Saturday, March 05, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Monday, January 13 1908 -- Herriman contributes an editorial page cartoon about a problem that has plagued law enforcement from time immemorial -- jail overcrowding.


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Friday, March 04, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: William F. Marriner

William F. Marriner was born in Kentucky in March 1873, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. He and his wife, Arline, had been married for three years; his occupation was "artist/picturer". The couple lived with her mother, Mary E. James, the head of the household, at 207 West 95th Street in Manhattan, New York City. In the 1880 census there was a "Willie F. Marriner". If this child was the cartoonist then he was the third of four children born to William and Lucy. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

Marriner's work and home addresses were listed in American Art Directory, Volume 3 (1900), on page 91: 53 West 24th St., New York, NY; h. 207 W. 95th St. He belong to the Blue Pencil Club which was made up of newspaper writers and artists. They published the monthly, Blue Pencil Magazine. Marriner's drawings can be found in the issues dated March 1900 (self-portrait), September 1900, May 1901, and September 1901. (Google "blue pencil magazine" to download the free PDF.) He was one of nine cartoonists who contributed illustrations to the book, Toothsome Tales Told in Slang, published in 1901 by Street and Smith.

In the World Encyclopedia of Comics, Volume 4, Rick Marschall wrote about Marriner's career:
From 1902 to 1905 he worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York World (briefly) and T.C. McClure's Syndicate...

His first comic was Foolish Ferdinand…Mary and Her Little Lamb was another, longer running feature, and Sambo and His Funny Noises ran until Marriner's death….

Marriner's most enduring and engaging effort, however, was Wags, the Dog That Adopted a Man. It...ran from 1905 to 1908, with reprints years thereafter by boiler-plate syndicates.
[Allan's note: Marschall has some facts wrong; Marriner's first series was The Centaurs in 1898, and he worked for the Inquirer 1900-06 and McClure briefly in 1901, and then 1905-14. He also worked for Hearst and appeared in the short-lived Chicago Chronicle comic section]

Another excellent book, covering Marriner's career, is John Canemaker's Felix: The Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat (Da Capo Press, 1996), pages 27 to 31.

Marriner passed away on October 9, 1914. The New York Tribune published two articles on his death. On October 10: 

Mystery in Death of Artist in Fire

Shot Heard Before House Burst into Flames—Police Seek Burglars.

Hackensack, N.J., Oct. 9 — The fact that a shot was fired just before the home of William Marriner, an artist, at Harrington Park, burst into flames at 3 o'clock this morning, led County Detective Blauvelt of Hackensack, to make an investigation.

The artist's body was found in the ruins of his home burned almost beyond recognition. It was near the front door. The authorities think that Marriner, who was alone at the time, may have interrupted a burglar and was shot. It was accepted as strange that his hat and handkerchief were found in the roadway near his home.

Walter Bogert, who owns the house that was burned, gave two strokes on the fire alarm, but as the signal is seven strokes the firemen did not respond.

The residence was valued at $6,000. Mrs. Marriner had been visiting relatives in New York City with her son. A neighbor hurried to notify her. Marriner was said to have been employed on "The Cosmopolitan Magazine."

And on October 11: 

Told of Arson Threat

Sleuths Say Dead Artist Planned to Burn Village.

Hackensack, N.J., Oct. 10 — County Detectives W.V.A. Blauvelt and John W. Courter, of Hackensack, after an investigation of the death of William Marriner, a magazine artist, whose charred body was found in the ruins of his summer home at Harrington Park yesterday, are of opinion that Marriner died a firebug and a probable suicide. The detectives base their conclusion on an interview with Carl Hoberman, a neighbor of Marriner, late last night.

"Marriner was under the influence of liquor on Thursday afternoon, after a visit to Westwood, and when I stopped to speak to him he remarked: 'If my wife doesn't come home tonight, I'll burn my house and the whole village.' " Hoberman told the detectives.

County Physician Samuel E. Armstrong of Rutherford, who ordered the investigation, says he now feels satisfied that the artist was not a murder victim.
A selection of Marriner's series have been covered on the blog; Adventures of Willie White, Bennie Brown and Bobby Black, Animal Alphabet, The House of Mirth, Johnnie Bostonbeans, The Tweedledum Triplets.



