Monday, October 24, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: Darktown and The Darktown Sport
Thomas Worth was a very well-known cartoonist/artist in the 19th century, but his fame was so ill-earned that I think it not entirely unfitting that he has been forgotten. Worth produced a large corpus of works, but his specialty was 'humorous' caricatures of black people. His initial fame came from the creation of a series of posters titled Darktown for the printmakers Currier & Ives. These sold like gangbusters, in fact they may have been one of the company's bestselling series of all.
In the Darktown series Worth usually depicted a group of blacks engaged in activities considered to be far above their station in life -- fox hunting, political debating, playing baseball (!) and so on. While the drawings often also had intriguing political and social overtones in addition to the racial depictions, it's frankly hard to notice those elements when confronted with such incredibly grotesque caricatures.
Worth's well-received posters brought him lots of other commissions, including many illustrations for humor magazines. Even the top market for magazine illustration of the day, Harper's Weekly, used his work extensively. In the mid-1890s, when Hearst and Pulitzer pioneered the Sunday color comics section, Thomas Worth was naturally in demand. Both publishers were able to attract his pen at various points.
In 1897 Worth produced a couple of series for Hearst, of which Darktown, aka The Darktown Sport, was one. Although the microfilm of the New York Journal was apparently too fragmentary for my or Dave Strickler's indexing to pick this series up, Cole Johnson supplied me with two samples from 1897 (the top two above). Unfortunately he dated both examples December 12 1897 by mistake, and so due to his very unfortunate demise, we don't know what the other date was or whether he had any additional examples from that year. According to Ohio State's Bill Blackbeard collection finding aid, they have a third example of this series dated December 26 1897 with a football theme.
For some reason Worth seems to have dropped his Darktown Sport series in favor of a basically identical series titled The Hawaii Club. It was the same sort of material, and I have no clue why the black characters were in the 'Hawaii Club'. Discussing the question with Cole Johnson way back when, he ventured a guess that Mr. Worth had no idea what a Hawaiian looked like, so he drew them exactly like all his other characters.
Worth didn't give up on his Darktown series, though. On July 10 1898, a new Coonville panel was published in the Journal, and several more appeared over about the next year. The last known Darktown panel was run on May 7 1899 (bottom sample). It was around this time that Worth defected to Pulitzer's New York World, so that probably does constitute the end of the series.
Although I say that Worth is forgotten, the amnesia isn't total. If you'd like to read more about him, I suggest these excellent posts at Yesterday's Papers and Booktryst. Also, thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied all the samples.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
December 17 1908 -- Secretary of Commerce and Labor Oscar Straus has made public remarks to the effect that the Chinese should be allowed to immigrate to the United States, in essence thumbing his nose at the Chinese Exclusion Act, which severely restricts such immigration.
In what has to be Herriman's most racist cartoon at the Examiner, he not only comes out on the very, very wrong side of this issue, but applies a racist stereotype to the Chinese, draws the Jewish Straus with a big hawk nose, and even sideswipes him for his important work with the Arab nations when he was the ambassador to Turkey.
Not a great day for Herriman, the Examiner, or the people of California.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, October 21, 2016
Wish You Were Here, from James Montgomery Flagg
This postcard is from T.P. & Company, whose logo is a stag in a crest. It says it is Series 803, and seems to date to around 1911 or so. T.P. & Co. also produced this card in a cheapo version with no color, as Series 738, with the caption changed to just "The Hypnotist."
I don't know if T.P. & Co. licensed a bunch of images from the humor magazine Judge, or if this is a one-off. Postcard experts, are you out there?
Well, what I do know is that this is an example of James Montgomery Flagg doing his best to imitate Charles Dana Gibson. That was one of his early specialties, and he was pretty darn good at it.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Charles Dana Gibson couldn't resist tossing out a gooey scene of young rich lovers getting a visit from Dan Cupid somewhere, usually the centerpage of the famed cartoon & humor magazine, LIFE. Their major competitor was Judge, who had Flagg on their side as the antimatter version of CDG.
JUDGE was involved in lots of licensing of their cartoons, I've seen them as art prints, calendars and playing cards, and this post card could have originally been a cover or centerpage of a Judge issue.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: Whisk
The series was titled Whisk, an odd choice of name for the star of his show, a little elf. The series began on Valentine's Day, February 14, with an epic storyline (well, epic for 1909) in which Whisk is commanded by the Elf King to go forth and find a poor lost sunbeam. The key to finding the sunbeam, he is told, is that it will be shining on someone who is totally and completely happy. A series of adventures ensues in which Whisk seems certain to have found someone who is just that over-the-top happy, but it always turns out that there is a little trouble in paradise. Kuhn writes the episodes as if he's telling one long continuous story, ending each episode with a cut in mid-sentence (see top two samples). Dickensian cliff-hangers they ain't, and the conceit comes off more as bad writing than anything else.
