Saturday, October 05, 2019

 

What The Cartoonists Are Doing: May 1914, Vol.5 No.5

[Cartoons Magazine, debuting in 1912, was a monthly magazine devoted primarily to reprinting editorial cartoons from U.S. and foreign newspapers. Articles about cartooning and cartoonists often supplemented the discussion of current events.

In November 1913 the magazine began to offer a monthly round-up of news about cartoonists and cartooning, eventually titled "What The Cartoonist Are Doing." There are lots of interesting historical nuggets in these sections, and this Stripper's Guide feature will  reprint one issue's worth each week.

Illustrations used here did not necessarily appear with the original articles.]

 SQUARING THE CARTOONIST
Joseph W. Craig, cartoonist of the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, perpetrated a cartoon a little while ago which called forth several columns of comment from the rural readers of that paper. As will be observed, the cartoon depicted the operation of milking a cow. Every farmer who reads the Nonpareil wrote in and wanted to know how in thunder the artist thought you could milk a cow from the left side without having the derned critter kick the pail over. The editor of the Nonpareil found a clever way of squaring the cartoonist and the paper in the following editorial:

“Originality, in whatsoever line of work it may appear, is sure of its reward, and the rewards are by no means of a stingy character in many walks of life. It is the original man who forges to the top of any business or profession, and the adage about the room at the top was invented especially for the original man.

“An instance of originality—and its reward—is shown in the cartoonist's conception of the prosaic pastime of milking a cow in a cartoon published the other day in the Nonpareil. President Wilson was shown to be sitting at the left side of the animal filling his buckets with desired legislation, while the animal herself, representing congress, seemed to be greatly enjoying the process.

“The people, leaning over the fence, remarked that it was the first time the old cow had ever been milked, seeming to enjoy the fact that all President Wilson's predecessors had endeavored in vain to milk the cow in the regulation manner from the right side, while Wilson had gone at the process of getting the desired legislation from the unorthodox, but successful, left side.

“However he does it, and whether he has been 'milking' congress from the right side or the left side, Wilson seems to be getting the “milk.’

“Anyhow, originality always pays.”

NATIONAL CARTOON EXHIBITION
The first national exhibit of original drawings by the newspaper cartoonists of America was opened in St. Louis on February 21. More than 150 pictures were contributed, more than filling the available wall space in the gallery of the Artists' Guild and overflowing into the reception hall.

Among the cartoonists represented were John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Tribune, Boardman Robinson of the New York Tribune, Rollin Kirby, Maurice Ketten, C. B. Macauley, Robert Minor and Al Frueh of the New York World, O. E. Cesare of the New York Sun, Fred Morgan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, L. D. Bradley of the Chicago News, Fontaine Fox of the Chicago Post, R. O. Evans of the Baltimore American; Herbert Johnson of the Saturday Evening Post; A. B. Chapin of the St. Louis Republic; Fitzpatrick and Knott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Tuthill of the St. Louis Star; Elmer Donnell of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat; George Bellows, Fred Mayer, and many others equally well known.

CARTOONS HIMSELF TO LIBERTY
According to newspaper dispatches, Evan Burton Johnson, a newspaper cartoonist, who until recently was convict No. 8,734 in the California state penitentiary, literally cartooned his way out of prison, after being sentenced for an admitted forgery committed when intoxicated. His sentence was commuted by Gov. Hiram W. Johnson.

“My time in prison was not without profit." he said, admitting that he was the "court jester” of the penitentiary. “What sort of work did I do? I didn’t work. I simply refused to. When I was sent to the prison farm, I drew a picture of a cow in convict stripes. I called it “Chewing the Cud of Reflection!’”

“I began cartooning my way out the end of the first week. I was bitter over the 'jam' I had got into and I started in on some of the officials. Each one was displeased until he saw the cartoons I made of the others. Then he laughed. By and by some 200 of my drawings were hanging on the walls of prison offices.”

Johnson's first cartoon to wend its way to the governor was entitled “Dead Leaves” and showed the calendar leaves of his four year sentence fluttering down to obliterate him. This he followed by others, about personal and political friends, until the governor became interested and was finally convinced that Johnson was not of criminal caliber.

Johnson wrote a three-act play in prison and evolved a miniature comic doll in stripes, which he sometimes gave away accompanied by a rhyme on how to keep out of jail.

Johnson, who is 33 years old, has a position with an advertising concern in Portland, Ore. He entered the field of art when he was 15 years old as a staff member of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Later he was in turn employed as staff artist, specializing on sociological and political cartoons, on the New York Evening World, and Denver Rocky Mountain News, the Philadelphia Press, and other newspapers.

“It was while a member of the staff of the Rocky Mountain News that, at the direction of the owner, Senator Thomas Patterson,” said Johnson, “I drew a cartoon entitled 'The Political Slaughter House,' directed against the Supreme Court of Colorado, which resulted in the citation of Senator Patterson for contempt and the imposition of a fine of $1,755. The case was carried to the United States Supreme Court twice and in the end a fine was paid.”

