Wednesday, August 10, 2022

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ed Reed


Claude Edwin “Ed” Reed was born on December 13, 1907, in Fort Towson, Oklahoma, according to his World War II draft card. 

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Reed was in the household of an uncle, Thomas J. Record, in Paris, Texas at 146 South 22. The fate of Reed’s parents is not known.

Reed attended Paris High School where he graduated in 1925. He produced eleven illustrations for the 1925 school yearbook, The Owl. Reed was sports editor of the school newspaper, Hi Hoots








The Quill, November 1937, profiled Reed and said

… After Ed had finished high school in Paris he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1929 he began to his sketches to the New Yorker, Life, and Judge. He contributed to the mid-depression torrent of comic magazines and their success. He lived a sort of gag-to-mouth existence, some weeks finding many of his ideas accepted, others none.

Reed estimates that between 1930 and 1934 he lived on an average of less than $7.50 per week. Much of this was eaten up in buying drawing materials for more submissions. He became an avid reader of newspaper classified advertising sections, and today turns to classified out of habit rather than out of need for a new job.

In 1934 he began drawing his daily square three times each week for the Dallas Journal, and its syndication, on a daily basis, was begun some months later by the Register and Tribune Syndicate of Des Moines, Iowa. …

… Those who knew Ed Reed when he came to Des Moines in 1934 with nothing but a big ambition and a bright new quarter, say that success has changed him not at all. He’s the same hardworking, sincere, appreciative lad he was then. He puts his money in the bank for the stormy day he hopes will never come. He is like a schoolboy with a new nickel every time he gets a fan letter (and he answers every one of them).
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Reed’s Off the Record panel debuted November 19, 1934. 



Reed has not yet been found in the 1930 census. 

On December 28, 1936, Reed and Mary Anne Cullum were married in Dallas, Texas. The Des Moines Tribune (Iowa), December 28, 1936, reported the marriage. 
Ed Reed and Mary Cullum Marry Today 
Couple Wed in Dallas in Bride’s Home.
The marriage of Miss Mary Anne Cullum, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Earl Cullum of Dallas, Tex. and Ed Reed of Des Moines, formerly of Dallas, is taking place Monday afternoon at the Cullum home. Only members of the immediate families are witnessing the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Jasper Manton, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian church and a boyhood friend of Mr. Reed. The couple will leave immediately for Des Moines. The bride has been a member of the amusements department staff of the Dallas News and Journal. She is a former student of the University of Texas and a graduate of Radcliffe college. Mr. Reed draws Off The Record cartoons. He was graduated from high school in Paris, Tex., and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. He and his bride will reside in the Cortez apartments. 
Editor and Publisher, January 16, 1937, published a photograph of the newlyweds. 

The 1940 census recorded Reed and his wife in the household of his father-in-law, A.E. Cullum. They resided in Dallas. 

On October 16, 1940, Reed signed his World War II draft card. His address was 3623 Overbrook Drive in Dallas. Reed’s employer was the Register and Tribune Syndicate. His description was five feet eleven inches, 195 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 

The Paris News (Texas), December 17, 1990, said Reed moved to "London, England, in 1958. In 1960, he bought a 400-year-old home, Hawstead House, in the village of Broadway (England’s equivalent of Greenwich Village)”. Cartoonist Profiles #37, March 1978, printed two photographs of Reed at home and four Off the Record cartoons. 

Reed passed away on October 7, 1990, in Cheltenham, England. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), October 11, 1990, published an obituary. 
Ed Reed, a retired nationally syndicated cartoonist, died of leukemia Sunday at a hospital in Cheltenham, England. He was 82. During the 1940s Mr. Reed was a cartoonist for the now-defunct Dallas Journal. He was syndicated in more than 400 newspapers across the United States and Europe. Off the Record and Three Bares were two of Mr. Reed’s many cartoons. Mr. Reed was a native of Paris and earned an art degree from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He started at the Journal after college. He retired during the mid-1980s and moved to Europe. Funeral: Monday at St. Saviour’s Catholic church in Broadway, England Survivor: Wife Mary Anne Reed of Broadway. 
Reed was remembered in the Paris News, December 17, 1990. 


Further Reading and Viewing
Cartoon Success Secrets: A Tribute to Thirty Years of Cartoonist Profiles, Philip Hurd and Ed Reed photograph
Look, December 7, 1937,  Off the Record with Ed Reed 
Feature Funnies #19, April 1939
Feature Comics #24, September 1939 
Feature Comics #25, October 1939 
Feature Comics #29, February 1940 
Crack Comics #1, May 1940 
Crack Comics #3, July 1940 
Crack Comics #9, January 1941 

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Monday, August 08, 2022

 

Obscurity of the Day: Jobs of Sorghum Shortcake

 


Here's one from that wild and wacky back page of the Chicago Daily News, a daily page full of comics and gags when that wasn't even a thing yet. In 1906-07, the bullpen was home to someone who signed himself 'James'; he was a pretty good cartoonist, and he originated three different series during his brief tenure. Unfortunately I've never figured out what his full name might be.

One of those series was Jobs of Sorghum Shortcake (aka Li'l Sorghum), in which a black kid loses job after job due to an insatiable curiosity which lands him in hot water. This series ran sporadically from November 16 1906 to April 6 1907. It was 'James' last series. 

The second example is interesting in that it shows an odd affectation that was pretty common among the Daily News crew of those days. Word balloons were sparsely used, perhaps because the strips were printed awfully small, but when they were you'd often see the text underneath giving a whole different speech to the same character. It's odd and a little jarring to a modern reader.

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Sunday, August 07, 2022

 

Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael

 

Another Albert Carmichael postcard, this one from Taylor Pratt & Co series 568. This is one of the few from that series where a single gal is featured in the lonely spot. 

This card was postally used in 1910 (issued in 1909), and it was sent from one girlfriend to another -- apparently unattached as the sender added the caption "Such is Life" on the front.

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Saturday, August 06, 2022

 

Herriman Saturday: April 16 1910

 

April 16 1910 -- Sam Langford and Jim Barry met in the ring again, and again, Mister Barry became closely and painfully acquainted with the business end of Mr. Langford's gloves. One hopes that Jim Barry was at least well-paid to take these repeated drubbings.

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Friday, August 05, 2022

 

Obscurities of the Day: Woman's First Thought is Man and In Darktown

 


Here are a pair of obscurities I've been meaning to post for years and years, hoping for some help on an IDing question.

In Darktown ran sporadically in the New York Evening World from September 12 to December 29 1904*, usually as a panel, sometimes as a strip. It's your typical distasteful stereotyping of blacks, the sort of thing that was quite commonplace in papers of the era. The art on this feature, though, has a certain quality that impresses me. The series was signed with the name "Dalg".

Also by "Dalg", Woman's First Thought is Man ran six times in the period January 13 to March 13 1905 in the same paper. It's nothing greatly memorable as a series -- just strips about how women, supposedly supportive of their men, can be anything but. Been done many times before and many times since. This strip, despite the less than original hook, is written and drawn with an appealing style as well. 

These are two of a total of three series, all from late 1904 to mid-1905, carrying the signature "Dalg" (or is it "Salg"?). There are plenty of aspiring cartoonists that came and went not having left us their full names, but in this case, the guy was actually pretty good, and I'd love to credit his full name.

Of "Dalg"s three series, these two were for the New York Evening World, and one was for the Evening Telegram, so he was obviously a New Yorker shopping his wares around. Beyond that I can offer no clues. I can find a few people with the surname Dalgleish popping up in New York City papers at the right time, but none is identified as an artist. 

~~~~~

* There was one additional panel using this title, run on January 2 1905, by R.E. Leppert. Since the series does not use continuing characters but just a common theme, hard to say if Leppert piggybacked on the series or just happened to use the same title.

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Looking at that signature on certain DARKTOWN strips (see link) I'm thinking the initial letter might even be a "P."

https://bit.ly/3P7VaNz
 
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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ethel Hays



Ethel Maude Hays was born on March 12 or 13, 1892, in Billings, Montana. The Montana Birth Record, at Ancestry.com, had 12 as the birth day. The Social Security Death Index said 13. Hays’ parents were George Miller Hays and Jennie Jones, who married on November 19, 1886 in Minnesota.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Hays was the third of four siblings. The family of six plus a servant resided in Helena, Montana at 916 Eight Avenue. Hays’ father was employed at the Department of State Treasury. At some point the family moved to Billings.


During 1908, Hays was mentioned in the Billings Gazette newspaper. 

The Hays family were Billings residents, at 421 Terry Avenue, in the 1910 census. Hays’ father was a bank cashier.


On Yellowstone Valley Woman, Virginia Bryan wrote 
Ethel had two aunts who recognized and nurtured her artistic talent. In 1911, they encouraged Ethel to study at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. Once there, Ethel received a scholarship to the Art Students League of New York. 
Hays was mentioned three times in one sentence of The Graphic, June 21, 1913: 
In the last week two leading art schools in Los Angeles have been holding exhibitions of pupils’ work. The College of Fine Arts, U. S. C., held its annual display Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the Los Angeles Schoo! of Art and Design, at Sixth and Alvarado, exhibited Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The work of students at the School of Art and Design is always of interest and while the collection this year is not so large as usual I am inclined to think that it is selected with great care and shows a healthy progress in artistic perception, The studies all show earnest, painstaking effort. The aim of the school is the practical as well as the beautiful and the instructors strive to point out the great truth that the real can never be successfully divorced from the ideal. The classes have been particularly successful in their work in design and many strong, well-considered plates are shown. Honor students in various branches are as follows: oil painting, S. Sasaki, Y. Hiaao, Miss F. Schilling, and Mrs. E. Kohler; drawing, Mrs. Grace B. Stuvert, S. Ito, and W. Crawford; pen and ink, Ethel Hays; design, Vera Barrett; anatomy, Ethel Hays; normal work, Mrs. Robbins; perspective, Ethel Hays.
The June 20, 1914 issue of The Graphic said 
Careful selection and artistic arrangement characterize the annual exhibition of pupils’ work at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design, which was held Friday and Saturday of last week. Many well-considered studies from life were shown which reflected much credit on pupils and teachers alike. The work of two graduates who will go abroad to seek careers deserves special mention. The oil canvases by Seijiro Sasaki have the touch of the professional and indeed are worthy to be hung in any art collection. The pen-and-ink illustrations by Ethel Maude Hays are excellent and no better work along this line is being done in the west today.
American Art News, June 13, 1914, also mentioned Hays.
The Los Angeles School of Art and Design held its 27th Annual Reception and Exhibition June 12–13. The standard of the students’ work was exceptionally high, showing a training which is fundamentally strong and thorough as evidenced in the variety of work shown in life, composition, illustration, landscape, modeling, anatomy, perspectives and the department of Normal Art. The work of S. Sasaki in painting, Ethel Hays in illustration, May Mott-Smith and Ora Pierce in sculpture, call for special commendation. S. Sasaki has been awarded a scholarship. Hamilton A. Wolf, of New York City, is one of the faculty of this school.
Hays’ life drawings were included in The Art Students’ League of New York Season 1918–1919

The New Britain Herald (Connecticut), May 13, 1914, was one of many newspapers that published the story about Hays the “Perfect Woman”
The perfect woman, the American Venus, has been found. The discoverer is Hamilton Wolf, a New York artist and son of a New York artist, Henry Wolf. The American Venus is Miss Ethel Hays, the daughter of a Billings banker, and only three years out of school. She also is an artist with dreams of a career. Her discoverer is putting her on canvas and the painting is to be exhibited in the Paris Salon if the genius of the enthusiastic painter can win a place in the line.

Hamilton Wolf is living in Los Angeles just now, and here is his critical judgment of the American Venus:

“Every line, from the graceful wave of her hair to the curve of her ankle, is perfect. The broad shoulder, the broad, undulating waist, the long lines of arm and leg, all mark her as the prototype of the woman who posed for the Venus de Milo.”

Miss Hays was graduated from the Billings high school three years ago. She is now twenty-one years old, determined to make a name for herself. While in school she was the mainstay of the school publication's art department, and after graduating followed the advice of friends who saw possibilities in her work and decided on a career of art. As the scene of her work she selected Los Angeles.

That is how she became acquainted with Hamilton Wolf, how she became his pupil, and later his model.

Like other artists, Wolf long had cherished an ambition to find and paint the perfect woman. It was to be his masterpiece. Where was she to be found?

Then, one day, she came and work on “Woman” was begun. The artist settled down to a long grind, and in a few weeks or months, according as his temperament and physical power permit, “Woman” will be on her way to Paris.

“I hope to paint a picture which, before it is sent to the salon, will make our naturally beauty loving people realize how far from the great ideals of the masters they have strayed,” says the sanguine artist. “I have drawn Miss Hays from every angle in merciless black and white—and she stands the test.”

But Miss Hays herself takes her beauty less seriously than Wolf, and seems to regard the fact that she is hailed as the one perfect woman of less consequence than her work and progress in her chosen field.

“I feel art is the greatest of all things,” she wrote in a recent letter to a friend. “I believe an artist is at once the happiest and unhappiest person in the world. The happiness comes from the knowledge and indulgence of a creative power, and the unhappiness from knowing that absolute perfection is never attained.”

