Monday, January 23, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Epitaphs For Live Ones


Heppner Blackman seems to have only pursued newspaper cartooning in New York City for a short period, but he penned one quite interesting feature in his short foray there, plus a few that are less memorable. Epitaphs For Live Ones was a series of cartoons in which we see famous peoples' final resting places along with a humorous take on what might be chiselled thereon.

The weekday series was done for the New York Herald, but only one episode was printed in that morning paper, on September 7 1906. After that the series was moved to their evening paper, the Telegram, where it ran from November 10 1906  to August 5 1907. 

If you're wondering who the bewhiskered chap above is, James Bryce was appointed Britain's ambassador to the United States in 1907 at the time of this cartoon. He was also a noted historian, and had earlier written a very influential book about the U.S. titled The American Commonwealth. The epitaph Blackman came up with seeks to wring humour out of all these aspects of this accomplished fellow, and succeeds for an audience more than a century removed in producing mostly head-scratching. 

Come on back on Wednesday when Alex Jay will enlighten us more about Mr. Blackman's life story.


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