Finally in the May 16 episode Whisk does locate the lost sunbeam, shining down on a mother and her baby (all together now --- awwwww). The sunbeam is presented to the Elf King, who is so impressed with the job Whisk did that he presents him with a magic wand charged up with thousands of magic sunbeams. Whisk's new task is to go forth once again, find unhappiness and correct it with a barrage of sunbeam bullets.
The tone is thus set for the rest of the series, wherein Whisk finds unhappy creatures and gives them a jolt of joy-juice. Unfortunately, the series which was thus far written in straight if rather flowery prose, eventually changes to (shudder) really bad rhyme. As you may know, my tolerance for bad poetry is exhausted half-way through a haiku, and finally I think I have found fellow doggerel-haters in the editorial offices of the New York World. Whisk had usually been featured in full 4-color glory on an outer page of the World's Sunday sections, but once this darn poetry reared it's ugly self, the strip was almost invariably consigned to the 1- or 2-color interior ghetto. Maybe it was coincidence, but I like to think otherwise.
You'll find quite a few references saying that Whisk ran until October 1910, but that's not the case. I believe that error traces back to a typo in Ken Barker's New York World index in Stripscene magazine. Actually, the series ended on February 27 1910, which would seem to indicate that Kuhn was given a contract for one year's worth of strips, and the World passed on any more after that.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scans.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ted Brown
Edward Scott “Ted” Brown was born in Stillwater, Minnesota, on September 14, 1876. Brown’s full name and birth date were on his World War I draft card. The birthplace was recorded his his Social Security application. The 1880 U.S. Federal Census said Brown was the youngest of three children born to lumberman George and Ida. They resided in Stillwater on Second Street.
The Literary Digest, October 14, 1933, profiled Brown and told how he got into art.
Edward S. (Ted) Brown — Born September 14, 1876, at Stillwater, Minnesota. High-school education — Minneapolis. Went to Klondike rush in ’98. Spent three winters and four summers knocking around mining camps of Alaska. Worked in mines, drove dog teams. Carried chain on the preliminary survey of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. Also cooked for stripping crew of same outfit.Brown was counted twice in the 1900 census. He was a member of the family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at 3207 4th Avenue. Brown actually lived in Porcupine, Alaska, with seven other people. He worked in mining.
Commercial drawing in St. Louis advertising agency; same thing, Minneapolis Advertising Service Co.; ditto, Chicago. Comic strips on Chicago Daily News. Editorial cartoons on Chicago Daily News. Editorial cartoons on New York Herald Tribune.
The Seattle Times (Washington), April 21, 1940, said Brown “returned to Minneapolis with no gold, but with valuable knowledge of human nature and with a determination to make a living with lighter tools than pick and shovel. From an apprenticeship in an art shop in St. Louis, Brown soon graduated to commercial drawing and eventually broke into the newspaper field with The Chicago Daily News….”
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Brown created over two dozen strips, including The Inventor, from 1904 to 1914, for the Chicago Daily News. Brown also contributed to four series by other cartoonists.
According to the 1910 census, newspaper artist Brown as a resident of Proviso, Illinois. He and his wife lived at 718 4th Avenue. The Indiana Marriage Index, at Ancestry.com, said Brown married Amelia Otis on October 12, 1905 in Lake County. The couple had two sons, three-year-old son, Edward Jr. and eleven-month-old Phil.
Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists, including Brown.
Brown’s address was unchanged in the 1920 census. The family included a third son, Gordon. In 1925, Brown joined the staff of the New York Herald-Tribune.
A 1927 Norwalk, Connecticut, City Directory listed Brown at 35 East Avenue which was the address in the 1930 census. The census said Brown’s household included his mother-in-law, Julie Otis, and adopted daughter Claire who was a year-and-a-half.
Brown has not been found in the 1940 census. His home address did not change according to a 1941 city directory.
Brown passed away December 28, 1942, in Norwalk. Many newspapers, including the Boston Traveler (Massachusetts), December 28, 1942, published the Associated Press report.
The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), December 29, 1942, printed this article.‘Ted’ Brown, Tribune Cartoonist, DiesNorwalk, Ct., Dec. 28 (AP) — Edward Scott “Ted” Brown, 66, of this city, cartoonist for the New York Herald-Tribune since 1925, died today at Norwalk Hospital after a brief illness. He came to the Herald-Tribune in 1925, after 17 years with the Chicago Daily News.
Born in Stillwater, Minn., Brown went to Alaska in the gold rush when he was a young man and was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood of Alaska and the Adventurers Club of Chicago.
Mr. Brown leaves his widow, Mrs. Amelia O. Brown, three sons, Edward S., Jr., Philip R. and Gordon G. Brown, and a daughter, Miss Claire Ellen Brown, all of Norwalk.
Ted Brown, Cartoonist, DeadNorwalk, Conn. — Edward Scott (Ted) Brown, an editorial cartoonist for the New York Herald Tribune for 17 years, died yesterday in the Norwalk Hospital after a brief illness. He was 66 years old. Mr. Brown joined the staff of Tribune in 1925, after 21 [sic] years with the Chicago Daily News. His cartoons, supplementing those of Jay N. (Ding) Darling in the Herald Tribune and papers subscribing to the New York Tribune Syndicate, appeared at frequent intervals until last June, when poor health reduced his work.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: The Inventor
I've written about the pioneering daily comics page of the Chicago Daily News several times here on the blog, so I'll just quickly remind you that they were syndicating an almost full page of comics, panel cartoons and text gags well over a decade before Hearst and Pulitzer got on board.
The Daily News comics page lost much of its vigor in the 1910s. Two factors were to blame. First, obviously their product was no longer unique and had to compete in quality with very good daily comics from the big syndicates. Secondly, the News' strips were now syndicated through the Associated Newspapers co-op, rather than the News' own syndication efforts, and the profit motive had been substantially muted. No longer was there constant experimentation on the back page of the News, instead there was now a short list of much longer-running strips that inevitably outlived their potential for humor. The cartoonists in the News bullpen were bred for experimentation, and now were yoked to the same old plough every day, and it didn't suit them.
One of the great cartoonists at the Daily News was Ted Brown, who started signing his first name only to back page series in 1905. He was incredibly prolific, as were many in the News bullpen, and he stuck around until the page had been pretty thoroughly usurped by syndicated material from elsewhere in the mid-1910s.
His last new series for the Daily News was The Inventor, which started on July 22 1914. It was not a true daily, but came closer to that standard than anything he'd done before. It was a very repetitive strip (as was true of many Daily News series). but Brown has to be given kudos for coming up with an endless series of new inventions that backfire in one way or another. At the rate of one strip every few days, I can see readers finding it quite entertaining.
Tracking The Inventor becomes difficult because, in a move that would become increasingly common in the newspaper world later on, the Chicago Daily News quit running the strip but continued having it produced. Associated Newspapers offered so much material that the Daily News ended up running outside series more than its own.
In the Boston Globe, which liked The Inventor well enough to feature it regularly, the strip became a true daily starting September 1915. They too tired of the strip, though, and I have to track it to 1917 through the less reliable source of the Columbus Monitor, which began running it that year. By then, though, Ted Brown was gone, and it was being produced by Austin C. Williams. The series came to an end in the Monitor on June 30 1917.
Monday, October 17, 2016
News of Yore: Cartoonists Filmed in 1917
The Motion Picture World
December 1, 1917
Roundup of Cartoonists
Universal Current Events Claims to Have Captured Thirty-nine Funny Men.
Universal Current Events, which recently inaugurated the policy of recreating newspaper cartoons for the first time in the history of the screen, announces that it has just completed its roster of cartoonists whose work is exclusively presented by it in the motion picture theaters. The list is a remarkable one, inasmuch as it includes practically famous cartoonist of nearly every leading newspaper in the United States. Here, for the first time, is given a list of the names of the men and papers participating in this epochal screen achievement:
W. A. Rogers, New York Herald; W. C. Morris, New York Evening Mail; Robert Carter, Philadelphia Press; Charles Henry Sykes, Philadelphia Evening Ledger; R. K. Chamberlain, Philadelphia Evening Telegraph; F. T. Richards, Philadelphia North American; John L. DeMar, Philadelphia Record; Fred Morgan, Philadelphia Inquirer; Nelson Harding, Brooklyn, N. Y.. Eagle; Ted Brown, Chicago Daily News; “Cy” Hungerford, Pittsburgh Sun; Bert Link. Pittsburgh Press; Elmer Donnell, St. Louis Globe-Democrat; Claude Shafer, Cincinnati Post; W. A. Ireland, Columbus Evening Dispatch; Harry J. Westerman, Ohio State Journal; Harry Keys, Columbus Citizen; J. H. Donahey, Cleveland Plain Dealer; James Lavery, Cleveland Press; Fred O. Seibel, Albany Knickerbocker Press; Wm. A. McKenna, Albany Evening Journal; W. K. Patrick, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Lute Rease, Newark Evening News; Alfred W. Browerton [sic], Atlanta Journal; Lewis C. Gregg, Atlanta Constitution; “Cad” Brand, Milwaukee; Sentinel; Gaar Williams, Indianapolis News; Cornelius J. Kennedy (“Ken”), Buffalo Evening News; R. O. Evans, Baltimore American; G. R. Spencer, Omaha World-Herald; J. P. Alley, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Paul B. Fung, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; John F. Knott, Dallas News; James J. Lynch, Denver Rocky Mountain News; Paul A. Plaschke, Louisville Times; McKee Barclay, Baltimore Sun; Walter Blackman, Birmingham Age Herald; A. J. Taylor, Los Angeles Times; Roy Aymond, New Orleans Daily States.
Labels: News of Yore
Saturday, October 15, 2016
December 16 1908 -- It was a pretty sorry bunch of bouts last night at Jeffries arena. The headliners, Billy Papke and Hugo Kelly fought to a draw, and the other bouts were all 'professional debuts'. Herriman ends up finding more to sketch outside the ring than in it. I imagine most of the attendees last night were most interested in meeting the great Chicago Cub first baseman and manager Frank Chance.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, October 14, 2016
Wish You Were Here, from Dwig
This 1908 divided back postcard by Clare Victor 'Dwig' Dwiggins is copyrighted by R. Kaplan, and on the back it says Germany Serie #49. I believe the caption here is a reference to a popular song or saying of the time, but I'll be darned if I can tease Google into admitting there ever was such a saying. The reference, of course, was to wonder about people who seemed able to live well beyond their means. Can anyone supply the origin of the phrase?
This is one of my favorite postcards, not for the front, but for the message on the back. It was sent by Amelia to Florence Randtke in Rochester New York. Here is the message:
25 15 21 18 16 15 19 20 1 12 9 19 16 18 5 20 20 25 7 15 15 4 2 21 20 15 25 15 21 11 9 4 9 12 12 10 5 20 25 15 21 10 5 20 25 15 21 9 8 15 16 5 25 15 21 3 1 14 13 1 11 5 20 8 9 19 15 21 20
I'll leave it to you to figure out what that message means. Unfortunately I think Amelia's code broke down slightly in the middle of the message, but the intent is pretty clear.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
YOUR PROPSTAL IS PRETTY GOOD BUT O YOU KID
ILL JETYOT YOU I HOPE YOU CAN MAKE THIS OUT
There are a few Esperanto words in there, but I feel dirty reading such private, sensitive mail.
The phrase " Do it on $8.50 per" (or sum variant) was in common use generally then. Remember the Hall Room Boys' subhead was "how they do it on 7.50 per", back about 1907?
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ving Fuller
Ving Fuller was born Isaac Filler in Kisselynn, Russia, on March 17, 1903, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service form, Declaration of Intention, which was filed in Los Angeles, California, on August 4, 1941. The form said Fuller was a newspaper cartoonist who had sailed aboard the S.S. Canada from Liverpool, England. He arrived in Portland, Maine, on January 15, 1913.
According to the census, Rose emigrated in 1904 and her father in 1911. The rest of the family started their journey in 1912 and arrived in the U.S. in 1913, as seen on the passenger list.
The Fillers’ residence in the 1921 Worcester city directory was 5 Mott Street.
Moving Picture World magazine published “Fuller on Bray Staff” in its August 15, 1925 issue. Ving was doing animation work for J.R. Bray. Ving left Bray and found work at the newspaper, New York Graphic. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ving produced Laff-O-Graphics from 1927 to 1929 for the Graphic. A photograph of Ving is here.
Ving’s brother Samuel also worked for the Graphic. In the mid-1930s, Samuel moved to California and started a career in filmmaking.
Ving has not been found in the 1930 census. His mother and brother Raymond had the surname, Fuller, and lived with Rose’s family in Queens, New York, at 3825 56th Street. Rose’s second child was Stanley.
The Bridge World, February 1933, noted Ving contribution to the bridge club.
A portrait of assorted contented cows, executed by Mr. Ving Fuller, the club's artist, was unvealed [sic] shortly before the dinner.The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 13, 1933, reported the exhibition of Ving’s portraits.
An interesting exhibition of sketches of officers and members of the Woodmere Country Club by Ving Fuller, former cartoonist for a number of metropolitan newspapers, is now being held in the lobby of the clubhouse. The cartoons are embellished with biographies of the subjects—including their idiosyncrasies and talents. Among the portraits on display are those of Supreme Court Judge Clarence G. Galson, Lewis J. Robertson, president of the club; Timothy McCarthy, Oscar Seagar, William Meissel, Harry Ackerman, William Wolff and Ellis H. Wilner.American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew Helen Kane’s The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl from August 5 to October 21, 1934. It appeared in the New York Mirror.
Ving accepted me, probably because he had few friends. He was at least 25 years older than I and bitter that he had been reduced to ghost-drawing a comic strip called Joe and Asbestos for Ken Kling. The feature enjoyed its popularity on sports pages because each day’s strip contained a horse racing “best bet.” Kling was not much of an artist but he was a respected handicapper.Kanter and Bert Gold, an aspiring artist, contributed more jokes to Joe and Asbestos. Kling eventually assigned the writing to Ving who paid his two young writers.
In Fall 1936, Ving drove his mother, Kanter and Gold to California to see his brother, Samuel. A week after their arrival in Hollywood, Ving ended his relationship with Kanter and Gold. It’s not known how long Ving and his mother stayed in Hollywood.
Back in New York City, Kanter told about a chance encounter with Ving.
Ving Fuller approached me sheepishly on Seventh Avenue and asked it I could afford to buy him a hot dog. He told me he was unemployed, broke, alone. He was remorseful about his treatment of Bert and me in Hollywood….At the time, Kanter was hired to write Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s Eliza Poppin. Meanwhile, King Features searched for an artist. Kanter explained what happened.
Ving’s name was, of course, known to the editors at King, and when I urged Ole to give him a shot at the strip, he agreed. Ving quickly drew three or four different faces of “Eliza.” Ole, Chic and Dick Hyman of King Features picked one. I typed out a week’s worth of comic strip dialogue, advanced Ving money to buy a Whatman board, India ink, pens and gum erasers and production began on Eliza Poppin. Ving’s work was fast, crisp, funny and quickly accepted by newspaper editors. The strip got off to a flying start….American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew the strip from June 19, 1939 to January 6, 1940. It was continued by George “Swan” Swanson.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 10, 1939, reported the cartoonists’ contributions to a Chinatown restaurant.
Lum Fong will shortly dedicate a “Cartoonist’s Corner” at his Canal St. restaurant. The Corner will be decorated with original sketches by such artists as Arthur William Brown, Billy De Beck, Rube Goldberg, Ving Fuller, Paul Fung, Chick [sic] Young, Ham Fisher and George McManus.Ving has not been found in the 1940 census. His mother and brother Raymond, a cafeteria worker, lived in Manhattan at 336 West 95th Street. The date of his mother’s passing is not known. Raymond moved to Los Angeles where he died October 22, 1957. Samuel, a writer, lived in Los Angeles at 2050 1/2 Ivar Avenue.
At some point Ving returned to California and in 1941 filed, in Los Angeles, to become a naturalized citizen.
The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlet, etc., 1942, New Series, Volume 39, Number 8, had this entry: “Fuller (Ving)* New York. Olive drab. © July 6, 1942; A 125087. 25047”.
During World War II, it was the City of Angels where Ving enlisted in the army on November 10, 1942.
It’s not known when Ving was discharged from the army but he was in New York City when his naturalization was approved October 15, 1943. This was about six weeks after his mother was naturalized on September 2 in New York City.
Ving’s longest running strip was Doc Syke, from January 8, 1945 to 1960, according to American Newspaper Comics. It also appeared in comic books. Later, Ving changed the title to Little Doc and distributed it through his Ving Features Syndicate.
Ving patented a toy bank in 1953.
Be it known that I, Ving Fuller, a citizen of the United States, residing at 4546 Stem Ave., Sherman Oaks, in the county of Los Angeles and State of California, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Toy Bank or Similar Article…Ving and Walt Kelly were mentioned in Li’l Abner on December 7 and 14, 1958 and September 12, 1959.
Ving passed away August 2, 1965 in Los Angeles. His death was reported the following day by the Los Angeles Times. Samuel passed away October 30, 1997 in Los Angeles.
The Masters of Screwball Comics
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Magazine Cover Comics: Sunday Follies
Leonard T. Holton only contributed a few Hearst magazine cover series, and Sunday Follies was his last that I know of. The series was a loose conglomeration of wordy gags about people's activities on the Day of Rest. Of course, Holton's delicious deco-inspired art makes any gag seem palatable.
Sunday Follies was syndicated by Hearst's Newspaper Feature Service and ran from January 26 to April 13 1930.
Labels: Magazine Cover Comics
That's a great question, but my guess is behind door #3. I'd say rather that the Art Deco movement was an outside influence that inspired many cartoonists in Europe and here to reflect its sensibilities in their art. My guess is that cartoonists may not have necessarily looked to each other for inspiration as to the greater art world about them.
Clear line artists certainly pre-date Art Deco, so it may just be that it was that style that lended itself most to the Art Deco influence.
These are just opinions off the top of my head, and I'm certainly open to other more thoughtful interpretations.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dean Miller
Very little biographical information has been found on Dean Miller. An advertisement for the comic strip Vic Flint included a profile of Miller and was published in the Zanesville Signal (Ohio), February 15, 1959.
Dean Miller is one of the youngest artists in the United States to draw a top-flight comic. He illustrates the detective-adventure daily strip and Sunday page, Vic Flint, which appears in more than 500 newspapers.
A native of Springfield, Ill., Dean was born July 7, 1923. His family shortly afterward moved to Houston, Tex. Dean attended high school there and won a scholarship to the Houston Art Institute.
Miller’s baptism of fire in the cartoon world came at the tender age of 16. He landed a job as editorial cartoonist for a Houston weekly newspaper and after six months at the drawing board his salary was the same as when he started—absolute zero. It was guid training, but it bought no groceries, so Miller quit.
His next employer was Uncle Sam. After spending four years in the Air Force, where he was gunnery instructor, Dean landed a job as a cartoonist in Chicago. His work attracted the attention of NEA Service, Inc., and he reported for work in Cleveland early in 1950.
In October of the same year he took over the job of drawing Vic Flint. He is married and has two children.
Miller drew a 1948 Sunday strip called Mighty O’Malley for the Chicago Tribune.
Apparently Miller illustrated the Big Bear Lake Valley street map which was listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 19, Part 6, Number 2, Maps and Atlases, July–December 1965.
The 1954 Lakewood, Ohio city directory said NEA cartoonist Miller and his wife, Henrietta, resided at 17704 Fries Avenue. The 1956 and 1959 Fort Lauderdale, Florida city directories said Miller’s home address was 648 NW 21st Place. Also in the 1956 directory was the Dean Miller Art Studio at 440A East Las Olas Boulevard, Room 202.
Any information about Miller is appreciated.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, October 10, 2016
Mystery Strips: A Chicago Tribune Mystery
Writer Frank M. Young recently contacted me about a very intriguing mystery. He is engaged in writing a piece on cartoonist Dean Miller, most remembered (to me at least) as the second artist on the detective strip Vic Flint.
Young is in contact with Miller's family, and they told him that Dean Miller was further distinguished as the creator of a 1948 comic strip titled Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, which was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune. They produced as proof a photo of a Sunday strip, the only sample they have:
Young diligently searched for more information about this series, and came up with nothing. Which is why he came to me. Unfortunately I'd never heard of it either. But now we were both curious to try to solve the mystery.
The photo the family had originally offered to Young was rather blurry and was taken with the piece matted and framed (the one above is a sharper image out of the frame taken later). This led both Young and I to wonder if Dean Miller might have created a mock-up of the tearsheet for some reason, and that the strip was actually a red herring. Although it looked genuine enough, how could a strip run in the Chicago Tribune have managed to so thoroughly escape the world's notice?
I asked Young to get the family to take a photo of the back of the sheet. Here's what we got (they took a pair of close-ups that don't quite stitch together):
What at first blush looks like a normal newspaper page is shown to be quite unusual under closer examination. You'll note that the text on this page looks almost like it was created on a typewriter as opposed to professionally typeset. Does that mean it's a fake? Actually, no, it is a proof that the page is genuinely from the Chicago Tribune. In 1948, the Trib was going through a protracted strike by their typesetters, and much of the paper was typeset in exactly this way. Score one for Mr. Miller's veracity as a ChiTrib almunus.
Unfortunately, trying to date this page is troublesome. Since the Chicago Tribune archives on the web have a search engine that is blinder than Mr. Magoo, I was not surprised at my inability to find this page using any of a dozen different search terms. Most of the material here is syndicated 'evergreen' material, making coming up with a publication date troublesome. I checked other papers to see when they ran some of the stories:
Climbing Butch -- 3/9 - 3/21/48
Peg-Leg Coyote -- 3/15 - 4/5/48
Hip Replacement -- 3/11 - 3/26/48
Circus Model Builders -- 3/12 - ad infinitum (popular article!)
That narrows it down nicely, and the one local story, the traffic accident, was reported in a few papers, one on 3/11, the other on 3/13. Since that story came from the Trib, I narrowed down my viewing to the editions of 3/11/1948 and earlier. Immediately I hit paydirt of a sort -- the story and photos appeared in the March 10 edition (http://archives.
As a last ditch effort, I manually reviewed the editions for the rest of the week, especially Sunday which could well have repeated the story for readers who buy only the Sunday edition. No dice though. So how could the comic strip have been printed, yet not printed?
Frank Young offered up a final clue. He points out that the Sunday Tribune in 1948 was 10 cents in Chicago, and 15 cents elsewhere. This copy is plainly offered for 15 cents, with no mention of the in-town price. That means it was clipped from an out of town-only edition. Therefore it could be that Mighty O'Malley was printed only in the out of town edition, which is not the version that survives on microfilm. Although it is unusual for the two versions of a paper to be different in such a major way, it is by no means unknown. In fact, I've heard convincing evidence that the New York Daily News, the Trib's sister paper, had slightly different versions of the Sunday comics line-up at some points in its history.
That is as far as Frank Young and I can trace this mystery. Now we ask you good folks out there -- have you seen any samples of Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, and if so, what can you tell us about them? Does anyone know of an archive that has the Tribune's out-of-town edition?
Labels: Mystery Strips
"Famous Newspaper Comic Strips"
"Copyright 1947 Chicago Tribune"
But a couple of the features are not comic strip reprints.
D.D.Degg (hat tip: glynis37)
I'd swear I checked my E&P index and found nothing -- but on rechecking, it is there. Boy that O'Malley guy is sneaky!
Anyhow, E&P listed the strip for three years, 1947-49. According to Dave Strickler's index (I don't have my originals with me here) it was credited to George Markle (sp?) in 1947, and Dean Miller in 1948-49. It was a Sunday-only throughout.
And now glynis37 has found a comic book apparently reprinting some of the strips. Are the innards of that comic book online anywhere?
Saturday, October 08, 2016
December 16, 1908 -- L.A. is doubly blessed at 1908's yuletide, in Herriman's estimation.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, October 07, 2016
Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault
Here's another card from Outcault's 1904 Kaufmann & Strauss Co. series. This one claims a Valentine's Day theme, but what the cartoon has to do with that occasion is beyond my ability to reason out.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Thursday, October 06, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: W.A. Kolliker
William Augustin Kolliker was born in Bern, Switzerland, on October 12, 1905, according to Who’s Who in American Art: 1993–94 (1993) and German Immigrant Artists in America: A Biographical Dictionary (1997) He studied at the Berner Secundar Schule in Bern. Kolliker’s study was interrupted when his family left for the United States. At age 16, Kolliker was with his younger brother Franz and Brooklyn-born mother Agnes. The status of his Swiss father is not known. The trio were aboard the S.S. Yorck when it departed Bremen, Germany on June 3, 1922. The family arrived in New York City on June 15. The passenger list said they were going to see William Folk who resided in Brooklyn at 164 Saratoga Avenue. Folk was Kolliker’s uncle.
Kolliker was profiled in the El Paso Herald-Post (Texas), October 29, 1957. He was a staff artist for the New York American and studied at the National Academy of Design. He moved on to the Baltimore American and attended the Maryland Institute. Kolliker returned to New York and produced art for the tabloid, New York Graphic. Who’s Who said Kolliker took lessons at the Grand Central Art School and Art Students League. His next move was to Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied, according to Who’s Who, at the Boston School of Art.
Boston city directories, from 1927 to 1929, listed “William C Kolliker” who worked in an art department. The 1930 directory had his name as “William A Kolliker”.
The 1930 U.S. Federal Census, recorded newspaper artist Kolliker and his wife, Doris, in Boston at 1687 Commonwealth Avenue. About four months later, Kolliker became a naturalized citizen on August 21, 1930. His birth name was Wilhelm.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Kolliker took over Don Flowers’s Puffy the Pig beginning October 12, 1931. Kolliker’s run ended March 4, 1933. He was followed by Milton Caniff and Mel Graff.
The Herald-Post said Kolliker was illustrator, art editor and art director of Hearst’s American Weekly for 17 years. Kolliker also worked in advertising. Among the books Kolliker has illustrated are Adventures in Puddle Muddle (1935) and Help the Farmer (1943).
Kolliker and Doris divorced in 1953. Kolliker married Helen Magruder, a former El Paso and Fort Worth, Texas resident. They moved to El Paso where Kolliker took up painting. He was president of the El Paso Artists’ Association, a director of the Advertising Club of El Paso, and a member of the New York Art Directors Club, the Amateur Astronomers Society, the American Philatelic Society and the International Club. Kolliker’s work was exhibited in galleries and museums.
Kolliker’s third marriage was to Marie Mahovich in 1981.
Kolliker passed away January 24, 1995, in El Paso, according to the Texas Death Index at Ancestry.com.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: In the Good Old Days
It certainly wasn't a fully matured, stodgy and profit-centric comic strip world back in 1918, when the biggest newspaper conglomerate in the world would allow one of their star cartoonists to simply say the heck with his world famous comic strip, and try something else on for size. But that's exactly what Hearst allowed Jimmy Swinnerton to do when he put Little Jimmy on the shelf for six months to try his hand at something a little different.
On June 23 1918, readers opening their Star Company comics section found that In the Good Old Days was in and Little Jimmy was out. Why the switch was made is impossible for me to say for sure, but I suspect that Swinnerton, after churning out the same strip since 1904 (granted there were other strips along the way), wanted a break.
In the Good Old Days was set aboard Noah's ark. After a very promising, jazzy and energetic debut episode (above), the humor slowly but surely devolved. It became very much remindful of the old-fashioned 'in the jungle' comics of the 1890s, where an entire zoology of anthropomorphic animals formed a society based on their stereotypical traits. These weren't especially funny in the 1890s, and I doubt readers were clamoring to get them back in 1918.
It took Jimmy Swinnerton six months to get the animal gags out of his system, and on January 19 1919 he had the ark ram into Mount Ararat. That was the end of In the Good Old Days, and readers were presumably delighted when Little Jimmy was back in the next week's funnies section.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scan.
Lake & Sumter Style
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Don Flowers
Donald L. Flowers was born in Custer City, Oklahoma, on October 18, 1908. His birth date is from the California Death Index and his birthplace was mentioned in Famous Artists & Writers (1949), The Glamor Girls of Don Flowers (2006) and Find a Grave. A second post at Find a Grave said Flowers’s middle name was Lloyd.
The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Flowers as the youngest of three children. His mother, Mabel, was the head of the household. They lived in Custer City. Flowers’s father, William Adolphus Flowers (according to his World War I draft card), resided in Springfield, Missouri, at 319 1/2 Booneville. Flowers’s father was a photographer who operated a photo gallery. Early in his career he was known as W.A. Flower*. When W.A. Flowers signed his draft card, on September 12, 1918, he was in Kansas City, Missouri, at 414 East 12th Street. He was a photographer at Anderson Photo Company.
In the 1920 census, Flowers’s mother had remarried to Al A. Hancock, a barber. Flowers’s home was Kansas City, Missouri at 1307 Cherry Street. Flowers’s father also lived in Kansas City at 1518 Oak Street and continued his photography business.
Famous Artists & Writers said Flowers “quit school at the age of 16 to go to work on the Kansas City Star as a staff artist and photo retoucher. It was there that Don first began to develop his latent artistic talents; previously, he had just loafed to high school daily and loafed back and let the days slip happily, lazily by.” Flowers acknowledged the influence of artists Ralph Barton, Jeff Machamer, Russell Patterson and Englishman Gilbert Wilkinson. At age 20, Flowers moved to the Chicago American newspaper and, a few months later, was working for a syndicate.
According to the 1930 census, newspaper artist Flowers was married to Jane. The couple lived in Manhattan, New York City, at 5 Prospect Place. Flowers’s mother, a widow, remained in Kansas City where she was an artist. His father had remarried and was a resident in Cleveland, Oklahoma.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Flowers created several Associated Press panels. His Modest Maidens ran from March 17, 1930 to October 20, 1945. Flowers drew Puffy the Pig from October 13, 1930 to October 10, 1931. Puffy was continued by W.A. Kolliker, Milton Caniff and Mel Graff. Oh Diana was produced by Flowers from March 17, 1931 to November 1, 1941. He was followed by Bill Champe, Virginia Clark, Wood Cowan, Phil Berube and Vernon Rieck. In the late 1930s, Beauty and the Beach featured Flowers art with Betty Clarke’s text.
The Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania), June 1, 1941, published the article “Model Wife—Mrs. Flowers Helps Husband in Work as Cartoonist”.
For the King Features Syndicate, American Newspaper Comics said Flowers began Glamor Girls on October 22, 1945. The daily and Sunday panel ran until February 3, 1968.
Flowers passed away January 8, 1968, in Los Angeles, as recorded in the California death index. Additional information about Flowers, by his son, is here.
* Under the name W.A. Flower, he was mentioned a few times in the Guthrie Daily Leader (Oklahoma): September 30, 1893; twice in the second column on November 21, 1893; and January 12, 1894. Three photographs by Flower were published in the London-based periodical Strand Magazine, September 1897, on pages 140, 141 and 142. The Bulletin of Photography, June 24, 1914, noted his whereabouts. One of his photographs appeared on page 14 of the History of Photography Part 4: Photography as a Tool (2012).
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, October 03, 2016
Obscurity of the Day: The Colonials
Joe Escourido was evidently a sharp cookie, in that he foresaw as early as 1970 that the upcoming bicentennial was going to make anything related to the American revolutionary era a hot ticket. He created The Colonials, a gag strip about that era, and United Feature Syndicate shopped it around to a somewhat receptive audience of newspaper editors.
The strip debuted on November 30 1970 as a Sunday and daily strip in a respectable number of newspapers, but it wasn't long before trouble started. Although The Colonials did beat everyone else out of the gate, in the ensuing years other strips, like Yankee Doodles and Pluribus, began to steal away clients. As important as the Bicentennial was, editors still weren't about to give more than one space to strips that played off it. The Colonials had some problems that made it an easy target for syndicate salesmen urging a change. The major problem was that Escourido seemed somewhat bored by his Colonial era setting, and his humor sometimes had little or nothing to do with the time period. That would have been a big problem to editors. Secondly, Escourido seemed to get a big kick out of sometimes writing dialogue in a Colonial/British accent. What he actually accomplished is to make the dialogue almost indecipherable (see top two examples).
In 1973 the strip must have already been in trouble, because the Sunday was dropped that year, and the strip was renamed Colonial Capers - presumably a move intended to show the more dimwitted newspaper editors that the strip was indeed meant to be funny. All of it was to no avail. By the bicentennial year the strip's client list was truly anemic, and it could even be that the strip did not even make it to July 4 1976. It was advertised in E&P that year, but I've never found it running anywhere later than 1975.