“Miss Hays might almost be called a genius,” declares Wolf. “She has everything at her command—love of beauty, humor and the quality of taking definite pains, which Carlyle says is genius. She can sketch for hours in a dusty studio, depicting the streams and hills of nature’s great outdoors; she can trace with wonderful exactness the lines of the human body, and can turn from that to evolve a cartoon possessing an instantaneous appeal.”

“Woman,” with which Wolf hopes to capture Le Grand Prix at the Paris Salon, will represent the utmost in femininity, according to its creator. Although idealistic in every line, it will but portray the perfection of Miss Hays.

“Miss Hays's body is almost inconceivably perfect in construction,” says Wolf. “It is just eight times the height of her head, her closely and delicately modeled ears are exactly even with the top and bottom of her nose, her neck is just the right proportion—every feature is in perfect harmony. Look at the space between her eyes—equal to the breadth of one eye! The fine line of her brows, the masculine strength of her chin, feminized by the soft moulding, the finely chiseled nostrils and the swelling of the throat recall visions of marbles seen in the great museums and galleries o the continent.

“Her superb physical condition can be attributed largely to the exercise she has taken in the bracing mountain air of Montana. She walked, where we of the more crowded centers ride. People today do not walk enough—even the doctor, preacher of health, if he has three blocks to go takes a car or cranks up his machine. We ride, ride, all the time, and some day we'll lose the use of our legs, like a fish in the waters of a cave loses its eyesight. Miss Hays walked, and as a result her body is absolutely symmetrical, strongly but gracefully muscled and suffused with the glow of perfect health.”

No bothersome rules of diet worry Miss Hays. She eats what she likes, in moderation—she has never followed any complex rule of diet, exercise or "beauty" culture. Early in life it was impressed on her that health is largely a matter of appetite, and about the same time her father impressed the value of moderation.

“These,” she says, "have been my governing rules—eat and exercise in moderation. I take long walks and practice deep breathing, but I believe every woman who has regard for her health now does that.”

Wolf went to Los Angeles about a year ago and since then has painted portraits of many prominent Los Angeles citizens.

Miss Hays will finish her present course next June. Later she will go east for a year’s work in New York and Boston before continuing her studies in Europe. 

Miss Hays is the daughter of George M. Hays, assistant state treasurer of Montana from 1897 to 1901 and state treasurer from 1902 to 1905.
According to the 1920 census, commercial artist Hays was counted in her parents’ household. They lived in Billings at 607 31st Street North. Hays’ father was a bank vice-president. 


Hays was a guest at West Point’s Easter hop according to the Army and Navy Journal, April 6, 1918. 
The Easter hop was especially enjoyed because there have been so many weeks without any social pleasures whatever during the long quarantine. The beautiful weather over the weekend also added materially to the enjoyment of the many weekend guests who were here. The hotel was crowded, and there were many guests visiting officers’ families. ...

... Major and Mrs. Matheson’s guests for the hop and week-end were Miss Ethel Hays, of New York, and Miss Annabel Arnott, of the National Cathedral School at Washington; Miss Dorothy Chapple, who is a student at the same school and is spending her Easter vacation with Major and Mrs. Matheson. ...
Hays enlisted in the Army on January 29, 1919 and was discharged on May 27, 1920, according to her veteran’s file which was transcribed at Ancestry.com. The History of the World War Reconstruction Aides (1933) stated specific dates of Hays’ service. 
Served at Camp Lewis, January 1919 to July 1919. Fitsimmons, July 1919 to May 1920. Johnson City, Tenn., November 1921 to June 1923. Dayton, Ohio, October 1924 to November 1924. 
The New Britain Herald, August 1, 1928, explained how Hays served and later drawn into newspaper work. 
... Then the war came. Ethel had suspected for a long time that there was something bigger in the world than painting blue iris in crystal bowls, and now she knew. She dropped her paint brushes, enrolled in a Red Cross course; passed her examinations, obtained her passport, and was all set for Europe. She went home to tell the folks good-bye. While home she saw a newspaper pica for art instructors for government hospitals.

It wasn’t because Ethel feared mal de mer, but because she saw here a chance to help win the war and also stay right on in her own field that she switched from Red Crossing to art instructor for Uncle Sam.

The Chuckle Girl

Then began her six years of work as aide to Uncle Sam. They called these girls who taught the soul-sick body-sick veterans how to draw and who made funny cartoon posters for hospital wards, “Uncle Sam’s Chuckle Girls.” And Ethel Hays’ “Chuckle Girl” was most famous of all. At Camp Lewis and government hospitals at Denver, Johnson City, Tenn., and Dayton, O., she taught and entertained sick soldier boys. And by the time this work was ended she knew without a doubt that she had found her line funny pen and ink drawings, featuring the modern American girl. Meanwhile she took a correspondence course in drawing. [Who's Who in Northwest Art (1941) said Hays took the Landon Course in cartooning.] 

The director of this correspondence art school knew the editor of The Cleveland Press. He showed some of Ethel’s drawings to him. Within an hour the editor had talked with Miss Hays on the phone at the government hospital in Dayton, where she was finishing up her war work, and asked her how soon she could begin work with The Press.

Months afterward Ethel confessed that she thought she was being offered a lay-but job, meaning a touching up of photographs and a making of borders for them.

But she came. Within a week the whole city knew Ethel. She and a girl reporter did a picture feature stunt a day. They interviewed and a “drew” every celebrity who came to town. They climbed church steeples and went down in diving suits. They rode speed boats and broke ice in the lake in order to go in swimming. Ethel’s girl drawings were a city fixture.

NEA Service realized that here was something more than a local stunt. This girl artist, they knew, had a universal understanding of human nature, its griefs and joys, its high spot’s and low spots, which is why today Ethel’s pictures, her “Flapper Fanny” and her larger drawing or some phase of human experience at its funniest, and her gorgeous color Sunday magazine pages are seen by millions of people daily.
Another version of Hays’ service was featured in Editor & Publisher, October 4, 1924. 


The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), December 29, 1925, reported Hays’ marriage. 
Plymouth Congregational church was the scene yesterday of a very quiet wedding when Miss Ethel Maude Hayes [sic] of Cleveland, Ohio, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George M. Hayes of Billings, Mont., and sister of Mr. George M. Hayes, Jr., 3214 Colfax avenue south, became the bride of Mr. William Sims [sic], of Kansas City. The Rev. Harry P. Dewey read the service, with only close friends and relatives present. Evergreens, palms and ferns decorated the chancel of the church for the ceremony. The bride, who was given in marriage by her brother, Mr. George M. Hayes, Jr., wore a straight line gown of brown chiffon velvet with satin to match. She carried an arm bouquet of orchids. Mr. Sims, who met his bride at the altar, was unattended. Mr. and Mrs. Sims left immediately after the ceremony for Kansas City where they will make their home. Sunday evening, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes entertained with a bridal dinner at the University club for the young couple. 
This was the second marriage for Hays’ husband who had married Ida Marie Walbert (1893–1968) on July 30, 1913 in Jackson County, Missouri. On their son’s 1916 birth certificate was Ida’s occupation, artist retoucher. Simms’ World War I draft card said he had two children. In the 1920 census, he was a “widower”.

Editor & Publisher, October 1, 1927, reported Hays’ contract with NEA. 
Ethel Hays, artist, has signed a new long term contract with NEA Service, Inc. In addition to continuing her Flapper Fannies” and “Ethel” cartoons, she will also draw a cover each week for the forthcoming NEA Sunday magazine. A little less than three years ago, Miss Hays became connected with NEA. Previously she had been an artist on the Cleveland Press.
The Tarrytown Daily News (New York), May 23, 1928, published the Hays profile, “The Artist Who Made the Flapper Famous”. 


American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Hays produced Flapper Fanny from January 26, 1925 to March 20, 1930; the series was continued by continued by Gladys Parker and Sylvia Sneidman. Ethel ran from March 5, 1925 to 1934. Hays’ third and last NEA series was Marianne starting around February 1936 to December 26, 1937. The series was handed over to Virginia Krausmann. For the Christian Science Monitor, Hays drew Manly Manners which was written by Ruth Crowther. The series debuted November 8, 1938 and ended October 5, 1940.

Image found in 2014, publication date not stated

During the 1930s Hays illustrated several short stories published in Sunday newspapers. 

The 1930 census said Hays, her husband, stepson William, daughters Barbara and Dorothy, and a nurse were living in Kansas City, Missouri at 5418 Westover Road. Hays’ husband was an insurance underwriter. 


The address was the same in the 1940 census which said commercial artist Hays had four years of college. 


By 1940 Hays left syndicated work and turned to illustrating children’s books for Saalfield and other publishers. Her books include Rumpelstiltskin (1938); The Three Bears (1938); ABC Book (1940); Baby’s Book (1940); Biggest and Best Coloring Book (1940); My Tracing and Coloring Book (1940); Mother Goose (1941); The Night Before Christmas (1941); Little Black Sambo (1942); The Little Red Hen (1942); The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1942); The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (1942); The Goody-Good Book of Stories (1943); Quack, Quack (1943); Red, Yellow, Blue and Green (1943); Animal Book to Color (1944); Bob and Betty Paper Dolls (1945); Dot Book (and Henry Muheim, 1945); Baby’s Treasure Book of Words (1946); The Cat That Would Be King (1946); Cleety the Clown’s Coloring Book (and Henry Muheim, 1946); Raggedy Ann’s Own Coloring Book (1946); Poco and the Parrot (1947); Raggedy Ann’s Mystery (1947); Raggedy Ann at the End of the Rainbow (1947); Raggedy Ann and the Slippery Slide (1947); Puzzle Pages, Book 1 (1948); ABC Coloring Book (1952); Little Bear’s Coloring Book (1954); and Fun with Phonics (1961)

In The Pictus Orbis Sambo (1998), Phyllis Settecase Barton said
… Mary Young, author of Paper Dolls and Their Artists (1975), told the author that Ethel said to her during a 1970s telephone interview: “The favorite story that I illustrated was The Cat That Would Be King.” 
Around 1948 Hays and her husband moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their address in the 1950 census was 444 East Coronado Road. They were listed in the 1949 and 1951 city directories. The 1952 directory is not available but they were Santa Fe residents that year according to the Kansas City Star which reported the marriage of their daughter, Dorothy. Hays was not in the 1953 directory.


In the mid-1960s Hays and her husband moved to Mesa, Arizona. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona), July 2, 1972, published his obituary. 
Mesa—Mr. William C. Simms, 80, a retired insurance man who came to Mesa seven years ago from Santa Fe, died Friday at Mesa Lutheran Hospital. 

Mr. Simms. 5354 E. Dodge, was born in Kansas City, Kan. He was a World War I Army veteran and a Mason and Shriner. 

Survivors include his wife, Ethel, of Mesa; two sons, William and Preston, both of Santa Fe: two daughters, Mrs. William Spink of Cos Cob, Conn., and Mrs. Del Kath of Van Nuys, Calif.; a sister. Mrs. Huldah Simms of Phoenix, and another sister out of state; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Services will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow at M. L. Gibbons Mortuary, 9702 E. Apache Trail. Mesa. Private cremation will follow. 
Hays passed away on March 19, 1989, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. An obituary appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican, March 21, 1989. 
Simms, Ethel Hays, 67—A resident of Santa Fe, passed away Sunday morning, March 19th at her home. She was born March 13, 1893 at Billings, Montana, the daughter of George and Jennie Hays. She trained at the Art Students League in New York, followed by a life long career in commercial art and as a syndicated newspaper artist for Hearst Publications.

During the 1920s she illustrated the “Flapper Fanny” cartoon series. Originally living in Kansas City, Missouri, she moved to Santa Fe in 1948. During her retirement years she painted numerous portraits of Indians of the Southwest. She was active in the Santa Fe Altrusa Club and served for several years as a volunteer at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Coy Simms in 1972. 

Survivors include her two sons: Preston W. Simms and wife Marion of Santa Fe, and William C. Simms and wife Helen of Templeton, California; two daughters: Barbara Simms Spink and husband Bill of Santa Fe, and Dorothy Simms Kath and husband Delbert of Megilto, California; and 7 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Cremation taken place in Santa Fe and a Memorial Service and burial will take place at a later date in Billings, Montana. Arrangements an under the direction of McGee Memorial Chapel, 1320 Luisa, 963-9151.
Hays was laid to rest at Mountview Cemetery


Further Reading
Hogan’s Alley, Ethel Hays, Pioneering Female Cartoonist
The Comics Journal, The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age


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Monday, August 01, 2022

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Flapdoodles

 




Per Ruse, who created comics under the Americanized pen name Pete Hansen, is one of my guilty pleasures. Even in the 1970s, when male bigotry was still a popular sport, I imagine even a chauvinist pig like Bobby Riggs would have flinched a little at Hansen's horribly sexist comic strip about a dippy blonde bombshell secretary, Lolly. But Lolly ran in my hometown paper, and I have to admit, though it sometimes made me almost as uncomfortable as Andy Capp's wife-beating episodes, something about the art and style was so darn appealing that I read it religiously every day. 

The same would not have been true of Flapdoodles, Hansen's first comic strip. The art style is already coming into focus, but the crushing boredom of domineering wife gags practically every day, over and over and over ... my gosh, doesn't Bringing Up Father pretty much have that subject sewed up? As best I can tell from the relatively small number of Flapdoodles strips I was able to force myself to read, this seems to be about the sum total of the strip.

Evidently the King Features salesmen knew dirty secrets about enough editors to nudge this stinker over the brink as a launchable feature. The title was originally going to be The Noodles, but was changed shortly before the launch to Flapdoodles. The launch was supposed to have been on September 12 1949*, but perhaps due to the name change, it was pushed back to October 10 1949**. It was a daily-only strip, giving readers a well-deserved day off from it on Sundays.

