Saturday, April 13, 2013
In weazel skin hat news, Hen Berry now has all the information he needs, courtesy of a local mystic, to corner the mysterious thirteenth guest ... or does he?
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, April 12, 2013
Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase
Adam Chase strip #16, originally published September 18 1966. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.
Labels: Adam Chase Sci-Friday
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Howard Freeman
Howard Benton “Poke” Freeman was born in Portland, Oregon on September 4, 1877; his birthplace was reported in various newspapers and his birth date was on his World War I draft card. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of Thomas and Lula; his father was a carriage maker. They lived in Portland at 415 West Park.
The New York Times, August 22, 1937, published the Associated Press report which said: “…he grew up in Hayward, Calif., and began his bike riding career while in high school there. He competed in amateur, semi-professional and professional ranks…” An article about cycle riders’ income was published in the Syracuse Standard (New York), October 19, 1898: “…Howard “Poke” Freeman, “Old Kaintuck” Kimble and “Plugger Bill” Martin are about the only remaining riders who followed the game all the year that made any profit. Freeman is about $1,500 better off than when he started…”
The 1900 census recorded him in Newark, New Jersey at 1107 Broad Street. He and another cyclist were boarding there; their profession was bicycle racing. The Evening Telegram (New York), July 29, 1901, reported a major cycling event:
The National Circuit Meet at Madison Square Garden this evening will bring all the crack “pro” and amateur riders together once more. The program is long and interesting….
…In the two big professional events…“Poke” Freeman…[is] among the starters.
Freeman’s artistic talent and training were noted in the Daily Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), September 12, 1901:
Known as the “Artist Cyclist,” because of his ability as a sketcher for the daily and weekly papers, Howard B. Freeman, of Portland, Ore., is a typical representative of the quiet, gentlemanly American bicycle rider. His winnings, and they amount to a goodly sum in the course of a summer, pay for his tuition during the winter at the art school. Possessing an extraordinary finishing sprint, Freeman has come to the front very rapidly since ’95, when he made his first appearance as an amateur in California.
His most meritorious ride was when he broke the world’s one-mile handicap record at Los Angeles, lowering the figures to 1:57 4-5. He is a Rambler rider who should win a goodly portion of the prizes offered on the Grand Circuit. His victory at Ambrose Park in ’98, when he captured the Twentieth Century $1,000 trophy is a matter of cycling history, while his victory over Major Taylor in the one-mile championship at New Haven last season stamps him as a speed merchant of more than ordinary ability. Freeman is 24 years old, and weighs 165 pounds when in training.
The New-York Tribune, January 8, 1902, reported that Freeman (top photo) was fined for misconduct and included this prescient observation: “…Freeman is something of an artist with his pen, and will probably take to that business when he grows too old to indulge in bicycle racing.”
His drawing (c1907) of poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox was published in the book, Period Piece: Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Her Times (1940).
Freeman has not been found in the 1910 census. The Times explained how he got started as a cartoonist:
He was a natural artist and after years of bike racing a friend noticed his drawings and suggested a career as cartoonist. Mr. Freeman agreed to try and the friend gave him a letter of introduction to the late Homer Davenport, then political cartoonist for The New York Journal.
Coming to New York Mr. Freeman accidentally met Davenport in a restaurant. He was idly drawing sketches on a menu when a man sitting near him took notice.
“That’s pretty good stuff your’e doing,” he said. “I might be able to help you. I’m Homer Davenport.”
Freeman told Davenport who he was, gave him the letter of introduction and quickly made a success cartooning.
The article also noted that he was a cartoonist with the Newark Evening News since 1912. Freeman’s love of cycling continued through cartoons for Motorcycle and Bicycle Illustrated and Motorcycling and Bicycling, and participating in an old timers event.
On September 12, 1918 he signed his World War I draft card. He lived in East Orange, New Jersey at 159 North Park Way. He was a cartoonist at the Newark Evening News. He named his wife, Bessie, as his nearest relative. His description was tall, medium build with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Freeman was at the same address in the 1920 census. His family included two daughters and he continued as a newspaper cartoonist. He created a comic strip about golf called In the Rough. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012): “The characters in this strip started in Freeman’s sports editorial cartoons for the Newark Evening News as early as 1926.” The strip began April 18, 1927 and ended April 19, 1934.
In 1930 his family lived in Newark, New Jersey at 68 Parkview Terrace. Freeman passed away August 21, 1937, in Avon, New Jersey. The cause was a heart attack. His death was reported in the Times the following day. A golf tournament and trophy were named after Freeman according to the Newark Sunday Call (New Jersey).
