Saturday, August 17, 2019


What The Cartoonists Are Doing: December 1913, Vol. 4 No. 6

[Cartoons Magazine, debuting in 1912, was a monthly magazine devoted primarily to reprinting editorial cartoons from U.S. and foreign newspapers. Articles about cartooning and cartoonists often supplemented the discussion of current events.

In November 1913 the magazine began to offer a monthly round-up of news about cartoonists and cartooning, eventually titled "What The Cartoonist Are Doing." There are lots of interesting historical nuggets in these sections, and this Stripper's Guide feature will  reprint one issue's worth each week.

Illustrations used here did not necessarily appear with the original articles.]

"Vic" Gauntlett Cartoonist of the Seattle Star
About the biggest nugget ever picked up on Gold Beach, Oregon, weighed 10 1/2 pounds at birth. His fond parents named him Victor Gauntlett—and that was less than twenty-one years ago. Today “Vic” Gauntlett is the Star cartoonist in Seattle. And the readers of the Star, their name is legion, insist that “Vic” is one of the cleverest of his craft.

“Vic” Gauntlett came by his artistic proclivities naturally, for his grandfather was an artist and an aunt won a name as a painter, too. So that “Vic's" success is rather due to inherited tendencies than a sporadic outbreak of genius. The Gauntletts moved to Alaska when “Vic” was six years old, and for five years the budding prodigy viewed the scenery of the Aleutian Islands and called Unalaska “Home.” Here he learned to draw. Pushing a pencil was the great indoor sport in the long winters when the mercury lay dormant, hibernating at the bottom of the tube. During the day he drew his sled; at night “Vic” drew boats, boats being about the most exciting thing at Unalaska, a mere coaling station on the islands, and his boats were recognizable as boats even by those not skilled in the art.
Later, when the Gauntletts returned to the states, “Vic” went to school and evinced a decided leaning towards the artistic. He steadily kept at his pencil sketches and at the age of 18 the Seattle Star gave him a try-out, “just to see what he could do.” There was nothing so dreadfully amateurish about the cartoons he turned in for the inspection of the managing editor and his pictures had a place in the make-up from that day.

Now, not yet twenty-one, he is admittedly one of the great little cartoonists in a territory which has produced a Homer Davenport and a Harry Grant Dart. Good work already done has not dulled the zest with which he attacks the new assignment, and he is working harder now to accomplish real finished, accurate, pictorial comment on the stirring events of state and nation, than he ever did when he was striving to turn that try-out into a steady job. Critics say that Gauntlett's cartoons have the “punch,” and “punch” is the 100 h.p. motor that carries the cartoon around the world.

“I’m glad to be back home,” said R. L. Goldberg, the famous cartoonist of the New York Evening Mail when asked how he liked his recent jaunt through Europe. “That's the biggest thing I know right now and it means a lot, too,” he continued.

“I hope I get over some of the funny habits I acquired in Europe so I can continue to have a home. Funny how a habit will stick to you. I caught the tipping habit so badly that I try to tip everyone I meet. “It’s automatic; I do it before I think and I'm getting scared that I may be wearing one of those bed-post eyes before I get over it. I’m busy all day long dodging the boss. If I ever, try to tip him somebody will have a fine chance to hire a cartoonist.

“Europe is a great place; you ought to get shaved there. A real European shave is warranted to last for years. Even if you live through it the chances are that it will be many years before you will have grown enough face to take to a self-respecting barber.

“Another great European novelty is what is called coffee. It is in some ways like the famous American beverage of that name. It has a brown color and is served in a cup. Right there is where we diverge. No pen can do this subject justice. Try to imagine some strong, hot, gritty mucilage that has been poured into a cup that contains a plentiful amount of kitchen soap in it and you will have a faint conception of my meaning. We will change the subject, for this is a painful memory.

“I was much impressed by the European newspapers. At times I was even moved to tears, I laughed so hard. The French papers are particularly joyous. Dirty, broken type, cheap paper and not an illustration. I’d starve to death over there. Then there's the London Times. That paper didn't suit me at all. My greatest trouble in England was keeping awake, and if I started on the Times I’d fall asleep standing up.”—The Fourth Estate.

Secretary Bates (Pacific Northwest), Portland, Ore., sends a copy of the resolution in reference to the Homer Davenport Memorial movement, adopted at the annual convention of the Oregon State Editorial Association, October 17-18. The resolution reads:

“That the newspapers of Oregon give publicity to the movement and accept subscriptions from their communities;

“That the newspapers of Oregon be requested to forward the movement by giving for one year 25 cents a month on each thousand of their circulation;

“That the newspaper men of the state be requested to write their newspaper friends in other states giving them opportunity to contribute to the fund but in no way importuning them to do so;
“That the proposition of selling clippings from the poplar tree of Homer Davenport's mother be given consideration; and used if practicable;

“That all further methods be left with the general committee now having the matter in charge, consisting of Governor West, State Treasurer Kay, and Secretary of State Olcott, as custodians of the fund, and Shad O. Krantz, of the Oregonian, and H. E. Hodges, of the Silverton Appeal, as advisory members."

Under date of October 22, Governor West writes Secretary Bates:

“Dear Sir: This is to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 21st instant, advising me of my appointment as Chairman of the Homer Davenport Monument Committee, and enclosing checks, covering contributions to the fund, aggregating $42.00.

“The money has been deposited in Ladd and Bush's Bank at Salem to the credit of the “Homer Davenport Monument Fund. Further remittances forwarded to this office will receive like attention. I will be glad to add my contribution. Yours sincerely, Oswald West."

The Portland Journal says: “Homer Davenport was born in Silverton March 8, 1867. He died in New York in May of 1912. His art school was a barn door on his father's farm, his models the horses, cows, chickens and the family dog. Such things as these, the homely, natural, everyday things, gave him that fine insight into elemental truths which he so vividly visualized with his pen in his fight for the common weal and uplift of the toilers.

“And now, in recognition of his widespread influence for better things and justice, funds for a fitting monument are sought. Donations from every class are asked, and a 10 cent piece given in this spirit will be as welcome as a $100 bill.”

On October 21st the fund was $350.

Forain has exhibited his drawings. To those who knew him only as the cartoonist of Le Figaro it was a surprise to see more valuable work in his etchings and oil painting. The fact, however, is simple. A man who feels deeply on certain subjects worthy of the deepest feeling, reticent to express himself unscrupulously, has found that his convictions illumined critically the daily issues of life about him. The step is shortest from the sublime to the ridiculous, when the ridiculous becomes a defense of the sublime; he takes it. Reflection generates criticism; which he decks out with figures and dialogue; the figures often observed in public places. These designs are published; and Forain's wit is applauded (as if wit were genius!) and Forain's eye is feared, because the dummies are recognized true to type. By this evolution we get the caricaturist. For years Forain was publicly known as a caricaturist, and nothing else. Now with this exhibition we come on his beliefs, as the man himself; a gain, says a Paris correspondent of the Boston Transcript.

Forain is the first of living caricaturists. But if none of the French satirists before him have been great as artists, it must prove his distinction that he broke and redeemed the tradition. At his best he is not too far from Rembrandt, in the etchings. To compare him with his American counterparts would be therefore a flattering estimation of the cartoonists, Robinson, Kirby, Minor and Cesare, men whose power to influence American ideals implies the corresponding responsibility that they employ it—not harmlessly but intelligently.

One begins by observing his great respect for the people. Like Hokusai, with whom he shared the exhibition, he was born into their class—to his great credit. He was the son of a workman; no other class is so kindly observed. It is this fellow-feeling which has provoked his finest conceptions.

* In an attempt to reduce the visible supply of bears, elk, deer, and other natural fauna of Arizona, John T. McCutcheon, the Chicago cartoonist, and party invaded that portion of the Great American Desert, armed with rapid fire guns and plenty of ammunition. In addition to McCutcheon, W. K. Brice of New York, and several newspapermen spent two weeks in the wilds accompanied by fifteen Indian hunters led by Dr. Carlos Montezuma, a full blood Apache, one of the leading spiritualists of Chicago. In checking up the notches on the guns of the party, on their return to civilization it was found that the Indians killed eighteen deer, and the whites none. While McCutcheon can hit the bulls-eye in a cartoon, not even the professional skill of Dr. Montezuma was able to materialize a hit for him there. His game bag was filled, however, with “atmosphere," "local color” and "impressions”, which, no doubt, will in due time appear to delight his thousands of friends in a series Bears that I have missed.”

* During the municipal campaign in New York a novel use was made of cartoons by the Citizens Municipal Committee. A banner swung across Fifth avenue at Twenty-fifth street carried the names of the fusion candidates for office and a huge cartoon graced the center of the design. From week to week the cartoons were changed, making  the banner an active campaign asset, a sub-committee being appointed whose business it was to select suitable cartoons from the New York papers to be used at the point noted and other street intersections in the down town district.

* Cartooning will be a feature in the free hand drawing course at the Young Men's Christian Association in Portland, Ore., this winter. J. E. Murphy, the well known cartoonist of the Oregon Journal, has been engaged to take charge of this class, which will also include commercial art, landscape and modeling.

Murphy’s cartoons have been a feature of the Journal's pages, and he is recognized as highly qualified to direct such a course as planned by the association. Cartooning is a brand new institution in the course, no former classes ever having had an opportunity to take up instruction in this branch of art. The innovation is a good one and under the direction of Mr. Murphy the class is bound to develop results.

* Cartooning is being recognized as a real vocation by the educational institutions of the country, the Wichita High School being the latest to employ an instructor. Classes in drawing and cartooning have been organized by W. Anderson, supervisor of penmanship in the Wichita public schools. “Wichita is large enough,” said Mr. Anderson, “for a night class in cartooning. I believe we can furnish instruction to many who have the talent, but not enough time during the day to work at it.”

* Jay N. Darling, known as “Ding,” the cartoonist whose work on the Des Moines Register and Leader is attracting so much attention, has been on a hunting trip in the Northwest. “Ding” started to draw a salary' on the Sioux City Journal several years ago and has built up a reputation for clever, timely and forceful cartoons which show a grasp of national and state affairs. “Ding” was, for a time, connected with the New York Globe and his cartoons were widely commented on. During the hunting trip he spent some time at Devil’s Lake, which in the manner of speaking, is “no place for a minister's son.”

* English cartoonists are demanding that the traditional figure of John Bull give way for a more simple national symbol. “It requires half a day,” so they declare, “just to draw John Bull's vest !” They should worry! If Ireland should be cut off, the size of the vest would grow beautifully less, and the cartoonist would automatically have less to do.

* The first offering in the lyceum course given by the First Presbyterian church of Wichita, Kans., was “An Evening with the Cartoonist,” Ross Crane being the entertainer. He uses crayon, clay and moulding boards and plays upon the piano.

* The Berkley School of Art, Newark, N. J., has recently been incorporated with a capital of $50,000 by F. M. Berkley, and M. J. Ready of Newark, and F. J. Dever of New York City, to conduct schools of art, cartooning and caricature.


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Thursday, August 15, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: His Mother-In-Law

One of Clare Victor Dwiggins' strips for the New York Evening World serves as a good example of how a good but repetitive idea could work much better as a weekday strip than as a daily. His Mother-In-Law turns the tables on the traditional comical battleaxe and makes her turn out in each episode to be a very cool old gal. If run daily, an idea like that would get old faster than a mayfly, but when readers encounter it on a sporadic schedule they are likely to be unprepared for the gag and get surprised each time for a good long while.

Dwig's His Mother-In-Law ran in the Evening World from January 12 to March 9 1911; not a long run, granted, but he got a lot more mileage out of it than if he'd been forced to trot out the same gag each and every day.

My question about the premise is this: why in the world does daughter not seem to have a clue about her own mother's personality? In each strip she seems certain that mom is going to see things her way and put some new dents in hubby's head with that handbag. Ah well, it seldom pays to think too hard about these things ....


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Jim Davis Early Newspaper Comics Discovered

A Youtube maven and Garfield fanatic who goes by the moniker Quinton Reviews has uncovered some very early work by Jim Davis. He found the strip Gnorm Gnat, which many thought to be a mere myth cooked up by Davis as interview-fodder. But that's just the warm-up for his major discovery, the original weekly run of Garfield, then known as Jon, in which the famed lasagna-loving feline was born in a small local weekly newspaper two years before the strip hit the big time in syndication. Davis, for reasons unknown, has kept the existence of this feature to himself for the past forty years!

Quinton Reviews explains all this in a very entertaining video, so click below and enjoy:

For some reason links to that video don't work (all part of Jim Davis' plan to keep us in the dark?!?!?), so click on the Quinton Reviews link above and select the video titled "Finding Lost Garfield Comics". Sorry for the glitch.

Once you've watched the video, if you'd like to see lots of the Gnorm Gnat and Jon strips, here's a 47-page PDF (takes a few moments to load) with lots of samples.

My two comments: first, congratulations Quinton on a fine piece of comic strip archeology! Second, don't leave us hanging ---- get the start date of Gnorm Gnat please!!

The video was missing, so I browsed the PDF.

Gnorm Gnat looks like the work of a big Tumbleweeds fan, while Jon/Garfield is so different as to feel like a different (and less polished) artist. I'm guessing that Jon represented a very self-conscious effort by Davis to find a new style. Note that over time Garfield became even more precise and polished than Gnorm Gnat -- Davis's original style reasserting itself? The writing evolved away from Tumbleweeds, but still favors dry, sarcastic humor.

The PDF has an article on Garfield becoming syndicated stating a gnorm gnat start of mid 1973. No exact date.
End date seems to be 25th of Dec 1975 as Jon starts the following week.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Topper Features: Cosmic Radio Television

Here's a topper panel from the Buck Rogers strip titled Cosmic Radio Television. Much like a 25th century StumbleUpon, this topper panel offered readers a glimpse of weird life forms on whatever world the Cosmic Radio Television happened to focus upon.

According to Eugene Seger, the Cosmic Radio Television feature ran on Buck Rogers pages 166 through 184, which means that the very last episode (if my ghosting credits are right) would have been drawn by Rick Yager, while all the rest were done by Russell Keaton. Those episode numbers, in a perfect world, would have run on May 28 to October 1 1933. However, Buck Rogers was often run late by subscribing papers, and as you can see the Chicago American was over two months late chronicling the adventures of Buck.


As the John F. Dille strips were sold like British syndication, in lots, either the run of a continuity story, or in blocks of a one or two hundred gags, the official start and stop dates don't mean that much. I would guess that the only places they were met would be in papers that ran the series from the start or ones that started with some story on the exact start date that it "officially" began, and then they'd just go along from there.
The usual state of Dille strips is that when a client took the series, they would be started off with a story from it's first installment, even if it had started officially and in other papers months ago.
Your sample is from the Chicago American, the Hearst evening paper in that city. Those would have Saturday comic sections, and the comics would be dated for a Sunday use, though the strips were usually for tomorrow's use, they often were intended to be for the previous week.
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Monday, August 12, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Brown - City Farmer

The last original comic strip that Raymond C. Ewer came up with for World Color Printing was Brown - City Farmer. It was a table-turning idea on the hackneyed 'hayseed in the big city' formula that was almost as ubiquitous in early comics as rotten little prank-pulling kids.

Brown - City Farmer debuted on May 15 1910, with the first few installments titled Brown, Would-Be Farmer. The plot had a couple move from the big city onto a farm, looking for the bucolic country life. Of course in comic strip land, farms are the sites of violence, noise, danger and general mayhem that can put Hell's Kitchen to shame. Ewer was given the headline full-page position on the World Color Sunday sections, making him the biggest fish in the WCP's not-very large pond.

Brown - City Farmer used frenetic action as a substitute for real humor, and it really didn't amount to much. It wasn't too surprising then that when George Frink, the creator of the Chicago Daily News' popular Circus Solly came to call at the syndicate months later, Ewer's strip was immediately downgraded, with Frink's Slim Jim and the Force, merely a renamed Circus Solly, moving onto the front page position.

Ewer, perhaps recognizing that this strip wasn't his ticket to fame, soon dropped it, the last installment running November 6 1910. He'd have the last laugh, though. Under unkown circumstances, Frink soon left World Color, and apparently offered no objections to WCP continuing the feature he brought to them. Ewer became the cartoonist of Slim Jim for the next four years, taking back the pride of the headliner position on the WCP comics section.


Was there supposed to be a punch line in those comics? Yeeesh!

p.s. I came across your blog recently - love it.
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