Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Larry Semon
Lawrence “Larry” Semon was born in West Point, Mississippi, on February 9, 1889, according to his World War I draft card. However, another date, July 16, 1889, that has been used by many sources, was from the Blue Book of the Screen (1923). His parents were Zerubbabel Semon and Irene Rea, who married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 2, 1874, according to the Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 at Ancestry.com.
An 1867 Philadelphia city directory listed Zerubbabel, a resident at at 740 South 8th Street, whose trade was “segars” at 515 Chestnut. Zerubbabel, who learned the art of magic from his father, Emmanuel, shortened his name to Zera and became a traveling performer. His skill was noted in the Mower County Transcript (Lansing, Minnesota), April 26, 1877:
Professor Zera, the great Sleight-of-hand performer and Ventriloquist, is the finest artist in his profession that we ever saw. He is simply inimitable and unapproachable,—standing alone upon the climax of ultimate achievement.Later, he would be known as Zera the Great and assisted by his wife and sister. (There were seven sisters of which two were younger than Zera.) Semon’s parents were performing in Mississippi when he was born.
Semon’s childhood was told in the Blue Book of the Screen (1923) and the Brooklyn Sunday Eagle Magazine, May 3, 1925. The Blue Book said:
Larry was thoroughly trained in pantomime before he was twelve years of age, but they managed his education, despite road life, and the youth finally went through the high school at Savannah, Ga.
This early professional career was a hard one for the youth. Travel accommodations were poor; the troupe often had to build its own stage in some barnlike structure in order to put on the show; the company frequently slept on benches, and all the other discomforts of the small town afflicted them.
Larry might have been a singer of note but for an accident. At 12 he had a magnificent soprano voice, and won a gold medal in San Francisco for his singing. But during his first football game at Savannah high school he came out of a scrimmage with an injured neck, which caused an abnormal development. His singing voice was gone.
…“My parents were poor, although honest and addicted to hard work. They were actors working in a traveling road show, traveling through Mississippi when I came along. This disrupted the show for a while, as ma and pa were the mainstays; but pretty soon, after a few months, I guess, they resumed business at the old one-night stands.”
Then Larry explained that in those days each show was composed of several teams, of which his parents were one, and each team had to do two acts, as there were never nun; than three teams on the bill. If each team didn’t do a double act the show would have ended at about quarter cast nine and the customers might have started a riot—which often happened, anyway.
A road team in those days consisted of a pair of sadly overworked thespians who had to include in their act singing, dancing, acrobatics, a general knockabout turn, with a little sleight of hand thrown in for good measure. As soon as Larry could walk he was taught all the different tricks cf the stage and soon became proficient in all of them. This explains the origin of his startling versatility.
When he reached the age at which other children begin to attend school the junior member of “The Three Semons” was given a good sound fundamental course in education by his father, who carried around a set of text books. Larry was made to study, and study hard...
Not mentioned in the childhood stories was Semon’s unexpected journey which was reported in the Atlanta Constitution (Georgia), September 28, 1900:
Got to Savannah All Right.
Ten-Year-Old Boy Travels All the Way from Newfoundland.
Savannah. Ga.. September 27.—Tagged and addressed, so that he could not get lost; a boy of about ten years reached the city yesterday. He was Master Lawrence Semon and the tag sewed to his coat bore the address of Mr. Lewis Lippman, 23 Jones street, west. The boy is a nephew of Mrs. Lippman. His mother is dead and his father recently met with a serious reverse of fortune during the storm in Newfoundland. For these reasons Mrs. Lippman decided to take young Lawrence and bring him up. Accordingly he was tagged and shipped from Newfoundland to Savannah, making his way without any difficulty.Semon was eleven years old at the time and his mother was very much alive. The aunt’s name was Emma, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, who was about the same age as Zera. (One census said she was two years older and another said a year younger.) Semon and his parents have not been found in the census.
Six-and-a-half months later, the Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), April 12, 1901, published a death notice for Semon’s father:
Semon.—On April 9, 1901. Zera Semon, aged 53 years. Funeral services on Friday, at 10 o’clock precisely at the residence of Mr. Mortis Rosenberg, 716 Franklin street. Interment private. Kindly omit flowers.The Blue Book said Semon was present at his father’s death bed and explained how he got into cartooning:
Semon, Sr., was an artist among other accomplishments. The son inherited the taste for drawing and often sketched comic pictures. He recalls that he used the pages of his Latin grammar to draw an “animated” cartoon in the upper corners. By flipping the pages one could see a round of boxing. He still has the book to prove it.
The father, upon his death bed, asked Larry to give up the stage and take up the study of cartooning. The son complied, and entered art courses in New York. How well he succeeded is proven by his employment upon the Herald, Telegraph and Telegram of New York as cartoonist. Finally the New York Evening Sun featured his work, and Larry felt that he had fulfilled his father's dying request.In the Sunday Eagle Magazine, the story was very general:
...Larry was made to study, and study hard, until he was fourteen years old, when both parents died, leaving him flat.
Larry emphasized particularly the influence that his enforced study has since had upon his career. Naturally it was a good influence, and has helped him over more than one rough spot on the bumpy road to fame. Among other things, his father, Zera Semon, had a talent for drawing, which was imparted to the son, but was greatly augmented by the elder’s persistent tutelage.For a number of years Semon was raised by his aunt in Savannah. While in high school, his name appeared at least twice in the Atlanta Constitution on June 22, 1902 and March 13, 1904: “…Before the dancing began there was a Punch and Judy show cleverly manipulated by young Lawrence Semon…”
However, in the Sunday Eagle Magazine, there was no mention of his aunt:
...When Larry was stranded in Savannah by the death of both parents he was left friendless, jobless and with hardly a nickel to his name. Then followed long lean years of adversity. He was hardly old enough to go staging it around the country alone and there was no place for him on another road team. So he spent most of his time in Savannah, interspersing some spasmodic schooling with different jobs.
