Saturday, October 08, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, February 16 1908 -- After suffering a string of defeats, Battling Nelson has some hurdles to jump before he can once again take on Joe Gans for the title crown. On March 3 he will take on Jimmy Britt, who beat him on points back in July of the previous year. Will Nelson be able to climb back into contention? Stay tuned to find out!


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Friday, October 07, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Gus Mager

Charles Augustus Mager Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 21, 1878, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, his name was recorded as August and he was the oldest of two children born to August and Lina, both New Jersey natives. They lived in Newark at 17-1/2 Longworth. His father was a jeweler. Mager's paternal and maternal grandparents were born in Germany.

In The World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976), the late Bill Blackbeard wrote, "…Mager went through the old-world comic humor magazines sent to his parents by relatives in Germany as he attended grammar and high school in his home town, basing much of his emerging cartoonist style on the work of Wilhelm Busch and others. Getting his first newspaper job with the Hearst papers in New York at 20 [1898 or 1899]…" World Biography: Part 2 (1948) said he was "educated at Newark, N. J. public and high schools".

In the 1900 census the family remained in Newark and had moved to 19 Longworth. (The family name was misspelled as "Marger".) According to the census, Mager's occupation, like his father, was jewelry stone-setter. One of the Hearst strips he created was Knocko the Monk, which was followed, over the years, by other Monk characters. In December 1904, his strip Louie and Franz was published by Hearst. World Biography said he married Matilda Stunzl in 1907.

In 1910, he was counted twice in the census. His parents included him in their household, even though he was married and lived elsewhere. Mager, his wife Matilda (a German native), son Robert and a servant lived in Newark at 2 White Terrace. His occupation was newspaper artist. During this year he created Sherlocko the Monk. A photo of Mager with other Evening Journal cartoonists is here. For the New York World he created Hawkshaw the Detective, which began on February 23, 1913. In the same month and year, his paintings Tulips and Blue Flags and Flowers were exhibited at the Armory Show in New York. Works by cartoonists Rudolph Dirks, Denys Wortman and Marjorie Organ were exhibited there, too.

The Smithsonian Institute has a photo of Mager with Pop Hart and Walt Kuhn here. Mager's fine art training was covered in American Magazine of Art in May 1916. has a Mager self-portrait, in full color, here. On September 4, 1918, he signed his World War I draft card. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist for the New York World. His description was medium height and build with gray eyes and light brown hair.

He remained at the same address in 1920 and continued as a newspaper cartoonist. In 1926 his strip Oliver's Adventures was published. The 1930 census recorded the Mager family in South Orange, New Jersey at 204 Prospect Street. He was a newspaper syndicate cartoonist.

In the book Artist in Manhattan (1940), Jerome Myers wrote:
Among the names of American artists that pervade our local art histories and our catalogues, some are but too well known. If history is sometimes a lying jade, then the jade of art too may often have a twinkle in her eye over reputations that ultimately go into time's wastebasket.

One thinks of quiet lives spent in unostentatious devotion to an art ideal with our fanfare, with humility and patience that seek no high reward—a spirit that shines forth in the art of Gus Mager.
He signed his World War II draft card on April 26, 1942; it had the same 1930 census address. Three employers were listed on his card: R. Dirks/United Feature Syndicate, Popular Science, and Outdoor Life. His description was "5' 6", 175 [lbs.]" with blue eyes and gray hair. Blackbeard said, "Living continually in Newark, Mager built a sizable home there and now took up his lifetime hobby of serious painting in earnest, selling paintings to the permanent collections of the Newark Museum and the Whitney Museum in New York, among others…."

Mager passed away on July 16, 1956. The New York Times reported his death on the 18th.

Charles Mager Dead
Artist Created 'Monks' and 'Hawkshaw' Comic Strips
Pittsburgh, July 17 (UP)—Charles A. (Gus) Mager, artist and creator of such comic strips as "The Monks" and "Hawkshaw, the Detective" in the "bulb nose sea," died yesterday at the home of his son, Robert, in Murrysville.
Mr. Mager was a native and lifelong resident of Newark.
His paintings are in the permanent collections of the Newark Museum and the Whitney Museum in New York. A naturalist, he also drew a feature page entitled "Games, Gimmicks" for Outdoor Life magazine for twenty years.
Other survivors include a sister, Lima [sic: Lina] of Newark, and two granddaughters.
A reminiscence of Mager is here.


LOVE Mager's work. It sure is difficult to see much of it, though.
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Thursday, October 06, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Main Street

Gus Mager's last Sunday feature for the New York World before a decade layoff was Main Street, a rather unassuming and generic look at middle class life in a small town. The Sunday-only feature ran for a year, October 15 1922 to October 7 1923. Mager's next appearance on the Sunday color stage wouldn't be until 1931, when his Hawkshaw the Detective feature was revived as a topper to The Captain and the Kids.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Coon Alphabet

One of the greatest cartoonist/illustrators of the turn of the last century was certainly Edward W. Kemble. One of his favorite subjects, unfortunately, was the humorous depiction of blacks. Much of his art is now labeled racist, so the incredible gift for anatomy and shading he exhibited is now rarely seen.

Kemble became well-known primarily for his book and magazine illustrations, but he dabbled in newspaper work in the late 90s and 1900s, mostly for Hearst. His longest running series was The Blackberries, which was produced sporadically from 1897 to 1902. The series is very hard to track because, as was often the case in those days, a running title was considered superfluous. The series was also known as The Rag-Tag Cadets, Pickaninnies, The Coons, Coontown, Little Topsy ... well, you get the idea -- it's all over the map.

The Coon Alphabet - With Pictures From Dixie Land, though, is a cohesive series. Starting on June 5 1898 with the letters A and B, it continued each Sunday until Y and Z were covered on August 28.  A book by the same name was also published in 1898, but I don't know if Kemble's book version uses the same illustrations or other material.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample!


Yes, the book uses the same images as the Sunday pages. The S and T in the page here match the book, which was in black and white only. The book was printed with 1 panel per page, the panel being on the rectos only.

Thanks! Wonder whether the newspaper series or the book came first -- both are dated 1898.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011


News of Yore: E.W. Kemble

Edward Windsor Kemble
(The Book Buyer, July 1894)

…Edward Windsor Kemble was born in January, 1861, in Sacramento, California, and went to school in New York city. His first attempts at drawing are still preserved in an old copy-book, dated 1872, which is filled with sketches of Indians taken when traveling in the west with his father. Some of his western sketches from life have been accepted for publication, he began to think seriously of art as a profession, and in the winter of 1880-81 he joined the sketch class at the Art Students' League.

"I don't know what good it did," he said to me in talking over his career, "for no one ever looked at what I did."

Kemble's first cartoon in Life, 1883
At all events this was all the art schooling he received. "The way to draw is to draw," became his maxim, and he plunged into practical work, earning his living at once by what he did for the Daily Graphic. For three or four years he made pictures of whatever came before him. Art work for a daily journal admitted of no great refinement, but it made him quick to seize the graphic point in what he saw, and he put his apprehension to such purpose that when Life was founded, in 1883, his work was accepted, and for the next few years, in company with Mitchell, Atwood and Hyde, he was a constant contributor.

Although to-day Mr. Kemble is so closely associated in the public mind with negro sketches, this particular field is by no means his ambition. The negro was an accident with him. Among the Life contributions were the comic skits entitled "The Thompson Street Poker Club," negro dialect stories. Kemble drew the sketches, which were deemed so good that publishers have kept him at them ever since. His negro successes brought him an order for the illustrations for "Huckleberry Finn," his first book, in 1884, and soon after that the Century made him an offer for all his work outside of book illustrations. During the next six or eight years the negro still pursued him, as he puts it, or, to be more just, he still pursued the negro. Between 1884 and 1891, when he left the Century, the movement in recognition of the South in literature found its ablest artistic coadjutor in E.W. Kemble."Uncle Tom's Cabin," in its luxurious two-volume edition full of his drawings, "Two Runaways," Joel Chandler Harris's "On a Plantation," and R.M. Johnston's "Widow Guthrie," are among the books dealing with negro life that date from this period.

