Saturday, August 24, 2019
What The Cartoonists Are Doing: January 1914, Vol. 5 No. 1
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.]
Probably more people are familiar with the signature “F. Opper” in the lower left-hand corner of cartoons and humorous drawings than have ever seen the name of any other cartoonist.
There are several grounds on which this supposition is reasonably based. One of them, for instance, is that Frederick Burr Opper has been drawing “pictures for the paper” longer than any other cartoonist still actively in the harness. Another is that Opper does more work in a given time than any two other cartoonists, and would do still more if he were allowed or encouraged to do so. And then, the group of newspapers for which Opper's work is now done has a combined circulation that brings his work—political caftoons in the daily and two or three different series of “comics” in the Sunday—before a good many million Americans every week.
Away back in the days when Joseph Keppler was doing his greatest work for Puck, F. Opper was drawing and signing half a dozen cartoons for that publication every week. Before that he had been drawing pictures for Leslie's Weekly—but what's the use of telling a story backward?
To begin at the beginning, Frederick Burr Opper was born on Jan. 2, 1857– which makes him 57 years old this month —in the village of Madison Lake, Ohio. He went to the village school until he was fourteen, then got a job on the local weekly newspaper. A year later, at the age of fifteen, he went to New York to carve out a career for himself, after the fashion of the Oliver Optic and Horatio Alger boy heroes, who figured prominently in the juvenile literature of the early seventies:
Unlike many a misguided youngster who sought fame and fortune in the big city, Opper found what he was looking for— that is to say, a job. His year of newspaper experience in Madison Lake had hardly qualified him for a position on the staff of one of the great New York dailies —and he knew it. So he didn't waste any time trying to break into metropolitan journalism, but got employment in a Broadway store, where, besides selling goods, he turned his artistic talents to advantage in drawing tickets and price cards for window display. Evenings he drew humorous sketches and sent them to the comic papers.
The funny pictures “took.” Pretty soon other editors began to inquire as to the identity of the new artist who signed himself “F. Opper,” and Frank Leslie sent for him and gave him a job on the art staff of Leslie's Weekly. Opper worked for Leslie's for three years. Then he went to Puck and drew pictures for that publication for 18 years, leaving to take up the work he is now doing.
Opper's best-known political cartoons have been the “Willie and His Papa” series, published during the McKinley administration, and the “Uncle Trusty” cartoons that continued throughout the Roosevelt and Taft administrations. Two of his cartoon conceptions, the figure representing the trusts as a good-natured but cynical giant, and that of the common people, representing a harassed, partly bald little man with side whiskers and eye glasses, have become so completely standardized that they are now used by cartoonists generally to express these ideas.
SOME BOOST FOR TUTHILL!
It isn't often that a newspaper thinks as well of its cartoonist as the St. Louis Star, which recently passed into new hands, does of the one it now has. Tuthill is his name and the Star took him from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he had been doing some very clever work. Here is the way the Star chortled in a three column advertisement the other day about young Mr. Tuthill:
“Tuthill, the cartoonist, rejoins The New St. Louis Star Monday.
“We are taking him away from another newspaper and putting him under contract.
“Tuthill began his cartooning with The Star one year ago this Fall and made his work the talk of the town in the political campaigns of November and April.
“Thousands of you know his work and will want to follow it every day in The New St. Louis Star.
“Tuthill has a touch of the great and able Homer Davenport in him.
“He will grow bigger in brain and power.
“He will make you think and talk.
“This is because Tuthill has ‘vision' and an appreciation of the important things of life.
“Tuthill is not one of the silly cartoonists or comic men who draw pictures of a frankfurter and make it cry: “Woof! Woof! !'
“There are alleged comic artists in St. Louis who consider such drawings to be humorous.
“We do not—and Tuthill does not.
“Every day you will find him drawing for our editorial page, and for no other newspaper in or out of St. Louis.”
The best of it is that almost everything the Star says about its “find” is justified by Tuthill's past performances.
“SWIN” GETS A REAL STEAK
Vegetarians may deny that the added ginger noticeable in the cartoons of the New York papers recently were due to beefsteak—but circumstances seem to point the other way. Some folks say that “there ain't no sich animile,” that beefsteaks are as extinct as the Dodo, but “Jimmie” Swinnerton knows better. When he checked his drawing board for the West recently, he was the recipient of a beefsteak dinner at which real beefsteaks were served by famous cartoonists arrayed in big aprons and cooks' caps. “Tad” Dorgan, “Rube” Goldberg, Fred Opper, Tom Powers, George McManus, Cliff Sterrett, Rudolph Block and Winsor McCay were the drawing cards. The beefsteaks were censored by “Winnie” Sheehan, secretary to Police Commissioner Waldo—and passed.
HOW A CARTOONIST GOT RICH
There is at least one authentic case of a cartoonist who became rich. His name is J. Stuart Blacton (actually Blackton - ed.), who lives in Flatbush and is prominent in Brooklyn millionaire society. Mr. Blacton undoubtedly has money. Among his minor enterprises at present is the building of a country estate at Oyster Bay, adjoining Sagamore Hill. He is an enthusiast in motor boating, a pastime in which he is said to have spent $100,000 in a single year.
But—and this is the main point in his story—Mr. Blacton didn't make his money drawing cartoons. He made it out of the motion-picture business, in which he was one of the pioneers. This, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, is the way it happened:
“A man primarily an artist, theoretically the last to glimpse a great new business field, he was nevertheless the first man in the country to see the commercial possibilities of the moving picture. Trained as an architect, at first a newspaper cartoonist, and then on the lyceum platforms as a ‘quick chalk artist,' he founded overnight the immensely profitable enterprise he now has a share in, approximately out of nothing. Some say that but $3,000 started the present big moving-picture concern in Flatbush; others that it was but $600. No one exactly knows, but the combined profits of the three owners today are probably $40,000 weekly.”
Besides being an accomplished cartoonist and a shrewd business man, Mr. Blacton paints exceedingly well and is said to be a remarkably clever amateur actor—and at the time he started in the motion-picture business, it took a man of that kind of versatility to see any commercial possibilities in it. The idea first came to him when he was sent by a New York newspaper to draw pictures of Edison's vitascope, which was then regarded more as a scientific curiosity than anything else. This ended later in his buying a kinetoscope and giving exhibitions in vaudeville theaters in New York. Then Mr. Blacton turned inventor and developed ways of reproducing by the thousands the strips of continuous pictures that he took.
Terry Gilkinson, formerly cartoonist of the Wheeling Register, a number of whose excellent drawings have been reproduced from time to time in Cartoons Magazine, has moved to Cleveland, where he is cartoonist for the Cleveland Press.
This magazine has received a contribution from Walter E. Stark, cartoonist of the Rochester (N. Y.). Herald, for the Homer Davenport Memorial Fund.
Labels: What The Cartoonists Are Doing
Friday, August 23, 2019
Wish You Were Here, from Dwig
Here's another card from Tuck's "Cheer Up" Series, #176.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Alfred Frueh
The New York Times, September 18, 1968, published Frueh’s reply to a 1933 questionnaire on his early life. Frueh pronounced his name “free” and said he was born on Main Street, Lima, Ohio, 1880, and brought up to be a farmer then a brewer.
Mr. Frueh once told his daughter that it was the study of Pitman shorthand in a Lima business college that aroused his interest in drawing. When he got bored in class, he would turn the Pitman symbols into faces of his teacher and fellow students. …He was at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1904 to 1908.
Frueh received his passport on November 16, 1908, and a second passport June 25, 1912, according to Ancestry.com. Frueh said
… Loafed in Paris, London, Rome, Munich, Berlin, and Madrid in 1909. Came back and loafed on The N. Y. World 1910 to 1912 1/2. Went to Europe again and married in London in 1913.
Announcement is made here of the marriage of Giulietta Priscilla Fanciulli, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francesco Fanciulli, of 128 West Fifty-eighth Street, to Alfred J. Frueh, of New York in St. Giles’s Parish, London, on June 12. The bride is the daughter of Francesco Fanciulli, musical director and composer, former leader of the United States Marine Band. Mr. Frueh is a well-known caricature artist, noted for his striking cartoons of prominent players, who came from Cincinnati and for some time was employed on one of the dally New York papers, until he went abroad for study. Mr. and Mrs. Frueh do not expect to return to this country until next year.A passenger list recorded Frueh, his wife and five-month-old daughter, Barbara, who was born in Paris, on the S.S. La Touraine, which arrived in New York City, from Havre, France, on September 13, 1914.
The Times said Frueh was at The World from 1914 to 1924.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Frueh produced two series for The World: Gabe, from July 2, 1911 to August 18, 1912, and The Goat-Getter, from May 22 to 30, 1912. Frueh’s trio for Press Publishing were Rush-Hour Jones, from September 26 to November 1, 1916; Hem and Haw, from June 13, 1920 to February 6, 1921; and For the Love of Juliet, from July 24, 1921 to March 5, 1922.
In 1915 Frueh and Irwin Leslie Gordon produced the art for The Log of the Ark. The same year saw the Evening Public Ledger feature Frueh’s cardboard animals.
Frueh illustrated Chester Cornish’s Beating ’Em to It or The Sultan and the Sausages (1917).
Frueh signed his World War I draft card on September 5, 1918. His address was 22 Maple Place in Nutley, New Jersey and his employer was the New York World. The newspaper artist was described as tall, medium build with blue eyes and light brown hair.
Cartoons Magazine 5/1918
Frueh’s residence was the same in the 1920 census. His household included his wife, three children, Barbara, Robert and and Alfred, his mother-in-law, Amanda Fanciulli, and brother-in-law, Romolo Fanciulli, a newspaper journalist.
The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre (1996) said “Ohioan Alfred J. Frueh drew prolifically for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and later for the New York World and New Yorker; his early caricatures were compiled for a book called Stage Folk (1922).”
The 1925 New York state census counted Frueh, his family and mother-in-law in Manhattan, New York City at 34 Perry Street.
The Times said Frueh joined The New Yorker in 1925 and the first issue had two cartoons by him. He did the cover art for the second issue. He was the magazine’s theater cartoonist to 1962.
The Times said Frueh purchased, in 1926, a 100-acre nut farm in Connecticut, where he planted 7,00 pine trees and several hundred chestnut trees. He experimented, unsuccessfully, grafting nut trees to create a soft-shelled black walnut.
Self-employed artist Frueh was at the same address in the 1930 census. His mother-in-law was not there.
Frueh’s mother-in-law rejoined the household in the 1940 census which recorded Frueh at the same location. Frueh’s highest level of education was the eight grade. He was a magazine cartoonist.
Frueh’s wife passed away October 19, 1967, as reported in the Harlem Valley Times (Amenia, New York), November 2.
Frueh passed away September 14, 1968, in Sharon, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Death Index at Ancestry.com. The Social Security Death Index said Frueh’s last residence was Falls Village, Connecticut.
Further Reading and Viewing
Archives of American Art
Museum of the City of New York
New York Public Library
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Gabe
Famed caricaturist Alfred Frueh started his career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but as far as I know he never produced a comic strip series for them. When he was transferred to the New York World in 1911, in addition to caricatures he was assigned his first comic strip series, which premiered on July 2 1911. Gabe got pride of place on the cover of the Sunday funnies section pretty consistently for months, a tribute to Frueh's elegantly simple and tremendously expressive art.
Frueh's lovely art is in service here to an overdone concept, the city kids versus the country kids. In Frueh's take on the subject the city kids are initially practically homicidal maniacs, and the country kid is about as dumb as a bag of nails. Frueh slowly began to find his footing, with the final example shown above toning down the Katzenjammer-esque antics and offering some real humanity to the proceedings. This is how the strip would be written from then on, featuring more gentle humor and a little compassion for the country kid Gabe, especially in his attempts to woo Cinthy.
Gabe ran for over a year, ending on August 18 1912. As the strip got better, ironically it was more and more often relegated to an inside half-page. Frueh would not make it back into the Sunday section for eight years after this, finally returning with Hem and Haw.
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Gene Autry Rides!
The popularity of movie cowboy Gene Autry, and the star's penchant for improving his bank balance by cross-marketing his fame, led inevitably to a newspaper comic strip offering. Well, two actually, but in a case of putting the cart before the horse, we already covered the second Gene Autry strip waaaay back in 2007.
Gene Autry Rides debuted on January 14 1940* as a Sunday-only strip written by Gerald Geraghty and drawn by Till Goodan. The strip was distributed by the Register & Tribune Syndicate, but the copyright was held by Mr. Autry. The comic strip market was not flooded by cowboy strips like it would be a decade later, but Gene did face competition from Broncho Bill, Red Ryder, and probably a few others that don't come to mind. Some help?
Anyway, the strip was an uneven though generally handsome looking production, and the storyline, which apparently was often tied to the star's movies and serials, was fast-paced and full of action. Oddly, though, it found very few takers. Why? My guess is that Gene Autry felt that his name on a comic strip was worth a surcharge over other comic strips, and directed the distributor to put the screws to potential clients. I have no inside information to back that up, but the fact that very few papers picked up the strip, and those were major ones who could afford to try out an expensive addition to their comics pages, lends credence to my hypothesis.
When Gene Autry Rides failed to make much of a blip on Sunday newspaper sales, those same big clients were just as quick to drop the strip. No definite end date for the strip has yet been determined, but the latest I have in my collection is a January 19 1941 episode from the Washington Star, and a note that the latest I've seen on microfilm was April 20 1941**, except that I stupidly forgot to write in the name of the paper.
Artist Till Goodan was an honest to goodness cowboy who came off this assignment running. He went into comic books afterward and produced lots of western material for them in the coming years. He also produced illustrations and some fine art, all of the western genre, along the way. According to a website that I suspect is run by his family, he died relatively young in 1958, but the Grand Comic Book database has credits to him running into the 1970s. Some are probably just reprints, but many are oddball items outside his usual genre, so not sure what the explanation might be.
Gerald Geraghty was a film screeenwriter whose output was primarily westerns. He was quite prolific, with his filmed screenplays numbering well over fifty. He also died quite young in 1954.
* Source: Atlanta Constitution
** Jeffrey Lindenblatt tells me the strip ran to this date in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and he thinks this was probably the actual end date.
The strips were also reprinted in Fawcett's Gene Autry comic book.
It ran January 14, 1940 to April 29, 1941 (67 weeks)
Monday, August 19, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Matt's and May's Matinees
C. J. Budd spent most of his working years producing illustrations and cartoons for magazines, but he did take the plunge into newspaper comics one time. Matt's and May's Matinees was produced by him for the New York Herald Sunday sections from July 30 to September 24 1911*. This was an unfortunately short visit for newspaper readers with the fine work of Mr. Budd's pen.
Matt's and May's Matinees concerns a brother and sister who have the theatre bug. They stage plays for their own amusement, using household items for props and enlisting their long-suffering pets, a cat and a dog, to play bit parts. The kids are delightful, neither angelic or devilish but acting like real kids, and the cat and dog, who talk among themselves, offer up good comedy.
Matt's and May's Matinees must have been such a breath of fresh air to newspaper readers who had been inundated with rotten little scoundrels like the Katzies and Buster Brown for years on end. Here finally are kids who get into funny situations, and even big trouble, with not a single drop of vitriol influencing their actions. When their parents find the messes thay've made, they'll be punished and no doubt will be truly sorry for what happened. The originality of the concept is downright mind-boggling, isn't it?
Unfortunately, all my samples of this strip are from papers that took the strip in syndication and they are all printed as either mono or two-color jobs. I do not know if in the original Herald run of this strip these delightful full-pagers appeared in full 4-color splendor or not.
One postscript: as we've discussed in the past, cartoonists in these years were still not quite all up to the task of making sure that word balloons could be read from left to right in proper order. C.J. Budd, obviously recognizing the problem but not quite up to the task of organizing his panels to eliminate the problem, has opted to number the word balloons to tell the reader what sometimes cicuitous route their reading should take. I don't recall seeing anyone else use that solution.
* Source: Ken Barker's New York Herald index in StripScene #20.