Saturday, December 19, 2015


Peter's Christmas Adventure, Day 3


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Friday, December 18, 2015


Peter's Christmas Adventure, Day 2


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Thursday, December 17, 2015


Peter's Christmas Adventure, Intro and Day 1

This year's Stripper's Guide Christmas strip is a really delightful one. It was originally offered to client newspapers by the Associated Press in 1938. It's on the short side, just 18 strips, and the story is therefore quite simplistic and straightforward, but the lively storytelling and the delightful art make this one a real yule feast. Unlike some of these Christmas strips, which bear the marks of having been dashed off in between coffee breaks (see the awful A Christmas Fantasy for the absolute nadir of Christmas story writing), Peter's Christmas Adventure is a strip that I think you'll really enjoy. We'll be running it at the rate of two strips per day from now until you-know-when.

The odd thing about Peter's Christmas Adventure is that the creator(s) aren't credited. While the art and lettering immediately make Fred G. Cooper pop into my mind, I can't imagine him taking on this job when he didn't otherwise work for AP to my knowledge, and this project would have been a pretty low-paying job to boot. As a more likely suspect, I'd nominate the great Hank Barrow, who was in the AP bullpen. This isn't his typical style, but  he was very adept and comfortable with taking on varying styles for his different projects. Anyone care to nominate someone else?


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Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: D.C. Bartholomew's Weekday Comic Strip

So let's say you're a cartoonist, and you've landed your first big gig at a newspaper (obviously we aren't talking today, when that scenario is laughably improbable). You must decide on how you are going to sign yourself, for the accolades are surely going to come your way, and you want them to properly spell your name in so doing. You could just sign your work Joe Smith (assuming that's your name), or you might want to be a little more colorful. If you are saddled with a weird name like Elzie Crisler Segar, you might opt to go with your initials, or if you are boring old Harry Fisher, you might choose to go by the more colorful 'Bud' instead.

One thing you sure as shootin' don't want to do is use the name OF ANOTHER MORE FAMOUS CARTOONIST! If your name inconveniently matches up to, say, George McManus, take a deep breath, swallow your family pride, and work out a nome de plume. Howzabout George Mack?

As good a cartoonist as Donald Crassous Bartholomew eventually became, it is really a shame that he stupidly decided to sign himself simply "Bart", when there was already a pretty darn famous "Bart" doing editorial cartoons in Minneapolis, and reprinted in newspapers all over the country. D.C. Bartholomew's obscurity stems not only from his work appearing only in Boston during most his career, but by presumably being mistaken for the more famous Minneapolis "Bart" whenever he did get any recognition. (Granted, the two Bart's styles are widely divergent, but people aren't generally too quick on the uptake in that regard). I would have boldly signed myself "Crassous" -- now there's a unique moniker!

Anyhow, as I said, D.C. Bartholomew worked mostly for Boston papers, and in his early years I have to say he didn't show all that much promise (see The Extraordinary Adventures of Joseph, James and John, for instance). However, practice certainly had the right effect on him, and by the time he got his final series, an untitled almost-daily strip for the New York Globe, syndicated through Associated Newspapers, his writing was sharply hilarious and his cartooning was a joy to behold.

The D.C. Bartholomew Weekday Comic Strip (it carried no running title, so this is how I have ever so colorfully dubbed it) ran for about one year, appearing in the Chicago Daily News regularly from January 22 1912 to January 18 1913. The New York Globe itself used the cartoons less often, where the running dates are January 8 - November 1 1912, but apparently they had Bart produce strips for the syndicate even when they chose not to run them. So let's call the running dates a semi-official January 8 1912 to January 18 1913. 

As you can see in the samples above, the strip resembled in format and tone Rube Goldberg's comic strip, which was in the competing New York Evening Mail. Bart's loopy wackiness is closely patterned on Goldberg's lead, but he really seemed to have his own gift for it -- it's not just a carbon copy of Goldberg. And the cartooning! Wow, it certainly isn't that semi-professional stuff of a decade earlier. D.C.'s work on this strip reminds me quite a bit of the great British cartoonist Fougasse, whose clean-lined minimalism brought him well-deserved fame. (Just between you and me, I think D.C. enhances that style by spotting his blacks, though, which Fougasse eschewed for some reason.)

Sadly, D.C. Bartholomew, who by this time was a cartoonist and writer of true greatness, didn't get any more time to practice his craft. His last year on this earth was apparently spent in trying to write a play, and he died of pneumonia in December 1913.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scans.


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Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jay Jackson

Jay Paul was born in Oberlin, Ohio, on September 10, 1905, according to Who’s Who in Colored America, Volume 7 (1950). Jackson’s parents were Franklin R. Jackson and Nellie Curry.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Jackson was the fourth of five children whose father was a photographer. The family resided in Delaware, Ohio at 41 Ohio Street.

According to the 1920 census, Jackson and his younger sister lived with their parents in Delaware at 119 David Street.

