Saturday, May 15, 2021


Herriman Saturday: February 2 1910


February 2 1910 -- Ad Wolgast is gunning for Battling Nelson's title, but Nelson ups the ante to offer him a chance. Forget 10 rounds, or 20 rounds, if you want a shot at the title you need to sign up for 45 rounds and guarantee him a $12,000 purse. Much to Nelson's surprise, Wolgast agreed to his terms.

The fight, set for February 22, would become known as one of the greatest title fights of all time, not to mention one of the most vicious.



For those, like me, who never heard of this match, I offer a snippet from Wikipedia:

...On 22 February 1910 he [Wolgast] won the World Lightweight Title with a technical knockout (TKO) during the 40-round [bout with] Battling Nelson. After the California bout, both fighters were arrested and charged with violating the anti-prizefighting law.
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Friday, May 14, 2021


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jack Betts

(An earlier version of this profile was posted on January 28, 2014.)

John George “Jack” Betts was born on March 21, 1904 in Brooklyn, New York, according to his World War II draft card. His middle name is from a family tree at Betts’s parents were Steven H. M. Betts, a machinist, and Alice Ethel Stevens, who married on October 1, 1901, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Betts’s father was born in Brooklyn, New York, which was his residence in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Betts’s sister, Ethel (1907–1982), was three years younger and born in Brooklyn.

In the 1910 census, Betts and his sister were living with their maternal grandparents, John and Anne Stevens, whose two sons, daughter and daughter-in-law were part of the household. They resided in Jersey City, New Jersey, at 257 Union Street. The family tree said Betts’s mother had passed away February 9, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York, about two months before the census enumeration (April 15). Betts was six years old at the time. His father has not been found in this census; he passed away in 1970.

Betts’s education and early art training was in Jersey City. He was a Boy Scout who contributed spot illustrations to the Jersey Journal’s “Scouting” column. His debut was March 26, 1918.

Fellows, be seated.

I want you to meet our new artist. He’s Tenderfoot Scout Jack Betts of Troop 17, and he’s the Art Editor of this department of the Jersey Journal. You’ll meet him here every Tuesday.

It’s only natural that you’d want to get a view of the Scout who drew the three pictures that appear to-day. So I said: “Jack, old man, just draw a picture of yourself making your bow to the audience.”

And this is what Jack drew:

But just between you and me, he doesn’t look a bit like the drawing. That’s just his way of having his little joke.
Below is a detail of the column from the April 2, 1918 issue.
We—that is, Jack Betts, the art editor, and I—sat down yesterday to plan this week’s Scouting news.

“How shall we start it, Jack?” I asked.

“Well,” said Jack, “last week you had a little fun with the showing them how I don’t look; now it’s my turn.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, growing pale.

“I mean,” Jack said in determination, “that this week we’ll let them see how you look.”

“But listen, Jack, old man—we can’t do anything like that.”

“We’re going to” said Jack, and he reached for his pencil.

“Jack,” I said, weakly, “have mercy.”

And this was Jack’s idea of mercy:

The spot illustration, below, was published in the April 30, 1918 column.

Another column detail is from the June 18, 1918 edition:
Farmer and the Scout: Scout and the Bug
Since I told you last week that Troop 17 was going to go farming, I’ve been hearing every day of Scouts who are going to go forth and tackle the pesky cut worm, and the cabbage worm, and the ferocious potato bug.

“What do you think of it, Jack?” I asked Jack Betts, our trusty cartoonist.

“Great stuff,” said Jack.

“Can you draw a picture of a battle between a cut worm and a Scout?’

Jack said he could. He did. Here it is:
After that we know for a fact that a Scout is brave.
One of Betts’s drawings earned him a mention in the national periodical, St. Nicholas, February 1919.

In the 1920 census, Betts’s maternal grandmother was the head of the household which included two of her children and her two grandchildren. They lived in Jersey City at 219 I [eye] Avenue. The census recorded Betts’s name as John.

At this time, very little is known about Betts in the 1920s. He married around 1925 and was credited for an illustration in the October 1928 issue of College Life.

According to the 1930 census, Betts was married to “Ester”, a Swedish emigrant, and had two children, Joan, age four-and-a-half, and Jack, age one. They resided in Jersey City at 37 Clendenny Avenue. His occupation was artist at an advertising agency. At some point Betts’s marriage ended in divorce.

