Saturday, November 07, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, October 20 1908 -- Samuel Gompers, famed labor leader and liberal activist, is demonized by the Republicans, who say he is a hypocrite. Seems that his magazine, The Federationist, accepted a couple of advertisements from a Standard Oil subsidiary. This, says the Republicans, was his way of accepting bribes from Rockefeller.As far as I can tell, this argument, which seems like a pretty far stretch, gained no traction among Gompers' admirers.


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Friday, November 06, 2015


Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter Three Part Two

This is the Life!


Walt McDougall

Chapter Three -- Living By One's Wits (Part 2)

I was scarcely sophisticated enough, when I started to invade the newspaper offices, to sense the secret of big circulations nor to perceive that the lowbrows form the great majority of mankind. It was a long and tiresome task to sell ideas or sketches to either Puck or Judge, ideas that germinated in an almost bucolic environment, for Newark was then merely a big overgrown country village. One day I produced an absurd series depicting various methods of getting home with an alcoholic incubus. It was accepted, and the pay-clerk told me to report to Mr. Keppler, who assured me that I was now on the right track. I learned my lesson.

After that the value of grotesque ribaldry became perceptible and the lowbrow joke my quarry, but from that period Puck perceptibly declined!

It is difficult for a lover of Nature and Beauty to fetter a desire to improve his drawing or composition, and between the need of the meal-ticket and the urge to do better work I was permanently crippled. After all, Nature probably designed me, if not for an Episcopalian bishop (for I had splendid legs), at least for scientific pursuits. Archaeology is still my favorite study, and I am hoping to be able to revisit the ruins of Yucatan and do some valuable work yet.

I had managed, by showing some sketches, to obtain the position of "Fire Artist" on the Daily Graphic, although I anticipated little profit from the connection other than exercise. Quite a large proportion of the pictures in that paper seem to have been, in my backward glance, confined to fire sketches. Previous to my appointment, conflagrations in my State had been as rare as savings-bank failures or bankrupt saloons, but no sooner had I arrived home than the big celluloid factory caught fire. At six o'clock precisely the great explosion occurred, but I had been stationed at the corner of Mulberry Street for an hour as if anticipating this added feature, and by ten that night I was over in the Graphic office with a sketch which was printed next day, although the art manager had said on first seeing it that it looked as effective upside down as in any other position, which, after all, is precisely what might be said of any sizeable explosion.

At any rate, good-sized fires seem to have broken out one after another in Newark, Elizabeth and Jersey City in rapid succession, so that my new vocation became quite a dependable one, and it is likely that I might have made a fairly good living, with industry, had I not aspired to do comic pictures. Another strange coincidence which went unmarked by all was that when I ceased to make fire pictures, conflagrations in my territory fell off ninety-three per cent, although, it may be stated, these two facts were in no sense correlative.

On the Graphic's staff were a host of the best artists in this country. Among them were A. B. Frost, C. J. Taylor, Dan Beard, Thomas Wust, R. Piquet, Ed. W. Kemble, Gray Parker, C. D. Wilder, M. Woolf, W. A. Rogers and the great L. Hopkins. James A. Wales had come from Cincinnati, Charles Graham was just beginning to make his wondrous big scenes, Timothy J. Sullivan was one of the newsboys who sold the paper, as occasionally did Steve Brodie and Chuck Connors, while Charles and Daniel Frohman handed out the damp sheets to the boys down in the basement.

At that time the plague was prevalent throughout Europe and there was much apprehension as to its invading the United States, a loud demand for a quarantine being voiced by the Graphic. I came upon a tiny heading in a French paper representing a skull rising above the horizon over the sea, upon which floated a coffin, one of those naive Gallic ideas so full of suggestion, and from it I constructed a cartoon of full-page pretension showing a classic America with a sword labeled "Quarantine" warning off a death-ship shaped like a coffin, with the sun-skull peering over the sky line.

I suppose that this was my first actual cartoon-idea, although I had published in '76 in Harper's Weekly a "design for a dollar bill" with Ben Butler's face upon it, apropos of the greenback campaign.

When I showed this plague cartoon to the Graphic's editor, he regarded me with amazement for a moment, and then led me silently into the room of Miranda, their distinguished cartoonist, into whose hand he put my picture. Miranda gasped, stared at me, scratched his bushy black head, and motioned me to examine the cartoon on which he was working. To my intense astonishment, it was precisely the same, even to the minor details, as my own. There was the classic figure wielding the sword "Quarantine," the coffin and the skull, just as if we had each copied from the same picture.

That the thing was pure coincidence was apparent to both Miranda and myself, for, knowing the facts, we saw that nothing else would account for it, but the others endeavored to seek causes in thought-transference, telepathy, clairvoyance and similar absurdities, not neglecting the possibilities of chicanery, but as I had the visible evidence of many hours' work on my paper and Miranda had begun to do his that morning, this explanation was the most absurd of all. The solution, in a measure, was found when he asked me how I happened to think of the idea and I told him about the tiny French heading, whereupon he produced a copy of it which, he admitted, had suggested the cartoon to him also. Even then the coincidence in the composition and the drawing of the details was quite sufficient to make the occurrence remarkable, but when with the instinct of the modern newspaper man I suggested publishing the pictures with a story about this perhaps hitherto unprecedented happening, all the interest flopped. I was revealed as one of those office pests with a novel idea who, until Pulitzer arrived and made them all welcome, were the curse of the moldy, bat-infested old-time newspaper office. The Graphic and, indeed, all of them, except the Sun, got up a daily paper just as one fills a garbage can, without discrimination or undue mental effort—just so many pigeonholes to be filled, each with their specified contents—and perhaps that is the only way the editor of a big paper can avoid destruction, for that is the method of today. The old Graphic, slowly dying from the head down, never knew why the patient, long-suffering, stupid public grew tired, soon after Hopkins took his coruscating comics away to Australia and the Sydney Bulletin to become a millionaire and left them as flat as tarpaper.

Today we are seeing the very same passing phase; the indiscriminate, meaningless dumping of pictures, simply pictures, without even the sentimental value of postcards, in the old garbage-can manner, pictures not chosen for their interest as such but to fill spaces under such headings as "Babies," "Divorcees," "Movie Stars," "Husband-killers," etc., a daily photograph album of nonentities to make up a page. This, the easiest and speediest way to construct a daily paper, pays for a time, but the unfortunate part of the process is that the men who make that sort of paper never have brains enough to adopt new ideas in order to keep afloat; such men know but one method, that of buying the brilliant men from their competitors and exploiting them, but alas, these stars never seem to shine with the same refulgency when shifted into new orbits.

The owner of the Daily Cross-word Puzzle, having erected a journal on that foundation and thereby exhausted his ingenuity, sees in more and better puzzles the only logical method of holding his circulation and his advertisers, which is natural, as most men have but one idea in their lives. The man who is cursed with more than one, beside being uncomfortable and lonely, never has time to concentrate, and dies poor, but the one-idea man nurtures his little pet like a boy raising his first calf, giving all his time to it, and, three times, out of ten, he builds it into a money-maker, whereupon his competitors seize on the idea and proceed to trim him according to the rules of the game.

The old Graphic in desperation tried many devices to stave off disaster, many of them along the line of attracting public attention to the paper without having any goods on its counter that were not shopworn. Their plan for sending a giant balloon to Europe was one of these schemes. Pages of the paper were filled with plans and drawings of the great project, and much interest was excited, but nothing happened. I never knew whether or not the whole thing was purely advertising, but I was imbued—how, I have forgotten—with a belief that I was to be selected as one of the aerial voyagers because I was a lightweight athlete who could draw and write a little. This delusion vanished with the fading away of the "Graphic Balloon." Such expensive advertising devices should only be adopted by very prosperous papers, not by those already on the rocks, and the Graphic was in that uncomfortable position.

Late in the sixties portrait-photography assumed the aspects of a craze, and several prominent photographers had found it expedient to import artists of more or less eminence from Germany and France to satisfy the demand for colored portraits. As this demand was satisfied and the business became commercialized, these artists opened studios or took to illustrating. They established the Palette Club (or their employer did), and then came the Kit Kat Club, and finally the Salmagundi Club, which is still virile but showing signs of arteriosclerosis. The Tile Club, an organization of live ones which promoted outdoor sketching and the drinking of beer other than that from local breweries, thrived about this time and secured much precious advertising, but all these were beyond my years and my purse.

