Saturday, November 28, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Saturday, October 24 1908 -- District Attorney Fredericks continues to proudly point to his record as a reformer, but the Examiner says he's 'guilty, guilty, guilty' of turning a blind eye to the mayor's favored gambling and prostitution businesses.


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Friday, November 27, 2015


Walt McDougall's This is the Life: Chapter 5 Part 1

This is the Life!


Walt McDougall

Chapter Five (Part 1) - ONCE ABOARD THE LUGGER

When I began earnestly and assiduously to attend to public morals, the stage, financial and political matters, from which precise period there has been observable a steady progress and gratifying improvement, some of which may be attributed, no question, to the assistance of Mrs. Grannis, Anthony Comstock, Carrie Nation, Dr. Parkhurst, Dr. John Roach Straton, William Jennings Bryan and John Sumner, no regular he-artist had covered these subjects adequately.

Mike Woolf was making his pathetic little studies of tattered street waifs sorting over garbage heaps for their Thanksgiving dinners, J. G. Brown was painting charmingly neat newsboys and bootblacks that sold for several thousands each, Kate Greenaway was issuing sweetly soaped and blue-bonneted kiddies, Palmer Cox creating untold merriment with his quaint Brownies every month, the once pregnant pen of Thomas Nast was producing Christmas Carol pretties and parodies of Shakespeare, and Eddie Kemble was just getting his famous Coons to the point where they could support him in luxury.

No really great artist was giving his attention to the cancerous evils that were everywhere in evidence, from three-card monte on Park Row, the Havana Lottery, race-track gambling, roller skating, the danse du ventre (see video), moonlight excursions and the popular badger game up to railroad-wrecking, the Credit Mobilier, crooked life and fire insurance, ballot-box frauds and boodle aldermen. The times were ripe for a new Hogarth, I had no job, at least I had not yet settled on one, and after waiting modestly for a space for a better imitation of Hogarth to appear, I tackled the Herculean task of cleaning the well-known Augean stables.

It was good hunting; in every bush, on every rock sat an Evil preening itself most offensively; they lurked in the least suspicious places, obtruded themselves at every moment without disguise in business, politics, religion, schools, markets and camp-meetings, so that for years I did not have to bother with the sporadic growths of newfangled sins and evils that were discernible to the sharp eye of Virtue. I could afford to let them grow up and ripen while I hacked away at the tough gnarled tendrils of the old poisonous Upas Tree to which no limner since the late Mr. Hogarth had paid the least attention. If that is mixed metaphor, go on and cavil at it.

Good, gentle Murat Halstead had started a paper called the Extra in the Spring of '84, and he bought some of my cartoons. I have forgotten whether the Extra was a daily or weekly paper, I think it was a daily, but these were actually the very first of newspaper cartoons, done with the one object of timeliness, up to the minute and down to the ordinary intellect of the man on the street. Heretofore only portraits and maps had been printed on the fast-running presses. I met "Marse Henry" Watterson in the Extra office one day, and he offered me a job on his Louisville paper but I had seen the Southwest and felt that it was too roughnecked and coarse for a refined devotee of the Pure.

When I maladroitly hinted at my reason for refusing his offer, Mr. Watterson distilled some vitriolic observations that revealed he had thoroughly inspected the Metropolis from Castle Garden up to the famous "Five Houses" which were located where the Astor Hotel now stands. He stated his opinion that New York was the meanest, tightest, coldest-hearted, rottenest, foulest, vilest and most God-forsaken city since Babylon, each of these adjectives being festooned and garnished with Kentucky swear words meaning "damn," oaths that snapped and sparkled like exploding meteors.

Something happened to the Extra; very likely the National Campaign Committee forgot to put it on the payroll, and it joined that long line of wraiths of dead and forgotten newspapers that just before dawn may be seen drifting across City Hall Park.

A month later, just when the June roses were in full bloom, I was the World's cartoonist, rolling in luxury, eating three, sometimes four meals a day, smoking fifteen-cent cigars, and riding to Albany on an annual pass signed by Chauncey M. Depew, with a daily production of from two to ten handmade pictures, each meticulously signed "McD" in letters not larger than those on a modern taximeter dial.

