mr. Hilton. Ned Hilton is a well known artist whose work is shown in many of the eastern magaines [sic]. For a time he was with the Sausalito News.”
The New Yorker Cartoonists A – Z said Hilton contributed to the New Yorker from May 19, 1934 to June 15, 1957.
Hilton was quite active in 1936. For the Sunday edition of the Daily Worker newspaper, Hilton illustrated Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”.
Eleven days later, Hilton and seventeen other cartoonists for arrested for picketing outside the College Humor office. According to the Times, the police confiscated 45 pencils from the cartoonists. After five hours at the police station cells, the cartoonists spent another four hours in the night court detention room. The magistrate dismissed the charge.
Hilton was a new instructor at the American Artists School during its second year. The Times, September 25, 1936, said the instructors’ work was exhibited in the school’s gallery.
In January 1937 Hilton was president of the Cartoonists Guild when he spoke to the American Advertising Guild, as reported by the Times, January 11.
Hilton was a contributor to The New Masses which published his woodcut on its August 17, 1937 cover.
Hilton has not yet been found in the 1940 census. The family tree said he married Sonya Freeman in 1940.
Many cartoonists, including Hilton, found additional income in advertising. The Schlitz advertisement featured Hilton and others in the July 8, 1940 issue of Life.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Hilton was one of six credited contributors to PMantics which debuted August 18, 1941 in the New York City newspaper, PM. When PMantics was syndicated it was re-titled Crack-Ups, which Hilton continued from 1942 to 1948.
Hilton may have produced the 1955 Sunday strip, The Folks Upstairs.
The Sunday newspaper magazine, Parade, published a weekly cartoon column, “These made me laugh”, which had a guest editor who selected the cartoons. George Jessel was the guest cartoon editor in the October 20, 1957 issue which said:
George Jessel, emcee and jester extraordinary, found sure-fire laughs for today in these cartoons by Ned Hilton (l.). Born in Alhambra, Calif., the 53-year-old artist now lives with his wife in New York City. He has had no formal art education, he says, but has been cartooning for about 25 years and has enjoyed every minute of it. His hobbies include two of the “3 R’s”—reading and writing, Arithmetic? Ugh!Hilton passed away August 16, 1967 in New York City and was buried at Long Island National Cemetery. His wife, Sonya, passed away November 21, 1980, according to a death notice in the Times, December 1, 1980.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Larry Reynolds
In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Reynolds, his mother and two older siblings, Elizabeth and Herbert, were in the household of William “Mangan”, a maternal uncle. Mangan was married with two children. They resided in Mount Vernon at 528 East Third Street.
The 1925 New York state census had Reynold’s father has the head of the household which included most of the “Magan” family. Reynold’s father was a Canadian emigrant
Regarding Reynold’s education, the Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York), September 3, 1943, said: “Larry’s early education was received at St. Catherine’s School, Pelham, and later at Iona School, New Rochelle.”
The 1930 census recorded the Reynolds family under the name Werden and they resided at the same address in the previous census. Further investigation revealed that Reynolds’s father’s middle name was Werden which was his mother’s maiden name. Eighteen-year-old Reynolds was a night cashier at a drug store.
A 1955 issue of Collier’s said “Larry Reynolds sold his first cartoon, to Collier's, in 1932 when he was a youth holding down other jobs, such as hotel night clerk and restaurant cashier.”
The Daily Argus told how Reynolds became a cartoonist.
…Larry became an artist by way of history lessons, finding it much more interesting to cross Lincoln’s eyes than to remember dates. At the age of thirteen he bicycled to New York City and offered his first efforts to the New York World, but was turned-down. After attending Grand Central Art School he became a serious contributor to many of the best magazines.The Pelham Sun (New York), August 3, 1934, profiled Reynolds and wrote:
…“Louisa” is that doughty dowager, old in physical appearance but with an ultra-modern mental outlook, who appears weekly in the cartoons published in Collier’s Weekly magazine. Laurence Reynolds, 22-year-old cartoonist, who maintains a studio in the Pelham National Bank building, is responsible for “Louisa’s” escapades.A feature in an August 1936 issue of the Daily Argus covered three Reynolds’s creations.
“Louisa’s” fame has even spread to England. Readers of an English comic magazine have been chuckling over her amusing antics which have been reproduced from Collier’s.
Reynolds’ work has also appeared in Judge, Life and the New Yorker.
…Readers of The Pelham Sun will remember “Larry” for his local cartoon series, “Only 35 Minutes From Broadway,” which appeared in this newspaper three years ago. Many Pelhamites were amused as they recognized their neighbors (but never themselves) in the pictures which showed unique suburban situations….Reynolds received high praise for his work from prominent newspaper men, residents of Pelham.
…“Larry” likes to recall the time when he took the art editor’s advice and enrolled in a cartooning class. When the instructor learned that I was selling my work, he promptly resigned and made me the teacher. He wanted to take lessons from me.
