Wednesday, May 22, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Charles Dana Gibson's Latest Pictures


I know that Stripper's Guide readers need no introduction to Charles Dana Gibson, perhaps the most celebrated and successful penman of his day. So I can go directly on to the sad fact that after becoming the top illustrator/cartoonist of the 1890s, a legend in his own time, his popularity was on the wane by the mid-1910s. He was still a respected illustrator, of course, but his work no longer inspired quite the level of adulation and awe it once had. The fickle public had moved on.

So in 1915 he was no longer the latest fad, but Gibson's name was still a draw. Life Magazine tried to capitalize on it by offering a series to newspapers with the simple and direct title Charles Dana Gibson's Latest Pictures. The series did not sell tremendously well, and I'm guessing that was because the pricing of the feature reflected Gibson's worth more circa 1900 than 1915.

The series offered was ten weekly drawings*, each accompanied by the humorous poetry of Boston Post newspaper writer/humorist Joe Toye. Many papers that took the series unceremoniously lopped off Mr. Toye's verses, leaving the pictures with a certain lack of context. The drawings were wonderful, of course, and the seldom seen verses by Toye weren't bad either. But sales were underwhelming, and the series came and went, the last time such a newspaper offering would be made of Mr. Gibson's drawings. Although some copyright slugs noted 1914 as the publication year, actually the earliest known running dates for the series are January 24 to March 20 1915**.

* Some mentions claim that there would be twelve installments, but ten seems to have been the actual number.

** Source: Atlanta Constitution, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, etc.


Ahhh, the old "coppers courting housemaids" trope!
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