Saturday, May 23, 2020


What the Cartoonists are Doing, June 1916 (Vol.9 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.]

Under royal patronage in Montreal and under the distinguished patronage of His Honor the Lieutenant Governor and Madame Le Blanc, Sir Lomer and Lady Gouin, and His Worship the Mayor and Madame Lavigueur in Quebec, A. G. Racey, cartoonist of the Montreal Star, delivered his lecture entitled “The War in Cartoon.” The proceeds went to the Red Cross society. Both occasions served to bring out Canadian expressions of patriotism and loyalty. Mr. Racey had prepared the lecture at the request of several members of parliament. In the course of his remarks he stated that everything in Germany had been made subservient to militarism; that Prussia had prepared so well for war that she only awaited the chance to strike. He showed on the screen the signature of von Buelow to the now famous “scrap of paper,” guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality.

The difficulties that confronted Great Britain in the earlier stages of the war were depicted. A series of cartoons reviewed Germany's submarine warfare, the Balkan developments, the attitude of the United States, Germany's dream of an Egyptian conquest, and other features. The cartoonist expects to realize more than $30,000 for the cause.


Chapin, of the St. Louis Republic, has drawn a cartoon which is being used by the St. Louis Provident Association in a campaign to raise $23,000 for its summer work. The drawing pictures the rise of a family from despair to hope, the steps to independence being respectively Relief, Encouragement, Help, Employment, and Opportunity.

Jack Flanagan, one of the youngest of the Australian cartoonists, who has achieved the distinction of full-page cartoons in the Sydney Bulletin, has reached the United States via Vancouver, and intends to locate in New York. His ambition is to illustrate an edition of the Odyssey. Mr. Flanagan will be followed shortly by Harry Julius, who illustrates the theatrical page of the Sydney Bulletin, and who has something new in the way of animated cartoons that he wishes to introduce in America.


Don Barclay, a comedian of the “Maid in America” company, and a former St. Louis cartoonist, claims to be the originator of the Charlie Chaplin walk. His specialty as a cartoonist was drawing funny feet, and from this he developed a vaudeville act, he says, that the famous film artist has imitated.

The Rev. Cauley H. Perrin, who is a cartoonist as well as a clergyman, has been giving a series of cartoon sermons, portraying the progress of the modern pilgrim through the various stages of life's journey. Mr. Perrin is the pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Watertown, N. Y.


John Campbell Cory, formerly cartoonist for the Chicago Journal, is now syndicating his work through the Publishers' Feature Bureau of Chicago. He has a summer home at Wadsworth, Ill.


Commenting on the tendency of cartoonists to picture Britain as a bulldog, standing square to the world, and ready to grip with the grip that never lets go, a writer in Town and Country says: “Personally I think a bulldog rather unattractive and I think its reputation for courage and tenacity rather exaggerated.”

At the recent dinner given by the Evening Star Club at the Raleigh Hotel, Washington, each guest was presented with a copy of the “Morning Star,” a souvenir newspaper edited by the Evening Star staff, and illustrated with cartoons drawn for the occasion by Clifford K. Berryman. Mr. Berryman received as a special tribute during the evening a big Teddy bear, so lifelike that it might have stepped out from the corner of one of his daily cartoons. Mr. Berryman in his turn presented to Uncle Joe Cannon, one of the honor guests, a huge cigar. After having drawn more than sixty cartoons for the dinner souvenir, Mr. Berryman was ordered to draw one of himself, which is presented forthwith.

A recent cartoon drawn by Harry J. Westerman, of the Ohio State Journal, and depicting the contrast between the fate of the clown, “Slivers,” and Charlie Chaplin, the movie comedian, so appealed to Mr. Sam McCracken, the noted sportsman, that he purchased the original and had it framed for his office. “Slivers,” it will be remembered, committed suicide at about the time that Mr. Chaplin's half-million-dollar contract was announced. Mr. McCracken was perhaps “Slivers” closest friend. It was he who staged the Willard-Moran fight in New York. “Slivers” was undoubtedly the world's greatest clown. It was his privilege to make thousands of grown-ups and children laugh, but his later days were days of tragedy.