All this was actually the result of pure ignorance and sheer luck combined, and it happened in this wise:

One day in June, I came over from Newark to learn the fate of a rather ambitious cartoon on James G. Blaine, the nominee for President of the Republican Party that year, which I had left with Puck. It had been returned to me without any comment, and it was of no earthly use to me, as I was on my way to the ball game, and the notion of carrying the rejected sheet of cardboard with me was distasteful, yet I hated to throw it into the gutter.

The wild notion of offering it to the kindly Amos Cummings of the Sun, as it was Democratic in tendency, and Cummings seemed a man to whom a novel idea might be broached without his feeling insulted, came to me. I felt courageous enough to venture to urge him to invade a virgin field by printing a regular Puck cartoon in a newspaper. I was resolved to make him a free present, if necessary, of my burden. But as I passed the ramshackle old Western Union Building, 31 Park Row, then occupied by the World, a sudden impulse, really a Heaven-inspired hunch, led me to offer the cartoon to the newcomers from the West who had recently purchased that decadent sheet. I invaded the dingy dark counting room, found the twenty-two-caliber elevator in the rear—and then my courage oozed away.

The idea of offering a cartoon to a daily paper seemed so utterly absurd that I thrust the cardboard roll into the hands of the elevator boy and stammered: "Give that to the editor and tell him he can have it if he wants it." Then I went to the ball game to forget the cares, the hunger and the thirst of a poor country artist who tried to tell a picture once a month to a funny paper.

Creative work, even of the meanest and most inconsequential, is like the diagram of the bed of the Atlantic, a series of depressions with a few needle-like points that reach above sea level, opal tips glinting in warm sunshine while all below is icy, grimy ooze infested with repulsive marine monsters. I was in one of the deepest chasms the next day, with a natural disinclination to work in June greatly increased by deep dejection. At noon I received a telegram from Joseph Pulitzer, the proprietor of the New York World, asking me to come to the World office at once. My experience of newspaper methods assured me that this meant something of vast importance—to me at least. I was thrilled and excited, but on buying a World I was uplifted to the highest altitude I had yet reached, for I found my cartoon, five columns in width, printed on the front page.

I took the next train for New York, and well within an hour I was in the dingy, dirty editorial rooms of the World. When I was ushered into Joseph Pulitzer's room at the left end of the building, he shook hands with me most cordially, swept me with his big brown eyes, which afterward gradually altered to a purplish blue, it seems, and took me into Colonel Cockerill's room. There he said, in a hearty and enthusiastic tone: "We have found the fellow who can make pictures for newspapers! Young man, we printed the entire edition of thirty thousand copies of the World without stopping the press to clean the cut, and that has never happened in this country before!"

I did not tell him that the cartoon looked like the crab's eyebrows without the proper reduction in size to refine its coarse lines. Knowing practically nothing about photo-engraving at that time, the editors had found that the drawing fitted into just five columns, and they therefore ordered it made accordingly, not aware it could have been reduced by the engraver to any desired size.

In much less than half an hour I found myself on the World editorial staff, its youngest member, with a "studio" all my own and a salary of fifty dollars per week, an enormous sum in the newspaper world at the time. There I remained for sixteen years.

That is the true story of my laborious rise to Success; the bulldog tenacity, the sturdy heroic battle with poverty, croup, mumps, unappreciative employers, thirty or forty snippy girl neighbors, a wolf's hunger and a sponge's thirst, all these are in the brief epic! I was twenty-six years old, weighed a hundred and fifty-five at the ringside, and the World was mine—and Joseph Pulitzer's.

It is almost impossible now to make clear the bitter disfavor and fervid scorn in which the World of Jay Gould and Manton Marble was held by persons of refinement and Republican principles in 1884. Its copperhead convictions and sentiments, its Tammany Hall sympathies, its stockjobbing and its coarse vulgar methods had long since reduced it to the condition of a pariah, a slinking mangy outcast prowling in the garbage of the gutters. Of this disesteem, or of its true extent at least, Pulitzer and Cockerill were scarcely aware, or, if they were, they disregarded it, when they acquired what was regarded by Park Row fraternity as the largest white elephant in captivity.

