Friday, January 20, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Percy Crosby (probably)


Although unsigned, this 1912 postcard sure looks like early Percy Crosby work to me. It was put out by T.P Company and says 'Series 846' on the back.

There really was an Ozark Iron Works, though I doubt that this was made as an advertising card for the company. Odd though that Crosby would have given a specific company name, rather than just "Iron Works."

Howzabout that lettering, by the way? Talk about your lack of effort!

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A quick Google reveals that's an old comedy song title. It's about a cowboy's dog who follows him into town, and the brawl that results when some guys kick the dog around.

The drunk just kicked an ornamental iron dog; for him the song title is is practical advice.

Ornamental iron dogs were evidently A Thing once. There was a wartime Looney Tune about a dopey hound who fell in love with an inanimate iron dog, chasing it into an armaments factory where it becomes a bomb -- with an explosive kiss ("What a gal!").
 
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: W. Clyde Spencer





Walter Clyde Spencer was born in Peoria, Illinois, in December 1873. His birthplace was noted in the American Art Annual Volume 12 (1915) and American Art News, August 14, 1915. The birth date is from the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

In the 1880 census, Spencer was the oldest of three children born to William, a fire insurance agent, and Zerilda. Their home was in Bushnell, Illinois. The Denver Post (Colorado), July 16, 1915, said Spencer’s father owned a weekly newspaper. Later, the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Spencer furthered his education. The Omaha World-Herald, March 14, 1897, noted Spencer’s talent, “W. Clyde Spencer, a local sketch artist of some repute, has entered the Academy of Arts, New York, for a course of instruction.”

The Omaha Daily Bee, May 31, 1897, published an extended assessment of Spencer’s artistic growth. 

An Omaha boy who has started on the road to fame in New York City is W. Clyde Spencer, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Spencer, who reside at 1813 Cass street in this city. The young man attended the Omaha schools until he reached the second grade in the High school. His taste seemed to run to sketching, and after working a year or so in a local retail establishment he started for New York in March of this year. He applied for admission to the National Academy of Design, one of the foremost institutes in the country, and was admitted after a test of modeling. After sixty days’ instruction at this school he entered the newspaper field, and a series of sketches from his pen was accepted by the New York Journal and appeared in the issue of May 15. Mr. Spencer’s only instruction in drawing while in Omaha was that received in the public schools and his success in the metropolis of this country is regarded as most flattering by his friends in this city. The young man is scarcely 21 years of age and his efforts up to this time have been entirely unaided.
The Denver Post said Spencer’s first job was on Hearst’s New York American. The World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) , July 17, 1915, said Spencer, in 1897, worked on the staff of the World-Herald as a cartoonist, and later employed in a local engraving company. In 1899, Spencer illustrated Waldo Pondray Warren’s Higher Christmas.

The 1900 census recorded the Spencer family in Omaha at 122 South 25th Street. Cartoonist Spencer was the oldest of four siblings. The Denver Post said Spencer moved to Denver in 1900 and found a job on the newspaper the Denver Republican. After eight years, Spencer moved to the Denver Post. He was a charter member of the Denver Press club and a member of the club’s first board of directors. The 1967 Denver Westerners Brand Book said “Edward Keating, then managing editor of the Denver Times, was named president of the newly reorganized Denver Press Club. ‘Col.’ Raymond Austin Eaton of the Post was elected vice president; Harry J. Robinson of the Rocky Mountain News, secretary; and W. Clyde Spencer, Republican cartoonist, treasurer.”


Denver city directories listed Spencer at several addresses: 1650 Tremont (1902); 318 14th (1903 and 1904); 1844 Sherman Avenue (1905); and 315 14th (1907 and 1908). 


In 1904, Spencer was one of the contributors to Representative Men of the West in Caricature.





The Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colorado), February 21, 1904, reported Spencer’s marriage, “W. Clyde Spencer, who is well known to Denver people as a cartoonist, surprised his friends yesterday by becoming a benedict, at noon, when he married Miss Beatrice McGuire of Omaha….” 

A few years later, Spencer went to the Kansas City Post. In the 1910 census, newspaper cartoonist Spencer and Beatrice were Kansas City, Missouri residents at 1120 Paseo. Spencer contributed to Uncle Remus’s Home Magazine, August 1910.


Around 1911, Spencer accepted an offer from a New York newspaper. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Spencer produced two strips for the New York Evening TelegramA Trip to Mars and There’s a Difference, both in 1911.

The Denver Post said Spencer did not like New York City and returned to the Denver Republican until it ceased publication in 1913. In 1912, Spencer lived at 1301 Ogden, and in 1913 at 1221 Sherman.


Spencer returned to New York City where he created the 1914 strips Safety First! for Press Publishing and What Would You Do If You Walked in Your Sleep for the New York Herald. Spencer also worked as an illustrator and actor for the film company Gaumont.

The 1915 New York state census listed Spencer and his wife in New York City at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue. Six weeks later, Spencer passed away July 15 at his home in New York City. His death was reported in the Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News on July 16. Both papers said word of Spencer’s death came in a telegram from Francis Gallup, a former Denver artist residing in New York City, in the evening of July 15. Some newspapers, magazines and books said Spencer died on the 17th.



—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: A Trip to Mars


W. Clyde Spencer did not have a particularly memorable career as a newspaper cartoonist. He managed to place a total of four comic strip series in the 1910s: one to the New York Herald, one to the New York World, and a pair to the New York Evening Telegram. It's one of these Telegram strips that should at least earn him a footnote in comic strip history, for it is one of the earliest science fiction strips.