The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), January 10, 1936, reported Betts’s second marriage.
Burlington, Jan. 9—In a quiet ceremony Miss Trixie Dameron and Jack Betts were united in marriage on Monday, December 30, at the Methodist parsonage in New York City. Rev. Mr. Devine heard the vows in the presence of the immediate family. Mrs. Betts wore a black crepe daytime frock with white trim with which she wore a black caracul coat and matching accessories. Mrs. Betts is the daughter of Mrs. Rosa Dameron of his city and received her education at the Anderson High School. Mr. Betts, of New York city, received his education at the National Academy of Design and Art Students League. He is a commercial illustrator now connected with Hanff-Metzger Advertisement Company of New York where the couple will make their home.
In October 1936, the American Distilling Company launched a major advertising campaign to promote its Old American Brand whiskey. Betts illustrated the two-panel advertisements which featured “Prof. Jim Crack”. The advertising agency Hanff-Metzger created the campaign, which was copyrighted and recorded in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., 1936 New Series, Volume 31, Number 3, on pages 135 and 139

The New York Times, April 29, 1939, noted that Betts leased an apartment at 2 Horatio Street, and that was his address in the 1940 census. This was the first time,
in the census records, his name was recorded as Jack. His occupation was freelance artist and he had completed three years of high school. Betts’s first wife and children lived in Miami, Florida.

The 1940s was a busy decade for Betts. He produced advertising comics for Ben Gay, Nestlé, and Super Suds.

Betts signed his World War II draft card on February 16, 1942. He was a self-employed commercial artist who worked at home at the same address. He was described as five feet eleven inches, 180 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair. 

Betts illustrated the poster Don’t Fall for Enemy Propaganda which can be viewed here and here.

The New York Times, April 15, 1944, noted Betts’s new business arrangement: “Bruce Stevenson, artists’ representative, will move his studio to 415 Lexington Avenue on May 1. Noel Sickles and Jack Betts have joined his staff.” Stevenson advertised in 26th Annual of Advertising Art (1947) and 28 Annual of Advertising Art (1949). Betts’s listing in the Official Directory, American Illustrators and Advertising Artists (1949) said: “Jack Betts 2 Horatio St. CH 2-1927 New York 14, N. Y. Humorous Illustration, Continuities. Rep. Bruce Stevenson”.

Betts was one of the artists who illustrated the adaptations of Book-of-the-Month novels that appeared in newspapers. In 1946 he drew the panels for Britannia Mews.

Betts drew spot illustrations for several magazines including American Legion, Collier’s Magazine’s Keep Up with the World column, This Week Magazine, and Bluebook.

The books and pamphlets Betts illustrated include Footprints of the Trojan Horse (1942), I Am an American (1946), New Footprints of the Trojan Horse (1952), and Who? Me? (1954).

A 1957 Manhattan, New York City directory listed Betts at 2 Horatio Street.

The New York State Death Index, at, said Betts passed away on August 3, 1957. His residence was in Rye, New York. An obituary has not been found.

A photograph of Betts and a greeting card by him can be viewed at Fabulous Fifties

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, May 12, 2021


Selling It: Mrs. Drear and Mrs. Cheer


After a long and lucrative career, Rose O'Neill by 1932 was out of fashion and becoming financially strapped. The creator of the Kewpie doll was reduced to taking a job illustrating a series of Oxydol ads under the running title Mrs. Drear and Mrs. Cheer. O'Neill did excellent art for these ads, but to add insult to injury, some of the ads in this series have her signature cut off. Evidently her name was not considered any particular draw. 

O'Neill produced twelve ads for the series. It must have been considered a successful campaign, because the series was run three times; March to May 1932, then September to October, then March to May 1933. In all three series the ads were the same batch, just reruns.


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Monday, May 10, 2021


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Seymour Reit


Seymour Victor/Victory “Sy” Reit was born on November 11, 1918, in Manhattan, New York, New York, according to the New York, New York Birth Index at  Reit’s middle name, Victor, was found on his World War II draft card and Social Security application (transcribed at Victory was the middle name mentioned in obituaries. 

Reit and his family have not yet been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. 

The 1925 New York state census recorded Reit, his parents, Lazarus and Mary, sister, Phyllis, and a servant in Manhattan at 725 Riverside Drive. His father was a lawyer and German emigrant.

