Saturday, May 16, 2020

 

What The Cartoonists Are Doing, May 1916 (Vol.9 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.]

THOSE ANTI-AMERICAN CARTOONS
The publication in Punch, and other British journals, of cartoons deliberately unfriendly to America has aroused quite a storm of protest. Sir Edward Grey, British secretary for foreign affairs, speaking in the House of Commons, expressed the opinion recently that the friendly relations between the United States and England had been jeopardized to some extent by such cartoons, which, however, could not be suppressed unless they transcended the law.



Discussing the Punch cartoon comparing President Wilson to the prophet Job (reproduced in the April Cartoons Magazine), the Syracuse Post-Standard says that the drawing is but a mild rebuke when one considers certain British cartoons on the subject of Secretary Lansing’s “Ancona” note. The German cartoons picturing Uncle Sam stuffing his pockets with gains from munition selling at the expense of the Teuton cause, this newspaper points out, are even more vitriolic.

“One wonders,” it adds, “what would have happened to Punch if that estimable journal had printed the cartoons of Carter, Starrett, Cesare, or Kirby.”

 Says the Buffalo Enquirer:

“Cartoonists have little sense of responsibility and rarely withhold a shaft for the harm it may do. The cartoonists should give serious attention to Sir Edward Grey's reply to the question whether friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain had been injured by the English cartoons reflecting on American diplomacy. Every American who has felt his wrath rise when looking at British cartoons will confirm the secretary for foreign affairs. Still better proof is the fact that foes of the British circulate British cartoons in the United States for the purpose of arousing American ire. It is equally true, of course, that American cartoons madden the British and Germans just as British and German cartoons anger us."

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Boardman Robinson, the former New York Tribune cartoonist, since his return from the war zone, has been delivering a lecture called “From Saloniki to Petrograd.” It deals with the artist’s experiences in the typhus hospitals of Serbia, on the battlefields of the east front, and in the Russian jails.

ALAS, POOR HAM!
When Fourteenth Street, New York, was the real Rialto and hang-out for actors, both good and bad, says “Zim,” Grant E. Hamilton and I used to take our noonday bite at the famous Lüchow restaurant opposite Tammany Hall, and I know by the way those Shakespeareans and comedians sized us up we were mistaken for a fat song-and-dance team. It was our before-dinner delight to assume every aspect of the exalted race that was basking in the meridian sun during its off-duty hour, and often we'd catch wireless remarks as to our bookings. Once during my absence, “Ham,” as I called him, ran the gauntlet of inquisitive eyes alone. On this trip he recorded many remarks about the other fat one. “He’s alone today—wonder where his partner is.” This was our opportunity to study stage characters in real life. Every man to the lowest and basest comedian felt himself an important cog in the theatrical machinery. Each was attired in his best raiment, some having their entire estate upon their backs, surmounted by fur collars overhung with curly locks of varied hues. I once spoke the name “Ham” rather loudly in addressing my partner Hamilton, and as “Ham” is a show term for Shakespearean actor, many eyes were riveted my way, causing me, of course, to draw my head within my shell. The movies have wiped out this interesting feature of artistic life and circumstances have dissolved my attachment for the place.

WHO WANTS TO BE A COLLIER?
N. L. Collier, cartoonist of the Chicago Journal, having the distinction of being named after an oceanic coal hod, has been amusing himself by clipping headlines from the newspapers. Pasted on his desk are such captions as:

“COLLIER SAVES 400 AFTER SINKING EMPRESS OF IRELAND”
“GERMANS BLOW UP COLLIER”
“GERMAN SUBMARINE IS SUNK BY COLLIER”
“COLLIER FIRED ON BY ENGLISH”
“RIDDLED COLLIER AFLOAT”
“BOMB WRECKS COLLIER”
“COLLIER SENT TO BOTTOM”

"Who,” he asks, “would want to be a collier?”



THE "BREAKFAST FOOD" MAKES A SHORT CRUISE
The good ship “Breakfast Food,” which is allegorical for your morning paper, made a short cruise at the annual dinner of the Dutch Treat Club at Delmonico's, New York, recently. The Dutch Treat Club is an organization of artists, cartoonists, and writers. The “Breakfast Food” made its appearance in the opening scene of the comedy, “The Breath of Scandal,” written by James Montgomery Flagg, who played a leading role.

One of the features of the evening was the presentation of birthday honors to deserving members of the club. Arthur William Brown, who illustrates the stories for the Saturday Evening Post, received the Order of the Kodak, which gives him permission to take two negatives of any pretty girl who is without a chaperone. Herb Roth was awarded the Order of the Cave Gentleman, and will be allowed to flaunt an electric sign above his studio door with the inscription “Chez Herb.”

ABE KABIBBLE BREAKS IN
Abe Kabibble, Harry Hershfield's perennial delight, broke into the League of Cook County Women's Clubs at Chicago recently. In other words, Mr. Hershfield was invited to address the meeting, and to introduce Abe and his cigar to the ladies.