Now when I say sci-fi, we aren't talking at the level of Asimov, or even Buck Rogers, or even My Favorite Martian. No, Spencer's strip, grandly titled A Trip to Mars, is actually pretty down to Earth in its aspirations. A young couple decide to take a trip to Mars, and they find that it is a very weird world ... but mostly in that the subway runs on time, bosses treat their employees with kindness, and (see above) politicians actually come through on their promises.

Spencer's nod to real otherworldliness is that the Martians have tentacles instead of arms, and all the surroundings are drawn as dotted outlines. I'm not sure what the dot conceit is meant to signify -- is everything transparent? Shrug.

A Trip to Mars ran sporadically in  the Telegram from January 14 to April 19 1911.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Nelson Harding




Nelson Harding was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 31, 1878, according to his Social Security application. Nelson and his family have not yet been found in the 1880 and 1900 U.S. Federal Censuses. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, January 2, 1945, Harding “received his early education at Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, Conn.”

Harding served in the Spanish-American War. He enlisted in the National Guard May 2, 1898 and was a private in the 71st Infantry Regiment, Company B.

The 1905 New York state census recorded Harding, his parents Charles and Flora, and younger sister Flora, in Manhattan, New York City at 180 West 74th Street. Harding’s occupation was artist and his father’s lithographer.

Harding was profiled in the Eagle, August 30, 1925, which said: 

Mr. Harding was a pupil at the Art Students League and the Chase School, and at the latter was instructed by Robert Henri, a master of his art and the tutor of a number of men and women who have achieved fame in their profession.

Before attaching himself to The Eagle, Harding worked as a lithographer, meanwhile selling his drawings wherever a market could be found. In his free lancing days he became well known for the quality of his work, and found his offerings in good demand.

…He served with Company B of the old Seventy-first Regiment in Cuba…
According to the Eagle, Harding joined the Eagle in 1908.

The 1910 census recorded the Harding family in Manhattan at 646 West End Avenue. Harding was an artist, his father a painter, and both worked in a studio. Who’s Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners (1999) said Harding married portrait artist Anna Seamon in 1911.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Harding produced a weekly comic strip under various titles: Dream of the Raw Recruit, Dreams Go by Contraries, It’s Always the Way and Not in a Thousand Years. They ran from May 8, 1910 to April 22, 1911. Ruthless Rhymes for Martial Militants was a panel that debuted March 26, 1913 and ended July 8, 1914. The panels were reprinted in a number of publications such as The American Review of Reviews, Cartoons Magazine and Current Opinion. In 1914, the Eagle published the panels in a book, Ruthless Rhymes of Martial Militants. Harding’s Looking Backward—Famous Men in Their Younger Days had a short run from April 5 to May 1913.

Harding signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918, and was an instructor of troops. His home was in Brooklyn, New York at 290 Brooklyn Avenue. The description of the cartoonist was medium height and build with blue-gray eyes and gray-black hair.




In the 1920 census, Harding continued living in Brooklyn but at a different address, 1152 Pacific Street. He had two daughters, Jean, age 7, and Margaret, age 4.

The Eagle, January 26, 1921, reported the guest speakers, including Harding, at the Municipal Club of Brooklyn.

Nelson Harding spoke in the humorist’s vein on “The Cartoonist’s Day” The cartoonist begins his day, according to Harding, by going through his mail for possible offers of better salaries from other papers. Then he looks around for his pipe or cigars. He continues it by calling up his home to find if the plumber has repaired the water pipes and then going through any other mail that might have arrived for possible offers of better jobs from other papers. Then he has his suit pressed and goes out to lunch. And in the afternoon he leaves the office to attend to errands for his wife, first glancing through the afternoon mail for possible offers of better positions by other papers. Finally, Mr. Harding made a “pathetic appeal,” since the hungry of Europe had been so repeatedly helped, to raise a fund for the relief of the thirsty of America.
Harding also produced text pieces for the Eagle such as Hylanwatha.

At some point, Harding moved to Yonkers, New York. A 1924 Yonkers city directory listed Harding, a journalist, at 103 Merriam Avenue. The 1925 New York state census had the address as 107 Merriam Avenue.




Harding’s editorial cartoon “Toppling the Idol”, published September 19, 1926 in the Eagle, won the Pulitzer Prize for best cartoon. The award was reported in the Eagle on May 3, 1927. Harding wrote about winning the award on May 8.


Harding was the first cartoonist to win the Pulitzer Prize for best cartoon two years in a row. His achievement was covered in the Eagle on May 8, 1928.

The Brooklyn Standard Union, January 21, 1929, published an advertisement announcing Harding joining the staff of the New York Journal.


The 1930 census said Harding was in Brooklyn at 40 Verandah Place. Two newspaper printers also roomed there. Harding has not yet been found in the 1940 census.

Harding passed away December 30, 1944, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in the Bronx, New York. His death was reported in the Eagle on January 2, 1945. Harding was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.



—Alex Jay

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Monday, January 16, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Looking Backward - Famous Men in their Younger Days



Nelson Harding was the editorial cartoonist of the venerable Brooklyn Eagle from 1908 to 1929, and while there did the amazing feat of winning back-to-back Pulitzers in 1927 and 1928. The reward for this feat came in the form of an invitiation by Hearst to join his organization.  Harding accepted the offer, and was promptly swallowed up so thoroughly in Hearst's vast organization that his cartoons were lost in the shuffle from then on. At the Brooklyn Eagle, where he had been the venerated grand old man, his name became mud for jumping ship.

