Saturday, May 10, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Monday, July 6 1908 -- J. J. Dunn will offer the nominating speech for William Jennings Bryan at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. It was so stirring a speech that it was following by no less than 70 minutes of cheering and rejoicing from the floor.

Here's a powerful passage from Dunn's speech:
Without an organization to urge his claim; without a campaign fund to circulate literature in his behalf; without patronage to bribe a single voter; without a predatory corporation to coerce its employees into his support; without a subsidized newspaper to influence the public mind; this extraordinary man has won a signal victory at the primaries and has become the free choice of the militant Democracy of the nation.
The amazing thing is that in the case of Bryan, this isn't 100% baloney, nor did it make him a minor candidate to be easily bulldozed aside by the monied forces. You can see why the Democrats, though already bitten twice by nominating him, would just keep on trying, thinking that they must have lightning in a bottle.


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Friday, May 09, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, November 22 1936, courtesy of Cole Johnson. Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, May 08, 2014


News of Yore 1949: Al Capp Profiled


Al Capp and His Fertile Imagination


By Virginia Irwin -- A Staff Correspondent of the St, Louis Post-Dispatch

New York, Feb. 14, 1949

When cartoonist Al Capp allowed his famous hillbilly character, Li'l Abner, to wander away one day last year from Dogpatch and  into the adjoining Valley of  the Shmoon, not even the fertile Capp imagination could foresee the results.

It was, of course, in the Valley of the Shmoon that Li'l Abner discovered that "pee-koolyar-lookin' little animule" the shmoo. Shmoos, as readers of the Post-Dispatch comic pages know, multiply faster than rabbits. They die happy and ready to cook when you look hungrily at them. They lay eggs and give the finest creamery butter and grade "A" milk already sealed in a bottle. Occasionally they even lay a cheesecake on a plate. Broiled they taste like steak; fried, they're the "yummiest" chicken. Their eyes make the best suspender buttons and their whiskers excellent toothpicks. Their hide makes the finest leather or cloth depending on how thick you slice it and in times of a housing shortage can be used for shingles, wallpaper, roofing or floor covering.

And while that lovable little animule, the shmoo, was busy under Capp's direction performing all these feats in the funny papers, it was also turning a neat trick on its own. That trick was the earning of some $250,000 extra for Capp through the licensing of the shmoo likeness for kid's toys, pants buttons, balloons, soap, lapel pins, shmoo banks and other assorted novelties that are today being sold to the people of a nation that went shmoo crazy.

Sensing the trend, the book publishing company of Simon and Schuster brought out a collection of cartoons entitled "The Life and Times of the Shmoo."

Newspapers throughout the country reviewed the story of the shmoo right along with such important books as Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe." The CIO News, official organ of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, jubilantly proclaimed the story of the shmoo as "a great social message." Life magazine saw the shmoo in a different light. Said Life: "Henry Ford discovered the advantages of shmoo-ism long before Al Capp. The shmoo is our economic principle."
But whatever the arguments, the shmoo not only delivered the inhabitants of Dogpatch, at least temporarily, from the dietetic monotony of "presarved turnips," but put a whale of a lot of unexpected dough into the already well-lined jeans of Cartoonist Capp.

Now pushing 40, Capp can remember the day he arrived in New York with six bucks in his pocket and nothing to recommend him as a cartoonist, but a 21-year-old's ambition. He had his early days of hunger in a Greenwich Village garret, living on hope and 10 cents worth of buckwheat cakes a day. He did odd jobs in a syndicate art department. He invented one comic strip described by a newspaper editor as "by far the worst in the country." And he was about to give up his dreams of an artistic career when one day, with an armload of rejected cartoons in the crook of his elbow, he was stopped by a stranger.

"I'd like," said the stranger, "to make a bet with you. I'll bet that what you've got under your arm is rejected cartoons."

"I ain't fixed to pay bets," snapped the dejected Capp. "But if it makes you feel any better, that's what's in this package."