In his talk Mr. Hershfield told why he had created Abe.

“Abe Kabibble is intended to exemplify a higher type of Jewish humor,” he said. “Previously there had been shown on the stage and in burlesque a type of alleged Jewish humor not at all complimentary to the Jewish people and not at all justified. So I decided to make ‘Abe Kabibble' a clean-cut, well-dressed specimen of Jewish humor.

“In drawing a cartoon I believe the public should be taken into the artist's confidence. The idea should be brought home to them.

“I am a Jew and know the life of my people well. The names of the people mentioned in the cartoons are not fictitious. They are the names of people whose families I know.”


THOSE PRESS-AGENTED SALARIES

Commenting upon the much advertised salaries of Reub Goldberg and other comic artists, the Christian Science Monitor says:

“What would Artemus Ward, Josh Billings, Petroleum V. Nasby, Thomas Nast, and other of the well-known humorists and cartoonists of the nineteenth century, say if they were to know that a humorist who draws ‘comics' has just been guaranteed a minimum salary of $50,000 a year, and that he expects to make as much more in work 'on the side’? Before they could make any discriminating reply they would have to consider two facts: the syndicate system, by which a clever man's work now appears simultaneously in hundreds of papers, and the altered standards of humor.”

PRAISES McCUTCHEON CARTOON

Speaking at Valparaiso, Ind., recently, William J. Bryan said that if he were an artist he would go the world over and reproduce one of John T. McCutcheon's cartoons in which anarchy's slogan is represented as “Dynamite makes right.”


WHAT IS ART?
The Brooklyn Times comes nobly to the defense of the newspaper artist in an editorial reply to Mr. Frederick Dielman, “once president, we believe, of the National Academy of Design.” Mr. Dielman is quoted as saying that there were things published in New York under the name of art which were “simply horrible.” He referred to the cartoons and so-called funny sections of the metropolitan newspapers, and added: “Youngsters come to me who have heard of the large salaries paid to men who draw these things, and are ambitious to become artists of this type.” Says the Times:

“In the name of a discriminating public we rise to ask, who is Frederick Dielman? We know Goldberg, who gets a salary only a trifle less than the annual stipend of Charlie Chaplin; we know Opper; we know Bud Fisher and we know Tom Powers. We feel that we know Art from ‘A’ to ‘T.’ But this Dielman person, who ever offered him fifty thousand a year for a series of comics? By what authority does he speak for Art? Upon what colorful supplement has he scrawled an illegible but glorious signature? Yet, he has the presumption to declare Hans Katzenjammer is not art. He would have us believe Abe Kabibble is something a little lower than a cubist caricature. He cannot find a place for Mr. Jiggs in the classic, the compressionist, the impressionist, the post impressionist, or the depressionist school. Fie on Mr. Dielman! As Leonardo da Vinci once said to Mike Angelo, “Where does he get off?’”

ONLY ONE HAL COFFMAN
Hal Coffman, the cartoonist, who for some weeks had been trying to locate a mysterious impersonator who was using is name, finally discovered that a Joseph Harold Coffman Welsh, of the Mills Hotel, New York, was the person he was after. The latter, summoned before a police magistrate for disorderly conduct, admitted that he had shortened his name, and had been posing as the cartoonist. The temptation to be known as an artist, he said, had been too much for him, but he was “very sorry.”

THE BEST CARTOONIST
The Students' Art Magazine in an effort to discover from its readers who is America's greatest cartoonist, appears to be still in the dark. As the result of a vote taken, no two readers selected the same cartoonist, each naming a different one. The logical inference, observes the editor, would be that the present age has produced a great many good cartoonists, but none whose claim to renown stands out preeminently above those of his fellows.

Rube Goldberg
BEING AS FUNNY AS YOU CAN
Reub Goldberg's new animated cartoons, a writer in the New York Telegraph observes, are a reminder that two years ago this artist wrote a number of scenarios for the movies. A New York literary critic said at the time of the films:

“They were so funny that they defeated their own purpose. Hunchbacked generals riding billy goats led scarecrow soldiers to battle, and let 16-inch cannon balls bounce off their bosoms. There was no point of view from which to get an angle on the crazy comedy. No moments of tragic relief. Tragedy to be effective has to have its period of comic relief by way of contrast. The same holds true for comedy. It must start from the normal and proceed to the absurd. The simplest laugh in the world is a man slipping down on a banana peeling. It is laughable because the man is walking along normally with no intention of springing any funny stuff. The sidewalk flies up and smites him in the back of the neck, while his arms and legs fan the air like an overturned turtle. The beholders laugh hysterically. The unexpected transit from the normal to the absurd is comedy. The Goldberg scenarios were so continuously comic that they never switched back to a normal status for the beholder to get his breath and start laughing.”