King Features is notorious for sticking with a strip to the bitter end, and they stuck by Flapdoodles for four years, which may qualify the syndicate editor for sainthood. The strip was finally put out of its misery on September 12 1953***. Less than a year later Hansen would launch the much more successful Lolly through a different syndicate.

 

* Source: Editor & Publisher, 8/27/1949.

**Source: Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph

*** Source: Ottawa Evening Citrizen

 

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Your line about launching the feature made me laugh a lot harder than any of these strips did!
 
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Sunday, July 31, 2022

 

Wish You Were Here, from Phil May

 

Davidson Brothers, an English firm, put out a memorial series of postcards featuring works by the late great Phil May. The reverse says this is series #6076, but that number actually appears to be a code for this particular card in the series. 

This card was posted to a recipient in the town of Abertilly, Wales, by someone who was, based on the message, regularly trading postcards with a friend. Abertilly is today a village of about 4,000 residents, but back when this was posted (apparently around 1907) it would have been a booming mining town of 20,000 or more.

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Hello Allan-
Phil May was a very highly regarded cartoonist in late Victorian times. I have a circa 1898 deck of cards for a Yellow Kid game of some kind. They all depict him going through Europe, and one has the Kid visiting Phil May, happily sitting in his lap as May tells him a story.
 
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Saturday, July 30, 2022

 

Herriman Saturday: April 15 1910

 

April 15 1910 -- The belongings of a married woman don't amount to much in 1910, it seems.

A man brings lawsuit against a hotel, because his wife's expensive furs were stolen during their stay. The opposing legal team brings up an important point -- does the husband actually have the right to bring suit when the clothes stolen were not his but his wife's? The judge asks the man if he paid for his wife's clothes. Yes, is the answer. Did he specifically state to her that the clothes were given to her as gifts? No, is the answer. The judge rules then that the clothes belong to the husband, not the wife, and he is within his rights to bring suit. His better half merely wears those things, while ownership stays squarely with the purchaser.

While the newspapers play up the anti-feminist aspect of this ruling, in fact, says legal scholar 'Stripper' Holtz, that judge in 1910 seems like he was on solid ground. Feminism, suffrage, women's rights, etc., just don't enter into the calculus of this situation, one in which merely the ownership of an article is determined by who paid for it.

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Friday, July 29, 2022

 

Obscurity of the Day: Grandma and her Little Black Blossoms

 

The popular comic strip Foxy Grandpa was about a jolly old codger and his young nephews. The typical plot of the strip was that the nephews would try to pull a trick on Foxy Grandpa, but he'd outsmart them and turn the gag right back on them. 

Like most popular strips, Foxy Grandpa inspired imitators, and today we have one that recasts the characters as black, and grandpa is changed to a grandma. Because it ran as a small quarter-page strip, the gags were simplified such that the kids don't get to plan a trick -- grandma just plays a trick on them unprovoked. Grandma and her Little Black Blossoms ran occasionally in the Boston Globe Sunday comics section from November 1 1903 until January 31 1904*. The creator was James J. Maguinnis, who offered up quite a few forgettable series for the Globe in the 1900s.


* Source: Dave Strickler's Boston Globe index

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Hello Allan-
Were the Boston Globe's cartoons syndicated at all in these earlier years? I've understood the tried maybe in the 1930s, but if they did, it was a feeble effort.
 
Good question. Looking at my own collection, the earliest Billy the Boy Artist I have in another paper is not until 1941. But then for good measure I checked Fatty Spilliker and what should I find but that it was appearing in the Indianapolis Sentinel in 1904.

So pathetic as the effort was, yes, they were shopping their wares around!

--Allan
 
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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

 

Early Eddie Eks Cartoon

 


Eddie Eksergian's cartooning career prior to 1901 is pretty much a blank for me; it was that year that he published his first series with both the McClure Syndicate, based in New York, and World Color Printing, based in St. Louis. But those are series cartoons, and those were the exception rather than the rule in those days. Above is a one-shot cartoon I recently found in the Sunday section of the New York Herald for November 14 1897, over three years before he'd pen his first series cartoon,when Eddie was just 24 years old. 

Eddie was living in Brooklyn at this time, so it's not surprising that he was shopping cartoons around at the New York papers. His trademark zaniness is not in evidence; this cartoon is a pointed little political barb about women's suffrage, made theoretically funny because the giver and receivers are both little kids. 

The circumstances shown in the cartoon are a mystery -- it is supposed to occur the day after elections, but November 1897 was an off-year. The only important election in New York that year was for a judgeship, and my research doesn't seem to indicate that suffrage was an issue in it. It doesn't even seem to refer back to the 1896 presidential election, as McKinley was famously silent on the suffrage issue, and his wife was very much for it. So what election this cartoon refers to I cannot say.


Comments:
I'll look a bit more, but the previous fortnight (November 3-6), there had been the annual womens' suffrage convention in upstate New York (Geneva, in the finger lakes region). The New York Times for November 6, 1897 has a paragraph on it. The November 7, 1897 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has a somewhat friendly account of Susan B. Anthony's speech there. I agree with you, though: I'm not finding any 1897 matters tied to womens' suffrage in the off-year elections.
 
It probably just means an ongoing situation, not soomething to comment on any particular contest. Eks was pretty bad in 1897- the figures are so out o proportion they look like they might be from two different cartoons. Look at the size of the boy's head compared to the girls.
 
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Monday, July 25, 2022

 

Selling It: Li'l Abner Cleans Up His Act


 

A lot of comic character marketing tie-ins make no sense to me (like our recently featured Dick Tracy ad for caramels...), but here we have a marriage made in heaven. If anyone needs a good laundry detergent, and will put it through a torture test, it's gotta be the denizens of Dogpatch.  

In June 1952, the good folks with Surf detergent paired up with Al Capp's characters for a $100,000 contest, where in order to win you just have to give Daisy Mae some magic words to say about the wonders of her detergent. It seems like a wonderful idea, but the weird part is that the newspaper campaign came and went in practically no time. Seems like for $100 grand (in 1952 dollars!) you'd want to  beat this contest's drum for months and months, but the whole thing seems to have come and gone in a month or even less. 

Weirder yet, after the contest was over, I could find only a single report about a Texas lady who won third prize. Her local paper showed the photo op of her getting the check. The Surf people put not one single dime into advertising the contest results, and if they did send out publicity releases, I can find not one single paper that ran them. So $100 large later, we never found out who won the $10,000 first prize, nor what honey-soaked words they'd written to win the contest. Can anyone find a source for the contest results somewhere?

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The October 24, 1952 edition of the Anderson Herald, in Anderson, Indiana carries an ad for the contest from a local retailer of washing machines, which also had a tie-in to the Surf contest. So it may have been ongoing for a bit more than a month.
 
Admittedly, "Li'l Abner" was practically known as "America's Favorite Comic Strip" in those days, but it must have been a surprise to readers of papers which did not carry "Abner" to see that Surf ad appear in their Sunday Comics Section. It ran in the June 15, 1952 New York Daily News... at that time, "Abner" was a highlight of the New York Mirror's comics section.
 
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Sunday, July 24, 2022

 

Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton

 

Grace Drayton's postcard series  for Reinthal & Newman (penned under her married name of Wiederseim) highlights her wicked sense of humour hidden behind a guise of cloying cuteness. This card is #112 in the series.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

 

Herriman Saturday: April 14 1910

 

April 14 1910 -- Tonight Sam Langford will meet Jim Barry in the squared circle yet again, and yet again, things will not turn out well for Mr. Barry. But this is 1910, and white vs. black boxing is very much on the mind of the newspaper-reading public, and so the Examiner throws some coverage at this non-event. Surely Mr. Barry, with such fine dimensions to his various body parts, can beat Mr. Langford? No, because body parts matter not so much in the face of the freight-train like force of Langford's punches.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: R.C. Harvey


Robert Charles Harvey was born on May 31, 1937, in Fargo, North Dakota, according to Contemporary Authors, Volume 151 (1996). Harvey was the first-born child of Charles Ernest Harvey and Ellen Elizabeth Morrill who married on November 19, 1932 in Fargo. A 1936 naturalization petition said Harvey’s father was born in Mansfield, England. He arrived in New York City on March 16, 1926. Census records show Harvey’s mother was Canadian. 

The 1940 U.S. Federal Census recorded Harvey and his parents in Fargo at 1005 1st Street North. Harvey’s father was an assistant credit manager at an oil company. On October 16, 1940, Harvey’s father signed his World War II draft card. His employer was the Standard Oil Company. The 1945 Fargo city directory had the same address. 


At some point the Harvey family moved to Edgewater, Colorado. The 1950 census said Harvey, his parents and four-year-old sister, Margaret, resided at 2437 Caton. 


The Denver Post (Colorado), March 23, 1953, profiled Harvey. 
Boy Invents New Comic Strip Hero
Edgewater has its own cartoonist. He’s Robert Charles Harvey, 15, of 2401 Lamar street, who has developed his own comic strip character, “Smokey Smith.”

Bob caught the attention of the managing editor of The Denver Post when the youngster bombarded the newspaper office with requests for originals from his favorite comic strip authors-artists. Each letter carries a colored sketch of “Smokey.”

Bob, a near-straight “A” sophomore at Edgewater high school, has a “studio” (a corner of his bedroom) decorated with original drawings from such big leaguers as Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon), George mcManus (Bringing Up Father) and V.T. Hamlin (Allie Oop). His bureau drawers are bulging with files of clips—gleanings for comic pages and books. 

Wants Own Strip

Young Harvey’s dream is to “someday have a strip of my own.” His idol at the moment is Caniff.

Bob began art work early. In first grade he won a poster contest. 

Bob uses colored inks, which he applies with brushes, using pens for straight black line work. 

“I find brush for black drawing is too slow,” he said. 

Bob, an Eagle Scout in troop No. 63 at Edgewater, is financing his trip next summer to the Boy Scout jamboree at Newport, Calif., with free lance art work around Edgewater and Lakewood. After high school he plans to attend the University of Colorado and, later, perhaps an art school.

Bob’s father, Charles E. Harvey, assistant credit manager of the Denver office of the Standard Oil company, is scoutmaster of his son’s troop.
Harvey was in the Denver Post, June 15, 1955. 
Edgewater Boy Gets CU Award
Robert C. Harvey, 17, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Harvey of 2401 Lamar St., Edgewater, has been awarded a scholarship to the University of Colorado by the U.C. Denver Area Alumni Assn., officials announced Wednesday. 

Harvey, who will major in journalism, was top student and valedictorian of this year’s graduating class at Edgewater high school. He was graduated with a straight “A” average for four years. 

Editor of the student newspaper during his senior year, he has been active on the student council and yearbook staff. He is an Eagle Scout and president of the youth group at All Saints Episcopal Church.
Harvey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in 1959. 

1959 Coloradan yearbook entry: Harvey, Robert Charles; Denver, Colo.; 
Arts and Sciences—Coloradan, layout editor; Colorado Daily, city editor, 
columnist; COGS, vice-president; CU Days, publicity chairman; Hue and 
Cry Magazine, cartoonist, editor; IFC; Sigma Delta Chi, president; 
Theta Xi, president; 1959 Pacesetter.

Harvey contributed his profile to The Comics Journal.
… He began cartooning at about the age of seven. He blamed his father: “A talented artist himself, my father used to draw Disney characters for me. Once I asked him to copy a cartoon character I saw in a comic book, and he, being busy at that moment, said: ‘Draw it yourself.' And so I did. And have been drawing by myself ever since, for over 77 years at the last accounting.”

Harv was the school cartoonist in high school and the campus cartoonist in college. In the Navy, he was the All-Navy Cartoonist one year, and the next, he was at sea, drawing cartoons in the monthly magazine of the USS Saratoga, a giant aircraft carrier, where he was otherwise occupied as disbursing officer. …
The Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Naval and Reserve, July 1, 1967, had Harvey’s service from March 3, 1960 to October 1, 1964. Harvey was a lieutenant. 

Harvey was an English teacher at Wyandotte High School, in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1964 to 1969. He obtained his Master of Arts degree at New York University in 1968. Ten years later Harvey earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Champaign. 

A marriage announcement appeared in the Globe-Gazette (Mason City, Iowa), January 19, 1971. 
To wed Jan. 31 
Riceville—Jan. 31 is the date chosen by Miss Linda Kubicek, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kubicek of Riceville, and Robert Harvey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Harvey of Denver, Colo. The ceremony will be in the Wesley Methodist Church at Urbana, Ill. The bride and her fiancé are employed by the National Council of Teachers of English ERIC [Educational Resources Information Center] Project at Champaign, Ill. 
They had twin daughters, Julia and Katherine. 

After five years of teaching, “Harvey joined the headquarters staff of the National Council of Teachers of English, where he served as convention manager for nearly 30 years.”

Harvey was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, National Cartoonists Society, Southern California Cartoonists Society, and Comic Art Professional Society. 


Harvey tried his hand at drawing gag cartoons for men’s magazines.  

Harvey’s first comics column began in the fall of 1973 for the weekly Menomonee Falls Gazette. Two years later, his Comicopia column debuted in number 130 of the Rocket’s Blast-ComiCollector. For RB-CC, he created the superhero, Zero Hero.

In March 1980, Harvey was a contributor to The Comics Journal starting in issue number 54 and continued regularly for over 40 years.

Harvey was an associate editor of the magazine, Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies

Harvey’s books include The Art of the Funnies: An Aesthetic History (1994); The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History (1996); Children of the Yellow Kid: The Evolution of the American Comic Strip (1998); The Genius of Winsor McCay (1998); A Gallery of Rogues: Cartoonists’ Self-caricatures (1998); Accidental Ambassador Gordo: The Comic Strip Art of Gus Arriola (2000); Milton Caniff: Conversations (2002); The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson (2003); Meanwhile: A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon (2007); and Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators (2014). 

Harvey passed away on July 7, 2022. 


Further Reading
R.C. Harvey, The Whole Sordid Story
The Comics Journal, Robert C. Harvey, Comics Chronicler, Critic, Cartoonist and Raconteur Dies at 85
Comic Book Resources, Comic Historian and Cartoonist RC Harvey Dies at 85
The Daily Cartoonist, Robert C. Harvey—RIP
Lambiek Comiclopedia


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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

 

Rest in Peace James Burnett Ivey

 


My dear friend Jim Ivey, age 97, died on July 14 2022. His death was not a great surprise as his health had been deteriorating steadily for the last few years. Still, when I got the call from his wonderful and devoted caregiver, Joy Lal, I was surprised. Mostly because Jim was a man of his word, and he promised me that he had 100 years in him. Jim’s father had lived to the age of 99, and Jim was certain that he was going to outdo his old man.

This will be in the nature of a tribute, but I cannot hope to list all of Jim Ivey’s myriad accomplishments. Instead, I offer some highlights from the life of an incredible man, and a few personal reminiscences of the man who accurately described himself as a “bon vivant and raconteur”, leaving out those honors and such as, once again in his words, “a mere bagatelle.”

Of course most anyone coming to this website knows that Jim Ivey was an accomplished and influential newspaper editorial cartoonist. In his career he served at that post on an astonishing four major newspapers: Washington Star, San Francisco Examiner, St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel. His claim to fame was that he eschewed the standard editorial cartooning elements of grease-pencil shading, and labeling all the characters and devices. His cartoons were very simply drawn, with a minimum of lines, no shading, and labels were used sparely. Ivey’s cartoons took their power from their simplicity, their immediacy, and the power of the ideas which never relied on old over-used tropes of the trade. Ivey trusted his ability to draw in order to be able to drop all those labels, and trusted the intelligence of his readers to follow along.

Ivey struck out in his own direction but also admonished other cartoonists to modernize their work as well. In a series of articles about European editorial cartoonists that ran in the magazine Freedom & Union, he showed that they were producing outstanding work that made most of their American counterparts look positively antique by comparison. Ivey’s outspoken opinions earned him a few enemies in the cartooning fraternity, but also helped to open the eyes of newspaper editors to the possibility that editorial cartoons didn’t have to look one particular old-fashioned way.

But that was only one of Jim Ivey’s important and lasting contributions to cartooning. At the same time that he was working to bring editorial cartoons out of the horse-and-buggy days, he was also fervently collecting the works of and celebrating the cartoonists of those bygone ages. His love for cartooning, and his desire to foster and share that love, led him in 1967 to open the very first art gallery devoted to displaying and selling original cartoon art. He opened The Cartoon Museum in Madeira Beach, Florida, and in its early years his emporium offered, for a token admission fee, a tour of the history of cartooning, featuring originals by all the masters of the form.

Ivey was no businessman, but even he couldn’t fail to see that The Cartoon Museum in its original form was not profitable. That’s when he got one of his few great money-making ideas. In addition to the gallery, he would offer current and vintage comic books as well. The mania for comic books was just starting to snowball, and he found that he could finance the part of The Cartoon Museum that he cared about by selling comic books to the kids and the new breed of collectors that were beginning to come on the scene.

It was a marriage made in heaven. Although Ivey disdained comic books, considering the vast majority of the art to be overblown and the stories ridiculous, they – as he would grumble – “paid the rent.” It is unclear how long the Cartoon Museum was open before it started featuring comic books, but if it was not the very first comic book store (a title supposedly held by The San Francisco Comic Book Company, opening in 1968), it didn’t miss that distinction by far.

In 1974, Jim Ivey took an idea that did already exist – the comic book convention – and put his own spin on it. He and several partners put on the first OrlandoCon (he had since moved himself and The Cartoon Museum to that city when he switched papers). The weekend get-together offered all the typical comic book convention fare -- a dealer room and a few fan-favorite comic book creators – but Ivey also invited editorial cartoonists, newspaper strip cartoonists, animators, in short, anyone who worked in the cartooning fraternity, and treated them all like royalty. He gave a cartoonists-only dinner and roast, and handed out the Ignatz Award (a gold brick) to living legends whose names were often completely unknown to most of the comic book fans in attendance.

OrlandoCon was singular in that it was run by a man who didn’t much care about comic books, but whose love for cartooning in general was unbounded. Because of that, he got amazing guests; people who would come because they knew that Jim would ensure them a good time. OrlandoCon stuck to those principals for an amazing twenty-one years, with Jim the heart and soul of every one. (Wikipedia suggests that there were two more than I recall, in 1995 and 1996, but I have no memory of them, and since I was usually running the admission gate in later years, I wonder if they really happened?).

Jim’s interest in the history of cartooning also led to a number of publications. Foremost among them is the book “Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs – The First Adventure Comic Strip”. Published in 1974 and a sales success, it showed that the adventure strip reprint book -- not even really a thing then -- was a viable genre, leading to many subsequent publishing ventures that made the great adventure strips accessible to comic strip fans, and thus fostering comic strip fandom in general.

Ivey also published the cartooning history magazine cARToon, later CartooNews, in the 1970s. The magazine offered a scattershot view of cartooning history, focusing on whatever Ivey happened to be excited by at the moment. Never a big sales success, those who did receive it were offered a mind-expanding view of cartooning history in each issue.

Another of Jim Ivey’s contributions to the literature of cartooning history happened one day at the Cartoon Museum. Jim was paging through a big stack of early Sunday comics tearsheets, looking for certain items that had been requested by a buyer. A pimply-faced teenager, a regular at the store, was in the midst of picking through the back issues of his favorite comic books. He stopped to look at the gorgeous old Sunday pages as Jim paged through them, and was immediate entranced. Jim being Jim, loving an audience, he told the kid a few stories about what newspaper comics were like back in the early days of the form. The kid was enraptured and asked question after question about these stupendously beautiful pages. When Ivey was finished picking through the big stack of comics, there was a stack for his buyer, but there was also another stack. Jim pointed at that extra stack with his cigar, saying “Sir,” – he called everyone 'sir' – “you need to cut back on that comic book habit of yours. This,” he said, stabbing at the pages with his ever-present stogie, “is the good stuff. You need to learn to appreciate it. Take these with you. My gift.”

Of course that teenager was me, and Jim had set me down a path that continues to this day, tracking down the history of newspaper comics. Jim was not one to be overly effusive, but he let me know, in his low-key way, that he was proud and delighted with the work I have done. And of course I am only one of a legion of kids who were taken under Ivey’s wing, counseled to look deeper at cartooning than superhero comics. With some it was the history aspect, for budding artists it was to open their eyes to all the various forms and genres of cartooning that were available to them. And who knows how many cartoonists owe their livelihood to him, because I haven’t even yet mentioned that Ivey taught thousands of kids the principles of cartooning. He loved to teach cartooning, and did so at the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, Crealde Art Center, and even in the aisles of the Cartoon Museum after business hours when no other venues were offered. One of his pet projects, an instructional book on cartooning tiled Graphic Shorthand, was finally completed and published when Jim was close to 90 years old.

I’ve talked about Jim’s accomplishments, but those who knew him will probably remember him best for his outsized personality. Jim was a born showman, loved to play the emcee, the raconteur, loved to tell jokes and laugh at the jokes of others. His infamous gruffness at The Cartoon Museum was a trademark, an act that made all of his customers want to be one of the select few he favoured. Everyone wanted to become one of the regulars who were greeted when they walked in with a loud and enthusiastic “How’s tricks, wildman?” or some similar line. The ultimate indulgence was to be invited to sit in at the never-ending penny ante card-game that probably ate up whatever profits Jim made (he was a devoted but consistently unlucky gambler). When I was finally invited, after being a Cartoon Museum regular for years, I made the mistake of winning a huge pot, and was never asked to sit in again.

Jim seemed able to maintain a positive attitude no matter what. He had a lot of misfortunes, setbacks and sorrows in his life, but you’d never know it from his demeanor. For instance, when the great mid-1990s ‘comics implosion’ happened, the Cartoon Museum, never much of a money-maker in the best of times, went way into the red. Jim unceremoniously closed its doors, sold off the stock for pennies on the dollar to another shop owner, and sold his house, which was burdened by a mortgage payment he could not afford. With the resulting small bankroll he rented a decrepit storefront and turned it into a used bookstore. Jim couldn’t afford an apartment in addition to the store rent, so he slept on a cot that he set up between the bookshelves each evening. Never one to bemoan his fate, Jim claimed to be delighted with the situation because he finally had time to read books all day long since there were so few customers to interrupt him.

When even that business proved unsustainable, Jim met an affable fellow who lived in a seedy apartment, and went in with him as a roommate, barely squeaking by on his small Social Security cheques. To help make ends met, Jim became a professional ‘clipper’ for me. I was very busy running a computer business in those days, and had mountains of bound volumes and other comic strip related stuff that I had no time to clip, sort and file. Jim took on the job of working through all that material, sort of a dream job for one so devoted to comic strip history.

But now I see I’m digressing. The point I was getting to is that Jim’s impressive career by no means left him living in a mansion, sipping cognac and smoking Cubans by the fireside. He richly deserved that, and would have greatly enjoyed it, but it was not to be. Jim’s last decade or so was spent living in spare rooms with friends (including me for a year), until the VA finally anted up and paid for a shared room at an assisted living facility. Despite him being a World War II Navy veteran (he served on a submarine in the Pacific), it was like pulling teeth even to get that. But Jim’s winning personality saw him through even there. When the woman who ran the facility, Joy Lal, decided a few years later to close it, she took two of her most favoured guests into her own home. One of them was Jim. Jim spent his final eight years with Joy, being cared for as his medical issues inevitably mounted up over the years. Even when Jim became a real handful, Joy was steadfast in her devotion to him.

At 97, Jim managed to outlive many of his countless friends, so Joy has decided not to have a funeral. Jim’s body has been cremated, and his ashes will be scattered at sea by the Navy, just as Jim wanted. If you knew Jim, or admired what he did in his life, please send a condolence card to Joy Lal. Knowing that other people cared for him will be an enormous help to her in dealing with the grief of losing her ‘Jimmy’. Her address is:

2770 Green Meadow Circle
Kissimmee FL  34741

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From 2007 to 2016 Jim produced a weekly comic strip page for Stripper's Guide that lasted for almost 400 installments. These one-page strips offer his viewpoint on all manner of topics, but often concentrates on a sort of informal meandering autobiography. The strips are tremendously entertaining, and a master class in minimalistic cartooning. On my new website (almost ready to go live), where posts can be sorted in proper order, you can read the entire series; just follow this link.  

In one of his final contributions, Jim offered up the ultimate in capsule autobiographies, his life in a single page:




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Well said Alan. I'm pulling together a celebration of life for Jim. If you are anyone is interested, they can send me their e-mail. (My e-mail can be found at craigzablo.com.) We are tentatively looking at one of the days of the last weekend in September since that is when O'Con was usually held. The location is TBD.

I'm surprised you didn't join in the card games more often. If one big win was all it took to be uninvited there wouldn't have been any players. ; )

Joy was an angel to Jim. Such a blessing.

Here's my write-up about Jim if anyone is interested. https://craigzablo.com/?p=30200

best,

Craig

 
I know/knew almost nothing of what you describe here. I just know/knew he was a hell of a nice guy to visit every time I was in town. We would sit and drink and smoke in his shop and swope stories of comic cons gone bye. That's how open and friendly he was.

 
I was an attendee at every Ocon, and a dealer with my friend Charlie Moffitt from 75-77, I also visited the Cartoon Museum as often as I could. Jim introduced me to many great cartoonist over the years, The last time I saw Jim he presented me with a beautiful cartoon that he had done for the St Petersburg Times in 1955. I will cherish it, and his friendship forever.
 
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