We had a Technik Club in Newark well up into the nineties which was of great benefit to a few steady workers, mostly jewelers with a few real honest-to-God artists who needed practice, its method being a well balanced division of time between drawing from life and the consumption of crackers, cheese and beer at ten cents per quart, known as the "growler rate." A professional model from New York was one night posing in the nude before a dozen men who were intent on getting every second of the fleeting hour, in a silence broken only by the nervous scratching of charcoal on paper, when an incident occurred which throws an odd light upon feminine psychology. Only a minute or so remained before the period of rest, when with a sharp shriek of genuine alarm the lovely model leaped from the stand and fled outside of the circle of light focused upon her form.

"I saw a man looking down upon me from that window next door!" she managed to explain when her agitation had subsided. Strange to say, it was impossible to convince our greatly shocked model that there was anything humorous in the situation, and, in truth, we made the matter worse by our inability to see that her attitude was quite consistent, but we were all much younger then.

I have forgotten to mention that after my cruel discharge by heartless employers I was sent to the drawing school of August Will at 202 Broadway, four flights up. Will was the foremost teacher of drawing and coloring in the city, and he numbered among his former pupils many well-known painters and engravers. He was a bearded, gruff-looking German, smelling most abominably of strong snuff, and his experience with stupidity and conceit had given him a sort of truculent bearing that was very disconcerting to beginners. When I came to him, he asked me, as if casually, if I could draw, and with ingenuous confidence I assured him that I could. Smiling sardonically, he laid a sheet of paper on the table and said:

"Draw me once a circle on that, a large one."

Now, knowing that to be a quite impossible feat for anybody, I saw my finish at once. Too late, I realized what an ass I had been to pretend that I could draw. But there was no escape from the test; I seized the pencil and with the recklessness of sheer despair swept it around on the paper in a second and stepped back for the inevitable.

Will started as he glanced at it, blew his nose, and stared at me. Then he grabbed a pair of compass-dividers, centered the diameter, and, by the horn of the prophet! the outer point traveled around on an almost perfect circle! He walked around the room with a most curious expression on his face, then he took a huge pinch of snuff and conducted me into his studio, where I remained for nine months. I traveled in that time from the lowest to the highest class, for I worked from nine AM until nine PM, the only all-day pupil among dozens, and when I left, compelled by lack of funds at home to forego any more instruction, he suspected, I think, the cause and told me that he would teach me free of charge, but this my pride would not permit. Then the dear gruffy snuffy old fellow actually cried!

When, three years later, I opened a little drawing school for twelve and fourteen-year-old infants in Orange, most of them being relations, I taught Will's simple but effective method with beginners, and it was a continual source of pleasure to witness its efficiency. Children often may be easily taught drawing by any competent teacher, and the process is one of increasing interest and satisfaction. I truly believe that the self-control, observation and judgment exercised in learning to draw, far transcends in benefit any other form of instruction for small children, inasmuch as it exercises at once the eye, the hand and the brain. This balance once early attained, the child is safe to go into any profession, politics, banking, tailoring or bootlegging, with the assurance of a safe and steady poise; the proof of this statement being that it is notorious that no artist has ever been known to go to jail.

I joined, after the Centennial's glories had faded, the Sons of Temperance, in fact I became Secretary of my lodge, "Golden Star," or something like that. Temperance meant then what Prohibition means now—total abstinence—only with a difference: we had in our ranks no crooks looking for graft or offices, nor did any of us carry it on our hips. Saloons were terrible evils, but the Sons of Temperance never even dreamed of closing them up by a constitutional amendment. We merely hoped to snatch a victim now and then, especially from the German beer gardens up on the Hill where the shining white tables gleamed under the shady elms and were waited on by buxom blond Valkyries with blue steins of one-half-gallon size, and the sunset gold glinted warmly through the long amber necks of Rhine-wine bottles, and purple-tinted pigeons strutted cooing about the feet of the abandoned carousers, picking up pretzel crumbs. Thank God, all that has been mended!

One night "Star of the Morning," or whatever it was, organized and launched a straw-ride. They tell me that this form of diversion, once universally popular, has been entirely superseded by the automobile, which is regrettable. We started off about nine at night, each couple wrapped in several blankets, as the thermometer had suddenly dropped to about zero, and until we arrived at a small roadhouse up near Caldwell we might have been taken for so many sacks of potatoes being shipped.