…He’s got something in Louisa and Butch and Gran’ma. Readers of Collier’s, Judge, the New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, the American, and other magazines in which Larry’s cartoons appear, look for these three as though they were old friends. They cut them out and save them or send them to friends.Reynolds has not yet been found in the 1940 census.
You may remember Louisa, a heavy-set dowager, with blonde hair, wide-eyed, and with a short, turned-up nose, as she came out several weeks ago in Collier’s, ploughing through the snow with an umbrella in her left hand, a leash in her right, at the end of which is a little terrier, and beneath the picture, the caption, “Come on, mush, Gwendolyn, mush!”
Or Butch, a big “bruiser” lying asleep against a pile of sacks, his hat pulled down over his brow, his hands crossed on his chest. Standing beside him are two laborers, one with a shovel slung over his shoulder, and underneath. “Maybe we better tell Butch it’s five o’clock. He’d feel bad if he knew he was sleepin’ on his own time!”
…But most of the Reynolds fans love Gran’ma best of all. The dear little old lady is short and rather wiry, with a chin which bespeaks determination and a pair of glasses which usually sit on the end of her nose. She sometimes wears a tiny, old-fashioned bonnet, which ties under her chin and she not infrequently carries a parasol.
In a recent picture, she is attending an old-fashioned melodrama. The action has reached its most exciting point, with the hero, heroine and be-moustached villain face to face on the stage. Gran’ma has become so excited she can’t stay in her scat and is right up close to the footlights, admonishing the heroine, “Don’t be a mucker. Marry the rich one.”
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Reynolds was one of six credited contributors to PMantics which debuted August 18, 1941 in the New York City newspaper, PM. When PMantics was syndicated it was re-titled Crack-Ups. Reynolds was replaced by Irving Roir in August 1942.
The Pelham Sun, June 5, 1942, reported Reynolds’s Army enlistment.
“Butch’s” Father to Be Inducted into Army Today
Larry Reynolds, creator of the popular “Butch,” appearing in Collier’s Weekly and cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine among others has enlisted in the Army, and will be inducted today.
Reynolds who lives at 421 Pelhamdale avenue is 31 years old and for some time has been a familiar and well-liked figure in Pelham. After preliminary training he will apply for a post in the camouflage corps.A 1943 issue of Collier’s noted Reynolds’s whereabouts and training.
At this moment, Sgt. Reynolds is camping out at the A. P. Hill Military Reservation in Virginia, as a surveyor with his Field Artillery outfit. Frantically frustrated, we recently wrote him to ask when we might expect another Butch drawing. His response was prompt. "We are settled here for what looks like a long stay," he explained. "Training is even more intensive than at Meade, but more interesting. I fired forward observation the other day. I bracketed my target after three or four sensings, which is about average for that type of firing. Best regards! Larry.”
The Pelham Sun, March 23, 1944, published this item on Reynolds the ski trooper.
Technical Sergt. Larry Reynolds, noted cartoonist, creator of “Butch” is now a ski trooper, having undergone special training at McCoy, Wis. He was visiting Pelham on Wednesday en route to a new appointment.The 1955 issue of Collier’s said “…Butch...the lovable burglar has appeared in Collier's regularly ever since, except for a short hiatus during the war when Reynolds was in the Third Army. Butch appeared in Yank a few times and was swiped by the Nazis for German magazines….”
After his military service, Reynolds continued cartooning. At some point he left Collier’s for Look magazine. Some of Reynolds’s Butch cartoons in Collier’s are here, and in Look here and here.
The New York Times, December 9, 1957, reported Sister M. Simplicia’s fiftieth year of teaching at St. Catharine’s and noted Reynolds’s gift.
…Pupils and former pupils representing three generations helped Sister Simplicia to celebrate at a reception in the church hall this afternoon. From the parish she received a scroll designed by Laurence (Larry) Reynolds, a magazine cartoonist and a member of the St. Catharine’s class of ’26….Reynolds passed away March 4, 2002, in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Death Index at Ancestry.com. The Social Security Death Index said Reynolds’s last known residence was Harwich Port, Massachusetts. He was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Neil Cronin his great nephew.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gardner Rea
Oscar Gardner Rea was born in Ironton, Ohio, on August 12, 1892, according to his World War I draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Rea was the oldest of two children born to Charles, an attorney, and Mary. The family resided in Circleville, Ohio at 120 West Main Street.
Rea was profiled in the magazine, This Week, April 7, 1946, which was the source for the piece on him in Current Biography Yearbook (1947). About Rea’s early schooling and art influences, Current Biography said:
…Rea attended East High School in Columbus, where schoolmates included Eddie Rickenbacker and Donald Ogden Stewart. Ted Lewis was one of his boyhood friends. With three artist grandparents influencing him, the boy intended to be a painter, and exhibited oil paintings at sixteen. But he had sold his first gag cartoons to the old Life magazine the year before, when he was fifteen….The 1910 census recorded the Rea family in Columbus, Ohio at 1508 Hawthorn Street. Rea’s father was an agent in the steel industry.
Rea attended Ohio State University, from 1911 to 1914. According to Current Biography, Rea was involved in three college publications.
…Rea helped start, and later edited, the college humor magazine, The Sundial; helped edit the newspaper The Lantern; for three years served as art editor of the college yearbook The Makio; played on the college’s first tennis team; and, although he never weighed more than ninety pounds, won three varsity letters….When graduated in 1914, Rea was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi, Sigma Delta Chi, and of Sphinx and Toastmasters, the two senior honorary societies.
The 1915 New York state census recorded Rea in Manhattan, New York City, at 225 West 120 Street. He was a reporter. Current Biography said Rea “wrote drama criticism for the Ohio State Journal, and freelanced, selling drawings, rhymes and essays. Much of his prose and verse appeared in the old humor magazines, Life and Judge.”
The Ohio State University Bulletin, July 1917, listed Rea’s address in the Alumni Register: “135 E. 17th St., New York City”.
On June 5, 1917, Rea signed his World War I draft card. He resided on Neck Road in Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York. The artist had two years of military school. The description of Rea was short, medium build with dark blue eyes and red hair. Current Biography said Rea was a private in the Chemical Warfare Service. After his discharge, Rea continued to free-lance.
The Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut), March 25, 1920, announced Rea’s wedding date.
The marriage of Miss Dorothy Calkins, daughter of Judge and Mrs. Arthur B. Calkins of New London to Gardner Rea of New York will take place at the home of the bride’s parents, Monday, April 5. The ceremony will be performed by Rev. J. Beveridge Lee, D.D., pastor of the Second Congregational church. Miss Clara Calkins, sister of the bride, will be maid of honor.Current Biography explained how Rea met his wife, a graduate of Pratt Institute
…Dorothy Julia Calkins, was sent to Rea for criticism of her drawings. He not only criticized her drawings, but in time proposed marriage, and in April, 1920, the two were married. “Haven’t had a vacation since,” Rea adds. After a few years in New York the two moved to Brook Haven, on Long Island, where they designed and built their own home….Artist-Illustrator Rea, Dorothy and daughter, Mary, lived on Rodman Lane in Brookhaven, as listed in the 1925 New York state census. Current Biography noted Rea’s involvement with the New Yorker and other magazines.
Rea was one of the small group which Harold Ross gathered around him to start the New Yorker in 1925….He also contributed to Collier’s and King Features, and to so many other publications he cannot list them. The New Yorker, Life, and Judge once ran covers by the artist during the same week.Some of Rea’s cartoons and covers are here. A few of Rea’s Judge cartoons and text pieces, from 1922, are here, here, here, here, here and here.
Gardner Rea’s full name is Gardner Rea Levy; he is one of the Mississippi Levees and his proud boast is that he knows no master. Gardner, or, as he is often called, Gardner, was formerly a member of the House of David, but about three years ago suddenly went southpaw and has been that way ever since. A curious fact about about the boy is that up to his eighteenth birthday he had always gone barefoot and had to be thrown to get shoes on his feet He never rides in any vehicle save his own trusty wheelchair, disdaining the scooter as “premature, a mere rich man’s toy.” His favorite color is bottle green and his best-loved drink the juice of three crushed lemons and two quarts of Booth’s High and Dry. He will be two years old next August and is the best turkey trotter in Queens and Richmond. “But you are not always bothered with poor light, are you?” inquired the gas company's clerk.Another daughter, Barbara, was in the Rea household in the 1930 census. Rea still resided in Brookhaven but on Harrison Lane. His wife’s occupation was decorative artist in the magazine industry.
“Oh, no, not always!” replied the complaining householder.
“Ah, I thought so. It’s only at certain times that you notice it. eh?”
“Yes; only after dark!”
Rea illustrated Harry H. Fein’s book, The Flying Chinaman (1938).
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Rea was one of six credited contributors to PMantics which debuted August 18, 1941 in the New York City newspaper, PM. When PMantics was syndicated it was re-titled Crack-Ups. Chon Day replaced Rea in March 1942.
The cartoonist writes about forty gags a week. Most of these he sells to editors who assign them to other cartoonists to draw….Rea thinks he has published some ten thousand of his own wiggly-line cartoons….As for the characteristic “wiggle” of his line, he once laughed, “I’m sticking to it now so nobody will catch on when I get senile.”Current Biography added that in his spare time, “Rea reads twelve languages, is interested in anthropology and psychology, likes to listen to chamber music, and occasionally plays tennis on the clay court in his backyard.”