The stranger was Ham Fisher, already a successful strip artist and Capp took Fisher's offer of 10 bucks to finish a comic page. Then he became Fisher's assistant. But before long he had an idea for another comic strip — Li'l Abner.

Capp was sitting in his garret one night when from somewhere across a courtyard, came the sound of a phonograph record—"I love mountain music, good old mountain music, played by a real hillbilly band." Suddenly Capp had an idea.

One summer with a friend he had bummed his way around Southern Kentucky. He had done some painting along the way and he remembered that one day while he was sketching a landscape a hillbilly boy had come up and peered over his shoulder.

"Whatcha doin?" asked the kid.

"Embalming the landscape for posterity," answered Capp.

"That," said the kid after a long pause denoting serious thought, "don't make sense."

Capp remembered that he had sketched the kid and rummaging in an old trunk he found the sketch. He also remembered other mountaineers he had seen on his trip. It wasn't long before his imagination had created and populated the community of Dogpatch. The strip began in a New York paper in August 1935. Today Li'l Abner has made comic strip history, with some 500 papers and 40,000,000 readers.

Familiar to readers of the daily and Sunday comic pages of the Post-Dispatch are Mammy and Pappy Yokum, the greatest turnip farmers in the world.

Readers also know and love Daisy Mae Scraggs, the heroine of the world's greatest and longest-drawn-out romance. They know too, such characters as Marryin' Sam, and Lena the Hyena, the Ugliest Woman in the World. And millions of college kids throughout the country celebrate Sadie Hawkins day, which Al Capp began more than 10 years ago.

In fact, until the advent of the shmoo, Sadie Hawkins day brought as much fame to Al Capp as the comic stiip Li'l Abner itself.

But it was left to that figment of the Capp imagination, the shmoo, to cap the climax of the cartoonist's career.

It wasn't long before this all-purpose little animule had swept the country. Shmoos were dropped to hungry Berliners by United States airlift flyers. The shmoo was the subject of many newspaper and magazine editorials. Otherwise heavy book reviewers called the "Life and Times of the Shmoo" positively shmoo-pendous. The invention of the shmoo was seen as the tip-off to a Capp-italist revolution. It was also seen as the most shmoo-nificent piece of red propaganda ever foisted upon an unsuspecting public. The shmoo was said to be shmoocially conscious. The shmoo was said to have been inspired in its doings by Eric Johnston, the master shmooze artist, who has been going around the world insisting that European capitalism is defective for the simple reason that it has never shmooed itself up. In fact, a brand-new "ism" was born into the language. Schmooshialism came to be mentioned along with capitalism, communism, fascism, etc. Capp had let the public peek through his shmoo into the Garden of Eden. The capitalist and the commies saw it in a different light, but everybody agreed that what the shmoo meant was "un-rationed shmoo for everybody."

In addition to the some quarter of a million dollars Capp will get, for his comic strip Li'l Abner this year, he will also garner in an almost like amount for allowing the Shmoo to be used on various products. All of which makes Capp pretty happy but nonetheless still baffled over the success of the shmoo.

"It was," he says, "the greatest shmooprise a guy could have."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied a scan of this clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is part 5 of a 5 part series that they ran in 1949.


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Wednesday, May 07, 2014


News of Yore 1949: Ernie Bushmiller Profiled


By Virginia Irwin
A Staff Correspondent Of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch

New York, Feb. 12 1949

Some men may credit their success to hard work, their own brains or to their mother. But not artist Ernie Bushmiller.

Ernie says that every dollar he has in the bank today he owes to a lovable little brat by the name of Nancy, whose didoes brighten the lives of the readers of
the Post-Dispatch comic pages and keep her creator in a style to which he was never accustomed.

"When I first drew Nancy into a comic strip, it was just as an incidental character and I planned to keep her for about a week and then dump her," Ernie groans when he remembers how he contemplated this cruel act of child-abandonment. "But the little dickens was soon stealing the show and Bushmiller, the ingrate, was taking all the bows."