The New York Tribune Sunday magazine is running a series of four-column cartoons by Robert J. Wildhack, captioned “How to Make Money.” There isn't any doubt that Bob Wildhack himself knows how to make money for he has just added the third car to his automobile stable.


H. T. Webster, of the New York Globe, has taken delivery of a new Marmon car. It is a bachelor's runabout. Had Webbie been a marrying man he might have bought a Mormon car. Webbie was measured for the car and then the car was made to Webbie's measure. Standing upon the equator Webster would be head and shoulders above the arctic circle, so no stock car would accomodate his reach. Pushing the motor forward 18 inches and moving the seat back so that it overhangs the rear axle gives Webbie ample leg room.

Of course the car suffers some in appearance. On the leading drives about New York, Webbie's car has already been named “the Dachshund.” It is long like that. It has two steering wheels, one to operate the front pair of road wheels, and a second one for the rear wheels like an aerial-ladder fire truck. Managing two steering wheels would ordinarily be a busy job, but for a cartoonist who draws with one hand while he lights a load of soft-coal tobacco in a base burner pipe with the other, it is a cinch.

The report that Herb Roth was going to Spain for a couple of years has been officially denied. Instead Herb has signed another two-year contract with the New York World. The night shift of New York's gaiety workers is relieved by this announcement. Now they know the worst. Herb Roth is a truthful cartoonist. With the mathematical certainty of the magnetic compass which always points north, Herb plants a laugh even if he does not adorn a face. His recent picture of the Fakirs' Ball at the Hotel Vanderbilt showed 50 persons and every one was a speaking likeness. The “Met section” would be something else if Herb should go to Spain.

Charles Richardson, a Washington, D.C., shopkeeper, was summoned to court recently to account for a cartoon in his store window depicting President Wilson as a gladiator standing over his victims with a sword dripping with blood. Action was brought by the police under the statute which forbids the display of pictures dealing with crime, or intent to commit a crime.


Readers of the old school who remember “Rudder Grange” still dream, perhaps, of living in a house made out of an old boat. Clare Briggs, the author of “Skinnay” and “When a Feller Needs a Friend,” has built such a dream house at New Rochelle, N. J. It is such a house as Frank R. Stockton or Robert Louis Stevenson would have delighted in, and the name of the house is “The Blue Anchor.”

A writer in the Utica Observer, describing a visit to the home of the “Mark Twain of cartoonists,” says:

“A striking feature of this house is a framework of ship timbers, taken from a water-logged schooner, wrecked on a bar undoubtedly, and procured from a salvage firm in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Some of the lumber used in the construction work is only 250 or 300 years old; and one does not have to look hard or long to see timbers 14 by 12 inches in size by 35 feet in length, which, in course of time, will be hand-carved.

“The supposedly front elevation is the rear of the house, the latter being half surrounded by a stone wall, embedded in which are parts of the hull of the same old schooner.

“The dining room is large and comfortable, surrounded entirely with quartered white oak panels, six feet in height, stained most beautifully by Father Time himself. The ceiling is beamed with those old water-logged timbers. The window frames are made from the old planking, which more than a dozen hardwood turners refused to touch with their tools.

“To the modern builder every stick of timber in ‘Blue Anchor' is subject to condemnation. Holes, dowels and splints are everywhere, and cracks half an inch wide are the rule, and why not in a house 300, or shall we say 400 years old?

“Remember we are in the dining room, and its windows are of leaded glass, as are all the windows throughout the house. In each window there may still be three or even 10 pieces of the old glass, opaque but not transparent, which was the best that glaziers could produce when ‘Blue Anchor' was built 400, or shall we say 500 years ago? And then there is sure to be found in every window one or more descriptive pictures, for once “Blue Anchor' must have belonged to an artistic individual who was most lavish in his expenditures, for he replaced the old glass with the most unobtrusively blending pictures one can imagine.