…The first collection of Rea cartoons, The Gentleman Says It’s Pixies, selected from 250 issues of Collier’s, appeared in 1944. His second collection, Sideshow (1945), which includes cartoons from the New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and other publications, was dedicated: “To my beloved family—despite whose untiring efforts, this modest opus finally saw the light of day.”
Rea passed away December 28, 1966, in Patchogue, New York. An obituary was published the following day in the New York Times. He was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, March 21, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: Crack-Ups
Ralph Ingersoll and Marshall Field III started Newspaper PM in New York City in 1940. The paper was unapologetically far-left, accepted no advertising, and was written for a well-educated audience. The latter two of these qualities meant that the newspaper was bound to be in the red (no cracks about the first putting them in the Red, please), and the sales figures showed little sign of changing that status. However, with backer Marshall Field's deep pockets, that wasn't the death knell that it might have been. In fact, the plug on this noble experiment wasn't pulled for eight years.
However, the publisher did make some concessions to improving sales figures. Most important among them to us is that in 1941, PM started slowly getting into the comic strip business. Exclusive New York City contracts kept them from being able to buy any strips from the syndicates that would be worth buying, so they little choice but to 'roll their own'. Their first foray into graphic humor was a daily panel, initially titled PMAntics. It debuted on August 18 of that year, and employed some of the leading magazine gag cartoonists as regular contributors.
And when I say regular contributors, I mean really regular. Unlike most multi-cartoonist gag panel features, which just issue a jumble of work from anyone who happens to submit a gag worthy of print, PMAntics went a different way. They chose six cartoonists, assigned each of them a day of the week, and contracted with each to submit a gag cartoon each and every week. Naturally this scheme appealed to gag cartoonists, who are delighted by a regular paycheck. The original six cartoonists who debuted in August 1941 were some heavy-hitters: Gardner Rea, Mischa Richter, Ned Hilton, Dave Breger, Larry Reynolds and John M. Price.
Marshall Field III was also busy in Chicago at this same time, bankrolling another new paper, the Chicago Sun. When Field realized that he would also be frozen out from the better comics in Chicago, he got serious about not only producing material in-house, but also attempting to syndicate it to other papers. Thus was born the syndicate Field Enterprises. Since PMAntics would become a syndicate offering for Field, its name was changed to the more generic Crack-Ups (PM itself ran the series under no continuing title after November 1941). From the beginning, Crack-Ups did modestly well in syndication, probably due to the highly recognizable contributor list. That contributor list was soon to go through some changes, though.
After Pearl Harbor, the magazine gag cartoon world was up-ended along with everything else. Some gag cartoonists donned uniforms and went to war, like Dave Breger and Ned Hilton, and the fellows left behind found themselves in the enviable position of having an embarrassment of opportunities to sell cartoons to the magazines.
In 1942, the Crack-Ups cartoonist line-up changed quite a bit, but the quality was still very high. Chon Day replaced Gardner Rea in March, Ed Nofziger replaced Dave Breger in April, and Larry Reynolds was replaced by Irving Roir in August. In 1943, John M. Price was replaced by Virgil "VIP" Partch, a change that may well have been voluntary for the syndicate, since VIP was becoming a red-hot commodity around this time.
Ned Hilton left for awhile in 1944, first replaced by Howard Sparber who only lasted about four months, then by a cartoonist who signed himself Corka, which according to the interwebs was the working name of husbandand-wife team Jon Cornin and Zena Kavin.Hilton then returned near the end of 1945, with Corka keeping a spot and Mischa Richter losing his.
1947 brought further changes. Chon Day was replaced by a second-string gag cartoonist named Charles Ardovino and a fellow signing himself Ballantine also arrived (on John K.'s blog the artist is identified as Bill Ballantine -- the signature match -- but I'm a little skeptical as Bill Ballantine himself never mentions cartooning as something he did in a long interview available here). In 1948, Charles E. "CEM" Martin was the last addition. The feature ended on October 2 1948, with a final line-up consisting of CEM, Ned Hilton, Corka, Ballantine, Irving Roir, and VIP.
Some Notes: As my personal files and online access to this gag panel are spotty, you can safely assume that I have missed some of the many iterations that went on in the creative line-up, but I think I've hit most of the high points. If anyone has the wherewithal to track the feature from beginning to end, I'd love it if you could set the record straight for me.
If you are the owner of my book, American Newspaper Comics, you will find that I have this feature listed there twice -- once as PMAntics, and once as Crack-Ups. At the time, I hadn't figured out what now seems perfectly obvious, that they are one and the same. D'oh!
Starting tomorrow, Alex Jay will be giving us Ink-Slinger Profiles for some of these gagsters. For some reason there is very little reference material available that supplies biographies of magazine gag cartoonists, so I'll be very interested to see what sort of information Alex turns up, and trust you will, too.