Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: LaVerne Harding

Seattle Daily Times 5/12/1935

Emily LaVerne “Verne” Harding was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 10, 1905, according to Who’s Who in California, Volume 9 (1971). Harding’s full name was found at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, Women in Comics, Find a Grave, and the California Death Index at Ancestry.com. Her parents were John Burruss Harding of Louisiana and Pearle Wadley of Arkansas. Harding was a descendant of Daniel Boone.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Harding and her parents resided in Kensett, Arkansas, at the Doniphan Lumber Camp on Red River. Her father was a bookkeeper for a mill company.

According to the 1920 census, Harding was the oldest of four children. The family of six lived at 1346 89th Street in Gardena, Los Angeles County, California. Her father was a cotton farmer.

Who’s Who in California said Harding graduated in 1924 from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles.

The Harding family was at the same address in the 1930 census. Harding’s father was a desk clerk at the county jail.

Who’s Who in California said Harding began work at “Walter Lantz Productions” in 1931. However, Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons said she started there in 1932, after attending the Chouinard Art Institute. Harding was an inker, then an in-betweener assisting other animators. In 1934 she was promoted to a full-fledged animator. Some of the characters Harding animated were Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Wally Walrus, Oswald the Rabbit, and Chilly Willy. Later in her career, Harding worked with other animation studios including Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Warner Bros., and Filmation Associations.

According to Who’s Who in California, Harding drew Cynical Susie which began in 1930 in the Daily News. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc., New Series, Volume 27, 1932, Number 1, had this entry: 

Sharp (Becky) and Harding (Verne) 2211
Cynical susie. © Jan. 30, 1932; K . 16050.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said United Features Syndicate picked up the strip for national syndication in 1933. Cynical Susie was written by Becky Sharp the pseudonym of Helen Sharp. Harding drew the strip into September 1935. In January 1936, Bernard Dibble did the art and writing chores to August 7, 1937. Apparently, Harding was unable to maintain the workload of producing the strip and her animation duties. She withdrew from the strip.

The Spring 1994 issue of Animation Journal revealed a contract that named a third person, O. Jean Brittan, who was involved in the ownership of Cynical Susie. It’s not known how or when Harding, Sharp and Brittan met and became partners in the Cynical Susie property.

A 1938 Los Angeles city directory listed Harding as an artist at “1346 W 89th”. Her address in the 1940 census was 2340 Lake View Avenue in Los Angeles. The cartoonist’s 1939 income was $3,150.

Who’s Who in California said Harding produced material for the Whitman Publishing Company. Some of her comic book credits are here.

Who’s Who in California mentioned Harding’s hobbies of steel guitar and Hawaiian music, and for recreation she traveled to Europe.

Harding passed away September 25, 1984, at her home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Her death was reported in the Los Angeles Times on the 29th.

Further Reading

Cartoon Research
Cynical Susie, a Fix-it Feminist
LaVerne Harding: Drawing with Resolve

Cynical Susie

Women in Comics

—Alex Jay


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