Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, October 23 1908 --- Hearst's Archbold / Standard Oil letters continue to be published, and many prominent politicians are, as shown by Herriman, being caught in the web. Now implicated as tools of Standard Oil are Mississippi Senator Anselm McLaurin, Texas Senator Joseph Bailey, Oklahoma Governor Charles Haskell, and Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph Sibley.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Perhaps ironically, Haskell would end up going into the oil business after leaving politics.
McLaurin died a few months after this cartoon appeared.
Bailey was the only one whose career seems to have been derailed by the oil scandals.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 4 Part 2
Chapter Four (Part 2) - THE STREET OF A THOUSAND SINS
Those were the Steamboat Days. To every little bayside park and grove ran whole fleets heavily loaded, and the average city dweller then was intimately acquainted with the geography of parts as remote as Port Jefferson or Bridgeport, knowledge that was lost to the next generation until the bicycle opened up the world anew. Other fleets took rotund and stolid citizens far out to sea off Long Branch, where they fed expensive pink bloodworms to bergalls and toadfish for seven hours with an enormous consumption of beer. Other fleets, I know not how many, competed for the Hudson River traffic by day and night. I recall once that during a most bitter warfare I traveled to Albany for twenty-five cents, spent a lovely day, and meditated remaining for another, but strolling down to the wharf, where two boats were about to start for New York, I hit the very apex of the "Steamboat War." I heard a hoarse voice grate out an announcement, "Free trip to New York!" and its instant echo, "Same price here!" and I walked aboard the palatial steamer. I think it was the Daniel Drew. Nobody followed me, and in a few minutes we were racing down river. Last summer, when I paid over six dollars for the same privilege, the recollection gritted.
These flocks of steamboats were a constant menace to canoeists, who were regarded by their pilots as marine vermin to whom the navigation laws did not apply. As a large part of my spare time and that of my chum, George Baxter, a jeweler whose secret aspirations toward the ministry prevented him from acquiring the proper language of the sailorman, was spent on the waters surrounding New York, I naturally developed a gift of direct and pointed self-expression that was valuable later. I also discovered that canoeing literature was rather salable. It was not until '83 that I felt confident enough to devote my efforts solely to Art and Literature.
One day my brother remarked that "they'd be making artificial eggs next!" This led to cogitation, and as a result I wrote a couple of columns describing the manufacture of artificial eggs by a Newark concern, giving an imaginary formula for their construction precise in every detail, as well as many other particulars that gave added verisimilitude to the article, and then I took it to Amos Cummings, the editor of the Sun. To my unbounded delight, it was printed next day, and with my name signed to it, an unusual circumstance. I received fourteen dollars for the story, and I decided that Literature should be my stepmother from that day forth.
Letters began to pour in upon me containing money and stamps from produce-dealers, boarding houses and hotels, all wanting samples of the artificial eggs. My mother compelled me to return the money, and that hurt, but I was rewarded when a well-known dye concern offered me a hundred dollars for the use of the article in a small booklet advertising Easter-egg colors.
During the next three or four years, Baxter and I voyaged in our dainty, mahogany-decked craft some thousands of miles. Our favorite cruising ground was Long Island Sound, although we reached the Lakes via the Hudson and the Mohawk, ran the rapids of many rivers, did the Chesapeake region via the Elk River canal, and once sailed to Boston. Lincoln B. Palmer, afterward editor of Rudder, and Paul Butler, the son of General Benjamin Butler, were as ardent salt-water sailors as we, Palmer being the most expert canoe-handler I have known. There is not a nook nor cove along the Long Island or Connecticut shore from Sand's Point to Montauk or from the Thames River to the Raritan in which we have not at one time or another anchored our craft. Everywhere and always I wrote about the joys of canoeing. Thereby hangs another tale of conceit and vanity rudely handled.
I had been asked by a canoeing friend to act as judge of a race near Perth Amboy, and took the train attired in immaculate white flannels. When I arrived at my friend's office it was closed, and there I was, all dressed up with nowhere to go, and without even a porch to shelter me from a storm even then splashing down ominous drops. In desperation I darted for a flagman's shanty beside the railroad track, taking refuge just as the downfall came. When the old flagman came, he was soaked. I had observed, by then, with some surprise and elation, that the interior of his shanty was covered with pictures from the World, nearly all of them being my own cartoons and sketches. This circumstance argued that my host was not only an intelligent, cultivated man, but a discriminating one as well. Not content with this assumption, and moved by mere petty vanity and a desire for empty praise, I remarked:
"I perceive that you are an admirer of newspaper pictures, but you seem to have collected only those of one artist."
"That's right!" he replied with real enthusiasm, regarding me with interest. "I keep every one of McDougall's pictures. He's the greatest cartoonist that ever lived!"
I fully agreed with him, but I said, summoning a faint blush: "I can't subscribe
"What McDougall? The cartoonist?" he demanded sharply.
"The same," I breathed modestly.
His cold blue eyes surveyed my white flannels, my dinky sailor hat, and my buckskin shoes with chilling, corroding contempt, even disgust, but he uttered no sound. The rain poured down in thundering torrents for an hour, and I was compelled to sit there and wither. I grew smaller and smaller until I felt that soon I could slip out under the door. Several years passed in a glacial polite silence, and then suddenly the storm ceased and out flashed the sun.