My mother was profoundly agitated and deeply disgusted when I returned home and announced with ill-concealed enlargement of the cranium that I was working for the disreputable and offensive World. She would never refer to J. P. other than "Mister Polutzer," believing that he had led me astray from the straight and narrow Republican path. Politics at that period was near akin to religion; a vote-splitter was a treacherous turncoat, and he rarely openly confessed his treason. But I was publicly advertising my base prostitution.

My father-in-law, the boss of North Newark, who had made me a clerk of election, was highly incensed at my perfidy, but when he learned what my salary was, he was filled with a sudden and sincere respect mixed with admiration that lasted all his life.



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Thursday, November 26, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Nutcracker U

Although John Pierotti had a long, varied and fruitful career in cartooning, the only newspaper strip for which we can definitely credit him is Nutcracker U, which debuted October 2 1950. (Hippo and Hookie still has not been proven to have made it into papers, and Pier-Oddities was a sports panel).

Nutcracker U was self-syndicated by the cartoonist, who characterized taking this route to newspapers thusly: "That means footing all the bills, and when a cartoonist does that, he either is crazier than most cartoonists, or he believes implicitly in his product. The latter part of that sentence applies to me." Pierotti had, in my opinion, good reason to take a gamble on Nutcracker U. The delightful art, drawn in a style perfectly suited to the new smaller 4-column size standard in the 50s and on, stood out among all the competition. If that wasn't enough, what red-blooded male reader could peruse the funnies without being drawn to Pierotti's pulchritudinous women? Oh yeah, and the plot and gags were kinda cute, too.

Despite hitting on all cylinders, selling a self-syndicated strip to newspapers is pretty darn close to impossible, and the workload is mind-boggling. Pierotti had this to say about the experience: “...I syndicated my own strip called ‘Nutcracker U’, until I ran out of money and nerve. Worked practically twenty-four hours a day for a year and a half.” Pierotti gave up the strip on October 27 1951. 


Good golly, Miss Molly! What an intriguing strip! I sure would like to see the continuation of this story. It's quite an original concept, the existence of a secret world of smaller humans.

I sympathise with Pierotti over the rigours of self-syndication. I tried it myself, forty years ago, and it was not only loads of work, it was also quite discouraging, because I took it personally every time a paper cancelled. Amazingly, I lasted about five years, but finally enough was enough. It probably would have been more profitable and satisfying if I had drawn my strips on the sidewalk with chalk.
Hi Katherine --
Naturally I had to look into your mention of self-syndicating, and what a surprise to find you are the creator of an old favorite of mine, Neil the Horse! Don't know if you're aware, but I included the strip in my book even though it doesn't really qualify (no U.S. syndication that I know of). As I said in the listing, I included it anyway because I am a fan.

I'd very much like to get definitive info on the running dates (I have Sep 1975 - sometime in 1979) and any other info you'd share. Would love to do a Stripper's Guide post about it too, if you have any scans you could share (I think I have maybe one or two tearsheets in my files, if that).

Anyhow, great to hear from you!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Reddy the Rooter

Baseball's been over for a month now, and I'm starting to jones for it already, so let's check out a baseball strip today.

Reddy the Rooter was by George Hopf, one of the good bullpenners at the New York Evening World. Reddy was an office boy who spent most days playing tricks on his boss in order to get off work so he could go see his beloved New York Giants play ball. Reddy's schemes aren't especially memorable, but his use of baseball slang is encyclopedic. I'm a big baseball fan, and I've never heard a home run called a "fence-breaker", and rarely heard the terms "grass-cutter" (hard grounder) or "cross the Rubicon" (score a run). Color me impressed.

This strip ran only during the baseball season, completely sidestepping that old problem of what to do with your character in the off-season. In 1907 the strip ran  from July 10 to October 7, and in 1908, it ran April 15 to October 8.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


News of Yore 1913: Walker O'Loughlin Profiled

O'Laughlin of the Portland Telegram 
(reprinted from Cartoons magazine, February 1913)

That impatient lady known as Miss Opportunity, who, peevish at the slightest delay, flits away unless there is an immediate response to her knock, led Walker O'Loughlin a merry chase, but he was an alert young man and the faintest tapping always found him hurrying to open the door.

Mr. O'Loughlin is the cartoonist of the Portland Evening Telegram, but the numerous visits of Miss Opportunity made him travel a round about path to reach his goal.

Born in St. Catherines, Ontario, he was still a child when his parents moved to Niagara Falls, N. Y. There he attended school, and, as soon as he was old enough, was required to spend his spare time in his father's drug store, the parental desire being that the boy should learn the drug trade.

At an early age the boy began putting in more time around the newspaper offices than in the drug store, so the father seeing that the drug idea did not appeal to the son, re­luctantly allowed the youth to have his own way and become a reporter.

While he was still a cub Miss Opportunity knocked. The moving pictures of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight were coming east and O'Loughlin, still a boy, formed a partner­ship and secured the eastern rights to the pictures. He lectured as the films were projected on the screen.

When the pictures played out young O'Loughlin heeded another tapping and joined one of the racing teams of a well-known eastern bicycle firm. When interest in the racing game died he was offered an opportunity to go on the stage and appeared in a black face and tramp stunt in vaudeville.

He was in New York City when the war broke out and cancelling his theatrical bookings he enlisted for military service. He was mustered out when the war ended without having seen active service in the field.

Returning to New York he became deeply interested in cartoon work. Miss Oppor­tunity was knocking again. He had no art education but he had the time to put in on pen and ink drawings and he went at it. In a short time he was able to do good enough work to secure a place with an advertising firm and as the quality of his drawings improved he developed into a newspaper artist. In New York he did free lance work in general, con­tributing to the newspapers and to Judge and Life.

Three years ago he became dissatisfied with this life in New York, or the desire to see the country moved him, and he started west. Miss Opportunity brought him into Salt Lake City when there was a vacancy on the art staff of the Salt Lake Telegram.

He remained in Salt Lake one year and then received an offer from the Portland Eve­ning Telegram to do sport cartoons. His work on the sport-pages was too good to be con­fined to that section of the paper and he is now the cartoonist of the Telegram.

His comparatively brief term on the Telegram has proved him one of the foremost art­ists of the country and his best work lies in front of him.


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Monday, November 23, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Duke

By 1913, World Color Printing's Sunday comics section was, other than the wonderful front page Slim Jim strip, consisting of two pages of strips shared with the Philadelphia Press, a half page activity feature, plus just one original half page strip. Unfortunately, that extra half page was often wasted on Duke, a pretty awful strip about a pony. In fairness, it was obviously aimed at the littlest kids, and so we can't exactly expect Twain-level humor.

When Duke debuted on May 25 1913, it was credited to "Rutledge", which I have previously believed to be a WCP house name, and the strip was drawn reasonably well. Soon, though, it was signed by Frank R. Leet, starting August 24. Leet was a wonderfully funny cartoonist in his golden days at NEA in the 1900s, but by the time he landed with WCP in 1913 he seemed to be losing his touch. I suppose it doesn't help any that he was working on a strip with a star that he couldn't draw. You might notice that Duke is drawn in the same flat profile in every panel --- Leet seemed practically incapable of drawing a horse in any other perspective.

BUT WAIT! Alex Jay, once again doing the service of taking my foot out of my mouth, has pointed out to me that 'Rutledge' is Frank Leet's middle name! That means it was Leet all along. Unfortunately I don't have a 'Rutledge era' Duke strip handy to show you, but here's the debut episode from hazy digitized microfilm:

I think you can see why I guessed they were by two different cartoonists. While the early Duke was certainly no masterpiece, the strip and the horse in particular were certainly better drawn at the beginning of the run. Evidently Leet got lazier during his tenure on Duke, and decided that perspective was an extra added attraction that his audience could do without.

Leet's two-dimensional horse ran in the World Color Printing section until November 14 1915.


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