Saturday, June 02, 2018


Herriman Saturday

July 16 1909 -- In Herriman's latest "Guess Who?", the roastee is Battling Nelson. He lost a bout against Ad Wolgast a few days back, and there are unfounded rumors that he's to be married. Apparently this future wedded bliss will include a decidely "krazy" looking kat in the household.

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Friday, June 01, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman

Walter Wellman did a whole series of "Need a Doctor? Try Dan Cupid, M.D." postcards in 1908. This one is #1059. In each one little Dan Cupid prescribes a solution for romantic troubles of various sorts.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Richardson

Detail of Walter Marshall Clute’s drawing of Richardson
which was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago

Frederick “Fred” Richardson was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1862. His birth information was found in several books: American Statesman (1907), Herringshaw’s National Library of American Biography, Volume V (1914), Who Was Who in American History, Arts and Letters, Volume 3 (1975), and Who’s Who in America 1908–1909.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Richardson was the youngest of two sons born to William and Belinda. His father was a “pork & beef packer”. Richardson has not yet been found in the 1880 census.

Who’s Who in America said Richardson’s education was in St. Louis, Missouri, and his art training at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, and the Academie Julian, in Paris, France. The American Art Annual, Volume III (1900) said he was a pupil of Henri Lucien Doucet and Jules Joseph Lefebvre, in Paris. His painted work was exhibited in the Paris Salon, 1889.

The 1885 Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago listed Richardson at 174 West Jackson. Around 1885 Richardson resided in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Philadelphia Times, July 10, 1887. 

“I have been in Kansas City about two years, and the arts have made tremendous strides in that time. When I went there the people hardly knew the difference between a water color and a grease spot, but now they can tell a Mysonyay from a Raphael or a modern school from an old master with their eyes shut. There are in Kansas City about fifteen artists and all are doing a rattling business. One of the queer things about the town is that the people will not patronize a studio. An artist must have an atalyay [atelier] if he wants to do business. A studio may be all right enough for [?] Joseph and Leavenworth and liberty, but nothing short of an atalyay [atelier] will catch on in Kansas City.”
Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808–1908, Volume 1, also mentioned Richardson’s presence:
About 1885, a group of artists who had rooms in the Deardorf building on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Main streets, at that time the studio quarters for the city, furnished the impulse which led to the earliest art organization. Mr. Fred Richardson, long connected with the Fine Arts Institute of Chicago, suggested the formation of a sketch club to consist of laymen and artists, meeting from house to house, to talk over art matters in general, and to judge pictures made by the members, in illustration of a subject previously given out….
The Kansas City Times (Missouri), November 21, 1886, noted the Sketch Club meeting, “The first regular meeting of the second year of the sketch club was held last Thursday evening. Mr. Fred Richardson was host and the subject ‘Bohemian Life.’”
The Midland Monthly Magazine, 11/1895; drawing
of Fred Richardson and William Schmedtgen

According to Who’s Who in America, Richardson was on staff of the Chicago Daily News for 15 years, and was an instructor at the Art Institute for seven years. 

Richardson’s drawings appeared in the March, April and May 1896 issues of The Chap-Book. Richardson was praised in the Inland Printer, November 1897.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Richardson produced two series for the Chicago Daily News. First was a full-page of comics, on various subjects, that ran from January 2, 1897–November 2, 1901. Next was Captain John Smith and Pocahontas Come to Life that ran from August 5 to September 17, 1907.
On January 2, 1897 Richardson married Josephine Welles in Chicago, according to the Cook County, Illinois Marriages Index at

Richardson was profiled in Brush and Pencil, March 1898. The Book of Drawings by Fred Richardson, published in 1899, was a selection of his work for the Chicago Daily News.

Artist Richardson, his wife, two sons, mother and a servant lived in Park Ridge, Illinois, as recorded in the 1900 census.

The Inland Printer, May 1901, said the composition classes at the Art Institute of Chicago were under Richardson’s direction.

In 1903 Richardson moved to New York City according to the New York Times, January 16, 1937. The 1905 New York state census said Richardson was a resident of Eastchester in Westchester County.

Richardson illustrated L. Frank Baum’s Queen Zixi of Ix which was serialized in St. Nicholas magazine beginning November 1904.

In 1906 Richardson’s illustrated column “Easy Lessons in Drawing” appeared in newspapers including the Willmar Tribune (Minnesota). Some of Richardson’s drawings were showcased in The Studio, January 15, 1906.

