Saturday, August 25, 2018

 

Herriman Saturday



August 23 1909 -- Jim Jeffries continues his European pre-fight tour, stopping off now in Germany.

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Some dialog in a Krazy Kat strip, I don't remember from when: "Goody-goody!" "You're not so baddy-baddy yourself."
 
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Friday, August 24, 2018

 

Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Here's another Albert Carmichael postcard from the 1909 Gee I Wish I Had a Girl series, Taylor Pratt Series #568. This one looks at the puppy love set, and shows that those Sunbonnet Babies know how to win a boy's heart.

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The licensing laws in 1909 were pretty lax. Today, such bald faced character filtching would have lawyers all over Mr. Charamichael like fire ants.
 
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mike Arens


Mike Arens was born Howard Harmon Anderson on December 2, 1914, in Yreka, California. Clues to Arens’ birth name were found on his World War II draft card which said “Michael Howard Harmon Arens” and in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census which recorded him as “H Michael Arens” and his mother as “Dorothy Anderson”. The birth information was on Arens’ draft card. However, the California death index and Social Security Death Index have the birth year as 1915.

Arens has not yet been found in the 1920 census. The 1930 census said Arens, as Howard H. Anderson, and his Kentucky-born mother, a divorcee and real estate agent, resided in Beverly Hills, California, at 203D South Realtor Road.

It’s not known why Arens changed his surname but it happened as early as 1936 when he registered to vote as “Howard H Arens”. The California Voter Registrations, at Ancestry.com, said he was an artist and Democrat who lived on Strawberry Canyon in Oakland.

Illustration Art Gallery said Arens joined Walt Disney Studios as a production artist in 1937.

In the 1940 census, Arens and his mother resided in Glendale, California at 300 North California. Arens was an artist at a picture studio and earned $1,820 in 1939. He had completed four years of high school.

Arens served in the military during World War II. On his draft card, Arens was described as five feet ten inches, 190 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. His employer was Walt Disney Studios. According to Arens’ Beneficiary Identification Records Locater Subsystem death file, he enlisted July 20, 1943 and was discharged December 13, 1945.

Before Arens enlisted, he married Barbara Marie King on December 30, 1942 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, according to the marriage index at Ancestry.com.

The 1950 voter registration listed Arens as a Democrat residing at 4719 Tujunga Avenue in Los Angeles. At some point he switched to the Republican party.. In 1954 he lived at 37 Cherryhill Lane in Los Angeles. His addressed changed a few more times during the 1950s. The 1960 Redondo Beach city directory listed Arens at 205 Avenue C in Beverly Hills. He was an artist at the Whitman Publishing Company.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Arens was one of several artists to draw Roy Rogers, which started December 12, 1949. Arens’ time on the series was from 1953 to the end of December 1961. In Comic Book Artist #11, January 2001, Alex Toth said he ghosted for Arens, “…then a brief stint on Roy Rogers, subbing for Mike Arens when he was ill.”

Arens drew Drift Marlo from July 17, 1965 to January 1, 1966. The General Features series began May 29, 1961 with artist Tom Cooke. Phil Evans was the writer and I. M. Levitt the technical consultant. Arens also drew several Disney strips including Dumbo and the Christmas Mystery, Mickey Mouse, Scamp, Snow White’s Christmas Surprise, and Uncle Remus and His Tales of Br’er Rabbit.

In Jack Kirby Collector #71, Spring 2017, Mark Evanier said, “There’s a lineage, by the way, of lettering. Mike [Royer] learned to letter from Mike Arens. Mike Arens learned lettering largely from a man named Rome Siemon, who was the house letterer at Western Publishing, on the West Coast books for years….”

Arens also worked in animation during the mid-1960s into the 1970s. 
Arens’ career is detailed at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999.


Arens passed away June 19, 1976, in Los Angeles as recorded in the California death index at Ancestry.com. Illustration Art Gallery said the cause of death was a motorcycle accident at Soldedad Canyon. The Social Security Death Index said Arens’ last residence was in Bellingham, Washington.


—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

 

Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Tom Cooke


Thomas J. “Tom” Cooke was born on October 7, 1923, Brooklyn, New York, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at Ancestry.com.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Cooke was the fourth of eight children born to Joseph, a shipyard riveter, and Anna. They lived at 293 Park Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

The 1940 United States Federal census said Cooke was a new worker and his highest level of education was two years of high school. He lived with his parents and siblings at the same address.