“From the dining room one passes through a spacious hall, into the living room, two steps below. The room occupies half the house, and is finished—Well:

“Its floor: Planking four inches thick, sixteen or eighteen inches wide, 30 feet long; the seams are calked with oakum and tar, for those planks have lived many a year on that diet. Scars and marks on the floor show where stays were fastened in them aboard ship.

“At the far end is a stone fireplace. At its left a secret panel gives entrance to a winding stairway in the chimney, and either to Mr Briggs' grill room below or to Madame's boudoir above, past the minstrels' balcony, one within the holy of holies of this family can go.

“The huge rudder of the schooner 15 feet long and with its massive iron pivot and chains weighing nearly 1,400 pounds was not thrown onto the junk heap, but has been given the most conspicuous place in the grill room. It serves as chimney breast, over a glorious fireplace. At the other end of the grill, directly opposite the fireplace, is a huge anchor, a gift of a friend, J. K. Stewart. This cute toy weighs a ton and a quarter.”

R. M. Brinkerhoff, of the New York Evening Mail, has bought himself a studio and living apartment in the big structure which Penrhyn Stanlaws is building on 67th Street and Central Park, West. Each tenant owns, in fee simple,—whatever that is— the right and title to his own apartment with trespass rights in the public halls, elevators, and the sidewalk fronting.

Brink is now shoppng to furnish his new home. He is to have Chinese rugs, Turkish corners, French pastry, German fried, Swedish massage, and Bull Durham, while the decoration will be largely Hungarian goulash and all very Chile con carne.


Clifton Meek, formerly cartoonist with the New York Evening Journal, is now in business for himself, and is connected with “The Silent Partner,” a “magazine of inspiration” published in New York.

An exhibition of original cartoons by Clifford K. Berryman, of the Washington Star, has been attracting many visitors to the Corcoran galleries of the capitol city. It was the first time the gallery had ever placed on view a collection of drawings in black and white.

Among the best known of the pictures to be shown is the “Why Didn't I Think of That?” cartoon of Roosevelt, which shows him reading reports of President Wilson's first personal address to congress. This cartoon was reproduced all over the country, subsequent to its publication in The Star. Another famous cartoon in the collection is the “To Go or Not to Go” commemoration of Roosevelt's retirement from the White House on March 4, 1909. The picture shows the famous Berryman Teddy bear on the steps of the executive mansion, regarding with pensive gaze a large moving Van.

The Baltimore convention of the democratic party in 1912, the German submarine controversy, Roosevelt's trip abroad and in Africa, the Mexican controversy, “Uncle Joe” Cannon and Speaker Clark, all come in for their share of the friendly satire of Mr. Berryman's pen.


A fine point in newspaper law has developed in connection with the alleged misuse by Dr. John R. Davis, of Mena, Ark., of an “Everett True” cartoon by Condo, of the Newspaper Enterprise Association. The cartoon, as originally drawn, showed the redoubtable Everett belaboring with his umbrella the head of a congressman who, instead of attending to business, spent most of his time at pink teas.

Dr. Davis, who was a congressional candidate in a hot primary fight in his district, altered the cartoon by lettering in the name of his opponent and distributed it in circular form, the attorneys for the syndicate claim. The N. E. A., therefore, has brought action against him for the misuse of a copy righted cartoon.

Mutt and Jeff, in the opinion of the Russian embassy at Washington, are not fit companions for the czar of Russia. Followers of Bud Fisher's cartoons will remember that the czar was commandeered by Mutt and Jeff and introduced into the mysteries of draw poker. The Russian embassy, however, didn’t like the idea, and made a protest. As a result the fact was disclosed that it really wasn’t the czar, after all, who accompanied the comic-strip celebrities to America, but the czar's valet in disguise.


Mrs. John Barr McCutcheon, the mother of John T. McCutcheon, the Chicago Tribune cartoonist, George Barr McCutcheon, the novelist, and Benjamin F. McCutcheon, died recently at her home in Chicago.


The first gun in what is to be a nationwide fight against moving-picture censorship has been fired by Charles R. Macauley, formerly cartoonist of the New York World. Mr. Macauley's shot is in the nature of the cartoon presented herewith, and showing a “holier-than-thou” individual veiling a screen with a banner which bears the legend “Pre-publication Censorship.” This, with others, will be shown in the cinema theaters throughout the country as part of an organized crusade.


H. T. Webster, of the New York Globe, and R. M. Brinkerhoff, of the New York Evening Mail, have been spending a week in Washington, D. C., getting acquainted with the celebrities in order that their cartoons hereafter will bear a semblance to the truth. They have been studying President Wilson, Secretary Baker, and others at first hand. The trip was made in Web’s new touring car.


Jack Flanagan from Australia was John R. Flanagan, who soon became one of the great pen-and-ink illustrators of the 1920s. He drew many illustrations for Collier's, including the popular Fu Manchu series following J. C. Coll. Flanagan was just 21 when he came to New York, having already established himself as a newspaper cartoonist back in Australia. Fun to see him right at the start of his career.
I found the Slivers/Chaplin bit riveting, and went and looked up the backstory on it. Fascinating. That bit alone was worth the price of admission, today, and I greatly enjoy these "What the Cartoonists Are Doing" bits.
It is rare and amazing to see Chaplin commented upon so near to the beginning of his rise to immortality. Here he is still a mere mortal, and a target for carping comments. On the other hand, I have never heard of poor old Slivers. Lost in the obscurity of the past, after a tragic end. I have contemplated suicide many times — who hasn't? — but one thing that has always stopped me is the thought that I might regret it later. Who knows what successes may have awaited Slivers if he had stuck around?
I, too, really enjoy these slice of life glimpses of the cartooning world, so long ago. I have always loved the "really old" strips, so it is an added enjoyment to read about the cartoonists too. Thank you, Allan!
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Friday, May 22, 2020


Wish You Were Here, from Jim Davis

Here's another Garfield postcard, this one is coded #P5530, from Argus Communications. I'm not a big Garfield fan, but IMHO this is one of the funniest postcards ever.


I hate Garfield, but it should be noted that it is the last comic strip creation that generated a huge lot of fans and licensing, a fad, of sorts. At the current pace, it may be the final one as well.
I only read the "Garfield minus Garfield" blog. That's enough Garfield for me.
Some decades ago, at the height of the Garfieldmania, there was a TV special that centered on Davis. He not only offered a guided tour of his empire, but showcased the main artists who assisted on the strip (showing exactly what they did), produced product art, worked on the animated specials, etc. He came off as enthusiastic about their work, impressed with their talent, and frankly proud to show off these guys working for him. Maybe it was just exceptionally adroit PR, but I've had a level of respect for Garfield ever since.
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Thursday, May 21, 2020


Magazine Cover Comics: Petty-June at College

Fish, the great British cartoonist, had a long relationship with the American Weekly, producing quite a few series over about a decade and a half. Here's an early offering, Petty-June at College. This one is about a vacuous little John Held-style flapper-deb. The series appeared on American Weekly covers from November 18 1928 to February 10 1929, and was popular enough that the character returned for a second series, Petty-June Does Europe.

I think Fish did tremendous work, and I'm surprised no retrospective book of her cartoons and illustrations has been produced. Am I alone in my admiration for her work?


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Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Frank Giacoia

Francesco Carmine “Frank” Giacoia was born on July 6, 1924, in Latronico, Italy. Giacoia’s first name was on a passenger list and middle name from his Social Security application (transcribed at which also had his birth information. However, Giacoia’s World War II draft card had Potenza, Italy as his birthplace.

