Saturday, August 31, 2019


What The Cartoonists Are Doing: February 1914, Vol. 5 No. 2

[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.]

Brewerton, far right, in 1912
A solemn-visaged owl flew into an open news stand in Lawrenceville, Ga., the other night, and pausing before a cartoon of Brewerton's, in the Atlanta Journal, fairly shrieked with mirth!
This spontaneous appreciation by Nature's wisest bird so impressed the newsdealer that he insisted the owl be sent to Brewerton forthwith, where he might indulge his fancy for cartoons to his heart's content. The next parcel post carried a mysterious package, which was delivered in due course, and in a particularly busy moment “Brew" tore off the cover, revealing a pair of staring yellow eyes! At the same time a sepulchral voice asked “Hoo?” Whatever it was that Mr. Alfred Brewerton said to Mr. Owl in reply, the owl, it is certain, was disillusionized, for he has never laughed since. Not even when “Brew” is as funny as he can be, does the owl give any evidence that he sees the point. “Brew” is inclined to think the bird was once a managing editor who has “come back.” Tradition is against “Brew’s” theory, but the fact that the feathered critic only shakes his head and sniffs perceptibly as each new creation seems to confirm the diagnosis. Brewerton still hopes to win a smile from his new chum, and has given him the run of his sanctum, feeds him India ink and Welsh rarebits, and is watching for results.

It would seem that Senator Tillman's success in getting the cartoons of his non-reversible cow printed in The Congressional Record has done more than all of the editorials and articles denouncing the publication of extraneous matter in The Record have been able to do in the thirty years or more since the practice became common of letting Senators and Representatives print anything that they wanted to get before the public in a publication which properly should contain nothing but a record of the daily proceedings of Congress.

Senator Bacon of Georgia and Senator Gallinger of New Hampshire have served notices that they will object hereafter to the publication of anything not contained in the proceedings of the Senate in The Record, and as unanimous consent is required before such extraneous matter can be published, this determination on the part of these Senators should put a stop to the practice so far as the upper house is concerned.

According to some scientists who have been investigating the subject, there are two centers of thought in the brain instead of one as had formerly been supposed, and each of these centers controls one side of the body. According to their theory, a right-handed person who uses the left hand only for purposes that require no particular skill, is utilizing only one half of his brain power, and if he had taken the trouble to train his left hand, he would be able to accomplish a great deal more and better work. An artist, for instance, who draws pictures with his right hand, might conceivably develop remarkable literary skill by doing his writing with his left hand.

There are no records to prove whether Du Maurier, the famous English cartoonist, who late in life produced such remarkable novels as Trilby, Peter Ibbetson and The Martian, did his writing with his left hand or not, but Townsend, the present day British cartoonist, who is regarded as one of the foremost in his profession, draws with his left hand, but writes everything with his right hand; he is an expert billiard player and uses his left hand for this purpose, while in playing cards he always handles his cards with his right hand; a skilful cricketer, he bats with his right hand, but bowls with his left.

There are instances of cartoonists who, after some accident had crippled their drawing hand, have learned to use the other with almost equal skill. C. G. Bush, for many years perhaps the most famous cartoonist in America, whose drawings in The New York World have been equalled for force and imaginative qualities by few, had to learn to draw with his left hand late in life after a stroke of paralysis, which crippled his right side. Some of Mr. Bush's left-handed work was equal to the best he had ever done with his right hand.

Public interest in cartoons among the residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was stimulated by a cartoonists' exhibition held in The Public Library in December. The historical room of the library was given over to the exhibition.

While most of the work shown was original drawings by the cartoonists of the three Grand Rapids papers, Vidro of The Press, Barnes of The Herald, and Tower of The News, there were also exhibited prints of cartoons by Rouse, a former Press cartoonist who died four years ago, by McCutcheon of The Chicago Tribune and other artists. Drawings and lithographs showing the work of English, French and Polish cartoonists were also exhibited.

In an editorial entitled, “The Challenge of the Cartoon,” the Columbia (S. C.) State says:

“The first Democrat to be elected and seated President of the United States after the War Between the States was Grover Cleveland. His election turned upon the vote of New York State, which he carried by the narrow majority of 1,200.

“But for any one of several incidents Mr. Cleveland would have been defeated in New York. The Burchard speech was one of them and the cartoon of the Republican candidate as the ‘Tattooed Man' was another.

“Mr. Blaine, the ‘plumed knight,' was a brilliant and dashing statesman. No man has appealed more strongly to the imagination of the American electorate and had Mr. Blaine's record been clean he would have ‘won in a walk.'