STARRETT NOW A FREE-LANCE
William Kemp Starrett, who has been the cartoonist of the Albany Knickerbocker Press for the last two years, has cut loose from his salary and returned to New York, where he purposes drawing cartoons on a “free-lance” basis. For the time being Abe Lipschutz is doing the cartoons for the Knickerbocker Press.

Starrett is no stranger to the free-lance game. His first cartoon work was done in New York, and while he contributed cartoons to the Brooklyn Eagle, New York Evening Sun, the World and various syndicates, he didn't settle down to a steady salaried job until he went to Rochester as sport cartoonist of the Democrat and Chronicle. From there he went to Albany, where he arrived in time to take a big part in the political upheaval that has kept Albany and the state of New York stirred up for the last two years. Starrett's cartoons in connection with the impeachment of Governor Sulzer, many of which have been reprinted in Cartoons Magazine, were easily among the most forceful and biting comments upon that remarkable proceeding. His conception of Boss Murphy was a bit of characterization that set the mark for other cartoonists all over the country to work up to. Recently he has done the illustrations for James Malcolm's book, “Tammany's Treason.”

Starrett is twenty-five years old and was going to be a physician until he discovered that he could draw cartoons better than he could write prescriptions.

THREE-COUNT 'EM-THREE
There are three newspapers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Likewise, there are three cartoonists—Lew Tower on the News, Ray Barnes on the Herald, and Tom Vidro on the Press.

Roy K. Moulton, humorist of the Grand Rapids News, perpetrated this one the other day:

“It is a pleasure to observe the Cartoonists' union of Grand Rapids, which starts out its career with a great membership.
“The officers of the Cartoonists' union are:
“President—Lew Tower.
“Vice President and Treasurer–Tom Vidro.
“Secretary and General Manager—Ray Barnes.
“Directors—Lew Tower, Tom Vidro and Ray Barnes.
“Executive Committee – Ray Barnes, Tom Vidro and Lew Tower.
“Sick Committee—Tom Vidro, Lew Tower and Ray Barnes.
“Ways and Means Committee—Lew Tower, Ray Barnes and Tom Vidro.”

PRAISED FROM THE PULPIT
It isn't every day that a newspaper cartoonist gets such an endorsement from the pulpit as did Doane Powell of the Omaha Bee recently. The Reverend T. J. Collar, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Omaha, referred in his Sunday morning sermon to one of Mr. Powell's cartoons, which appeared in that morning's issue of the Bee. The picture was of the infant New Year sowing the seeds of smiles, hope, love, optimism, sunshine, cheer and charity. The preacher advised his congregation to study the cartoon and shape their lives along the lines which it suggested. He took occasion to add that Mr. Powell's drawings are real works of art and worthy of careful study by everyone. As the church is located in the neighborhood where Mr. Powell grew up and in which he is known to almost everyone personally, the minister's remarks made a great impression.

EXHIBIT OF TENNIEL'S WORK
In view of the interest in the work of Sir John Tenniel awakened by his death, the director of the Print Gallery in the New York Public Library has arranged a “memorial show” of Tenniel's work in the Stuart Gallery, on the top floor of the library building.
"Dropping the Pilot"

Through this exhibition the visitor may review Tenniel's career, through his cartoons and illustrations. Of his Punch cartoons there are shown, among others, his first (1851); the famous one showing the British lion springing at the Indian tiger (1857); many of his inimitable hits at Disraeli and Gladstone, the noted “Dropping the Pilot” and some of the Lincoln caricatures, as well as the design—in which he and Tom Taylor made their amende honorable—published on the death of the martyr President.
A strong note of forceful seriousness runs through all his work, but Tenniel could be quaintly humorous, as may be seen in various title pages for Punch here shown. A similar vein is apparent also in his delightful drawings for “Through the Looking Glass,” which offer what, to many, are the accepted conceptions of the Walrus, the Chess King, the Hatter and the March Hare, and the rest of the company. Other books illustrated by him are shown here, including his one venture into Dickens Land, the “Haunted Man.”

The little show takes place in this gallery, while the memorial exhibits of the work of John Leech, his predecessor on Punch, are still on both here and in the Grolier Club.

THE FRONT PAGE CARTOON
Several editors to whom the question of “The Front Page Cartoon vs. the Editorial Page Cartoon” was submitted replied too late for their views to be included in the symposium on this subject which Cartoons Magazine published last month. D. P. Toomey, managing editor of the Dallas News, writes:

“I should think it would depend on the character of the cartoon. If the cartoon is strictly editorial in nature, that is, expressive of the editorial opinion of the paper on a political issue, for example, I would put it on the editorial page. If it is a cartoon based on news events I think it should take the first page.”

Scott C. Bone, editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, says: “In my thirty years of newspaper experience I have never found it the part of wisdom to fix and enforce a rule governing the use of cartoons. I use the cartoon interchangeably on the front page and editorial page. In my opinion a cartoon of peculiar and striking timeliness and emphasizing a bit of news of the day belongs on first page.”

Arthur M. Howe, Managing Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, writes: “The Eagle, as a rule, prints cartoons on the page opposite the editorial page, which seems from experience to be the most suitable for our purposes. Occasionally, when Mr. Harding produces an exceptionally large cartoon, say of five columns in width, we run it in our Picture Section; or when a subject of extraordinary importance is treated by him it goes on the first page. If our publishing of cartoons were resolved into a choice between the front page and the editorial page I would unhesitatingly prefer the latter.”

From these expressions and those which were published in this magazine for April, it is apparent that there is, in the opinion of newspaper editors, no hard-and-fast rule for the placing of the cartoon that can be applied to every paper, or in every case to any particular paper. The one point, however, on which they are all agreed, is that the cartoon should not be treated as a thing apart, but considered, as to its importance and consequent placement in the paper, on the same basis as the rest of the contents—as news, if it is a news cartoon; as an editorial, if it is an editorial cartoon; as a joke if it is merely “funny.”

DONNELL IN THE PULPIT
Cartoonist Elmer Donnell of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat occupied the pulpit of the Union Methodist church in that city on Sunday evening, March 15. Mr. Donnell gave a “chalk-talk,” in the course of which he reproduced several of his best known cartoons, including one which gained for him more than local fame, entitled “The Refuge,” which appeared in the Globe-Democrat the morning after the sinking of the Titanic. The subject of his talk was “Keep Smiling.”

CLEVELAND ARTISTS EXHIBIT
Cleveland newspaper artists recently held a public exhibition of their work at the Hotel Statler in that city. Among the artists exhibiting were Ralph Horton, S. G. Barrick, J. H. Donahey, J. W. Donahey, Earl E. McClure, H. E. Russell, H. C. Temple, Henry Maust and R. H. Sheehan of the Plain Dealer; Robert W. Satterfield, cartoonist; Lee W. Stanley, L. J. Buttner, Tom Carvon, Livingston J. Haff, William Powers and L. W. Redner of the Press; Paul Van Tuyl, Ole May, H. E. Munhall, Dan Rudolph, R. J. Scott, George Steck and Miss L. W. Hunter of the Leader and News.

The exhibition lasted a week and was free to the public. It attracted a great deal of attention and a large number of original cartoons and drawings were sold.

CAREY C. ORR MARRIES

Carey C. Orr, cartoonist of the Nashville Tennesseean, was married on March 25 to Miss Cherry Maud Kindel of that city. The cartoon on this page was one of the results.

McCUTCHEON AS A LECTURER
John T. McCutcheon, cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune, recently lectured at Elyria, O., on “The Philosophy of the Cartoon.”

BOOK OF HANNY'S CARTOONS
The St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press is distributing “Hanny's Cartoons,” a review of selected cartoons from the pen of William Hanny, printed in the News-Press during the past year. Mr. Hanny's work has commanded high praise. Many specimens of his work have been reproduced in this magazine. The News-Press Cartoon Review contains about seventy-five selections showing Mr. Hanny's conception of questions of the day.

“LI’L MOSE” GRINS
“Grins—by Satterfield's Little Bear” is the title of a clever little “newspaper” which was circulated at the annual meeting of the Associated Ohio Dailies in February. Satterfield's cartoons, needless to say, occupied fully as much space as the text.

CARTOONIST COMMITS SUICIDE
Stanley Martin, a cartoonist, was found dead in his room in the Central Hotel, San Francisco, on Feb. 26. The gas jets had been turned on, evidently with suicidal intent. Martin had been without employment for some time, and the night before his death complained to a friend that he was tired of walking the streets.

CARTOONS, NOT CARICATURES
Commenting on the ability of Sir John Tenniel and Thomas Nast to draw effective and stinging political cartoons without rendering the persons cartooned grotesque, the Philadelphia Record in a recent editorial says:

“The English cartoonists slightly emphasize a physical peculiarity, like Mr. Gladstone's nose, or the curl on Disraeli's forehead, or the rotundity of Campbell Bannerman's countenance, but they never make the face grotesque or repulsive. Boss Tweed was identified in Spain by one of Nast's cartoons. Who would recognize Mark Hanna or Charles F. Murphy from the disgusting monstrosities labeled with their names that have brought notoriety and fortune to some of our own caricaturists?

“In preserving the best traditions of the art of pictorial satire, so strikingly exemplified by Tenniel and Nast, The Record is far in advance of nearly all its contemporaries. To go back to the campaign of 1904, take De Mar's satire at Roosevelt's militarism, his campaign hat and sword balanced in the scales against the Constitution and the statutes. Among very recent cartoons are Senator Penrose 'At the Rubicon,' the ghost of Lincoln contemplating the ruins of the Republican party, 'Waiting for the Signal,' in which the Interstate Commerce Commission is setting the signal against the train of prosperity, and ‘A One-Stringed Solo,' Penrose playing on a 'cello in which a careful observer will recognize the totem of the G. O. P. These are not caricatures; they are not the scrawls that children might make on slates. They are not offensive in a personal sense. But they are stinging political cartoons, quite in the style of Tenniel and Nast.”

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Friday, October 04, 2019

 

Wish You Were Here, from J.R. Williams


Here's another Out Our Way card by J.R. Williams, issued by the Standley-May Company of Albuquerque sometime in the 1950s. If you're wondering what the heck the weird symbols are along the sides, no, they're not a secret message in Klingonese. They are cattle brands.

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Thursday, October 03, 2019

 

Preserving the Lost Era of Popeye's Thimble Theatre

 

An interview with Jonathan Lozovsky

By Fred M. Grandinetti


Popeye the Sailor celebrated his 90th birthday on January 17, 2019. In Huntington Beach California a beautifully constructed timeline of the sailor's career was on display. Naturally, the work of E.C. Segar, who created Popeye for his Thimble Theatre comic strip was showcased. Segar's stories are regarded as classics and have been reprinted several times in different book collections. Bud Sagendorf (1915-1994) and Bobby London, two of Segar's successors on the comic strip, had their work on display. Sagendorf was Segar's assistant and produced the Popeye comic book series for several years. London took a more modern approach to the characters introducing them to heavy metal music and the home shopping network.

Bela Zaboly
Unfortunately, cartoonist Bela "Bill" Zaboly (1910-1985) who illustrated Popeye's daily and Sunday adventures from 1939 to 1958 (though his daily and Sunday page work continued to be published throughout most of 1959), was not on display nor mentioned. During his tenure drawing the sailor's adventures he worked with two writers: Tom Sims (1896- 1972) and Ralph Stein (1909-1994).  Additionally, Zaboly's artwork was used on a number of products. These items were produced when Popeye's theatrical cartoon series became immensely successful on television.

Zaboly, Sims and Stein’s work, except for brief snippets, have not been reprinted in the United States. That has now changed thanks to the efforts of archivist Jonathan Lozovsky.  He took on the daunting task of locating all of Popeye's comic strips from this missing era. Lozovsky collected them from various sources and cleaned them up. They are now published in each issue of The Official Popeye Fan Club Newsmagazine. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lozovsky regarding his preservation effort.


Q:When did you first discover Popeye?

A: I was first introduced to the Popeye franchise by my father with the Fleischer cartoons. I specifically remember the first time I saw the sailor on the small screen. The cartoon was Seasin's Greetinks! and my eyes immediately increased in size because of the smooth and fluid movement that the Fleischers’ accomplished. I later became more and more interested in the character Popeye and wanted to know everything about him. During my search I realized that Popeye was also in comic strip form and I quickly fell in love with E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre. After that I wanted to know what else E.C. Segar had created, and during that time I sadly found out that he died in 1938. But then I also found out that the Thimble Theatre strip was still being published and I wanted to know what happened to Popeye after E.C. Segar's death. After years and years of waiting for something of Popeye to be reprinted in hardcover form, my faith began to diminish with only the Segar years being reprinted by Fantagraphics. I thought what better way to preserve these rarely seen comic strips than to collect them digitally where they wouldn’t tarnish or yellow because of age. I created this project for the true Popeye fans to read and enjoy.

Zaboly entertaining young fans

Q: Do you recall how you were introduced to the artwork of Bela Zaboly? What was your initial impression?

I was introduced to Bela Zaboly’s artwork during my search for everything Popeye related. Back then the internet was still a fresh idea and Google was an even newer idea. I did a quick Google search on Popeye and found some strips that didn’t quite look like the E.C. Segar strips I was previously familiar with. I was fascinated. Turns out they were from the early 1950’s, by Bela Zaboly and Tom Sims. I immediately thought “how could I find more?” Back then there were very few Bela Zaboly strips available to the public and reprints were virtually impossible to find in the United States of America (outside the states, it seems Zaboly’s strips were more commonly reprinted). My first impression was just how interesting the “new” Popeye characters looked.

By the 1950’s, Bela Zaboly had fully transformed the Thimble Theatre characters into his own style. Originally, Bela Zaboly replicated E.C. Segar’s style to match with the consistency of the strip. He removed the gritty style and matched closer to the cartoon style of the era. I think this really helped him differentiate his artwork. He was the first cartoonist on the Thimble Theatre strip to introduce a new art style to the Thimble Theatre franchise and I believe that should be applauded.

Tom Sims, circa 1920s
Q: Zaboly worked with two writers during his tenure on the comic strip. Tom Sims wrote the daily strip until 1954 when Ralph Stein took control. Sims continued to work with Zaboly on the Sunday until 1958 although, as previously mentioned, their work was published throughout most of 1959. What were your impressions of these writers and did you witness any evolution in Zaboly’s art when Stein began writing the daily strip? While you were collecting these strips did you discover anything new?

 

A: Tom Sims was a great writer for keeping the Thimble Theatre characters in their usual environment. His writing style was consistent, and he didn’t take risks through his Popeye run. I believe that Tom Sims enjoyed the concept of keeping the Thimble Theatre characters at bay and on the sea boat.

On the other hand, Ralph Stein was a major risk taker. With Ralph Stein taking over the writing position of the strip, we see the Thimble Theatre characters take many adventures. We see Popeye travel all around the world. Ralph Stein introduced and re-introduced so many characters that readers either never saw before or remembered from the E.C. Segar years. We also see that after Ralph Stein took over as the new writer, Bela Zaboly’s style once again changed and now became his most recognizable style. We even see Swee’Pea growing up and at one point is able to walk on his own. Bluto returns to the strips under Ralph Stein. The strip really comes into its own under Ralph Stein’s writing style.



Q: Why do you feel Bud Sagendorf and Bobby London get the lion’s share of attention while Zaboly, Sims and Stein’s contributions are barely mentioned? Was it their frequent omission which you led you to collect their work?

I discovered so much while collecting these “lost” strips. We now have confirmed and accurate dates for characters that made their first appearances or reappearances in the Zaboly strips. We finally have the ability to fully read through storylines that were previously only available in either broken sections or in low quality. With The Zaboly Project being completed, more research could be done on Bela Zaboly, Tom Sims, and Ralph Stein.

Sims/Zaboly Sunday page

Stein/Zaboly daily strip

 


Bud Sagendorf and Bobby London receive the lion’s share of attention because they were both unique in their own right. Sagendorf drew both the comic strip and comic book versions of the Thimble Theatre series. This introduced more children to the series. I remember when I was growing up, I would run to my local comic book store just to look through all the comic book bins to find a comic that stood out to me. Imagine if other superheroes like Batman or Spider-Man were only available in newspaper form, how popular do you think they would be? The same principal applies here. For most children growing up in the 1960’s, Bud Sagendorf was their first Thimble Theatre artist, hence his popularity. Bud Sagendorf is also vastly talented.

Now in Bobby London’s case, he became popular for bringing the Thimble Theatre characters into a completely new world; the modern world. Almost overnight, Popeye and his friends were advanced forward almost eighty years into the future and learned to adapt to their surroundings. Bobby London took risks where most artists wouldn’t dare go and for those risks his employment at King Feature Syndicate was terminated.

I believe the reason that Zaboly, Sims and Stein’s contributions are not being appreciated today is due to the availability of their work. As of now (unless you had a massive album of the original newspaper cutouts), the only way to view these “lost” strips is through my project; The Zaboly Project, and through the Official Popeye Fan Club magazines. Without a project like this, these strips would be forgotten as it has been for some time now.

Q: What sources did you use to obtain the comic strips and how difficult was it to make each presentable for viewing? Could you describe your process?

A: The process of collecting these digital newspaper comic strips is rather difficult. I start by finding a digital source that features the Thimble Theatre comic strips in their comics’ section. Then I screen capture the section that features the comic strip and save it onto my desktop. I then rename the file by the date of the comic strip. After I collect about a month's worth of comic strips, I upload it to a cloud-based storage drive that allows me to access the strips anywhere via smartphone or tablet. After I finish collecting the strips, I replace any strips that are smudged or hard to read.
 
Finding the strips themselves isn't hard, but when you’re missing one important strip it becomes a nightmare to find a new digital newspaper source that has that one particular strip you need.


Q:  What has been the reaction from Popeye fans regarding your efforts?


A: The reaction from Popeye fans regarding my Bela Zaboly project has been very positive! When I first had the idea and motivation to complete such an ambitious assignment, the Popeye community was extremely supportive, but they also understood that something like this couldn’t be done overnight. The project proved to be very challenging as some of my vintage newspaper sources had either abruptly stopped publishing the Thimble Theatre strip or just didn’t have high enough quality scans in their archives. This is when the Popeye community really stepped in and help tremendously by supplying the missing pieces to the puzzle. When the project was finally finished, the Popeye community loved it! They loved the idea that they would now be able to read the continuation of a once “lost” era in Thimble Theatre history.

Stein/Zaboly daily strip
 The Popeye community loved the project so much that the strips featured in my project are now being printed in the Official Popeye Fan Club magazines. This has truly been an honor to be featured in a magazine that I use to love reading through when I was younger and to have the support of  the Official Popeye Fan Club was something that I never imagined could result from my project. The whole thing just seemed so surreal by just how many fans were patiently waiting for something like this to happen and become available. I can’t thank the Popeye community enough for their support and help throughout the completion of The Zaboly Project!

To join the Official Popeye Fan Club to follow the work of Bela Zaboly, Tom Sims and Ralph Stein please go to http://www.popeyethesailor.com/club/

Comments:
Hello Allen, SG fans-
I offer here some reasons why the serious collector reprints of Popeye have been nearly exclusively of the Segar era, just as the international commercial comic book reprints were of the Sagendorf era; nobody much wanted the stuff between.
When Segar passed awy in 1938, the strip was given to Doc Winner, the KFS bullpen man who was given the job of fill-in ghost whenever the need arose, whether he was suitable or not. He was the hackiest of hacks, yet he was put in charge of what then was our fastest growing title. The Sims-Zaboly team should have been put in place from the start, but it took over year of Winner's dreary wanderings to take the shine off the Popeye strip first. I know our client list for Popeye shrank steadily from 1938 on, never recovering.
The Zaboly style was far superior to Winner, and the strip looked good. The trouble is, perhaps with an eye on increasing marketability,the material takes a definately childish turn, especially the Sundays, which are on a preschool level.
The 1950's and the Stein years are bizarre in that they decided to dump everything and recast the premise as to be no longer a story about Popeye, but about Popeye and the never heard of before, never asked for, never needed, new character, Sir Vauxhaul Pomeroy. It's them two, like Siamese twins. He's stuck to Popeye constantly. It's unusual to see them NOT together in every panel. They really wanted to push this new character,who was a caricature pith-helmeted, monocled British Big Game hunter. To include him constantly, the panels are often very crowded, that and it's also very wordy, squeezing the action even further. In addition, Stein's tenure also featured lots of exaggerated hour-glass figured, scantily clad girls at every turn, even going to surreal lengths, like having a story villianess, be a girl Admiral dressed like she's in a Minsky version of HMS Pinafore.
Outside of England, Where Dean's put out some Christmas Annuals featuring Popeye and "Pommy" in about 1957 to 1960, the new character did nothing good for Popeye. When Sagendorf arrived in 1960, it put the series at least back in recognizable form. Now say what you like about Sagendorf, he was far from the worst. In fact, his strips were loved and reprinted all over the world for many years in papers and comic books. This is not really so about his predecessors. In all my years at KFS, supplying international publishers with material, nobody ever asked for anything but Segar and Sagendorf.
As for London's version, I don't know if there's many who might care about it that don't have the story yet,so I'll just briefly state here that he decided he'd use Popeye to air his leftward politics in a way intended to be offensive and controversial. He got his controversy, and the sack. I think a collection of some of his strips came out later, but if you read them, throughout, one gets the feeling that he held Popeye in contempt. It's all one long mockery of Popeye and everything you know about him. Feel the anger! No foriegn clients had much interest in them after the sheer novelty wore off. We never made back whatever we paid him. Today, (at least when I left)in the few client papers remaining, Popeye is in perpetual Sagendorf loop of late 1960s to mid 1980's strips.
 
I’ve already told my story to CBR and it’s a cheap shot to go after my politics or love for the strip which were both automatically held in low regard by Johnson and other movers at the syndicate. My client list was on the rise when they cut me loose and they were afraid they’d either have to pay me more than the slave wages I was getting or I’dvtry to run away with the rights to the strip or both. - BL
 
Having read all of Segar's Popeye, much of Sagendorf's Popeye, some of Zaboly's Popeye and all of London's Popeye, I must strongly disagree with Mark Johnson's comments about London. He knew Segar's characters and had a better feel for who they were than anyone who came after Segar, with the possible exception of Sagendorf (who had MANY more years to work with them). - Bob Deveau, Lifelong Popeye Fan
 
Andrés P. Fdez. Harsh words towards your work indeed. He goes as far as saying that there's not much interest overseas for your work and I for one can say -being responsible for the publication of your work in Spain and Latin America- that Mr. Johnson is wrong because Bobby London's Popeye strips have been received very well and continue to harvest well deserved praise.
 
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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dow Walling


Dow Overbaugh Walling was born on June 6, 1902, in Whatcom, Washington, according the Washington birth records at Ancestry.com. His parents were Samuel Edrick Walling and Susan Irene Overbaugh.

Walling was four years old when he was bitten by a huge St. Bernard dog. The Bellingham Herald, July 2, 1908 said:

The dog grabbed the child by the back, lifted it from the ground and shook it as he might have shaken a rat. From fright and pain the child was almost unconscious when picked up and carried home by some neighbors who rushed to the scene. The flesh was horribly lacerated, having been torn by the weight and the vigorous shaking. The teeth had penetrated to a great depth.

Two physicians were summoned. They worked over the child for several hours and it is thought that no vital injury will result.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Walling was the youngest of three siblings. The family resided in Bellingham, Washington at 814 Maple Street. Walling’s father was a manager in the iron works trade.

The Herald, March 19, 1915, reported the school operetta, “When Mortals Sleep”, which included many storybook characters as well as Santa Claus, who was portrayed by Walling.

Walling’s National Cartoonist Society (NCS) profile said “No formal art education but always wanted to be a cartoonist. Came to New York to follow in the footsteps of boyhood idols Herriman, Bud Fisher, and DeBeck. … Also worked as assistant to Milt Gross and H.T. Webster.” His interest in art led him to the Landon School’s correspondence courses. Cartoons Magazine, July 1918, published a Landon School advertisement featuring Walling, a first prize winner in the American Boy cartoon contest.



Walling attended Whatcom High School in Bellingham. The 1919 yearbook, Kulshan, had a page with his verse and art.


The 1920 census said Walling continued to live with his parents in Bellingham at the same address. 

According to the January 11, 1921 Herald, Walling was one of thirty-nine Whatcom High School students to graduate. Walling continued his studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The Herald, January 27, 1923, mentioned Walling was an artist and art editor on the Sun Dodger, the university’s comic magazine. Also, he was a member of the Hammer and Coffin, national comic publication fraternity.

Walling was an athlete. He was a member of the varsity rowing team which qualified for the June 28, 1923 national intercollegiate rowing championship in Poughkeepsie, New York. Several days before the competition Walling suffered blood poisoning from an insect bite but recovered just in time to lead his team to victory over Navy, Columbia, Syracuse, Cornell and Pennsylvania.

The Herald, July 7, 1923, printed Walling’s letter about the victory to his mother. He referred to insect bite.

You have perhaps read about my rowing with a sore leg. Don’t worry about that, because I am feeling all right now. I had to row in the race, mother, or we never would have won. I had the best medical attention.

Under separate cove I am sending home the bacon—the sweaters of the rival crews.
The Literary Digest, July 12, 1924, wrote about the college rowing teams and said “[Dow] Walling is the young Hercules who stroked Washington to a heart-breaking victory over Navy last June. This season he was relegated to No. 6, to make room for last year’s freshman stroke.”

The Herald, November 2, 1923, said Walling and Kirk Heere were charter members of a comic-literary honorary fraternity, Sigma Omicron Lambda, at the university. The paper mentioned he provided college sports drawings for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Washington Newspaper, December 1923, said Walling was on the art staff of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

On June 18, 1924, the University of Washington rowing team won its second consecutive intercollegiate championship. Team member Walling described the victory, in the Seattle Daily Times, over Wisconsin, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Columbia.

Walling graduated in 1925. The Herald, October 14, 1988, said “He received a bachelor of science degree in business administration. …”


After graduating Walling moved to New York City. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Wallings’s cartooning career began with The Hubba-Hubbas (1925), Goofer Dust (1926), and Campus Cowboy (1926) for Editors Feature Service. Discontinued Stories was produced for Johnson Features in 1926.

The 1930 census recorded Walling in Manhattan, New York City at 134 West 82nd Street. He was a newspaper artist.

Walling drew Nutty News which was written by Ed Roberts. The King Features Syndicate series ran from March 17, 1930 to September 1930. Walling was one of six artists to draw Room and Board which began May 21, 1928 with Sals Botswick. He was followed by Brandon Walsh, Benbee, Darrell McClure, Walling (March 2 to October 10, 1931), and Herman Thomas. Central Press Association was the syndicate.

For the New York Tribune, Walling created Skeets, his longest running series from May 1, 1932 to July 15, 1951. He had occasional assistance from Al Plastino and Jack Sparling.

In the mid-1930s, Walling moved back to Bellingham. A late-October 1934 issue of Literary Digest printed, in its “Comics and Their Creators” series,  his autobiographic sketch.

The 1937 city directory listed the cartoonist at 1106 Jersey Street which was the home of his brother, Samuel, and sister-in-law, Susan.

Walling submitted an autobiographical sketch to the Herald, January 2, 1937.

“Dow Walling—Born in Bellingham, Washington, in 1902. Spent most boyhood on farm near Bellingham. Do not remember when I didn’t have a desire to draw. Never studied art. Boyhood Ambitions, besides being a cartoonist, were to be an actor, scientist, song-writer, wrestle, musician and magician.

“Carried paper route as boy. Worked lumber camps, sawmill and harvest fields. Club reporter on Bellingham Herald (where my first cartoons were published).

“Staff artist on Seattle Post-Intelligencer while attending University of Washington. Stroke of first Washington varsity  crew to win the annual intercollegiate Poughkeepsie regatta (1923).

“Six feet, two and a half inches tall, and weigh 195 pounds. Came to New York in 1925. Sold drawings to College Humor, Life, Judge and other publications. Always wanted to draw a kid strip, and, in 1932, the New York Herald, for which Skeets was created, gave me my first opportunity.

“In my mind Skeets lives in Bellingham—my home town. I feel that Bellingham, an average-sized town in America, typifies the home town of the average boy. I attempt to make Skeets human, rather than funny.”
Walling married Helen Pickrell on July 28, 1937 in Colfax, Washington. Their marriage was covered in the Herald, August 2, 1937.

In the mid-1930s, Walling moved back to Bellingham. The 1937 city directory listed the cartoonist at 1106 Jersey Street which was the home of his brother, Samuel, and sister-in-law, Susan. Later that year Walling married Helen Pickrell on July 28 in Colfax, Washington.

In the 1940 census newspaper cartoonist Walling and Helen made their home in Clarkstown, New York.

From 1944 to 1948 Walling produced three space-filler comics for the New York Tribune: This ’n‘ That, Butter Side Up and Bedelia.

The 1946 Manhattan city directory said Walling had an office at 421 Lexington Avenue.

Walling’s Jimmy’s Jobs appeared in The Carbuilder and in its October 1949 issue said:

On the back page of this issue is the latest in a series of Jimmy’s Jobs cartoons. Dow Walling (and that’s his real name) who draws Jimmy, is one of those rare people who can always see the brighter side of a heartbreak. He says, “My youngster is the Jimmy in the drawings. He gets himself into the darndest messes. Thought I could put a moral into his doings, and show how Jimmy’s difficulties are really economic laws operating on a small scale. Do you like ’em?”
The NCS profile said “Jimmy’s Jobs, produced to promote better understanding between labor and management, twice won Freedom Foundation Award.”

Walling passed away January 23, 1987, in New Rochelle, New York. He was laid to rest at Colfax Cemetery. The New York Times, January 28, 1987, published the Associated Press obituary which said in part, “Mr. Walling was a founding member of the National Cartoonists Society and did promotional cartoons to help sell United States War Bonds during World War II.” His NCS profile said said he was vice-president of the society from 1949 to 1950.



Further Reading
Whatcom Museum


—Alex Jay

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I used to have a short run of the Bellingham erald from the 1920's, and Walling made the front page once for saving some kids from drowning!
You can add to his list of features "Rocky Stoneaxe" which drew for Boy's Life in the 1950s, it was a caveboy series, often reprising old Peter Piltdown gags.
 
Thanks for the additional information on Walling. I was told Min Matsuda also ghosted Rocky Stoneaxe. She used to work at the comic book shop Biro-Wood.
 
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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

 

Obscurity of the Day: Nutty News



Cartoon series about wacky news stories seem like a natural subject, and many such series have been tried. Strangely, though, you couldn't call a single one of them a big syndication success. Case in point is Nutty News, written by Ed Roberts and drawn by Dow Walling. The series was distributed by King Features starting on March 17 1930*, but a lack of clients killed it in pretty short order. The latest examples I've seen are from late September of that year**.  Since the panel series seems to have been favored by Hearst's tabloids, which are notoriously unrepresented on microfilm, perhaps it ran longer...


* Source: New York Mirror, via Jeffrey Lindenblatt
** Source: Boston Record

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Monday, September 30, 2019

 

Obscurity of the Day: Masterpieces of Great Literature



In 1927, King Features came out with a lot of short run daily strips with literary and biographical subjects. Although it is impossible to place them all into a single coherent series (and they don't seem to have been offered that way), one subset was definitely advertised and sold under the umbrella title of Masterpieces of Great Literature. In this series, all but one adaptation was summarized in the rather ridiculous space of a mere six daily strips.

I've managed to find a total of eight adaptations, which seem to have been run in whatever order the subscribing paper felt like. Both papers I've seen these in* ran the series from May to July 1927, but both skipped an adaptation or two, so it is impossible to assign definite start and end dates.

In the Toronto Star, W. Paul Pim was credited on the masthead throughout the series. I'm guessing that means he wrote the adaptations, but that is just a guess. He also signed the art on one adaptation, but given that Pim wasn't much of an artist, I find it hard to believe he really produced the sumptuous art for which he was taking credit.

Here are the adaptions and the artists who signed them:


TitleArtistDuration
The Adventures of Robinson CrusoeJames H. Hammon1 week
The Count of Monte CristoJames H. Hammon2 weeks
IvanhoeP. J. Monahan1 week
The Last Days of PompeiiAlexander Popini1 week
Les MiserablesLouis Biedermann1 week
The Pilgrims ProgressW. Paul Pim1 week
Rip Van WinkleLouis Biedermann1 week
The Three MusketeersJames H. Hammon1 week



* Toronto Star and Harrrisburg Evening News, plus an unknown paper that ran the strips at the rate of two per week in a Sunday edition

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Hello Allan-
You say this is a mid-1927 series, yet one of the two samples offered it has a 1928 copyright, and you say it's King Features, but if so, it's not apparent from the copyright line seen; "(Copyright 1928)."
The KFS and other minor Hearst syndicates like "Premier" would be more plainly marked. Would I miss my guess if my guess was that this was an independently owned project that might have been distributed by KFS?
 
Hi Mark --
In the 1927 Harrisburg paper run the copyright slug is to King Features. The samples I used above are from an unknown paper that ran them very late and in the weird setup of two strips in a magazine section each Sunday. Why that paper bothered to remove the old slugs and add a 1928 copyright line is one of those things you'd love to ask of an editor --- do you guys really have THAT much free time?
 
That's interesting they were in a Sunday Mag section. That, and considering these are such short "runs" per story,may suggest they were intended for whatever equivallant we had then for the "weekly service" package.
It would seem a rather pathetic answer to some of the then new trend of serious continuity strips.
 
That "unknown paper that ran the strips at the rate of two per week in a Sunday edition" was likely the Des Moines Register in 1928. But they ran an abridged version. For instance, in 1927, bith the Three Musketeers and Rip Van Winkle ran 6 days of 4 panels each, for a total of 24 panels. In the Register, it only ran 20 panels, 10 per week in 2 tiers. The text was complete, however. But they still carry a "King Features, 1927" copyright.
 
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