Clare Angell was also a member of The Blue Pencil Club and a contributor to Blue Pencil Magazine. He was born on March 4, 1874, in Lansing, Michigan. He was a cartoonist and illustrator of newspapers, magazines, books, and postcards. But I can't find a record of his death. Do you or any of your readers know where and when he died?

Terence Hanley
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Thursday, March 03, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Leipziger

Herman J. Leipziger traveled twice to the United States. On the second trip, in 1881, he established himself and, a year later, sent for his family. The Leipzigers sailed aboard the S.S. Cassius from Stockholm, Sweden to New York City; they arrived on June 16, 1882 and were greeted by Herman. According to the passenger list the family included his wife, Hanna, and their children: Simon, Sara, [Frederick] Isak, Georg, Nathan, Leopold and Emil. The next day the family made their way to Detroit where Hanna had relatives (for details go to Magical Past-Times to read Nate Leipzig's autobiography). Herman was listed in the Detroit City Directory 1882; he was a clerk and resided at 52 Abbott.

The Leipzigers were listed in two Detroit directories. Frederick E. [sic] was employed as a joiner according to the Detroit City Directory 1891; he lived with his family at 378 Monroe Avenue. In R.L. Polk and Co's Detroit City Directory 1892-1893, Frederick E. [sic] was an engraver; the Leipzigers lived at 486 Monroe Avenue. The Detroit City Directory 1893 listed Frederick I., artist at the Evening News; the same information continued in subsequent directories through 1899. R.L. Polk and Co's Detroit City Directory 1894-1895 had the same information. The Detroit City Directory 1898 said Herman died on January 7, 1898. In 1899 Leipzigers' address was 708 Fourth Avenue.

Frederick Isaac Leipziger was born in Stockholm, Sweden in December 1869, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. (According to Find a Grave, the day of birth was the 15th.) His occupation was cartoonist. The household consisted of Hanna, Frederick, Nathan, Leopold and Samuel, her nephew.

According to the 1910 census, Leipziger and Hattie married in 1906; they had a son, Howard. They lived in Detroit at 287 Commonwealth Avenue. His occupation was cartoonist at a newspaper. The book, Family Trails: Michigan Source Material, Ethnic Studies in Michigan, Volume 3, recorded two family tragedies: on October 17, 1910, Howard died ten days after the birth of his brother William, who died three years later on December 28, 1913. 

Leipziger was listed in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries: Pamphlets, Leaflets, Contributions (1912) on page 1045: 
Leipziger (Frederick Isaac) Detroit. Doings of the Van Loons. (McClure newspaper syndicate. New York. Daily comics.) Proof. [followed by various publication dates]
Doings of the Van Loons Sundays and dailies can be viewed at Chronicling America, enter "F. Leipziger" in the search box.

Leipziger, a Mason, was listed on page 403 of the book, Transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, of the State of Michigan (1918).

In 1920 the Leipzigers lived in Highland Park, Michigan at 123 Rhode Island Avenue; the couple had a daughter, Jean. His occupation was salesman in the coal industry. Apparently, Leipziger's brother, Nate, and his wife resided at the same address for a period of time; that address was on Nate's World War I draft card. He was a magician who toured as "Nate Leipzig" on various theater circuits and aboard.

In 1930 the Leipziger family had moved back to Detroit at 3752 Cartes Avenue. Leipziger's occupation was salesman in the real estate industry. His brother, Leo, a cigar salesman, lived with them. 

Leipziger's passed away November 27, 1935 according to Find a Grave. His wife died in Southfield, Michigan in May 1968.



Looks like he died in 1935:

my best
-Ray Bottorff Jr
Thanks, Ray.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Mysterious Island

Contributed by Alex Jay

Raymond J. Witlin was born in New York City on September 2, 1920, according to the Social Security Death Index. The 1925 New York State Census recorded Witlin in the Bronx at 2305 Grand Avenue. He was the first child born to Abraham and Ruth. His father was a salesman.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census the Witlin family remained in the Bronx but at different address, 1235 Morrison Avenue. Witlin was the oldest of two sons.

