Wednesday, March 29, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Always Take Mother's Advice


When Art Bowen produced material for the past-its-prime McClure Syndicate Sunday comics section in late 1912 to early 1913, quite frankly he produced very little worth remembering. Here is Always Take Mother's Advice, a strip about a kid who gets in trouble in spite of trying to be good. It's a strip that takes up a half page's worth of space, and nobody can take that away from it.

The strip ran from July 21 to December 15 1912. An additional strip ran late in October 1913, but I'm assuming that was a leftover or a rerun.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Vic Donahue


Courtesy of Lambiek Comiclopedia

Victor Paul “Vic” Donahue was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 28, 1918. The birthplace is from Donahue’s brief biography at AskArt.com and the birth date is from the Social Security Death Index which also had his full name.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Donahue was the youngest of two children born to William and Fern who would be recorded as May in later censuses. Donahue’s father operated a sheet metal business. The family resided in Philadelphia at 569 Herman Street.

Maywood, Illinois was the hometown of the Donahue family in the 1930 census. They lived at 320 Lake Street where Donahue was the second of three children, whose father was an automobile mechanic. Some time later the family moved again.

According to the 1940 census, the Donahues were residents of Omaha, Nebraska. Their address was 1330 South 26 Street. In the occupation column, Donahue was a “new worker”. The Omaha World-Herald, October 5, 1969, said Donahue graduated from Technical High School in 1937. (One of his teachers was Anna Myers who became head of the art department in 1939, according to World-Herald, June 7, 1951.) Donahue, who never attended art school, had a year at the University of Omaha. He drew sports cartoons in Chicago for weeklies and joined the World-Herald in 1938. During World War II, Donahue served in the Marine Corps.

A Museum of Modern Art press release, for the exhibition of art by U.S. Marines, said the following: 

T/Sgt. Victor P. Donahue, born 1918 in Philadelphia, enlisted in the Marine Corps January 1942. He was trained for the Marines on the West Coast and qualified as a marksman with both pistol and rifle. Previously, he had been doing sketches for an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper [World-Herald], as well as some commercial art work. In his spare time, he was a drummer with a swing orchestra which toured Nebraska and neighboring States. He was originally classified as a musician in the Corps. His drawings, however, brought him to the attention of Marine authorities and he was eventually reassigned to the Division of Public Relations as a combat artist. Today he is with a combat unit in the Southwest Pacific.
The press release described two of four drawings by Donahue.
T/Sgt. Victor P. Donahue has both humorous and serious pen-and-ink drawings in the exhibition. One illustrates in graphic detail the varied activities of Embarkation: trucks drawn up to a small inlet, landing barges with their ramps down receiving men, guns and equipment. Another of Sgt. Donahue’s sketches is called Combat Reporters and shows some belligerent Marines climbing the heights of a newly established beachhead and vastly annoyed to see two combat reporters there ahead of them busily writing and sketching the arrival of the tough guys themselves, whose motto is always “First to land.”
Donahue’s art was published in the Marine Corps Chevron June 10, 1944 and February 3, 1945. The cover of Liberty, July 7, 1945, featured Donahue’s illustration of a Marine plugging his ears as a string of firecrackers explode.



11/30/1944


Donahue provided the art for a 1945 Marine Corps recruitment poster. The World-Herald, February 23, 1947, named him as one of the contributors to Semper Fidelis: The U.S. Marines in the Pacific 1942–1945.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Donahue produce material for the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Wings of Tomorrow—The Story of Aviation ran from October 28 to November 9, 1946; it was written by Charles Tracy. Trip to the Moon and Back appeared February 10 to 15, 1947. India, Background for Freedom also had a short run from August 11 to 16, 1947.

1/11/1948

The World-Herald said Donahue left the NEA in 1948 and freelanced for comic book publishers Fawcett Publications, Harvey and others. He was also a member of the Simon and Kirby Studio.

Donahue relocated to New York City where he worked as an advertising, book and magazine illustrator. Later he moved to Arlington, Vermont where he lived for six years. In 1962, Donahue moved his family moved to Tucson, Arizona. The World-Herald said Donahue said Donahue was in the process of moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado in October 1969. It is not known how long he lived there.

Tucson Daily Citizen 2/19/1972

Donahue passed away December 16, 2008, in Arizona. He was laid to rest in the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.



—Alex Jay

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Monday, March 27, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Wings of Tomorrow - The Story of Aviation





Wings of Tomorrow - The Story of Aviation is a closed-end NEA strip that really stretches the bounds of the definition of comic strip. Vast seas of type hanging at the bottom of each 'strip', and pictures that merely served to illustrate the blah-blah-blah should have led me to the conclusion that it didn't merit listing in my book. However, I was impressed enough at the quality of the illustrations that somehow I managed to make a case to myself for its inclusion. What can I say? If it offend thee, get thine magic marker and strike it out of your copy.

After the end of World War II, which saw huge strides in aircraft technology, people were asking, "So what next?" Well, here was aviaton expert Charles Tracy to tell those inquisitive folks, ably assisted on the visual end by Vic Donahue. The series ran two weeks, from October 28 to November 9 1946 (your mileage, er, newspaper, may vary as is typical with these NEA offerings). After a dull recap of aviation history that took up the first week, Tracy cut loose with the predictions. As is to be expected, he got some right, and others very wrong. He predicted burgeoning passenger air traffic, moon landings and even the automated parcel delivery that is just now starting to look feasible*. On the other hand, he envisioned an "air-car" in every garage, and he was pretty darn sure that most airplanes would soon be propelled by either rockets or atomic power. Have to hit the buzzer on those, fella.

* can anyone tell me just how the heck drones are supposed to safely leave a package at their destination? Are they going to drop it like a bomb from the sky? Or are they going to go the Yule route and drop the packages down the chimney? Or will they gingerly deposit it in the yard where some neighborhood tough will immediately recognize the opportuinity to abscond with some Amazonian treasure? You can't tell me they're going to hover at the front door, press the door bell and wait patiently for the hausfrau to appear and sign for the package.


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NEA did a lot of these topical news short-run series, many by R. J. Scott. Check out some here:

http://comicskingdom.com/blog/2015/07/16/ask-the-archivist-r-j-scott


And some from A. J. Buescher:

http://comicskingdom.com/blog/2016/11/03/ask-the-archivist-election-nearing

.


 
I forgot to say, Central Press and KFS offered some of these news topic stories too, and that's where these Scott and Buescher strips come from..
 