But all this time he was convinced that as long as he had some talent for drawing he would become an artist and pass up the stage as a career. With this idea in mind Larry migrated to Philadelphia some years after and landed a job with the Philadelphia North American as a general handy man in the art department. He wasn't around very long before they found he could really draw and pretty soon he was doing odd bits of cartooning that appeared in the paper—creating a mild aura of approval that didn't displease the creator a bit.A death notice for Semon’s mother appeared in the Inquirer July 16, 1906:
Semon—On July 14, 1906. Irene M. wife of the late Zera Semon and daughter of Jane Elizabeth and the late Samuel M. Rea. The relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral services on Tuesday afternoon, at 3 o’clock, at her late residence, 655 Preston st. Interment private.Semon was 17 when his mother died. The date of his move to Philadelphia is not known. He had a job as an engraver, according to a listing in the 1908 Philadelphia city directory, and resided at 131 South 10th. Co-incidentally, there was another Lawrence Semon in the Philadelphia directories; his middle name was Charles, born around 1876, and the son of Simon H. Semon.
Semon was a member of the Balbazoo Club, an amateur theatrical organization of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association. The Inquirer, February 4, 1908, reviewed their production:
“The Merry Kiddo,” a thoroughly down-to-the-minute “musical accident,” by Arthur K. Sterns, was presented last night at Mercantile Hall, Broad street...The play was brimful of laughable songs and jokes and proved an unqualified success.
One of the best hits of the evening was a burlesque, “Madame Flutterby,” which kept the audience in an hysterical state. Other amusing stunts were the “Rehearsal with a Broadway Show” and the Gibson Girl specialty.
Prominent among the cast were Harry Meyers, Harold Sycle, David Strumpf, David Grossman, Lawrence Semon, Walter, Lyons, Samuel Fernberger, Isadore E. Saunder, Jack Livingston, Alvin Wolf and Leonard Hass.Semon also had a guardian, Wallace G. Bobb, who was a physician according to the 1900 census. How this came about is not known. The Inquirer published a number of legal notices that named both of them; below are two of them:
(March 2, 1909)
Feb. 17. Semon. minor—First and final account of Wallace G. Bobb. Guardian of Lawrence Semon, a minor.
(March 30, 1909)Semon’s twentieth birthday was on February 9, 1909. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index at Ancestry.com said Semon married Augusta Rosenbaum in 1909. Their marriage may have been the reason why Bobb withdrew as Semon’s guardian.
No. 58—Semon. minor—First and final account of Wallace G. Bobb. Guardian of Lawrence Semon, a minor.
Semon has not been found in the 1910 census. A 1912 New York City directory said he was an artist and resided at 552 West 118th Street. A 1916 directory placed him at 9 West 47th Street and working as a cartoonist.
Semon told the story of his move to New York City in the Sunday Eagle Magazine:
...Larry Semon then began to show signs of the big town itch. He figured that he had something to sell and the best thing to do would be to try and place it with the biggest market, so, reversing Horace Greeley’s advice, he went East and landed in New York City in the dead of winter and with but a vague idea of his next move.
“It was an awfully cold day,” Larry said, “and there was a big snow storm in full blast—not a very encouraging prospect for a bright young cartoonist trying to pry off a job in New York. When I went out on the street after leaving the train I took one look at that storm and decided that maybe I’d.better go back to. ‘Philly’ and get another job, for I had already given up mine on the North American.
“Then I thought that would be kind of silly—as long as I was in New York I might as well try a couple of places. A ‘newsy’ came along and I asked him the way to the nearest newspaper office. He directed me to the office of the Evening Telegram, while I bought a copy of the ‘Telly’ from him. The next move was to get installed in a cheap hotel, which I did, and read the Telegram up in my room. It struck me that they were a bit weak on sporting cartoons, so. I put on my coat again and walked over to their office.
“The sporting editor finally saw me and, oddly enough, asked me for a sample of my work. I asked him to wait a few minutes and to give me an option on a job until I could get back with a sample. He agreed and I tore back to the room, batted out a sport cartoon and ran back to the ‘Telly’ with it. I guess he liked it because he let me on the staff at thirty-five dollars per.”
“No, per week, and I was tickled to death to get it. I felt like a prince. And from that day on things began to look up.”
Incidentally this is probably a world’s record for getting a job on a New York paper. Larry figures that a half hour after he saw the editor for the first time his name was on the payroll.
In a short while the art editor thought the young cartoonist’s talents could be used to better advantage on the editorial page for political cartoons, so he was transferred and began to draw “heavy” stuff. Larry Semon drawing pictures of Mayor Gaynor, Charles Evans Hughes and Charley Murphy would make a pretty funny picture by itself. But nevertheless he did; and his efforts were greeted by no less success than his sporting work.Semon produced over a dozen comics. He drew the debut of The Fads of Miss Fashion, September 19, 1910, for the Evening Telegram. One of his strips was Marcus the Boarding House Goat.
It will be baseball week at the Palace Theatre, beginning Monday night, when the Pittsburg Pirates will make up a big theatre party. Thursday night the Giants and Boston Braves will be present, with the stars and managers in the boxes. Baseball specialties will be introduced in all acts, and Lawrence Semon, Evening Sun cartoonist, will draw pictures of the diamond favorites.
Semon’s next opportunity came from a newspaper veteran looking to break into movies. The Sunday Eagle Magazine said:
Larry had succeeded in working up a considerable local prestige when his big chance came. Commodore J. Stuart Blackton, an old Herald man and even then prominent in newspaper circles, heard that Semon was in the theatrical business before his newspaper work. As he was looking for someone to produce comedies for him he casually asked Semon if he would like to go out to the coast and try a hand at the game. Larry thought it would be a good chance for a change of scenery, so he took the offer.
