Saturday, April 06, 2013

 

Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, April 7 1908 -- What's the first rule of Jim Jeffries' Fight Club? My guess is that it is to not make fun of Mr. Jeffries, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. George, I hope you steer clear of that guy for a couple weeks after this cartoon!

In weazel-skin hat news, Gooseberry Sprig gains a choice piece of intelligence about the man in the bassinet.

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Friday, April 05, 2013

 

Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

Adam Chase (c) renewed 2013 by Russ Morgan. All rights reserved.

Adam Chase strip #15, originally published September 11 1966. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

 

Obscurity of the Day: Book-Taught Bilkins




Clarence Rigby never created what we would now consider a classic series, and as a cartoonist he probably registered a tad closer to inept than ept, but you have to give the guy a lot of points for having gotten his work run by a lot of different newspapers and for coming up with a lot of different series, some of which had very long runs.

Here's his longest running series, Book-Taught Bilkins. Chances are you've never heard of it despite the fact that it ran for six years, practically an eternity compared to the mayfly-long lifespans typical of weekday strips in that day. Rigby's weekday strip was the very first continuing series run by the New York Evening Telegram, the surprisingly lively evening paper run by the generally staid New York Herald. The Telegram ran all sorts of oddball strips in the oughts and early teens, some penned by the Herald's major names like Winsor McCay, others by cartoonists who rarely if ever measured up to getting a series in the Herald's Sunday section.

Book-Taught Bilkins debuted on August 22 1904, and for a short while actually flirted with becoming a daily strip. It ran daily from August 27 to September 8, but then faltered, well short of earning a place in histories as an early daily. Presumably because Rigby had so many oars in the water, Book-Taught Bilkins tended to disappear for long stretches -- the two longest were August 10 1905 to March 12 1906 and August 17 to December 28 1906. By May 1907, though, Rigby seems to have settled down, or perhaps the Telegram finally decided to order new material on a consistent basis, and Book-Taught Bilkins ran on a consistent once-a-week basis until the end of the strip on September 13 1910.

The strip itself has a pretty familiar plot for that era. In those days when you could 'send away for our free booklet' to learn how to do everything from car repair to cartooning, much gleeful fun was made of those who did a little 'book-learning' and came away with the idea that they had actually mastered a subject. Mr. Bilkins believes everything he reads, considers himself a self-taught expert in 101 subjects, and suffers the consequences over and over and over.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!

Digression Dept.: the car tires with ads on them in sample #2 are not at all far-fetched -- I recall an antique car show I once attended that had a 1910s-era model whose tire treads spelled out the name of the manufacturer. I thought it was a brilliant bit of marketing, and wondered why the idea faded away. I searched all over the web and couldn't find a show-and-tell picture though. Sorry!

Digression Dept, Next Door Down: the bottom sample from 1910 is referencing Halley's Comet, which was making its transit in that year.


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Hello, Allan----Perhaps what you saw at the antique car show were Firestone's "NON-SKID" brand tires. These were introduced in 1908, and have been produced since then for the ever-shrinking early automobile market. The tread consists of large raised letters spelling "NON-SKID" over and over again.
 
That's probably it. Great marketing gimmick. I suppose, though, that the marketing might have gotten in the way of niggling little details like traction, though.

--Allan
 
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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Rock Channel


In a bid to interest young potential newspaper readers, and to cash in on a new cultural phenomenon, the Register and Tribune Syndicate and an up-and-coming line-up of young comic strippers introduced The Rock Channel in 1984.

MTV, the original music video television station, debuted on cable television in 1981 and was an immediate hit. In seemingly no time at all, it completely changed the landscape of pop music, making it arguably more important for pop stars to look good and appear in entertaining videos than to produce worthwhile music. The concept and personalities were definitely ripe for the satirical picking

The Rock Channel's backdrop is a low-rent version of MTV, a competitor channel with lesser-light VJs, lots of technical glitches, but no end of major pop stars dropping in for gag opportunities. The strongest character has to be Jungle Jim Cody, a VJ in the burned-out mold of Johnny Fever of the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati.

The CJs (cartoon jockeys!) behind the VJs were Greg Walker and Guy and Brad Gilchrist. The Gilchrists were already working on the successful Muppets comic strip, and Greg Walker is one of Mort Walker's numerous creative offspring. All three creators shared in the gag-writing, while Guy Gilchrist penned the art. However, since the Gilchrists were already busy on The Muppets, an assist was eventually needed on the art chores. According to Guy, who answered questions about the strip credits back in 2003:

I only did the Rock Channel for a year. I met [Klaus Nordling] through Gill Fox, who also occasionally inked for me. Klaus began inking backgrounds about 4 months into the run, along with Gill. They did about half the backgrounds each on the dailies for about 4 months or so. Sorry, it was a while ago, and I'm fuzzy on the times. Toward the end of the run, Klaus started inking the whole thing, except for any caricatured folks that were guest starring, as that was much more my personal style. In the last couple months, Klaus ghosted the whole thing, except for the caricatures. But, it wasn't ghosting. I let him sign it with me. Greg, myself and Brad shared equally in the gag writing. Greg occasionally lettered it. Sometimes I did. It depended on the schedule...or how far I was behind, to be more specific. I believe Greg lettered more than I did. Yes....I'm sure he did.
A few footnotes regarding Guy's remarks. When Guy says he worked on The Rock Channel for a year, I think he may have been rounding up. The strip seems to have debuted on July 15 1984, and the latest I've ever found it running is February 1985. That's not to say it didn't make its first anniversary, but if it did I haven't yet found a paper that ran it that long.  And as for Nordling signing the strip, if that's the case it must have been later than February, because those are still being signed by Guy alone.

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Greg Walker, one of the Walker Boys (Greg, Brian, Morgan, Neal).
The Gilchrist brothers are Guy and Brad.
D.D.Degg
 
Bollixed up those names nicely, didn't I? Thanks DD, post fixed.

--Allan
 
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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Day Dreams of Danny Dawes

Here we have the great Jimmy Swinnerton taking a delightful turn at producing a series of newspaper magazine covers. The Day Dreams of Danny Dawes was pretty standard fare for Swinnerton, being about a little boy and frequently featuring Indians and western landscapes, but rarely do we get to see Swinnerton with the luxury of a full page panel like this. Needless to say, he takes advantage of his large canvas.

Although these covers were syndicated by Star Company, and so presumably appeared elsewhere, I've only seen them used on the New York Journal's Saturday magazine sections. And since the microfilm of the New York Journal is woefully incomplete, I can only say that the series seems to have begun on April 26 1924 and the latest I've seen so far was the December 20 1924 cover.

The feature did not run every week, and my assumption, since the microfilm runs out temporarily at the end of 1924, is that the series may well have extended into 1925.

Anyone with additional information on this series is politely begged to share!

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Monday, April 01, 2013

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Paul West




Paul Clarendon West was born in Boston, Massachusetts, at 13 Hanson Street, on January 26, 1871, according to his 1918 passport application (see photo). His description was five feet ten inches, brown eyes, grayish hair, and a tattooed name on his left arm. The application also said his father died in 1892. His middle name was found in a Google search.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census he was the oldest of four children born to Paul, a lawyer, and Fannie. They lived in Boston at 778 Broadway.

The Actors’ Birthday Book (1908) profiled West.

The name of Paul West has been more or less identified with theatrical affairs in this country for the past fifteen years, but he has recently come to the fore with considerable import as a playwright and songwriter. His name has been on Broadway play-bills dozens of times within the past five years, and his is a future that is pretty sure to bring a wealth of success and prosperity. Mr. West was born in Boston, Mass., and was educated at the Boston Latin School and at Peekskill Military Academy. From 1888 to 1892 he was engaged in newspaper work in Lawrence, Mass., and his native city. The two years following he was press representative with the Hoyt forces, after which he served as business-manager for a season each with Camille D’Arville, “The Sphinx” and Frank Daniels. Mr. West took up newspaper work again in 1897 on the New York Evening Journal, the following year becoming affiliated with the New York Sunday World, with which paper he has remained ever since. As a contributor to stage literature, Mr. West has written several hundred musical numbers that have been interpolated in various musical plays. Among the pieces for which he has been responsible, one finds: “Fad and Folly,” 1902, for Mrs. Osborn’s Playhouse; “The Man from China,” 1904, produced at the Majestic; “The Pearl and the Pumpkin,” 1905, for Klaw and Erlanger; the adaptation of “Sergeant Brue,” 1905, for Frank Daniels; “Fascinating Flora,” 1907, at the Casino; and “The Love Waltz,” 1908, a pretentious vaudeville offering. He also wrote the lyrics for “The White Hen,” 1907, for Louis Mann, and “The Merry-Go-Round,” 1908, produced at the Circle Theatre. Mr. West is most energetic and ambitious, with considerable facile power as a lyric writer, and there is no question that his to-morrows hold many bright things for him.




Evening World 8/20/1904


In the 1900 census, West, his wife and two children lived in Yonkers, New York at 41 Caryl Avenue. In the column for his occupation was “newspaper”. According to Who’s Who in America 1903–1905, he married Jane V. Carrigan, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 18, 1895. Who’s Who in New York City and State (1905) said his address was 930 West End Avenue, New York City.

The Morning Telegraph (New York), August 4, 1901, reported cartoonist Dan McCarthy’s plan to move from his Harlem flat to the countryside. About the design of his new home he said: 

“…I want all newspaper artists to feel at home, and so I will have a long line of lockers with private keys where they can keep clean collars, pencils, pens and cardboard.

Thus far I have assigned lockers to James Swinnerton, Tom Powers, Charles Reese, Horace Taylor, Willie Williams, Frank Nankiveil, the Brothers Glackens, Mike O’Flaherty, E. Fredericks, Harry Dart, Charles Wright, Percy Gray and William Jennings Bryan Weil….I will paint the house myself, being assisted in this task only by Paul West and Gilbert Edge….”