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
I can't recall his exact association with the MAC (he may have simply participated in their 1890s bicycle races) but some members apparently knew him well and wondered about his status. Poke's Portland home address is now in the middle of downtown and would have been a couple of blocks from the original clubhouse, now the site of the public library. One member ran into him by chance on a visit to New York (the 1901 six-day race?), whereupon Poke wrote a letter to his Portland homies with a wry expression that I've retained -- and used frequently -- to this day: "I am yet able to sit up and take nourishment."
This would have been shortly after his return from Europe where the club's correspondent identified him as a champion bicycle racer in Europe where he set a world record of some sort. I don't know why, but I got the impression he raced a penny-farthing, making such accomplishments even more remarkable, but the photo shows him on a "safety" bike. His early cycling would likely have been a high-wheeler regardless.
The MAC correspondent apparently made other questionable entries besides Poke's middle initial, saying that Howard was an illustrator for Ladies' Home Journal (or something like that). Curiously enough, I currently live just just five miles or so from Westport, Wisconsin, home of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, whose portrait he drew for a book about her. Poet Wilcox's work was both praised and vilified during her lifetime. Regardless, one of her musings is one of the most familiar lines in global literature: "Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone."
I hope this provides some illumination in your quest to learn more about your grandfather. Feel free to contact me via email, but rest assured I've just given you everything I uncovered about him. Honestly, I don't remember how much if any of the above made it into the book. It certainly embedded itself in my memory.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: In the Rough
Apparently our own Alex Jay, contributor of those great and revealing Ink-Slinger Profiles, is a golf fan. He suggested that we add some Stripper's Guide pomp and circumstance to herald The Masters, which I'm told will be starting tomorrow. Personally, I can't imagine how anyone could get excited about golf when baseball season has just begun, but then, y'know, different strokes for different folks and all that sort of guff.
So today let's look at my personal favorite golfing strip, In The Rough. As I said, I'm not a fan of the game particularly, and I wouldn't know a mashie from a niblick if i got smacked in the head by one. However, back in the dim days of yore, when I was just a comic strip collector a-borning, I would occasionally purchase a run of dailies from the small pile for sale at Jim Ivey's Cartoon Museum. I remember the scene -- I had pretty well picked over the cache of daily runs, and all that remained was a year's run of Pam, that rather badly-drawn soap opera strip, and a year's run of In The Rough. Not being into golf, I'd avoided that one; but given the last remaining alternative, I put the In The Rough run in my day's shopping basket.
What I found was that I really enjoyed the strip. I discovered that Howard Freeman, the cartoonist, was quietly masterful at both writing and drawing. There's nothing flashy about In The Rough, which chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Doc, a fanatic golfer. However, the drawing perfectly serves the gag, never calling attention to itself, but always adding to the humor with subtle details of panel composition, body language and expression. The writing, too, never calls attention to itself, but there is never a wasted word, nor a bungled gag. The pacing, especially, is superb -- it sometimes puts me in mind of later strips like Peanuts and Doonesbury where novel pacing became an important part of the strip's language. Look at sample #3 above (Doc waiting around in a snowstorm) -- that sort of slow cadence pacing, with it's implied long pauses between panels, is seldom if ever seen in the era of In The Rough.
Unfortunately, while In The Rough had a respectable run, from April 18 1927 to April 19 1934, it never appeared in many papers. You can certainly understand why. How many papers can boast a large enough golfing readership that such a strip, which will presumably be ignored by most non-golfers, should use up valuable space?
In The Rough also suffered from poor distribution. It was first syndicated by Cosmos Newspaper Syndicate, a tiny (and rather mysterious) outfit just before it bit the dust, then switched to McClure, which was no powerhouse in those days, and finally settled with the Ledger Syndicate, which I think took it over only because it was a favorite of Philadelphia Public Ledger readers.
Tomorrow, Alex Jay reveals some really surprising information about Howard Freeman in his Ink-Slinger Profile.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Sals Bostwick
Salisbury Edgar “Sals” Bostwick was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on June 26, 1902, according to the Illinois Death Index at Ancestry.com. His mother’s maiden name was Salisbury. In the 1905 Wisconsin State Census, he was the oldest of two children born to Sherman and Mildred. His father was a commercial traveler. The Eau Claire Leader, October 23, 1909, noted his childhood illness: “Salsbury [sic] ‘Buster’ Bostwick, son of Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Bostwick, Union street, is improving after an attack of scarlet fever.”
The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded the family in Eau Claire at 437 Union Street. His father worked for a rubber company. Bostwick attended Eau Claire High School and was on the staff of the Kodak, the school’s bi-annual magazine, and contributed illustrations and comics. (Some publications spelled his first name without an “i” but his signature clearly shows that letter.)