“You know,” said Larry at this point, “the newspaper game is a great deal like marriage. Those who aren’t in it want to join the bunch inside and. the folks already in it want to get out—generally speaking, of course.”
In California at this time there was a dearth of good comedians, so Larry, besides writing and producing comedies, also took a hand at acting. This, as he explained, was simply a question of the old thespian lure asserting itself. Since 1918, when Larry first went to the coast, he has concerned himself with comedy work until now he stands among the few really great moving picture comedians of the country.
Perhaps the secret of Larry’s success, if there is a secret to any success, is his everlasting activity. He is never still—always on the go. If he is not engaged at the studio he is laying plans for another production, or polishing up on a bit of business for the picture he may be working on.
Larry always works with an eye to the future and he said that he has always been able to use whatever knowledge he may have stored up. Thus when he was a traveling kid with a show he was taught, and to a large extent taught himself, to draw and made use of his talent later with the Telegram. When the call came from the movies he was able to respond and make use of his knowledge of the theater. And now again he is going to make use of his drawing ability on a comic strip of the Hollywood studios.
Larry finds it very hard to get away from himself. He wanted to be an artist instead of an actor and now he finds himself playing the dual role.The Atlanta Constitution, December 2, 1919, noted the success of the former Savannah resident:
Savannahian Signs Big Movie Contract
Savannah, Ga., December 1, Special.—Savannah was interested today in news that a Savannah boy, Larry Semen, has just signed a contract with the Vitagraph people for three years at a salary reported to be $1,200,000 a year. Semon started in as a cartoonist and is now a star comedian. As a tad, he did sleight of hand stunts and painted window signs in Savannah for the fun of the work.Semon signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. It said he lived in Brooklyn at 51 Clark Street, and his occupation was “ Motion Picture Director, Vitagraph Co. of America, Elm [illegible] Flatbush, Brooklyn”. A 1917 Los Angeles city directory said he resided at the Hotel Clark and was a director at the Vitagraph Company of America.
The 1920 census recorded Semon in Los Angeles at 2037 Harvard Blvd. and his occupation was “Actor and Director/Motion Picture”. Three Japanese men (a cook, a butler and a chauffeur) boarded there. Below is Semon’s entry in the 1921 Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual:
Semon, Lawrence; also director; b. West Point, Miss., 1889; educ. Savannah, Ga.; early career, played child parts on stage with Zera Semon, his father; pro. magician, cartoon artist and tumbler in vaud.; screen career, Universal, Palace Players (dir. Frank Daniels Comedies); Vitagraph (“Players and Puppy Love,” “Rooftops and Ruffians,” “Huns and Hyphens,” “Pluck and Plotters,” “Traps and Tangles,” “Scamps and Scandals,” “The Head Waiter,” “The Grocery Clerk,” “The Fly Cop,” “The Suitor,” “School Days,” “The Hick”); writes all his own comedies. Ad., Vitagraph, Hollywood, Cal.Semon passed away October 8, 1928, in Victorville, California. His death was reported in many papers including the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Larry Semon Dies of Pneumonia in Desert Hospital
Noted Screen Comedian Who Lost Riches Also Loses Fight for Life.
Victorville. Cal., Oct. 8 (AP)—Larry Semon, motion picture comedian, died, here today.
The comedian had been waging a losing battle against death since last Friday, when he was stricken with double pneumonia. He sank rapidly and his life was despaired of Saturday.
Semon came to a sanitarium in the Mojave Desert near here about six weeks ago in an attempt to recover from a nervous breakdown which came several months ago after a series of financial reverses incurred in the motion picture business. Never of robust health, he seemed unable to rally from the depression and illness.
His wife Dorothy Dwan, screen actress, and her mother, Mrs. Nancy Smith, attended him, during his illness.
Once a Cartoonist.
Semon was, born in West Point, Miss., 39 years ago. The stage claimed him as soon as he was old enough to appear in juvenile parts. Then he became a magician. Later he worked as a newspaper cartoonist but the stage called him again and he toured in vaudeville as a tumbler.
Semon’s first efforts in the films were in comedies of the “slapstick” variety, in which he made a fortune. On turning to the producing field he encountered both happiness and tragedy. While working as an actor-producer he fell in love with Miss Dwan, his leading lady. They were married in 1925 in New York.
The business of producing films was said to have led Semon into a program so ambitious that it swamped him financially. Last March he filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy, listing liabilities of nearly $500,000.
Semon’s filmography is here.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, September 01, 2014
From the Sub-Basement of the Archives: Jimmy Walker Bio by Hearst Cartoonists
Found a photocopy of this neat strip in one of my ginormous "to be filed" piles. All the leading lights of the Hearst syndicates are represented -- George McManus, Harry Hershfield, Tom McNamara, Ad Carter, Walter Hoban, Jimmy Murphy, George Herriman, Jack Callahan, Chic Young, Ed Verdier, Cliff Sterrett, Tad Dorgan, Milt Gross, Billy DeBeck, and filling in all the unsigned panels, Rube Goldberg.
Jimmy Walker was mayor of New York City from 1926 to 1932, and based on the age cited in the next to last panel, this strip was produced in early to mid-1928. I'm guessing this was drawn for the program of some ceremony or banquet, but the photocopy gives no clue regarding the original source.
Labels: Archives Sub-Basement
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
I did write cartoon gags for a couple years....which was wonderful too!
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Tuesday, August 18 1908 -- Another six days passes in the Examiner without a major Herriman cartoon, then this effort signals his return as a regular.
The L.A. Republican convention happens today, and the few remaining Lincoln-Roosevelters have been seated all the way at the back of the hall, after their candidates were mostly routed by corporate machine picks, led by machine boss Parker.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, August 29, 2014
Sci-Friday starring Connie
Labels: Connie Sci-Friday
You rat! (not really, of course):
Connie, daring young modern girl....and the Cosmic Accumulator - wonderful!!
Now, I will have to go back and read all of your Friday entries.... the drawings are great. A bit like Harrison Fisher or Howard Chandler Christy....turn of the century stuff - very nice.
I have already started into your archived blogs - thru 2005's.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: C.D. Russell
In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the first of two children born to Hamilton and Elizabeth. They lived in Buffalo at 43 East Balcom Street. His father was a bookkeeper.
In the next census, the Russells remained in Buffalo, but at 143 North Pearl. Russell’s father was a claims agent. Their address was the same in the 1915 New York State Census.
The Buffalo Evening News, June 24, 1915, said Russell graduated from Lafayette High School that evening. According to Russell’s obituary in the New York Times, October 25, 1963, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute.
Russell signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1918. He resided at 136 West 16th Street, Manhattan, New York City. He worked for the Western Electric Company, and named his father as his nearest relative. His description was medium height, slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair. History of Buffalo and Erie County, 1914-1919 (1920) had this entry: “Russell, Clarence D.—1st-class Pvt., Co. F, 11th USM.”
The Western Electric News published one of his cartoons in its August 1918 issue.
Buffalo Boy’s Cartoons Make Hit with MarinesCorporal Clarence D. Russell, 143 North Pearl street, is making a reputation for himself as a cartoonist in the Marine corps. He enlisted in this branch of the service last May and after a short period of training at Paris Island, was sent to the camp at Quantico where he soon be came associated with the Marines’ newspaper, The Leatherneck.
A short time ago Corporal Russell was ordered to France. Before he sailed he sketched the officers and some of the rookies in the camp and these pen pictures will be distributed in a booklet to be published by the Marines. He will remain a member of the staff of The Leatherneck while “over there.”
“Russell will be part of the outfit which will compile a daily history of the regiment under the supervision of Colonel Van Ordence and Captain John H. Craige, intelligence officer,” says The Leatherneck in a recent issue.
Russell is a graduate of the Lafayette high school with the class of 1915.The American Review of Reviews, November 1918, reprinted one of his Leatherneck cartoons.
Word has been received by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Russell of the safe arrival of their son, Corporal Clarence D. Russell, who embarked will the Intelligence Staff of the 11th regiment, U.S.M.C.The New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919, at Ancestry.com, said Russell was stationed in France from October 26, 1819 to July 29, 1919. He was discharged on August 11, 1919.
Russell has not been found in the 1920 census. A visit from his mother and sister was reported in the Buffalo Courier Express, January 31, 1922:
Mrs. [sic] Oliver M. Russell left yesterday for New York where she will join her mother, Mrs. Hamilton Russell who has been there for a fortnight visiting her son, Clarence D. Russell.In 1924 Russell produced cartoon advertisements titled Electrified History for Western Electric. According to Famous Artists & Writers (1949), "…in the early Twenties [he] worked for the old New York Evening Post and Evening Mail….Russell's professional interest in tramps began around 1927…'I began drawing tramps for Judge, the old humorous magazine…and pretty soon Pete [the Tramp] began to evolve…." (The entire profile is here.)
The New York, New York, Marriage Indexes at Ancestry.com said Russell married Ruthelma Stevens on April 27, 1925. She was an actress. According to the 1925 New York state Census, they resided at 15 Sheridan Square in New York City. Their marriage ended in divorce and both remarried.
Advertising Arts & Crafts (1926) said Russell’s studio was located in New York City at 195 Broadway, Room 1202.
Russell has not been found in the 1930 census. Famous Artists & Writers said, “He signed a contract with King Features in 1930.” According to E. Simms Campbell’s obituary in the New York Times, January 29, 1971: “…C.D. Russell, creator of ‘Pete, the Tramp,’ encouraged and advised him….”
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Russell’s strip Pete the Tramp, began on January 10, 1932. Snorky was one of three toppers he used on Pete the Tramp.
The Citizen Advertiser, (Auburn, New York), January 24, 1933, carried Sam Love’s New York Inside Out column which said:
I suppose they don’t really, but comic artists give me the impression that they lead cheerful, irresponsible lives. C. D. Russell, who inks out a handsome living drawing scape-grace dogs and tramps, conducts a household at Brewster, a suburb, which is overrun with dogs. Russell has six at the moment, collies and pointers of excessively friendly and roistering dispositions. Oddly enough, he has no small Sealyham such as his cartoon character.Putnam County Courier (Carmel, New York), February 10, 1933, noted Russell’s whereabouts.
Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Russell, have rented the home of Dr. and Mrs. Jewitt in Kent, “Stonywold.” Mr. and Mrs. Russell have lived here for about one year, coming from New York city. Mr. Russell is a “cartoonist” in the Daily Mirror.A 1937 issue of the Judge printed instructions for Russell’s word game.
Before the paper and pencils are put back in the desk drawer, a neat game for groups of two, three or four is “Letter-Go,” an invention of cartoonist C.D. Russell, who is also the inventor of Pete the Tramp. Each player rules off, free-hand, a box containing twenty- five squares. This is done by making six horizontal lines about a half inch apart and crossing them with six more half inch apart vertical lines. The players then take turns in calling out letters. Each letter, as it is called, must be placed by each player in any one of his twenty-five squares, and no erasing either. The object is to make words horizontally and vertically. When all the squares have been filled in, papers are exchanged and scores totaled. A five-letter word counts 10, a four-letter word 5 and a three-letter word 2. Two-letter words don't count at all. Neither do proper names nor foreign words. Also, adding an “s” on the end of a singular word to make it into a plural is just a waste of time. Your opponents will only allow you the singular. A perfect score is 100 — five five-letter words each way. But in stiff competition you should be able to pick up the marbles with anything in the neighborhood of 70.Russell has not yet been found in the 1940 census. Russell signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was a cartoonist for King Features. His description was 5 feet 8 inches and 165 pounds, with blue eyes and gray hair.