I crawled out, wordless, and many months older, to find my friend Kitchell, who had been held up by the rain, in a buggy before his office. I crept to him, a broken man. A few minutes later, on our way to the canoe club, we had to drive past the little shanty adorned with my masterpieces, and balm was administered to my wounds. The old flagman came out and spoke to Kitchell, who all unwittingly administered the soothing ointment.
"Hello, Sam!" he said to the still affronted man. "Mr. McDougall tells me he's been spending an hour with you. I'll bet you've had a swell time if you made him talk to you. Git ap!"
Over the face of the art-loving flagman came the evidence of conflicting, various emotions—one of those transformations which one rarely has a chance to study—but the horse trotted off before I garnered other than a mere hint of his feelings. Kitchell told me afterward that whenever he felt especially mean he used to go to the shanty and rub gall and wormwood into its occupant, the poor man who could not, nor could many others, conceive that a great philosopher, sage, prophet and humorist could wear white flannels instead of long gray whiskers.
Probably the downtown center of High Art was Stewart's saloon on Warren Street, which seems to have held as many notable paintings as the Academy of Design, or, at least, it did after spending some hours there. Here was displayed Billy Harnett's bit of verisimilitude. The picture represented an old battered nail-studded door upon which were hung an old hat, a powder horn, a rabbit and other game so perfectly painted that, all day long, men stood before it in the blaze of electric light and disputed which portions of the picture were painted and which were real nail-holes, hinges, keyhole-escutcheons and the like.
Harnett could paint a dollar bill or a postage stamp so faithfully that one would try to pick it from the canvas. One day my brother met me and asked me if I had seen "Billy's" nude at the Academy. It was worth going up for, he declared. I took the trouble, as I was rather doubtful of Harnett's rendition of nude flesh, only to find that the picture was that of a dressed turkey hanging from a kitchen door!
Labels: McDougall's This Is The Life
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: H.F. Voorhees
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Voorhees as the second of five children. The family resided in Beloit at 623 Hackett Street. Voorhees’ father was a carpenter.
Voorhees’ childhood was mentioned in the sign-writing magazine, Signs of the Times, September 1923. The article, “Who’s Who in the Craft: H. F. ‘Bert’ Voorhees”, was transcribed at SignWeb:
“I was born in Wisconsin which is known as the biggest cheese state in the union. I was no more than a day when my Uncle Amos, who was staying with us at that time, looked down in the clothes basket where they had me and said, ‘We will hear from that boy some day.’ And they did. That night. They tell me that I cried as though my little clothes basket would break. Some of the neighbors suggested giving me a rattle. But my mother told them that I had contracted a cold during the night, and already had a little one in my throat. From there I went to high school. I did not do so very well there, being stung by a spelling bee at the foot of my class. I used to hang around the sign shop in our town; but father said, ‘You can’t be a sign painter—you ain’t no artist.’ Well, things went along like that until one day my father wanted a door painted. I got him wrong, I guess. He wanted it white, and I gave him a nice coat of black. He was pretty well peeved about it, and told me to go and never darken his door again. So I came to Chicago.”The 1910 census listed self-employed sign writer Voorhees and his brothers, Arthur (photographer) and Walter (electrician), in Chicago at 1801 Warren Avenue.
The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index said Voorhees married Loretta Adlam in Chicago on September 24, 1914.
On June 5, 1917, Voorhees signed his World War I draft card. His address was 5529 Kimbark Avenue, Chicago. He was a sign-writer employed by the Thomas Cusack Company. Voorhees named his wife as his nearest relative. He was described as tall, medium build with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
In 1920, Evanston, Illinois was Voorhees’ home town. His wife and brother, Walter, were in his household at 201 Ridge Avenue. Voorhees’ occupation was advertising artist.
In the mid-1920s, Voorhees contributed several articles to Signs of the Times including: “Flannel Mouth Fallen” (December 1923); “Bull in the Chinee Shop” (January 1924); “Good Yoke” (July 1924); and “Mammoth Electric Dominates Chicago’s White Way” (April 1925).
The September 1923, Sign of the Times, mentioned some of Voorhees activities:
Besides being a signist of the quality type on the staff of the Osgood Sign Co., Chicago, Mr. Voorhees is attracting much attention in his clever caricatures in a national “strip” being syndicated in the daily newspapers. He is doing comic art reviews of several theaters in Chicago and is a staunch member of Local 830.The Rockford Register-Republic (Illinois), September 1, 1923, reported the upcoming marriage of Voorhees’ sister, Dorothy, and said: “…The bride’s brother, Herbert Voorhees of Chicago, will give her in marriage at the altar.”
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Voorhees produced the strip, Jack and Lil, which appeared from 1927 to 1928, for the John F. Dille Company.
Voorhees has not yet been found in the 1930 census.
In the 1940 census, self-employed, commercial artist Voorhees resided in Chicago at 846 Montrose. His wife was not listed but the children, Bob and Nancy were named. Bob was also a commercial artist.
On April 27, 1942, Voorhees signed his World War II draft card. He and his daughter, Nancy, lived at 6214 Winthrop in Chicago. Voorhees was employed at the painting company, N. J. Bohl, 5312 Broadway, Chicago.
The Rockford Register-Republic, November 8, 1951, reported the upcoming wedding of Voorhees’ daughter, Nancy, who had been living with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Doran, in Rockford. Voorhees was still a Chicago resident.
The whereabouts of Voorhees, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was found in the files of the Investigation of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Volume 25, 1964. Voorhees was interviewed by the FBI regarding a possible close encounter with Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico. Voorhees had traveled by train to Mexico where he lived part-time for several years. Coincidentally, Oswald traveled to Mexico around the same time as Voorhees, who was questioned about a particular trip and asked to identify a photograph of Oswald. The eleven-page FBI report can be read here. The National Archives has the Oswald file here.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Jack and Lil
In the mid-1920s The Gumps was one of the most popular comic strips in the newspaper world, and so of course imitators sprouted like weeds in a garden. One of these imitators that failed utterly to take off was Jack and Lil by H.F. Voorhees. The strip seeks to emulate The Gumps with a similar continuing storyline featuring a wacky family. To further trade on The Gumps fame, Voorhees draws the male characters quite freakishly, while the women are relatively normal. That's really where the resemblance ends, though. From there on, for better or worse, Voorhees cuts his own trail.
The 'worse' is that Voorhees seems incapable of organizing a sensible continuity. He jumps all over, as you can see above in this two week sequence. But that's really not of any great consequence, if you ask me, because on the 'better' side we have the creator's great facility with snappy dialog and slang. These are delightful strips to read and savor, even if we only have half a clue what in the world is going on. Voorhees really should have been a gag-a-day man, because the only thing that seems to trip him up is long-range plotting.
I also love the running bit regarding Madame Zaza's radio show. The madame, who apparently we will never actually meet, has famous guests including (see above) Paul Whiteman the orchestra leader, and Rin Tin Tin the movie dog. These strips are filled with great patter from her front man, whose name I never learned.
Jack and Lil was syndicated by the John F. Dille Company, just a few years before that hole-in-the-wall syndicate hit the jackpot with Buck Rogers and could then hobnob credibly with the big guys. Jack and Lil ran from sometime in 1927 to sometime in 1928 (my run ends June 2 in mid-story). I'd love to hear from you if you have any more definitive running dates than that.
Sadly, as far as I know Mr. Voorhees never had another syndicated comic strip credit, but I understand Alex Jay is working on a profile for him, and we'll all learn more tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
H. L. Mencken on Newspaper Artists
Mencken mentions comics and cartoonists quite often in this book, showing a haughty disdain for their capabilities. In fact, he claims that he ended up writing most of the comic strip material as the cartoonists were unable to come up with gags.
Though newspaper art and artists are discussed throughout the book, Mencken devoted one chapter of the book to the subject specifically. I think you'll enjoy this taste of the muscular Mencken prose style ...
Slaves of Beauty
Monday, November 16, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Cooper
As I've mentioned many times here on the blog, the 1980s was a decade in which seemingly every editorial cartoonist had to try out his or her luck on a comic strip, and all the syndicates seemed eager to give them a go. With Cooper we get two editorialists for the price of one.
Mike Keefe of the Denver Post and Tim Menees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette met in 1978 and started talking about collaborating on a strip, but it took until 1985 for the team to settle on an idea and get it accepted by a syndicate. The idea that got Universal Press Syndicate on the hook was Cooper, which focused on the teaching staff at a suburban high school. Cooper himself is a youngish teacher, still somewhat idealistic but also starting to question the wisdom of his career choice; he's accompanied by an assortment of other teachers, a sunny young female principal, and the school's biggest behavior problem, a kid named Dwane.
As with most strips that seek to appeal to a particular demographic, as Cooper undeniably did, it probably would have delighted its intended audience, but failed to impress newspaper editors. If I was one of those editors, I imagine I would have figured that teachers are probably already buying my paper, so do I really need a comic strip to pull them in? While the creators claimed to have a decent list of about 50 papers for Cooper, the short run -- March 18 1985 to January 3 1987 -- would seem to indicate that those clients weren't sticking with the strip, and new clients weren't being added.
In my book I stated that Menees handled the art and Keefe the writing. Articles about the strip that I read in preparation for this post show that I had that wrong. In Cartoonist Profiles #69, the creators say that they both wrote gags, and Menees did layout art and lettering, while Keefe inked the strip.
When Cooper ended Menees and Keefe evidently hadn't had enough of the comic strip world. Less than a year later, they returned with another strip, Iota, another short-run obscurity that we'll cover here one of these days.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to find samples of David Brown's "Today's World" panel on Newspaper Archive, with no success.
If only it didn't have such a generic title...
Keep up the good work.
I haven't visited much lately.....a friend mentioned this book: “100 Years of King Syndicate” book just released .... you probably have already heard.
Reading the Gumps ..... just finished some Out Our Way and a cartoon compilation from England - The Oldies magazine.....didn't understand about a third of it.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics