Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dick Clarke

Richard Albert “Dick” Clarke was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1879, according to his death certificate. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Clarke was the youngest of four children born to Ray, a plumber, and Edith. The family lived on Buffalo Street in Franklin. Detailed information regarding Clarke’s education and art training has not been found.

The Clarke family resided in Franklin, at 1024 Buffalo Street, according to the censuses from 1900 to 1920. In 1900, Clarke’s occupation was jeweler. Ten years later, Clarke was recorded as a newspaper cartoonist. Some time after the 1910 census, Clarke married Marie Guthrie. Their marriage ended in divorce.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Clarke drew Mr. Gadder in late 1915. Moving Picture Funnies was Clarke’s next series which began February 26, 1917 for the National Newspaper Service. Both comics were signed “Dick Clarke”. Moving Picture Funnies was copyrighted by the Samuel Gabriel Sons & Company of New York.

Clarke signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He identified his employer as the National Newspaper Service, located at 516 Trust Building in Franklin.

In 1920, Clarke was a freelance crayon artist who had a six-year-old son, Richard G. In the 1930 census, Clarke was part of his brother’s household in Franklin at 1420 Buffalo Street.

Clarke passed away June 20, 1933, in Franklin. His death was reported by the following day in the 
Franklin News-Herald.
Richard A. Clarke, author, playwright and artist, has written his last one-act play, put the finishing touches on his last children’s story. Death figured in the last picture. News of the sudden passing of Franklin’s genial artist and dramatic authority came as a rude shock to scores of friends, few of whom knew he was even ill. Dick Clarke will be missed. He was a genial friend, a loyal believer in Franklin, and all that it possessed in the way of accomplishments. He was 53, but at heart and in action he was almost as young as his son, Richard, of whom a father was never prouder. He knew the hearts of little children, and wrote entertainingly for them. He was a successful and resourceful cartoonist; possessing a wide range of imagination, and had the ability to put into pen and ink sketches the thought and motive that make cartoons forceful.

Studying art in Baltimore and New York, he worked later for several humorous magazines, drew illustrations on assignment for Life and Judge, was identified with the art department of a Cleveland paper and then returned to Franklin. It was Dick Clarke who designed the covers for the Old Home Week literature of 1910; he drew cartoons for The Evening News on occasion. He was generous with advice and counsel to aspiring young artists. A student of the day's events and developments, he was also a philosopher. He read books that delved into the underlying currents of life. He read and talked intelligently.

At heart, throughout all his life, he was as a boy, and devoted to the artistic and outdoor side of life. Nature beckoned, he saw glories in the sunrise and sunset, he saw beauty in pastoral scenes. Rigorously he took up hiking, became a closer student of nature. This many-sided individual turned then to astronomy as a hobby. He tried to master a subject whose magnitude knows no limits to observation and charting.

As a coach of amateur dramatic offerings, he possessed unusual ability. He put into his work all the verve and force one would expect of a Broadway producer, and was not satisfied with half-way measures. His generosity matched his ability. The cheery outlook he had on life is not soon to be forgotten. To know Dick Clarke and know him well-was to have a friend possessed of many accomplishments and few faults. His loyalty to friends throughout the years was unswerving. He put these relationships far and beyond the reach of ordinary things. He played many roles well but that of enduring friendship was the crowning achievement of an unusual life.
Clarke was laid to rest at Franklin Cemetery

—Alex Jay


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