We danced for two hours, and then a barrel of sweet cider was broached. This, however, had frozen on the outside, and thus we innocently imbibed what is known in the remoter bucolic places as "heart of cider," the same being a potent and invigorating condensation of the inherent kick possessed by all cider when properly hardened. Jack Frost can bring this kick to the surface by his alchemy in less time than a distiller of applejack. It tasted bully, we were thirsty, and nobody warned us that we were becoming too boisterous and indecorous for Sons and Daughters of Temperance.

When we finally tumbled into our blankets for the homeward ride, there were those among us who had lapsed into complete barbarism and who made the trip a nightmare for those who wished simply to sleep and dream, but not one of us suspected the cause of our tremendous access of high spirits. Those who lapsed into peaceful slumber were the worst sufferers, for these simply passed out and had to be carried into the lodge room on our arrival there and cared for until morning by those of tougher fiber. By this time we had all discovered what had happened to us, and daylight found assembled a dolorous crowd suffering from headache, conscience and the dread of discovery.

We tried to hush the scandal up, but it was too juicy to be kept covered, and a nasty little sheet called the Echo printed a highly colored account of the affair which I considered as necessitating the beating up of the editor, but he escaped across the canal bridge before I had administered more than three or four reminders.

But the "Eastern Star" seems to have faded from my memory with this sad episode, and now I could not tell how to give the mystic knock in order to enter a lodge. Come to think of it, the same may be said about lodges of Elks, the Grange and even the Masons, in which I remain merely a long-forgotten and unnoted entered apprentice. I only remember its name, Belcher Lodge of Atlantic City.


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Thursday, November 05, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Tim Early

J. Vincent “Tim” Early was born John Vinton Early in Richmond, Indiana, on July 8, 1889. Early’s birth information was on his World War I draft card.

Early and his younger brother, Robert, were the sons of Edward and Jennie. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, his father was not home during the enumeration. The family resided in Denver, Colorado at 1329 Lafayette Street. At some point they moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Early’s father worked in the steel industry.

In the 1910 census, Early, an artist working at home, and his brother resided in Pittsburgh at 1043 Murray Hill Avenue. Listed as their parents were George Early, a lawyer, and Cora. The status and whereabouts of Early’s biological parents is not known.

The New York Times, October 7, 1925, said Early studied art at the Stevenson Art Institute in Pittsburgh and was on the art staff of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Early signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His Pittsburgh address was unchanged. He worked as a freelance artist who was described as tall and medium build with blue eyes and light colored hair. After his service, Early moved to New York City.

In 1918, Early’s illustrations of women appeared
 in Sunday newspapers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) and The Daily Ardmoreite (Oklahoma).

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Early produced Geevum Girls from 1919 to 1920. He had a short stint on Newspaper Feature Service’s Romantic Cartoons from March to April 1919. Illustrator Juanita Hamel also contributed to the series.

Early wrote about and drew himself in Editor & Publisher, December 25, 1919.

The 1920 census recorded Early in Manhattan, New York City at 62 West 83 Street. His occupation was comic artist in the newspaper industry.

On August 1, 1921, Early married Juanita Hamel whose marriage was recorded in the New York, New York Marriage Index at Their marriage was reported in the Fourth Estate, August 13, 1921:

Newspaper Illustrator Is Bride of Comic Artist.
Miss Juanita Hamel, whose illustrations appear in about 200 newspapers throughout the country, and J. Vincent (“Tim”) Early, well known comic artist, were married on August 1 in the Little Church Around the Corner, New York. Mr. Early, before coming to New York, was on the staff of the Pittsburg Dispatch. The marriage of the artist and illustrator is the result of a romance which began in the office of the King Features Syndicate, where both have worked side by side for several years. Mr. and Mrs. Early are motoring through the Canadian Rockies.
Early drew Samson and Delia from August 18, 1924 into 1924; he was the writer from August 18, 1924 to October 18, 1924. Early may have dropped out due to ill health; the Times said he had heart problems. American Newspaper Comics said Paul Robinson took over the art and H.C. Wilwer did the writing. The strip ended in May 1925.

Early and Hamel visited Cuba in early 1925. They returned to Key West, Florida on February 19, 1925. The passenger list recorded the couple as “Early Juanita” and “Early John V”.