The family moved to Brooklyn where Witlin was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School. (FYI: Frank Frazetta attended the same school in the early 1940s.) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published, on Sundays, a children’s/young adult section called the Junior Eagle Section. The April 14, 1935 issue published an article about its new comic strip and a profile of its creator.

'Mysterious Island' Makes Junior Eagle Debut

With this issue of the Junior Eagle we bring you the first strip in a regular comic series done especially for us by one of own members—Raymond Witlin, aged 14, who lives at 2817 W. 37th St., Brooklyn. A cartoon devotee from early childhood. Raymond has an unusual talent, riotous imagination and a delicious sense of humor. You’ll find that out soon enough as you follow the amazing adventures of his cartoon characters in that saga of scientific extravaganza, “The Mysterious Island.”

Here's a close-up of our feature cartoonist written by himself. Step right up and say, “Howdy.” Ray!

”I was born 14 years ago, in the congested lungs of New York. My early childhood was rather uneventful, except for a broken nose, which is only a minor detail. Aside from that, I am like all other manliness.

The folks, who always had a hard time knocking out a living, discovered early that I was slightly “lit” on the subject of “funnies,” and since then I have been the family genius. I should say I’m not quite as good as that, but why spoil their fun?

My literary work has always met with the amused “eyebrow lifting” of my teachers. They think it's “cracked,” but then so was a fellow by the name of Edgar Allan Poe. I’m in the sixth term at Abraham Lincoln High School and a confirmed inhabitant of Coney Island, where the dust lies an inch thick and the sun is always shining.

I like baseball, volley ball and swimming. My favorite comic is “Hairbreadth Harry,” stalwart warrior of Justice. My ambition? Well, what do you think?

As for the “Mysterious Island,” I hope you like it. The ideas for this stupendous production have sprung from everywhere—even my own brain. If you have any ideas that you’d like me to use as the story progresses, let me know. And now—on with the show!”

The strip ran for nine consecutive weeks, ending on June 9 without explanation. The following Sunday a new strip, Chief Black Wolf, ran in its place.

Apparently Witlin’s cartooning career did not materialize after high school.

Witlin passed away on December 15, 2002 in Cumberland Foreside, Maine, according to the Social Security Death Index. His obituary was published in the Portland Press Herald, December 17, 2002.

[Allan's note: the images above, which comprise the complete run of the strip, are from digitized microfilm. Although I tried to tease out as much detail as I could, they remain stubbornly ghostly and pixelated. Sorry, but this ain't CSI!]


That's one weird strip!
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: The Cartoonists of Just Among Us Girls

"Just Among Us Girls" was originally a column by Kathryn Kenney; it was distributed by the Editors' Feature Services. The earliest date found, so far, is January 26, 1926 in the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News (New York). 

Some newspapers used a photo of Kenney with her column. The Seattle Daily Times picked up the column in mid-April. It published a one-column illustration by R.J. Scott on May 4, 1926; in mid-October the newspaper included Scott's two-column illustration on a somewhat regular basis through March 1927. 

The Hamilton Daily News (Ohio) published "Just Among Us Girls" once a week on Saturdays; September 18 and 25, and October 2, 1926 had illustrations by 'Maier'. Because of the column's irregular appearances in the newspapers searched it has not yet been determined when he started on it. Earlier that year he was illustrating the panel, "The Golden Text," that accompanied a Sunday school column. In October Scott returned to "Just Among Us Girls."

In April or May 1927, Betty Blakeslee replaced Kenney. Her last column appeared on July 30 in the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia). Two weeks later, "Just Among Us Girls" reappeared the week of August 15 as a Paul Robinson panel cartoon distributed by Central Press Association. These four newspapers, among others, published the cartoons that week: Lancaster Daily Eagle (Ohio), Marion Star (Ohio), Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), and Warren Tribune (Pennsylvania). 

Robinson's tenure on the cartoon ended on April 13, 1935. His replacement was Ruth Carroll who drew the cartoon from April 15 to June 22. She was replaced by Walter Van Arsdale on June 24; his tenure extended to the end of the feature on December 14 1935. However, after October 26 he signed the panel sporadically. Many of the unsigned cartoons look to be by his hand, but some are the work of an inferior fill-in cartoonist. 

Because Just Among Us Girls was designed to be an 'evergreen' feature, the panels were not dated. Many papers ran the material out of order or seemed to throw the weekly syndicate sheets into a slush pile from which they pulled indiscriminately.This makes dating artist changes and the end date of the strip a dicey proposition. The dates listed above are approximations based on cross-referencing three different newspapers that ran the feature.

The Cartoonists

R.J. Scott was profiled on the blog in this post

Paul Robinson
Paul Dowling Robinson was born in Kenton, Ohio on June 19, 1898. He was the only child of William and Cecil. His father was an iron moulder according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

The 1910 census has the Robinson family in Buck, Ohio, operating a home farm. Paul Robinson signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He was living at 1219 West Jefferson in Sandusky, Ohio. At the time he was a demurrage clerk for a railroad company. His description was medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and light hair. The Sandusky Register (Ohio) reported Robinson's move to New York City in its June 21, 1919 issue.

Railway Clerk Now Cartoonist
Paul D. Robinson, formerly of 1219 W. Jefferson st., is now located with the Bray Cartoon moving picture studios at New York. Robinson, until two months ago was a clerk in the local Big Four freight offices.

Young Robinson, who had a natural talent for drawing, went from Sandusky direct to New York with the intention of making good in the art game. He secured a place in the Bray studios and is now drawing animated cartoons which are shown in the movie theaters throughout the entire country.

Wikipedia has a page on Robinson. "Before 'Etta Kett,' Robinson collaborated in 1924 with Tim Early and the screenwriter and short story author, H.C. Witwer. Their 'Samson and Delia' strip ran for two years. Robinson also drew 'The Love-Byrds,' a comic strip about the cheerful couple Peggy and Howard Byrd. 'The Love-Byrds' ran from the early 1920s to 1925." [Allan butts in -- Robinson took over Samson and Delia from Witwer and Early, and it lasted less than a year; and I find no evidence that an earlier version of The Lovebyrds exists than the topper to Etta Kett, which began in 1932]

Don Markstein's Toonopedia said this, "When King Features Syndicate began distributing 'Etta Kett' (December of 1925), it was just a panel about the social graces. But that was a very limited topic, and had to be expanded before Etta's series could become a full-scale daily strip and Sunday page." [Allan butts in -- Etta Kett was originally distributed by Editors Feature Service]

Robinson's "Just Among Us Girls" appeared as a panel cartoon beginning the week of August 15, 1927. His tenure on the cartoon ended on April 13 1935. His replacement was Ruth Carroll. The Marion Star (Ohio) published, on August 30, 1927, "Paul Robinson, Cartoonist of 'Just Among Us GIrls' Fame, Is Native of Kenton." Unfortunately much of it is illegible. Here are a few details that can be read:

In New York City Paul enrolled with an art school, and later completed his
studies aboard.

He has drawn humorous illustrations for general magazines including Life,
Film Fun and Judge. (illegible) he drew comic illustrations for H. C. Witwer.

His first comic strip appeared daily in 1,700 papers throughout the country.

In 1930 Robinson was married and lived in Belleville, New Jersey. His wife and daughter were both named Letitia. According to the census, he was 24 in 1922 when he married. His occupation was a cartoonist for a newspaper. The Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) published, on February 23, 1932, the following article, "Originator of Etta Kett Tells Story of Life."

"Art marked me for its own at a tender age," says Paul Robinson, creator of the popular comic strip, "Etta Kett," an exclusive feature in The Nevada State Journal. "The mural decorations I painted on my classroom Halloween night proved sensational. A special meeting of the school board was held
and they voted unanimously that I was just wasting my time in their institution.

"Many times I am asked what course I took to become a cartoonist. For the benefit of those who are trying to become successful in this work, let me say that I took the course of least resistance.

"For a long time I produced animated cartoons, drawing for nearly all the large film corporations. In one year I worked for eight different companies. Even to this day I am trying to break myself of the habit I formed in those days of working with my hat and coat on.

"Next, the humorous weekly field claimed by [sic] attention, and from there I climbed the fence over into the newspaper field, where the grass looked 'long greener.' To make a long story less boredom, I drew practically every kind of cartoon from sport to editorial, and at one time more that 1,800  newspapers were being served with my work.

"Of the 'several' comic strips I have drawn, I think 'Etta Kett' my supreme inspiration. She typifies in my mind the ideal girl of today and in her I try to mirror all the daring vivaciousness, all the sweetness and carefree abandon of the modern girl."

Robinson passed away on September 21, 1974. The New York Times reported his death on September 23:

Paul D. Robinson, creator of the cartoon strip "Etta Kett," which appeared in 50 newspapers across the country more that 40 years, died Saturday at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J. He was 76 years old and lived at 14 Hillbury Road, Essex Fells, N.J.

Mr. Robinson joined the King Features syndicate in 1925, when he started the strip. "Etta Kett" dealt with problems and situations involving social etiquette.

He was a member of the Banshee Club of New York, a social organization of cartoonists.

Surviving are his widow, Catherine Dilzer Robinson; two daughters, Mrs. Franklin R. Saul and Mrs. Robert Failor, and eight grandchildren.
Ruth Carroll
Ruth Carroll was born Ruth Crombie Robinson in Lancaster, New York on September 24, 1899. She was the only child of Frank and Sallie. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census the Robinsons lived at 207 West 106th Street in Manhattan.

Ruth's art training was covered on page 217 in the book, Painting the Town: Cityscapes of New York (Yale University Press, 2000).

Ruth Carroll graduated from Vassar College and thereafter established roots in New York City, where she pursued training at the Art Students League under Cecilia Beaux, Charles Bridgman, and Andrew Dasburg, the last of whom probably influenced her Cezannesque approach to painting. In the
1920s her work was exhibited at the Newark Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She later changed course within the art field, developing a career as an author-illustrator of children's books. From 1936 through the end of World War II, she had a staff position at King Features

Who Was Who in American Art (Sound View Press, 1985) mentions three more artists she studied with: Hugh Breckenridge, Charles Rosen and Frank DuMond.

In the 1930 census, Ruth and her husband Latrobe lived at 39 West Eighth Street. His occupation was an editor for a magazine. Her occupation was an artist making portraits. Some of her work included cover illustrations for The American Girl magazine in 1933 from September through December; and interior illustration for the April 1933 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine. In mid-April 1935 Paul Robinson left the cartoon, "Just Among Us Girls." Ruth was his replacement. It was a brief stint, ending in late June. She was replaced by Walter Van Arsdale. In 1936, Ruth was assigned the strip, "The Pussycat Princess," when Grace Drayton suddenly died.

Durward Howes' book, American Women, 1935-1940 (Gale Research, 1981), published a concise profile of Ruth on page 151.

CARROLL, Ruth Crombie (Mrs. Archer L. Carroll), artist, author; b. Lancaster, N.Y., Sept. 24, 1899: d. Frank Howard and Sallie Belle (Underbill) Robinson; m. Archer Latrobe Carroll, Jan. 24, 1928; hus. occ. writer. Edn. AB, Vassar Coll., 1922. Church: Presbyterian. Politics: Republican. Mem. Artists Guild.
Hobbies: photography, theater, reading. Fav. rec. or sport: swimming. Author: What Whiskers Did; Chimp and Chump; Bounce and the Bunnies (Junior Literary Guild choice). Exhibited landscape, Phila. Acad.; three landscapes bought by Newark Mus. Home: 39 W. Eighth St., N.Y. City.

According to the blog, The Pony Book Chronicles, the Carrolls moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1950.

Ruth Carroll was best known as a children's book illustrator, with over 36 books from 1932 to 1976. Her husband wrote many of the stories. She passed away on December 5, 1999 in Stamford, Connecticut.

 Walter Van Arsdale
Walter David Van Arsdale was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 28, 1884, as recorded on his World War II draft card.

The Oakland Tribune (California) reported his upcoming marriage on December 26, 1909.

Alameda Girl to Wed in Pittsburgh
Miss Ruth Boltz, daughter of Mrs. S. A. Boltz, will become the bride in January of Walter D. Van Arsdale of Pittsburgh. Miss Boltz is a popular young woman of this city and has a host of friends who are interested in her coming marriage.

The wedding is to take place in Pittsburgh next month. Van Arsdale is a member of a prominent family of the Eastern city. His bride-elect and her mother are to go East soon.

Van Arsdale is well known in this city, having made several visits with friends here. He is a newspaper man and is prominently connected with one of the Pittsburgh dailies.

After a honeymoon of a few weeks the couple is to reside in Pittsburgh. Van Arsdale having prepared an attractive bungalow there.

According to Who Was Who in American Art (Sound View Press, 1985) the couple were last listed in American Art Annual, 1919. She was included in an updated edition, Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 years of Artists in America, Volume 3 (Sound View Press, 1999).

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the Van Arsdale family lived in Hempstead, New York at 6 Edna Court. The parents had two sons, Leonard and Carroll. Van Arsdale's occupation was artist for a newspaper. On December 28, 1927, the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (Wisconsin) published an ad for the serialized story of Charles A. Lindbergh's flight to Paris. The portrait of Lindbergh was by Van Arsdale; beneath his signature was the following text:

A sketch of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh by Walter Van Arsdale, celebrated magazine and syndicate artist and frequent contributor to the International Feature Service Daily and Weekly Magazines, "Life,"
& "Judge."

The Van Arsdales remained at the same address in the 1930 census. His occupation was artist for a picture company. He was listed in the book, The Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures (1930). In 1930 and 1931 he illustrated shorts stories by Anita Loos that were published in Cosmopolitan magazine. Parents and Gay Book magazines also published his illustrations. He replaced Ruth Carroll on the panel cartoon, "Just Among Us Girls," in late June 1935. The cartoon ended later that year in December.

According to Van Arsdale's World War II draft card, signed on April 27, 1942, he resided in Manchester, Connecticut with his wife. His description was five feet, ten-and-a-half inches tall, 140 pounds, gray eyes and brown hair.

Ruth passed away on December 26, 1957; according to the 1900 census, she was born in California in August 1889. The Bridgeport Post (Connecticut) reported Walter's passing on November 19, 1962.

Walter David Van Arsdale, 78, of Manchester, an award-winning artist, died last night.

His work won prizes throughout the east, and appeared in numerous magazines. Van Arsdale had studios in New York and in the Manchester area.

He was a native of Pittsburgh, and had resided in South Coventry, near here, nearly 25 years.

Survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Ruth Carroll Foster of Manchester, and a son, Leonard V. Van Arsdale of Allendale, N.J.


I'm really enjoying these profiles. Great stuff!
Thank you so much. I am Walter Van Arsdale's granddaughter, and found this while trying to learn more about his life and art.

This is to anonymous. I too am interested in Walter Van Arsdale. He painted a picture for me in 1958 when I was 7 years old with a dedication to me on the back. Any info on him would be greatly appreciated. I would gladly send you a photo of the painting with the inscription. If you see this please contact me at Thank you. Loved your grandad! Dana Wilk
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Monday, February 28, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bob Dean

Robert Jerome Dean was born on August 28, 1875; his full name and birth date were recorded on his World War I draft card. Two family trees at place his birth at Buffalo, New York. The New York Times obituary said he was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ad from Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/16/1908
In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Dean was the oldest of three sons born to Charles and Martha. They lived in Titusville, Pennsylvania at 199 Walnut. Nothing is known of how he became an artist and writer. A curious bit of information appeared in the Trenton Evening Times, on July 19, 1932; O.O. McIntyre wrote in his column, New York, Day by Day, "Thingumbobs:…Bob Dean, magazine illustrator, was once a circus contortionist."

In the 1900 census Dean was married to Laura, who was five years his senior, and they lived with her mother, Anna Cook, the head of the household. The trio resided in Blasdell, New York, which was near Buffalo. Dean's occupation was insurance agent; his parents and siblings were in the same town. According to the New York Times obituary, Dean was a cartoonist for the Buffalo Times and the Atlanta News. In 1908 he joined Uncle Remus's—The Home Magazine. 

The move to Atlanta did not suit his wife. The New York Sun published the following article on August 4, 1909:

She Won't Live in Atlanta

Artist Dean Asks Divorce Because Wife Harks Back to New York.

Atlanta, Aug. 3—Charging that his wife scorns Atlanta and Atlanta people and for that reason refuses to live with him here, Robert Jerome Dean, the artist of Uncle Remus Magazine, has filed suit for divorce on the ground of desertion. 

Dean came to Atlanta from New York in 1905 and his wife followed in a few months. Dean alleges that from the first Mrs. Dean disliked Atlanta, and said she could not live here. Mrs. Dean soon returned to the home of her parents at Blaisdell [sic], N.Y.

She came to Atlanta, however, a second time, but finally declared life was impossible with Atlanta people and then returned to Blaisdell for good. Dean says the only provocation for Mrs. Dean leaving him was that she could not endure the Atlanta spirit.

Detail from ad in Atlanta Constitution, 11/1/1908
The first appearance of Dean's Zotwots may have been in the October 1908 issue of Uncle Remus's—The Home Magazine, which advertised the new feature in newspapers; the ad included some of Dean's verse and an illustration. The magazine, which was based in Atlanta, ran one-third page ads in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper; the ad detailed the contents of the current issue.

In the 1910 census Dean was single; he was one of seven lodgers at 50 Cone Street in Atlanta. His occupation was writer and illustrator at a newspaper. Only this census recorded his and his parents' birthplace as Tennessee. 

His second wife, Sallie Conwell, was born, raised and educated in Georgia according to the Elberton Star obituary published in November 1969. She went into newspaper work, met Dean and married him.

The February 1913 issue of Uncle Remus's—The Home Magazine was its last. With the loss of a steady income, Dean looked north and found a new home for the Zotwots. On April 12, 1914 the New York Herald published Zotwots in its Sunday comics section. Zotwots final appearance was on November 1, 1914. Presumably the Deans had moved to New York that year or earlier. By the time Dean registered for the draft, he had been working as an illustrator at the Morning Telegraph newspaper.

Zotwots New York Herald page, 10/11/1914
In the 1920 census the couple lived at 352 West 46th Street in Manhattan. Dean gave his occupation as writer for magazines; artist had been included but crossed out. The Elberton Star obituary reported that, "In 1926 she and Mr. Dean retired to a farm in southern Dutchess [County, New York] where they lived until 1946 when they moved to Hughsonville [New York]."

In the 1930 census, the Deans lived in Wappinger, New York on Hopewell Junction Road. His occupation was artist. The New York Times reported his passing on January 28, 1949:

Robert Dean, 72, Once Cartoonist

Former Artist Here for Herald and Journal Is Dead—Also Worked for Magazines

Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Jan. 27—Robert J. Dean, retired newspaper cartoonist, died yesterday of a heart attack at his home in Wappinger Falls. He was 72 [sic] years old.

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Mr. Dean was a cartoonist for The Buffalo Times and later for The Atlanta News. He joined the Uncle Remus Magazine when Joel Chandler Harris was its editor. Later, in New York he was employed by Collier's Magazine, The New York Journal and The Sunday Herald.

On The Herald he had a weekly page featuring "Zotmot" [sic] Elves, with drawings and verse for children. Later he became associated with the New York Telegraph, eventually becoming its assistant publisher. He left The Post in 1926 to make his home in Dutchess County.

Surviving are his widow, the former Sally [sic] Conwell; a sister, Mrs. Norman Blackwell of Torrence, Calif., and a brother, Jesse H. Dean of Torrence.
According to the Elberton Star, Sallie passed away on November 4, 1969 in a Princeton, New Jersey hospital.

[Alex Jay gathered this biographical material for the upcoming book Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915 to be published by Sunday Press Books.  As with all their books, I can confidently place it in the Highly Recommended list before even seeing it. Thanks to editor Peter Maresca for the Zotwots newspaper page image reproduced above.]


Thank you for your information. I have two prints signed by Bob Dean. They do not look like cartoons. They look like illustrations for a book or story about colonial times. I have been searching for information on Bob Dean for a long time. I think the man you're profiling is the artist who created my pictures!
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Sunday, February 27, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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