Saturday, July 23, 2022
Herriman Saturday: April 14 1910
April 14 1910 -- Tonight Sam Langford will meet Jim Barry in the squared circle yet again, and yet again, things will not turn out well for Mr. Barry. But this is 1910, and white vs. black boxing is very much on the mind of the newspaper-reading public, and so the Examiner throws some coverage at this non-event. Surely Mr. Barry, with such fine dimensions to his various body parts, can beat Mr. Langford? No, because body parts matter not so much in the face of the freight-train like force of Langford's punches.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, July 22, 2022
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: R.C. Harvey
Boy Invents New Comic Strip HeroEdgewater has its own cartoonist. He’s Robert Charles Harvey, 15, of 2401 Lamar street, who has developed his own comic strip character, “Smokey Smith.”Bob caught the attention of the managing editor of The Denver Post when the youngster bombarded the newspaper office with requests for originals from his favorite comic strip authors-artists. Each letter carries a colored sketch of “Smokey.”Bob, a near-straight “A” sophomore at Edgewater high school, has a “studio” (a corner of his bedroom) decorated with original drawings from such big leaguers as Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon), George mcManus (Bringing Up Father) and V.T. Hamlin (Allie Oop). His bureau drawers are bulging with files of clips—gleanings for comic pages and books.Wants Own StripYoung Harvey’s dream is to “someday have a strip of my own.” His idol at the moment is Caniff.Bob began art work early. In first grade he won a poster contest.Bob uses colored inks, which he applies with brushes, using pens for straight black line work.“I find brush for black drawing is too slow,” he said.Bob, an Eagle Scout in troop No. 63 at Edgewater, is financing his trip next summer to the Boy Scout jamboree at Newport, Calif., with free lance art work around Edgewater and Lakewood. After high school he plans to attend the University of Colorado and, later, perhaps an art school.Bob’s father, Charles E. Harvey, assistant credit manager of the Denver office of the Standard Oil company, is scoutmaster of his son’s troop.
Edgewater Boy Gets CU AwardRobert C. Harvey, 17, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Harvey of 2401 Lamar St., Edgewater, has been awarded a scholarship to the University of Colorado by the U.C. Denver Area Alumni Assn., officials announced Wednesday.Harvey, who will major in journalism, was top student and valedictorian of this year’s graduating class at Edgewater high school. He was graduated with a straight “A” average for four years.Editor of the student newspaper during his senior year, he has been active on the student council and yearbook staff. He is an Eagle Scout and president of the youth group at All Saints Episcopal Church.
… He began cartooning at about the age of seven. He blamed his father: “A talented artist himself, my father used to draw Disney characters for me. Once I asked him to copy a cartoon character I saw in a comic book, and he, being busy at that moment, said: ‘Draw it yourself.' And so I did. And have been drawing by myself ever since, for over 77 years at the last accounting.”Harv was the school cartoonist in high school and the campus cartoonist in college. In the Navy, he was the All-Navy Cartoonist one year, and the next, he was at sea, drawing cartoons in the monthly magazine of the USS Saratoga, a giant aircraft carrier, where he was otherwise occupied as disbursing officer. …
To wed Jan. 31Riceville—Jan. 31 is the date chosen by Miss Linda Kubicek, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kubicek of Riceville, and Robert Harvey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Harvey of Denver, Colo. The ceremony will be in the Wesley Methodist Church at Urbana, Ill. The bride and her fiancé are employed by the National Council of Teachers of English ERIC [Educational Resources Information Center] Project at Champaign, Ill.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Rest in Peace James Burnett Ivey
My dear friend Jim Ivey, age 97, died on July 14 2022. His death was not a great surprise as his health had been deteriorating steadily for the last few years. Still, when I got the call from his wonderful and devoted caregiver, Joy Lal, I was surprised. Mostly because Jim was a man of his word, and he promised me that he had 100 years in him. Jim’s father had lived to the age of 99, and Jim was certain that he was going to outdo his old man.
This will be in the nature of a tribute, but I cannot hope to list all of Jim Ivey’s myriad accomplishments. Instead, I offer some highlights from the life of an incredible man, and a few personal reminiscences of the man who accurately described himself as a “bon vivant and raconteur”, leaving out those honors and such as, once again in his words, “a mere bagatelle.”
