Saturday, January 25, 2020


What The Cartoonists Are Doing, September 1915 (Vol.8 No.3)

[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.]

The following rather pessimistic view of the present condition of cartoon art is taken from The Editor and Publisher. By his references to the “mud-dripping school,” the writer evidently has in mind such artists as Weed, of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Boardman Robinson, now in Europe, Minor, of the New York Evening World, and Starrett, of the New York Tribune. The editor of Cartoons Magazine agrees that crayon work, if not done properly, deteriorates into mere “mud dripping,” but believes that the charge does not hold true against these artists, who are among the topnotchers in their profession. A great improvement in the work of the American cartoonists has been noted during the past year or two. Our trouble with Mexico, and later the European war, has brought out the best efforts of these highly trained young men. The pressure of preparing a daily cartoon may at times make their work appear somewhat sketchy, but to compare it with that of men like Nast or Bush, who had an entire week in which to draw a cartoon, is obviously unfair. The writer, also, seems to have overlooked some of the best cartoonists. How would he class Donahey, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer; Darling, of the Des Moines Register and Leader; Orr, of the Nashville Tennessean; Bushnell, of the Central Press Association; Cesare, and Carter, of the New York Sun, not to write a “Who's Who in Cartooning"?

Declares the Editor and Publisher:

“It cannot be truthfully said that cartoon art is on a higher or more artistic plane than it was twenty-five years ago. The trouble seems to be that most of the younger artists are not willing to spend the necessary time in acquiring a knowledge of the fundamental principles of drawing. The result is that much of the work seen in the newspapers is of the crudest kind. In the slap-stick alleged comic stuff that is printed crudity may be tolerated, but in cartoons of a more serious and ambitious character it is out of place and is inexcusable. Few of the artists are good draughtsmen. Some seek to produce impressive effects by resorting to all sorts of tricks to hide their ignorance of art of any kind. Of these the worst offenders are the mud-drippers, whose cartoons are done in charcoal or crayon. The figures in these pictures look as though a bucket of liquid mud had been poured over each one of them. Mud appears to be dripping from their faces, their garments, from the furniture, from the trees or any other object that happens to appear in it. You will find such cartoons in several of the New York newspapers.

“Contrast these mud-dripping cartoons with those of Nast, De Grimm or Bush, who did so much for the art years ago, or those of Rogers, of Ireland, of McCutcheon and of McCay, who are among the best of to-day's newspaper artists, and note the difference.

“Perhaps one reason why cartoon art is not better is because of the sudden and extensive demand for pictures of this kind that developed among the newspapers some fifteen or twenty years ago, and has continued until this day. Anyone with but slight skill found a market for his work. It was not a question of quality so much as it was quantity. Hence the indifferent character of both comics and cartoons with which the pages of the press have been and still are flooded.”

On the occasion of “Bart's" leaving the Minneapolis Tribune to take up his new work on the St. Paul News, the American Review of Reviews, which reproduced a number of his cartoons, said:

“In every one of the 50 volumes of this Review may be found the cartoons of Mr. Charles L. Bartholomew, of Minneapolis. He has been steadily at work since the first number of the Review was issued, in 1891, and the total number of ‘Bart' cartoons reproduced in this department and in other departments of the magazine exceeds the number credited to any other cartoonist.”

His work, the editor went on to say, dealt with big topics in an enlightened, broad gauge way, and every drawing pointed a lesson as well as served to tell a story.

The Bridgewater (Iowa) Times, according to its proprietor, Roy Bunton, is the smallest newspaper in the country publishing exclusive cartoons. It has only about 300 paid circulation. Mr. Bunton, who not only looks after the editorial and business interests of the Times, but also draws the cartoons, writes that “with the help of the local blacksmith I fashioned my own casting box (for the chalk-plate method) and I melt the metal in an old frying pan over an ordinary oil stove.” The cartoonist-proprietor hopes to sell his business in a year or so and devote his entire attention to newspaper art.

Boardman Robinson, formerly cartoonist of the New York Tribune, who went to Europe recently as a war correspondent, has been taken into custody by the Russians, according to newspaper reports. Mr. Robinson is familiar with continental Europe, having spent much of his life “loafing” and studying in Paris and Berlin. It may be that the Russians have mistaken him for a German, but the artist is both an American and a cosmopolitan. After leaving the Tribune he drew cartoons for Harper's Weekly, Life, and other publications, and his new book of war cartoons is one of the best contributions to the constantly growing library on the world conflict.

Carl Garderwine, cartoonist of the Terre Haute Tribune, has been trying to take a vacation at Branch, Mich. “Thus far,” he writes, “I haven’t been very successful, for the natives hereabouts insist upon my drawing pictures for them. I have come to the conclusion that doctors and cartoonists lead about the same kind of a life. Ergo, if you want to enjoy a vacation, don’t make your self known.”

Mr. Garderwine, being good-natured, however, cartooned the local celebrities much to their satisfaction.

All of us have had bad dreams of walking down the street in scanty apparel, but the horror of the situation in real life is thus brought out by “Ding,” J. N. Darling, cartoonist of the Des Moines Register and Leader. A little girl, he says, ran out of a house and approached a good-natured policeman.

“I want you to please find Johnnie,” she said. “He’s my little brother and he's run away.”

“What was he like?” asked the cop.

“He’s three years old, and wears short pants.”

“H'm,” mused the policeman, “I’m afraid he looks like all other little boys if he wears short pants.”

“Oh, no, he doesn’t,” said the little girl. “He didn’t have them on!’’ (Copyright 1915, American Press Humorists.)


A Dallas cartoonist has decorated a Texas hen with the iron cross. She ought to be decorated with a cross of diamonds and pearls, and fed the best food in the world all the days of her life, for of such as she is the prosperity of America.—Florida Metropolis.


Wood Cowan, reporter and cartoonist, who broke into the game on the Chicago Journal and the Chicago Inter Ocean, and later joined the staff of the New Orleans Item, is now connected with the New York Tribune.
Ying Zane, a young Chinese art student of San Francisco, has been breaking into the newspapers out that way, and in Honolulu, as a full-fledged cartoonist. “To the best of my knowledge,” writes his instructor, “Ying is the first of the 400,000,000 of his race to show an aptitude for this particular art, and I consider myself fortunate in discovering such a rare specimen. What the Chinese equivalent of 'Open Sesame' to the Hall of Fame may be, I don't know, but I do know that if industrious application counts for anything, this little son of the Flowery Republic will land there feet first, and grab a niche among the big ones.”

According to Dr. Frank Bohn, formerly of the department of history at Columbia University, Emperor Wilhelm of Germany has been greatly amused by the American war cartoons. Dr. Bohn returned recently from Europe. “I was in one of the kaiser's offices,” he said, “one morning when the mail was brought in. It contained a great many clippings of cartoons from the American papers. Even the kaiser must be amused, and what better amusement could he have than to see himself as the Yankee cartoonists see him?”


Miss Lou Rogers, the suffragette cartoonist, has been on a tour through the state of New York, visiting county fairs and Chautauquas in the interest of “Votes for women.”


A correspondent of the New York Evening Sun, speaking of Robert Carter's representations of Uncle Sam, says, “Mr. Carter rarely descends to caricature. His conception of Uncle Sam is a model for many of our artists, who picture him as a clown bedecked with the American flag, or as a ‘barker' for some advertising game.”


Burt R. Thomas, cartoonist of the Detroit News, delivered a lecture on cartooning before the journalism class of the University of Michigan in connection with the graduating exercises. He is booked for a return engagement at the summer school.


Miss Beatrice Arkell Gillam, a daughter of the late Bernard Gillam, the cartoonist, was married July 28 to John Allan Love, of St. Louis. The wedding took place at Canajoharie, N. Y.

The suggestion of the Editor and Publisher that cartoonists take a course of instruction in how to draw the American flag prompts Harry Osborn of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to announce that he provided such a course more than ten years ago. He admits that his early correspondence school was not so very widely known for the simple fact that he had but one pupil, though a rather distinguished one— no other than Homer Davenport himself.

“I was working on a Philadelphia newspaper,” says Mr. Osborn, “where the editor had his own ideas about cartoons. To say the least, he was very particular. Davenport was drawing political cartoons that year for a syndicate. We received the service, and because of some difficulty over the mats, we had the original drawings sent to our office, and from them made our own cuts. I am not sure that the editor had any of them amended by our home talent, but I recall that he was sorely tried at times by reason of their broad style and utter contempt of detail. Finally his patience gave way entirely when Davenport came to the front with a Star-Spangled Banner that might have waved with equal purpose over the republic of Uruguay or the Confederacy. He called me in, and had me make a stiff little diagram showing accurately the proportions and design of the American flag as it would appear if pasted on a wall, and sent it to Davenport as a model of what the nation's emblem should be.

“I never heard any more about it, so I'm not sure that my famous pupil didn't throw the lesson in the waste basket.”


General Huerta and his gang are probably quite convinced by this time that Uncle Sam is not the easy mark some of his cartoonist friends have pictured him.—Stockton (Cal.) Independent.

(To the enemy, who has given praise to Heaven for the gift of poison.)

There is a gas your murderers make,
Not such as cleanly chokes the breath,
But dealing, just for cruelty's sake,
A long-drawn agony worse than death;
Nor do you deem it odd
To vaunt its virtues as a gift from God.

And there's a gas, the “laughing” blend
(Although its humour seems remote);
They peg the patient's mouth and send
A soporific down his throat;
And, like a child at dawn,
Waking, he finds a stump or two withdrawn

Such is the gas your masters' art
Gives you to deaden pain and fear;
They take and prize your jaws apart
When gaping wide for Munich beer,
Press-gag your mouth and nose,
And pump and pump till you are comatose.

Long draughts of strange and windy lies
Down your receptive maw you gulp,
Until the opiate seals your eyes
And Reason gets reduced to pulp;
So well the vapours work,
Like hashish on your torpid friend, the Turk.

But, when you breathe pure air again,
Sore with a sense of something missed,
And want to know who drugged your brain,
I envy not the anaesthetist;
You'll raise a hideous rout
On finding all your wisdom-teeth are out.

—Sir Owen Seaman, in Punch.


Penny Ross, creator of “Mamma's Angel Child” for the Chicago Tribune, has put Esther, the heroine of the series, in book form. Rand, McNally & Co. are issuing the book for the fall trade.

A recent cartoon by Nelson Harding, of the Brooklyn Eagle, representing a diminutive Jap grasping the queue of a huge Chinaman, and making him bend, has been used as the basis of a campaign conducted by a party in China desirous of awakening the government there to the needs of preparedness. The cartoon, which is entitled “No Backbone,” was printed in red ink on poster sheets, and spread broadcast throughout the republic.

In Pekin the cartoon was the subject of a lecture delivered to a large gathering of citizens. The original text was supplemented by the following in Chinese:

“See the attitude of Japan and the abject attitude of China! Shall we blame the other side for the indignities heaped upon us? They are men like us—the difference being that they progress and become strong, while we remain blissfully weak. Let past mistakes be a lesson for us! Let us rise and march forward!”


W. Clyde Spencer, who for 14 years was cartoonist of the Denver Republican, died recently at his home in New York. Mr. Spencer was born in Indiana 40 years ago, and had lived there for the last six years, during which time he contributed drawings to the New York World and New York Telegram. He was a member of the Denver Press Club.


C. R. Macaulay, author and cartoonist, is now drawing for the movies.

T. A. Dorgan, the cartoonist, was trying to hire a chauffeur the other day and went about it in his usually breezy style. When the first applicant appeared, “Tad” said: “Of course, I want a man who can speak French, play pinochle, curry a horse and make a Jack Rose cocktail.”

“Well, I can do ’em all and still have a few tricks up my sleeve,” said the chauffeur, with becoming modesty.

“Tad” looked him over and then said, suddenly: “I don't know. When I lamp your face and see your horn painted up that way it strikes me that you are a hard drinker and I don't want any hard drinkers driving a car for me and running me over some picturesque cliff.”

“You are wrong,” said the driver. "I am not a hard drinker, It comes easy to me.”

John Roche, who has taken the place of Malcolm St. Claire as sports cartoonist for the Los Angeles Tribune.—Drawn by Dudley Logan, Los Angeles.


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