Saturday, June 29, 2019

 

Herriman Saturday


December 26 1909 -- Sportwriter H.M. Walker and cartoonist Herriman make their case that southern California is or should be recognized as the world nexus of sports.

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H. M. Walker, later became the head title writer for Hal Roach Studios and wrote dialog for many of Roach's early talkies. George Herriman loved to spend time at the Roach studio and had a little office there where he did some of his strips. He especially liked the Our Gang kids.
 
Walker's nickname was "Beanie."
 
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Friday, June 28, 2019

 

Wish You Were Here, from an Opper Copyist


Here's a 1905 postcard that appropriates Fred Opper's famed Alphonse and Gaston for a risque gag. Usually when one plagiarizes another's copyrighted works, a smart move is to keep quiet about your identity. Not these folks. We are told on the back that this is the proud product of the Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St. Louis.

Although this card was not postally used, the purchaser apparently needed to remind himself what the gag was about by annotating it on the face of the card. Thanks J. 


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The copyright laws were pretty loosely defined in those days, even though there was a lot of licensing going on. I have a 1905 cover (that's philetalic jargon for an envelope with a stamp on it) that features an also unauthorized depiction of Alphonse & Gaston. It's nicely printed in two colors, with the words " We are After You my Dear Merchant" large between them. It is apparently a ready-made item that any small business could use. In this case, said small timer ("William Cluff Company", San Francisco)has his name on the back from a rubber stamp.
 
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ralph Wolfe


Ralph Allison Wolfe was born on August 19, 1894, in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. His full name and birth date were on his World War I and II draft cards, and his birthplace was based on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. His father, James, was Caucasian and a farmer, and his mother, Kate, half-Cherokee. Wolfe was the fourth of six children and described as “three-quarter white”. 


The Vinita Chieftain, July 31, 1907, reported the following, “Ralph Wolfe, son of Rev. J.E. Wolfe, is at home of Mrs. William Tigar where he is receiving medical treatment for a chronic case of sprained ankle. He has been afflicted for about two years.”

In the 1910 census, Wolfe, his parents, two younger siblings, uncle, maternal grandmother and aunt resided in Vinita, Oklahoma at 101 Miller Street.

Wolfe’s talents was noted in the Chieftain, July 2, 1912, “A great deal of amusement has been created among the crowds awaiting returns from Baltimore by cartoons drawn by Ralph Wolfe, a Vinita boy who possesses a remarkable talent along this line.”

On November 15, 1912, the Chieftain described Wolfe’s artistic contributions.

One night last week during the course of Dr. Bulgin’s sermon he said he was sorry he was not an artist when he thought of the church members of Vinita, for he would like to make a cartoon of each of the ministers to show how the church was supporting them. He then pictured each one in attitudes representative of their individual struggles. A few evenings later a roll was handed the doctor and opening it he found two cartoons, perfectly drawn, giving his exact ideas of two of the ministers expressed before. The artist is Ralph Wolfe of this city a young man eighteen years old, and one who has remarkable talent for work of this kind. One of the cartoons pictured Rev. Roper with bent back, the perspiration dripping from his brow and evidence of care and fatigue written on his face. He was carrying the church building on his back. It was easy to see it was Rev. Roper and the church was faithfully drawn. The other represented Rev. Burger shouldering a heavy load of ardent worshippers who sang “There is a fountain filled with mud;” for the minister was represented as standing in a pool of water very muddy, with stepping stones marked “ungodliness,” and “non-support” and “unbelief.” Above the heads of the people who stood in an ornamented vase to form the top, were notes in the air to represent the melody. This young man has done some work which is better that a great deal we see in city newspapers and he certainly has a future before him and will make a splendid success when he accepts a position in this line of work.
Wolfe was in California by 1915 if not earlier. He lived in the westside of Los Angeles according to an entry in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc. 1915, New Series, Volume 10, No. 1.
Wolfe (Ralph) Sawtelle, Cal. [653
Chollychap. [Grotesque drawing of statuette of man wearing derby hat,
tight-fitting coat and large trousers, standing with heels together and
toes turned outward.] © 1 c. Mar. 16, 1915; G 49221.

Wolfe signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His occupation was caddie at the Los Angeles Country Club. His description was medium height and build with green eyes and light hair.