Of course most anyone coming to this website knows that Jim Ivey was an accomplished and influential newspaper editorial cartoonist. In his career he served at that post on an astonishing four major newspapers: Washington Star, San Francisco Examiner, St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel. His claim to fame was that he eschewed the standard editorial cartooning elements of grease-pencil shading, and labeling all the characters and devices. His cartoons were very simply drawn, with a minimum of lines, no shading, and labels were used sparely. Ivey’s cartoons took their power from their simplicity, their immediacy, and the power of the ideas which never relied on old over-used tropes of the trade. Ivey trusted his ability to draw in order to be able to drop all those labels, and trusted the intelligence of his readers to follow along.
Ivey struck out in his own direction but also admonished other cartoonists to modernize their work as well. In a series of articles about European editorial cartoonists that ran in the magazine Freedom & Union, he showed that they were producing outstanding work that made most of their American counterparts look positively antique by comparison. Ivey’s outspoken opinions earned him a few enemies in the cartooning fraternity, but also helped to open the eyes of newspaper editors to the possibility that editorial cartoons didn’t have to look one particular old-fashioned way.
But that was only one of Jim Ivey’s important and lasting contributions to cartooning. At the same time that he was working to bring editorial cartoons out of the horse-and-buggy days, he was also fervently collecting the works of and celebrating the cartoonists of those bygone ages. His love for cartooning, and his desire to foster and share that love, led him in 1967 to open the very first art gallery devoted to displaying and selling original cartoon art. He opened The Cartoon Museum in Madeira Beach, Florida, and in its early years his emporium offered, for a token admission fee, a tour of the history of cartooning, featuring originals by all the masters of the form.
Ivey was no businessman, but even he couldn’t fail to see that The Cartoon Museum in its original form was not profitable. That’s when he got one of his few great money-making ideas. In addition to the gallery, he would offer current and vintage comic books as well. The mania for comic books was just starting to snowball, and he found that he could finance the part of The Cartoon Museum that he cared about by selling comic books to the kids and the new breed of collectors that were beginning to come on the scene.
It was a marriage made in heaven. Although Ivey disdained comic books, considering the vast majority of the art to be overblown and the stories ridiculous, they – as he would grumble – “paid the rent.” It is unclear how long the Cartoon Museum was open before it started featuring comic books, but if it was not the very first comic book store (a title supposedly held by The San Francisco Comic Book Company, opening in 1968), it didn’t miss that distinction by far.
In 1974, Jim Ivey took an idea that did already exist – the comic book convention – and put his own spin on it. He and several partners put on the first OrlandoCon (he had since moved himself and The Cartoon Museum to that city when he switched papers). The weekend get-together offered all the typical comic book convention fare -- a dealer room and a few fan-favorite comic book creators – but Ivey also invited editorial cartoonists, newspaper strip cartoonists, animators, in short, anyone who worked in the cartooning fraternity, and treated them all like royalty. He gave a cartoonists-only dinner and roast, and handed out the Ignatz Award (a gold brick) to living legends whose names were often completely unknown to most of the comic book fans in attendance.
OrlandoCon was singular in that it was run by a man who didn’t much care about comic books, but whose love for cartooning in general was unbounded. Because of that, he got amazing guests; people who would come because they knew that Jim would ensure them a good time. OrlandoCon stuck to those principals for an amazing twenty-one years, with Jim the heart and soul of every one. (Wikipedia suggests that there were two more than I recall, in 1995 and 1996, but I have no memory of them, and since I was usually running the admission gate in later years, I wonder if they really happened?).
Jim’s interest in the history of cartooning also led to a number of publications. Foremost among them is the book “Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs – The First Adventure Comic Strip”. Published in 1974 and a sales success, it showed that the adventure strip reprint book -- not even really a thing then -- was a viable genre, leading to many subsequent publishing ventures that made the great adventure strips accessible to comic strip fans, and thus fostering comic strip fandom in general.