I've never been a fan of Harding's editorial cartoons. The art is fine but he had a habit of covering everything in a ticker-tape parade of unnecessary labels. Of his two Pulitzer winning cartoons, one is a ho-hum anti-war message, the other a weakly drawn huzzah to Lindbergh. I doubt that it would take me more than ten minutes of clicking around newspapers.com to find better editorial cartoons from those years. But that's typical for the Pulitzer prizes for cartooning, which employ some utterly mysterious and bizarre methods for evaluating cartoons.

Anyway, we're getting far afield. Although Harding's editorial cartoons leave me cold, he was a surprisingly humorous fellow when he felt the muse beckon in that direction. Today's obscurity, however, does not shine a great light on that aspect -- not Harding's fault but rather that the gulf of time has extinguished whatever humor might have been there. Looking Backward -- Famous Men in Their Younger Days  is a very short series that ran on Saturdays in the Eagle from April 5 to April 26 (a grand total of four episodes). In each episode a leading light in New York politics is satirized based on jobs they held in their younger days. The strips may have been knee-slappers then, but you'd have to be a historian of New York politics to get any humor from them now.

Just to beat a dead horse (is anyone still reading? hello?) the four installments covered, in order, New York City mayor William Gaynor, Brooklyn borough president Alfred E. Steers, NewYork City controller William A. Prendergast and Timothy L. Woodruff, one-time lieutenant governor of New York state.

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Well maybe it isn't that hilarious, but the strip about Prendergast is doing a parody of a song from Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore", which was considered a comic opera in it's day.
 
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


December 29 1908 -- Jeffries, thou dost protest too much. It'll take over a year, but finally the combined forces of racism and dollar signs will talk you into boxing Jack Johnson. The real question is why anyone thought you could win, six years after your last fight and hopelessly over-matched by a boxer in peak condition.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from R. F. Outcault


Yes, we're running a lot of Outcault cards here on postcard Fridays. Well, what can I say except that he produced them by the score, and they are awfully darn delightful. This one, a Valentine's card put out by Raphael Tuck in 1903, is particularly nice.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

 

Cugat the Cartoonist



Xavier Cugat was a famous bandleader who is probably most responsible for introducing the States to the music and dancing of Central and South America. During World War II, when the U.S. was desperately trying to curry favor with our southern neighbors, he and other "goodwill ambassadors" were especially in the public eye.

In 1943 Cugat was asked to do a series of articles about Latin music for the American Weekly newspaper Sunday magazine. Because Cugat was also an excellent cartoonist, he opted to draw his impressions of the music and dancing, covering one country per week for the magazine. The resulting pages were absolutely stunning, and though this may be ever so slightly off-top for Stripper's Guide, I had to show off a few.

Here's a neat video of Cugat actually drawing while conducting his orchestra:


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Two notes for boomer-era readers:

-- On "I Love Lucy", Cugat was periodically mentioned as "Ricky Ricardo's" more famous rival.

-- At 66 he married Charo, who later asserted she was under 18 at the time.
 
Thanks for linking to this great Cugat video, featuring Lina Romay at her loveliest, and the Abbe Lane clips were sensational! She was such a little sizzler, I've often wondered how Cugie could throw Abbe over for Charro, who struck me as a very obvious type. Oh well, Cugat was a very good cartoonist, must have had a King-sized ego!
 
Wasn't Cugat's theme song "Babalu," the same as Desi Arnaz?
 
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Advertising: Another 1927 Wrigley / Hearst Collaboration


Way back in 2011, we ran a three part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) here on the blog showing some wonderful Sunday comic section ads. In this series, the big Hearst comic strip characters shill for Wrigley's PK chewing gum. Most of the series has a whole strip devoted to one character, but we had one really neat jam page ("A Picnic in the Sky") that brought a bunch of characters from different strips together. As far as we knew at the time, it was the only one like that.

Now Pierre-Henry L'Enfant (of Togo!) has sent me an additional installment of the series, another great jam page. This one features the characters from Katzenjammer Kids, plus Happy Hooligan, Tillie the Toiler and Mac, Freddie the Sheik and Dumb Dora. It ran in some Hearst comic sections on April 10 1927.

Thanks Pierre-Henry! Warms my heart to know that there are old comic strip fans even in far-flung places like Togo!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bill Lignante


1949

William G “Bill” Lignante was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 1925, according to Wikipedia. The 1925 New York State Census recorded Lignante as the youngest of two children born to William and Florence. The family resided in Brooklyn at 15 Bay 17 Street.

Lignante has not yet been found in the 1930 census. Passenger lists show Lignante’s father traveling to Havana, Cuba several times. A 1933 list recorded Lignante’s address as 806 East 38 Street in Brooklyn.

The same address was in the 1940 census. Lignante’s father was a traffic manager for shipping brokers. Later that year on August 26, fifteen-year-old Lignante returned from Havana. He was a mess boy on the Honduran steamship Neptune. Lignante’s National Cartoonists Society profile said he served in the navy.

The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), July 27, 1947, noted Lignante’s marriage.
Miss Vivian Longo, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John A Longo, was married yesterday afternoon in Sts. Simon and Jude Church, to William H. [sic] Lignante, son of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Lignante of 806 E. 38th St. A reception was held at the bridegroom’s residence.
Lignante graduated from Pratt Institute in 1949. The school yearbook, Prattonia, listed his address as 156 East 21st Street in Brooklyn.