Wolfe’s widow mother was the head of the household in the 1920 census. The household included Wolfe, his mother, three siblings and his mother’s sister. They were Los Angeles residents at 1260 West 51st Street. Wolfe’s occupation was cartoonist in the moving pictures industry. Wolfe had the same address in the 1921 Los Angeles city directory.

Wolfe was involved with producing stop-motion animation shorts under the name, Plastic Art Productions Presents Ralph Wolfe’s Mud-Stuff; here are links to three shorts, Green Pastures, Long Live the Bull, and The Penwiper.

In the first half of the 1920s, American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Wolfe produced Robin’s Son Krusoe for the C-V [Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.] Newspaper Service, and Around the Studios for the Los Angeles Daily News. In the second half, Wolfe drew Flying Circus from June 11 to July 2, 1927 for the San Francisco Daily News. He was followed by Sweigert. For United Feature Syndicate, Wolfe started The Outline of Polar Exploration in October 1928. Wolfe continued The Pioneers which began with Lovrien Gregory on February 12, 1928. Wolfe’s stint started July 22, 1928 and ended January 13, 1929. He also wrote it from September 23, 1928 to July 22, 1928. The Bell Syndicate was the distributor. Wolfe’s Animal Wise Cracks, for the Graphic Syndicate, appeared from 1929 to 1930.

Wolfe’s bi-coastal travels were reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 1927.

Ads and Art to Be Lecture Topic
Ralph Wolfe to discuss Interesting Subject
Of interest to artists and art students is the lecture on “The Opportunities for Commercial Artists in San Francisco,” which will be given by Ralph A. Wolfe tomorrow evening at 8:30 in the studios of the Advertising Art School, 450 Geary street. Wolfe is familiar with the field of art and advertising through his connection with one of the daily papers and with one of the largest art studios in San Francisco in the capacity of solicitor.

Although he will treat his subject from the point of view of a business man, he is also an artist. In New York, with the Century Publishing Company, and in Hollywood, where he made animated cartoons, he gained the experience which enables him to speak with authority. The meeting is open to the public.

In the 1930 census Wolfe was a lodger at 14 West 68th Street in Manhattan where his occupation was newspaper cartoonist. At some point Wolfe moved back to Los Angeles.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999 lists Wolfe’s animation employment at Disney, Warner Bros., and Fleisher studios in the 1930s. During Wolfe’s time at Warner Bros., his name was “hidden” in the cartoons, Have You Got Any Castles?, and Speaking of the Weather.

Wolfe wrote “and now — The Painted Voice” for Art Instruction, June 1939, “an article describing the new ‘shorthand’ of hand-drawn sound invented and patented by Dave Fleischer of Fleischer Studios, Inc., Miami, Florida…”

Undoubtedly one of the strangest inventions on record in the United States Patent Office is Patent Number 1888914. It has been issued to Dave Fleischer, directorial cartoon genius who is producing “Gulliver’s Travels” for Paramount — a full length feature cartoon in Technicolor. While Mr. Fleischer’s invention is awaiting commercial development, it awakens many conjectures as to its ultimate and fascinating possibilities.

One day while studying a sound track which went with one of his animated cartoons, it occurred to Dave Fleischer that it might be amusing to copy some of the queer little forms by hand! So he picked out certain forms and had his art director, Erich Schenk, paint them on a vertical strip which were later reduced and photographed on a sound track. The first hieroglyphics or forms in halftone produced the words, “Where am I?” With this as a starter, Dave Fleischer went ahead and drew up several simple bars of music which, when run through the projector, produced tones the same as, or comparable to those, made by a musical instrument. After many such attempts Fleischer was positive that an alphabet of sound could be developed if he went far enough into the subject. Today his research has convinced him that he has only scratched the surface in a fascinating new field of science which may add much to the world of amusement. Who knows? He may develop his method to a point where the amateur maker of movies can do his own sound writing and have it developed in a commercial laboratory.

Think of the possibilities of hand-drawn sound in the service of the Army Intelligence Corps, such as sending code sound tracks to be translated into lights and darks which would produce sound messages.

Dave Fleischer tells me that his hand-drawn sound is as clear as that produced by the voice or musical instruments. A hard lead pencil produces clear sound and a soft lead pencil brings out sound that is “fuzzy.” The best sound drawings can be created by opaque water color and the shapes they take are similar to those made by children when they write their names on slips of paper, fold the paper, then open it up again to see the inky butterflies which have been formed. These butterflies always come in pairs slightly joined, like Siamese twins.

As I talked with Dave Fleischer, many questions came to mind. I asked him if sounds could be caricatured as one caricatures the features of a subject in a photograph. He assured me that it was quite an easy thing to accomplish; in fact one has to be careful to avoid caricaturing sound, or drawing a sound out or stretching or twisting it produces all sorts of weird effects. The drawing of a screech or a scream, or a brogue is something on the order of a caricature and experimenting in such offers an endless variety of sound effects. I asked him if sound drawing is tedious or difficult. He answered, “Difficult, but hardly tedious if one is really interested.”

He believes that sooner or later a sound shorthand will be developed to the point where musicians will be drawing their compositions instead of playing them on instruments! The use of rubber stamps for sound writing is also within the range of possibility. Perhaps even foreign language lessons may be given a certain acceleration which may be an aid to oral teaching.

Certainly, Dave Fleischer is leading us into strange by-ways which may take us into undreamed-of worlds of interest, as did Edison with his invention of the phonograph disc, or Marconi with his wireless.

In Artists in California, 1786–1940 Edan Hughes wrote “…He worked for 40 years as a cartoonist for Disney Studios.”

On April 27, 1942, Wolfe signed his World War II draft card. His address was 7084 Hawthorne in Los Angeles, California and he was a freelance cartoonist at the Whitman Publishing Company. Wolfe’s description was five feet ten and three-quarters inches tall, 200 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. Wolfe said he was a disabled war veteran.

According to Who's Who, Wolfe free-lanced in the comic book industry during the 1940s into the early 1950s; some of the titles include Barnyard Comics, Dizzy Duck, O.K. Comics and Supermouse.

The California, County Marriage Records, at Ancestry.com, said Wolfe married Enola Agnes Richardson (1905–1987) on June 12, 1947.

Wolfe passed away on June 20, 1985 in Los Angeles, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com. He was laid to rest at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.


—Alex Jay

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Ralph Wolfe was in the in-betweening bullpen at Warners by the summer of 1934, according to animator Phil Monroe. The studio's in-house newsletter THE EXPOSURE SHEET announced that Wolfe left the studio to move to Florida around January/February 1939. Later on, Chuck Jones named his Ralph Wolf character after the man himself in his series with Ralph and Sam the Sheepdog.
 
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 

Obscurity of the Day: Around the Studios



Cornelius Vanderbilt IV had a pasion for journalism, though it antagonized his rich and publicity-shy family. He wanted desperately to publish his own newspaper, and when he started the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News in 1923 his parents disinherited him and he was shunned by the high society into which he was born.

Vanderbilt also managed to antagonize the newspaper business when he started his papers in LA, San Francisco and Miami -- competitors in those cities, led by Hearst, vowed to put him out of business. One way they hobbled him was to block access to a wire service, and tie up all the major syndicates in these cities so that material was unavailable.

Vanderbilt, who was the newspaper business's Don Quixote, vowed to overcome all these hurdles. When it came to cartoon features, he brought a small cadre of cartoonists in-house and told them to fill his papers with drawings.

One of the better cartoonists to get on board was Ralph Wolfe. He was definitely the star of Vanderbilt's LA Daily News during its short life, producing lots of spot illustrations, a daily comic strip and today's obscurity, Around The Studios. This weekly feature appeared in the Sunday edition on a page devoted to movies, and offered up fannish humor about the pictures currently being shot.

I can only say for certian that Around The Studios was running in April 1924, the only month of the Daily News I've seen, but it may have run for the whole short life of the newspaper under Vanderbilt's leadership (September 1923 - about the end of 1924*).

As far as I know the only microfilm available of the newspaper is in the Los Angeles Public Library, and if you are in the vicinity it would make for some very interesting perusing. Anyone want to index it?


* The paper was sold and continued to be published under new management afterward.

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Wikipedia says that Gordon G. "Boody" Rogers used Ralph Wolfe as a pseudonym. Any thoughts?
 
Seems pretty doubtful. Ralph Wolfe was a real guy, as will be shown tomorrow in Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile.