Ivey also published the cartooning history magazine cARToon, later CartooNews, in the 1970s. The magazine offered a scattershot view of cartooning history, focusing on whatever Ivey happened to be excited by at the moment. Never a big sales success, those who did receive it were offered a mind-expanding view of cartooning history in each issue.
Another of Jim Ivey’s contributions to the literature of cartooning history happened one day at the Cartoon Museum. Jim was paging through a big stack of early Sunday comics tearsheets, looking for certain items that had been requested by a buyer. A pimply-faced teenager, a regular at the store, was in the midst of picking through the back issues of his favorite comic books. He stopped to look at the gorgeous old Sunday pages as Jim paged through them, and was immediate entranced. Jim being Jim, loving an audience, he told the kid a few stories about what newspaper comics were like back in the early days of the form. The kid was enraptured and asked question after question about these stupendously beautiful pages. When Ivey was finished picking through the big stack of comics, there was a stack for his buyer, but there was also another stack. Jim pointed at that extra stack with his cigar, saying “Sir,” – he called everyone 'sir' – “you need to cut back on that comic book habit of yours. This,” he said, stabbing at the pages with his ever-present stogie, “is the good stuff. You need to learn to appreciate it. Take these with you. My gift.”
Of course that teenager was me, and Jim had set me down a path that continues to this day, tracking down the history of newspaper comics. Jim was not one to be overly effusive, but he let me know, in his low-key way, that he was proud and delighted with the work I have done. And of course I am only one of a legion of kids who were taken under Ivey’s wing, counseled to look deeper at cartooning than superhero comics. With some it was the history aspect, for budding artists it was to open their eyes to all the various forms and genres of cartooning that were available to them. And who knows how many cartoonists owe their livelihood to him, because I haven’t even yet mentioned that Ivey taught thousands of kids the principles of cartooning. He loved to teach cartooning, and did so at the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, Crealde Art Center, and even in the aisles of the Cartoon Museum after business hours when no other venues were offered. One of his pet projects, an instructional book on cartooning tiled Graphic Shorthand, was finally completed and published when Jim was close to 90 years old.
I’ve talked about Jim’s accomplishments, but those who knew him will probably remember him best for his outsized personality. Jim was a born showman, loved to play the emcee, the raconteur, loved to tell jokes and laugh at the jokes of others. His infamous gruffness at The Cartoon Museum was a trademark, an act that made all of his customers want to be one of the select few he favoured. Everyone wanted to become one of the regulars who were greeted when they walked in with a loud and enthusiastic “How’s tricks, wildman?” or some similar line. The ultimate indulgence was to be invited to sit in at the never-ending penny ante card-game that probably ate up whatever profits Jim made (he was a devoted but consistently unlucky gambler). When I was finally invited, after being a Cartoon Museum regular for years, I made the mistake of winning a huge pot, and was never asked to sit in again.
Jim seemed able to maintain a positive attitude no matter what. He had a lot of misfortunes, setbacks and sorrows in his life, but you’d never know it from his demeanor. For instance, when the great mid-1990s ‘comics implosion’ happened, the Cartoon Museum, never much of a money-maker in the best of times, went way into the red. Jim unceremoniously closed its doors, sold off the stock for pennies on the dollar to another shop owner, and sold his house, which was burdened by a mortgage payment he could not afford. With the resulting small bankroll he rented a decrepit storefront and turned it into a used bookstore. Jim couldn’t afford an apartment in addition to the store rent, so he slept on a cot that he set up between the bookshelves each evening. Never one to bemoan his fate, Jim claimed to be delighted with the situation because he finally had time to read books all day long since there were so few customers to interrupt him.
When even that business proved unsustainable, Jim met an affable fellow who lived in a seedy apartment, and went in with him as a roommate, barely squeaking by on his small Social Security cheques. To help make ends met, Jim became a professional ‘clipper’ for me. I was very busy running a computer business in those days, and had mountains of bound volumes and other comic strip related stuff that I had no time to clip, sort and file. Jim took on the job of working through all that material, sort of a dream job for one so devoted to comic strip history.