Who’s Who said Jackson married Adeline C. Smith in 1925. Jackson attended Ohio Wesleyan University from 1925 to 1926. Beginning in 1926 Jackson was a feature artist with the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Jackson produced two weekly panels, Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us and The Jingle Belles, for the Courier in 1928. That same year Jackson began studies at the Chicago Art Institute. Jackson was a poster artist for the Warner Brothers’ theaters from 1928 to 1933. Jackson also contributed illustrations to the digest, Abbott’s Monthly, in 1928 and 1929. Abbott’s publisher was Robert S. Abbott who also published the weekly newspaper, Chicago Defender, which printed editorial cartoons by Jackson. In MELUS, Summer 2014, Amy M. Mooney said Jackson formally joined the Defender staff in 1933. The short-lived Abbott’s Weekly was another periodical with Jackson’s art.

The 1930 census recorded Jackson, a widower, as a lodger in Chicago at 465 Oakwood Boulevard. His occupation was commercial artist for theaters.

According to Who’s Who, Jackson painted the mural, Old Mexico, for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. In 1934, Jackson began a fourteen year relationship with the New York Amsterdam News newspaper. Jackson’s second marriage was to Eleanor K. Poston of Republican, Nebraska, in 1935.

According to American Newspaper Comics, Jackson produced several comics strips, panels and advertising strips throughout the 1930s: As Others See Us (1933); The Adventures of Bill (1934); Bungleton Green (1934; the third artist on Leslie M. Rogers’ creation); Fan Tan Anne (1935); Society Sue (1935); Bibsy (1935); Between Us (1936); Memphis Blue (1936); Cream Puff (1936); Tish Mingo (1937); Ben Franklin (1938); So What? (1939); and Billy Ken (1939).

Some of Jackson’s commercial work was featured recently at the Chicago Cultural Center.

In 1940, cartoonist Jackson, his wife and thirteen-year-old daughter, Carrie, resided at 6011 South May Street in Chicago. The census record said Jackson earned $1,800 in 1939. Who’s Who said Jackson did fashion art, layout, and catalog design or the National Clothing Company throughout the 1940s. During World War II Jackson produced cartoons for the Office of War Information and The Sergeant for Office of Price Administration in 1945. Jackson received a citation from Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, for the cartoons and posters backing the war bond campaign.

American Newspaper Comics said Jackson drew Exposition Follies (1940); Speed Jaxon (1942–1947); Ravings of Professor Doodle (1947); and Glamour Town (1948).

The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier (2008) explains Jackson’s role in the company’s 1948 advertising campaign which ran in Ebony magazine. Who’s Who said Jackson was art director at Negro Digest and Ebony.

Some time in the late 1940s, Jackson moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1949, Norman Rockwell lectured at Art Center College of Design. Who’s Who said Jackson studied with Rockwell that year.

The Arkansas State Press, September 8, 1950, reported Jackson’s two-page illustration for the latest edition of Who’s Who in Colored America.

The montage represents the manifold callings and interests of the over 3,000 persons whose biographical sketches will be carried in the publication—from Army officers to United Nations officials. The layout, printed in sepia, will decorate the inside covers…
The article went on to say that Jackson “also did special work, summers, under Rockwell Kent and at the Los Angeles Art Institute….He now conducts a national art service for advertisers from his Los Angeles studios (2306 West 23rd Street). In 1951 Jackson provided artwork for Who’s Who in the United Nations.

American Newspaper Comics said the Jay Jackson Features Syndicate produced Girligags and Home Folks in the 1950s.

According to Who’s Who, Jackson received two Guild awards for newspaper cartoons. He was a member of the American Newspaper Guild and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Jackson passed away May 16, 1954 in Los Angeles, according to the California Death Index at His death was reported in Jet, May 27, 1954.

—Alex Jay 


Some might know Jackson for his illustrations for Ziff-Davis magazines in the early 1940s. He was a regular in the pages of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures. His dynamic drawing style was instantly recognizable.
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Monday, December 14, 2015


Advertising Strips: Fan Tan Anne

In the heyday of the black newspapers, there were a lot of journeyman cartoonists, but very few real  cartooning stars. Ollie Harrington, of course, would become something of an icon, but mostly forgotten today is the great Jay Jackson.

While Jackson's drawings didn't betray a great deal of academic study, his subject matter was sure to please. He loved to draw beautiful girls, at which he excelled, and he never shied away from suggestive, and sometimes downright blue material. The black papers were more permissive of this sort of stuff, and male readers apparently were greatly appreciative, if Jackson's constant presence in those papers was an indication.

One of Jackson's series was actually an advertising strip. Titled Fan Tan Anne, it was a series of ads for Fan Tan Bleach Creme. The series ran in the Philadelphia Tribune, where I indexed it, from February 21 to July 4 1935 in weekly installments. Other black papers ran it as well, though their running dates will likely differ.

Fan Tan was one of the concoctions marketed to blacks that was claimed to not only clear up any zits and other facial blemishes you might have, but lighten the tone of your skin as well. As light-skinned blacks were generally considered to be more attractive, customers flocked to these products just as white folk were buying self-tanners to do the opposite fifty years later.

Every week Anne would find a wretched lonely heart who had a face full of zits, or just felt they could get a leg up in the love match game if their skin was a tad lighter. Applying whatever was in these jars, the ugly duckling quickly became the belle of the ball. Whether the product did anything that it claimed to I don't know, but I can only cringe at the idea of putting anything on your face that boldly advertises that it contains bleach!

Here are a few more of Jay Jackson's Fan Tan Anne ads on Google Newspapers:

Baltimore Afro-American April 27 1935
Baltimore Afro-American April 6 1935


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