When the Buffalo Courier, December 31, 1962, noted the death of Russell’s sister, he was living in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Russell passed away October 22, 1963, according to the New York Times: “…[Russell] died of cancer Tuesday [October 22] in Kingsbridge Veterans Hospital, the Bronx. He was 67 years old and lived in Fort Lee, N.J.” However the date on his headstone is October 23. He was buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.
Pete the Tramp ended December 12, 1963. A list of his comic book credits is at the Grand Comics Database.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Mystery, um, Thing
There is some pretty odd imagery here, especially the giant grey hairy broccoli floret in the middle. Not to mention old guys with wings, a monster, and a couple of wolfmen.
I realize this is somewhat off-topic to the blog, but this thing is intriguing. I'm assuming it is comics of some sort. Can anyone tell me something about it? (Jim's memory of it is hazy -- his vague recollection was that there was a big book of these pages, and they did form some sort of continuity).
Labels: Mystery Strips
Interesting observation! Those gradations you're referring to are not nearly as noticeable on the actual print. But you sure are right, in the scan they do give the impression of woodgrain. Neat!
Firstly, I wish to congratulate you for your superb work and thank you for your willing to share it using your blog! :)
I asked for a translation in reddit for this print and a very solicitous person answered. It seems that it is an ukiyo-e from the series "Comic Pictures of the Floating World" by the artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
I guess further information may be asked at the site http://www.yoshitoshi.net/. Since it seems that they don't have a scan for this specific print, I'd be great if you send scans of it to them.
Thanks, again, Allan
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred T. Richards
The 1880 census recorded the Richards family in Philadelphia at 1708 North Eighteenth Street. His father was involved in wholesale dry goods.
According to Who’s Who, Richards was a pupil of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and studied with Thomas Eakins and Edmund B. Bensell. The 1885 Philadelphia City Directory listed him as an artist at 524 Walnut, and his residence at 1626 Jefferson; the same information was found in the 1886, 1889 and 1890 directories. Who’s Who said he married Odile A.S. Hudry on October 21, 1890, in Philadelphia. At some point they moved to New York City where he joined the staff of Life magazine in 1899.
In the 1900 census, Richards, his French-born wife, and their daughter lived in Manhattan, New York City at 144 West 13th Street. His occupation was artist. Who’s Who said his work was exhibited at the Paris Exposition 1900. The New York Times, July 9, 1921, said he was cartoonist for the New York Herald in 1901 and 1902.
In 1901 Richards was involved with two books: The Idiot at Home Three Other Farces was co-authored with John Kendrick Bangs and published by Harper Brothers; and The Royal Game of Golf, published by R.H. Russell.
The New York Dramatic Mirror, November 4, 1905, published a list of recently copyrighted plays which included one by Richards: “Akhoond; comic opera in three acts. Book and lyrics by F.T. Richards; music by F. Dewey Richards. Copyrighted by Frederick T. Richards.”
In the following census, he remained in Manhattan but at another address, 37 West 22nd Street, where he continued as an artist. Some of his neighbors were artists and illustrators: Frank Bittner, William Lippincott, Bertha Low, George Reevs, and Ada Budell.
His wife passed away October 19, 1912, at Sellersville, Pennsylvania, according to death notices, published October 22, in the New York Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer.
Richards was included in Empire State Notables 1914 which said he was on staff at Life since 1888 and at Collier’s Weekly, and cartooned for the New York Herald and New York Times.
He illustrated and Charles Jay Budd wrote The Blot Book, which they published in 1915. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012) Richards produced, in the late teens, News Item for the Philadelphia North American.
The 1920 census said Richards was the head of the household in Philadelphia at 1815 North 22nd Street. With him was his widow sister, his nephew and his wife, and his niece with her husband and four children.
Richards passed July 8, 1921 in Philadelphia. His death was reported the next day in the New York Times:
Philadelphia, July 8.—Frederick T. Richards, an artist, for the last nine years on the staff of The North American, died at his desk in his home today of heart disease while at work on a drawing. He was born in this city in 1864, but had spent much of his life in New York, having made drawings for Life for twenty years. He had also been cartoonist for The New York Herald in 1901 and 1902, and had done similar work for The New York Times and Evening Mail. He was the author of “Color Prints from Dickens” and “The Blot Book.”
He learned his profession at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins, and at the Art Students League in New York. He belonged to the Players, Friars and Dutch Treat Clubs in New York.—Alex Jay
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, August 25, 2014
From the Sub-Basement of the Archives: Comic Strip Characters Behind the Iron Curtain
This bizarre comic strip features Little Orphan Annie, Fearless Fosdick, Albert the alligator and Winnie Winkle, all discovering the wonders of Russia's permanent winter. Forty below? Book me a flight!
Maybe something ... a lot ... got lost in translation.
Labels: Archives Sub-Basement
This was just an isolated page I found, already clipped out of a magazine. If there was a second page to it, the information is lost to history.
The alligator character made me think it might be Krokodil, too, except that the reverse of this clip is a rather high-brow article (in English) about the museums of Leningrad. I didn't think that sort of thing was fodder for Krokodil. But maybe the highbrow magazine took this as an excerpt from Krokodil (since Commies don't care about copyrights).
I did some microfilm reading in my time.... historical research... and have found old newspapers on line now...searchable. I've been looking at the beginnings of the comic strip in various newspapers. Very interesting. And fun!
more as I go forward and read thru the archives....there's a bunch.