Today Nancy is appearing in 450 newspapers with 21 million circulation and, in a recent poll, the black-haired little imp with the bangs and shoe-button eyes led all the comics with a readership of 70 per cent.

She appears in 23 foreign newspapers and is evidently as fetching to the folks in Japan and South Africa as she is to her fans in New York or St. Louis.

"The nice thing is that Nancy and her various pals, such as Sluggo, are favorites with parents and teachers, as well as with children," says Ernie. "Nancy and Sluggo may be brats, but they're nice brats. They don't play with meat choppers or anything like that."

Bushmiller wasn't setting the world on fire when Nancy popped out of his ink bottle one day and came to life under his drawing pen. In fact he had only a small brush fire going in the way of a comic strip called "Fritzi Ritz."

Born Ernest Paul Bushmiller, the son of a fairly prosperous New York insurance salesman, Ernie managed to get through grammar school and bravely stuck out six months of high school, but he didn't feel that education was doing much toward getting him on in the world. So at the age of 14 he tossed his books into the nearest ash can and got himself a job as copy boy on the Old New York Evening World.

"I remember I got nine dollars a week on the World, but because I was a copy boy in the art department, I'd have paid them nine dollars, if I'd had it, just to let me hang around," Ernie laughs.

With his nine dollars a week, Ernie managed to attend the National Academy of Design at night. By day, between running errands, he tried to impress oldsters around the World art department with his knowledge of drawing. He remembers that his first labor to see the light of print was a crossword puzzle. Ernie lettered his initials into the corner and carried the thing around in an inside pocket for weeks. Finally, he got a whack at illustrating magic-man Harry Houdini's puzzles in the Sunday World Magazine and a year or so later, when World artist Larry Whittington dropped a comic strip called "Fritzi Ritz," Ernie was promoted to the job of keeping the strip going.

Along about 12 years ago, Ernie, at his wit's end to keep "Fritzi Ritz" fresh introduced Nancy as Fritzi's niece. He had intended keeping the little moppet with the black sponge of hair topped with the little white ribbon in the strip only a short time, but like the man who came to dinner, Nancy who was invited only for a short stay, moved in for a lifetime.

"And," says Ernie happily, "she brought the bacon with her."

Nancy's appeal has been evaluated in a lot of ways. Writing in the New Republic not long ago, one critic said:

"It is possible that 'Nancy' is the best comic today, principally because it combines a very strong, independent imagination with a simplification of the best tradition of comic drawing. 'Nancy' is daily concerned with making a pictorial gag either about or on the affairs of a group of bright, unsentimental children who have identical fireplug shapes, two-foot heights, inch-long names (Sluggo, Winky, Tilly, Nancy) and genial, self-possessed temperaments.

"This comic has a remarkable, brave, vital energy that its artist, Ernie Bushmiller, gets partly from seeing landscape in large clear forms and then walking his kids, whom he sees in the same way, with great strength and well-being through them."

While Nancy started out as a gag vehicle to keep her Aunt Fritzi's doings readable, the lovable little heroine soon had a terrific following. Before long an Owensboro, Ky., editor, enamored of the little girl with the chubby legs and smiling mouth, petitioned the feature syndicate which had picked up "Fritzi Ritz" after the World folded, to change the lame of the strip to "Nancy."

The syndicate polled its clients on the.subject and in May of 1938 the engaging little minx moved into the limelight with a comic strip in her own name.

Bushmiller hasn't the faintest idea where Nancy came from. He hasn't any kids of his own and says Nancy isn't patterned after any of his relatives or neighbors. When it is suggested that Nancy, in a lot of ways, resembles her creator and that Bushmiller might look a lot like his creation if he combed his hair in bangs and wore a hair ribbon, he says disparagingly: "That's ridiculous. The only thing I resemble is a honeydew melon."

Ernie works on a schedule that produces six daily Nancy and Sluggo strips between Sunday and Tuesday evenings. Then he takes Wednesday and Thursday off and then begins work on his Sunday page.