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


January 14 1909 -- Teacher Jessie M. Strickland has been subjected to a board of inquiry when some of her students made allegations against her. Most of the accusations have to do with her having an acid tongue, calling her students, among other things, liars, fools, blockheads and idiots. She allegedly told one that he would end up in a penitentiary, and another, who badly recited a passage about an apple tree, that he should be hung from one such tree. Herriman's take seems to be that a male teacher doing the same things would not have raised an eyebrow, so he points out to female teachers some other manly affectations they should avoid.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from the cast of "Mutt & Jeff"


One of the favorite postcards in my collection is this Kraus Manufacturing Company photo card. Although undated, we can assume it was published circa 1912. Gus Hill's production of "Mutt and Jeff", based on Bud Fisher's comic strip, debuted on Broadway in late 1911, got good reviews, and travelled extensively after its Broadway run. The reverse of the card has this very modest blurb:

The biggest success in years; houses packed to the doors and the greatest laughing show on earth, "Mutt and Jeff," written around Bud Fisher's world renowned cartoons. Direct from its successful run in New York, Chicago and Boston. Pronounced by press and public the one big novelty of the Age.

What blows me away is the amazing make-up on the actors. Usually attempts to make actors look like the characters in a comic strip ends up looking ridiculous, but these actors really do look like their comic strip counterparts. Impressive!

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Any idea who the actors here are?
 
It appears to be Sam B. Drane (1868-1916) as Mutt and Gus Alexander (1903-1966) as Jeff. Both were featured in a series of live action Mutt & Jeff films for Nestor (a Universal Studios brand) in 1911. They were among the earliest films produced by Al Christie. At least two still survive, and aside from the bizzare make-up jobs, the most remarkable thing about them was they experimented with the intertitles; insead of the usual cut to a solid frame with the narration or dialogue, then back to the story, these films had them appear on the action, like a subtitle in a foriegn language film.
 
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Sneaky Snaffles & Company



Sneaky Snaffles & Company (aka Snaffles de Sneak) is, for my money, William F. Marriner at his absolute peak of perfection. Artwise, you'll never find Marriner's stringy sinuous linework more playful and assured than this -- no wonder he inspired so many imitators. And the gags are just tremendous: in an era when 99% of all burglar strips (and there were plenty of them) maxed out their humor when the burglar got bit by the family dog, Marriner takes us all the way into Mad magazine territory, with sight gags, funny signs, and the most whacked-out moron burglar this side of Don Martin.

Sadly, Marriner lost interest in this terrific feature quite quickly. He produced it for the Philadelphia Inquirer from July 31 to October 30 1904. Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scans.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Charles A. Ogden


Charles Albert Ogden was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 1889, according to the Missouri birth records (at Ancestry.com) and his World War I and II draft cards. His parents were William F. Ogden and Helen P. Hynes. A closer examination of the birth record revealed that Ogden had a twin brother, Edgar. Both were born at 1755 Morgan Street, probably at home.


In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Ogden was the youngest of five siblings, all of whom, except Ogden, a student, were working to support the family and their widow mother, a dressmaker. Edgar was not in the census. The family address was 4242 Easton Avenue in St. Louis.


Ogden graduated from the Riddick School, June 16, 1904. Information about his art training has not been found.

St. Louis city directories for 1908 to 1910, said Ogden was an artist who resided at 3615 Lucky Street. The same address was in the 1910 census. Commercial artist Ogden, who worked for a newspaper, and second youngest brother, John, lived with their mother.

The date of Ogden’s relocation to Chicago is not known




American Newspaper Comics (2012), said Ogden produced Cartoonagrams, from December 13, 1914 to May 6, 1917, for James Keeley’s Chicago Herald.

Another Ogden production was copyrighted by the Chicago Herald in 1915. 

Ogden (Charles A.) Grandpa tells the children about Memorial day. (In Chicago herald.) [12450
© May 30, 1915; 1 c. June 7, 1915; A 385990; Herald feature syndicate, Chicago.
Chicago Commerce, May 26, 1916, reported the program of humor through music, song, verse and art that included Ogden’s Cartoonagrams.

According to Ogden’s World War I draft card, he was a Chicago Herald newspaper cartoonist, whose address was 4334 Ellis Avenue. He was described as being of medium height, slender build with gray eyes and dark brown hair.

On September 27, 1919, Ogden married Lola A. Woodward in Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to the State of Colorado, Division of Vital Records, Marriage Record Report.


The 1920 census said Ogden lived with his in-laws in Chicago at 7106 South Eberhart Avenue. Ogden was an advertising agent. The Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index said Ogden had a daughter, Corlita Woodward Ogden.

Advertising illustrator Ogden and his mother were tenants at 931 Sunnyside in Chicago in the 1930 census. Ogden’s ex-wife had remarried. She and daughter Corlita both had the Reich surname.

Ogden’s mother passed away November 17, 1935.

In the 1940 census, Ogden was divorced and living alone at 5220 Kenmore Avenue in
Chicago. He was a freelance advertising salesman. His highest level of education was the eighth grade.

Ogden signed his World War draft card on April 27, 1942. The Chicago resident lived and worked at 4544 North Racine.

The Chicago Tribune, June 27, 1955, published a letter from Ogden who commented on the “Whistler’s Mother” painting.

At some point Ogden moved to California.

Ogden passed away April 12, 1971, in Los Angeles County, according to the California Death Index. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was at Long Beach. Ogden was laid to rest, next to his second wife, Marie, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park



—Alex Jay

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Cartoonagrams




In 1914 James Keeley bought the Chicago Record-Herald and Inter Ocean newspapers, and he renamed the conglomeration of the two as simply the Chicago Herald. He also livened the paper up considerably, first adding some black and white comic features, then a full fledged color comics section.

Among the first wave of new features was Charles A. Ogden's Cartoonagrams, which debuted on December 13 1914. The feature offered up a newspaper version of a very popular Vaudeville routine, the chalk talk. In the typical chalk talk routine, an artist would draw as he talked to the audience. Sometimes the routines featured simple sketching, but some were more creative. A favorite ploy was to begin drawing one thing, and then as the entertainer continued drawing and talking, unexpectedly have it turn into something else entirely. This was Charles Ogden's favorite trick, and his Cartoonagrams featured often wildly inventive turns on this idea. Reading his strips is about as near as we can get to seeing a real old-fashioned chlk talk, a form of entertainment that has disappeared so entirely that there exists hardly any record that they ever did exist.

Cartoonagrams ran until May 6 1917 in the Herald, and it was syndicated though it is rarely seen elsewhere. Sadly this was Mr. Ogden's only known newspaper feature. If he did live chalk talks as well, he never made much of a splash, which is surprising considering how creative he was. Perhaps his stage presence wasn't up to snuff, or his drawing suffered in front of an audience.

PS: if you're wondering about that headline on the top example, here are Mollie, Waddy and Tony.