Huckleberry Finn

Kemble's greatest ambition is to make a worthy record of the Dutch period of New York's existence. He has a genuine enthusiasm for the Knickerbocker. He is indefatigable in gathering all that may be found in old prints relating to that period, and some day he will put it to excellent use. He has already made a capital beginning with "Knickerbocker's History of New York," published by the Putnams, but the mine has scarcely been opened, although this is an important work and a great achievement for so young a man. His "well-fed and robustious burghers" strut through the volume with delightful pomposity.

In recent years Mr. Kemble has drawn for the Scribners, the Harpers, for Life, and has done some book work. At his pretty cottage in Rochelle Park, on the outskirts of New Rochelle, he enjoys something of a country life and yet is near enough to run into town at a moment's notice. Sitting in his studio the other day he showed me this dedication of a copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin":

To Mr. Kemble, with grateful acknowledgement for his faithful and admirable work in illustrating "Uncle Tom's Cabin." With sincerest good wishes from the author.

Harriet Beecher Stowe.
May 16, 1892.

In a volume of Riley's "Poems Here at Home," the author has written:

Dear artist friend, this pen of mine
Strikes inky palm in that of thine.

James Whitcomb Riley.

The walls of Kemble's studio are covered with sketches taken on the spot. The rapidity acquired in the old Graphic days serves him now. A trip of ten days south results in several hundred sketches, some of them of but a few lines, but all with a purpose. One page of his note-book is covered with the different hats seen upon a group of loungers at a courthouse door. And such hats no one could devise or remember. A two minutes' sketch of a man or woman is a pretty accurate portrait. Kemble has used the camera somewhat, but prefers the pencil.

"The camera habit," he said, "is a dangerous one. You get to trusting the camera instead of your own eyes. The vital line in a group, a face, or a figure may be just the one that the camera fails to bring out."
P.G.H., Jr. [Philip G. Hubert, Jr.]

(The complete article is here.)

[Edward Windsor Kemble was born in Sacramento, California on January 18, 1861, according to Who's Who in America (1901). The date of his family's move to New York City is not known; Who's Who said he had a public school education there. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Kemble lived in New York City at 441 57th Street. He was the second of three sons born to Edward and Celia; his father was an operator in the telegraph industry. Kemble and an older brother worked in a telegraph office. According to the 1900 census, he married when he was 24, which was in 1885. Who's Who identified his wife as Sara Briggs of New York.

In 1900 Kemble and Sara had four children and lived in New Rochelle, New York at 31 Boulevard, Rochelle Park. His occupation was artist. Ten years later the family remained in New Rochelle but at 19 Boulevard. He was an artist making cartoons, and his oldest son, Edward was an illustrator. (Note to researchers: For some inexplicable reason, Kemble's name in the 1910 census was recorded as "Windsor, Edward"; the enumerator did not record his surname as Kemble. In the 1900 and 1910 censuses, the family's first names match and almost all their ages are ten years apart.) The Century Magazine, in its July 1913 issue, profiled the artist Frederick Remington and wrote of his friendship with Kemble. On May 17, 1914 the New York Times reported on the Lambs Club, a professional theatrical club, and their upcoming extravaganza at the Metropolitan Opera House; it included "a 'contest' between four cartoonists, Winsor McCay, R.F. Outcault, Hy. Mayer, and Ed Kemble, who will try to outsketch each other, all working at the same time…." He also produced cartoons for advertising.

Gravely's Chewing Plug Tobacco

In 1920 Kemble, his wife and youngest daughter lived on a farm in Patterson, New York on Railroad Avenue. He was an artist and author for a newspaper. He has not been found in the 1930 census. He passed away on September 19, 1933 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The New York Times reported his death the following day; most of the obituary had the same information found in the Book Buyer profile you just read, so just the first two paragraphs are shown below:

Edward Windsor Kemble, illustrator, cartoonist and author, who made his widest reputation thirty years ago as a delineator of Negro characters, died suddenly at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon in Ridgefield, Conn., at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Kemble Widmer. For two days he had remained in bed. On Sunday morning he was walking in the garden. He was 72 years old.