"I know a schedule like that sounds goofy," he grins. "And I guess I am goofy. For instance, I'm the only strip cartoonist I know of who draws the last picture and works back toward the beginning."

Since Ernie started drawing the snub-nosed Nancy, he has had some strange experiences. Once he drew a strip showing Nancy using vanilla extract for perfume. A grateful vanilla extract manufacturer sent him enough vanilla to last a couple of lifetimes.

"I've been trying ever since to figure out how I could get Nancy behind the wheel of a Cadillac convertible," says Ernie.

Not long ago, too, Ernie had a letter from a lady fan in Brooklyn who had named her first child Nancy and, about to produce a second which she was sure would be a boy, implored Ernie to give Nancy a new pal in the comic strip.

"I just can't," the lady wrote, "name my baby boy Sluggo."

Although his red hair is turning gray and he is beginning to thicken about the midriff, Ernie has a boyish grin that belies his 43 years. He has no hobbies but he  and his wife do have one pet — a mongrel dog Ernie found in Central Park as a pup.

"His name is Fedink," Ernie says, "and you'll have to take my word for it that he's a dog. He might be a Shetland pony for all I know. He's big enough. He's got a face like a fox terrier and a tail like a Collie and one of his legs is strictly Dalmatian."

Someday Ernie intends reading some of the classics of literature. "I was," he says dryly, "too busy for that stuff when I was young."

He also intends buying an automobile one of these days. He once owned a car which stalled in the middle of the Triborough Bridge. Ernie got out and left it, phoned the garage man and had the man sell it.

A simple guy, Ernie says it doesn't take much to make him happy. He hardly batted an eyelash when his syndicate informed him that 170 new papers had subscribed to "Nancy" in the past two years bringing his total to 450 and his income to a sum that would make his home address sound like a substation of Fort Knox.

The day Ernie got the news he was carrying around a Japanese newspaper which had just started running Nancy.

"Look," Ernie was demanding. "My name in Japanese. Can't you just see that Jap artist beating his brains out trying to write Ernie Bushmiller in Japanese."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied a scan of this clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is part 4 of a 5 part series that they ran in 1949. We will be presenting all 5 episodes in upcoming posts.



By the way, the uncredited New Republic writer who praises Bushmiller is influential film and art critic Manny Farber. Manny was a mentor of sorts to me in college, and we had many conversations on the genius of Bushmiller.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2014


News of Yore 1949: Alex Raymond Profiled

War Made Realist of Alex Raymond

Creator of the Strip 'Rip Kirby' Says He Lost Taste for Fantastic During His Service in the Pacific -- Got Away From Futuristic Drawing

By Virginia Irwin
A Staff Correspondent Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Stamford, Conn., Feb. 11. 1949

Alex Raymond, the versatile artist who draws the popular adventure strip, "Rip Kirby," in the Everyday Magazine of the Post-Dispatch, came home from two years of fighting in the Pacific with some pretty definite ideas in mind. One idea was that while there is plenty of dough to be had in "escape" comics, he'd rather take less money and draw something that "helps reflect accurately the age in which we live."

"The war made a realist out of me," says Raymond, who looks more like a bond salesman than a creator of one of the most successful adventure comics on the market. "I lost my taste for the fantastic out in the Pacific. I came home determined to do something modern and real."

When Raymond enlisted in the Marines, he was already at the top of the comic art profession. For years he had been drawing "Flash Gordon," that futuristic portrayal of the blond young hunk of man who whips around distant planets with his girl friend Dale. But Raymond wasn't satisfied.

"Call it patriotism if you like," Raymond says a little apologetically, ''but I just had to get into this fight. I had three kids. I wasn't young. And comic artists were getting easy deferments because they were considered necessary for morale at home. But I've always been the kind of a guy who gets a lump in his throat when a band plays the Star-Spangled Banner and the flag goes by. Anyway, I got in it and I got out of it with a whole skin. I came back a different guy. And I wouldn't take a million bucks for the experience."