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I own several volumes of the old Federal School and Art Instruction, Inc. mail-order art courses. Even the 1945 edition offers a number of chalk-talk tutorials. The lessons combine step-by-step visuals with patter and presentation suggestions.

I wonder, though, if chalk talks were still relevant in the late 40s. But then the Art Instruction course seems always to have been a decade or so behind the curve. The 1945 course is heavy on examples from the 20s and 30s. The cartoon styles pictured are likewise early-20th century. In fact the entire project seems like a hodgepodge of stuff canvassed from founding father Charles "Bart" Bartholomew's buddies. Still interesting, though.
 
The chalk talk survived, sort of, as a cartoonist's parlor trick.

In Segar's Sunday Popeye pages, there's a stretch (volumes 5 & 6 of the Fantagraphics books) where Sappo drops continuities in favor of John Sappo doing very simple chalk talk tricks as if to an audience -- usually writing a word or name and building a face from it.

In the 50s Mooseketeer Roy Williams knocked out similarly simple words-into-drawings on the Mickey Mouse Club, sometimes to illustrate a song the kids were performing. The accent was on speed.

I dared siblings to challenge my own skill (My wise guy older sister wrote "antidisestablishmentarianism" in small script. I made it the hair sticking from under a wide-headed guy's hat). I can't have been the only kid thus inspired.
 
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Monday, March 20, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bob Moyer


Robert Morgan “Bob” Moyer was born in Pennsylvania on January 28, 1924. Moyer’s birthplace was recorded in the census and military service. The birth date was found at Western Pennsylvania Genealogy. His parents were Harry Riddle Moyer and Fleta Eugenia Morgan.

The 1927 Oil City, Pennsylvania, city directory listed Moyer’s father at 429 Grant. He was a sign painter.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Moyer was the youngest of two children born to Harry and Fleta, who was not counted in the census. Moyer’s maternal grandmother, Hannah Morgan, was head of the household in Franklin, Pennsylvania at 537 Elk Street. Fleta, who was in a sanitarium, passed away about seven weeks after the census. Her death was reported in the Oil City Derrick, May 28, 1930. She was laid to rest at Franklin Cemetery.

At some point Moyer’s father moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He returned to Franklin to marry Myra Grant Campbell, as noted in the marriage license application section of the Franklin News-Herald, June 19, 1936. The 1936 Cleveland city directory said the newlyweds resided at the Hawley House. Harry was a 
Newspaper Enterprise Association artist.

In 1937 the Moyer family address was 1256 Donald Avenue, Cleveland. Harry was still with the NEA. The 1939 and 1940 Cleveland directories listed the Moyers at 17535 Madison Avenue and Harry’s occupation as artist.

Moyer has not yet been found in the 1940 census. He followed in his father’s footsteps and worked at the NEA.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said John Sunley was the first artist to produce Ticklers, which debuted June 30, 1941. Moyer took over from September 1, 1941 to March 16, 1942. He was followed by Bill Arnold, Hayes, and George Scarbo. Irving S. Knickerbocker created Mac (aka The McCoys) which ran from May 10, 1929 to March 7, 1930. After Knickerbocker’s departure, it was continued by Andrew Munch, Howard Broughner and Moyer, who drew it from September 29, 1941 to May 3, 1943. Moyer was the last artist to draw the Great American Home from January 12 to 19, 1942.

On February 18, 1943, Cleveland resident Moyer enlisted in the army during World War II. He was single and a commercial artist who had two years of college.

Moyer’s father passed away January 21, 1946, in Cleveland.

Moyer’s resume was found here. He studied at the Cleveland School of Art, John Huntington Institute, Cleveland College, and Milwaukee’s Latham School of Art. His experience from the mid-1940s onward is as follows:

1945–1947: Apprentice Illustrator, Ad Art Studio, Cleveland, Ohio1947–1948: Illustrator/Designer, Display Corp, Milwaukee, Wisconsin1949–1950: Illustrator, Wenger Studio, Cleveland, Ohio1950–1960: Illustrator, Fawn Art Studio, Cleveland, Ohio1960–1990: Illustration and Design, Artists Studios, Cleveland, Ohio1990–present: Freelance Illustrator/Watercolor Teacher, Shreve, Ohio
The 1950 Lorain, Ohio city directory listed Moyer at 2447 East 37th Street. Moyer resided at 3641 Spencer Road in the 1960 Lakewood, Ohio city directory. He was a commercial illustrator at Fawn Art Studio.

Moyer is a noted illustrator and watercolorist who had an exhibition, in January 2005, at the College of Wooster. A retrospective of his work was held September 2015. 



—Alex Jay

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


January 8 1909 -- American disaster aid is filling freighters bound for Italy, responding to the horrific Messina earthquake. The disaster is estimated to have killed somewhere between 75,000 and 200,000 people. The earthquake, and a resultant tsunami, levelled most of the bustling port city of Messina. Naturally Californians are particularly empathetic to the plight of the survivors.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Carl 'Bunny' Schultze



This 1906 postcard, given compliments of the Boston Sunday American, features Foxy Grandpa, the boys, and Schultze's trademark Bunny signature.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: John Sunley


John J. Sunley was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 26, 1915. His birthplace was determined from census records and birth date was from the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Sunley was the sixth of seven children born to William, an electrician, and Elizabeth. The family resided at 5617 Whittier Avenue in Cleveland.

The Sunleys’ address in the 1930 and 1940 censuses was 1692 Wayside Road.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), April 12, 1932, announced the winners of the Tarzan coloring contest. Sunley won a pair of tickets to see Tarzan, the Ape Man.

The Plain Dealer, June 5, 1938 and June 4, 1939, reported the May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art and mentioned Sunley’s freehand drawing.

According to the 1940 census, Sunley, an artist, and his oldest brother, William, a comic writer, worked for a weekly newspaper.

Link, the Cleveland Institute of Art Magazine, Summer 1983, published highlights of Sunley’s art career based on his letter (see page 11). He was in the museum’s class of 1939 and earned “a living as newspaper illustrator and cartoonist, as staff artist at Newspaper Enterprise Association in Cleveland, and as free-lancer for the Akron Beacon.” He served in the Air Force during World War II.




El Reno Daily Tribune 8/18/1941


El Reno Daily Tribune 8/19/1941

Two more samples of Sunley’s art are here and here.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Sunley produced the first two strips of the NEA’s Ticklers, dated June 30 and July 7, 1941. He was followed by Bob Moyer, Bill Arnold, Bob Moyer (again), William Hayes, and George Scarbo. Sunley also did the close-end series The Easter Story, from April 3 to 8, 1950, also for NEA.

In 1951 Sunley moved to Buffalo, New York, where he worked as editorial staff artist on the Buffalo News. He retired early in 1978. Sunley continued work as a freelance courtroom sketch artist for television.

According to the Guild Reporter, June 12, 1958, Sunley was one of several artists to receive a trophy at the Buffalo Newspaper Guild annual Page One Ball.


The Buffalo Courier Express, October 20, 1959, said Sunley was elected to active membership in the Fine Arts League. Sunley’s prize was reported in the Courier Express, September 12, 1960, “John J. Sunley, 139 Doat St., received a first prize gold medal for a boy and dog portrait ‘Chris and Lassie.’”


Sunley passed away March 7, 1993, in Buffalo. His death was reported the following day in the News. Sunley’s wife, Ellen, passed away March 25, 2014.


—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Ticklers

From the 1920s into the 1970s, NEA offered a 'pony service' to small weekly papers. This was the cheapest option they offered, and even then many weeklies were too poor to afford it. Nevertheless, despite anemic subscriber lists, NEA doggedly continued to make it available. It's offerings, at least as far as comics go, were  rarely seen, though some of them were quite creditable. Ticklers, a gag panel, was offered for a very long stretch to the pony service subscribers, and usually offered some pretty darn good art, if not the snappiest gags. But since it appeared only in minor weeklies, notorious for not running material when it was intended, and the NEA archives themselves are spotty in their pony service material, dating is a bit of a challenge.

Ticklers by Sunley


Ticklers seems to have debuted on June 30 1941, sporting art by a fellow named John Sunley. His grease pencil artwork was a little reminiscent of George Clark, a fellow NEA staffer. Only problem was that Mr. Sunley lasted a mere two weeks on the newly minted series. Starting on July 14 1941, the reins were passed to Bob Moyer.

Ticklers by Moyer

Moyer also had a nice style, in his case somewhat like NEA staffer George Scarbo. He made it all the way to sometime around January 1942, when a fellow named Bill Arnold got his shot at pony service stardom.


Ticklers by Arnold

Bill Arnold, who I know absolutely nothing about, was another grease pencil aficionado.He spent a short time on a few minor NEA features, offered up some lovely work, and then disappeared. He ran the Ticklers concession from sometime around January to around March 1942. Next was a return engagement by Bob Moyer, who filled in for a few weeks, and then William Hayes took over on March 23 1942.


Ticklers by Hayes

Hayes was by far the least artistically accomplished of the Ticklers crew, though on occasion he could ratchet his work up a notch. Unfortunately this generally coincided with him swiping from magazine gag artist George Price. Hayes had a couple of recurring sub-titles for his panels; Museum Pieces featured gags about dinosaur skeletons in a museum, and Spot 'n' Speck were a couple of bugs.



Hayes ran the show until June 26 1944, but during that stretch there was a six month hiatus from April 12 to October 18 1943. When Hayes left, NEA had the good sense to put a bullpen stalwart on the job. The great George Scarbo took over (as just 'George'), and started his long tenure by trying to turn Ticklers into a more memorable feature by retitling it G. Willikers. That dog didn't hunt, as they say, and the title reverted to Ticklers on August 14, barely a month and a half into the experiment.

In 1945, Scarbo tried again. On June 11 he retitled the feature Looney Luke and added a continuing character. This experiment also failed, and the title reverted after only four installments to Ticklers on July 9. From then on, Scarbo no longer rocked the boat. For the next decade and a half, he produced a weekly Ticklers cartoon for his vanishingly small weekly audience. The feature was finally put to bed for good in 1960. The NEA archives are  too spotty on the pony service by then to offer an exact end date.

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Kind of sad that Scarbo did all that work for years and practically no one saw it.
 
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ralph Lane


William Ralph Lane was born in Princeton, Missouri in early 1905. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Lane’s father, Fred, in Princeton where he married Grace Miller on November 16, 1902. According to the 1910 census, the trio were resided in Princeton on Ballew Street. Lane’s father was a bookkeeper at a bank.

The 1920 census said Lane, his parents and younger brother, Allen, lived in Trenton City, Missouri, at 510 Pleasant View Avenue. The United Press International article, in the New York Times, February 9, 1965, reported “Lane studied music at Trenton, Mo., and art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 9, 1965, said “Lane in 1923 started drawing cartoons as a freelance cartoonist in Kansas City. Eventually he went to New York City and was a regular contributor to the New Yorker and the old Judge and Life magazines.”

A 1925 New York City directory listed a “Wm R Lane” who worked at The World newspaper and resided at 237 West 148th in Manhattan.

The Missouri marriage records at Ancestry.com said Lane married twenty-one-year-old Florence Naegelin on June, 26, 1926 in Jackson, Missouri.

In the 1930 census, Lane worked at an engraving company and his wife was a fashion artist. Living with them were his mother and brother in Kansas City, Missouri, at 4044 Harrison.

According to the 1940 census, Lane remained in the same city but at a different address, 5803 Virginia. The freelance commercial artist had a seven-year-old son, John. Lane’s highest level of education was the fourth year of high school.

The Times and Plain Dealer said Lane joined the Cleveland-based Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1945. This anecdote about the NEA art department appeared in Cartoonist Profiles, Volumes 41-44, 1979.

[George] Scarbo was in the first floor art department and the desks all faced east with the light from the north to everybody’s left. Ralph Lane moved into the department and, being left-handed, he turned his board around and now faced the artist directly behind him. The artist happened to be a very pretty and nice girl named Emerson (can’t remember her first name). Emerson became very bothered with Lane sitting there looking at her legs all day, so she taped a sheet of drawing paper to the front of her drawing board. During lunch hour, somebody cut two holes in the paper, adding a sign, “Five cents a look.”
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Lane assisted on Roy Crane’s Buz Saywer from 1943 to 1945. Lane went on to draw 19 NEA strips, all but one were closed-end which were Churchill: A Man and an Era; Daniel Boone; Fathers of Flight; The First Christmas—A Story for Children; Freedom of the Press; Gifts of the Magi; Hell Bomb; In Convention Assembled; Iran: Cockpit for Conquest; Japan; Rebirth of a Nation; Lincoln and Gettysburg; On the Beach; Sputnik Plus Five; Squanto’s Thanksgiving; The Story of the Atom; Story of the Pony Express; Valley Forge: Inspiration for Today; and Wild Bill Hickok. Lane drew the long-running NEA series, Vic Flint, from January 6, 1946 to July 30, 1950. The strip was continued by artists Dean Miller, Art Sansom, and Lane’s son, John. Lane’s Vic Flint also appeared in comic books.

Some of Lane’s other NEA work can be seen here, here and here.


A game of bridge between Lane, NEA writer Russ Winterbotham and their wives was written up in W. E. McKenney’s column “Dealing with Bridge” that appeared in the Canton Repository, February 2, 1948.

