Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Obscurity of the Day: Sandy
After a very short stint at the lackluster New York Globe, Percy Crosby's career took a big step up at the New York World in 1911, where he became an important producer in their cartooning bullpen. Between 1911 and 1914, Crosby produced over half a dozen series for the World's Sunday and weekday papers.
Although Crosby produced some of his earliest kid comics for the World, predicting his later masterwork Skippy, he also produced some soon forgotten but excellent series like Sandy (He's Game For Anything). In his small quarter page space in the World's Funny Side comic section, the Sandy strips didn't get a lot of room for character development or plot. In six small panels the cocksure Sandy would take a devil-may-care attitude, and then would be taught a lesson in humility. It was nothing unusual for the comics page, and the gags did not have any extra special spark. What did spark like mad was Crosby's still-evolving drawing style. He showed off his artistic chops by producing well-designed layouts, and exhibiting a flair for humorous anatomy.
Sandy ran from September 15 1912 to February 2 1913.
Monday, September 15, 2014
More of Tad's Bunk
We discussed Tad's Sunday series And His Name Was Bunk awhile ago, and I mentioned that Tad was not one to let a good character languish. The dog Bunk was used in his sports and other cartoons for years afterwards. Here's a few samples from Cole Johnson of his weekday appearances. The top one is from 1907, before the Sunday series, the bottom one is from 1908, after it.
The top cartoon is especially interesting as it comments on the 'celebrity trials' of the day -- you may be familiar with the Evelyn Nesbit/Harry Thaw trials that captured the fascination of the whole country, but that was just a particularly memorable one in a long line. The sensational New York newspapers kept a constant vigil for trials that could make for lurid headlines, and covered them to a degree that makes the O.J. trial seem positively sane and sober by comparison.
That reminds me, I'd like to make a reading suggestion to you -- The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins. It tells the story of one of the first trials that was run just as much in the pages of New York's yellow journals as in a courtroom. In fact, if not for the New York Journal and World, the case most likely never would have even identified a suspect to put on trial. I resisted buying this book for quite awhile because of the tagline on the front saying that the crime "sparked the tabloid wars". Of course there were no sensational New York tabloids for more than twenty years after the trial, and that line gave me pause as to the quality of research that went into the book. When I finally succumbed I was treated to a great read that was very well researched. I imagine some marketer insisted on that idiotic line, and I shouldn't have damned the author for what I now see as well-meaning but factually incorrect marketing fluff.
Oh, one other thing -- notice the behatted dog in the bottom cartoon? This is an early appearance of another Tad mainstray (sorry!), Silk Hat Harry, who would be in the Tad spotlight during much of the teens.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Friday, August 21 1908 -- The local Republican political convention is over, and now it's time for the Dems to have their go. The drama isn't cranked up quite as much, so Herriman mostly just doodles faces, but he does comment on the divide between the Dems who represent well-to-do precincts (the silk stocking league) and the more impoverished sections (the scullion league). Loving the guest appearance by Teddy, who would indeed have enjoyed adding the term 'scullion' to his political lexicon.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 12, 2014
Sci-Friday starring Connie
Labels: Connie Sci-Friday
(the Native sounds almost like Little Beaver "Yes, Red Ryder, I fix 'em quick!)
Cool apparatus in the lab.
My father was an electrical engineer and loved to see all of the scientific stuff in Monster movies....bubbling and sparking... me too!
Joakim Gunnarsson last year on his blog posted the version of a portion of this Connie storyline that appeared in Famous Funnies #93. Nice chance to see how comic books adapted strips during the era when that was their bread and butter.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Harry Hershfield
Harry Hershfield was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on October 13, 1885, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In Comics and Their Creators: Life Stories of American Cartoonists (1942), Martin Sheridan wrote:
Hershfield was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but soon moved to Chicago, where he attended school. A few months’ study at the Chicago School of Illustration provided him with all the art training he ever had.Coulton Waugh, in his book, The Comics, said Hershfield worked at the Chicago News before he was 15 years old. The World Encyclopedia of Comics’ profile of Hershfield, by Bill Blackbeard, said: “…[Hershfield did] newspaper sports and feature-story comic art first on the Chicago Daily News in 1899 at the age of 14.”
According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Hershfield’s family was in Chicago, Illinois. He was the fourth child of Mikel and Annie, both Russian emigrants, and his birth was recorded as “Oct 1885”. The household included eight children and was located at 293 West 12 Street.
The Chicago School of Illustration was operated by Frank Holme. Hershfield’s teacher may have been Holme, Joe Carll or John T. McCutcheon.
The New York Times, December 16, 1974, said:
…After completing high school, he went to work for The Chicago Daily News for $2.50 a week to draw pictures of news events.
In 1902, when he graduated to being a cartoonist, he presided at a farewell banquet for another newspaper artist. From that point on he had a steadily growing diet of chicken and a widening audience to go with his developing repertory of jokes.Regarding Hershfield’s employment at the Chicago Daily News, Sheridan said:
…[he] progressed from copy boy to cameraman, reporter, and finally sports cartoonist. During that time the comic artist began to experiment with a strip called Homeless Hector, telling of the difficulties of a lost dog.American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Homeless Hector ran from January 4, 1906 to October 20, 1908. The strip returned and was syndicated by National News Association from July 22 to December 3, 1912.
Waugh provided some details about Hershfield’s work and employer.
In 1902 the belltower in the Piazza San Marco in Venice collapsed. For a cover story featuring other imperiled structures, young Hershfield retouched what he took to be an off-angle photograph of a tower. The first edition of the morning paper showed the Tower of Pisa miraculously straightened. As Hershfield recalls, “I was given two weeks to complete my education.” He also made line drawings from photographs and covered breaking stories with on-the-spot sketches, including the famous Iroquois Hotel fire in 1903. At the time, most staff artists did both cartoons and illustrations and their efforts were considered “fillers.”According to American Newspaper Comics, Hershfield’s Chicago Daily News strips include: War’s Ebb and Flow from January 3 to February 14, 1906; Bill Slowguy from February 8, 1906 to October 19, 1908; Adventures of a Fly from November 4 to December 3, 1907; Christopher’s Luck from October 16 to December 23, 1907; Tiny Tinkles from January 7 to 16, and February 11 to 20, 1908; The Luck of Christopher from February 18 to June 2, 1908; and The Fortune Teller from April 15 to September 16, 1908. In 1905 Hershfield also filled in for some of C.F. Batchelder’s panel cartoons.
Luck began to shoot at him [Ripley] as soon as he got to the Bulletin office. He lost his job. That was the lucky part of it—because he immediately got a better job across the street with The Chronicle. Harry Hershfield was the star cartoonist of that paper and was busy illustrating a series [probably The Piker’s Rubaiyat] for W.O. McGeehan. Mr. Hershfield preferred to do sporting pictures and persuaded Harry B. Smith, the sports editor, to put the newcomer on trial doing McGeehan’s stuff.
“The boy’s good,” said the wily Hershfield, enthusiastically. “It’s only fair you give him a chance.”About Hershfield’s Journal editor, Arthur Brisbane, Waugh wrote:
Hershfield once asked Brisbane if he considered a cartoonist a newspaperman. “Would you call a barnacle a ship?” was the reply. Brisbane, however, aware of cartoonists’ ability to attract readers, once cut off their signatures in order to reduce their personal following and thereby their salary demands. Hershfield took the issue directly to Hearst, who not only restored the signatures but ordered bylines as well. This credit has become standard practice since.Hershfield has not been found in the 1910 census. When Desperate Desmond ended in October 1912, it was followed by Dauntless Durham of the USA, running from January 22, 1913 to January 31, 1914. Hershfield’s next, and best known strip, Abie the Agent, began February 2, 1914 and ended in 1940. Waugh wrote:
Abie Kabibble was a middle-class businessman and paterfamilias, a role with which more and more Americans could identify. Although minorities had been fair game for satire in the past, a cast of Jewish characters using dialect was a touchy endeavor. That Hershfield was able to make their qualities and traits universal is a tribute to his skill, gentle wit, and humanity.
The couple was in the 1915 New York State Census; residing at 109 West 45th Street in Manhattan, where Hershfield was a cartoonist.
The New York Dramatic Mirror, May 27, 1919, published a story on how Hershfield entered vaudeville.
Harry Hershfield has escaped being a ham. Mr. Armour and Mr. Swift, there is just so much less pork for you to sell. Why? Read on. Harry is known by his cartoons, accompanied by the nom-de-plume Abie, the Agent, throughout Manhattan and the provincial press. He has attempted and succeeded as a monologist.