Lignante was profiled in The Rotarian, August 2003. About his art training it said:

Lignante learned to draw by copying the “Flash Gordon” and “Prince Valiant” newspaper comics. From early on, he knew he wanted to be a cartoonist, though his parents pressed him to choose a more stable adult profession.

“My mother said I was going to be starving in a garret. Where she got that from, I’ll never know,” he says.

After studying architecture, but absolutely hating it (You can’t draw pictures with rulers”), he eventually followed his childhood dream, getting the job drawing “Ozark Ike”…
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ozark Ike began with Ray Gotto on November 12, 1945. Lignante took the reins in 1954. Using Ed Strops as a pseudonym, Lignante and George Olesen produced the King Features Syndicate strip to its end on September 14, 1958. During 1958, Lignante ghosted Red Ryder. In the 1960s, Lignante drew The Phantom from October 1, 1961 to April 28, 1962. Lignante was the fourth named artist to draw Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind, which debuted November 21, 1932 with artist Raymond Flanagan. The next two artists were Jack Hamm and Ray T. Chatton. Lignante’s run was from 1963 to January 23, 1971. Lignante also drew the comic book adaptations of The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

Lignante was a member of the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.

Lignante moved to Los Angeles some time after his divorce in 1968. Here, Lignante became nationally-known for his courtroom drawings for ABC News. Some of the trials he illustrated were for Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Patty Hearst, John DeLorean, Angela Davis and Lee Marvin. Lignante’s work for ABC News ended in 1993.

Lignante is retired and lives in California.


Further Reading
The Fabulous Fifties, Let's Explore Your Mind
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999



—Alex Jay

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The current issue of Alter Ego (#144 - January, 2017) has an interview with Gold Key and King Comics editor Bill Harris. He says that Lee Falk owned The Phantom and had final say as to who did the comic books.
"We had one guy. His name was Bill Lignante. He came to me right after I started organizing the book, before publication, and told me he was Lee Falk's pick to do the comic book...I found out later that Lee Falk had indeed sent him over. So we used him. He was the only artist we used for the book at both Western and King Features."
The first comic book was dated November 1962. Could it be that after Sy Barry replaced Lignante on the Sunday strips, Falk fed him Lignante the comic book assignment as consolation?
D.D.Degg
 
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Monday, January 09, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ray T. Chatton


Raymond Thomas Chatton was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 9, 1920, according to the Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index at Ancestry.com. His parers were Kenneth Thomas “Chattin” and Agnes Podalsky. It’s unclear if the spelling of “Chattin”, with an “I“, was a misspelling or a transcription error.

Details of Chatton’s early life, education and art training have not been found.

Chatton’s mother, under her maiden name, was counted in her sister’s household in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census which was enumerated on January 15 and 16. Agnes had five siblings at time. Chatton and his father have not been found in the census.

In the 1930 census, Chatton and his parents are missing.

According to the 1940 census, Chatton and his widow mother, Agnes Levey, were Chicago residents living at 2119 West Ogden Avenue. Chatton was employed in the printing industry and his mother was an inspector for an electrical company. Chatton’s highest level of education was the eighth grade. Chatton’s art training may have been at one of the Chicago art schools.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Chatton was a magazine illustrator in 1948 and 1949. Chatton’s earliest comic book work was in Buck Rogers from 1951. 





Courtesy of Heritage Auctions


Chatton illustrated several children’s books in 1954: Dee Dee, the Calico Cat; Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket Magic Slate; Mickey Mouse Club Drawing Magic; Jimmy Dodd Magic Slate—Draw the Stars of the Mickey Mouse Club Show in All Different Costumes; and Mickey Mouse Club Drawing Magic.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Chatton drew Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind from October 15, 1951 to October 29, 1955. Chatton was the third of four named artists on the series. He followed Raymond Flanagan and Jack Hamm, and preceded Bill Ligante.

Chain Store Age, November 1966, reported Chatton’s changed of jobs.

Open Pantry Food Marts, Inc.: Raymond Chatton has been made national advertising director of the bantam supermarket chain. Chatton had been art director for C.C. Carlson & Co., printing, publishing and direct mail specialists.
Paperbound Books in Print (1991) had this listing:
God’s Mother Is My Mother. Jack Mulqueen & Ray Chatton. Illus. by Ray Chatton. 28p. (Orig), 1978. 2.50 ( ISBN 0-913382-49-3, 103-13). Prow Bks Franciscan.
Chatton drew the Soldier of God (1982) comic book.

Chatton passed away April 30, 2006, according to the Social Security Death Index, which said his last residence was in Plainfield, Illinois. Chatton was laid to rest at Clarendon Hills Cemetery


—Alex Jay

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


December 28 1908 -- New heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, first ever black man to hold the tile, along with black heavyweight contender Sam Langford, now have a world of fighter who all of a sudden seem anxious to break the color barrier and fight them. California heavyweight Jim Barry has already fought Langford several times (and will go into the ring with him many more times), but will never meet Johnson. Al Kaufman, on the other hand, will get a shot at Johnson in 1909.

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Friday, January 06, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman


I don't really get the gag here -- I guess the dapper fellow tripped on that giant basket somehow?!?!? -- but I'd bet a bushel of $100 bills that this unsigned postcard is from the usually very fun mind of Walter Wellman. The divided-back says Series #218, but lists no maker.

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The caption is a familiar warning against excess modesty.

I'm guessing the man is drunk, and almost hiding his "light" -- a nose with some lines indicating radiance -- under a bushel basket. The artist's problem is that the basket has to defy gravity a bit so we can see his nose.
 
AH! I did not notice the illuminated nose. Still not much of a gag, but at least it makes some sense to me now. Thanks!
 
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Thursday, January 05, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jack Hamm




Jack Beaumont Hamm was born in Elkhart, Kansas, on March 5, 1916, according to Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, 1971–1972 and his Social Security application at Ancestry.com. His parents were Ted Beaumont Hamm and Hazel Trotter.

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census said Hamm was the oldest of two children whose father was a clothing store merchant. The family of four resided in Taloga, Kansas, on either Orchard or Stillman Street.

The Hamm family added another child in the 1930 census. They were Wichita, Kansas residents at 2109 East Kellogg.

Who’s Who said Hamm was a member of the Wichita Art Association in 1932 and attended the Moody Bible Institute in 1935. Hamm attended the Frederic Mizen Academy of Art, in Chicago, from 1936 to 1937. Hamm was listed as a student in the 1938 Wichita city directory. His address was 132 South Minneapolis Avenue.

The same address was recorded in the 1940 census. Hamm continued to live with his parents and siblings. Hamm was a commercial artist at an engraving company. The census also said he completed four years of high school.

According to Who’s Who, Hamm illustrated Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind from 1940 to 1944. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the series began November 21, 1932, with art by Raymond Flanagan, who was followed by Hamm. The next two named artists were Ray T. Chatton and Bill Lignante. Who’s Who said Hamm was a cartoonist with the Newspaper Enterprise Association from 1942 to 1944. Profiles at Christian Comics International, Grace Bible Fellowship and WacoTrib.com said Hamm also assisted on the strips Alley Oop, Boots and Her Buddies and Bugs Bunny. In addition, the Dallas Morning News (Texas), August 14, 1949, said Hamm worked on Story of the Stars, Red Ryder, Major Hoople and Out Our Way.

Who’s Who said Hamm married Dorisnei Alexander on May 12, 1943. The Alabama marriage index, at Ancestry.com, recorded the marriage of a “Jack B Hamm” on August 29, 1943. According to Hamm’s World War II enlistment record, he was an Alabama resident who enlisted in Dallas, Texas, November 3, 1944. The Morning News said Hamm was an army cartoonist in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

In 1946 Hamm completed his military service and became an instructor at Baylor University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1948. The Morning News, July 18, 1948, reported the the new faulty staff.

Jack Beaumont Hamm, native of Wichita, Kan., studied with Frederick Mizen, Art Academy, Chicago. He worked for the National News Service Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association at Cleveland, Ohio, as a cartoonist. For some time he has done the drawings for the Wiggins [sic] cartoons, “Let’s Explore Your Mind.” He does a regular Sunday feature strip for the Waco News-Tribune.
According to the Morning News, August 14, 1949, Baylor joined the staff of television station KBTV. The December 4, 1949 Morning News said:
The Jack Hamm Show, a 30-minute weekly production over KBTV, is slanted toward the adult audience. On this program Jack Hamm, nationally known cartoonist, has created a loyal following with his personality caricatures, musical illustrations and “Name the Face” contest. 
…A favorite trick of Cartoonist Hamm is to illustrated a classical or popular song hit while the music is playing in the background. He delights his audience by always completing his drawing at exactly the same instant the music ends….
A profile of Hamm, in the Omaha World-Herald Magazine, July 6, 1952, was about his weekly religious cartoons.
“…He draws religious cartoons which he sends free to 331 newspapers in 42 states and several foreign countries….he draws the truths of the Bible as related to modern events. He puts a scripture quotation on every cartoon.”
Hamm’s wife handled the mailing of the cartoons on Saturday. His freelance work paid for the printing, postage and related costs.

Who’s Who said Hamm had four children.

Hamm authored several books including Cartoons That Live, 1954; Kompass, 1955; The Living Scriptures, 1958; He Will Answer, 1961; Drawing the Head and Figure, 1963; Cartooning the Head and Figure, 1967; Drawing Toward God, 1968; and How to Draw Animals, 1969; and editor of Peter Marshall’s Lasting Prayers, 1969.

Hamm passed away December 22, 1996, in Dallas, according to the Social Security Death Index. Hamm was laid to rest at Gordo City Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Wichita Eagle, (Kansas), December 24, 1996.



Further Reading
The Fabulous Fifties: Let’s Explore Your Mind
Family Bible Storytelling Media: Jack Hamm



—Alex Jay

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Alex, Thank you for this wonderful bio of Jack Hamm and for referencing my FBSM blog article. Do you eventually plan to do a biographical encyclopedia or dictionary of American cartoonists?
 
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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Raymond Flanagan


Raymond Hugh Flanagan was born in South Bend, Indiana, on April 30, 1895, according to his World War II draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Flanagan was the youngest of five children born to Michael, a mail carrier, and Mary. Also in the household was Flanagan’s maternal grandmother, Catherine Commings. They all resided in Portage, Indiana at 1038 Jefferson Street.

In 1910, Flanagan and two older brothers were in the household of their widow mother. Their address was 714 Forest Avenue in South Bend, Indiana, and it would remained unchanged in the next two censuses.

In 1920, Flanagan was an illustrator with an advertising company. Almost five months after the census enumeration, Flanagan was injured in an automobile accident as reported in the Elkhart Truth (Indiana), May 3, 1920.

