Saturday, June 13, 2020

 

What The Cartoonists are Doing, September 1917 (Vol.10 No.3)

[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.]

 
ALICE IN CARTOONLAND
K . L . Roberts in Puck

Mindful of her past experiences with rabbit burrows, Alice slipped down a woodchuck hole in the hope that she might obtain material for another book. Luck was with her; for in a commodious chamber at the bottom of the hole, the woodchuck awaited her with an electric torch in one hand and his Leghorn hat in the other.
"Right this way,” said he politely. And without more ado he led Alice through a small doorway labeled: " Cartoonland.”

Alice clapped her hands joyously. " Cartoonland!" she exclaimed. "How nice! I hope I sha'n't hurt myself laughing!”

But before she could hear the woodchuck's answer, her attention was distracted by two men who appeared to be having a violent altercation.


"What strange looking men!" said Alice. "Why do they have crosses in place of eyes?"

"That is very simple," replied the woodchuck. “In Cartoonland, whenever you see a person with crosses where his eyes should be, you will immediately know that he has either been hit with a brick, a club, or some other blunt instrument, or that he has been overwhelmed with the originality or unexpectedness of something which has just been said by the person to whom he has been speaking."

"How peculiar!" said Alice. "Is it only in Cartoonland that such actions may be observed?"

"I know of no other place," said the woodchuck. “Cartoonland, too, is the only place where people are always throwing things at one another and never missing. Every day, hundreds of men throw bricks at other men; and invariably the bricks land on the exact centre of the rear of the assaulted person's head. Organized baseball is losing some marvelous throwers by failing to sign up all of Cartoonland's leading characters."

Lost in thought, Alice strolled onward. In a short time she came to a small pond, from the middle of which were coming loud cries of "Blub! Blub!"

“What queer sounds!" cried Alice.

The woodchuck smiled. "In Cartoonland," said he, “any person who falls or is pushed into any body of water sinks immediately and gives vent to loud shouts of 'Blub! Blub!' from beneath the water. Cartoonland is the only place where a person can make sounds under water, and be heard by persons above the water."

Before Alice could comment on this strange state of affairs, she was passed by a small dog and a tiny beetle. The dog was carelessly remarking, apropos of nothing: “See what the boys in the back room will have!” while the beetle was ejaculating again and again: “It's nothing in my young life!"

“Tell me!” said Alice, “How can these creatures talk, and why do they say such strange things?”

The woodchuck shrugged his shoulders. "In Cartoonland," said he, "the animals and the insects have their mating calls and their hunting calls, just as they do in other countries. In your country a dog says 'Bow wow!' or words to that effect; but in Cartoonland he says 'See what the boys in the back room will have?' or 'Who's looney now?' or something equally appropriate and doglike.”

"And do all of the men talk a trifle ungrammatically down here," asked Alice. "The two men we passed a short time back were saying that they didn't 'wanna' go somewhere, and that they weren't 'gonna' do something. Is such language customary?"

"Oh, invariably,” replied the woodchuck, "or practically invariably. You see, the idea is that people in Cartoonland must talk down to the level of uneducated people, instead of helping to remedy their lack of education.”

"Really,” said Alice, "I don't believe that Cartoonland is much of a place. I think that I'll go home. I don't feel that I could write a book about my experiences down here."

“Oh, but you mustn't go yet," protested the woodchuck. “Why, you haven't seen a tenth of Cartoonland." And he attempted to hold Alice by the sleeve of her gown.

But Alice was too infuriated to stay longer .

JIMMY LYNCH MARRIED
 James J . Lynch has returned to his drawing board in the Rocky Mountain News office after a honeymoon. His bride, Marie Kaffer, was a member of the News staff, and out of their association in newspaper work developed the romance. Jimmy Lynch, as he is best known, is one of the most popular newspaper men in Denver.


FOX AS A ROAD BUILDER
A Series of Cartoons That Has Awakened Milford
(From the New York Evening Sun)

Far away - so far away that trains cannot carry you there - lies the village of Milford, Pa. It is in the wooded and mountainous region of Pike County, where there are craggy cliffs and waterfalls, two pound trout and pickereled lakes ... But then , this isn't meant to be a railroad circular!

Instead, it's the story of Milford's new trolley system, and of how this is being built by the unconscious aid of Fontaine Fox and The Evening Sun.