Who’s Who in America said he resided, in 1908, in Tuckahoe, New York.

Richardson was on the faculty of the W. Martin Johnson School of Art in New York City.

According to the 1910 census, Richardson was a widower in Illinois, Maine Township, Village of Park Ridge, on Grant Place.

The Inland Printer, January 1910, featured Richardson’s art in the article “The Art of Fable-Making”. Richardson illustrated the Volland Edition of Mother Goose

American Art Annual, Volume XIV (1918) had this entry for Richardson.

Richardson, Frederick, Century Assoc., 7 West 43d St., New York, N.Y.; Cliff Dwellers, Chicago.
I., P., T.—Born Chicago, Ill., Oct. 26, 1862. Pupil of St. Louis School of Fine Arts; Doucet and Lefebvre in Paris. Member: Century Assoc.; SI 1905.
Richardson has not yet been found in the 1920 census. Richardson was recorded in the 1925 New York state census. He resided in Bedford, Westchester County on Cherry Street.

The 1930 census said Richardson, his son, David, and housekeeper were in Lewisboro, Westchester County, New York on Spring Street.

The New York Times, July 17, 1936, said David died of a heart attack, at home in Bedford, on the 16th.

Richardson passed away January 15, 1937, in New York City. The following day his death was reported in the New York Times which said he had suffered from pneumonia and died at the Regent Nursing Home. He lived at 7 West 43rd Street. Richardson was a member of the American Federation of Arts and the Society of Illustrators, the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago, and the Century and MacDowell Clubs of New York. He was survived by his son, Alan Barbour Richardson, of 108 West 43rd Street. Richardson was laid to rest at Graceland Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, May 28, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Our Fascinating Earth

Robert Ripley sure did start something with Believe It or Not, and a favorite Ripley-style panel variant was to concentrate on interesting tidbits about the natural world. William Ferguson's This Curious World is the undisputed king of the sub-genre, but long after he retired, Philip Seff decided to take a whack at it with Our Fascinating Earth.

Seff did not really start out well by placing his new panel cartoon with Copley News Service, which  had near-zero success in selling their comics and panels to newspaper clients. Our Fascinating Earth was further hobbled by starting out as a thrice weekly feature (editors hate having to figure what plugs that spot in the other three issues each week).

The panel seems to have first appeared in October 1977. The art was initially supplied by John Petri Brownfield, a friend of Seff's, who chose to go by just 'John Petri' in the panel's credits. Brownfield didn't stick around for very long, and was replaced by David Baer II in July 1978. Baer seems to have been up for more work, because it was about this time that the panel frequency was increased to five times per week.

Seff and Baer were undoubtedly chafing at Copley's ineffective marketing of their feature, and in August 1979 they were able to sign a contract with a true big-time syndicate, Field Enterprises. At this time the panel graduated to a 6-times per week daily. Field also advertised a new Sunday version of the panel, but the offering doesn't seem to have been successful, as I've never seen a Sunday from the Field Enterprises stint.

Our Fascinating Earth only lasted for about two years with Field, and its next stop was a giant step down, to Syndicated Newspaper Service. This transition seems to have occurred around July 1981.Surprisingly, the panel actually seemed to gain clients with this new hole-in-the-wall syndicate. In fact, at the beginning of 1983, the panel actually gained a Sunday version that ran in several high-profile papers. Strangely, though, it only lasted a few months (at least that I can track). I can only find it running from January 10 to February 21. In a weird timeline, Our Fascinating Earth changed to a self-syndicated daily feature on February 1 1982, almost a year before the feature's former syndicate marketed that Sunday strip version. 

In May 1983, David Baer II left the strip and was replaced by Mel Chadwick, who was a principal in the design firm of Smith, Chadwick and Wellons. Three years later his partner, Chuck Wellons, would begin sharing credit for the art. It is unknown what the division of duties was, but they were definitely not above getting anonymous help. In a 1983 interview, Pam Densmore said that she contributed eight panels per month of the workload at that time.

With Seff, Chadwick and Wellons at the helm, Our Fascinating Earth proceeded smoothly year after year with a small client list until 2005. A few reprint books were published in the 1990s, and a website for the feature seemed to promise live-action educational videos and other products to come. Those plans probably dissolved in 2005 when Seff's wife Nancy passed away. She had shared credit on the reprint books, but not on the panels themselves. Philip Seff died in 2016 at age 92, having succeeded admirably in one of the toughest gigs around -- successfully self-syndicating a newspaper feature.


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