Just finished 2nd couple years of Dick Tracy and am on Bloom County. (best loved so far: first book compilations of Gasoline Alley and Popeye)
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Wednesday, August 12 1908 -- Last week we asked the question "is the pen mightier than the sword" in regard to a Herriman cartoon that admonished readers not to blindly follow party bosses when voting in the 1908 California primary election.
Today the returns are in, and the new reformist 'Lincoln-Roosevelt League' of the Republican Party, which was trying to upset the corporate-driven Republican machine, failed miserably. Party bosses wanted the Southern Pacific and other large corporations to continue running the Republican Party in California, and the voters dutifully pulled the levers they were told to pull.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, August 22, 2014
Sci-Friday starring Connie
Thursday, August 21, 2014
A Mystery Regarding the First Weeks of Long Sam -- Part II
Yesterday we presented the first nine strips of the Al Capp/Bob Lubbers strip Long Sam, and today we have the second nine. These scans originated from the collection of Bob Foster, and as I said yesterday, he feels that there is a mystery surrounding these strips.
If you haven't already guessed from my slight hint yesterday, Bob believes that there is a question regarding the art credit. He believes that there is another artist involved here in addition to Lubbers; specifically, that Frank Frazetta was lending an uncredited hand.
Bob suggests that Frazetta is responsible for most of the work in the first week of strips, with only a little evidence of Lubbers; that the second week is a mish-mosh of the two artists, and that by the third week Lubbers has mostly taken over the helm, with little input from Frazetta.
As you are probably aware, there is a close connection between writer Al Capp and Frank Frazetta. Frank began as an assistant on Li'l Abner starting around 1953, shortly before Long Sam debuted (5/31/1954). So it is certainly possible that Capp, who was calling the shots on the strip, might have instructed Frazetta to work on it. But I've not seen an interview with any of the principals where such an arrangement was mentioned, and I haven't heard of any art-spotters mentioning Frazetta's name in relation to Long Sam.
The only person besides Bob Foster that I can find mentioning a connection is a blogpost about Frazetta by Richard Graham. It says, "he [Frazetta] was with Al [Capp] from 1952 to 1961 and is credited with a huge amount of work for Lil Abner, as well as his work on Long Sam, a strip about a baseball player." Sorry to be snarky, but the credibility of this claim is not helped by saying that Long Sam is a strip about a baseball player.
Anyhow, the evidence is before you, ladies and gentlemen. Poke and prod the strips, hold them up to the light, sniff the ink, and tell your fellow comic fans your opinion. As you know, I generally remain only an interested observer when it comes to these art-spotting questions, so I'm really anxious to have you all weigh in.
This looks like Lubbers at his best. Compare t his Tarzan sunday's. Both are fine line and lush.
Thanks for posting the petty pics!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A Mystery Regarding the First Weeks of Long Sam -- Part I
Bob Foster sent me scans of the first three weeks of Long Sam, asking me to share them with you. Although the strips are worth reading on their merits alone, Bob isn't just sharing them purely for their entertainment value. He hopes to open a dialogue regarding what he considers a mystery.
So what's the mystery? Well, we'll get into that in tomorrow's post. For now, just enjoy the first half of the Long Sam introductory strips, credited to writer Al Capp and cartoonist Bob Lubbers.
He admitted, e.g., that Mike Peppe had briefly inked Robin Malone, but said Wally Wood had never anything to do with that strip (Wood claimed he ghosted Robin Malone). On the other hand, Bob denied John Celardo helping him on some 1966 Secret Agent X-9 - - which I think Celardo did.
Bob is an excellent, much too often underrated artist. This is him at his very best.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gustave Verbeck
Gustavus “Gustave” Verbeck was born in Nagasaki, Japan on August 29, 1867. His birthplace and birth date were on his Petition for Naturalization which was filed December 19, 1914, in New York City; the document was retrieved at Ancestry.com. His name, Gustavus, was found in the book, Verbeck of Japan (1900):
…Right here we may glance at Dr. Verbeck’s family. His firstborn baby daughter, Emma Japonica, and Guido, who lived to be sixteen, are no more on earth, but at this writing, June 1900, there survive, five sons and two daughters. William, Channing, Gustavus, Arthur, Bernard, Emma and Eleanor. The grandson, son of William, bears the honored name Guido Fridolin Verbeck. Emma is married to Professor Terry and dwells in Japan. Two sons in the army of the United States follow the flag in the far east, and one, Gustavus, the illustrator is well known to all who love jolly pictures.When the above passage was written, Verbeck was the fourth of nine children born to Guido, a missionary, and Maria. His father left Holland on September 2, 1852. From New York City he made his way to Green Bay, Wisconsin. He found work as an engineer in Helena, Arkansas. He returned to Green Bay and later settled in Auburn, New York, where he prepared for the ministry. There he met Maria Manion. They married in Philadelphia on April 18, 1859. On May 7, 1859, the newlyweds sailed for Shanghai. From there, Guido would go to Nagasaki.
Verbeck spent his first ten or eleven years in Japan. The American Art Annual, Volume III, said he had some art training there.
His father wrote about his two trips to the U.S.:
Since I was first sent to Japan in 1859, this will be the first time that I leave it at the mission’s expense. In 1873 I travelled at my own expense; and in 1878 I returned home with my family and lived a year with them in California, altogether at my own charges. It was only since my leaving California, in August, 1879, that I became again chargeable to the mission both for myself and family.The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Verbeck (whose first name was misspelled “Gusstavus”), his mother and seven siblings in Oakland, California at 767 18th Street. All of the children were born in Japan, except one: three-month-old Bernard was born in California.
At some point Verbeck returned to Japan more than once. His name was Gustave on the naturalization petition which said he came back to the U.S., by way of San Francisco, on February 15, 1883, aboard the S.S. City of Tokio. Another petition with the same first name, filed December 21, 1916, had the arrival date as July 15, 1883. The petition stated that Verbeck had resided in New York beginning December 1, 1889. At a later date he moved to Paris.
According to the American Art Annual, Verbeck studied under “Constant, Laurens, Blanc and Giradot.” The Times, December 6, 1937, said Verbeck drew cartoons for several French newspapers. Lambiek said: “…Drawn towards the Cabaret du Chat Noir, Gustave Verbeck designed a shadow-play titled ‘Le Malin Kangourou’, and in 1893/1894, he created several illustrations for the newspaper Le Chat Noir.” In September 1894, art critic Henry McBride stayed at Verbeck’s apartment, located at 131 Boulevard Montparnasse.
A passenger list at Ancestry.com listed Verbeck as a steerage passenger in compartment number two for single men. He arrived in New York City on November 5, 1894, aboard the S.S. Bourgogne, which sailed from the port of Le Havre, France. His occupation was painter.
On his return to the U.S., Verbeck produced illustrations for several periodicals including the American Magazine, Harper’s, McClure’s and the Saturday Evening Post. The Monthly Illustrator, May 1895, published the article, “Technical Tendencies of Caricature”, with his illustrations. Verbeck had six illustrations in the July 1899, Pearson’s Magazine.
The Times, January 2, 1927, reviewed Verbeck’s exhibition at the Ferargil Gallery and quoted his autobiographic note in the catalogue:
Born in Japan, came to California, revisited Japan three times, knew native artists, tried their way of drawing with brush, acquired a pronounced Oriental slant in art. In San Francisco at Academy studied still life and sketching under Emil Carlsen. Came to New York and entered DeForest Brush’s class at the League. Became acquainted with Bridgman just back from the Beaux Arts and worked with him from models on Sundays. Met George Luks. We had adjoining studios. Low rental, no furniture, slept on floor.
Next went to Paris three years, worked under Constant, Laurens, Giradot, Blanc and Freytel, at Julian’s and Calarossi’s [sic]. Back in America, exhibited a little, got encouragement but not many sales. Did not know how to get a dealer. Illustrated, painted, moved all over country, lost paintings, painted more.The New-York Tribune took note of Verbeck’s work on November 21, 1896: “...The only other artistic productions in the corridor are Mr. Verbeck’s ‘Enchantment,’ a roughly painted but artlessly clever sketch…”; and on March 5, 1898: “…Take the nine somewhat fantastic sketches by Gustave Verbeek. They are original, piquant little productions. Some day they will be of greater value to collectors, we imagine, than they are now.” Verbeck’s art in the nineteenth exhibition of the Society of American Artists, at the Fine Arts Building, drew the attention of the New York Herald, March 28, 1897: “In Gustave Verbeek’s ‘Fantaisie Hellenique’ a pretty young lady in vivid red is seen, gracefully reposing on nothing.”
Art collector Pincus Chock exhibited his collection at the American Art Association. Works by Verbeck were noted by the Times, March 6, 1898: “…Among the newest names is that of Gustave Verbeek, a young Dutch-Japanese-American who began to study in Nagasaki and passed several years in Paris, bringing with him to France that color sense and that charming composition which delights us in the colored drawings of the Japanese. There are nine examples of this clever painter…”
Verbeck may have had a room at 106 East 23rd Street, in Manhattan, which was the scene of a suicide. The New York Press, January 17, 1898, reported the incident:
…She was seen in the hall yesterday morning about 9 o’clock. At 3:30 p.m. Gustave Verbeck, an artist, passing through the hall, smelled gas. He knocked at Mme. Valfier’s door and got no answer. He reported the matter to Henry Slocum, the proprietor of the restaurant on the ground floor. The pair went out upon the fire escape in the rear of the house. The window curtain had been pulled down half way, a sheet was over the lower portion of the window and the catch was on.
They called Patrolman Fox, who burst in the door of the room. The tenant was lying dead on the lounge with her head wrapped in a towel. The rubber hose that had been used by her for the gas stove was in her mouth, so wrapped about with the towel that little gas could escape until she was dead….Verbeck has not been found in the 1900 census. Two volumes of the American Art Annual had listings for him. In volume three was one for painters and the other for illustrators:
Verbeek, Gustave, 1717 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Pa.Born, Nagasaki, Japan, of Dutch parents, 1867. Early art training in Japan, later in Paris under Constant, Laurens, Blanc and Giradot. Also illustrator.
Verbeck, Gustave, 1717 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Pa. (See Painters.)Volume four had a single entry:
Verbeek, Gustave (P., I.), 21 Manhattan Ave., New York.Born, Nagasaki, Japan, of Dutch parents, 1867. Early art training in Japan; later in Paris under Benjamin-Constant, Laurens, Blanc in Paris.The New York Times, February 5, 1899, explained how Verbeck and his younger brother, Arthur, were Japanese citizens:
How the Verbeek Brothers Happen to be Full-Fledged Citizens of the Land of the Rising Sun.There are only two full-blooded white men in the world who are natural-born subjects of the Mikado of Japan. Both are at present in this city, and one of them adds to this distinction the fact that he served as an American volunteer soldier in the late war with Spain. They are brothers, and the one who wore Uncle Sam’s uniform is Arthur Verbeek, a Corporal in Company I of the Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers. He is a young art student, and his brother is Gustave Verbeek, an artist who has just come to this country after a four years’ course of study in Paris.
...The laws of Holland, the birthplace of Prof. Verbeek, provide that after a continuous absence of five years from the fatherland one’s citizenship is forfeited, and, as he had never taken out naturalization papers in the United States, he was a man without a country when he arrived in Japan. The Government there had no naturalization law, and by the command of the Mikado a special law was framed by the Japanese statesmen very much like our own naturalization law, by which act he was made a Japanese citizen.
Both sons had in the meantime voyaged to this country, and Gustave, the elder, one, went to Paris to study art at Julien’s famous atelier. It was in that city that he first learned his true nationality. The American Consul to whom he applied, refused the customary protection, and both he and his brother, who arrived in the French capital a year later, were recorded as Japanese citizens. They applied to the Japanese Consul in Paris for credentials, which were duly forwarded to them by command of the Mikado, and copies of the same papers were filed with the Japanese Consul here when they returned to this country.Verbeck’s first attempt to be naturalized was reported in the Syracuse Journal, April 18, 1907. He applied for naturalization papers at the United States Circuit Court in New York City.
Mr. Verbeck stated that he was a Japanese subject, and under the law this made him ineligible to American citizenship…Yet Verbeck, while a subject of the Mikado, plainly was the Dutchman his name implied….he got his papers, though not without many misgivings on the part of John Donovan, the naturalization clerk.
“I am a Japanese subject,” was Verbeck’s answer when his nationality was asked.
“A Jap!” cried Donovan, gazing open-mouthed at the man’s fair complexion and generally European appearance. “How can that be? What is your name?”
“My name is Gustave Verbeck,” said the applicant blandly. “My father was a citizen of Holland and my mother French. My father was a missionary, and by living outside the Netherlands more than ten years, he lost his citizenship in that country. I was born in Nagasaki after the ten years were up and that made me a native of Japan. I lived in Yokohama for a while and afterward in Tokio. Although I am a Japanese artist, I wish to become an American citizen, for I have opened a studio in West Twenty-third street, and this country looks good enough for me.”The Cosmopolitan, September 1900, published his illustrations for “The Beautiful Man of Pingalap.” Verbeck’s work appeared in two issues of Good Housekeeping. In the July 1904, his initials, “G V” appear on “The Frog, the Mouse and the Hawk” and “Why the Mud-turtle Lives in the Water.” The art for “Miss Kitty Manx to Sir Thomas Angora” was signed “G. Verbeek.” Verbeck had credit line in the September 1904 issue for “The Wee, Wee Woman and Her Pig.”
Starting in February 1902 Verbeck illustrated John Kendrick Bang’s “Andiron Tales” for the New York Herald.
Verbeck produced two other strips and each ran about three months. Stories Without Words debuted May 2 and ended August 1, 1909. For the New York Tribune, Loony Lyrics of Lulu started July 17 and stopped October 23, 1910.
Advertising was another outlet for Verbeck whose illustrations were used with children’s wear (below) and corsets.
Verbeck wrote and illustrated “The Diary of a Boy Inventor” for Boys’ Life, April 1915. A postcard by him is reproduced here.
Books illustrated by Verbeck include The Sprightly Romance of Marsac (1896), The Court of Boyville (1899), Donegal Fairy Tales (1900), Over the Plum Pudding (1901; “The Amalgamated Brotherhood of Spooks”), Nigger Baby and Nine Beasts (advertised in The Smart Set magazine from 1901 to 1906), The Second Froggy Fairy Book (1902) with Anne Penock, Wild Creatures Afield (1902) and Mother Goose for Grown-ups (1908) with Peter Newell.
In the Annual American Catalogue 1899 (1900) was an advertisement for publisher, Drexel Biddle. Verbeck was one of five artists who illustrated the Famous Froggy Fairy Books.
Also published were compilations of strips for The Up-Side Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo (1906) and Terrors of the Tiny Tads (1909). The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek (2010) includes complete runs of Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo and Loony Lyrics of Lulu, plus samples of Terrors of the Tiny Tads, Verbeck’s paintings, drawings and more.
In 1910 Verbeck, his wife Leonore, daughter Dorothea, and a servant resided in Manhattan, New York City, at 541 West 123 Street. The 1910 New York City Directory listed his studio address at 23 West 24 Street. In 1911 his studio was at 60 West 37 Street. The 1915 New York State Census listed him in Manhattan at 125 Sherman Avenue, which would be his address into the 1930s. His occupation was artist.
Verbeck’s monotypes were praised, and one published, in The Sun, May 16, 1915. The following year, monotypes by him were in a group show at the gallery, Coupil & Co. of Paris. The Century Magazine, May 1916, featured his monotypes. Another exhibition of his monotypes was in March 1918.
...Mr. Verbeek may seem a little old-fashioned, because his painting is “beautiful” and all on the surface. But what matter! Mr. Verbeek has a distinctive decorative gift, and that, nowadays, is mighty rare.
What Mr. Verbeek does is to weave, with an exceedingly fluent and persuasive brush, the surface beauties of a romantically seen world into rich tapestries of color. In these tapestries you can discover, as through gauze, nude girls joined in their dance by an exhilarating rain; girls in the arms of Galahadish young men. Or there are landscapes in which red and blue and yellow hats of picnicking ladies are woven together by Mr. Verbeek’s subtle brush with shadowy trees, dark green foliage, guitarists furtively plucking music and a young Watteauesque pair dancing.
The fact…that when in Japan he acquired “a pronounced Oriental slant in art” is easily apparent. This is not to say that Mr. Verbeek’s painting is Japanese. It is not. In fact, the little gaps of weakness and uncertainty that now and then destroy the unity of his compositions may, in this instance, be accounted for by the irrefutable (geographical) conclusion of a certain poet—“East is East,” &c. That is, Mr. Verbeek sometimes seems to try two methods of painting a canvas, and when he fails to join up “East” and “West” the twain naturally do not meet. But when he hits off canvases such as “Rain” and “Dance in the Wood” neither East nor West is visible, only painting of a high decorative order.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles