Saturday, October 21, 2023


One-Shot Wonders: The Modern Poster, 1897


The 1890s were the golden age for poster design, and that fact was not lost on some anonymous cartoonist at the New York Journal. This wonderful but gruesome gag appeared in the color comics section of January 31 1897. Our cartoonist suggests that poster design has become so enthralling, so beguiling, so impossible to look away from, that it can almost literally grab viewers by the lapel and (gulp!) pluck out their eyeballs. 

Too bad that the cartoonist didn't take credit. I'm just going to throw out a possibility -- Frank Ladendorf maybe? But he was gainfully employed at the World at this time I believe. Any other guesses?


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Friday, October 20, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Neysa McMein

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the comic strip, Deathless Deer, was written by Alicia Patterson and drawn by magazine cover artist Neysa McMein for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. How did they know each other? According to the 1940 census, Patterson and her husband, Harry Guggenheim, resided on Cedar Lane in Sands Point, Long Island, New York. No doubt she met McMein who lived with her husband, John Baragwanath, and daughter, Joan, at 34 Barkers Point Road in Sands Point which was a second home from Spring to Fall. 

Patterson was profiled in Editor & Publisher, October 10, 1942. The co-creators appeared in the October 17, 1942 issue

Time magazine, October 19, 1942, reported the strip’s upcoming release. New York Daily News publisher Joseph Patterson named the strip. McMein said “I despair of ever getting out the front door again. Why, they say these things sometimes go on for as long as 22 years.” American Newspaper Comics said the series ran from November 2, 1942 to August 7, 1943. 

Editor & Publisher 11/14/1942

In early 1943, the syndicate filed a trademark application for Deathless Deer

Editor & Publisher, July 24, 1943, said “Syndicate Drops ‘Deathless Deer’ Comic Strip”. The August 2, 1943 issues of Time and Newsweek reported the strip’s demise. 

The syndicate announced several features, Deathless Deer included, as newsprint casualties. 

Editor & Publisher 9/4/1943

Deathless Deer was produced late in McMein’s illustrious career. Her story follows. 

Neysa McMein was born Margary Edna McMein on January 25, 1888, in Quincy, Illinois, according to Brian Gallagher’s Anything Goes (1987), a biography of McMein (later known as Neysa Moran McMein). Gallagher spoke to McMein’s daughter and stepson. Cosmopolitan, January 1934 published the same birth month and day. The 1900 United States Census had the birth date, “Jan 1888” for “Marjorie”. 

The January 24, 1888 birth date was found at Antique Illustration Art, Norman Rockwell Museum, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Liberty’s Women (1980), The Book of Women’s Firsts (1991), Webster’s Dictionary of American Women (1996),  and Wikipedia. At Neysa’s 1918 passport application, with a notarized letter from her father, had the birth date January 25, 1889. That date was on McMein’s Social Security application, American Art Annual Volume XIV (1918), Find a Grave and Women in Comics. Current Biography 1941 and passenger lists from 1922, 1923, 1928 had the date January 25, 1890. Gallagher touched on the different birth years on page 35 of his book. 

In the 1900 census, McMein was the only child of Harry and Edna. They lived in Quincy (population 36,252) at 1652 Kentucky Street. 

In 1907, McMein graduated from Quincy High School. Later that year she moved to Chicago and enrolled at the Art Institute’s art school. 

The Clarke Courier (Dubuque, Iowa), December 20, 1937, revealed some details about McMein’s time in Chicago. 
Neysa McMein Sends Letter To Art Club
Neysa McMein washed dishes, waited on tables in a lunchroom, posed for art classes and played the piano in a five and ten cent store to pay for her art classes at the Chicago Art Institute.

That was the information the Art club learned about this famous magazine illustrator when they received a letter from Miss McMein’s secretary, Rose Gaffney. The letter was read at the regular monthly meeting of the club Dec. 10. Marie Donnelly, president, presided.

Miss McMein's first job, her secretary wrote, was with Gaige [sic] Bros., for whom she drew hats for $25.00 a week. The first picture she sold brought her $75.00. ...
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported events presented by Art Institute students. On February 29, 1908, the newspaper mentioned McMein at the Mardi Gras tableau. Photographs of McMein appeared on March 26 and May 12, 1908.

According to the 1910 census, enumerated in April, McMein was a portrait artist. She was counted with her parents and maternal grandfather at the same Quincy address. It’s not clear if Neysa was actually in Quincy (population 36,587) at the time. 

The society page of the Chicago Daily Tribune, October 3, 1910, mentioned the engagement party attended by McMein, Anita Parkhurst and others. Parkhurst was destined to become an illustrator who followed McMein to New York. 

McMein was employed at Gage Brothers Millinery Company where she drew hats. The Advance, January 26, 1911, profiled McMein who was far from a struggling and starving artist. 

The article mentioned McMein’s illustrated postcards. The postcards and prints were copyrighted, in 1909 and 1910, by M.A. Templeton of Chicago. Information about Templeton has not yet been found. 

Another photograph of McMein was published in the Chicago Daily Tribune on February 25, 1911. 

The Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County said McMein moved in 1911 to New York. 

In Cosmopolitan, January 1925, (reprinted in As I Look at Life (1925)) McMein explained how an amateur show mishap turned into a ticket to New York.
... My partner in this spectacular production was a girl who dressed as a scarecrow, and did one of those fascinatingly loose, casual dances in which all stage scarecrows indulge. As a daring climax to the act, I was to pile her into a wheelbarrow and push her off the stage, down an incline, and into the chaotic realms back-stage.

At the actual performance, crazed with success and first-night nervousness, I heaped her in the wheelbarrow, trundled it triumphantly off, and missed the incline—clean. We crashed rakishly down a flight of steps, and in record-breaking time had amassed one of the most complete joint collections of bruises, turned ankles, and sprained wrists ever seen in the Middle West.

But the evening had other results, too, and scarcely less harrowing ones. Paul Armstrong, the playwright, happened to be a member of the audience; he offered me a part in his vaudeville act, “A Romance of the Underworld.” 

... Having joined the company, fairly secure to the title of America’s Least Talented Actress, I traveled with “A Romance of the Underworld” to New York. ...
Billboard, April 1, 1911, printed a report from March 25: 
A Romance of the Underworld, a one-act playlet in two scenes, written by Paul Armstrong, was presented for the first time at the Hudson Theatre Union Hill, N. J., this week. There are twenty-one speaking parts in the piece. Next week it comes to the Fifth Avenue Theatre here.
Variety, March 25, 1911, listed the play for its opening in the last week of March. (The play was reviewed on April 1.)

It’s not clear when in 1911 McMein traveled to New York. One possibility was in March for the play’s opening. The play ran two weeks in New York followed by two weeks in Boston. It returned to New York in May. By then McMein may have been in New York and failed to earn a role in the play’s large cast. Failure presented an opportunity for McMein to pursue a career in illustration. She honed her skills at the Art Students League. 

In Cosmopolitan, McMein said she met Homer Davenport (March 8, 1867–May 2, 1912) who introduced her to numerology. He sent her to a woman numerologist who advised McMein to change her first name. McMein also mentioned that one of Davenport’s horses was named Neysa

The Last Dandy, Ralph Barton: American Artist, 1891–1931 (1991) said McMein changed her first name to Neysa in 1912. McMein used her new name on two portraits for New York-based Associated Sunday Magazines, Inc. that produced a Sunday magazine supplement. Her art was published on July 7 and November 10, 1912, and appeared in numerous newspapers including the New-York Tribune and St. Louis Republic. Most biographies said her New York illustration career began in 1913 or 1914.

Working in the Wings (2015) said McMein “often appeared as an extra at the Metropolitan Opera”. After one such performance, McMein, with her first name misspelled Mysa, was pictured in newspapers. 

Auburn Citizen 4/26/1913

Rockford Republic 5/3/1913

The following article appeared in the Evening Tribune-Times (Hornell, New York), July 5, 1913. 

A passenger list at said McMein visited Europe. She was aboard the steamship Berlin when it departed on October 9, 1913 from Genoa, Italy. The ship arrived in the port of New York on October 22. She and Beulah Livingston had the same address, 14 Morningside Avenue in Manhattan. 

In 1913, McMein produced nine portraits for Associated Sunday Magazines: January 19; February 23; March 2; April 6; June 15; September 28; October 12; November 2; and December 28

The New York Times, December 18, 1913, mentioned McMein. 
Pavlowa Carnival To-morrow
At the Metropolitan Opera House to-morrow afternoon the Directors of the Music School Settlement will give a Pavlowa Carnival. Following the dancing on the stage by Pavlowa and her company there will be an exhibition of modern school dances in Russian costume by Joan Sawyer and Thomas Allen Rector in the grand foyer of the opera house. Among those who will pour tea or sell programs during the afternoon will be Ethel Barrymore, Laurette Taylor, Annie Russell, Manna Zucca, Ian Maclaren, Wallis Clark, Christie MacDonald, Willian George, Ruth Helen Davis, Chrystal Herne, Neysa McMeinn [sic], Alice Brady, Mrs. Arthur W. Brown, and Hilda England.
The New-York Tribune, January 30, 1914, sought McMein’s opinion on the wigs from Paris. 

Publishers Weekly, March 21, 1914, featured McMein’s frontispiece for the The Spring Lady from the publisher Bobbs-Merrill. 

McMein was the cover artist on the Delineator, June 1914. Associated Sunday Magazines distributed four more covers by McMein: August 16, 1914; December 13, 1914; January 31, 1915; and March 7, 1915

McMein and Livingston visited Bermuda in 1915. Aboard the steamship Oceana, they arrived in New York on February 26. The passenger list said Livingston’s Manhattan address was unchanged. McMein was at 138 West 65th Street. In June the same address was recorded in the 1915 New York State Census. 

McMein was the cover artist on Puck, May 18, 1915. 

McClure’s 9/1915 and American Magazine 7/1916

The Jewelers’ Circular, October 13, 1915, described McMein’s wardrobe and jewelry at the Carnegie Hall fashion show. 

McMein made her The Saturday Evening Post cover debut on May 13, 1916. Her sixty-second Post cover was dated January 7, 1939. A photograph of her appeared in the June 30, 1917 issue. 

McMein’s covers for McClure’s include November and December 1916; 1917; 1918 (incomplete) January–July based on contents page, September; 1919; 1920; 1921 (incomplete). Issues with interior illustrations appeared June 1918, January 1919, and May 1919

The New-York Tribune, December 17, 1916, devoted a full-page to McMein. 

McMein’s entry in the American Art Annual Volume XIV (1917)‚ said: 
McMein, Miss Neysa Moran, 136 West 65th St., New York, N.Y.; summer, Kentucky St., Quincy, Ill.
P., I.—Born Quincy, Ill., Jan. 25, 1889. Pupil AIC. Member: SI. Work: Covers for “McClure’s,” “American Magazine,” etc.
Seven 1917 Photoplay covers featured McMein’s women: February, May, June, July, September, October and December

The Chicago Daily Tribune, February 13, 1917, published Ring Lardner’s column In the Wake of the News
All About Neysa
Born at 1550 Kentucky street, Quincy, Ill.
Studied at Art institute, Chicago. 
First name pronounced Neesa.
Second name pronounced Moran.
Last name pronounced McMeeeeeen.
And, judging from the last few days’ mail, she is Quincy’s favorite son.

When one really, sets  out to learn something he is usually rewarded by learning something more. But for our curiosity concerning Miss McMein we never would have known there was a Kentucky street in Quincy.
McClure’s, May 1917, reprinted Lardner’s In the Wake of the News from the Chicago Daily Tribune, February 7, 1917. 

McMein painted at least two covers for Ainslee’s: April 1917 and November 1918

McMein may have been the most photographed illustrator of her time. 

During World War I, McMein was issued a passport on May 1, 1918. She and others traveled to Europe to entertain the American troops. The Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County article is hereThe Christmas 1918 issue of The Marines’ Bulletin included McMein’s frontispiece

McMein’s father passed away on October 17, 1918. 

McMein’s entry in the American Art Annual Volume XVI (1919)‚ was: 
McMein, Miss Neysa Moran, 226 Fifth Ave.; h. 57 West 57th St., New York, N.Y.
P., I.—Born Quincy, Ill., Jan. 25, 1889. Pupil AIC. Member: SI. Work: Covers for “McClure’s,” “American Magazine,” etc.
New-York Tribune 2/20/1919

Some of the advertisements illustrated by McMein were Palmolive, American Chicle Co., Wallace Silver, Cadillac, and Vanity Fair Silk Underwear

The 1920 census counted magazine artist McMein, her mother and a nurse in Manhattan at 226 5th Avenue. 

Evening Star 2/15/1920

Seattle Star 5/28/1920

Editor & Publisher 5/29/1920

Here are links to three McMein covers for Collier’s: November 13, 1920; May 20, 1922; and July 15, 1922

The American Art Annual Volume XVIII (1921) listed McMein. 
McMein, Miss Neysa Moran, 226 Fifth Ave.; h. 57 West 57th St., New York, N.Y.
P., I.—Born Quincy, Ill., Jan. 25, 1889. Pupil AIC. Member: SI. Work: Covers for “McClure’s,” “American Magazine,” etc.

New York Evening Telegram 3/26/1921

Green Book Magazine 5/1921,
Chalk Talk and Crayon Presentation (1922)
and  The Saturday Evening Post 5/12/1923

Lake County Times 10/11/1921

Dulcy: A Comedy in Three Acts (1921) included a frontispiece by McMein. 

New-York Tribune 1/29/1922

The Woman Citizen 4/8/1922

New-York Tribune 6/11/1922

McMein returned to New York from Southampton, England on July 8, 1922. The passenger list had her address as 57 West 57th Street in Manhattan.

In 1922, McCall’s published two covers (July and October) by McMein. That was followed by an almost uninterrupted run of covers over the next fifteen years and three months. Most of the Internet Archive reproductions are in black-and-white. 1923 (except February); 1924; 1925; 1926; 1927; 1928; 1929; 1930 (three issues in color); 1931; 1932 (incomplete); 1933 (incomplete); 1934 (incomplete); 1935; 1936; 1937 (three 1938 volume 65 issues with photographs erroneously included); 1938 (McMein January–March; magazine switched to photographs in April) 

Billboard, September 9, 1922, reported the attempt to bring McMein to vaudeville. 

McMein had an entry in Who’s Who in America, Volume 12, Part 2, 1922–1923. 

The Constitution (Atlanta, GA) 2/5/1923

McMein’s mother passed away on March 24, 1923. 

On May 18, 1923, McMein married John G. Baragwanath in Peekskill, New York.

Birmingham Age-Herald 7/3/1923

Hudson Valley Times (Stillwater, NY) 7/5/1923

Beginning in the 1920s, McMein was a member of the Algonquin Round Table

McMein returned to New York from Cherbourg, France on June 27, 1923. According to the passenger list, her address was 57 West 57th Street in Manhattan.

From September to December 1923, the Rochester Evening Journal and the Post Express (New York) published McMein’s profiles and portraits of Jack Dempsey, Luis Angel Firpo, Geraldine Farrar, Ethel Barrymore, Father Duffy and Cordelia Duke

Photoplay, October 1923, published Ralph Barton’s caricatures of 152 notables at the premiere of the Marion Davies film, Little Old New York. McMein is number 101. 

McMein also portrayed people in need for The New York Times. Issues available at the Internet Archive include 1923, 1924 and 1929

American Art Student and Commercial Artist 11/1924

Chicago Daily Tribune 12/12/1924

The City Record, October 16, 1924, published a list of registered Manhattan voters. McMein and her husband resided at 24 West 59th Street which was in the 5th Election District of the 15th Assembly District. They have not yet been found in the 1925 New York state census.

Alexander Woollcott’s The Story of Irving Berlin (1925) featured a frontispiece by McMein. 

As I Look at Life (1925)

Sunday Tribune (Providence, Rhode Island) 2/15/1925

Midweek Pictorial 2/19/1925

Editor & Publisher 5/16/1925

McMein’s numerology column for the Bell Syndicate was announced in Editor & Publisher, November 21, 1925, and advertised in the December 5, 1925 issue. 

McCall’s 2/1926

The Smart Set 8/1926

New Britain Herald 12/17/1927

Sunday Tribune (Providence, Rhode Island) 12/25/1927

Ladies’ Home Journal 1/1928

The American Girl 2/1928

Redbook Magazine 5/1928

McCall’s 8/1928

World’s Work 10/1928

McCall’s 11/1928

The American Home, February 1929, featured McMein’s second home that was on Long Island. 

Boot and Shoe Recorder, May 25, 1929, showed the shoes designed by McMein, Sally James Farnham and Lynn Fontanne. A window display was at Macy’s.

The Smart Set 11/1929

Indianapolis Times 12/16/1929

McMein returned to New York from Cherbourg, France on June 15, 1928. The passenger list said her address was 1 West 67th Street in Manhattan. The same address was recorded in the 1930 census. McMein had a five-year-old daughter, Joan.

Ladies’ Home Journal 3/1930

Washington Post 3/30/1930

McCall’s 12/1930

The Film Daily, May 10, 1931, said McMein appeared in a short sports film. 
The latest celebrity to appear in Ted Husing’s “Sportslants” for Vitaphone is Neysa McMein, famous illustrator. Miss McMein, who is also a ping-pong expert, appears in the short playing opposite Fred Shad, a big fish in the ping-pong racket, being national champion.

Redbook Magazine 5/1931

Evening Star 8/14/1931

The Saturday Evening Post 8/29/1931

The American Girl 10/1932

McCall’s 1/1934

Movie Classic 8/1935, Beatrice Lillie painting 
(bottom left); McMein portrait by James 
Montgomery Flagg (upper right)

Business without Boundary: The Story of General Mills (1954) described the creation of home-maker Betty Crocker whose first portrait was painted, in 1936, by McMein. 

This Week 10/25/1936

Automotive Daily News 2/12/1938

In 1938 McCall’s magazine published three more covers by McMein then switched to photographic portraits. The Saturday Evening Post also published three 1938 covers by McMein and one in 1939. 

Evening Star 6/30/1939

Click 7/1939

Life 7/17/1939; McMein is number 2

In 1940, McMein and her family lived in Manhattan at 135 East 66th Street where they employed two servants.

Current Biography 1941

On July 27, 1942, McMein’s husband signed his World War II draft card. His address was 131 East 66th Street in Manhattan.

In November 1942, McMein and Alicia Patterson produced the Deathless Deer comic strip that ended in August 1943.

Senior Scholastic 2/14–19/1944

On September 5, 1946, McMein and her husband returned from a trip to Bermuda. 

McMein passed away on May 12, 1949, in New York City. She was laid to rest at Rhinebeck Cemetery. Her husband passed away on June 25, 1965, and daughter on August 5, 2001. 

In 2001 the United States Postal Service issued the twenty-stamp sheet, American Illustrators, that included McMein

Further Reading and Viewing
The Saturday Evening Post
    Neysa McMein
    The Art of the Post: The Fabulous Neysa McMein
    The Covers of Neysa McMein
    Celebrate Women Artists: Neysa McMein
Norman Rockwell Museum
Women in Comics
Enchanted Aisles (1924)
A Good Time Was Had (1962)
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
eBay magazine covers and advertisements


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