“But Mr. Blaine's record was vulnerable. The cartoonist pictured him as a naked savage, his body tattooed, after the manner of savages, with references to questionable transactions with which his name had been associated. The public eye, not only in New York but throughout the country, was fixed upon Blaine as a corrupt politician and so the public conscience was aroused in a way that printed words could never have aroused it.

“In similar fashions, the cartoons of Thomas Nast stirred New York against the ‘Tweed Ring' and led to its destruction.

“The law, of course, gives politicians as well as others ample redress against the unfair and libelous cartoon, just as it gives them redress against the libel that is printed or written. No solvent and responsible newspaper would dare print a cartoon based upon false allegations and holding up an honest man to reproach or ridicule.

“The publication of a cartoon assailing a man's reputation is always a challenge by the newspaper or magazine to sue it for damages.”

The New York Press asks why the cartoonists persist in drawing toughs and gunmen in the likeness of prize fighters, with close cropped hair, when as a matter of fact, almost every young tough in New York wears his hair long, and usually with a lock hanging down over his forehead.

The answer is the simple one that what cartoonists are drawing are types and not portraits. Until the general public is educated to the point where it immediately recognizes a picture such as that which the Press suggests as that of a tough citizen, a cartoon using such a type for that purpose would lose all of its force and point. The present day conception of a tough citizen has been hammered into the public mind by thousands of artists and cartoonists ever since Cruikshank drew his pictures of Bill Sykes to illustrate Oliver Twist.


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Friday, August 30, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Norman Jennett (?)

Here's another card that I believe to be by Norman Jennett. That's a much better name than Mr. Dot in a Circle, which seems to be his preferred moniker for this work. As with the other Jennett cards, this one does not credit a publisher. It was postally used in 1910, which seems to be the norm with these cards.


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Thursday, August 29, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Affable Aleck

T.O. McGill threw quite a few series against the wall at the New York Evening World in the 1900s, and Affable Aleck has the dubious distinction of being the shortest lived. It managed only two episodes, on November 5th and 10th 1908*.

Source: New York Evening World


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Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: A.D. Reed

Arthur Delbert Reed was born on Match 31, 1877, in Ogle County, Illinois. The birth date is from his World War I draft card; the 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the date as March 1877. However, an entry at Find a Grave has the date March 21, 1874, and his birthplace in Ogle County, Illinois. His full name was found at

The Reed family lineage is here. Reed was the son of Edwin E. Reed and Lillian B. Hemenway. The Reed family history was told, in part, in the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Ogle County, Volume 2 (1909), which profiled Judge Frank E. Reed who was a nephew of Reed’s father.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Reed as the fourth of five children. The family resided in Oregon, Illinois at 235 1st Street. Reed’s father was the county treasurer.

Information about Reed’s art training has not been found.

On June 12, 1897 Reed married Olga Orner in Ogle according to the Illinois marriage index at The Morning Star (Rockford, Illinois), June 26, 1897 said “Mr. Arthur D. Reed of this city, and Miss Olga Orner of Chana, were united in the happy bonds of matrimony on June 12. The bride is one of Chana’s fairest daughters, and the groom holds a good position as one of the artists on the Chicago Evening Journal. Their many friends, both here and Chana, extend congratulations.” The July 15, 1897 Daily Register-Gazette said “Arthur D. Reed, cartoonist on the Chicago Journal staff, and wife are visiting for a few days with the family of his father, E.E. Reed.”

The Daily Register-Gazette, May 22, 1900, reported “Arthur D. Reed, who does the portrait work on the Inter Ocean, with his wife and daughter, have come out from the city to enjoy a visit at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ed E. Reed on South Fourth street.” About two weeks later the 1900 census said Reed was rooming with the Wilkenson family in Chicago at 639 Worth Avenue. It’s not known where his wife was staying.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Reed produced several strips from 1901 to 1906. The first was Country Happenings for the New York Evening Journal. For the McClure Syndicate Reed created Doctor Quack, Mister Bowser, Farmer Jake, William the Conqueror, The Dictionary Illustrated, Uncle Pike, Orphan Joe, Little Abe Corncob, Ham the Country Store Boy, Gazaboo Ike, and Frappe the Snowman and His Papa.

According to the 1910 census, newspaper artist Reed was a Chicago resident at 2352 Clark Street. The location of his wife and family has not been found.