It is the daily Fontaine Fox cartoon that Milford's eyes most hunger for, and Milford's hearts most smile upon. Fontaine Fox has somehow found the funny bones of these staid, weather-browned old French woodsmen and farmers.

The proof of the popularity is in the pasting. Fontaine Fox is literally pasted all over the village. The barber shop, of course, is covered with Fontaine Fox cartoons, which regale the lathered ones, the unshaven and unshorn, who wait their turn. The bazaar has its windows full of Fontaine Fox. So has the tobacco shop. And so, even, has the wall of the post office, itself. Fontaine Fox, clipped from The Evening Sun, is Milford's mountebank as well as its tutor in art.

Milford is soon to have a trolley line. And Milford, realizing the benefits which will accrue unto itself from the improvement, is correspondingly impatient for the trolley line's perfection. But trolley lines, like pretty girls, are slow in making up their minds. And this particular line though arranged and subscribed for many months ago, has not yet begun to build. Milford, having given its money, was reluctant to give time, too. And Milford grew cross and cranky and gave vent to pessimistic views about the crops and the possibilities of war.

Then, one day, old John the Barber gave a copy of The Evening Sun to a waiting customer. And in that particular day's paper was one of the Toonerville Trolley series.

The waiting customer was French - as, indeed, most of Milford is. He could not understand the caption altogether; but the caption didn't matter. He needed no full knowledge of the English language to appreciate the picture itself. The humor of it, of the old, tumbled-down car, of the leisurely, white-whiskered conductor, of the disgruntled passengers - hit hard upon the waiting woodsman.

That particular cartoon, cut out of the page with a pair of John's hair scissors, went the rounds of Milford in an hour. Everybody looked at it, laughed at it, found in it something to remind him of his own trolley troubles. That one cartoon put the entire village in good humor. Fontaine Fox had taught Milford how to wait, how to laugh at the waiting — and how to regard trolleys!

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Jack Cory, formerly cartoonist of the New York World, and one of the veterans, is now rusticating at Wadsworth, Ill., while drawing cartoons for his feature service. The sketch is by Perce Pearce of Waukegan.


JOY ON THE NILE
H. T. Webster, author of “Our Boyhood Thrills," has been in his day something of a traveler. While in Egypt a few years ago, he was greatly impressed by the universal demands made on him for "baksheesh.” At villages along the Nile hundreds of naked children followed him yelling for "baksheesh."

"I can imagine," he says, "the joyful scene in an Egyptian family when the baby first gurgles 'baksheesh.' The first tooth or the first step must be tame in comparison."

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R. M. Brinkerhoff is back at the New York Evening Mail after a two weeks' visit and tour with the Sells-Floto circus. Brink went out on the sawdust trail to pick up some local color and is back with a lot of sketches of b'gosh types. Harold Webster planned to accompany Brink but at the last minute he found the lure of his new automobile too strong.


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That the soul of a big cartoon idea knows no decay and has no death is shown in the continued receipt of print royalties by Mark Fenderson for his famous rooster cartoon with the caption “What's the Use - Yesterday an egg — tomorrow a feather duster." This drawing, made more than 10 years ago, has been reproduced millions of times and is still bringing laughs all over the world.

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Charles Winner , who prior to 1914 was political cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post, is now drawing cartoons for the woman's suffrage cause .

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The arrival of the German U-boat, "Deutschland," was the inspiration of a notable cartoon in Ruy Blas, the satirical journal of the Paris boulevards. The cartoon shows an American mother gazing at a  German submarine lying safe in an American harbor. The mother says: “Look! That may be the same submarine that sank the boat papa was on!"


ABOUT CARTOONISTS AND SICH
By Russell Henderson

Boardman Robinson might well be styled the premier exponent of impressionistic art in cartooning. I asked him one day when his work was attracting wide attention through the pages of the New York Tribune, by what authority he commanded a slap of shadow black to represent a nose. He looked up from his drawing  board, and said: “Do you observe?"

I thought I did. Whereupon he proceeded to demonstrate to me how little I actually did observe. He turned on an electric light that hung over his board, and told me to notice closely just what constituted a nose in light and shade as far as the black - and white art of the cartoonist went. I was amazed to find that the nose was thrown out in relief by a smack of shadow black.

The artist then told me how observant he was. He always carried a sketch book and pencils, he said, and never overlooked an opportunity to get a striking position or expression, no matter how embarrassing the experience might prove . He told me that he had several thousand sketches, and that he found them invaluable in his cartoon work, as he referred to them daily for poses, expressions, and even compositions. The constant use of a sketch book, he declared, was the best art instructor.



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 If one were to speak of Mr . William Ireland in Columbus he might not be understood; but if he spoke the name of Billy Ireland, he would evoke a smile. There is a curious something that makes people like to speak of celebrities in intimate and familiar terms. But that is not the case in Columbus — everybody there loves Billy Ireland, and Billy is only short for "My dear." His "Passing Show" page in the Sunday Dispatch is given up wholly to local whims, and the people like it. Bill Nye once said that Columbus may or may not have discovered America, but he would have to give Chris the credit since he had the best press agent. And thus it is with Columbus, Ohio . She has a good press agent, too.

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Cassel of the New York Evening World was once a pupil of Frank Beard, who in his day was the dean of the temperance cartoonists. They were both connected with the old Chicago Ram's Horn. Cassel later entered the illustrating field, and from there entered his present position as cartoonist. Speaking about temperance cartoons, May, of the Detroit Times, is drawing a series of 100 for the Michigan branch of the Anti-Saloon League. His services were bid for by the wet element, but the drys secured them.

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Here is a wild story about the rise of Ed Mack from a position at nothing a week to one paying $200 a week on Hearst's art staff. Prior to the Jeffries Johnson fight the Chicago Examiner was featuring the various offers from promoters. One day there came into the hands of the sporting editor a telegram offering $50,000 for the fight, and signed by the Sibley Athletic Club. The Examiner immediately got out an extra announcing the "scoop.” Soon after, however, hair was flying in every editorial sanctum of the paper. Some prying soul had discovered that Sibley was a town in Illinois boasting of 98 inhabitants. The editor looked into the matter and found that one Ed Mack, a gentleman of humor and ability to draw comics, had sent the telegram just to get it out of his system.

Whether the editor intended to bribe Mack to keep the secret to himself, or admired the originality of the young man, I know not. At any rate, the Sibley humorist was given a position as sporting cartoonist on the Examiner, and from Chicago he went to New York to draw the Katzenjammer Kids for Hearst. He is now putting out a new creation entitled “Life in Lonesomehurst."

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Brewerton, of the Atlanta Journal, took a vacation to Atlanta once about a score of years ago while working on the New York Herald. He fell so in love with Dixie Land that he immediately accepted the Journal position when it was offered, and wired his resignation to the Herald. He has not been north of the Mason and Dixon line since.


EVENTFUL DAYS FOR CESARE
Two important events happened in the life of Oscar Cesare last month. The first was his jump from the New York Sun to the New York Evening Post when the former paper was purchased by Frank A. Munsey. The second was his marriage on July 15 to Miss Margaret Porter, daughter of the late Sidney Porter, known to the literary world as 0. Henry. The ceremony took place at the Church of the Transfiguration. The bride is a successful fiction writer, and was until recently the editor of Short Stories. She is now contemplating a series of articles on the life of her father. Mr. Cesare was born in Sweden, and did his earlier newspaper work as dramatic artist of the Chicago Tribune.

Incidentally, "One Hundred Cartoons by Cesare" is announced for early publication by Small, Maynard and Co., of Boston.

The happy couple


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Reub. Goldberg, the New York Evening Mail's "comicker," and the originator of the "Foolish Questions" series, has at last asked a foolish question himself. It was favorably answered, according to report, by Miss Irma Seeman, with the result that Cupid has rung the bell again .

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Nate Collier has left the Chicago Journal .


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E . A . BUSHNELL HONORED
E. A. Bushnell has received an invitation from the minister of foreign affairs of France to contribute to an official sketch book of the best anti-German cartoons the original of his cartoon on the “Lusitania” disaster, entitled “Making War Frightful.” This drawing, which was reproduced last year in Cartoons Magazine, credited to the Cincinnati Times-Star, shows Death with huge, overshadowing wings, grasping the ill-fated steamship in his bony hands. The French book will include cartoons by the master satirists of all neutral countries.


SID GREENE IS MARRIED
The wedding of Mrs. Irene Louise Lauder-Milch, daughter of Mrs. Mary Evans, of New York, to Sidney Greene, cartoonist of the New York Evening Telegram, took place early in July at the Church of the Transfiguration. A breakfast and reception followed at the Claridge Hotel. The bride is the widow of Mr. William Lauder-Milch of Pennsylvania.


BUD FISHER INJURED
Friends of “Mutt and Jeff,” who missed those little fellows for a short time recently from the back pages of their favorite newspapers, found the explanation in the motor accident to their originator, Bud Fisher. Mr. Fisher was rather seriously injured when his automobile which he was driving along the Glenn Falls road near Saratoga, skidded and turned completely over. Mr. Fisher suffered a fractured rib, and with his companion, who was also injured, was taken to a hospital by a passing motorist. The artist and his friend were on their way from New York to a summer resort in the Adirondacks.


MINOR ON THE BORDER
Robert Minor, cartoonist of the New York Call, has been on the Mexican border making sketches of the militiamen who have been called out to defend Uncle Sam against the Greasers. This is his second war assignment, and though he has no use for war as an institution, he cannot resist it. He recently returned from the battle fronts of Europe, where he was sent to "rip the buttons and gold lace" from Mars.

"I was much amused in El Paso," he says, "by hearing some very well-meaning and well-informed men burst out with hatred toward the Mexicans, whom they believe to be the sole cause of the friction. They do not realize that some of these very Mexicans are their best friends, while some of the Americans they are lauding are a great part of the contributing cause of the trouble. They do not seem to know that it is oil and copper and all the natural resources of Mexico that form the underlying reasons of it all."

After visiting in Juarez, "the place where they throw the dead and wounded soldiers," he says he sensed a feeling of horror and revulsion, and left as soon as possible. Similar sights, he declares, hastened his return from Europe.


BRIGGS AND HIS “BOYS”
 Although Clare Briggs lived during his boyhood days in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Dixon, Illinois, the boys that he portrays seem to be universal. Thus, one admirer writes: “You must have lived in Oregon," and another, “You must have lived in Tennessee.” Briggs is convinced that boys are much the same the world over.


HERB ROTH AS A CADET
When the battleships carrying their citizen sailors put out to sea from New York recently, one of them carried Herb Roth of the World. Herb decided to be patriotic and give his vacation to his country, incidentally enjoying a cruise. In taking examinations he stated that he had had "small boat" experience, which seemed to satisfy the naval examiners. If they had questioned him further Herb would have had to admit that his small boat experience, to be painfully exact, was limited to an open canoe. Following the cruise, which lasts a month, Herb will make a three weeks' visit to his home in San Francisco.

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John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Tribune heads a list of 150 applicants for instruction in aviation and enlistment in the First Squadron U. S. Central Aviation Reserve. He also subscribed $100 toward the $20,000 fund required to equip the squadron and the school of instruction.

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“Why is it," asks a gentleman from Topeka, “that cartoonist Hammond of the Wichita Eagle, persists in representing Wichita as a man with whiskers?" A more careful cartoonist, he adds, would take cognizance of the fact that the Wichita winds preclude whiskers.

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Cliff Berryman, inventor of the Teddy Bear, and cartoonist of the Washington Star, claims that his father should share in his fame as a likeness getter. The elder Berryman was a crossroads merchant, and spent his spare time caricaturing his customers on wrapping paper. He encouraged his son to study cartooning. Cliff has been on the Washington newspapers for twenty years now, and knows personally more celebrities than any other cartoonist in the country.

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Charles Graham Baker, formerly cartoonist of the New York Times, was married recently to Miss Beryl Hilburn.


BRIGGS' GOLF
 Some take their golf seriously, others frivolously, while some don't care for the game at all. It makes no difference, however, whether you are a scoffer, a duffer, or a golfer, Briggs' new book of golf cartoons is dedicated to you, and you will like it, in whatever class you are. It is described by the publisher, P. F. Volland & Co., as "the book of a thousand chuckles," but one might go a bit farther and say a thousand and one chuckles.



The cartoons have appeared from time to time in the columns of the New York Tribune. Tinted, and in book form, they make a collection rich in humor and human interest. Briggs knows his golfers, and portrays them with all their faults and virtues.

In his dedication to "the scoffers, the duffers, and the golfers," he says: "It is to these three classes that I am indebted for the material contained in this book. Of these three classes I might say the greatest is the duffer. He is the salt and substance of the golf course. He is the source of more cartoons than any other class. He is funny. He makes my business good. He is the inspiration. I was once a scoffer myself and I believe I understand the emotions and feelings of him. Now I am with the great and unsilent majority, the duffer, where I expect to remain for some time to come. Some day I hope to be a golfer, but that is not important. I prefer the association of duffers. I prefer the thoughts of a duffer, because I believe in my cartoons of him I can reach the majority who make up the golf world. I do not have to exaggerate, I do not have to imagine. One need only to observe and draw the real happenings, repeat the actual sayings, and depict true expressions. Hence the golf cartoon."

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Russell Henderson, cartoonist of the American Issue, the prohibition organ, has been spending his vacation at Gordonville, Va., where he owns a farm so large that he has to ride across it on horseback.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

 

The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown: Part 3 -- October - December 1915

Yesterday we looked at the Buster Brown strips for July to September 1915. I presumed these to be more or less pure Outcault. Let's continue on.

October starts with visits from old Outcault characters. On October 3 Pore Little Mose makes an appearance:

10/3/1915

On the 10th we get a cameo from the Yellow Kid (perhaps for the last time -- I'm not aware of any later ones in the strip), plus an unusual running commentary from Outcault himself in the fourth tier, and a "Yours Truly" preceding his signature. If all this makes you wonder if Outcault is signalling some new era for the strip, well, you might just be right.

10/10/1915
October 17 brings us a run of the mill strip:

10/17/1915

October 24 brings us the most rushed looking art yet. Tige doesn't even look like Tige in the first few panels. But is this evidence of other hands, or of a rushed Outcault? Impossible for me to say.

10/24/1915

October 31 sees Outcault back in tip-top form.

10/31/1915

November 7 is another good outing with nice art, especially that masthead panel:

November 7 1915
And now we finally get some drama. On November 14 we get a strip that I claim to be at least 75% Penny Ross art. Judge for yourself, but I'm convinced. The poses and staging in many of these panels is pure Ross. My thinking is that Outcault did the masthead, story panels 1, 11 and 12 and not much else except maybe for the faces of Buster, Tige and Mary Jane:

11/14/1915

Of course I wouldn't be doing this series if Penny Ross simply took over the reins at this point. Nope, things aren't nearly that clear-cut. In the November 21 episode, Outcault clearly does most of the work, but Ross contributes the women's faces in story panels 9 and 11.

11/21/1915

On November 28 we seem to be back to a typical Outcault page with no evidence of Ross at all. I'm afraid we'll be playing this cat-and-mouse game with Ross for quite awhile:

11/28/1915
On December 5 we get a hastily drawn strip, but to my eye probably Outcault:



Another Outcault production on December 12, this one with a very nice masthead.

12/12/1915

December 19 is an odd one. Something about the cat and the Christmas tree in story panels 9 and 10 whispers 'Ross' to me, but why would Outcault bother Ross with such a simple drawing task as this?

12/19/1915


December 26 shows no sign of Ross's hand,  but the character designs on the old woman and the thief seem decidedly untypical for Outcault. Evidence of other assistance? Well, that does it for 1915. Next time we'll ring in the new year.



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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

 

The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 2 -- July - September 1915

Yesterday in Part 1 I introduced this series about the final years of Buster Brown, and today we begin our look at those final years. My assumption was that this series would start by looking at the arrival of Penny Ross as an assistant or ghost to Outcault in 1917. Turned out things weren't nearly that simple. From April 1917, where I started reviewing the Buster Brown Sundays, I started moving backward in time, looking for the arrival of Ross. By the time I felt like I had made it to consistently  Ross-free material, I was way back in 1915! I had also discovered that the strip did not simply change hands from Outcault to Ross by any means, but that their relationship seemed to be much more nuanced.

Since I do not hold myself forth as an expert art-spotter, I feel that it is only fair to show you the  material I reviewed, because some of you, my esteemed readers, are very good art spotters and may well have a lot of wisdom to add. Your comments would be very much appreciated. Besides, although Buster was certainly past his best years here, it was still quite often a well-drawn and funny strip.

So today we are going to start in mid-1915 and I'll offer my opinions on the strips as we go forward. Of course these are all going to be reproduced from online sources, so I apologize for the lack of quality, but in some ways I find it easier to evaluate art with color removed, so perhaps this is for the best. We're starting well back from what I consider to be the arrival of Penny Ross so that you can get acclimated to Outcault's art style before we start throwing curve balls.

We start with the July 4 1915 episode. Not great Outcault work, panel 8 with the two maids looks very rushed, but I see no particular reason to believe this is not Outcault, he's just not on his A-game. We'll see a lot of that in 1915. 

7/4/1915
July 11 is a much better strip, with Outcault's cartooning in fine form:

7/11/1915

July 18 is another good episode with adequate if unspectacular art:

7/18/1915

Another fairly good episode, first in a mini-series at the San Francisco world's fair, on July 25:

7-25-1915

Second installment at the World's Fair, with somewhat rushed art on August 1:

8-1-1915

A particularly funny episode on August 8; the art looks rushed, but that may be partly the fault of a particularly bad scan:

8-8-1915

August 15, and some damn fool gives Buster Brown a rifle. These people deserve what they get:

8-15-1915

August 22, with indifferent art except for that lovely masthead panel:

8-22-1915

August 29 is a pointless strip about Buster and Tige at an air show, but the art is nice and lively. Outcault can sometimes be stiff in depicting action:

8-29-1915

On September 5 we go to Yellowstone, and great looking art is marred only by the rotten quality of this scan:

9-5-1915

September 12 is an important strip in that the material is perfect for Penny Ross (girls being his specialty), yet I see no evidence of his hand. You'll see later on how this sort of strip would be the perfect 'tell' as far as my art-spotting goes:

9-12-1915

On September 19 we get another well-drawn Outcault strip that leaves me wondering what sort of restrictions there were on driving age in 1915:

9/19/1915

September 26 is another fine effort, good gag with plenty of action. Okay, so we'll leave it here for today. In my opinion these strips from July to September are all Outcault, or at least if there is some assisting going on, it's certainly not noticeable, at least to my eyes. Your opinions? Next time we'll hit (in my opinion) some work by Ross.

9/26/1915


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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

 

The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 1 -- Introduction

Considering the great fame of R.F. Outcault's Buster Brown, his seminal place in comic strip history, and how influential he was on comics and consumer culture, you'd think that the comic strip would have been analyzed to death by now. Surprisingly, though, there is little analysis of its convoluted history. Believe it or not, there isn't even a definitive end date in print.

Two aspects of the Buster Brown strip are of special interest to me because they are full of unknowns. The first is the run of the strip in the New York Herald after Outcault jumped ship to Hearst in 1906. That's a subject for another day, though, as my research is still in process. So let's talk about the other interesting phase, which is the long slow demise of the strip.

Looking over a few of the standard references, little information is offered: Goulart says only that it was syndicated as late as December 11 1921. Horn says the last Outcault Buster Brown appeared in December 1921, and that the feature continued in reprints until 1926. Those references leave us with the impression that Mr. Outcault kept his nose to the grindstone until late 1921, but is that really the case?

According to his 1928 obituary, not quite. There it states that Outcault "gave up professional drawing about ten years ago, and since then had only used his talent for his own enjoyment in painting." That would seem to indicate that the strip was ghosted or in reprints since about 1918. 

Alfredo Castelli in "Here We Are Again" has much more to say (apologies for probably awkward translation):

The plates were often reprinted; in the last years of production, even if signed "Outcault", they were made exclusively by "ghosts" including Marion T. "Penny" Ross, who drew in an elaborate Art Deco style and in 1916 opened a studio in Chicago together with Outcault . The anonymous Buster Brown concluded its appearance in the Hearst group's offerings on December 21, 1921 (and, in fact, some texts consider this date as the conclusion of the series); for another five years the production in syndication, with boards partially reprinted, partly made by less and less convincing "ghosts", some of whom tried with little success to modernize the character and the environments. In 1926 the "untitled" series also ended.

Castelli goes on to offer specific dates for the assisted and/or ghosted Buster Brown, citing Penny Ross again as the lead, as April 1 1917 to January 11 1920.

That April 1 1917 date gave me a starting place for research, and the citation of Penny Ross as a ghost offers my admittedly limited art-spotting skills a jump start. Before jumping in, though, just a word about Ross as a ghost -- to me it seems rather strange. Ross was in Chicago, while Outcault was (presumably) in New York, and Ross was in the middle of a successful long run with Mamma's Angel Child for the Chicago Tribune. Why would he feel the need to play an anonymous part with Buster Brown? I frankly don't get it, but before we get directly into looking at actual art, here's some preliminary proof, from the Chicago Tribune roto section of October 29 1916 (Ross on the left):


I sure wish I could find a little more detail about this shared studio, but this is the only thing I can find. The one clue I can find is that Outcault's advertising company was supposedly based in Chicago. So did he actually maintain a studio there for himself?

So anyway, back to that April 1 1917 cited by Castelli. I looked at the Buster Brown for that date and could see no definite evidence of Ross's hand (see below). That was disappointing, but then I checked a few strips on surrounding dates, and there was certainly evidence of other cooks in the kitchen, including Penny Ross. I ended up getting so interested in this ghost hunt that what was originally to be a single post for Stripper's Guide ended up as an extended series. In this series I'll be showing a very long run of Buster Brown strips and we'll try to figure out who, how and when Outcault was assisted and/or ghosted.

4/1/1917 -- where the search began
As I have stated before, I am not a particularly good art-spotter. Luckily, in at least some cases the presence of other artists on Buster Brown is obvious even to me. As this series unfolds, I encourage you to do two things: first, read the strips purely for enjoyment, because they really are often quite good. Second, I'd like you to exercise your own art-spotting skills -- share your opinions and take me to task when you think I've erred. Ideally we will all come out of this exercise having learned to do better art-spotting by learning from others.

Since we'll be looking for Penny Ross work, I encourage you to jump over to Barnacle Press and look at their archives of Ross' Mamma's Angel Child to familiarize yourself with his work. You'll find that his way of drawing children, especially girls, is a signature, and his favored action poses and facial expressions are another telltale. The problem with identifying Ross work, at least for me, is in his way of drawing adult males. To me they seem similar enough to Outcault's style that I'm lost if a Buster Brown strip focuses on these characters.

So, see you tomorrow as we begin our look at the long slow demise of Buster Brown.








Comments:
Interesting! I remember Buster Brown shoes as a kid and my mother would often call us Buster Brown when chastising us. Though I didn't make the connection that it was a strip once upon a time, it must have been well known enough for my Mom, who was born in 1938, to refer to it.
 
Hello Allan-
I have always thought that RFO kept at it into l919 or 1920, and the style changes were due to his getting feeble-handed with age, though it does seem that his signature gets scarcer. The 1921 examples I have are most likely a ghost, not Ross, but some one I would think was not good enough for the job. Someone could be using tracings from old strips, though more deftly than Charles McManus and his Newlyweds stint.
As for Penny Ross, Offhand I can't remember, or maybe I'm remembering Cole's talking about it, that the only Buster Brown art that was definately by Ross, was the bottom-half original art that Jerry Robinson (who thought it was Outcault) used in his book about fifty years ago.
RFO had an advertising cut service, I think you have highlighted some of these before, in the WWI era, showing Buster doing so many different things, like plumbing or painting related, that local advertisers utilized. Another series had the Yellow Kid doing trade-related things. I'm guessing these are actually by Ross, and that's what their "studio" was for. There's a series of these cuts showing a character made up for them, a short blonde gal with a huge head of hair, doing various domestic things, and another with an almost-look-alike to Esther Starring (Mamma's Angel Child), frolicking around all sorts of Automotive scenes. These were obviously by Ross.
 
How far back does the "flipping back" gag go? 1917 is pretty early, no?
 
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Monday, June 08, 2020

 

News of Yore 1914: Winsor McCay and Wife Involved in Lurid Courtroom Drama

 From the Brooklyn Times, Sept. 24 1914:

$250,000 SUIT AGAINST ALLEGED HUSBAND STEALER

An alienation suit for $250,000 has been filed in the Supreme Court by Mrs. Irene Lamkin against Miss (sic) Maude McCay of Sheepshead Bay.

Mrs. Lamkin alleges that Miss McCay stole her husband's affections and prevailed upon him to abandon her June 15. When Mr. Lamkin left her, so Mrs. Lamkin asserts, he went to Sheepshead Bay. The Lamkins were married eight years ago. According to Mrs. Lamkin her husband met Miss McCay during the summer of 1913.


From the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Dec. 23 1914:

Winsor McCay Tells Threats Of Mrs.Lamkin

 Cartoonist Testifies in Effort to Prove ''Frame-Up" in $250,000 Heart Balm Suit.

  SAYS HIS WIFE IS BLAMELESS


 [Special Telegram to Gazette Times]
NEW YORK, Dec. 22.    Winsor McCay, the cartoonist, was the star witness today in the trial of the divorce suit brought by Mrs. Irene Watkins Lamkin against her husband, Henry Tobin Lamkin. The case is being tried in the State Supreme Court before Justice Erlanger. Mrs. Maude McCay, wife of the cartoonist, is named as co-respondent.

The McCays assert that the Lamkins are acting in collusion. Mrs. Lamkin has begun a suit for $250,000 damages for alleged alienation of her husband's affections against Mrs. McCay. Lawyer Norton announced he would prove a "frame-up" by the plaintiff and defendant of the divorce case to obtain money from the McCays.

Mr. McCay testified that he had been married 23 years and was satisfied that his wife was true and the victim of a "frameup."

The night of March 8, McCay said, Mrs. Lamkin sought him at the stage door of a theater where he was appearing and threatened that unless he did something for her she would begin proceedings  against Mrs. McCay, saying:

"Your wife has ruined my home, alienated my husband's affections and you will have to support me." When he protested he could not support her, McCay said, Mrs. Lamkin threatened publicity, adding: "You are making $100,000 a year. I'll bring suit against you and drive Mrs. McCay from New York." McCay said she telephoned him continually until he consented to a meeting, He said Mr. Lamkin remarked: "They are together this very minute."

Later he took Mrs. Lamkin to dinner and during the meal Mrs. Lamkin said; "If they are out together why can't we be out together?" McCay said he spent $28 for wine that night and bought imported cigarets, after which he took her in a taxicab to Shanley's.

"Her actions were such that I knew I was in the hands of a bad woman," the cartoonist testified. "I would rather not tell the details. I took her behind the scenes at Hammerstein's and later took her home, as she said we ought not to stay out all night."

"After many telephone entreaties," McCay said, he went to the Iowa apartments, "to see this $250,000 husband," meaning Lamkin. Both Lamkins greeted him so cordially that he took them out for an evening in the all-night restaurant belt, the party continuing until 5:30 o'clock in the morning.

Lamkin on that occasion, the witness swore, declared that Mrs. Lamkin was the cleverest, handsomest woman in the world and that he was not going to give her up. Mr. McCay said his own reply was: "You stick to your wife, and if you injure my wife I'll kill you." He said Lamkin replied: "Your wife is a good pure woman. She thinks you are a great man, but you don't take her out often enough."




And finally from the Washington Post, Dec. 24 1914:

MRS. M'CAY CLEARED

 Cartoonist's Wife Vindicated of Charges in Divorce Case

NEVER IN BATH WITH LAMKIN

 New York Jurist Dismises Action for Divorce on Motion of Attorney for Artist's Helpmeet, but Refuses Similar Motion by Mrs. Lamkin's Lawyer on Ground of Collusion 

New York, Dec. 23.

Mrs. Maude I. McCay, wife of Winsor McCay, a cartoonist, was vindicated today when Justice Erlanger, in the Supreme Court, dismissed the action for divorce brought by Mrs. Irene Walkins Lamkin against her husband, Harry Tobin Lamkin, in which Mrs. McCay was namd as corespondent.

The justice declared that there was evidence of collusion between the plaintiff and the defendant and refused to permit further attacks upon the character of Mrs. McCay by counsel of Mrs. Lamkin.

Denies Bathing Charge

In her deposition, Mrs. McCay denied, among other things, a charge that on one occasion she had taken a bath in the same tub with Harry Tobin Lamkin. Mrs. McCay not only denied all the charges made by Mrs. Lamkin, but advanced the contention that she and Lamkin were never married legally.

Refuses to Call It Mistrial

Mrs. Lamkin's counsel made a motion that the trial be declared a mistrial, but this was promptly denied by Justice Erlanger, who said that in a case of this character, where the defendant refused to defend the action, the corespondent must be given all the rights of the defendant and be permitted to testify fully.

Lived Together Despite Conditions

Elliott Norton, counsel for Mrs. McCay, moved that the action be dismissed, and in his argument directed attention to the fact that it had been proven that the plaintiff had continued to live with her husband at least one year after she admitted she knew of his relations with other women.

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