But now I see I’m digressing. The point I was getting to is that Jim’s impressive career by no means left him living in a mansion, sipping cognac and smoking Cubans by the fireside. He richly deserved that, and would have greatly enjoyed it, but it was not to be. Jim’s last decade or so was spent living in spare rooms with friends (including me for a year), until the VA finally anted up and paid for a shared room at an assisted living facility. Despite him being a World War II Navy veteran (he served on a submarine in the Pacific), it was like pulling teeth even to get that. But Jim’s winning personality saw him through even there. When the woman who ran the facility, Joy Lal, decided a few years later to close it, she took two of her most favoured guests into her own home. One of them was Jim. Jim spent his final eight years with Joy, being cared for as his medical issues inevitably mounted up over the years. Even when Jim became a real handful, Joy was steadfast in her devotion to him.
At 97, Jim managed to outlive many of his countless friends, so Joy has decided not to have a funeral. Jim’s body has been cremated, and his ashes will be scattered at sea by the Navy, just as Jim wanted. If you knew Jim, or admired what he did in his life, please send a condolence card to Joy Lal. Knowing that other people cared for him will be an enormous help to her in dealing with the grief of losing her ‘Jimmy’. Her address is:
2770 Green Meadow Circle
Kissimmee FL 34741
From 2007 to 2016 Jim produced a weekly comic strip page for Stripper's Guide that lasted for almost 400 installments. These one-page strips offer his viewpoint on all manner of topics, but often concentrates on a sort of informal meandering autobiography. The strips are tremendously entertaining, and a master class in minimalistic cartooning. On my new website (almost ready to go live), where posts can be sorted in proper order, you can read the entire series; just follow this link.
In one of his final contributions, Jim offered up the ultimate in capsule autobiographies, his life in a single page:
I'm surprised you didn't join in the card games more often. If one big win was all it took to be uninvited there wouldn't have been any players. ; )
Joy was an angel to Jim. Such a blessing.
Here's my write-up about Jim if anyone is interested. https://craigzablo.com/?p=30200
Monday, July 18, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Bobbie and Bessie in Search of Fairyland
Eleanor Schorer was very productive at the New York Evening World in the 1910s, specializing mostly in romance and children's material -- as was the norm for women cartoonists of the day. We've featured her work here quite a few times over the years.
Here is a kid's strip Schorer produced in 1911, her first year at the New York Evening World. Bobbie and Bessie in Search of Fairyland ran once a week on Saturdays from July 22 to October 21. The strip chronicles the adventures when a pair of small children set out from home to find fairyland, which they read about in a picture book. The pair encounter all sorts of fantastic characters, like King Neptune, the Sun Goddess, and the Man in the Moon, all of whom help or hinder the kids in their quest to find fairyland. Finally in the last strip the children are struggling mightily to get to fairyland, which is now in sight, only to realize that fairyland is their own house, and the fairies are their mother and father.
As the kids are put to bed father starts telling them a bedtime story, and we are told that these stories would begin running in the Evening World each week. This story series, which was not in comic strip form but a printed short story with illustration (which we don't track here), ran under the title Sandman Stories. It ran only a few months before it disappeared, perhaps because there was already a syndicated newspaper children's story running under the same title.
PS -- I call this feature a comic strip, but really it is one of those things that fall into that grey zone inhabited most famously by Prince Valiant, and Tarzan in the early years before they began using word balloons. Thus, to be exact I should probably use the term illustrated story or some such. But unlike a printed story with one illustration (like Sandman Stories), features of this type seem to me to be acknowedging and embracing the comic strip form, though they refuse to go all the way there.
I had the good fortune to interview (by phone) the chief creator of Rupert, Alfred Bestall, back in the 1970s. He was very old, but was a sharp and erudite man, and very friendly. As one would hope
The Queen of this sort of "illustrated story" type of fantasy, was Grace Wiedersiem/Drayton. This technique went back as far as Toodles & Pussy Pumpkin, about 1903, and Captain Kiddo,few years later, and the many iterations of Dolly and Bobby that went into the 1930s.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from Fred Royal Morgan
Just when I thought all of F.R. Morgan's cards featured hoboes, here's one that proves me wrong. This card, as all from this series I've found, is uncredited, but it does have a code on the reverse; this one is A-482.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Next you'll be telling me that there were naughty things in the trees of Li'l Abner!