Back from the fighting with Raymond came Rip Kirby, the American professor - detective whose adventures are now printed in more than 300 newspapers throughout the United States and who has brought his creator, Alex Raymond, a lot of hard work but even more satisfaction.

"Rip is pretty difficult to do," says Raymond, an able and meticulous draughtsman. "I spend one day and night on the continuity. Then it takes me three days to pencil in a week's strips and another day to a day and a half inking in. I work three weeks ahead and I never seem to get ahead of myself. There's an awful lot of drawing in the strip."

Raymond's Rip Kirby has had a phenomenal success since it started just about four years ago. In addition to several other foreign papers, it is carried in the newsprint-short London Daily Mail. It is the only serial type comic ever bought by that paper.

"I'd like my sons to be like Rip Kirby," says Raymond. "You know a lot of comic-strip heroes are pretty icky ... handsome, with strong backs but weak minds. Well, Rip as I see him, is a well-balanced man, a conglomeration of all the likeable qualities I have seen in men I know. He's got a busted nose, but he isn't ugly. He wears glasses without looking bookwormish. He's a former all-America something or other. He's educated, has some sort of a doctor's degree in something and yet you never hear him pontificating about anything. He loves music and is an amateur pianist. He's got a sense of humor and he's got depth. He's only a detective by avocation."

Born in New Rochelle, N.Y., Raymond remembers that he had already begun to draw at the age of eight.

"I should say that my father's encouragement in those early years as the greatest single factor in my making art a career," he says. "As a matter of fact, he had one wall of his office covered with my drawings and in the evenings he used to settle back in his easy chair and say, 'Draw me.'"

"What makes it so wonderful, I think, is that he was a civil engineer and road builder, and had a decidedly scientific mind as opposed to the artistic one. But he had the openness of mind and the vision to see beyond his own business, to realize that art could be a worthwhile career, too."

After his father's death, Raymond had to turn down a scholarship to Notre Dame and went to work as an order clerk for a firm on the New York Stock Exchange. From that he changed to a job as a mortgage renewal solicitor.

"But," Raymond grins, "I was a lousy salesman. I always believed prospects when they said 'no.'"

Out of a job in the big crash, Raymond asked Russ Westover, creator of "Tillie The Toiler" for a job, and got it. After serving a short apprenticeship with Westover he got a jack-of-all-jobs berth in the art department of the King Features Syndicate in New York and soon was doing a strip called "Secret Agent X-9" for that syndicate.

Ambitious and full of ideas, Raymond wasn't satisfied merely with doing "Secret Agent." In a few months he popped up with the idea for "Flash Gordon" and it wasn't long before artists outside the comic field were praising Raymond's drawings, his clarity and brilliance of line and his ability to bring realism and depth into a comic strip.

"There was nothing wrong with Flash Gordon," says Raymond. "I still consider Flash excellent escapism."

But after drawing Flash for 10 years Raymond was a little weary of it. And besides somebody was blowing a bugle. So voluntarily turning Flash over to another artist, Raymond joined the Marines.

Commissioning him a captain, the Marines first sent Raymond to the Corps' publicity bureau in Philadelphia as art director, but by continuous champing at the bit he finally was assigned to the "USS Gilbert Islands" as public information officer and combat artist. He saw action at Okinawa and Borneo; the carrier lay off Tokyo, with the Third Fleet, when it was all over.

Pictures painted by Raymond were hung in the National Gallery in Washington and one was selected by General Vandergrift, the corps commandant, as his official Christmas card.

Home with three battle stars which he says he wouldn't trade for anything, Raymond was, as he says, "a changed guy." The real heroism he had seen in the war made the razz-ma-tazz heroics of the comic strip heroes look a little silly. He wanted something down to earth and so he produced Rip Kirby, the athletic, intellectual, amiable, scholarly detective who has in a short space of time become one of the most-talked of adventure-cartoon characters of the comic pages. The opening drawing of the strip showed Rip as an officer of the Marine Corps discharged just after having received the Legion of Merit for work done as an Intelligence Officer in the Pacific.

At one point in his career as an artist, Raymond seriously considered abandoning cartooning for magazine illustration.

"I finally decided that comic-art work is an art form in itself," he says. "It reflects the life and times more accurately and is more creative. An illustrator works with camera and models. A comic artist begins with a white sheet of paper and is playwright, director, editor and artist at once."

Now the father of five children ranging in ages from 16 to 3, Raymond has a comfortable home about 10 miles outside of this little town of Stamford. He divides his drawing time between a studio in his home and an office in town.

In the old days I did all my I drawing at home and had little contact with the outside world," Raymond said. "I didn't need the reality of contact to draw Flash Gordon, who wasn't of this world anyway. But when I came home from the war I realized that I needed human contacts, I needed the feel of everyday life to make Rip Kirby a down-to-earth character. And so I work several days each week in town, have lunch with business men, and like it. The war taught me that. There's nothing on earth like really getting to know your fellow human beings."

Now 39 years old, Raymond wishes he could make some sort of a deal with his own conscience. When he began drawing, veteran cartoonists advised him that it was both foolish and a waste of time to draw so meticulously. But his conscience keeps him at his drawing board until every detail is settled beyond question. And that today is why Rip Kirby, called by artists and editors one of the best-drawn strips on the market, has 300 papers in the United States and a score more in foreign countries.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied a scan of this clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is part 3 of a 5 part series that they ran in 1949. We will be presenting all 5 episodes in upcoming posts.


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Monday, May 05, 2014


News of Yore 1949: Dave Breger Profiled

Dave Breger -- Man of Great Purpose

In Real Life He's Not the Puzzled Little Guy He Seems in Daily and Sunday Comics

By Virginia Irwin
A Staff Correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

West Nyack, N. Y., Feb. 8 1949 -- Despite the seeming quandary in which the Mr. Breger of the comic page continually finds himself, his creator, cartoonist Dave Breger, is a singularly determined and purposeful man.

For instance, as a boy Dave was pushed into the family sausage business by his father. Dave escaped. He wanted to be a cartoonist. In school, his professors tried to make a psychologist of him. He held out for a drawing board. And in the Army, a classification expert tried his level best to make Dave a truck driver. The Army lost. Private Breger became, of course, a cartoonist.

Today "Mr. Breger," which appears in both the daily and Sunday comic pages of the Post-Dispatch, nets Dave a nice living of four-days-a-week work.

"I draw 'Mr. Breger' and even wrap and mail it myself to my New York syndicate in four days and have three days left out of every week for my wife and kids," says Dave. "Can you imagine a psychologist or a sausage salesman earning a living that easily?"

When Dave was drafted into the Army in September of 1941, he was already a professional cartoonist, but Army classification experts thought they needed auto mechanics more than cartoonists, so he took his basic training in truck repairing and had to pretend to like it. But Breger kept drawing.

"I was," says Dave, "getting $21 a month from Uncle Sam for driving a truck and ninety bucks a week for my cartoons in the Saturday Evening Post."

It wasn't long before Army brass tumbled to the idea that Uncle Sam had a soldier down in Camp Livingston, La., who was drawing these cartoons for the Saturday Evening Post and they thought it might be a good idea if this Breger boy also drew for the Army magazine, Yank.

In the Saturday Evening Post and in his syndicated newspaper work, Dave had been calling his oval-faced little ineffectual soldier cartoon character, "Private Breger." Now he was looking for a new name for the poor little army misfit when the guy began appearing in Yank.

Home on furlough, he yelled to his wife one morning while he was shaving in the bathroom, "How about G.I. Joe?"

"What," his wife called back, "does G.I. mean?"

Breger went on shaving and thinking and the next day suggested the name to the feature editor of Yank. The editor wasn't any brighter than Breger's wife. "What," he wanted to know, "does G.I. mean?"

Breger patiently explained and when the first issue of Yank made its appearance June 17, 1942, there was "Private Breger," already known to newspaper comic readers. But now in Yank he was called G. I. Joe. The term caught the fancy of the United States Army and civilian wartime public like a tornado takes off with an Arkansas hencoop. What the doughboy meant in World War I, G. I. Joe stood for in the last war. Even the movie boys seized happily on it for the Ernie Pyle film, "G.I. Joe."

After four years and some odd months in Uncle Sam's service, during which time he rose from buck private to first lieutenant, Breger came back home to settle down here in West Nyack. He also got Private Breger of the comics out of the Army and under the name of Mr. Breger continued his doings in the daily and Sunday funnies.

Today Mr. Breger is carried in more than 100 papers throughout the United States.

Breger has done a lot of things in life, but, as already indicated, the only thing he ever really wanted to do was draw. Born only six weeks after his parents arrived in the United States from Russia, Dave spent his childhood in Chicago. His father had developed a flourishing sausage business there and Dave wasn't a bad salesman. But the only thing he remembers with any pride about that sausage interlude in his life was that he thought up a slogan for the family business— "Our Wurst Is The Best."

As for education, he "had enough." He went to a technical high school and drew some comics for the school paper. He attended the University of Illinois, studied architectural engineering for a while and then transferred to Northwestern, where he took a pre-medical course. Then he changed to psychology and got, his degree in that in 1931. But he still had the cartoon bee in his bonnet, and so with money advanced by his father, he traveled around the world for a year— peddling an occasional cartoon to the German magazine, "Lustige-blaetter."

Then in 1937 he went to New York where he slowly began to work his way into the cartooning field. He had made a pretty good start when Uncle Sam decided his services were needed in 1941.

After being promoted to drawing "G.I. Joe" for the Army magazine, Yank, Dave was sent to England. He didn't mind doing his duty, but he hated to leave his brand-new bride. The next time he saw her he also had a daughter a year old.

"I'll never forget the afternoon I called her up to tell her I was going," Breger says. "You know what she said before I could say a word? She said, 'Don't tell ma you're going to be late for dinner again!' I was late, all right. Two years late."

Breger stands five feet eleven and weighs 190 pounds.

"I made Mr. Breger a little undersized runt to compensate for my superiority complex," he explains with a grin. He is strictly a homebody, and does not smoke or drink. He thinks he has the three finest children in the world. His oldest daughter, Dee, is now six years old. His second child, Lois, is four and his baby, Harry, is nine months.

"I started putting Harry in the strip without thinking whether the other kids would mind it," he eays. "But as it turned out I didn't hurt their feelings at all. Now they grab the paper and when I've got Harry in a cartoon they hold it in front of his face and say, 'Look Harry, here's your picture.'"

Breger has published four books. The first was "Private Breger"; then came "Private Breger's War"; the third, "Private Breger in England"; and the fourth, "G.I. Joe."

Two things happened to Breger during this war that he'll never forget—aside from that first year in the Army as nursemaid to a two-ton truck. The first was an experience he had one time when in the course of his cartooning duties abroad he had occasion to call on a major general. Breger was then a sergeant and the general turned to his chief of staff, a colonel, and said, "Colonel, See this guy? He's making more money than both of us put together."

Breger's second fondest remembrance is of a man he knew in his original company down in Louisiana. The soldier was a concert pianist but the Army also put him on a truck. Somewhere in England Breger met the guy again. They exchanged the time of day and Breger proudly announced, "I ain't driving trucks any more. I'm drawing cartoons." The guy looked at him sadly and replied, "I ain't driving trucks any more either. I'm repairing them."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied a scan of this clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is part 2 of a 5 part series that they ran in 1949. We will be presenting all 5 episodes in upcoming posts.


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Sunday, May 04, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


If we're lucky we and the things we bought new will last long enough to be considered antiques.
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