Four children survive Mr. Kemble, two sons, Schuyler, a real estate man, of Jackson Heights, Queens, and Edward B. Kemble, an artist of Ridgefield, Conn., and two daughters, Mrs. Widmer and Miss Frances Kemble, also a resident of Ridgefield, as was their father. The funeral service will be held at 3 P.M. Friday at Mrs. Widmer's house.]


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Monday, October 03, 2011


News of Yore 1908: R.F. Outcault Interviewed in Los Angeles

Buster, Mary Jane, Mrs. Brown and Brown pater, all the family save Tige, have been staying in Los Angeles at the Alexandria Hotel.

I know of no more dramatic people in the boundaries of the world of imagination.
Fra Elbertus, who is the tutor in philosophy of Buster, is quoted in a “resolution” as saying “the imagination is the only real, sure enough thing in the world,” and Buster had proceeded since then to prove that as creatures of a sane, hard-working imagination, he and Mary Jane are among the only other really sure enough things.

Further, as there are four theatrical companies playing Buster; and as bread, cigarettes, whiskey, pills, stockings, hats, shoes, wagons, race horses, and a few hundred other articles, are named after him, it would seem that Buster and all those about him are of proper theatrical interest.

You will grieve to learn that Buster himself is no more. He has grown out of the Russian blouses and banged hair that made him famous. When I met the real Buster, I found myself facing a husky youth of about 20 who would make a fine football player or a stroke oar.

His father, R. F. Outcault, the creator of the Buster cartoons, compensated for Buster’s evolution into a man by calling in Mary Jane! She is still real; still the dainty, elfish sprite of a girl with a face like a smiling daisy, black hair that seems to carry merry little giggles in its waves, the saucy big bow on one side of her head and the black stockinged, slim little leg. All just like the pictures; all the sweet, childish type of a kindergarten soubrette.

Mr. Outcault, like many, in fact most, of the notables in life, has achieved greatness because of his versatility. He began life as a mechanical draftsman; became a reporter; studied law; dipped into psychology; drifted into the more solid and grateful philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, Socrates, and Plato; did sensational story stunts with Nellie Bly in New York; stopped work and discovered Europe; lectured; wrote Buster and Mary Jane and Tige into a play; composed eleven books about Buster; went into vaudeville for a couple of seasons and draws dividends yearly to the extent of somewhere about $100,000, because he has a wit and a pencil that knows how to seize and perpetuate his humor.

Buster Brown’s grandfather is Thomas A. Edison, for it was Edison who gave Outcault the tendencies and opportunities which lead to Buster’s creation.

“I was a reporter” said Outcault, “on the Cincinnati Enquirer when the exposition of ’88 was given, and Edison made his first exhibit. I was drawing $25 a week doing stories. I got that large salary because I illustrated my own stuff. You remember the chalk plates? Draw a line and then blow away the chalk dust? I had been trained as a mechanical draftsman and I drew sketches of the Edison exhibit, and he saw them.

“Someone sent him the papers, and he telegraphed me to come on to Llewellyn Park, and there he kept me at work for a year. He sent me to the Paris Exposition in ’89.”

Then Mr. Outcault told me how he finally got back into newspapering and did team work with Nellie Bly.

“At that time she got the pitiful salary nowadays of $12,000 a year doing sensational stories. One of the stunts we pulled off together was begging on 5th Avenue and making stories of the notables and millionaires when asked for help by two apparently starving people. Then we did slum stories, and it was then I stored the material which was to come to the front later with the Hogan’s Alley series and the Yellow Kid.”

All the time Mr. Outcault was a jokesmith and soon found he could add from $15-$20 a week to his income by making quips for the funny paper. These brought him according to quality, from 50 cents to $2.00 each.

Then the comic supplement feature began to shake up the New York journals, and the one which employed Outcault commissioned him to create fun for it.

He found that no comic artists could be hired, so he set to work himself and he drew and made up the first comic supplement in colors printed in the this country, and “Hogan’s Alley” with The Yellow Kid was it.

“And the rest of the story,” he said, “is easy, just like that of the young lady from Joppa in the Limerick.”