Lane passed away February 7, 1965, at a hospital in Lakewood, Ohio. His death was reported two days later in the Times and Plain Dealer which said Lane was survived by his wife, son, mother and brother. Lane’s home was at 29700 Wolf Road, Bay Village, Ohio.


—Alex Jay

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I have links to the complete Hell Bomb and Sputnik Plus Five at http://totu.wikispaces.com/Science+in+All+the+Wrong+Places for anyone wantinf to see them.
 
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Monday, March 13, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Japan: Rebirth of a Nation





In 1951, Japan was coming to the end of its occupation and reconstruction by U.S. forces, and naturally there was great curiosity in America over how things had gone. The closed-end comic strip series Japan: Rebirth of a Nation sought to tell the story of rebuilding Japan in twelve information-packed episodes. The story was highly self-congratulatory, and not without good reason. The U.S. had brought a functioning democracy to a land that had been mostly feudal, had helped rebuild Japan's industrial capabilities and shipping fleets, and had guided modernization of everything from medicine to agriculture.

The U.S. had learned a lot from the way Germany had been mistreated after World War I, and how that mistake more than anything had led to World War II. We were not about to have World War II set the stage for yet another worldwide bloodbath. Japan was truly reborn in those six years, and the nation took its place in the second half of the 20th century as an industrial and business powerhouse that now rivalled her former enemy. If anything good can be said to come out of war, the rebirth of Japan, as well as Germany, are candidates for that distinction.

Japan: Rebirth of a Nation was issued by NEA to run from August 20 to September 1 1951, though I've never found a paper that actually ran it on those dates -- most started it between August 22 and the end of the month. The writer of the series was uncredited and the excellent art was provided by Ralph Lane. Lane had just bowed out of NEA's Vic Flint strip, presumably to tackle projects like these. Lane handled the art on over a dozen of these closed-end newsy strips in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


January 8 1909 -- A Britisher unsuccessfully attempted to ingratiate himself with an L.A. judge by referring to him as "Your Lordship." The judge repeatedly warned the fellow to quit it, to no avail. In the end, he annoyed the judge enough that it may have swayed the case against him. The dispute was over rent of 634 West 35th Street, an address that, as far as I can tell, no longer exists but has since been taken over by an imposing stone warehouse building covering the entire block. The Brit's landlady was awarded $60 for back rent, $10.50 for repairs, $3.50 for utilities, and $2.50 for canned fruit (!) the tenant had eaten.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from an Anonymous Hack at the New York American


In a bizarre misuse of resources, Hearst's New York American gives out free embossed postcards featuring some of their headlining cartoonists. But does the company have the cartoonists themselves draw their characters, or repurpose a panel from one of their strips? Nope. In 1909, when Bud Fisher had just arrived in New York City to continue taking the comic strip world by storm, they instead had some anonymous hack draw Mutt and Jeff, and a pretty awful job it was, too.

I quite like the letter on the reverse, though:

Aunt Camelia --
I am sending you a magazine that tells the story of some of the moving pictures. You can tell some of the people in them, for although they may not be the same plays, some of the people were in the picture that you saw.  J.M.S.

It sounds to me like Aunt Camelia has just seen her first film, and she is intrigued. Interestingly, in these days before there really were true 'movie stars', she seems to have expressed an interest in knowing more about specific actors. A pioneer film fanatic!

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In the early days of film, audiences only gradually became interested in the performers themselves in the flashing shadows. In the beginning, the studio's identity came first, so if the anonymous actors were related to at all, it was with monickers like "The Edison players" "The Selig Kid" or "The Biograph Girl" (that was how Mary Pickford was originally known.) Long forgotten cinemactress Florence Lawrence was the first named star in 1908.
The Mutt & Jeff card was not one of the Hearst freebies, it was in fact a licenced item, the fee going to early marketing wizard Bud Fisher. The NY American/Star Co. imprint is some sort of legal obligation.
 
More on the M&J Cards:

http://comicskingdom.com/blog/2016/11/10/ask-the-archivist-post-cards-iii
 
Mark: the hack art doesn't make sense to me even more so if this was something Bud Fisher himself stood to profit from. Why would he not take 20 minutes to draw his characters (or even just repurpose some existing art), and guarantee better sales for the card?
 
Fisher would just licence to anyone who could pay for it, in this case a post card publisher. He was not one to insist on perfection, licensing hardly ever does, especially not a hundred years ago.
I was in licensing for a long time, and it operates thusly; A licensor can do new art for the licencee, or offer ready made "Style Guide" material, or can insist on final approval of what the licencee has created himself, but in the end, the licencee will choose for himself and the licencor just sits back and collects his fee.

The quality of the art can be bad, but if you look on the above mentioned blog site, you'll see some of the Hearst-created cards that were hacked out by some appalling incompetants that hardly made the product look good.

as for Fisher, you'll note that a lot of his licencing art as well as his strips were done by others. The often seen portraits of M&J that were used for the stage shows were apparently drawn by C.W. Kahles when he did a series of ads for "Mutt & Jeff In College" (1915), and one thing that Fisher was famous for was never touching a pen again when he made enough to hire his own hacks.
 
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Thursday, March 09, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Sefcik


Arthur Milton Sefcik was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 29, 1901, according to the Ohio Births and Christenings Index at Ancestry.com. His parents were James J. Sefcik and Anna Pirka. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census said James, a Bohemian emigrant, and Anna resided in Cleveland at 315 Humboldt.

In the 1910 census, Sefcik was the oldest of three siblings. Their father was a tailor. The family resided in Cleveland at 5225 Buettner Court.

According to the 1920 census, Sefcik was a moulder at a foundry. He lived with his parents at 16229 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Sefcik’s mother passed away 18 days after the census enumeration.

Information about Sefcik’s art training has not been found. A listing in the 1923 Cleveland city directory said Sefcik’s address had not changed and he was an artist at the Landon School.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ol’ Trusty was created by Charles D. Small  It started in November 1926. Succeeding Small was George “Swan” Swanson. Next was Sefcik who filled in during July 1927. Don Wootton was the artist when it ended. Sefcik was one of six artists on the weekly strip, Bugs, which started on March 12, 1924. The first four artists were Roy Grove, Irving Knickerbocker, Charles D. Small and George “Swan” Swanson. Sefcik drew Bugs in July 1927. Don Wootton was the last artist.


A city directory for 1926 recorded Sefick’s address as 4417 Douse Avenue and occupation as NEA Service artist.

The same address was in the 1930 census. Newspaper artist Sefcik lived with his father who was still working. Sefcik’s father passed away in September 1937. Sefcik’s address did not change in 1940. His occupation was artist. In the census industry column was written, “Fashion Artist, Sewing Projects”. Sefcik had completed two years of high school.

Sefcik passed away August 26, 1954. A death notice appeared in the Cleveland Press, August 28.

Sefcik, Arthur M., passed away suddenly Thursday, Aug. 26, brother of Helen R. Pickard and Roy of Silinas, Calif. Friends may call at A. Nosek & Sons, 3282 E. 55th St., where services will be held Monday, Aug. 30, at 2 p. m.
Sefcik was laid to rest at Woodland Cemetery.


—Alex Jay

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Wide-Awake Willie



Gene Byrnes is best known for his phenomenally successful comic strip Reg'lar Fellers, a frenetic and fun kid gang strip which was loved by kids, and grown-up kids, from the 1910s to 1940s. The strip began as a panel adjunct to his main weekday feature, It's a Great Life if You Don't Weaken, in 1916. That strip was penned for the New York Evening Telegram. When Byrnes decided that it was time for Reg'lar Fellers to graduate to a daily strip in 1918 (on a date that try as I might I cannot pin down), he either didn't offer it to the Telegram, or they turned it down. This event, however it unfolded, eventually made Mr. Byrnes a relatively wealthy man, as he was able to retain his copyright to the strip, and to make his best deals with syndicates.

In 1918, the Telegram's parent paper, the New York Herald, asked Byrnes for a Sunday feature. Byrnes apparently was either so enamored of his new Reg'lar Fellers strip, or bereft of alternative ideas, so he made the Sunday strip about the main character of that strip, Jimmie Dugan, but changed his name to Willie. Wide-Awake Willie, basically an identical strip to Reg'lar Fellers, debuted on March 17.

Eventually Byrnes came to an arrangement with the Herald to distribute a Sunday version of the Reg'lar Fellers strip. Wide-Awake Willie was then uncermoniously given the heave-on as of November 28, and the Herald ran the Reg'lar Fellers Sunday strip starting the next week.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dick Clarke


Richard Albert “Dick” Clarke was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1879, according to his death certificate. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Clarke was the youngest of four children born to Ray, a plumber, and Edith. The family lived on Buffalo Street in Franklin. Detailed information regarding Clarke’s education and art training has not been found.

The Clarke family resided in Franklin, at 1024 Buffalo Street, according to the censuses from 1900 to 1920. In 1900, Clarke’s occupation was jeweler. Ten years later, Clarke was recorded as a newspaper cartoonist. Some time after the 1910 census, Clarke married Marie Guthrie. Their marriage ended in divorce.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Clarke drew Mr. Gadder in late 1915. Moving Picture Funnies was Clarke’s next series which began February 26, 1917 for the National Newspaper Service. Both comics were signed “Dick Clarke”. Moving Picture Funnies was copyrighted by the Samuel Gabriel Sons & Company of New York.

Clarke signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He identified his employer as the National Newspaper Service, located at 516 Trust Building in Franklin.

In 1920, Clarke was a freelance crayon artist who had a six-year-old son, Richard G. In the 1930 census, Clarke was part of his brother’s household in Franklin at 1420 Buffalo Street.

Clarke passed away June 20, 1933, in Franklin. His death was reported by the following day in the 
Franklin News-Herald.
Richard A. Clarke, author, playwright and artist, has written his last one-act play, put the finishing touches on his last children’s story. Death figured in the last picture. News of the sudden passing of Franklin’s genial artist and dramatic authority came as a rude shock to scores of friends, few of whom knew he was even ill. Dick Clarke will be missed. He was a genial friend, a loyal believer in Franklin, and all that it possessed in the way of accomplishments. He was 53, but at heart and in action he was almost as young as his son, Richard, of whom a father was never prouder. He knew the hearts of little children, and wrote entertainingly for them. He was a successful and resourceful cartoonist; possessing a wide range of imagination, and had the ability to put into pen and ink sketches the thought and motive that make cartoons forceful.

Studying art in Baltimore and New York, he worked later for several humorous magazines, drew illustrations on assignment for Life and Judge, was identified with the art department of a Cleveland paper and then returned to Franklin. It was Dick Clarke who designed the covers for the Old Home Week literature of 1910; he drew cartoons for The Evening News on occasion. He was generous with advice and counsel to aspiring young artists. A student of the day's events and developments, he was also a philosopher. He read books that delved into the underlying currents of life. He read and talked intelligently.

At heart, throughout all his life, he was as a boy, and devoted to the artistic and outdoor side of life. Nature beckoned, he saw glories in the sunrise and sunset, he saw beauty in pastoral scenes. Rigorously he took up hiking, became a closer student of nature. This many-sided individual turned then to astronomy as a hobby. He tried to master a subject whose magnitude knows no limits to observation and charting.

As a coach of amateur dramatic offerings, he possessed unusual ability. He put into his work all the verve and force one would expect of a Broadway producer, and was not satisfied with half-way measures. His generosity matched his ability. The cheery outlook he had on life is not soon to be forgotten. To know Dick Clarke and know him well-was to have a friend possessed of many accomplishments and few faults. His loyalty to friends throughout the years was unswerving. He put these relationships far and beyond the reach of ordinary things. He played many roles well but that of enduring friendship was the crowning achievement of an unusual life.
Clarke was laid to rest at Franklin Cemetery


—Alex Jay

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Monday, March 06, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Moving Picture Funnies





Based on the title Moving Picture Funnies, you may think you're in for a Minute Movies sort of strip, or a feature about Hollywood. Neither is the case though -- the title was actually meant in a very literal sense. Moving Picture Funnies offers readers the fun of cutting the panel cartoon out, making some folds (that's the moving part I suppose), and uncovering a new cartoon that serves as the answer to a gag posed in the original drawing. It was a great idea, if a little repetitive after years of daily appearances.

Moving Picture Funnies debuted on February 27 1917 and was distributed by John Dille's National Newspaper Service*. Although it never appeared in a lot of papers, it must have been popular enough, because it was officially offered until 1946, a run of three decades.

As far as I can tell, the panel was only ever signed "Clarke", which meant some sleuthing was in order to determine the artist's full name. I happened to know of a very short-lived NEA comic from 1915, Mr. Gadder, that had the same signature on it, and there a first name was offered -- Dick.  But in case I was wrong about the similar signature, and not having the vast resources of today's Interwebs at my disposal back when I was trying to track the information down, I relied on Editor & Publisher to be my second source.

E&P's annual syndicate directories, though, turned out to be more of a problem than a solution. The feature was unadvertised in the first three annual directories (1924-26) for some reason. In 1927 it finally made its first appearance and was credited to one F.W. Clarke. Okay, so that's that, right? Well, that's what I thought (and that's why my book lists the artist name as F.W. "Dick" Clarke). But I should have kept looking. In 1928 the credit was to "Robt. Clark" (note the lack of an 'E' on the last name). Then in 1929 the feature is missing again. In 1930, the feature is back and, believe it or not, it's credited to "Zack Mosely" (Zack's last name is properly spelled 'Mosley'). I don't know if that credit was a mistake or a joke, but I certainly find no artistic evidence of Mosley doing the feature, though he was associated with two other John Dille properties in this era (Skyroads and Buck Rogers), so the possibility, though dim, does exist.

In 1931, the feature is credited to R.D. Clark (again, no 'E'), and then in 1932 we switch to R.L. Clark (gimme an 'E', will ya!). This credit seemed to finally suit whoever was compiling the listings, because that name remained consistent through the rest of the run, through 1946.

So what exactly is the truth about Mr. Clarke? It took Alex Jay doing some digging, but we now have it on excellent evidence that the fellow's name was Richard A. 'Dick' Clarke. In other words, E&P did not print one correct credit in fifteen tries (not counting years it was missing entirely). Now I'll let Alex tell you more about this fellow tomorrow, but I must drop a spoiler today. In his research he discovered that Mr. Clarke passed away in 1933, meaning the feature was in reprints or ghosted for a minimum of thirteen years. Since I see no particular change in the style of the feature over its entire life, I'm guessing that Dille was selling reprints for a very long time. On the other hand, maybe the musical chair game of names indicates that the feature was sort of a family business, and there are other Clarkes involved in the series at different times. But I doubt it.

Anyway, let's get to something really important. In the samples above, if you do the requisite folding, what do you come up with? Well, you lucky people, I've done all the work for you. Here they are below, run here small in case you'd rather print the samples out yourself and have the fun of discovery. Click to enlarge.


* At the risk of making this post longer than the run of Moving Picture Funnies, I must make mention of a few things in regard to the syndication.

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The best guess would be that Dille used two different entities for legal or tax purposes. The Sixteenth Amendment that permitted federal income taxes was ratified in 1913, so using two different entities could have been used for tax planning. It is more likely, however, that it was more strictly legally motivated. If Dille had a partner with an ownership interest in some but not all of his features, for example, the copyrights could be registered in different names, while the Dille syndication business was administered jointly. Or he could have been trying to serve different markets. Do you know where these entities were incorporated (if they were indeed corporations)?

Frank
 
The company was headquartered in Chicago Illinois. I seem to recall that Dille also had a Michigan connection -- like his brother owned a paper there? Don't recall where I found that tidbit.

--Allan
 
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Saturday, March 04, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


January 6 1909 -- It's voting day, and Herriman makes one last pitch for Angelenos to fund new schools for the city.

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This series of cartoons had me curious; eventually, I did find that the Los Angeles Herald is on line, digitized, and I was able to find out how things turned out.
 
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Friday, March 03, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Percy Crosby


Here's one from Percy Crosby that has no maker info. It is divided back and postally used in 1911. The forehead tattoos, needless to say, were added by the postcard sender.

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What does the lightning bolt labeled "Hurryup" mean???
 
Not sure but that (well-lettered) message may have been added by the sender. What I'd like to know is why Crosby chose to do some of the lettering in outlined red, and the rest in solid black. --Allan
 
Could be the letters were also blackened by the sender. Sort of a remix.
 
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Thursday, March 02, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jim Lavery





James H. “Jim” Lavery was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on November 23, 1888, according to his World War II draft card and The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917–18 (1926). A family tree at Ancestry.com said his parents were George Lavery (1864–1926) and Elizabeth O’Malley (1867–1906).

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Lavery was the oldest of eight children whose parents were Scottish emigrants. They resided in Cleveland, Ohio at 21 Indiana Street. Lavery’s father was a machinist.

Information regarding Lavery’s whereabouts in 1910 and art training has not been found. A profile in Editor & Publisher, November 10, 1917, explained what Lavery was doing, how he ended up in Cleveland and became a cartoonist.

…Jim is a typical Press find. Two or three years ago he had never drawn a picture that saw the light of day in the printed page. As hinted before, he was painting signs, and thereby met the high cost of living with considerable ease. His activities in that branch of brush and ink work might read like a travelogue, for he painted signs in every big city in the country, from Maine to California, with the exception of Cleveland. When he hit Cleveland he went to work on a sign, and as variety interspersed some pictures with the wording. These pictures James admitted were funny. Whether any one else thought so or not, they were sufficient to attract the attention of Ollie May, Leader cartoonist. May and Lavery got acquainted. Lavery wished he could draw for a newspaper, too. Just then the editor of the Press made it known he could use a first-class cartoonist, and Lavery was ushered into the sanctum sanctorum. “Go to work,” said the E. And James did, and has been doing that little thing ever since. He has invented Some quaint characters which give the Press distinction. He invented the Wampus Cat, which blats about sport topics in rhyme; George Davis’s short shavings have finer wit because of the Lavery sketches that go with them; leading lights of Cleveland cannot escape his quaint strokes.
The Cleveland Press (Ohio), November 4, 1959, said Lavery “drew political and sports cartoons for The Press from 1915 to 1940. A popular feature was his sports cartoon, the Saturday Bath.”



Green Book Magazine 10/1916


In 1917 Lavery married Myrtle Lillie on March 22, according to the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes at Ancestry.com. Lavery signed his World War I draft card June 5, 1917. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and light-colored hair. The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917–18 had this listing for Lavery: “Co D 309 Engineers to Discharge Private, first class 20 Sept 1918. American Expeditionary Forces 9 Sept 1918 to 30 May 1919. Honorable discharge 24 June 1919.” The 1917 Cleveland city directory said Lavery resided at 11308 St. Clair Avenue NE and was a Cleveland Press cartoonist. Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists including Lavery. 

Lavery’s prowess as a bowler was noted in The Fourth Estate, October 20, 1917: “ ‘Jimmy’ Lavery, cartoonist on the Cleveland Press, is also a bowler of more than ordinary skill. In a recent match he set the Cleveland record for the season with a total of 671 pins in three games.”

The 1920 census recorded Lavery in Cleveland at 628 East 130th Street. Lavery was in his father-in-law’s household. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Lavery drew the Salesman Sam topper, Jo-Jo the Jester, from October 10, 1926 to October 2, 1927.

Lavery was recorded twice in the 1930 census. One sheet had the 1920 address while the other one had the house number as 626. Lavery, his wife and daughter Jean were the sole residents at both addresses.

Lavery’s address was 626 East 130th Street in the 1940 census. Lavery was a self-employed cartoonist. On April 26, 1942, Lavery signed his World War II draft card which had the address 14749 Elderwood Avenue.

A November or December 1959 issue Editor & Publisher said Lavery “worked for the National Bowlers Journal and Turf and Sport Digest.”

Lavery passed away November 3, 1959, in New York City.



—Alex Jay

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George Lavery (1894–1926) ?
I think it should be: George Lavery (1864–1926) ?
 
Yes, you're right. Date corrected.
 
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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

 

Toppers: Jo-Jo the Jester



In the 1920s, when NEA expanded its comic strip reach into Sundays, they followed along with other syndicates when it came to adding toppers in 1926. They had one original twist to the idea, though. Instead of assigning the cartoonist of the main feature to create the topper, they pulled someone else from the cartooning bullpen to do those honors.

Jim Lavery was a perfectly creditable sports and editorial cartoonist for the NEA syndicate, but when he was tapped to provide a topper strip for C.D. Small's Salesman Sam, boy did they find out he was not cut out for straight gag work. I get the feeling that NEA expected great things out of him, but what they got was hackneyed joke book swipes inartfully told. Maybe Lavery just didn't want the job, and was dogging it on purpose.

Jo-Jo the Jester stars a braying fool for no other reason than to let people know who's telling the joke -- hey, it's the guy in the polka dot jammies! Sometimes that was a really useful sign on Lavery's worst klunkers. I read through about a dozen Jo-Jo gags before selecting the one above as the only one that offered me a hint of a guffaw. What can I say -- any hint of naughtiness and I'm an easy mark.

Lavery produced Jo-Jo the Jester for one year before the powers that be took pity on a nation not getting any laughs, from October 10 1926 to October 2 of the next year. After that, Irving Knickerbocker took over the space with the inelegantly named, but at least somewhat funny, J. Disraeli (Dizzy) Dugan.


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"Doonesbury" did a similar gag much better sixty years later, when Boopsie became a model for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Editor: "Let's have you try on the swimsuit now, okay?"
Boopsie: "Okay. Where is it?"
Editor: "Uh... I just gave it to you."
Boopsie (looking in her hand): "This? Oh, sorry, I thought it was dental floss."


 
Wow! I couldn't disagree with you more, Allen. That Topper joke is hysterical!
 
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Merle Johnson


Merle DeVore Johnson was born in Oregon City, Oregon, on November 24, 1874, according to Who’s Who in America (1912), American Art Annual, Volume XIV (1918) and the American Literary Yearbook, Volume I (1919).  Johnson’s parents were William Carey Johnson and Josephine DeVore.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Johnson was the youngest of three brothers. Their father was a lawyer. The family resided in Oregon City on Center Street.


Who’s Who said Johnson graduated from Stanford University in 1897. Johnson was on the staff of the school newspaper the Daily Palo Alto which noted his chess victory but team loss. Information regarding Johnson’s art training has not been found. The 1904 Stanford yearbook, The Quad, mentioned Johnson as an illustrator.
The Junior Quad was instituted by the Pioneer Class in 1894. In this annual the artistic talent of the University finds scope, and the various virtues of Francis, Culver, Bristow, Adams, Merle Johnson, Borough, Bowman, Miss Holly, Sterrett, and the later illustrators are abundantly attested in the ten picturesque volumes.
An 1898 San Francisco city directory listed Johnson as a Chronicle newspaper artist who resided at 1031 Vallejo. The following year Johnson was with the Examiner newspaper and at the same address. 

The 1900 census recorded artist and illustrator Johnson in San Francisco at 1317 Octavia. City directories dated 1901, 1903 and 1904 said he was with the Examiner.

Who’s Who said Johnson married Margaret Keough on September 7, 1905. The San Francisco Call said Johnson was a New York resident at the time.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Johnson produced two series in 1907 for the American-Journal-Examiner, When Antoinette Is on the Job and He’s Stuck on Angeline. From 1906 to 1910, Johnson produced several comics for the New York Evening Journal including an untitled series about clothes and fashion; Frog He Would a-Wooing Go; It Happens Every Day; Hint to Wooers; Something Always Happens; and When Women Are Stronger Than Men. Johnson drew The Boy Scouts—Bill and Bobbie which ran from November 29, 1914 to May 16, 1915 in the New York Press.

According to the 1910 census, Johnson was a newspaper artist who resided with his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law in Queens, New York, on Pine Street. In 1910, Johnson was the manager of the New York Evening Journal art department. The Stanford University Alumni Directory and Ten-year Book, Volume II, 1891–1910, said Johnson lived in Douglaston, Long Island, New York. Who’s Who had his office at 238 William Street.

The 1915 New York state census said the Johnson family and two servants were on Cherry Street in Little Neck, Queens, New York. Johnson’s occupation was illustrator. The Fourth Estate, February 20, 1915, noted Johnson’s new business deal. 

Merle Johnson, cartoonist of the New York Evening Journal, contributor to Puck and other publications, has contracted with Joseph S. Edelman, president of the Sterling Advertising Service, for the right to use his services of commercial purposes.
According to The Artist and the Child (1980), Johnson was a cartoonist for Puck from 1914 to 1917.

On September 12, 1918, Johnson signed his World War I draft card. His address was Cherry Street in Douglaston. He was employed as art manager at Wilson Service, 500 5th Avenue, New York City. Johnson was described as short, medium build with brown eyes and dark hair.

Johnson’s books include A Ball of Yarn (above), A Bibliography of the Work of Mark Twain, Samuel Langhorne Clemens; A Bibliographic Check-List of the Works of James Branch Cabell 1904–1921; and Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates.

Johnson was a freelance illustrator in the 1920 census. His address had not changed.

The 1922 New York city directory listing for artist Johnson said he resided at 45 Washington Square South and worked at 1440 Broadway. Johnson contributed illustrations to the New York Tribune from 1921 to 1922.




Judge 5/27/1922

Johnson’s wife and daughter Marion applied for a passport on August 1, 1923. The family residence was on Second Street in Bayside, New York.

According to Who’s Who in New York City and State, Volume IX (1929), Johnson’s residence was 42 Commerce Street and studio address 243 West 34th Street, in New York City.

Johnson has not yet been found in the 1930 census.


The Stanford Illustrated Review, March 1933, published this item about Johnson. 
Merle DeVore Johnson, early an artist on the San Francisco Chronicle, then for fourteen years head of Hearst’s art department in New York City, and in more recent years a commercial artist in that city, has a bookstore across the street from the Pennsylvania Railway station and deals in first editions, in which he long has been a recognized authority. For years he was tennis champion of Long Island. His elder daughter, Helen, under the screen and stage name of Judith Wood, is now playing the part of Kitty Packard in Dinner at Eight.
According to the New York Times, June 2, 1935, Johnson suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by an automobile.

Johnson passed away September 1, 1935, at his home in Manhattan, 65 East 53 Street. The cause was pneumonia. His death was reported the following day in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Times.



—Alex Jay

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