Saturday, February 10, 2024
One-Shot Wonders: Rules and Regulations for 1897 by Archie Gunn
Should have run this for New Year's, but naturally it caught my attention too late. Here we have a lovely but unsigned cover by Archie Gunn. Gunn takes a moralizing attitude toward his New Year's resolutions, while in the surrounding cartoons by (I think) Mark Fenderson we get resolutions in a more humorous vein.
This is the cover for the New York Journal's American Humorist section of January 3 1897, only the twelfth issue of Hearst's color comics section.
Labels: One-Shot Wonders
Friday, February 09, 2024
Obscurity of the Day: Dr. Peach and her Modern Methods
I really relish old strips that comment on social changes, and so a strip about a female doctor from 1908 is the sort of thing that gets me all a-twitter. And as social commentary regarding the liberation of women, Dr. Peach And Her Modern Methods is interesting, but boy oh boy, the gags are awfully lazy. Hy Gage, who could do better, seemed to think that his gags were of secondary importance, and that the beauty of this lady doctor, her tight dresses and her frequently uncovered legs, were entertainment enough.
In its short life the strip went through three distinct phases. The first has the gags revolve around men going ga-ga over being attended to by a gorgeous lady doctor. The second has a very athletic Dr. Peach running a sort of sanatorium for weak and overweight men, and focuses often on a Mr. Butterfat, who as you can see above, eventually shares billing on the strip. This second phase of the strip allows Gage to dress Dr. Peach in revealing athletic wear as she leads her patients in various workouts. Perhaps this was all a bit too racy, because phase three sent the strip back to its original milieu.
To his great credit, Hy Gage did not seem to have any inclination toward making fun of the concept of a lady doctor. Dr. Peach is always professional in the strip, never the butt of the joke. And that is pretty impressive. The very first American woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, graduated medical school just over a half-century earlier, in 1849, and she treated only women and children in her practice. It wasn't until a few decades later that women began to take on other specialties, and by 1908 they were still a rarity. In fact, I find a statistic that in 1914 only 4% of medical students were women, and you can bet most of them specialized in women's health.
The home paper of Dr. Peach and her Modern Methods was the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph. The Telegraph had a long string of interesting weekday strips in the 1900s, some obtained through syndication and others apparently homegrown. At this time Hy Gage was in the bullpen that produced the Philadelphia Press's colour sections for Sundays, but I can find no documentation that the two papers were linked. On the other hand, you'll note that the above strips are copyrighted to one J.W. Lang; he is known to have been the head of the North American's syndication service in this era, so there may be some sort of tangled web between all these papers that I frankly do not understand. Oddly, I have seen Mr. Lang's copyright only on this and one other strip, certainly not the entire output of either paper.
In my book I cited start and end dates for Dr. Peach based on my spotty collection of Evening Telegraph bound volumes (I offered them as May 25 to September 24 1908). However, I was evidently missing important source material in this regard, because I can find the strip starting in syndication as early as April 21 in the Pittsburgh Press. Unfortunately it turns our that the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph for these interesting years does not seem to exist on microfilm, so there is a sad research dead end there. If I had known that fact many years ago when I was clipping strips out of my Telegraph bound volumes and then reselling them to other collectors, I certainly would have instead preserved them intact. Of course this all transpired before you could just check the interwebs and easily know who had what on microfilm.
Syndication dates for weekday strips of this era are not to be trusted, so at best we can confidently say that the strip began on or before April 21. Since in syndication I see the strip petering out in early October, I'm fairly confident that my September 24 end date, however, is sound.
Wednesday, February 07, 2024
News of Yore: Murder and Suicide Edition
Mark Johnson sent me these gruesome little news stories years and years ago. They just bubbled up to the top of the stacks today. Enjoy .... ?
Cartoonist Held On Manslaughter Charge
May 25 1923: Ogdensburg Republican-Journal
Norwalk, Conn. May 23 -- Clifton Meek, a resident of the Silver Mine artists' colony and widely known cartoonist, is under arrest here on a charge of manslaughter his automobile having struck and killed Mrs. Josephine Barlow of this city late last night on the Danbury-Norwalk road. Meek said the woman walked in front of the car.
Indict "Bud" Fisher Butler
Sep 14 1929: Yonkers Herald
Carmel, NY, Sept. 13 -- James Bell, negro butler for Harry Bud Fisher, the cartoonist, was indicted for murder in the second degree here late this afternoon by the Putnam County Grand Jury.
Bell was charged with shooting and killing Frank Candee, a white man, superintendant of the Fisher estate at Lake Mahopac, on July 13. A subpoena for Mr. Fisher to testify before the Grand Jury on the case was issued, but Sheriff Secord was unable to locate him.
Bell will be arraigned before County Judge Joseph P. Shea here on Monday to plead to the indictment.
Cartoonist Suicide; Leaves Tragic Note
Apr 4 1932: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Cleveland, Oh., April 2 (AP): Leaving a tragic note to his estranged wife, Loron A. Taylor, 32, commercial artist and creator of the comic strip, "Mom 'n' Pop" shot himself to death in an obscure house today. Taylor had been separated from his wife since August. In his pockets was a letter addressed to her, written Monday. It read:
"Dearest Edna -- I will make an effort to see you tomorrow. However, if I fail you will be informed of what happened. Know that my parting thoughts were of you, that the loneliness I suffered after we parted had a great bearing on this climax. Inevitable, however, owing to financial obligations, etc. As the doughboys used to say, 'He went West.' And in my 32 years of varied experience I have learned that life isn't worth a damn. With all my love, Loron."
Cartoonist's Wife Commits Suicide
December 10 1929: Ogdensburg Republican-Journal
Hastings on Hudson, NY, Dec. 10 (AP): Apparently despondent over the death of her daughter, Marjorie, 14, who died last August of sleeping sickness, Mrs. Frank Moser, 41, wife of a New York cartoonist, committed suicide late yesterday by gas asphyxiation in her Hollywood Dr. home here, according to police.
Creator of 'Skippy' Attempts Suicide
Dec 19 1948: Rochester Democrat-Chronicle
New York (UP) -- Percy Crosby, 57, cartoonist who created "Skippy," slashed his wrists and chest Friday in an apparent suicide attempt, police reported yesterday. His condition last night was reported as "fair" at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital. Police said Crosby had entered Doctors' Hospital Thursday, where he was said to be "suffering from depression." After he was injured he was transferred by a private ambulance to Bellevue, police said.
Labels: News of Yore
Monday, February 05, 2024
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lawrence Nadle
... Larry distinguished himself as being a good writer when he was just nine. He won a story-writing contest and had his picture in the newspaper. He never went to college. Instead, he teamed up with his best friend, Jack Arnold (who later directed the movies The Mouse That Roared and The Creature from the Black Lagoon), and they performed an acrobatic/tap dance/comic routine in vaudeville. ...
... it was also Martin who opened the door for Larry to get some writing assignments with King Features Syndicate. ...
The other day. Paramount’s Sid Mesibov, company promotion director, asked if we wouldn’t like to look at a comic book. We agreed to witness the latest in the field, “Miss Beverly Hills,” which has to do with a non-existent girl and her adventures in Hollywood, on the motion picture sets, on location, etc. We weren’t very surprised to see that Alan Ladd and his latest release, “Whispering Smith,” had received more than a fair share of publicity in the first issue. Forthcoming issues also are to feature Paramount and its stars.After laying the preliminary groundwork, we were whisked over to the editorial offices of the National Comics Publications, where, after bowing three times in the direction of a huge oil portrait of “Superman,” we were introduced to Larry Nadle, editor, “Miss Beverly Hills,” and others of the 30 different books put out by the organization, which has a circulation of some 60 million people. He told us how well the initial combination of a fan magazine plus a comic book had been received by some million readers, and we read a portion of the 4,000 letters received from readers from 8 to 50. Especially commendable were those which praised the book for providing proper reading for all audiences, and for the way that Hollywood was treated.Paramount thinks that much value for the company, its films, stars, and, finally, for exhibitors, can be gained through this promotion, and we agree. Some gal, that “Beverly Hills.”
... But if there was one thing he did that most impressed me, it was ghosting the syndicated strip Nero Wolfe. The creator of the famous detective character was also impressed. I have a letter from Rex Stout to my father stating, “Today I received the text for the 6th, 7th, and 8th weeks of the third daily sequence, have read and enjoyed it...”
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Sunday, February 04, 2024
Wish You Were Here, from Dwig
Let's not forget it's leap year! Here's another Dwig leap year card, Samuel Gabriel & Sons Series 401. Some smartass wrote to poor Miss Frances Estabrook of Houlton Maine on the back of this card, admonishing her that she should "get a hustle on, it may not be too late." I did a little genealogical searching, and I've got bad news for Frances. The manhunt would not go well.
Labels: Wish You Were Here