In the 1930 census, Reit’s divorced mother was the head of the household which included Reit’s sister, maternal grandmother and aunt, and a servant. They lived in a Manhattan apartment at 317 West 93rd Street. 

In 1935 Reit graduated from the DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Reit continued his education at Washington Square College, New York University, where he contributed to the school humor magazine, Varieties.

The New York Times, December 17, 2001, said Reit was 19 years old when he started at Fleischer Studios in Miami, Florida. He was an in-betweener and writer.

Reit’s father passed away December 23, 1939. 

The 1940 census said Reit and Woodrow Gelman shared an apartment in Miami at 2027 SW 6th Street. They were cartoonists at a film company (Fleischer Studios). In 1939 Reit earned $1,820. 

On October 16, 1940, Reit signed his World War II draft card. He was a Manhattan resident at 800 West End Avenue and employed at the comics studio, Eisner and Iger. Reit was described as five feet four inches, 115 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.

Reit enlisted in the Army on August 17, 1942. The Times said he worked in a camouflage unit on the West Coast. (In 1978 he wrote a book, Masquerade: The Amazing Camouflage Deceptions of World War II.) Reit with the Army Air Forces in Europe after D-Day. A profile in Something About the Author, Volume 21 (1980) said he was a photo-intelligence officer. After that he was on the personal staff of General Hoyt Vandenberg. A Bronze Star Medal was awarded Reit in 1945. He discharged in 1946. 

RetroFan #11, November 2020, published the article, Who Created Casper the Friendly Ghost?. Two people claimed to be the creator, Joe Oriolo and Reit, who said 
Joe was an associate of mine years ago, when we were both employed at the Fleischer Animation Studios in Miami. He was a fine artist and animator; however, he was not the creator of “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” Joe created the actual cartoon of the character—but the concept, series idea and plotline were mine, prior to Joe’s involvement. Joe played an important part, but I was Casper’s legit “Poppa.’” ...

“At that time,” Reit recalled, “Fleischer paid a few bucks for Popeye jokes submitted speculatively by the staff. People also tried their hands at writing short stories for use in the series called Fabletoons. One weekend I wrote a three to four-page story I titled ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.’ The story was mine—every last word. Shortly after, I gave it to Joe Oriolo, who wanted to develop visuals, and perhaps peddle it either to the studio or to a children’s book publisher.”
While Reit served in World War II, Oriolo sold Casper to Famous Studios for a flat fee. Reit got nothing. Casper debuted in May 1945. 

The New York, New York Marriage License Index said Reit and Ann Kleinman obtained a license in Manhattan on July 22, 1947.

The 1952 Catalog of Copyright Entries has an entry for Reit’s Salty the Sea Horse. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Reit claimed to have written the series, There Oughta Be a Law, for about eight years in the late 1950s to mid-1960s. 

Reit and artist Erik Blegvad produced Where’s Willie which was a Golden Press book published in 1961. American Newspaper Comics said it was adapted into a comic strip for the McNaught Syndicate’s series, Children’s Tales. Where’s Willie ran on Sundays, January 16 and 23, 1966 and was adapted by Frank Bolle (see Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum). 

In the 1950s to 1970s Reit contributed to Mad magazine and comic book publishers Archie and DC.

The New Jersey Marriage Index said Reit and Edmee Busch married in July 1972 in Highland Park, New Jersey. 

Reit was associated with Bank Street College in New York City. Bantam Books published the Bank Street Ready-to-Read series which was produced by Byron Preiss. Reit wrote The Rebus Bears (1989), Things That Go (1990) and A Dog’s Tale (1996). Reit also contributed to the Bank Street Book of Fantasy, Bank Street Book of Science Fiction, Bank Street Book of Creepy Tales and Bank Street Book of Mystery, which were published in 1989 by Pocket Books.

Reit passed away on November 21, 2001, in New York City.

Further Reading
The New York Times, November 25, 2001 and December 17, 2001, obituary
Something About the Author, Volume 133, 2002 obituary 
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 


Many folks think that Reit wrote the Rudolph newspaper strip that King Features distributed, drawn by Rube Grossman.
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Sunday, May 09, 2021


Wish You Were Here, from Dave Breger


Here's another card from Dave Breger's "Mister Breger on Vacation" series, issued by Nyack Art Pictures. The code on the back of this one reads 604 / 89367. Yet another unused card, and no copyright date, so we continue to assume these were issued most likely in the mid- to late-50s.


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