When a Ford roadster driven by Raymond Flanagan collided with a seven-passenger Oldsmobile occupied by A.R. Briese, Charles Eagon and Walter Williams, on the South Bend Niles road yesterday all four were painfully hurt—Flanagan the worst. All live in South Bend. Only the rear wheels of the Ford are usable. The other machine was also badly damaged.
Flanagan’s changed of jobs was reported in Printers’ Ink, September 29, 1921, and The Fourth Estate, October 1, 1921.
Raymond Flanagan, formerly at the head of the art department of the Lamport-MacDonald Company, advertising agency of South Bend, Ind., and Ralph Slick have opened an advertising art studio in South Bend.
Flanagan was counted twice in the 1930 census. In addition to being in his mother’s household in South Bend, Flanagan was an advertising artist in Chicago, Illinois. He roomed at the Harper Crest Hotel at 5345 Harper Avenue.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Flanagan was the first of four named artists to draw Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind, which debuted November 21, 1932. Flanagan left the series around 1941 and was followed by Jack Hamm, Ray T. Chatton and Bill Lignante. Flanagan’s work was reprinted in the 1950 comic book Personal Love. Additional information about Let’s Explore Your Mind is here.

The 1940 census said commercial artist Flanagan was married to Martha and resided at 1114 Belmont Avenue in South Bend.

According to Flanagan’s World War II draft card, he was self-employed and lived at 44 East Monroe in South Bend. He was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. He had gray eyes and brown hair.

Flanagan passed away October 30, 1980, in South Bend, according to his death certificate at Ancestry.com. He was laid to rest at Highland Cemetery in South Bend.



—Alex Jay

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Let's Explore Your Mind (part 2)

[Yesterday we covered Let's Explore Your Mind through its first two artists, Raymond Flanagan and Jack Hamm. ]

Jack Hamm art on Let's Explore Your Mind


When Jack Hamm took over art chores in 1940, he made the drawings for Let's Explore Your Mind a bit more overtly sexy, which turned out to be a great evolution, especially when World War II began. Our military swelled with millions of young fellows who were looking for a little sex-appeal anywhere they could find it, and they were delighted to find a little more cheesecake in their daily paper. The war years were very good to the feature, which continued to add new clients.

Jack Hamm left the feature on November 18 1944, and the art was now unsigned. However, I did manage to find a single isolated example from shortly after Hamm's departure that was signed RF -- presumably Raymond Flanagan. Although his style had loosened a bit since he left in 1940, I'm still reasonably confident that Flanagan's second stint on the daily lasted for quite awhile.

Because the feature was doing so well, Dille decided to try selling a color Sunday version of the feature that could run in comics sections. This was a bold move, because the feature was definitely aimed at adults, and running it in the traditional domain of the kiddies was definitely not a slam-dunk with its sometimes mature subject matter.



Unsigned Let's Explore Your Mind Sundays

The Sunday color version debuted on January 14 1945 in a small but respectable number of papers. Some papers ran it in the Sunday funnies, others made room in their Sunday color magazine sections. Oddly enough, despite the heavy emphasis on the art in this version, it was unsigned and would remain so (with a few notable exceptions) until 1963. There are definitely several different hands at work over those years, but my belief is that Raymond Flanagan was probably the first artist on the Sundays, perhaps giving way to others by the 1950s.

Having pretty substantial runs of the 1950s Sundays, I was able to pull a few rabbits out my hat, though. In late 1953, the regular artist must have been having deadline trouble, and I have found three Sundays that are signed:

Ray Chatton signed art on December 27 1953

Rick Yager initialed art on October 4 (pictured) and December 6 1953

I'm sure you'll agree that neither Yager or Chatton was the regular artist on the Sunday, as the above examples have widely varying art styles from the norm. Yager even created his own masthead for some reason!

I've heard it said that Yager was responsible for the art on Let's Explore Your Mind in the late 40s-early 50s, but I dispute that -- the Sundays do not look to me like his fill-ins at all. Maybe he did some work on the dailies, though. Looking at some 1950 dailies, I think I can see traces here and there, but not nearly enough to make a positive ID. And I do see examples that really don't look like his work, at least to my unpracticed eye.

Ray Chatton daily art


The problem of unsigned art was finally corrected on the daily when Ray Chatton took over as the artist on October 15 1951. He brought to the daily a heightened sense of style, drawing glamorous high-fashion beauties instead of the cheesecake of previous hands. Unfortunately, his tenure ended on October 29 1955, and the daily once again reverted to its unsigned status.

When Chatton leaves the style on the daily changes, and the art style on the Sunday seems to follow suit. This new style proved so interesting to Ger Appeldoorn that he wrote several posts about it on The Fabulous Fifties, and has made a tentative ID to a cartoonist by the name of Richard Doxsee. Since Alberto Becattini seems to go along with Ger's ID, I'd say that between those two titans of art-spotting we have a pretty good chance at a dead ringer.

In 1957 another change came to Let's Explore Your Mind when Albert Edward Wiggam passed away. Although the feature was no longer as popular as it had been in the 1930s and 40s, Dille was still doing well enough with it that he signed up a new author -- or as it turned out, authors -- to take over. On May 20 1957, the husband and wife team of Sylvanus and Evelyn Duvall took over. This was a serious academic  power-couple; Sylvanus was a professor of religion and sociology at George Williams College, while Evelyn had a PhD in human development and was the author or co-author of some twenty books. Although with such credentials one might have expected the feature to take a very serious turn, the Duvalls smartly stuck with the formula that had worked so well since 1932. Not only did the formula remain the same, but they went on recycling the same popular and provocative questions that Wiggam had already answered dozens of times over already.

Unsigned Sunday from 1960 - art by Doxsee?

Alberto Becattini cites an unsigned stint on the feature by Len Dworkins circa 1962-63, but very soon after that the feature was finally once more signed, and this time it would stick. As of  April 1 1963 on the daily, and May 26 on the Sunday, both were now be done by the able brush of Bill Lignante, journeyman cartoonist who had never been given the opportunity to sign his work on a newspaper feature before. Unfortunately by the time Lignante took over, the daily feature was bowing to the pressures to save newspaper space, and the art was now just a small vignette. This effectively killed one of the big draws for the feature, and the client list thereby suffered greatly.

Bill Lignante art on Let's Explore Your Mind

The Sunday version, which seemed to me a more likely candidate to survive, succumbed to a lack of clients sometime in 1969, and the daily, now just a shadow of its former attractive self, turned out the lights on January 23 1971.

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I remember seeing the last mini-version in the San Jose Mercury when I was a kid; this would have been mid-sixties at the latest. Don't remember it touching on sex; I'm sure it would have left a stronger impression if it had.
 
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Monday, January 02, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Let's Explore Your Mind (Part 1)

It may seem unfair to label Let's Explore Your Mind as an obscurity. After all, it ran for almost 40 years. However, I think it qualifies because in terms of comics history it has been all but ignored. And that's not without good reason.

Let's Explore Your Mind does not really qualify as a comic strip or cartoon panel by our usual standards. I generally draw the line when a panel cartoon comes with the hefty baggage of a long typeset column of prose, as this one does. The daily version of the feature should really be disqualified entirely. The Sunday version, on the other hand, is much more graphic-heavy, and may barely squeak by. However, the real reason I think that it belongs in the pantheon is purely based on the delightful quality of the cartooning. I think the only reason this feature ran for four decades is because people loved the cartoon portion, not because of the column. As proof, I offer this: Let's Explore Your Mind could be run without the graphic, which was purely eye-candy. Yet will you ever find a newspaper running the feature sans cartoon, as was sometimes done with other similar features? Heck no. Okay, I rest my flimsy case.

So with legalities out of the way, let's take a look. Let's Explore Your Mind was syndicated by John F. Dille, who loved features that were educational yet entertaining -- he even thought of Buck Rogers as a tool for teaching kids about the wonders of science. By November 21 1932, when Let's Explore Your Mind debuted, people were beginning to accept the notion that psychology wasn't utter claptrap whose only use was to save murderers from the electric chair. There was a great curiosity brewing about how the mind worked, and a desire for self-examination, and perhaps even the promise of self-improvement. The new feature was perfectly placed to offer readers some very basic ideas about psychology and sociology, related in a highly entertaining manner.

The author was Albert Edward Wiggam, a noted science popularizer, whose books were highly regarded. Unfortunately, he was also a proponent of eugenics, which rather takes the bloom off his rose. But this was before Hitler had started slaughtering people in mass numbers in the name of improving the species, and so Wiggam's major defect was not held against him as far as I know. Wiggam apparently had the intelligence to keep those racist views out of this new daily feature.

Wiggam designed the column as a provocative question-and-answer session, which was sheer genius. It made each day's episode into a little quiz. Readers would see stimulating questions posed in the graphic portion, and how could they go on with the paper until they read the answer? The questions generally required only an opinion as the answer, and people love to find out if their opinions go with or against the grain of authority. How can anyone resist finding out what an 'expert' has to say about questions like "Do church-going couples have happier marriages?", "Does higher education make a woman lose her beauty?", and "Are love a first sight relationships unlikely to last?".

If the questions themselves failed to draw you in, the cartoons by Raymond Flanagan made the feature nearly irresistible. Flanagan (or his editor and collaborator) had the brilliant idea that practically every day's cartoon would feature a beautiful woman. If there could be any reason at all, no matter how uncompelling, that beautiful girl would also be drawn in a sexy pose, perhaps even in revealing garments.  If the poor unsuspecting reader had any hope of bypassing Let's Explore Your Mind, that battle was hereby lost.


Raymond Flanagan art on Let's Explore Your Mind

The team of Wiggam and Flanagan had a minor hit on their hands, at least by the standards of the Dille syndicate. The feature did take a while to catch on, but there was a steady build to the number of subscribing papers all through the 1930s. The feature was popular enough that the six-day-per-week frequency was bumped up to seven days, with the Sunday edition just a slightly larger version of the daily.

For reasons unknown, Flanagan bailed out on the featre in 1940. Oddly, his last signed illustration is June 15, but his art seems to continue for a few additional weeks. Later that summer the new artist, Jack Hamm, comes on board, who also fails to sign his first few weeks. His first signed cartoon was on September 2. Hamm wasn't quite as good an artist as Flanagan, in my opinion, but he made up for it by amping up the cheesecake factor in his cartoons.

Jack Hamm art on Let's Explore Your Mind

[With forty years of history to cover, this is going to be our first ever two-part Obscurity of the Day -- see you here tomorrow for much more on Let's Explore Your Mind]

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

 

Herriman Saturday


December 26 1908 -- To the amazement of the world of boxing, and the world in general, Jack Johnson has just defeated Tommy Burns to become the first black world heavyweight boxing champion. Herriman notes that another superb black heavyweight fighter, Sam Langford, is waiting in the wings hoping to face Johnson.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

 

Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault


Here's another Outcault postcard from that 1905 J. Ottmann series. Hey, watch that hand, Mister, and flick that ash, too, before ya burn her hair. And someone throw a bucket of water on those dogs, for goodness sake.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Al Burtis


1924

Aleyn “Al” Henry Burtis was born in Garden City, Kansas, on March 29, 1904, according to America’s Young Men, Volume 3 (1938) and Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast (1949). His parents were Arthur Henry Burtis and Sadie Mack.

In the 1905 Kansas state census, year-old Burtis was the youngest of five children. The family of seven resided in Garden City, Kansas.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded the Burtis family twice. The family of six was in Garden City, Kansas, and Valparaiso, Center Township, Porter County, Indiana at 822 Laport Avenue. Burtis’s father was a broker.

The 1915 Kansas state census listed the Burtis family in Garden City, Kansas. Burtis’s address in the 1920 census was 412 North 7th Street, Garden City, Kansas.

A hint of Burtis’s artistic talent was noted in St. Nicholas, February 1918, which listed his name among many contributors.

Who’s Who said Burtis was a student, from 1923 to 1924, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Burtis did spot illustrations for the 1924 yearbook, The Blue Jay.











The Evening News (North Tonawanda, New York), December 3, 1924, published the names of candidates, including Burtis, for the West Point admission examination. 


Burtis earned his Bachelor of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University in 1926. While at Northwestern, Burtis did set design as reported in The Daily Northwestern (Evanston, Illinois), April 14, 1926:
Best Seats Available for Saturday Afternoon
Tickets for “Shoot to Kill” which will be presented by W.A.A., April 17 and 21, at the Evanston Country club will be on sale today at U.H. and at Chandler’s and Du Breull’s.

…Scenery for the shoe is now almost complete. Aleyn Burtis, Jack Leimoet, and Cameron Garbutt have been constructing the sets which include the interior of a summer hotel for the first act and a garden for the second. Yellow is the predominating color used to carry out the theme of bananas which runs through the plot. “Banana Split,” the last song number before the finale, will be a blaze of yellow carried out not only by scenery but by banana costumes of the choruses.
The Daily Northwestern, January 20, 1927, published the article “Shore Guild to Give ‘Henry IV’” and said, “This set has been designed and executed by Aleyn Burtis, and its historical accuracy is expected to create the proper atmosphere….”

Who’s Who said Burtis was, in 1926, a member of the advertising department of Wahl-Eversharp in Chicago.

According to the Iowa marriage records at Ancestry.com, Burtis was a Chicago resident when he married Elizabeth Alden Evenson on November 2, 1929 in Sioux City, Iowa.

The newlyweds were residents in Queens, New York, at 3432 91st Street, in the 1930 census. Burtis’s occupation was commercial artist.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Burtis produced a series of panel cartoons, from 1930 to 1932, for the Associated Press. As part of the Associated Press promotion, Burtis was caricatured and appeared on the front page of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida), March 26, 1930. When the panel ended, Burtis did the strip The Dillys which ran from June 6, 1932 to March 9, 1935. It was syndicated by the Associated Press. 


The Daily Star (Long Island City, New York), March 30, 1933, reported the birth of Burtis’s son. At the time Burtis resided at 37-28 80th Street in Jackson Heights, New York.

At some point Burtis moved Des Moines, Iowa where he held a series of jobs. The 1936 city directory listed his home at 653 41st. Burtis was in the sales department of the Iowa Broadcasting Company. In 1937 Burtis was an executive assistant at the Register & Tribune. Burtis’s address was 4010 Woodland Avenue in the 1938 and 1939 directories. He was employed as an assistant general manager at Look Inc. Who’s Who said Burtis was with Look magazine, in New York City, to 1942. 

During World War II Burtis served in the Army Air Forces. The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York), October 24, 1942, reported Burtis’s training.

First Lieutenant Aleyn H. Burtis, 396 North Columbus Avenue, has completed a six weeks’ course of military instruction and physical conditioning at the Air Forces Officer Training School at Miami Beach, Fla. His wife lives at the Mount Vernon address.
Who’s Who said Burtis was a lieutenant colonel and served from 1942 to 1946. He was assigned to the 20th Air Force in Saipan-Guam.

Burtis has not yet been found in the 1940 census. The 1943 Kansas state census listed Burtis as a resident of Topeka.

Having completed his military service in 1946, Burtis moved to La Junta, Colorado where he was owner and publisher of the Tribune-Democrat newspaper.

America’s Young Men said Burtis had two children in the 1930s: Evenson Mack and Betty Alden. According to Who’s Who, Burtis’s home, in 1949, was at 822 Carson Avenue and his office at 422 Colorado, both in La Junta.

Burtis passed away May 24, 1987, in La Junta, Colorado. The Associated Press reported his death which was published in The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), May 26, 1987.

La Junta, Colo. (AP)—Aleyn “Al” Henry Burtis, 83, the editor of La Junta Tribune-Democrat who helped pioneer offset printing in Colorado, died Sunday after suffering a heart attack. He was 83.

Burtis had been editor of the La Junta Tribune-Democrat since he purchased it in 1946. In 1962, he formed Valley Offset Inc., where the Rocky Ford Daily Gazette and the La Junta Tribune-Democrat became the first daily newspapers in Colorado to be printed on a web offset press.
Burtis was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery.


—Alex Jay

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