Early passed away October 6, 1925, in New York City. The New York Evening Post, October 7, 1925, reported his death.

Funeral services for John Vinton Early will be held at 4 o’clock this afternoon in the chapel of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, 1 West Forty-eighth street. Mr. Early, a newspaper artist for years, died at his home at 33 West Eighth street, from heart disease.
He was born in Richmond, Ind., the son of Edward P. Early, then associated with William E. Leeds and Daniel G. Reid in the steel industry. He studied art in Pittsburgh and his first newspaper work was on the art staff of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. He is survived by his wife and a brother. Interment will be in Mount Hill Cemetery, Eaton, O.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: The Geevum Girls

Above is the only sample I have in my collection of The Geevum Girls. Luckily, you can see a nice batch of examples over at Barnacle Press.

The strip was about the Geevum family, but focused mainly on the teenage sisters, one gorgeous, the other plain. An odd conceit of the strip is that the Geevum sisters were never named, which was a pretty tough trick but rather pointless. The strip is mostly a string of slapstick gags, but occasionally a continuing storyline spiced things up a bit.

It is appropriate to be checking this strip out right now, as it is an early entry from Hearst's King Features Syndicate, which is this year celebrating their hundredth anniversary. King, of course, is now probably the largest syndicate in the world. When King Features was created in 1915, though, it did not initially focus on comics, and those that it did start carrying in the 1910s were lesser features, sold on the cheap to less affluent newspapers. The Geevum Girls, which began in or slightly before July 1919, for instance, ran in no major papers that I know of, but could be found in quite a few suburban newspapers who were unable to get better material because they were frozen out by exclusivity agreements. The King Features juggernaut that handled all of Hearst's comic strip properties, the one we have come to know, didn't really come into existence until the early 1930s when Hearst's various syndicates started to finally consolidate under that banner.

As best I can tell, The Geevum Girls probably expired on or slightly after July 17 1920, which would make the run a nice even year long. Although it was probably missed by no one, the plates were evidently sold off to one of the reprint syndicates, and you can find it re-running in small papers starting in 1924 and as late as 1935. The clothing and topical gags would have looked utterly ridiculous by then, but hey, never mind!

Creator Tim Early had a knack for making stale old gags seem almost fresh, and his cartooning was naive but energetic, but he never did another strip that I know of. He did occasionally contribute to one of Hearst's multi-creator romantic cartoon features.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015


Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Roland Coe

Roland R. Coe was born in Havana, Illinois, on May 24, 1907, according to a profile, by Carl Robert Coe, at Find a Grave. An obituary in the Springfield Union (Massachusetts) said the birth year was 1906.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Coe lived with his parents and paternal grandmother in Chicago, Illinois at114 East Ohio Street. His father was a painter for an advertising company. According to the family tree, Coe’s father died in 1918.

In The Saturday Evening Post, February 2, 1944, Coe said. “I was born in Havana, Illinois, a town of some 4000 inhabitants on the east bank of the Illinois River. Showboats docked at the foot of Bridge Street several times every summer, and when I was twelve years old I fooled around with the trap drummer’s equipment on the same boat, the Golden Eagle, during the intermissions between dances on an excursion trip to Peoria.”

The 1920 census recorded Coe, his sister and mother in her brother’s household in Havana, Illinois at 429 South Pear Street. Coe’s mother married William Mansfield who moved the family to Hamburg, New York.

At age fifteen, Coe contributed cartoons to the Buffalo Times and Buffalo Evening News.

 10/8/1921 Buffalo Evening News

 6/10/1922 Buffalo Evening News

12/20/1928 Buffalo Evening News

The Erie County Independent (Hamburg, New York), September 11, 1924, said: “The senior class of the high school met last week and elected these officers: President, Roland Coe; vice-president, Ruth O’Day; secretary, Helen Foote; treasurer, Sidney McAllister.”

Coe returned to his alma mater to speak about cartooning. The Independent, May 31, 1928, carried the report by Evelyn Kappus, class of 1929.

Addresses Club
Friday afternoon Mr. Roland Coe, former cartoonist for the Buffalo Evening News, spoke to the newspaper club.

He said, “There are several kinds of cartoonists. Among these, the new political cartoonist is not readily considered because of the experts in that field. The human interest cartoonist is jumping to high honors. Unless one has shown ability to dramatize humorous situations or visualize ideas strongly he had better not attempt this branch of newspaper work.

The Chicago Tribune takes the lead in this line with about fifteen cartoonists of national reputation and many others of promising ability. Their work is done several months in advance and sent to the different parts of the county so that it will appear everywhere at the same time.

Mr. Coe expects to go to Chicago soon to continue his work.
Beginning in 1928, Coe was a regular contributor to the monthly, Town Tidings, the Magazine of Western New York.

According to the 1930 census, Coe resided in Hamburg, New York at 201 Scranton Road. His step-father was a laborer for a steel company; his mother and sister were unemployed. Coe was an artist with an advertising agency.

Coe was a member of the Artists’ Guild of Buffalo which held exhibitions. The Buffalo Courier-Express (New York), October 19, 1930, reported the upcoming show.

Buffalo Guild Plans Display of Creations

Greater Buffalo Advertising Club assists in exhibition to be held this week

The second annual exhibition of commercial art given by the Artists’ Guild of Buffalo in conjunction with the Greater Buffalo Advertising Club, will be held at the Sutler Tuesday to Thursday.

The exhibit will comprise work in all mediums for both newspaper and magazine advertising, and will form a representative display of art available m Buffalo to advertisers and those Interested in the graphic arts. Gordon Aymar, advertising art director of New York, will view the work in order to compare it with that produced in other cities.
The Courier-Express, May 1, 1932, said Coe was chosen to illustrate Edwin K. Gross’s novel, Samuel Wilkeson’s Buffalo, “the first fiction treatment of an episode in the history of this city.”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Coe’s cartoon, Crosstown, ran from July 9, 1934 to October 3, 1953.

The Independent, January 24, 1935, noted two examples of the success with roots in the high school yearbook.

Several years ago Dan Van Pelt, upon being given a camera for Christmas, undertook the position of photographic editor. He did such an excellent job—that he took up the work after leaving high school and he is now assistant to the photography teacher at Seneca Vocational School in Buffalo.

Then there is also the story of Roland Coe, the Hamburg boy who drew such excellent cartoons for the yearbook of 1925. He continued along the same line and is now drawing for “The Saturday Evening Post” and “Colliers”.

It may, therefore, be seen that the annual occupies a well-recognized position in the school curriculum and acts also as a medium for better acquainting the community with the workings of the school.
The September 19, 1935 edition of the Independent highlighted this item:
Winchell Praises Coe
In his column of Sept. 14, Walter Winchell discussed the successes of cartoonists and caricaturists. Among those to whom he gave praise was Roland Coe of Hamburg and New York City.

“Roland Coe is a cripple, and his success story is a record of surmounting innumerable obstacles,” Mr. Winchell wrote.
The Courier-Express, January 3, 1937, covered Coe’s guild presidency.
Artist Leader

Roland Coe Heads Guild

Former Buffalo artist first president of cartoonists
We have with us all kinds from John L. Lewis, champion of industrial unions to Robert Montgomery who captains the glamorous hosts of Hollywood in the Screen Guild. Now a new leader arises, Roland Coe, former Buffalo newspaper cartoonist, to fight the battles of his brother artists as first president of the Cartoonist Guild of America.

March, 1936, in New York City, seven men, headed by Mr. Coe, organized to force from national magazines a minimums price per drawing, second rights, and payment o n acceptance. Growing from seven to several hundred in nine months the membership includes well-known men like Sidney Hoff, Frank Owen, William Gropper, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Ned Hilton, Charles Adams and Garrett Price.

So far most of the editors have signed the Guild contract agreeing among other things to a minimum price per drawing and of the guild.
The Springfield Union said Coe married Doris Judd on July 5, 1937 in Buffalo.

The 1940 census said newspaper cartoonist Coe, his wife and newborn son, Peter, resided in Mount Vernon, New York. The Saturday Evening Post said Coe moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1942.

“Since I started drawing the Little Scouts cartoons for the Post,” he says, “I’ve had the opportunity of becoming more or less active in scouting again. I’m one of the committeemen of Troop 502 in South Amherst… 
When he was a kid himself, Roland Coe was a member of the Lone Scouts—later merged with the Boy Scouts—an organization founded by W. D. Boyce, a Chicago publisher. Mr. Boyce published the magazine, Lone Scout, for boys, and later, boys ran and edited it, with a little adult supervision. Mr. Coe did his first cartoons for this lively publication.
During the mid-1940s, according to American Newspaper Comics, Coe produced advertising comics for Wheaties, and Nabisco Shredded Wheat which was called His Nibs. (more samples here.

undated photograph at Heritage Auctions

Coe passed away February 21, 1954, in Amherst, Massachusetts. His death was reported the following day in the Springfield Union:

Roland R. Coe, Cartoonist, Dies in So. Amherst

Creator of ‘Little Scouts’ Succumbs to Heart Attack
Amherst, Feb. 21—Roland R. Coe, 47, nationally known cartoonist and creator of such cartoons as “Little Scouts” and “Crosstown,” died suddenly this morning at his home in Middle St., South Amherst, following a heart attack.

Illinois Native
He was born in Havana, Ill., May 24, 1906, and graduated from the Hamburg High School at Hamburg, N.Y.

From 1937 to 1942 he was associated with The New York Post and made his home at Westchester, N.Y.

In 1942, he came here where he had been prominent in civic affairs, especially in the work of the Boy Scouts for which he has been nationally honored.

His cartoons, “Little Scout,” have appeared regularly in Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

He was a member and former trustee of the South Congregational Church. He was also a member of the National Cartoonists’ Society.

He is survived by his wife, the former Miss Doris Judd, whom he married at Buffalo, N.Y., on July 5, 1937. He also leaves three sons, Peter, Stephen, and Norman Coe, all at home; his mother, Mrs. Winslow Mansfield of South Amherst and a sister, Mrs. James Stanton of Avondale, Ariz.

Memorial services will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the South Congregational Church in charge of the Douglass funeral home. Rev. Arnold Kenseth, pastor of the church and Rev. Louis Toppan of Bristol, N.H., a former pastor, will officiate.
Coe was buried at South Amherst Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


Fascinatingly thorough as always!
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Monday, November 02, 2015


Advertising Strips: His Nibs

Roland Coe had a long and prosperous career as a magazine gag cartoonist, which Alex Jay will discuss here tomorrow, but he also did newspaper work. His daily panel Crosstown ran for two decades, but never appeared in a lot of papers. He is much better remembered, strangely enough, for a rather bland advertising strip that only appeared for about four years.

His Nibs, about a young Nabisco Shredded Wheat junkie, is pretty thin stuff. The kid is utterly whacko for those giant cereal pillows, and hilarity ensues. Well, not really, but that's the idea.

The series began in the form of black and white weekday ads like the above, starting around March 1945. Only about 15 to 20 different strips seem to have been created in this format, but they ran for about a year, off and on, with some layoffs between Nabisco ad buys, and some strips getting repeat appearances. Later in 1945, a Sunday series was added to go into colored comics sections, and those seem to have kept appearing well into 1948. You can see lots of examples of the Sunday series over on Ger Appeldoorn's blog.

To give you an idea of His Nibs popularity, you can actually find news stories in some papers announcing the return of the strip after a hiatus. That could just be clever marketing, of course, but another indicator is that the term "his nibs" pops up EVERYWHERE during and for awhile after this series, whereas before the term was not as commonplace (here's an etymology that has it going back centuries).

Those of you not immersed in everything yesteryear may not be familiar with the term. Think of someone in an office sarcastically saying in regard to their boss, "His highness would like to see us all in the conference room." Now just substitute "his nibs" for "his highness" and you understand the usage perfectly. When used in regard to a kid, there can be an element of affectionate joshing, though I think that slightly different meaning may trace directly to these shredded wheat ads, in which the kid is not portrayed as self-important or acting privileged.

The other thing that caught my eye about these ads (as I looked around in vain for something more entertaining than the punchlines) is that shredded wheat is termed "the original Niagara Falls product." What's the deal with that, I wondered? A quick Google later, and I had the answer. Shredded Wheat was originally manufactured in a somewhat famous plant at Niagara Falls called the Natural Food Conservancy. Check out this interesting history.


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Sunday, November 01, 2015


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


It was a crazy time. As Jim points out for a book to go up in value it has to be rare. With so many speculating on obvious issues there was no rarity.

Craig Zablo
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