Saturday, March 30, 2013
In weazel-skin hat news, Hen Berry now has the mysterious 13th guest right in his hands, but doesn't realize it.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, March 29, 2013
Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase
|Adam Chase (c) renewed 2013 by Russ Morgan. All rights reserved.|
Labels: Adam Chase Sci-Friday
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Billy Possum
If it weren't for Cole Johnson and Alfredo Castelli, though, I wouldn't even know about it. In the microfilm of the Chicago Tribune that I indexed, this series was missing entirely. Obviously some villain with a razor had gotten to the bound volumes before the microfilmers. Luckily, though, the researcher community comes to the rescue once more.
From Castelli's Here We Are Again I learn that the series ran from May 9 to July 11 1909. The dates are significant, because this is no unassuming little funny animal series. No, the creators, Paul West and Horace Taylor, were doing a little bit of backhanded politicking in this series, not to mention putting in a bid to create a new national toy craze.
We all know about the Teddy Bear and the cuddly toy's relationship to President Theodore Roosevelt. However, what is less well-known is that Roosevelt's successor, William Howard Taft, was marketed to the public with his own furry, cuddly toy equivalent, the Billy Possum.
There is conflicting information about how and exactly when Taft was first associated with a possum. One story has it that the possum was picked because of Taft's penchant for falling asleep at innopportune times -- the possum being known as a good snoozer. Another story is that during the Presidential campaign Taft was served cooked possum at some southern function, and was so loud in his praise for the cooked critters that the connection stuck.
In reality, my bet is that Billy Possum began its life more prosaically, purely as a marketing gimmick cooked up by back-room political operatives. Taft did not have the magnetic personality of Roosevelt, and his backers needed to try everything they could pull out of their bag of tricks to make the public like him.
Pulled along on the coattails of Roosevelt's popularity, Taft was elected to office. Many of the votes cast for him were really for Roosevelt, who had let it be known with a wink and a nod that Taft was his man, would do his bidding, and it would almost be like having Roosevelt himself in the White House for four more years.
Although popular with the common folk, Democrat and Republican alike, the Republican establishment was far less enamored of Roosevelt, and when it turned out after the election that Taft and the rest of the party had no intention of being Teddy's puppet, traditional Republicans were relieved. The Chicago Tribune was stolidly Republican, and undoubtedly was a less than enthusiastic supporter of the Roosevelt administration. When Taft was elected, the Tribune editors and ownership must have heaved a sigh of relief.
The rift between Roosevelt and Taft is where the Billy Possum series originates. After the election, Teddy was surprised and definitely not dee-lighted to find that Taft had somehow grown a backbone. Roosevelt's ideas were falling on deaf ears in the White House, and he was not pleased. While the Taft-Roosevelt rift may not have risen to the level of open battle, it was a simmering feud that lasted throughout Taft's presidency.
Seeing a chance to appeal to Republican papers, Paul West concocted a story wherein the virtuous, sunny and talented Billy Possum, through no fault of his own, becomes embroiled in a feud with all the Teddy Bears. The Teddies are unhappy that Billy Possum could become the next favorite doll, unseating them from their place at the pinnacle of toy success, where the love of all the children showers upon them. The Teddy bears are quite monstrously evil characters, and thus, through any underhanded nasty method they can come up with, they plot to kill poor Billy Possum.
Of course in the end Billy Possum is going to win the battle, and in the second sample above, gets a personal endorsement from none other than Taft himself, who admonishes the possum to "fight to a finish" with the teddy bears.
West and Taylor's Billy Possum may have been intriguing political satire, but it failed in its real mission, to ignite the interest of the nation's children and create a toy craze. The pages were far too wordy, and the action too violent. Although Billy Possum dolls were test-marketed, and other various doodads produced, nothing came of it. The series and the concept sank from sight with hardly a trace ... even on the microfilm.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
A Frank Moser Mystery
I knew then that Cole hadn't just found some weird little try-out thing that lasted only a month. But why no other information? Dave Strickler's E&P listings don't mention Moser, the other standard reference books either don't mention Moser at all or focus only on his animation career, Alex Jay's research for yesterday's Ink-Slinger Profile revealed nothing about it, and both Cole's samples and mine don't even have syndicate stamps, so we haven't even a loose thread on which to start pulling.
I took a shot with Newspaperarchive.com, which I gave up on pretty quickly as it has gotten unbelievably slow and annoying since their latest redesign. My searches for "by moser" turned up lots of bad results but I found none that actually pointed to these panel cartoons.
Finally I decided to go through my old, badly faded photocopies of the E&P syndicate books. I know Strickler's E&P book did not catch everything from those early listings, because E&P did such haphazard categorization. Perhaps I could find some feature that mentions Moser as the creator.
Here I found success. Poring over those faded, barely legible listings, I struck gold. In the 1924 syndicate book (the first that E&P did), I found a listing:
Ah ha! That explained a lot! First, the lack of a syndicate stamp is typical for Associated, so that ends that mystery. Second, the multiple creators and lack of a series name explains all the rest. Strickler wouldn't have included such an oddball, vague listing in his book, and it also explains why we never seem to find a real run of these Moser panels. It's because this was an early sort of multi-creator series that we wouldn't really see again until the advent of features like Laff-a-Day, This Funny World, and others in the 1930s and 40s. Moser might have appeared once a week or even less. And many newspapers using this series, since it wasn't even really identifiable as a series, would probably not have run it consistently anyway.
Checking subsequent yearbooks, I find the listing show up two more times:
So my 1928 sample is either old material, or Associated Newspapers wasn't even bothering to tell E&P about this oddball feature anymore.
The only missing piece is to find a newspaper that did actually run this 'feature' consistently. As it is, I really don't feel I have enough solid information to add a listing for it to my book. How many others contributed to the series? When did the various cartoonists start and end their association with the feature? Did they contribute consistently, or is the feature a true grab-bag of creators? Was the feature still running in 1928 and possibly beyond? How long before 1924 might it have been running?
Thanks VERY MUCH for all this info! Not sure where or if I can view these online (as I said in my post, Newspaperarchive runs like syrup running uphill in January for me right now). Did you find that any of these papers was printing the feature on a consistent daily basis, including all the creators? What I'd really like to do, when the web-gods permit, is to review long swaths of the series to see which cartoonists are used (that etc in the listings is quite intriguing) and see if I can create a reasonably good Stripper's Guide listing for this rather thin series. Without a consistent creator or title, they certainly are stretching the boundaries.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Frank Moser
Frank Herman Moser was born in Oketo, Kansas, on May 27, 1886. His birthplace was identified in the New York Times, October 2, 1964, and his World War I draft card had his full name and birth date. In the 1895 Kansas State Census, his German-born mother, Alviena, was the head of the household. Of the seven children, he and his twin sister, Martha, were the youngest. They lived in Marysville, Kansas. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1970) said his father’s name was John Jacob, a farmer.
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the family of six in Marysville on Alston Street. (The family name was misspelled “Mosher”.) His oldest brother was the breadwinner. All seven siblings were together in the 1905 Kansas State Census; apparently their mother has passed away before then. Regarding his education, art training and early work, the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography said:
...After receiving his preliminary education at public schools in Marysville, Kans., Frank H. Moser studied in 1907–08 at the Albert T. Reid Art School, Topeka, Kans., during 1908–10 at the Cumming School of Art, Des Moines, Iowa, and for a time after 1912 at the Art Students League of New York and the National Academy of Design, the last two in New York City. While attending school in Des Moines, he worked with J.N Ding (Jay N. Darling) cartoonist for the Register, as part-time illustrator and cartoonist, doing general utility sketch assignments. In 1910, when Ding left the paper, Moser replaced him and drew a daily cartoon for two years. He moved to New York City in 1912 and while attending art school had work illustrating for the New York Globe a daily story, “In Our School,” which ran for four years....
He has not been found in the 1910 census. A family tree at Ancestry.com said he married “Anna Augusta Margareta Hård (Nilsson)” in August 1914. The couple and their four-month-old daughter, Marjorie, lived in Manhattan, New York City at 171 Audubon Avenue, according to the 1915 New York State Census. He was a newspaper artist. In The Educational Screen, October 1939, Arthur Edwin Erows wrote:
The Times said he moved to Hastings, New York in 1916. Moser signed his World War I draft card September 12, 1918. His address was 37 Hollywood Drive in Hastings. He was a cartoonist employed at the International Film Service Company, 727 7th Avenue, New York City. His description was medium height and build with gray eyes and light colored hair. In the Student’s Art Magazine, June-July 1919, Bert Green shared his observation of Moser’s skills: “The most rapid animator in the game is Frank Moser. Moser literally shakes them out of a hat. I have seen Moser take a scenario of ‘Happy Hooligan’ and in thirty days hand you a pile of between two and three thousand drawings that you couldn’t jump over and live through it. Yes, and catch the 5:15 for Hastings ‘nine times running.’ ”
His home address was the same in the 1920 census. New to the household was a son, John. He continued work as an artist for a film company. The Dobbs Ferry Register (New York), September 3, 1920, reported the vaudeville benefit which included Moser:
…One of the most unique numbers is Frank H. Moser, in Animated Cartoons—The Secret Exposed. Mr. Moser is the creator of the well-known animated cartoon, “Bud and Susie,” who, by the way, are better known in River View Manor by their right names, John and Marjorie Moser. Mr. Moser will appear in person and demonstrate how it is made, drawing the pictures right on the stage. This has never before been shown.
According to the Register, September 21, 1928, Moser was treasurer of the Hudson River Valley Art Association; he and his wife accepted the invitation to become charter members in the association. In 1929, he and Paul Terry co-founded a company to produce animated cartoons. A photo of the Terrytoons staff is here.
The July 26, 1929, Register noted a visit by his twin sister, Martha, who was a school teacher in San Francisco. Six weeks later, his daughter passed away at home; the cause was tubercular meningitis, as reported in the Hastings News, September 6. Three months later, tragedy struck again, when Moser came home and found his wife dead, a suicide of gas poisoning. The Register, December 13, 1929, said she was despondent over the death of her daughter, who would have been fifteen on the ninth.
Moser, his son and a servant were recorded in the 1930 census at the same address. The News, September 9, 1932, reported his marriage to Isabel Fairclough. The second half of the decade found him in court. The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York), December 1, 1936, reported Moser’s lawsuit against Terry:
Friend Accused by Cartoonist
Artist Charged He Was Deceived into Sale of Interest in Firm
White Plains, Dec. 1.—Frank H. Moser of 37 Hollywood Avenue, Hastings, well known animated cartoon artist, charged in affidavits today that his former bosom friend and fellow cartoonist, Paul H. Terry of Larchmont, persuaded him by fraud and deceit to sell for $24,200 his 50–50 share in their highly profitable Terrytoons, Inc., then feted him at a testimonial dinner marking severance of their business relationship last March 2.
Terrytoons, Inc., has its studio at the Pershing Square building in New Rochelle.
Moser, who is forty, is suing in Supreme Court to regain his half share in the corporation or, in the alternative, for $500,000 damages. He names as defendants Terry, whose home is at 115 Beach Avenue, Larchmont; William M. Weiss, who was their secretary-treasurer; Terrytoons, Inc.; The Moser and Terry Corporation, which was succeeded by Terrytoons, Inc., and Earl W. Hammons, president of Educational Films Corporation of America, distributors of the Terry and Moser animated cartoons.
Moser lost his suit as reported in the Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), July 12, 1937. His animation career is detailed in Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons (2006). His involvement in an auto accident was published in the Niagara Falls Gazette (New York), May 5, 1938:
Hauptmann Child Injured by Auto
New York, May 5 (AP)—Manfred Hauptmann, five-year-old son of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was treated today for a double leg fracture suffered when he was struck by an automobile.
The boy, playing on a Bronx street yesterday, darted into the path of a car driven by Frank H. Moser, of Hastings-on-Hudson. His right leg was fractured above and below the knee, Fordham hospital physicians said, and his cheek and ear were cut.
His mother, Mrs. Anna Hauptmann, widow of the man executed for the slaying of the Lindbergh baby, now uses her maiden name—Schoeffler.
Moser was sued for $100,000. The Kingston Daily Freeman (New York), February 2, 1940, reported the outcome:
Hauptmann Boy Awarded $23,500
New York, Feb. 2 (AP)—The six-year-old son of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, executed kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby, has been awarded $23,500 damages against Frank Moser, a cartoonist, for allegedly permanent leg injuries suffered when he was struck by Moser’s car.
The child, Manfred Hauptmann, was hurt while playing in front of his Bronx home May 5, 1938. His mother, who sued for $100,000, was awarded $2,000 by a jury yesterday.
Moser’s attorney called the award excessive and asked that it be set aside. Justice William F. Love reserved decision.
Mrs. Hauptmann, whose husband was electrocuted in 1936, charged Moser with negligence. The cartoonist’s counsel said the accident was unavoidable.
The verdict was returned in the Bronx county courthouse where Hauptmann first was arraigned on charge of kidnapping the infant son of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh.
In the 1940 census, Moser and his family remained at the same address. He was an animation cartoonist in the movie industry, and his highest level of education was four years of high school. A filmography is here. He continued painting and exhibited in galleries in New York and Westchester County. He was a member of the Allied Artists of America, the American Watercolor Society and the Salmagundi Club. His twin sister passed away September 29, 1958, according to the California Death Index.
Moser passed away September 30, 1964, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Many sources said he died October 1. The Times reported his death October 2 and the first paragraph said:
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Oct. 1—Frank H. Moser, an artist who was co-founder and producer of Terrytoons, the animated cartoon films, died yesterday in Dobbs Ferry Hospital at the age of 78. He lived at 37 Hollywood Drive, Hastings-on-Hudson.
His death was noted in the Chatham Courier (New York), October 8, 1964:
Frank Moser Dies
Word has been received of the sudden death of Frank Moser, noted cartoonist and artist, at Hastings-on-Hudson, on Sept. 30. Mr. and Mrs. Moser resided in the home now occupied by Mrs. Perry Kirby for several years. He was a contributor to the “Terrytoons” film cartoon series. Services were held Saturday at Hastings-on-Hudson with interment in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Thanks for that! Might you have any samples to share, or be able to provide the specific start and end dates of the series?
Monday, March 25, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Amy
Unfortunately for Mace, he was not going to bask in his success for long. After a brief illness of some kind, Mace died at the age of 41 in December 1963. That could have easily been the end of Amy, which was not setting the world on fire, except that Mace's close friend and neighbor, fellow gag cartoonist Jack Tippit, had been assisting on the feature. At first Tippit had supplied occasional gags, but when Mace got sick Tippit took over the entire production. Register & Tribune was so impressed with the perfect match between Mace's style and Tippit's that they saw no reason to drop the feature, and Jack Tippit's byline started appearing on the strip on January 27 1964.
Tippit, obviously seeing the same writing on the wall regarding the decline of the magazine gag market, readily accepted the assignment and continued Amy. He shepherded the feature to a thirty year run, never in a lot of papers, but enough to make the feature worth producing, ending sometime in 1991. By then the feature had outlasted it's own syndicate, and had been taken over by King Features for the final half-decade of its run.
Despite its long run, Amy was only once collected in book form, an Ace/Grosset & Dunlap paperback issued in 1978.
This is the sort of syndicate business minutiae that I just dote on!
I was aware of the R&T - Cowles name change in 1985, prior to the sale to King. What I thought you were indicating in your first ms. was that the name changed signaled that R&T's features were now being distributed by King (sort of like George Matthew Adams' Sundays way back when). I gather I misunderstood you.
Ger -- those Harry Mace cartoons look to be in the standard Laff-a-Day format, but I wasn't aware that King ever provided daily titles and credit slugs for them. So it sure looks like it could be a Harry Mace-only gag feature. Or, the editor of that paper REALLY REALLY loved Harry Mace's work, picked out the Laff-a-Days by Harry, and added a credit. Which seems pretty far-fetched.
Bill Prindle, Charlottesville, VA
Harry Mace was my father.
You might be interested to know that the original name for the panel was 'Phoebe' but the syndicate rep didn't like it. He said it remiinded him of a former girlfriend, so my dad changed it.
I'll be sending you an email shortly to clear up some of the mysteries that I've just learned are floating around and to offer you some clean clip sheets of both Amy and Junior Grade. Not being sure how often you check back for new postings, email seems safer for that.
Janet (Mace) Splan
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics