Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"Pop" Momand Profiled by Alex Jay

From the first week of Keeping Up With The Joneses, perhaps the first strip

Arthur Ragland "Pop" Momand was born in San Diego, California on May 15, 1887. His date of birth was recorded on his World War I and II draft registration cards, a 1925 passport application, numerous passenger lists, and in the Social Security Death Index. He was the first of five children born to Ragland, a Georgia native, and Anna, a Mississippi native. His brother, John Leslie, was born in California around 1888. Siblings Don Stuart (1891), Grace L. (1895), and Gertrude C. (1897), were all born in New York.

An August 1908 passenger list recorded Momand's return to New York, aboard the S.S. Floride, on the 19th; he had departed from Le Havre, France on the 8th. This trip may have been related to his study at the Julian Academy in Paris, France.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Momand was married to May Harding (her second marriage and nine years his senior) who had three teen-aged daughters. They had been married for three months and lived in Hempstead, Nassau, New York. His occupations were artist and painter. His mother and siblings lived in Manhattan. Momand's "Keeping Up with the Joneses" may have debuted in April 1913 in the New York Globe, the World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) and other newspapers (March 31 is my start date -- Allan).

The Moving Picture World profiled Momand in its September 11, 1915 issue on page 1809:
Arthur Momand's Cartoons

Right away a guy gets conspicuous—next thing you know he's in the moving pictures. That is what happened to Mr. McGinnis and his whole family in the daily-cartoon extravaganza "Keeping Up with the Joneses." So it is that this comic, which graces the pages of a big string of American dailies, is to appear on the Mutual Film Corporation's $8,000,000 program.

Arrangements have been completed with "Pop," father of the series, to put it into animated cartoons for release on the Mutual program. The Joneses matter will be animated by Harry Palmer, cartoonist for the Gaumont Company. Five hundred feet a week of this subject will be released on a split reel carrying an equal footage of "Seeing America First."

"Pop," as he signs his cartoons in the Associated Newspapers, is Arthur R. Momand, a newspaper artist of high repute. Mr. Momand was born in California along in 1888, before it became the fashion to brag about the climate down at San Diego. Shortly thereafter he brought his parents to New York. A few years later he was about to matriculate at Princeton when an editor got in the way and gave him a job. This was Henry Grant Dart, then art editor of the New York World. Mr. Momand stayed with the World seven years, there gaining a name as the maker of various series including "Mr. I. N. Dutch." 

Next Mr. Momand appeared on the staff of the Evening Telegram, where he created the series "Pazzaza." Success encouraged Mr. Momand to go abroad for study. He spent a year at the Julian Academy and there evolved his most human series of them all, "Keeping Up with the Joneses." This series is now running in about 150 daily newspapers in the United States and Canada. It deals in the most cheerful sort of way with the most intimate foibles of American family life. But why analyze and be serious. Look at it and laugh.

(Two "Keeping Up with the Joneses" animated cartoons and a book can be viewed and downloaded at the Internet Archive, enter "Momand" in the search box.)

The Hamilton Daily News (Ohio) published Momand's account of his life on October 7, 1921:
'Keeping Up With Joneses' Keeps Pop Momand Busy

Here's what Pop Momand, creator of "Keeping Up With the Joneses," appearing in the Daily News Comic page daily, has to say for himself:

"I gave my first yell in San Diego, Cal., on the night of May 15, 1888 [sic]. Unlike most Native Sons, I haven't yelled much about California since. At a tender age my parents moved to Houston, Tex., where I understand my father tried to make some real money in real estate. About the only thing I remember in connection with Houston is getting a licking for running off and riding on a 'flying jinny," which, above the Mason Dixie line is known as a merry-go-round. From Texas my fond parents made a big jump, and the next thing I remember in life is a flock of cable cars, elevated trains and hansom cabs. Also a large quantity of human beings walking up and down a street called Broadway.

"Shortly after this my father evidently decided it was time I learned who discovered America and who won the battle of Bull Run, and many other things so necessary to a complete education. So I was sent to school, where I didn't cover myself with much glory, but certainly did cover my books with queer looking pictures. The family wanted me to become a prominent lawyer, but I fooled 'em and rapidly became a very poor artist.

"When about eighteen, I met Harry Grant Dart, then art editor of the New York World, who said if I cared to become a "regular artist" he would give me a job. I jumped at his offer and started on the magnificent salary of $6 per week. He was very kind and through his efforts and instruction I was soon making $30 per week. [If Momand was 18 at the time, the year would have been 1905.]

"For about eight years I did regular newspaper stuff—everything from making borders for photographs to sporting cartoons for the sports page. At last I hit upon "Keeping Up With the Joneses," began to make some "real money," and also began to "keep up with the Joneses" myself.

"That was nine years ago, and Aloysius P. McGinnis and his family are still going strong."
The date of Momand's divorce from Mary is not known. According to an August 1927 passenger list, Momand and Mayo Deason arrived in New York, from Cherbourg, France, on the 15th. On June 4, 1928 Momand married Deason, a Clara City, Minnesota native, at the Town Hall (Rathaus) in Lucerne, Switzerland, as recorded in the United States Consular Reports of Marriages.

The New York Times reported Momand's passing on December 5, 1987.

Arthur R. Momand, Comic Strip Artist, Dies

Arthur R. Momand, an artist and creator of the comic strip "Keeping Up With the Joneses," died Nov. 10 at the Mary McClellan Hospital in Cambridge, N.Y. He was 101 [sic; 100] years old and lived in a nursing home at the hospital.

Mr. Momand, who was born in San Diego, attended the Trinity School in New York City and began his career as a sketch artist for The New York World in 1907 [sic; 1905].

In 1916 [sic; 1913], he created "Keeping Up With the Joneses," a comic strip parody of American domestic life, which was eventually syndicated in several hundred newspapers in the United States and abroad. After discontinuing the comic strip in 1945 [sic; the strip ended on April 16, 1938.], Mr. Momand, who was known as "Pop," worked as a portrait painter in Manhattan.

He is survived by a nephew, Anthony V. Lynch, of Shushan, N.Y., and two nieces, Keiron Jesup of New Canaan, Conn., and Virginia, of Staten Island.

The New York Times has ideas about the origin of the idiom (1 and 2) of Keeping up with the Joneses.

Some of Momand's fine art work and sketchbook pages can be viewed at Mark Lawson Antiques.

Farewell from Keeping Up With The Joneses, April 16 1938


Hello---I did a search of several major newspapers, 1875-1910,for the expression "Keeping up with the Joneses" and there was nothing. Now I read Momand's own account, and he discusses how he invented the phrase. Thanks to Alex Jay for finally establishing the origin of the phrase!---Cole Johnson.
I would like to reprint this strip in a book I am doing. Do you know if a copyright exists on it? And who I would have to contact? - doug
In the past years the internet has coughed up some more info on Pops. His first wife was May Madeline Lincoln Harding. They married on 19 Feb 1910> His 1917 WW1 draft registration shows that he is still married. Neither of them can be found in the 1920 census - and his step-daughters and step-son have all married and in their own households by 1920. He is living with his mother in the 1925 census. May died on the 11 March 1942 (born 27 September 1873). The 1940 census has Pops and his second wife Mayo living next door to Ralf Armstrong Mayo died on 24 of March 1983, while she and Pops were living in a skilled nursing home. Lots of interesting stories about his family - his sister Grace was described as a Southern Belle, who came from an old Southern family when she married her first millionaire husband. His brother, John "Leslie" attended a bridal party, and Leslie and the bride eloped from the party. Brother died young in 1931, leaving his family with a 1/3 million in depression dollars. Other brother became a wealthy chemist, living in Brazil and then the UK. No wonder Pops kept trying to keep up the Joneses!

Hello, I have a signed portrait of my great aunt done by Arthur R. Momand dated 1914.. It was given to me by my grandfather. Her name was Claire and she was an actress in New York City. She died of pneumonia at age 27 after diving in the Hudson River for a movie scene. I love this portrait and only today researched the artist. It all fits and the signature is quite clear. It is beautiful and a cherished family heirloom. Is any of his work available for sale? Curious as to the value.
Jacquelyn Button
Jacquelyn Button
The Armenian Museum of America, in Watertown MA, has one of Momand's works in their permanent collection. A portrait 'Spanish Dancer' of Adrina Otero (1908-1987), a professional dancer active in New York and Europe in the 1920s to the 1960s, and daughter of the noted opera singer Madame Zabelle Panosian.
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