He collaborated with W.W. Denslow to create the illustrated book, The Pearl and the Pumpkin (1904), which was turned into a musical the following year. The New York Dramatic Mirror, October 31, 1908, published this item: “The Leffler-Bratton company will begin rehearsals this week for their new muscle comedy production. The Newlyweds and Their Baby, by Aaron Hoffman and Paul West, founded on the cartoons by George McManus.”



Ithaca Daily News 4/20/1920


Some of the comics he drew for the New York World were Father Goose (1900), Dr. Birch’s School (1900), The Good-To-Eat Alphabet and The Good-To-Eat Children (1900), and Alpha, Omega and their Sister Sue (1902); for the Chicago Tribune he wrote Billy Possum (1909).

The 1910 census recorded West in Manhattan, New York City, at 610 West 111th Street. His occupation was newspaper editor. Many of his short stories appeared in the New-York Tribune. On April 24, 1918, he sailed to France for Red Cross duty. On October 26, the New York Sun reported his disappearance.

Paul West Missing, Is Believed Dead
N.Y. Newspaper Man’s Cap Found on Paris Bridge with Farewell Note.

Paul West, a prominent figure in New York newspaper work, is missing from his quarters in Paris, where he went as a Red Cross worker, and the officials fear that he is dead. Information concerning his disappearance came yesterday by The Associated Press in the following despatch:

“Paris, Oct. 25.—Paul West, a New York writer, who came to France as a Red Cross worker, has disappeared. His cap was found on a Paris bridge. With it were two cards. One was addressed to Captain R.T. Townsend, and on the other was written in French: ‘When this is found I shall be dead.’ ”

West’s health has been bad, and he was to have sailed for America this week. Mrs. West and her daughter, Miss Jane West, live in East fiftieth street. At the home yesterday Miss West said:

“Father went with many other Red Cross men to the front lines at Chateau Thierry. He worked there through the crisis of the battle, and while he was with the wounded in the dugout he was gassed. A cablegram came to us telling of the gassing but it said that it was nothing to worry about. For a week he was in the hospital at the front. Later it was possible to move him and they sent him to Paris where he was in another hospital for some time.

“We thought he had quite recovered and he thought so, too. His letters were cheerful and he was planning to come home. We thought that he had actually sailed, for it was only two days ago that we received a cablegram saying he was about to sail on the same ship bringing Gen. Thornton of the British Mission.”

Paul West wrote a great quantity of comic verse and short stories, in addition to doing much regular work for the New York press. He was the “Fluffy Ruffles” of the Herald
[It’s not clear to me how West was connected to this feature. Carolyn Wells was credited for the verses.]; wrote “The Dime Novels of an Office Boy,” “Widow Wise,” “Just Boy” and hundreds of other short works.

As a playwright he created “The Man from China,” “The Pearl and the Pumpkin,” “The Song Shop,” “The Red Petticoat,” and other popular light plays. More than 300 songs came from his pen and moving pictures fans have seen 100 pictures made from his scenarios.


On October 30, the Sun reported his death:

Paul West’s Body Found.
Discovered in Seine in Paris, Near Where He Left Note

Paris, Oct. 29.—The body of Paul West of New York, who came to France to work for the American Red Cross and who disappeared last week, was found yesterday in the River Seine.

The Paris edition of the New York Herald says the body was found close to the bridge where he left his cap with a note, and which was found after his disappearance. The body had lodged beneath a barge, and was fully dressed in the Red Cross uniform and overcoat.

Mr. West, who was a writer and playwright, had been in poor health.

***

Capt. West left here on April 24 to work in France for the Red Cross. His wife and two children, Miss Jane Elizabeth and Paul West, Jr., the latter of whom is in France with the American forces, survive him. He was in the front line with the American troops at Chateau Thierry and again at St. Mihiel.

Capt. West was a native of Boston, and worked there as a newspaper reporter, joke writer, chalk plate artist and theatrical press agent before he came to New York, where he achieved great success as a writer of songs, light musical plays, books and newspaper and other stories, aw well as more than a hundred motion picture scenarios.


And he was remembered in the Authors’ League Bulletin, December 1918. The Reno Evening Gazette, January 15, 1919, reported the following:

Grave of Red Cross Worker Is Decorated
Paris, Jan. 15.—American newspapermen went to the American Red Cross cemetery this afternoon and placed a wreath on the grave of Paul West, well known New York writer and Red Cross worker. The flower covered grave was photographed and copies will be sent to his late home.

Paul West died in Paris after his return from the Western front where he had engaged in war work and at one time narrowly escaped death when a shell from a big German gun exploded near him. He suffered from shell shock as a result.

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Hello, Allan---Looks like Corey drew that 1904 song ad.
 
Hi Cole --
This is an Alex Jay post (as are all posts headed Ink-Slinger Profiles), but I agree with you that the art looks like Cory's work.

--Allan
 
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Man,you are living the life. I am so happy for you.

Prunes and macaroons!
 
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