“I made a lot of money and my head swelled. I decided to stop work and went to Europe. It was very lovely, and we had a royal time and enriched several impoverished noble servitors, and came home looking for work.

“When I came back I found I had drifted out the mood and atmosphere for The Yellow Kid and that I had wisely dropped him while he was still popular.

“I went back to editorial work, but kept thinking about a new comic. I discussed this, as I do all important subjects, with my wife. By the way, I may write a book sometime on the immense value it is to a wise man to take his wife’s advice. Fools needn’t follow that example. In fact, they could hardly do it, as they seldom have the luck to have a wife.

“We both came to the conclusion that there was no good reason why all comics should be grotesque creations of the imagination. I had my boy, Dick Jr., on my knee at the time, and he had the haircut, the clothes and at his feet the dog which were afterward merged into the Buster series.

“What could be better for a subject than a good, clean, joyous American boy, a boy with The Star Spangled Banner waving all over his little body? I wanted to create a comic that had some worth besides the bringing of the ready smile. To meet the demands of the little girls I took Mary Jane here (and Mary smiled winsomely at us, more so even than she does in the Sunday supplement in this paper), and the result is, I believe, a success that appeals alike to the old-young people and the young-old people, to girls and to boys, and to those who think and to those only see.

“Before that I had gone in heavily on psychology and philosophy. Haeckel, Nietschke [sic and sic], Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus were always at my hand, for I had always loved the beautiful world and I wanted to know all the best there was about it. I expect it is to this system of reading that the ‘Resolutions’ of Buster have won some recognition.

“I believe I can frankly say that Buster and Mary Jane are remarkable commercial successes. Alan Dale, Acton Davies, Aronson and myself were talking in the Lambs’ Club one day about what judgment would be had that was reliable on new plays or on actors. We all agreed that the critics, as a rule, were governed too much by their desire to write bright, striking matter, and that their intimate relations with the managers deprived their decisions of judicial worth. Aronson summed the whole matter by saying that the only final dictum was that made by the box office.

“It is so with newspapers; the value of the paper can be had better from the circulation manager than the editor.

“On that basis I think that Buster is a success. He is in demand. I have four theatrical companies playing him. I have an advertising business in Chicago which advertises everything called by his name and which is one of the largest of the kind in the country. Why, there were 1,000,000 dozen of Buster’s stockings sold last year, and that is only one item. So don’t you think I have a right to assume that the public loves Buster? I know I do,” and he gave a quick look of affection at the sturdy youth by his side, the young man whose boyish traits created all this happy tangle of art, philosophy and commercialism.

“You can say for me,” interrupted Mrs. Outcault, “that Mr. Outcault is a great deal more funny and entertaining to his family than he is to the public. And that he is the best ---.”

Mr. Outcault, I think, blushed; I am certain that he began the operation but he broke in quickly with his philosophy.

“I try to give my family the very best there is to life. We have a beautiful home at Flushing, but the missus got tired of keeping a hotel for our friends, and we closed it up and now spend our time in Europe and wherever fancy calls us. I do my work wherever I happen to be, and we enjoy life. I suppose you might call us fun-hunters, and we get it.

“I do not mean by hunting fun what some might imagine I consider fun.

“You have spoken of enjoying some of Buster’s resolutions. I will read you one that contains my creed of work, of life, and of the future. Here it is:

Resolved--That when I die, and go to face my Maker, I shall have only one thing to make me hang my head in shame. NOT that I sinned. ‘To err is human.’ (And my poor little sins hurt no one, save, perhaps, myself.) But I shall be ashamed to think that God put me in this lovely world of His, where everything is sweet and beautiful, and I have spent so many idle hours when I might do like all the birds and flowers: be happier and realize the [text missing] are mine. --Buster.

“That is all,” said Mr. Outcault.

That’s about enough for anyone.


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Sunday, October 02, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


I have a strip of Napoleon and Uncle Elby, signed by Cliff and addressed to my brother who,in the signing, is credited with the idea for the strip, and who married his daughter. I'd like to verify if the thing is authentic. I can send an email of the strip which I don't believe was ever printed publicly.

Don Thompson:
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