It was at the 305th Infantry benefit held at the Hudson Theater. In the language of the Drama League he nearly busted everybody’s sides. It was rumored that one old maid, going through such contortions, cracked her glass leg to such fine atoms that sliding feet caused a whisper to circulate that Mr. Hoover be sent for at once because some one had hoarded so much sugar in her stocking that it had burst. Strange to say, Harry, up to the last second’s shaving before he was introduced by Louis Mann, had planned a revival service. No, don’t call for the hook. Nothing so dreary as hitting the sawdust trail. Drawing one or two of Abie the Agent’s carryings-on, was the blue print he had handed to Tom Oliphant of The Evening Mail, who carpentered the benefit together—and a job of mortising he did, too. But genius zigzags like lightning. Hastily he scribbled twenty of his own jokes on a slip of paper and stepped forth before a Sunday evening audience. He crossed out each joke with a lead pencil, padding the intermissions with impromptu lines. The real joke was that the audience thought it was rehearsal routine. The next morning Park Row was what Broadway is on the day after a footlight explosion—and such things do not happen to “hams.”The 1920 census said Hershfield was at the same address found on his draft card and did newspaper work.
Hershfield’s residence, in the 1930 census, was in Manhattan at 251-257 West 104th Street. When Hershfield left the Hearst organization because of a contract dispute, he created Meyer the Buyer which appeared in the Evening Graphic from February 15 to May 9, 1932. About two years later, his strip According to Hoyle ran in the New York Herald-Tribune.
The New York Times, February 16, 1934, reported Hershfield’s bankruptcy filing with liabilities of $16,289.
On April 27, 1942 Hershfield signed his World War II draft card which had the same address in the 1940 census. He had an office at the Daily Mirror newspaper. He stood five feet seven-and-a-half inches and weighed 152 pounds. He had blue eyes and gray hair.
On July 2, 1945, Hershfield read the daily newspaper comic strips by invitation of Mayor La Guardia during the newspaper delivery man strike.
Hershfield passed away December 15, 1974, in New York City. The New York Times reported his passing the following day. Blackbeard’s overview of Hershfield’s non-comics career said:
…Hershfield quickly developed a marked reputation as a humorous writer and raconteur quite apart from his repute as a strip artist. For a number of years in the late 1910’s, Hershfield wrote weekly short comic pieces presumably narrated by Abie, under such titles as “Abie on Conversation,” “Abie on Summer Snapshots,” etc., which ran on the editorial and feature pages of newspapers, many of which did not carry the Abie strip at all. In 1932, he became a columnist (“My Week”) for the N.Y. Daily Mirror, and, later in the 1930's, began to broadcast theatrical criticism, scripted for Hollywood studios, and joined the radio cast of Can You Top This? a 1940’s show tailored for comic raconteurs. His ethnic dialect stories, largely about Irish, Jewish, and German types, were marked by wit and good taste. A toastmaster who was always in great demand, Hershfield has also authored such books as Laugh Louder, Live Longer (Grayson, 1959): a title which seems to have been happily prophetic in his case....
* * * * * * * * * * *
In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture
Rutgers University Press, 2006
* The Piker’s Rubaiyat was written by William F. Kirk, of the Milwaukee Sentinel,in 1904. His profile and The PIker’s Rubaiyat were published in the National Magazine, July 1904. William O’Connell McGeehan was inspired by Kirk’s piece and wrote his version for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Obscurity of the Day: Meyer the Buyer
Whether that is a reflection of the somewhat flagging sales of the Abie strip I don't know, but the concept of a Jewish character headlining a comic strip definitely seemed to hold a lot of interest to other newspaper publishers. I'm guessing that had to do with the large Jewish population in New York, and Hershfield's name recognition.
As soon as Hershfield walked away from Hearst, he accepted a berth doing a very similar strip, Meyer the Buyer, for a concern called Ace Feature Syndicate. According to Hershfield in Martin Sheridan's Comics and their Creators, "during that time I had an offer to draw for the now defunct MacFadden publication, New York Graphic. It was a fabulous salary that I refused. As they didn't intend to pay it, they could afford to be extravagant."
The problem with that statement is that it appears as if Ace Feature Service was just a covert name for MacFadden, as the only paper I've found that ran Meyer the Buyer was, in fact, the New York Evening Graphic.
Although Hershfield is a little foggy on who he worked for, it certainly seems he may remember correctly about MacFadden's inability to pay. Meyer the Buyer first appeared in the Evening Graphic on February 15 1932, and ended less than three months later, on May 9. Was the short run of the feature a result of MacFadden not coming through with a promised salary?
Meyer the Buyer was very similar to Abie the Agent, except that where Abie was a car salesman, Meyer worked as a buyer -- what we call these days a purchasing agent. The two characters looked very similar, except that Meyer's moustache is a black smudge rather than a series of vertical lines. Both spoke in a stereotypical Jewish dialect sprinkled with Yiddishisms. Although the strip had no time to catch on in the Graphic, evidently Hershfield wasn't done with the character when he left, as a short-lived radio show about the character began in August.
After Hershfield's adventure with MacFadden, he took some time off from the comic strip life and pursued other entertainment avenues -- not hard for Hershfield, as he was a multi-talented performer. In 1934 he came back to strips with According to Hoyle in the New York Herald-Tribune. His reappearance in newspapers seems to have rekindled the relationship with Hearst, and it wasn't long before Abie the Agent was resurrected for a final five year run.
Thanks for posting the MEYER THE BUYER strip, first one I've ever seen! Was the strip Sunday only? Just curious,
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Magazine Cover Comics: Barbara's Bad Man
Hearst's International Feature Service offered up Barbara's Bad Man, which ran from November 23 1930 to February 22 1931 on newspaper Sunday magazine covers. Between the glorious art of John Held, Jr. and the finely spun verses of Berton Braley, it was one of the more entertaining magazine cover series, in my opinion. Of course the storyline was the typical goofy love story, but so well done that you can forgive the creaky, but seemingly required, magazine cover series plot.
Labels: Magazine Cover Comics
The three syndicates that handled it, Philadelphia Press, McClure, and the Ledger Syndicate are all long gone, and the trade mark (which was given to me) expired years ago.
Monday, September 08, 2014
Obscurity of the Day: What is the Reason
Just in case you thought Jimmy Hatlo was covering new ground in They'll Do It Every Time, this is a very early precursor to the theme -- poor innocent nebbishes beset by the trials and tribulations of a harsh, unfeeling, and arbitrary world. Pity them!
There is a typo in my book American Newspaper Comics, saying that this strip ran from March 30 to June 1 1901. Evrything's right there except the year, which should be 1902. Holtz's flying fingers rewriting history ...
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!
The post 1900 papers I've looked at online are black and white (or not microfilmed in color?).
The first newspaper color comics were in 1893. The online newspapers you're viewing are taken from black and white microfilm.
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Wednesday, August 19 1908 -- Now that the Lincoln-Roosevelt League faction of the Republicans has been squashed, the real business of the convention -- glad-handing and deal-making can proceed. While the Examiner's writers tell all the gory details, today Herriman contents himself with character sketches.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 05, 2014
Sci-Friday starring Connie
Labels: Connie Sci-Friday
Thursday, September 04, 2014
From the Sub-Basement of the Archives: Achtung, Mickey
Labels: Archives Sub-Basement
The Soviets and U.S. were both at war with Germany.
Lend Lease was happening: The first units equipped with Valentines and Matildas (tanks) went into service in the Staraya Russa and Valdai areas in December 1941 and January 1942.
the Strip is from Oct 1942
Operation Barbarosa started 22 June 1941 - later headline noted: Russian Army Repels Hitler's Forces: August 1942-January 1943
(all from the internet) This comic was in the midst of the WWII Eastern Front.
German view? : That's funny, we sink their transports and they will need giant octopi and mermaids to get the tanks and sailors out of the ocean and back on land to the USSR. And as in: telling them you're living in cartoon land U.S.
I like the note about 'taken freely' from Disney.....the German awareness of the strength of the Disney brand, giving them a bow.
a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
Sounds a lot like Disney's business strategy to me
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Smarty
I can't tell you a whole lot about J.P. Collins. He first comes onto my radar when he had a weekly strip running in the New York Evening Telegram in 1906-07, then again for a short period in 1909 with the same strip in the same paper. There was no way this gig was paying his rent, so maybe he did other work at the paper as well.
Then he got a more full-time gig with World Color Printing, where the rest of his known work was done in the period 1909-11. His longest running feature there was Mr. Smarty, an eminently forgettable strip about a kid who gets in trouble by outsmarting himself. Why Collins called the kid 'Mister' is anyone's guess.
In Mr. Smarty (once our sides stop hurting from laughing at the gags), we can see that while Collins wasn't a great cartoonist, he did have some slight facility for aping other styles. The top sample here, for instance, is definitely derivative of William Marriner.
If and when we ever get into the question of 'Sterling' on this blog (the mystery person(s) who signed World Color strips on occasion), we need to remember J.P. Collins, as I think we may find him to be, as the cops say, 'a person of interest.'
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!
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
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