On April 7, 1932, Giacoia and his mother, Domenica, were aboard the steamship Augustus which departed Naples, Italy. They arrived in the port of New York City on April 18. Giacoia’s father, Giuseppe, paid for their passage. His address was 2614 Hoyt Avenue, Astoria, New York, which is in the borough of Queens.

The 1940 U.S. Federal Census recorded Giacoia, his parents and two younger siblings in Astoria at 32-12 Astoria Boulevard. The census said Giacoia’s father was a building construction laborer who was born in Brazil, South America. Giacoia’s mother made dress trimmings.

Giacoia attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan. His classmates included John Belfi, Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane. Giacoia dropped out of school. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he worked at the Harry “A” Chesler and Fred Iger Studios.

A profile in All-Star Companion, Volume 1 (2004) said “… In the early ’40s he inked such Timely series as Captain America, Jack Frost, Captain Wonder, and Young Allies; by 1948 he was inking Carmine Infantino and occasionally Alex Toth on Green Lantern, et al., for DC. …”

On December 11, 1942, Giacoia signed his World War II draft card. His address was 28-19 Astoria Boulevard in Astoria. His employer was Timely Comics. Giacoia’s description was five feet seven inches, 149 pounds with brown eyes and hair. His father adopted the name Joseph. 

Giacoia’s Department of Veterans Affairs file said he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp on June 5, 1943. A muster roll, dated July 31, 1943, listed Giacoia as a private, stationed at the Third Recruit Battalion Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina. The October 31, 1943 muster roll said he was a private first class at the Aircraft Engineering Squadron at Cherry Point, North Carolina. According to the July 31, 1944 muster roll Giacoia was a cook at the same location. On April 30, 1945 Giacoia was a corporal at Songaree Field, Columbia, South Carolina. Three months later he was back in Cherry Point, North Carolina. San Diego, California was Giacoia’s home on the October 31, 1945 muster roll. In 1946 his final station was the Headquarters Squadron-33, Marine Aircraft Group-33, Marine Air, West Coast, U. S. Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, Santa Ana, California. Giacoia was discharged June 22, 1946.

After the war Giacoia continued working in the comics industry.

Bowling was one of Giacois’s hobbies. The Star-Journal (Long Island City, New York), October 28, 1949, said

Giacoia Hits 546 Series to Pace Ditmars Loop
With Frank giacoia rolling a 546 series to pace the league, Team No. 2 swept its match with Team No. 4 in the House Bowling League at the Ditmars Center, Astoria.

Giacoia, bowling in the No. 4 position, hit games of 205, 166 and 175 as his team prevailed by more than 100 pins in each of the first two games and annexed the finale with a 45-pin margin. …

The Star-Journal mentioned Giacoia in its November 4, 1949 report.
… Team No. 2 registered a new high team game score of 882 to break the record of 868, held by Team No. 6, which dropped an odd-game verdict to the the new record holders. Frank Giacoia hit 200 for the winners. …
On October 27, 1951, Giacoia and Phyllis M. Zupa obtained a marriage license in Manhattan, New York City. Phil Zupa was one of Giacoia’s pen names. 

Alberto Becattini said Giacoia assisted Ray Bailey on his strip, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, in the early 1950s. Giacoia was living in East Meadow, Long Island, New York when he drew Sherlock Holmes. The strip, which was written by Edith Meiser, ran from March 1, 1954 to November 17, 1956. Becattini said Giacoia was assisted by Mike Sekowsky, Sam Burlockoff, Joe Giella, and Gil Kane. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Johnny Reb and Billy Yank was Giacoia’s next syndicated strip. It ran from November 18, 1956 to May 24, 1959. He had help from Jack Kirby, Mike Sekowsky, Gil Kane, Sam Burlockoff, Joe Giella, Joe Kubert and Sy Barry. Thorn McBride debuted September 12, 1960 with Giacoia and writer, Kenneth Simms. Mel Keefer did the art starting January 23, 1961. During the 1970s Giacoia worked on Big Ben Bolt, Flash Gordon, Amazing Spider-Man, and Incredible Hulk.

Giacoia passed away on February 4, 1988 according to the Social Security Death Index.


Further Reading and Viewing
Inkwell Awards
Kleefeld on Comics
Lambiek Comiclopedia
Grand Comics Database
Alter Ego #155
What If Kirby

More Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books
Plate 38

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Obscurity of the Day: Thorn McBride

Frank Giacoia never had much luck picking a blockbuster newspaper strip; part of that was his choice of syndicates. His first two strips, Sherlock Holmes and Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, were distributed by the New York Herald-Tribune, which had great taste in features but couldn't sell them to save their souls. His third try, Thorn McBride, managed to find an even worse distributor. Copley Press, which operated a substantial chain of newspapers, couldn't even seem to convince their own papers to run their strips. Now that's pathetic.

Maybe with Thorn McBride those Copley papers weren't so dumb. Giacoia's art, always superbly professional if not especially flashy, was paired with the awful writing of a fellow named Kanneth Simms. Simms was in love with what he thought was snappy dialogue. He obviously wanted to be the next Milton Caniff, but what came out on the page was confusing, herky-jerky and worst of all, verbose. Poor Giacioa sometimes has to shoehorn talking heads into panel corners just to remind us that it's a comic strip. To his credit, though, he worked hard on this dog. Check out the extra bits of business Giacoia adds in some of these strips above that could have been just a series of talking heads. 

Debuting on September 12 1960* as a daily-only strip, Thorn McBride concerns the adventures aboard a US Navy nuclear submarine. This was a hot topic at the time because the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear sub, had just made headlines by 'sailing' under the North Pole. There was also a big budget nuclear sub movie in the works, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The concept seemed like a surefire hit for a strip, but the quality of the writing combined with the inability of Copley to sell their wares had this ship sinking a lot faster than subs ought to.

Frank Giacoia jumped ship after just four months, handing the reins over to another fine cartoonist, Mel Keefer (see the final example above for a Keefer strip), on January 23 1961**. Keefer proved much more game to ride on the Thorn McBride ship, and lasted until its demise on December 29 1962***.

Copley advertised the availabiltiy of the strip in 1963, but someone there was apparently a little behind on reading company memos. As proof I can offer that one paper ran a blank space for a week after the cited end date, with the text "Thorn McBride has been discontinued by the Artist."

One other minor postscript; Copley was seemingly unable to handle the distribution of a daily comic strip themselves, so they recruited United Feature Syndicate to handle the distribution.

* Source: Charleston Daily Mail
** Source: Washington Star
*** Source: Hayward Review, Long Beach Press-Telegram.


That one tier is just about the best Keefer work I ever saw.
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Monday, May 18, 2020


Mystery Cartoonist: Lynn Daily Evening Item Circa 1921 -- JB? BJ?

As I go through my boxes upon boxes of files awaiting sorting, I come upon the occasional mystery item. Here's a couple clippings from 1921 issues of the Lynn (Massachusetts) Daily Evening Item, featuring an editorial cartoonist who signs him or herself  with what looks to me like an interlocked J and B. Searching around I cannot find a cartoonist who was associated with that paper that has these or similar initials. Can you identify the mystey cartoonist?


From Editor & Publisher August 23, 1924 (via GoogleBooks):
"Jack Beckwith, for the past 22 years cartoonist and all-round artist for the Lynn (Mass.) Daily Evening Item..."
Thanks DD (and Alex Jay who wrote privately), your web searching skills beat the heck out of mine. If I could search this well I might be dangerous.

Gonna have to find something really challenging -- maybe a tiny scrap of paper with a stick figure from an unknown paper.

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