Saturday, November 04, 2023


One-Shot Wonders: Marriage Proposals by Archie Gunn, 1897


Archie Gunn made quite a name for himself in the 1890s and 1900s as a poster artist and prolific contributor to magazines and newspapers. He was known for specializing in pretty girls, and was sometimes mentioned in the company of Gibson, Harrison Fisher and others who I think quite frankly were well out of his league. But the public seemed to like his work, and Hearst's New York Journal considered him a fine catch in the mid-90s when they snagged him. Gunn designed quite a few advertising posters for the newspaper and appeared on the cover of the American Humorist semi-regularly. 

Gunn's work is practically invisible in the history of newspaper cartooning because he showed no interest in creating series -- practically all his work is one-shots. Today we have an 1897 one-shot from the cover of the Journal's American Humorist colour section, offering an array of marriage proposals. This sort of subject was usually reserved for Valentine's Day issues, but for some reason this one jumped the gun and ran on January 31.


I love this one, and I was going to say that it's probably because I have spent a lot of time in England, including living there a while. But then I realised that the page is actually American. However it still has a plethora of British references, including most of the characters, including their accents. So what's up with that? Is Archie Gunn a mid-Atlantic chappie? Do you have any background on this question? Anyway, I'd love to see more of his work, eh wot?
According to the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, you hit the nail on the head. Gunn was indeed born in England, came to the new world at age 26. --Allan
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