WHY DON'T YOU EARN IT, BUD?
“We don't like to be criticising our superiors all the time,” remarks the Ohio State Journal in a moment of pique, “but it does seem to us that, if we got $105,000 per annum for doing no more work than Mr. Bud Fisher does, we wouldn't put the syndicate to the necessity of explaining at least once a week that, owing to circumstances over which it had no more control than a rabbit, we were unable to do our daily stunt yesterday.”

STEALING THEIR STUFF
Because the modernists have stolen their stuff and called it art, the Society of Amateur Fakirs of the Art Students' League of New York, was forced to give a costume dance this year to raise their annual scholarship fund. The dance was given at the Vanderbilt Hotel on April 5. Formerly the “Fakirs” sold their travesties on the National Academy's pictures, but since the advent of the modernists, who regard such atrocities as real art, the “Fakirs" have been hard put to it to gain recognition.

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A recent cartoon by Cesare in the New York Sun, showing Bryan in the act of scuttling the Ship of State, gains in verisimilitude, observes the Brooklyn Eagle, from the fact that the auger is inserted only above the water line.

CARTOON INSPIRES A MUSTACHE CRAZE
Chapin's cartoon in the St. Louis Republic, showing D. R. Fitzpatrick, the Post Dispatch cartoonist, “breaking into the big league” with his first mustache, is said to be responsible for a mustache epidemic in the suburb of Piedmont, where Chapin lives. More than a score of young men, most of them unmarried, inspired by the cartoon, pledged themselves not to touch a razor to their upper lips for sixty days.

ONE ON LEE STANLEY
Lee Stanley, of the Central Press Association, is very youthful in appearance. The other day he presented Bill, the office boy, with a pair of theater tickets. Bill, elated at the prospect of an evening's entertainment with all expenses paid, skipped out of the office relating his good fortune to everybody. “Where'd you get the tickets?” he was asked. “Th' kid what makes the cartoons give 'em to me,” was the reply.

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W. A. Rogers' cartoon in the New York Herald, entitled “They would never have given up the ship,” should, in the opinion of New York Town Topics, be painted as a historical picture, and hung in the White House. The cartoon depicts President Wilson, pale and haggard, at his desk, considering the “Lusitania” settlement, while behind him are grouped all the former presidents. Mr. Rogers, declares Town Topics, has described the situation exactly.


PETEY STATUETTE COMPLETED

The Petey statuette, the counterpart of C. A. Voigt's popular little cartoon character, is now completed. The artist modeled the figure from sculptor's clay, and will use it as a pattern for the plaster figures that are to follow.  Petey is shown in his favorite chair, his mouth open, and a frown upon his brow. Apparently he has been caught in the act of giving Henrietta a dressing down for wearing a too frivolous costume.

The real Petey Dink, it is said, lives in Rochester, N. Y. He is a successful banker and manufacturer, is short and irascible, and objects very much to being reminded of the fact that he resembles a cartoon.

ROCHE'S LITTLE SIDEKICK
None of John Roche's cartoons in the Los Angeles Express is complete without a certain little bug—a namesake, by the way, of the cartoonist. One of the engravers on the paper must be given credit for the first one that appeared. He took the liberty of adding it to one of Roche’s cuts, and, though it was a crude affair, it helped to carry the idea. What was meant for a joke turned out to be a tragedy, for it cost the engraver his job. Now, however, the little cockroach appears on every drawing Roche turns out, while its clever side comments are always appreciated.


AN ARTIST IN THE ARCTIC

By J. N. M. Brown

The writer of the following human document is so far distant that it required three months for his manuscript to reach us.-Editor.

Now that the mercury, as Mrs. Wiggs would say, has riz to zero, I feel sufficiently thawed out to hold a pen. Strange things happen at the north pole. You may doubt it, but one's brains tend to congeal at a temperature of sixty below zero. At forty below the blood runs thickly, and feeling slowly leaves the extremities. One's nose, ears, and cheeks freeze, and a thin film of ice forms over the eyeballs. At the very lowest temperature the native leaps head first into a snowdrift, and after thawing out in its genial warmth, plunges forward into the next drift.

Probably you are wondering where I live? If I were to tell you, my community would doubtless cast me out as being too veracious. Suffice it to say that the north pole is adjacent. Frequently it comes and camps in our back yard.

In summer the thermometer goes up to 90, and in the winter, down to 90. This trifling difference of 180 degrees, doesn't seem to trouble those who have farms or real estate to sell. They say, “Oh, but you don’t feel the cold up here! It's so dry.” The moment they sell out, they take the train to Panama, where it is warm all the time.

Being an artist, my present activities are confined to caricaturing walruses and Eskimo dogs, making genre pictures of the kitchen stove, and thawing out the water pipes.

Those of you who practice art in more temperate climes may imagine that the immortal fires die out around the arctic circle. But you are wrong. We manage somehow to keep the temperature of our dwellings up to 15 or 20 degrees below the freezing point if there is plenty of fuel. Fuel ran out the other day, and I burned up the dining-room chairs, the beds, the table, and my drawing board.

I claim to be the only artist capable of properly' portraying the aurora borealis. Most pictures of the northern lights are wrong. They remind me of futurist sketches of the sun. The real thing looks as if the British navy were having search light practice during a Zeppelin raid. You see a large ray of light climb slowly through the sky. Then a few more rays climb up to keep it company. Then they all do the Ziegfeid Follies finale to the tune of "It's a Grand Old Rag,” scamper from west to east, die down, flare up, die down again, and fill the heavens with a yellow effulgence.


McCUTCHEON BACK FROM WAR

John T. McCutcheon, the versatile cartoonist and war correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, is back from the war. He has brought his dog with him, and Chicagoans feel immensely relieved now that the little canine is back in the corner of John T.’s cartoons, where he belongs. Mr. McCutcheon was stationed at Saloniki, which stronghold he regards as free from attack for the time being.

“I think the most remarkable condition I have ever seen existed prior to January 1 in Saloniki,” he said. “The allied armies were in control. But the civilian Germans, Austrians, and Turks were in constant and almost necessary evidence.

“For example, it was no uncommon incident to see British army officers dining in a German restaurant, of which there were two. There would be a table occupied by British officers and immediately next to it a table at which sat German officers.

“British, Russian, German, French, and, in fact, the consular and diplomatic officers of all nations might be seen dining in the same room. Of course the representatives of warring nations did not intercommunicate.

“This state of affairs continued until the first of the air raids. Immediately came the arrest of all German and Austrian diplomatic representatives. I am inclined to believe, however, that these raids were mostly for the purpose of taking photographs.

“We heard from time to time news that the Germans would begin their advance 'next week.' The postponements were as frequent as the announcements, and we finally came to believe that these statements were being made for the purpose of causing the allies to hurry all possible reinforcements to Saloniki, thus weakening other points.

“Whether it was intended to weaken the defenses at the Suez canal or on the western or eastern fronts has not developed, I believe.

“One hears much of the length of the war, but it is all speculation.”

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Prominent New York newspaper artists, including T. A. Dorgan, of the Journal, and Oscar Cesare, of the Sun, contributed to a souvenir program for the bazaar held at the Grand Central Palace recently for the benefit of the Jewish war sufferers.

TO AID ACTORS FUND
America's movie cartoonists, according to a recent announcement made by Charles R. MacAuley, have agreed to raise $500,000 as their share of a $1,000,000 actors' fund. T. A. Dorgan, of the New York Evening Journal, and George McManus head the list of those who have responded to the call for help. The campaign is to be nation wide. Cartoons will be shown in the cinema houses appealing to the generosity of the public. The plans also include a number of public balls and benefits, with a “National Moving Picture Tribute Day” on May 15. Mayors of twenty-five cities will appear on the films in behalf of the movement.

At a dinner given by the publicity committee of the Motion Picture Board of Trade to the cartoonists and newspaper writers at the Hotel Astor, New York, an organized attack was made on the censors. Among those present were Hy. Mayer, Winsor McCay, Fontaine Fox, Rollin Kirby, Frederick Opper, R. M. Brinkerhoff, Ray Rohn, Herb Roth, Cliff Sterrett, R. L. Goldberg, Robert Carter, Hal Coffman, C. Allan Gilbert, George McManus, L. M. Glackens, Gene Carr, H. T. Webster, and W. K. Starrett.

“FAIR HARVARD” IN CARTOON

From Cambridge, Mass., comes the report that fair Harvard has been turned upside down by a cartoon booklet entitled “Harvard Inside Out.” The authors are Elmer E. Hagler and Robert C. Bacon, and the idea is borrowed, evidently, from Frank Wing’s “Fotygraft Album.” Thus, Willie Peebles, aged 11, is the interlocutor. Referring to a cartoon of President Lowell, he says:

“That there's President Lowell. Joe says he's jest started a finishin' school fur manly boys down by the Charles River. I shud think it'd interefer with the college a whole lot. Joe says he's a mighty fine man, though.”

A tribute to Professor Hugo Münsterberg follows: “That's Hugo Münsterberg. He's in competition with A. B. Hart for publicity. Jest now Hart's ahead by about 300 lines, but Hugo's got an article on the psychic significance of Charlie Chaplin for the Cosmopolitan that'll put him way in the lead.”

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The first cartoonist in need of an idea, suggests the Buffalo Enquirer, might draw a picture of Elihu Root weeping at the grave of Huerta.

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An exhibition of St. Patrick cartoons was a feature of a celebration in honor of Ireland's patron saint, given at the Eastern Cartoon School of Philadelphia.

Robert Minor
MINOR ON WAR
Robert Minor, the New York Call cartoonist, who spent several months in the war zone, has been active on the lecture platform since his return. “Travel in Europe these days,” he says, “isn't exactly a pleasure trip. One of the conditions is that you spend part of your time in jail.”

Mr. Minor was arrested once in France as a German spy, twice in Italy for the same reason, and once in Germany as a British spy. Of the three hours he spent in Germany, two were behind bars.

The stories of atrocities on both sides, he declares, have been greatly distorted. He denounces the news stories from the front, which he pronounces “half truths which are the blackest kind of lies.”

He has been telling socialistic audiences that there are but two nations in the world, “the nation of workers and the nation of parasites.” He is opposed to compulsory military service in the United States, and says that we will be disgraced if we do not at once take the stand that the workingman has no country, and will not fight for the one that is owned by his exploiter.

TO AID PREPAREDNESS

A movement to interest prominent illustrators and cartoonists in the plans for an adequate national defense has been launched by the Aero Club of America. Among those who have signified their willingness to coöperate are Henry Rueterdahl, the marine artist, James Montgomery Flagg, W. A. Rogers, cartoonist of the New York Herald, and W. K. Starrett, of the New York Tribune. The idea, it is said, was suggested by the remarkable success attending the Brangwyn recruiting posters in England. The organization plans to distribute “preparedness” posters throughout the United States.

LONDON BYSTANDER FINED

For depicting Tommy Atkins drunk, the proprietors of the weekly journal, the London Bystander, were fined recently under the Defense of the Realm Act. The cartoon, which was considered prejudicial to the recruiting campaign, was entitled “Reported Missing,” and showed a British soldier lying in a rather blissful state under a tree with an empty bottle of rum. The picture was drawn by Lieut. C. E. B. Bernard of the Tenth West Yorkshire regiment.

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Robert Henry Schulz has left the art staff of the Baltimore News, and is now staff cartoonist for the Binghampton Republican-Herald. In addition to his regular cartoon work he is launching a comic strip entitled “Veronica Versatile and Flossie Forgot.”

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Friday, May 15, 2020

 

Wish You Were Here, from Phil May


Here's a postcard penned by the great Phil May. This one was issued by the Raphael Tuck Company, and was #1008 in the "Write Away" series. This is a very interesting card for a few reasons.

First is the subject matter. The card seems to have been issued in 1904 (as the card was dated by the sender and is cited as the date on this website), and the subject therefore is presumably the Brits' 1904 Licensing Act. This act, one of many limiting the sale of alcoholic beverages, was not really addressed at pub habitues, like our red-nosed friend above, but at pub keepers, who were forced to pay into a fund to compensate pub owners who were forced to forfeit their licences. Therefore the gag doesn't really apply to the new 1904 licensing act much, but since all the licensing acts, and there were lots of 'em, were aimed at stemming liquor sales, everyone would easily follow the gag.

Second item of interest: I was surprised to see the spelling "license" on a British postcard. Don't they spell it "licence"? Well turns out I was oversimplifying my spelling. Outside the US, where license is both a noun and verb, turns out that in the Empire we are expected to spell it "licence" when used as a noun, and "license" when a verb. So I guess the licensing act actually applies to pub licences. Good to know!

Third item of interest: somehow this postcard was sold to a Canadian in New Brunswick. Surely Britain's pub laws didn't apply in Canada, I assume, so why export the cards? I dunno, but this guy in New Brunswick seemed to have it in for some politician named Neale who I gather was in favor of abstention via government mandate. Anyone know if this Neal is a British or Canadian politico?

Okay, last item of interest. This 1904 card has a divided back, which only got going in the US in 1907. So I gather other countries allowed messages on the back earlier. News to me. I notice this Canuck, though, stuck with scrawling all over the front anyway.

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Hello Allan-
I think the card scrawler actually wrote "Hale" not Neale. This makes sense as one Fredrick Harding Hale was the local MP since the 1880's and was running again in 1904. Alas, poor Hale lost his chance to stay on representing Carlton County, New Brunswick(Where "Hartland" is to be found), beaten by a Liberal party upstart named Carvell.
The Tuck company was one of the world's first international publishers, starting in the 1890's, they were being sold everywhere, in and out of the empire. Americans would more than likely get an English gag.
I don't know when it was legal to write a message on the back in Britain and Empire mail, I have some mid 1890s' ones, views of York, that are still only to be front-written, and this one just keeps the tradition alive because for one thing, you want to keep appealing to markets that still have the address side taboo, and the "continue the message" technique was very popular with card writers.
 
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Thursday, May 14, 2020

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Marsoozalums



Pinpointing important firsts in the newspaper comics world is seldom simple. What is the first newspaper comic strip? Well, long story. How about first adventure strip? For that you can get arguments that put it anywhere from the 1890s to 1929.