American Newspaper Comics said Reed produced Zeke Smart, from March 6, 1910 to November 26, 1911, for the Chicago Tribune. For the New York Herald, Reed drew After Dark from March 17 to April 14, 1912. Foolish Limericks debuted April 3, 1910 with Reed who was one of a number of cartoonists to draw it for the Chicago Tribune.

The Morning Star, October 26, 1912, said “Arthur D. Reed and family are back from New York where they spent the summer. They have been visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Reed in this city, but are now located in their bungalow in Daysville, where Mr. Reed will continue his work as a magazine illustrator.”

Apparently Reed moved to New York City in 1914. The Daily Register-Gazette, March 10, 1914, said “Arthur Reed has decided to resume art work and has taken a position as cartoonist on a New York paper.”

The 1915 New York state census counted artist Reed, his wife, seventeen-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son in Staten Island on Sea View Avenue.

The Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, Etc., 1916, New Series, Volume 13, Number 7 included Reed’s The Wild and Woolly West. Reed was mentioned in Moving Picture News, September 9, 1916. Reed’s animated cartoon, Are We Prepared for the International Trade Hunt After the War?, was listed in Moving Picture World, November 11, 1916. Both films were for Bray Studios.

Reed’s address was the same on his World War I draft card which he signed on September 12, 1918. The cartoonist was employed by Pat Sullivan at 125 West 42nd Street in Manhattan. Reed’s description was medium height, slender build with brown eyes and hair.

Schenectady, New York was Reed’s home in the 1920 census. The artist, his wife and son were renting a place at 18 Governors Lane. Reed’s employer was the electric company.

The 1925 New York state census recorded Reed and family at 28 Sunnyside Road in Glenville, Schenectady County.

The 1930 census had the same street and number but it was now in the village of Scotia in the town of Glenville. Reed continued to work at the electric company.

Reed continued to be a Scotia resident, at the same location, in the 1940 census. The self-employed artist’s highest level of education was the eighth grade.

Reed passed away May 25, 1953, in Schenectady, New York, according to the New York death index at The Troy Record (New York), June 1, 1953 said “During the last week services were held in the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium in Oakwood Cemetery for the following: … Arthur D. Reed …” Reed’s wife passed away August 21, 1952.

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: After Dark

Poor Farmer Jones. His farm is going bankrupt because the animals he raises all turn out to be tough, sinewy and underweight. The cause is a mystery. His livestock sales contracts have all been cancelled and the local butcher won't even discuss buying from him anymore. Farmer Jones and his family are all weak and nervous because of his business troubles combined with a lack of protein in their diets. If only someone in the family had the strength to stay up late one night and check on the animals, the problem would be made clear to them. After dark, it turns out, the animals don't sleep as they should, but engage in all sorts of wild hijinks all night long. No wonder they are worthless at market!

The mysterious A.D. Reed, whose biography is unknown,  made his comics page swan song with After Dark, which he sold to the New York Herald in 1912. The strip was pretty much his typical fare, rather hastily drawn and with frenetic action in place of genuine humor.  It only lasted five weeks, from March 17 to April 14.

Mr. Reed did not retire outright at this point. We find him dipping his drawing pen one last time in 1916, credited as an animator in the Bray organization.

PS: I'm delighted to say that Alex Jay has unearthed some biographical details about Mr. Reed, so be here tomorrow for his Ink-Slinger Profile!


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Monday, August 26, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Air Conquests

We've covered several strips and panels that were included with the weekly Junior Birdmen of America page distributed by Hearst, and frankly most of their material was pretty dull stuff, unless you're really interested in the science behind wing shear or bios of pioneering pilots is your bag.

Air Conquests didn't exactly break that mold, but it bent it up enough to offer some decent entertainment value. The strip was written by (or at least credited to) famed flying ace Captain Frank Hawks, and it offered an account of his early days as a flier. Although the Junior Birdmen page promoted the strip as more of a grand adventure story, Hawks confined the narrative to his time as a flying student and then as a flying instructor. Although maybe not quite as exciting as the Junior Birdmen might have been hoping for, his story was interesting, it offered a lot of tidbits about learning to fly, and injected the very appealing personality of Frank Hawks, who ironically seems like a very down-to-earth guy in this narrative. The strip was enhanced by the very capable artistry of Jon L. Blummer.

Air Conquests was a feature of the Junior Birdmen page from September 8 1935 to April 5 1936*, and seemed to end a little abruptly. Since the Birdmen page would no longer run strips and panels after this I'm assuming the editorial direction had taken an abrupt turn.   

* Source: San Francisco Examiner


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