The Tonawanda News (New York), May 31, 1961, published an article about the strip, Drift Marlo, starting the next day in its pages. About Cooke it said

Brooklyn-born Tom Cooke went to Hollywood in 1945, after a hitch in the Marines. (He designed the official wartime insignia of the Marine Air Corps.) He was employed by Republic Studios as art director and sketch artist. For several years he drew for comic magazines and co-authored the Gene Autry strip with Phil Evans. He served as technical director for Paramount’s “That Certain Feeling,” creating art for the film and advising Bob Hope and George Sanders in their roles as cartoon artists.



American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Coke drew Drift Marlo from May 29, 1961 to July 15, 1965. (Another photograph of Cooke is here.) When Cooke left the strip, Mike Arens did the art from July 17, 1965 to January 1, 1966. Phil Evans was the writer of the General Features series, and I. M. Levitt served as technical consultant. Earlier, Cooke worked on the Gene Autry strip and assisted on Mary Worth.

The Santa Barbara, California city directories for 1956 to 1958 listed Cooke at 122 West Arrellaga in apartment four. The listing included a roommate, “Kenneth Ernest”, whose surname may have been misspelled. He could be the comics artist Ken Ernst.

According to the California Marriage Index, at Ancestry.com, Cooke married Delcie M Hull on November 2, 1958 in Santa Barbara, California. City directories for 1959 and 1965 said the couple resided at 7103 Del Norte Drive.

Cooke’s comic book credits san be viewed at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Who’s Who also credits him for work on Sesame Street publications but that is incorrect. There was an illustrator name Tom Cooke (1936–2014) whose obituary appeared in the Boston Globe.

Cooke passed away in October 1986, in Goleta, California.


—Alex Jay

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Phil Evans


Phil Evans was born Philip Carlos Miller on June 26, 1909, in Orange, Connecticut, according to his world War II draft card. Evans’ mother was a stage actress whose marriage was reported in the Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), November 4, 1907.

Miss Beardsley Marries.
Well Known Actress Becomes Wife of Business Man.
Miss Stella Beardsley of this city, a well known actress, was married in New York the past week to Edward Miller, jr., a well known business man. The ceremony took place at the Little Church Around the Corner, and her New Haven relatives were among those present.

The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Beardsley of 399 Elm street. Miss Miller is a graduate of the New Haven high school and soon after graduation she went on the stage. She has played the leading part in the play “In a Chinese Honeymoon," and was seen in that play at the Hyperion two years ago. She has also played in “The Bell of Mayfair,” “Babes in Toyland,” and of late has been the leading lady in the farce comedy “The Taming of the Beast.” She has Just left the stage, playing last at Lawrence, Mass.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Evans was ten months old and living with his mother, a stage actress, and maternal grandparents, William, a mechanic, and Nellie Beardsley. The status of his father is not known. The family lived in Manhattan, New York City at 527 West 124th Street.

Evans’ mother appeared on the cover of Variety, October 17, 1913. Less than a month later, Variety reported her retirement and marriage in its November 14, 1913 issue on page ten, column one. According to the New York, County Marriage Records at Ancestry.com, she and Willis J. Evans married on November 11, 1913 in Westchester, New York.

The 1915 New York state census recorded Evans, his mother, step-father (a physician) and servant in the Bronx at 1036 Simpson Street.

The 1920 census listed “Carlos P Evans”, a public school student, and his parents in Manhattan at 360 Wadsworth Avenue.

In the 1925 New York state census, the Evans household included Willis Jr. and Nelllie Beardsley. The family of of five were Manhattan residents at 564 West 188th Street. At some point the entire family moved to the west coast.

Evans was a motion picture writer in the 1930 census. His father was a short story writer. It’s not known how Evans got into the film industry. The family lived at 1412 Gordon Street in Los Angeles, California.

The 1940 census said Evans was married to Nadine. The couple made their home at 6111 Romaine Street in Los Angeles. They also had a lodger, “Murry Hudson”, a motion picture cartoonist. Evans was doing studio picture advertising. Screen World 1969 had this entry:

Riga, Nadine, 59, former film actress, died of cerebral hemorrhage in Hollywood on Dec. 31, 1968. Her best known roles were in “Ramona,” “Anthony Adverse,” and “For Whom the Bells Toll.” She retired in 1940. Surviving is her widower, Phil Evans, a syndicated comic strip writer.
Evans’ World War II draft card said his employer was RKO Studio. He was described as five feet eleven inches, 131 pounds with brown eyes and hair.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Evans was the writer of Gene Autry; he used the pseudonym Bert Laws. The artist, Bob Stevens, was also a pseudonym. Alberto Becattini said Pete Alvarado did art in early strips and Tom Massey did Sunday. Tom Cooke assisted with the art. However, an advertisement for the strip named Evans and Cooke as the creative team. The General Features’ series ran from September 8, 1952 to November 5, 1955. Evans also worked on the Roy Rogers strip from 1954 to 1961, and on Bugs Bunny in the 1950s. General Features distributed the series Drift Marlo which was written by Evans. Tom Cooke drew it from May 29, 1961 to July 15, 1965. He was followed by Mike Arens during its final six months, July 17, 1965 to January 1, 1966. I. M. Levitt was the technical consultant who also wrote the General Features column, Wonders of the Universe, which was illustrated by Arthur Radebaugh.

An article about Drift Marlo in the Tonawanda News, May 31, 1961, said:

Phil Evans for 10 years wrote the continuity for the daily and Sunday Roy Rogers strips. He has written the continuity for several other successful comic strips and has produced a number of science booklets. He has also written stories for Mr. District Attorney, Gangbusters, Rex Allen, Annie Oakley, Red Ryder and has done considerable radio writing throughout his career.
On November 20, 1969, Evans married Suzanne Meiphaeghe, in Los Angeles.

Evans passed away in July 1989. He was laid to rest at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery



—Alex Jay

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Monday, August 20, 2018

 

Obscurity of the Day: Drift Marlo






Like most other Baby Boomer kids, I was nuts for everything sci-fi. I inhaled SF novels and comic books, and they were great, but when a sci-fi movie came to town, that was a real cause for celebration. I'd plunk down ticket money for anything that even vaguely smelled of rockets and rayguns. Unfortunately in those days special effects were very expensive, so most space movies ended up being a huge disappointment. Typical scenario of the sci-fi movie of the era: endless blah-blah-blah in preparation for going into space, big liftoff scene stolen from the same NASA footage we'd seen a million times, then endless more blah-blah-blah inside a cardboard space capsule set with the only space in sight being some starlight outside the porthole. Big finale: astromen reach their destination, put on duct tape space suits and bounce around in 'low-G' on a location shoot out in the scrubby hills of southern California.

Experiences like that teach you to really savor other media, where the sci-fi can let loose without worry over budget constraints. That's why kids were crazy in love with stuff like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon; dopey as they often were, they gave us the thrills we craved. Bizarre tentacled aliens? Check. Spaceships battling it out in the vacuum? Check. Rayguns blasting neat round holes through sleek space suits? Check. Giant robots squashing people like bugs? Check. Nirvana!

But here's the bizarre thing. There was a wave of comic strips in the 1950s and '60s that sought to emulate everything that was wrong with those boring sci-fi movies we so hated for stealing our hard-earned quarters. Drift Marlo is the poster child for that trend, a strip about a "space detective" who solves mysteries having to do with a near-future space agency. The strip is billed as sci-fi, but spends what seems like 80% of its time with material about guys standing around in offices, yacking endlessly. The writer, Phil Evans, seems to consider stories about Soviet agents stealing rocket plans much more interesting than bug-eyed Venusians who drink the blood of human spacemen. Howzat?

The daily-only strip was offered by the small General Features syndicate, starting on May 29 1961*. It appeared in so few papers that my files are completely dry; the only samples I can offer you had to be scanned from old issues of Menomonee Falls Gazette, the comic strip newspaper, which ran the series in reprints in the 1970s.

The strip offered pretty decent sleek art by Tom Cooke, whose prior comic strip credits were assist jobs on Mary Worth and Gene Autry. He seemed a little too comfortable with the soap opera aspect of the strip, drawing those endless yack-yack scenes. He could have opted for adding visual appeal by throwing in some hi-tech backgrounds, or having the conversations occur beneath the exhaust cone of a Saturn V, but he seldom did.

General Features got tired of keeping the strip going for a tiny list of subscribers, and they dropped it as of February 27 1965**. However, the creators seemed to think they could breathe some life back into Drift Marlo, and began to self-syndicate it under the name Cooke And Evans Enterprises. Oddly, Cooke soon left the strip, handing the reins over to Mike Arens on July 17 1965. Arens was a veteran of many years on the Roy Rogers newspaper strip, and after his short stint on Drift Marlo he'd go on to provide art for many Disney newspaper comic strip assignments. His work on this strip looks very stiff, perhaps because he's trying to follow the look of Cooke's version, and it doesn't come off well.

Even the promise of the first Apollo missions was not enough to make Drift Marlo interesting to newspaper editors, and his mission was finally scrubbed on January 1 1966***. Reports that the strip ran longer seem to be due to Cooke and Evans offering the strip in reprints after this date.
 
* Source: Editor & Publisher, May 20 1961.
** Source: Oil City Derrick
*** Source: Menomonee Falls Gazette #1

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I'd bump Cooke's art up a notch from "pretty decent" to "darned good" though, as you say, he doesn't get out of his comfort zone.

Liked the Arens strips with alien pilots dying nonchalantly and boulders knocking heads off.
 
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