--Allan
 
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lovrien Gregory


Lovrien Gregory was born Mary Lovrien Price on July 19, 1888, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and the birthplace was recorded on passenger lists.

Gregory’s granddaughter, Ann Cefola, has a blog called annogram and said Gregory “attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1893.”

The 1900 United States Federal Census recorded Gregory as the youngest of three siblings. The head of the household was Alfred Lawrence, Gregory’s maternal grandfather, who was married to Amanda. The census said Gregory, her mother, Isadora, siblings, and maternal grandparents resided in Philadelphia at 3332 Walnut Street.

Cefola said Gregory “won a 1906–1907 scholarship to the School of Industrial Arts at the Pennsylvania Museum”.

In the 1910 census, Gregory’s mother had remarried to Louis Schmidt, a university artist. Gregory’s half-sister was six-year-old Isadora. Gregory was an artist in the publishing field. They were Philadelphia residents at 4828 Hazel Avenue.

At some point Gregory moved to New York City where she married architect Julius Eugene Gregory in Manhattan on September 18, 1918.

The 1920 census counted the couple as Manhattan residents at 36 East 49th Street. She was a self-employed magazine illustrator.

A family tree at Ancestry.com said Gregory’s brother, Lawrence, passed away June 26, 1923, in Highland Park, Pennsylvania.

Gregory was also a decorative painter. The New York Sun, March 10, 1925, featured Gregory with one her murals.



“One develops the agility of the mountain goat,” said Lovrien Gregory sedately.

She was speaking as a mural painter to whom lofts, ladders and canvases eight feet in height are all a part of the day’s work. Comparatively few women do murals, perhaps because they are not painted from the household type of stepladder mother uses when she hangs the curtains.

Mrs. Gregory has Just completed three panels for the new Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church, University avenue, New York, of which her husband, Julius Gregory, is the architect. It is to be dedicated early this spring. Two of her paintings measure eight feet in width, the other twelve. The drawing and color, welded with a spirituality that is rather remarkable in its appeal for even the untrained eye, are attracting much favorable attention. …

It may be that the [illegible] of this particular artist’s success is most clearly revealed in the word “Teamwork.” It is altogether inspiring the way she and her husband work together, he designing the lovely edifies; she decorating it. It is to this spiritual and artistic unity, to this sympathy and encouragement, fostered by the similarity of their artistic tastes and aims, that Mrs. Gregory attributes much of the sheer pleasure she finds in her work. Certainly Mr. Gregory is as proud of the mural decorations she did for the Church of All Nations in this city as she is of his work.

She keeps house—not an apartment—but a hospitable home with the rare city luxuries of a garden and a linen closet. When she plays she plays joyously; and when she works she is at it from 9 o’clock till dark, scaling ladders in a loft in Grand Central Palace, where she has found the studio space she requires.

For the rest, she is young and eager and vivid—compellingly radiant, with bobbed ha!r that is red in the right light and clear eyes that mirror a sweet and sunny spirit. You’ve noticed—who hasn’t?—the discontented mouths of the women of to-day. Lovrien Gregory’s mouth is that lovely feature, the smiling mouth of a happy woman. The strength, reverence and serenity she puts on canvas are not found ready mixed on any palette.

Old fashioned? H’m—not exactly!

She, uses her name without the prefix, and when asked, admitted that while she believes in the tenets of the Lucy Stone League she has not joined as a member.

“But,” she remarked, contemplatively, “I suppose I ought to!”
undated painting

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Gregory was the first artist to draw The Pioneers, from February 12, 1928 to July 15, 1928. She was followed by Ralph Wolfe, from July 22, 1928 to January 13, 1929. The series writers were Glenn Chaffin, who was followed by Wolfe. The Bell Syndicate distributed the strip.

On March 27, 1928, Gregory and her husband returned from Bermuda. The passenger list said their home address was 3 Church Lane, Scarsdale, New York.

Their address was unchanged in the 1930 census and they had two sons, Jules and Alfred.

Cefola said Gregory “won a scholarship, offered by France in gratitude for US assistance during WWI, to attend L’Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Fontainebleau. Leaving her sons in a care of a nanny, she shipped off in the summer of 1931.” A passenger list recorded her return home on October3, 1931.

According to the 1940 census, Gregory and her husband were living in Manhattan, New York City, at 71 Park Avenue. She was a self-employed painter. The census said she completed four years of college and earned five hundred dollars in 1939.

A family tree at Ancestry.com said Gregory’s brother, Norman, passed away November 28, 1944, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gregory had a listing in the 1945 Manhattan, New York city directory: 350 Madison Avenue.

Cefola said ”Gregory and her husband Julius bought a cottage in Greensboro, Vermont near Caspian Lake. This home inspired Lovrien to create a series of landscapes, delicate watercolors and oils, as varied as the location itself. Driving up Route 5 was an all-day trip from Manhattan back then but a perfect gathering place for their adult children, Alfred and Jules, and their new respective brides. They sold the Greensboro house before Julius passed away in 1955.”

Gregory’s husband passed away December 4, 1955, according to an obituary in The New York Times, December 6.

Julius Gregory, architect of homes, died Sunday night in the Amity Nursing Home, Ringoes, N.J., after an illness of several months. His age was 80.

Mr. Gregory, whose designs for home magazines caused some of his houses to be reproduced widely across the country, was essentially a transactional architect. His work, often adapting newer concepts to traditional types, was a budge to the designs of later, modern architecture.

His New York practice, first at 2 Park Avenue and later at 66- Madison Avenue, spanned forty-two years, up to his retirement two years ago. At that time he moved to New Hope, Bucks County, Pa.

Born in Sacramento, Calif., he attended the University of California and studied abroad before establishing his practice in New York.

He served as architectural consultant for House and Garden magazine, for whom he designed the Ideal House, and for Home Beautiful, whose Pacesetter House he developed. Over the years his plans frequently won awards from professional societies.

During his career he designed many church structures. Among these were three Methodist edifices in New York: the Church of All Nations, 9 Second Avenue; Calvary Church, 1885 University Avenue, the Bronx an the Methodist Home, an institution for the aged on Spuyten Duyvil Parkway in the Bronx.

Surviving are his widow, Lovrien, and two sons, Jules of Lambertville, N.J.; and Alfred Lawrence.
Gregory passed away in August 1972. Cefola said Gregory “spent her last years in an eldercare community in Navesink, New Jersey.” She was laid to rest at Lake Park Cemetery.


Further Reading and Viewing
annogram
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
eBay, portrait of Becky Lear


—Alex Jay

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Monday, June 24, 2019

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Dumplings





Fred Lucky is known mainly for his Hollywood work in animation and storyboarding, but  he also sold a couple newspaper comic strip series, none of which became long-term successes.

Today we look at his second offering, The Dumplings, which ran daily from September 29 1975 to June 20 1977, and Sunday from October 5 1975 to August 27 1977*. The strip was syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

The premise is that the Dumplings are a young married couple, very much in love, and the hook is that they're seriously overweight. Lucky did a wonderful job of making the Dumplings adorably romantic with each other and projecting a positive image of people who are comfortable with themselves just as they are. In the 1970s, the Thin Is In Decade, it was actually pretty groundbreaking stuff to tell people it was okay to be fat and that you don't have to look good in skintight disco wear to find love.

Strangely, although the strip was picked up by hardly any newspapers, it was reprinted in two paperback collections and got picked up for a half-hour TV sitcom by Norman Lear, the '70s hottest name in TV comedy. The TV show was cancelled after ten episodes, though (it has disappeared so completely I couldn't even find an episode or a promo on Youtube!). The comic strip hung around for more than a year after that, but appeared in hardly any papers outside of the LA Times itself.

PS --- Sorry about the quality of these samples. They are from the darkest days of the newspaper web press, when everything color in your paper was muddy, dirty and out of register. Yecch.


* Source: Dave Strickler's Los Angeles Times index.

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Would you settle for hearing the theme song?

https://youtu.be/phFgl0-J9h4
 
I couldn't help but notice that the pilot for the live-action "Dumplings" sitcom aired on October 4, 1975, just 5 days after the comic strip began (the regular broadcast began on the following January).

Which suggests that the idea got pitched to television before the comic even launched in papers. Has something like this happened before? The closest I can think of is that Aaron McGruder was shopping "Boondocks" around to television while he was developing it with the syndicate (although the show didn't air until after the strip ended).
 
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