One first that seems a little simpler is first science fiction strip. Buck Rogers, right? Well, some folks disagree. There is a faction that points to a much earlier feature, Mister Skygack from Mars (debuting 1907), but as much as I love that delightfully witty feature, I'm sorry but it is a panel cartoon, not a strip, and so therefore, doesn't qualify in my mind.

In StripScene #13 (Fall 1980), Mark Johnson offered a few additional contenders. He suggested 1902's Sandy Highflyer, an airship pilot who sometimes travels through space, as the first SF strip, but he noted that there are even a few earlier contenders. Along with a mention of 1901's Professor Gesla, a mad scientist strip by Dwig, he brings up a feature by Jimmy Swinnerton called The Marsoozalums, saying it is "about a clan of spacemen living on a far-off planet. It started on February 24 1901 for Hearst."

There was no sample of The Marsoozalums with the article, and I had no samples, but the Johnson brothers are as trustworthy as it comes so I did include a listing for the feature in my book, though it was a listing full of question marks.

Many years later Cole Johnson sent me a scan sample of The Marsoozalums, as shown above. I was disappointed to find that Swinnerton had merely added some antennae to his oft-used tykes, or bears, or tigers, and called them Martians. Not much of a sci-fi spectacle, really, but we do have aliens and a rocket ship, so I can certainly see them as a contender. Only problem is that, just like Mister Skygack, it is a panel feature, not a strip. But Cole's short message, which I didn't really clue into at the time, is alarming. He says "Here's a weird one from Swinnerton. The first extra-terrestrial series? Or is it a one-shot?"

Now that I'm finally trying to tie up the research on this feature, decades later than I should have, I'm faced with the possibility that the panel was a one-shot! I first checked the interwebs to see if someone else had any information about the feature. About all I could find was Luca Boschi's website, and to my horror he offers the very same sample of the feature as Cole did. That led me to be practically convinced that Cole's intuition was right -- we have a one-shot.

Finally, though, I combed through records in the OSU Bill Blackbeard collection, and found that he had a Chicago American for February 24 1901, and the cited title was indeed different from our sample: "The Marsoolazums. A Funny Scene That Swinnerton Saw Through a Telescope on the Planet Mars". I breathed a sigh of relief, and did a bit more poking around. I had already checked Alfredo Castelli's superb book, "Here We Are Again", and had been disappointed to find yet again the same strip installment that I already had. But a second more thorough look revealed a second sample elsewhere in the book. Lo and behold, that one had the February 24 title. I can't show it to you here, because the PDF is locked, but it is a panel of the same sort of alien hijinks as the sample above.
Did the panel run any additional times than those two? I don't know for sure, but I tend to doubt it. Does anyone know of any more?

EDIT: Alex Jay found the second installment of The Marsoozalums in the Denver Post. Note that it ran as a weekday strip there, not in the Sunday comics section:




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Wish I could add something here. I'm guessing that the sample Cole sent you was from a St.Louis Globe-Democrat, by the crumbly edge and that its in black & white. Had about three months of single pages from that period. So hard to find any available papers on file that carried a Hearst or even partial Hearst Sunday section that early, outside of the chain.
Beyond of the G-D, the only other one that comes to mind is the Boston Post.
 
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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

 

Obscurity of the Day: Tucker





Joe Martin has had a long career as a syndicated comic strip creator, and was once even crowned by the Guinness World Record people as the most prolific newspaper cartoonist*. His first foray into the newspaper cartooning biz didn't turn out too well, though.

On April 24 1978** Joe Martin's first syndicated strip debuted, a daily and Sunday offering distributed by Field Enterprises titled Tucker. The concept was simple; Tucker runs an employment agency and deals with all manner of oddball clients. With such a rich vein of humor to mine, Martin should have had a successful strip on his hands. I like the strip well enough; the only criticism I would make is that Tucker is saddled with a brainless idiot client/pal named Bustout, and I find him about 90% annoying and only 10% funny. Would have liked to see him given the pink slip. Otherwise, a good strip with pleasant art and good gags. Nevertheless, it was not to be. After only two years in syndication*** Field evidently pulled the plug.

According to Joe Martin in Cartoonist Profiles #123, he self-syndicated Tucker for a short while after Field dropped the strip. I haven't seen a self-syndicated version of the strip anywhere, but Martin certainly does like self-syndicating -- he took over syndication of all three of his strips in 2005. Has anyone seen the self-syndicated Tucker?


* A declaration like that seems an invitation for a footnote full of nitpicking from me, but I have to admit the Guinness people may well have the situation dead to rights. In 2000, the year that title was bestowed, Martin had three seven-day per week strips running -- Willy 'n' Ethel, Cats with Hands and Mister Boffo.  I certainly can't come up with any cartoonist who can make the claim of producing 21 syndicated comic strips every week -- can you?

** Source: Washington Star

** I can trace the strip through the end of March 1980, and I'm guessing with a second anniversary coming up the next month, Tucker got the axe. Does anyone have a definitive date?

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Comments:
According to the 300 paper list. Three papers were running Tucker in 1980. Here is the rundown. Irving Daily News was running it by March 31 but that where the paper information comes to end. The Vancouver Sun ran the daily to April 5. The last paper Journal Gazette (Mattoon, IL) ran the daily until April 12.
 
There's a week a Tucker's Job Emporium dailies at the Boffo website, along with samples of some other dead strips.

If memory serves, Martin's son had a strip some years ago. It was a bit like Calvin and Hobbes, except the kid's imaginary friend was clad in black bodysuit and mask like a superhero/villain. We had it in the San Jose Mercury News, replacing B.C. There was a reader backlash, small but of unusual vehemence. The complainers claimed we were replacing a "Christian" strip with satanic one. B.C. came back and the new strip vanished from the Merc; I don't know if it persisted elsewhere.
 
The strip you have in mind is "Tommy" by Jay Martin, here:

http://strippersguide.blogspot.com/2017/08/obscurity-of-day-tommy.html

--Allan
 
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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ray Burns


Ray Burns was born Raymond Howard Bernstein on April 21, 1924, in the Bronx, New York City, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at Ancestry.com. His middle name was recorded on his Social Security application which said his surname was changed from Bernstein to Burns in April 1941.

Burns’ parents were Mortimer Bernstein and Harriet Baum, who married on January 7, 1923 in the Bronx. The 1925 New York state census recorded the trio in the Bronx at 54 Evelyn Place. Burns’ father was a jewelry salesman. At some point they moved.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Burns, his parents and brother, Mortimer Jr., were residents of Stamford, Connecticut, at 44 Culloden Road. Burns’ father was general manager of a jewelry store.

The 1940 census listed the family in Stamford at 19 Merell Avenue.

Burns graduated from Stamford High School in 1942. 


Spirit of ’42 yearbook

On June 30, 1942 Burns signed his World War II draft card. He lived with his parents at 31 Pellom Place in Stamford, where he was employed at the Electric Specialty Company. His description was five feet eight inches, 150 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair.

The Wilton Bulletin (Connecticut), November 11, 1970, profiled Burns who talked about his art training and war service.

“I had no training per se except a few life classes and lectures. Because of my early interest in comic strips I wanted to be a cartoonist,” he said. “In 1942 I was out of high school but any future was obscured by the war. A trade school in Stamford and a crash night course to help get into defense work so I worked with lathes and grinders and in the summer in a machine shop and I hated it. I decided to hell with it and joined the Navy.”
He served on a destroyer in the Mediterranean and the Pacific as a second class signalman.
“… I was in on the invasion of North Africa and the Anzio thing and I was in France for quite a time. When I got out I wanted to go to art school and applied to Pratt but I didn’t go. I worked at home practicing drawing and comic strips. Alex Raymond who did the Flash Cordon and Rip Kirby strips lived in Stamford and I went to see him with some of my things. He was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known He advised me and really helped me.”
Burns said his first comic strip work was lettering and background art on John Lehti’s Tommy of the Big Top. American Newspaper comics (2012) said the strip ran from 1946 to 1950. Burns also assisted Raymond on Rip Kirby.

The Stamford Advocate, December 21, 1949, published a profile of Alex Raymond and said

… The entire strip is drawn by Raymond, and after he has roughed in the balloons containing dialogue and made the decisions on setting, an assistant, Ray Burns, a Stamford man, handles the lettering and background sketching. Raymond considers Burns to be one of the best lettering men in the comic business.
Burns was called to serve in the Korean War. The Department of Veterans Affairs said Burns served from December 4, 1950 to March 17, 1952. Burns went back to Raymond and resumed work on Rip Kirby. During this time Burns also met Frank Beck and Gus Edson and did work for them. American Newspaper Comics said Rip Kirby began March 4, 1946. Raymond died in a car crash in 1956 and his last strip appeared September 29, 1956. John Prentice took over the strip.

Burns turned to illustrating textbooks. The Wilton Bulletin, November 30, 2000, said Burns also worked with Johnstone and Cushing, an agency specializing in advertising and industrial comics.

Stamford city directories from 1949 to 1956 listed Burns as an artist. His address was 31 Pellom Place then, in 1955, it was off Davenport Ridge Road. In the March 31, 1982, Wilton Bulletin column, “Twenty Five Years Ago” for March 27,1957, it said “Raymond H. Burns, an illustrator, and his wife, a dramtic [sic] soprano, and their two sons moved from Stamford to a house on Warncke Road.”

Burns illustration works included over 80 books, posters, audiovisual programs, and corporate publications of companies such as GTE, Union Carbide and Xerox.

Burns returned to comics in the 1990s when he helped his friend, Jack Berrill, on his strip, Gil Thorp. The Wilton Bulletin said “When Mr. Berrill’s health began to fail in the early 1990’s, Mr. Burns helped draw the strip for two years. After Mr. Berrill died in 1996, Mr. Burns continued the comic, working with writer Jerry Jenkins to prolong the strip, which began in 1958.” American Newspaper Comics said Burns’ last Gil Thorp strip appeared January 6, 2001. The series continued with other artists and writers.

Tim Murphy’s Murph’s Turf sports column in the Wilton Bulletin, March 27, 1996, was about Berrill and his Gil Thorp strip. Murphy wrote

“Jack was constantly on the lookout for ideas to use,” said longtime friend Orlando Busino, a Ridgefield resident who has done the lettering in Gil Thorp for the past eight years. “He was always interested in the personal problems of high school students. He came up with a lot of topics from talking to his wife, Veronica (a teacher at Brookfield High School).”

“It (Gil Thorp) has quite a cult following, said Ray Burns of Wilton, who has done the drawing for the last year. “There are a lot of fans out there.”

Burns, Busino and two other Ridgefielders—Ed Plaut and Jerry Marcus—are among a group of local writers and cartoonists who regularly have lunch together on Thursdays at Nick’s Restaurant in Danbury. Berrill was one of the organizers of the weekly lunch, which has been taking place for more than 25 years. At last week’s gathering, the group toasted Berrill and kept a chair open for him.

“I can’t think of any man who would be more missed by his friends and family,” said Plaut “That tells you what kind of a person he was.”

“At our Thursday afternoon luncheons it was always Jack who held our attention,” said Marcus, the creator of the comic strip Trudy. “He was soft spoken, and when he spoke.

Burns passed away on November 23, 2000, in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was survived by his wife, Doris, daughter, Jane, and sons, John and David. He was laid to rest at the Fairfield Memorial Park in Stamford.

(Burns should not be confused with the Raye Burns School of Cartooning which was formed around 1930.)

 

Further Reading and Viewing
Lambiek Comiclopedia
The Library of American Comics


—Alex Jay

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Comments:
A bit of synchronicity. Mae Von Egidy (neé Mary Boyd) recently passed away and her obituary claimed she too was an assistant to Alex Raymond.
"She was a talented artist and worked for Alex Raymond in her younger years painting backgrounds for the Rip Kirby and Flash Gordon comic strips."
http://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2020/05/07/mary-von-egidy-rip/
No dates, but she was certainly the right age and in the right area to assist Raymond. Maybe her help on Rip Kirby ended when Burns came around? Or maybe she was recalled when Burns went to Korea?
 
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Monday, May 11, 2020

 

Obscurity of the Day: Farmer Judkins



Jack "GAL" Gallagher came up with lots of series for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1900s, then later specialized in taking over strips for cartoonists who parted ways with the newspaper.

Here is a series from the first part of his career, Farmer Judkins. It's your typical hayseed farmer strip, though as usual for GAL he was cribbing gags from any and all sources, so you have strips like the top one that really don't have any real connection to the character. GAL wasn't the greatest cartoonist ever, but he did have a flair for portraying physical humor; he does a great job getting everything he can out of the weak gags in the strips above.

Farmer Judkins appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday sections from May 5 to December 22 1907, but it was one of those strips that ran longer in their syndicated section -- latest I've found outside the Inquirer is May 24 1908, in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

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Comments:
I think a problem with the Inquirer was that somewhere along mid decade,(1900's) they offered an extra page of comics, that didn't appear in the Inky itself, and might appear on the back of the Mag section in client papers. They weren't exclusive extra page series either. When Cole was recording the sections in the Globe-Democrat, he'd find odd extra installments of series like Big Scalper or Percy Vere.
The big disappointment was that the micro files of the G-D didn't bother recording these worthless comic pages most of the time, and the little edge visable from whatever page preceeded them, proved this was intentional. About 1915, the entire comic section is passed over too.
 
Farmer Judkins is a pretty lousy strip, all right. In fact, I can't even follow or figure out the supposed joke in the top one (about the park). I cannot tell what the people are doing, or why. I can even less understand, if that's possible, what the dog is doing, or where it moves to and what it's problem is in the last panel. No cartoonist wants to be called incomprehensible (I believe). I think Gallagher's problem may have been is that he didn't know whether or not he was incomprehensible, and didn't care. The second strip was maybe 1% more coherent. What a couple of loser strips.
 
Hi Katherine -- the joke, and I'm sure you'll be rolling on the floor once you see it, is that Judkins mistakes the Asian gent's long thin braid for the leash of the dog and yanks on him pretty badly. Har-di-har-har.

I knew that braid had a name, but had to Google it. It was called a queue or cue.

--Allan
 
"Gal" was a lousy cartoonist, but was a real workhorse for the Inquirer.
 
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