New Trier, Illinois was his new home, at 1004 Michigan Avenue, as recorded in the 1920 census. His father was the district manager for the rubber company. It’s not clear how long they lived in New Trier. Bostwick was on the Kodak staff in the January 1920 issue, but not in June, which had two illustrations by him. In 1921 he was back on the Kodak staff and graduated that year.
About three weeks later, the October 11 Leader reported the following:
Goes to Chicago Tribune
Salsbury [sic] Bostwick, whose cartoons have been running in The Telegram every Saturday, has resigned his position at Gillette’s and will leave this week for Chicago, where he has accepted a position on the Chicago Tribune, working with Frank King of “Gasoline Alley” fame, in cartoon work.
The Leader, December 7, 1923, picked up a story on Bostwick, who resided in Rogers Park, Chicago.
The Rogers Park Star published the following item on an Eau Claire boy accompanied by an excellent portrait:
The Star considers itself highly fortunate to be able to announce an original cartoon series which will appear each week in the Star by one of Chicago’s most promising younger cartoonists, Sals Bostwick. All the more interest centers on this young artist because he is and has for a long time been a Rogers Park resident. Mr. Bostwick is a protege of E.A. [sic] King, the cartoonist of Gasoline Alley, and the picture we show of Mr. Bostwick is with the original of Skeezie’s “Pal,” Mr. King’s own dog.
Mr. Bostwick runs each week in the Sunday Tribune the highly popular “Heroes of the Week” cartoon. The first of the series will begin in the next issue of The Star. The series will be entitled, “The Cliff Dwellers of Rogers Park.”
Based on the article above, Heroes of the Week began in 1923 and ended in 1925. One Round Teddy debuted in May 1924.
Students of Northwestern are to be accorded a rare treat tomorrow at 11:45 a.m. when Sals Bostwick, famous creator of a number of comic strips will deliver a chalk talk and a demonstration of his art from the steps of University hall as a special attraction in Purple Parrot subscription drive.
Mr. Bostwick is the creator of “Floradora,” “In Our Office,” “Heroes of the Week” and other popular cartoons. Sals will appear with Albert E. Gage, art edit of the Parrot, the pair having worked out a novel stunt that Gage claims will be a surprise worth seeing. Jimmy Clarke, Bostwick’s idea man, will also be on deck and he may speak of the manner in which he and the artist collaborate to produce the famous cartoons….
Hailing from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Sals began working on the Chicago Tribune, several years ago. His work found favor with the reading public almost overnight and his rise in the field of comic art has been phenomenal. He is a confirmed Northwestern booster, spending his Summers at one of the fraternity houses here….
Bostwick will demonstrate his art in charcoal and grease paint and will make the typical Bostwick comment on each picture. It is rumored that Sals is looking for a type of girl who will surpass the charm and appeal of his own Floradora and he may find some girl on the campus as a model for the particular type he has in mooned. Mr. Bostwick will do a few portraits of some subscribers to present them to the object of his art.
He produced Room and Board beginning in May 1928. Bostwick passed away February 6, 1930, in Chicago. The Milwaukee Sentinel and Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin), published the Associated Press report the same day:
Young Chicago Cartoonist Dies
Chicago, (AP)—Salisbury Bostwick 27, formerly of Eau Claire, Wis., better known as Sals Bostwick, cartoonist for a Chicago newspaper, died today following an operation for appendicitis.
A family tree at Ancestry.com said he died at the Sovereign Hotel. He was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, April 08, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: One-Round Teddy
One-Round Teddy, our focus today, is a pretty run-of-the-mill kid gang effort that was produced to satisfy the seemingly unquenchable needs of the expanded Chicago Tribune Sunday comics section. Although Bostwick was only just entering his 20s, the art style seems that of an old hand -- which he already was when the feature debuted on May 25 1924. Any critic who says that Bostwick got a leg up because of his prior job assisting Frank King on Gasoline Alley is silenced pretty quickly on the strength of the art, if not so much the gags. The Tribune, too, seemed impressed. Never a paper to run a lot of dailies, they showed the measure of their regard for Bostwick by granting him a rarely offered spot in the daily paper with One-Round Teddy, starting August 5.
Whether One-Round Teddy would have eventually earned Bostwick the price of fame is unknowable, because it didn't end up getting much of a chance. The daily strip ended after just one month, on September 6, and the Sunday last appeared January 4 1925.
Perhaps Bostwick couldn't handle the workload -- he may still have been assisting King during this period -- or perhaps the pay was too low. We do know that it wasn't long before he moved over to Hearst's Chicago American, so maybe Bostwick knew he had better in him, and felt he could command a better deal.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics