Saturday, January 07, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


December 28 1908 -- New heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, first ever black man to hold the tile, along with black heavyweight contender Sam Langford, now have a world of fighter who all of a sudden seem anxious to break the color barrier and fight them. California heavyweight Jim Barry has already fought Langford several times (and will go into the ring with him many more times), but will never meet Johnson. Al Kaufman, on the other hand, will get a shot at Johnson in 1909.

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Friday, January 06, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman


I don't really get the gag here -- I guess the dapper fellow tripped on that giant basket somehow?!?!? -- but I'd bet a bushel of $100 bills that this unsigned postcard is from the usually very fun mind of Walter Wellman. The divided-back says Series #218, but lists no maker.

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The caption is a familiar warning against excess modesty.

I'm guessing the man is drunk, and almost hiding his "light" -- a nose with some lines indicating radiance -- under a bushel basket. The artist's problem is that the basket has to defy gravity a bit so we can see his nose.
 
AH! I did not notice the illuminated nose. Still not much of a gag, but at least it makes some sense to me now. Thanks!
 
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Thursday, January 05, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jack Hamm




Jack Beaumont Hamm was born in Elkhart, Kansas, on March 5, 1916, according to Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, 1971–1972 and his Social Security application at Ancestry.com. His parents were Ted Beaumont Hamm and Hazel Trotter.

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census said Hamm was the oldest of two children whose father was a clothing store merchant. The family of four resided in Taloga, Kansas, on either Orchard or Stillman Street.

The Hamm family added another child in the 1930 census. They were Wichita, Kansas residents at 2109 East Kellogg.

Who’s Who said Hamm was a member of the Wichita Art Association in 1932 and attended the Moody Bible Institute in 1935. Hamm attended the Frederic Mizen Academy of Art, in Chicago, from 1936 to 1937. Hamm was listed as a student in the 1938 Wichita city directory. His address was 132 South Minneapolis Avenue.

The same address was recorded in the 1940 census. Hamm continued to live with his parents and siblings. Hamm was a commercial artist at an engraving company. The census also said he completed four years of high school.

According to Who’s Who, Hamm illustrated Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind from 1940 to 1944. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the series began November 21, 1932, with art by Raymond Flanagan, who was followed by Hamm. The next two named artists were Ray T. Chatton and Bill Lignante. Who’s Who said Hamm was a cartoonist with the Newspaper Enterprise Association from 1942 to 1944. Profiles at Christian Comics International, Grace Bible Fellowship and WacoTrib.com said Hamm also assisted on the strips Alley Oop, Boots and Her Buddies and Bugs Bunny. In addition, the Dallas Morning News (Texas), August 14, 1949, said Hamm worked on Story of the Stars, Red Ryder, Major Hoople and Out Our Way.

Who’s Who said Hamm married Dorisnei Alexander on May 12, 1943. The Alabama marriage index, at Ancestry.com, recorded the marriage of a “Jack B Hamm” on August 29, 1943. According to Hamm’s World War II enlistment record, he was an Alabama resident who enlisted in Dallas, Texas, November 3, 1944. The Morning News said Hamm was an army cartoonist in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

In 1946 Hamm completed his military service and became an instructor at Baylor University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1948. The Morning News, July 18, 1948, reported the the new faulty staff.

Jack Beaumont Hamm, native of Wichita, Kan., studied with Frederick Mizen, Art Academy, Chicago. He worked for the National News Service Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association at Cleveland, Ohio, as a cartoonist. For some time he has done the drawings for the Wiggins [sic] cartoons, “Let’s Explore Your Mind.” He does a regular Sunday feature strip for the Waco News-Tribune.
According to the Morning News, August 14, 1949, Baylor joined the staff of television station KBTV. The December 4, 1949 Morning News said:
The Jack Hamm Show, a 30-minute weekly production over KBTV, is slanted toward the adult audience. On this program Jack Hamm, nationally known cartoonist, has created a loyal following with his personality caricatures, musical illustrations and “Name the Face” contest. 
…A favorite trick of Cartoonist Hamm is to illustrated a classical or popular song hit while the music is playing in the background. He delights his audience by always completing his drawing at exactly the same instant the music ends….
A profile of Hamm, in the Omaha World-Herald Magazine, July 6, 1952, was about his weekly religious cartoons.
“…He draws religious cartoons which he sends free to 331 newspapers in 42 states and several foreign countries….he draws the truths of the Bible as related to modern events. He puts a scripture quotation on every cartoon.”
Hamm’s wife handled the mailing of the cartoons on Saturday. His freelance work paid for the printing, postage and related costs.

Who’s Who said Hamm had four children.

Hamm authored several books including Cartoons That Live, 1954; Kompass, 1955; The Living Scriptures, 1958; He Will Answer, 1961; Drawing the Head and Figure, 1963; Cartooning the Head and Figure, 1967; Drawing Toward God, 1968; and How to Draw Animals, 1969; and editor of Peter Marshall’s Lasting Prayers, 1969.

Hamm passed away December 22, 1996, in Dallas, according to the Social Security Death Index. Hamm was laid to rest at Gordo City Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Wichita Eagle, (Kansas), December 24, 1996.



Further Reading
The Fabulous Fifties: Let’s Explore Your Mind
Family Bible Storytelling Media: Jack Hamm



—Alex Jay

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Alex, Thank you for this wonderful bio of Jack Hamm and for referencing my FBSM blog article. Do you eventually plan to do a biographical encyclopedia or dictionary of American cartoonists?
 
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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Raymond Flanagan


Raymond Hugh Flanagan was born in South Bend, Indiana, on April 30, 1895, according to his World War II draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Flanagan was the youngest of five children born to Michael, a mail carrier, and Mary. Also in the household was Flanagan’s maternal grandmother, Catherine Commings. They all resided in Portage, Indiana at 1038 Jefferson Street.

In 1910, Flanagan and two older brothers were in the household of their widow mother. Their address was 714 Forest Avenue in South Bend, Indiana, and it would remained unchanged in the next two censuses.

In 1920, Flanagan was an illustrator with an advertising company. Almost five months after the census enumeration, Flanagan was injured in an automobile accident as reported in the Elkhart Truth (Indiana), May 3, 1920.

When a Ford roadster driven by Raymond Flanagan collided with a seven-passenger Oldsmobile occupied by A.R. Briese, Charles Eagon and Walter Williams, on the South Bend Niles road yesterday all four were painfully hurt—Flanagan the worst. All live in South Bend. Only the rear wheels of the Ford are usable. The other machine was also badly damaged.
Flanagan’s changed of jobs was reported in Printers’ Ink, September 29, 1921, and The Fourth Estate, October 1, 1921.
Raymond Flanagan, formerly at the head of the art department of the Lamport-MacDonald Company, advertising agency of South Bend, Ind., and Ralph Slick have opened an advertising art studio in South Bend.
Flanagan was counted twice in the 1930 census. In addition to being in his mother’s household in South Bend, Flanagan was an advertising artist in Chicago, Illinois. He roomed at the Harper Crest Hotel at 5345 Harper Avenue.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Flanagan was the first of four named artists to draw Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind, which debuted November 21, 1932. Flanagan left the series around 1941 and was followed by Jack Hamm, Ray T. Chatton and Bill Lignante. Flanagan’s work was reprinted in the 1950 comic book Personal Love. Additional information about Let’s Explore Your Mind is here.

The 1940 census said commercial artist Flanagan was married to Martha and resided at 1114 Belmont Avenue in South Bend.

According to Flanagan’s World War II draft card, he was self-employed and lived at 44 East Monroe in South Bend. He was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. He had gray eyes and brown hair.

Flanagan passed away October 30, 1980, in South Bend, according to his death certificate at Ancestry.com. He was laid to rest at Highland Cemetery in South Bend.



—Alex Jay

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Let's Explore Your Mind (part 2)

[Yesterday we covered Let's Explore Your Mind through its first two artists, Raymond Flanagan and Jack Hamm. ]

Jack Hamm art on Let's Explore Your Mind


When Jack Hamm took over art chores in 1940, he made the drawings for Let's Explore Your Mind a bit more overtly sexy, which turned out to be a great evolution, especially when World War II began. Our military swelled with millions of young fellows who were looking for a little sex-appeal anywhere they could find it, and they were delighted to find a little more cheesecake in their daily paper. The war years were very good to the feature, which continued to add new clients.

Jack Hamm left the feature on November 18 1944, and the art was now unsigned. However, I did manage to find a single isolated example from shortly after Hamm's departure that was signed RF -- presumably Raymond Flanagan. Although his style had loosened a bit since he left in 1940, I'm still reasonably confident that Flanagan's second stint on the daily lasted for quite awhile.

Because the feature was doing so well, Dille decided to try selling a color Sunday version of the feature that could run in comics sections. This was a bold move, because the feature was definitely aimed at adults, and running it in the traditional domain of the kiddies was definitely not a slam-dunk with its sometimes mature subject matter.



Unsigned Let's Explore Your Mind Sundays

The Sunday color version debuted on January 14 1945 in a small but respectable number of papers. Some papers ran it in the Sunday funnies, others made room in their Sunday color magazine sections. Oddly enough, despite the heavy emphasis on the art in this version, it was unsigned and would remain so (with a few notable exceptions) until 1963. There are definitely several different hands at work over those years, but my belief is that Raymond Flanagan was probably the first artist on the Sundays, perhaps giving way to others by the 1950s.

Having pretty substantial runs of the 1950s Sundays, I was able to pull a few rabbits out my hat, though. In late 1953, the regular artist must have been having deadline trouble, and I have found three Sundays that are signed:

Ray Chatton signed art on December 27 1953

Rick Yager initialed art on October 4 (pictured) and December 6 1953

I'm sure you'll agree that neither Yager or Chatton was the regular artist on the Sunday, as the above examples have widely varying art styles from the norm. Yager even created his own masthead for some reason!

I've heard it said that Yager was responsible for the art on Let's Explore Your Mind in the late 40s-early 50s, but I dispute that -- the Sundays do not look to me like his fill-ins at all. Maybe he did some work on the dailies, though. Looking at some 1950 dailies, I think I can see traces here and there, but not nearly enough to make a positive ID. And I do see examples that really don't look like his work, at least to my unpracticed eye.

Ray Chatton daily art


The problem of unsigned art was finally corrected on the daily when Ray Chatton took over as the artist on October 15 1951. He brought to the daily a heightened sense of style, drawing glamorous high-fashion beauties instead of the cheesecake of previous hands. Unfortunately, his tenure ended on October 29 1955, and the daily once again reverted to its unsigned status.

When Chatton leaves the style on the daily changes, and the art style on the Sunday seems to follow suit. This new style proved so interesting to Ger Appeldoorn that he wrote several posts about it on The Fabulous Fifties, and has made a tentative ID to a cartoonist by the name of Richard Doxsee. Since Alberto Becattini seems to go along with Ger's ID, I'd say that between those two titans of art-spotting we have a pretty good chance at a dead ringer.

In 1957 another change came to Let's Explore Your Mind when Albert Edward Wiggam passed away. Although the feature was no longer as popular as it had been in the 1930s and 40s, Dille was still doing well enough with it that he signed up a new author -- or as it turned out, authors -- to take over. On May 20 1957, the husband and wife team of Sylvanus and Evelyn Duvall took over. This was a serious academic  power-couple; Sylvanus was a professor of religion and sociology at George Williams College, while Evelyn had a PhD in human development and was the author or co-author of some twenty books. Although with such credentials one might have expected the feature to take a very serious turn, the Duvalls smartly stuck with the formula that had worked so well since 1932. Not only did the formula remain the same, but they went on recycling the same popular and provocative questions that Wiggam had already answered dozens of times over already.

Unsigned Sunday from 1960 - art by Doxsee?

Alberto Becattini cites an unsigned stint on the feature by Len Dworkins circa 1962-63, but very soon after that the feature was finally once more signed, and this time it would stick. As of  April 1 1963 on the daily, and May 26 on the Sunday, both were now be done by the able brush of Bill Lignante, journeyman cartoonist who had never been given the opportunity to sign his work on a newspaper feature before. Unfortunately by the time Lignante took over, the daily feature was bowing to the pressures to save newspaper space, and the art was now just a small vignette. This effectively killed one of the big draws for the feature, and the client list thereby suffered greatly.

Bill Lignante art on Let's Explore Your Mind

The Sunday version, which seemed to me a more likely candidate to survive, succumbed to a lack of clients sometime in 1969, and the daily, now just a shadow of its former attractive self, turned out the lights on January 23 1971.

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I remember seeing the last mini-version in the San Jose Mercury when I was a kid; this would have been mid-sixties at the latest. Don't remember it touching on sex; I'm sure it would have left a stronger impression if it had.
 
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Monday, January 02, 2017

 

Obscurity of the Day: Let's Explore Your Mind (Part 1)

It may seem unfair to label Let's Explore Your Mind as an obscurity. After all, it ran for almost 40 years. However, I think it qualifies because in terms of comics history it has been all but ignored. And that's not without good reason.

Let's Explore Your Mind does not really qualify as a comic strip or cartoon panel by our usual standards. I generally draw the line when a panel cartoon comes with the hefty baggage of a long typeset column of prose, as this one does. The daily version of the feature should really be disqualified entirely. The Sunday version, on the other hand, is much more graphic-heavy, and may barely squeak by. However, the real reason I think that it belongs in the pantheon is purely based on the delightful quality of the cartooning. I think the only reason this feature ran for four decades is because people loved the cartoon portion, not because of the column. As proof, I offer this: Let's Explore Your Mind could be run without the graphic, which was purely eye-candy. Yet will you ever find a newspaper running the feature sans cartoon, as was sometimes done with other similar features? Heck no. Okay, I rest my flimsy case.

So with legalities out of the way, let's take a look. Let's Explore Your Mind was syndicated by John F. Dille, who loved features that were educational yet entertaining -- he even thought of Buck Rogers as a tool for teaching kids about the wonders of science. By November 21 1932, when Let's Explore Your Mind debuted, people were beginning to accept the notion that psychology wasn't utter claptrap whose only use was to save murderers from the electric chair. There was a great curiosity brewing about how the mind worked, and a desire for self-examination, and perhaps even the promise of self-improvement. The new feature was perfectly placed to offer readers some very basic ideas about psychology and sociology, related in a highly entertaining manner.

The author was Albert Edward Wiggam, a noted science popularizer, whose books were highly regarded. Unfortunately, he was also a proponent of eugenics, which rather takes the bloom off his rose. But this was before Hitler had started slaughtering people in mass numbers in the name of improving the species, and so Wiggam's major defect was not held against him as far as I know. Wiggam apparently had the intelligence to keep those racist views out of this new daily feature.

Wiggam designed the column as a provocative question-and-answer session, which was sheer genius. It made each day's episode into a little quiz. Readers would see stimulating questions posed in the graphic portion, and how could they go on with the paper until they read the answer? The questions generally required only an opinion as the answer, and people love to find out if their opinions go with or against the grain of authority. How can anyone resist finding out what an 'expert' has to say about questions like "Do church-going couples have happier marriages?", "Does higher education make a woman lose her beauty?", and "Are love a first sight relationships unlikely to last?".

If the questions themselves failed to draw you in, the cartoons by Raymond Flanagan made the feature nearly irresistible. Flanagan (or his editor and collaborator) had the brilliant idea that practically every day's cartoon would feature a beautiful woman. If there could be any reason at all, no matter how uncompelling, that beautiful girl would also be drawn in a sexy pose, perhaps even in revealing garments.  If the poor unsuspecting reader had any hope of bypassing Let's Explore Your Mind, that battle was hereby lost.


Raymond Flanagan art on Let's Explore Your Mind

The team of Wiggam and Flanagan had a minor hit on their hands, at least by the standards of the Dille syndicate. The feature did take a while to catch on, but there was a steady build to the number of subscribing papers all through the 1930s. The feature was popular enough that the six-day-per-week frequency was bumped up to seven days, with the Sunday edition just a slightly larger version of the daily.

For reasons unknown, Flanagan bailed out on the featre in 1940. Oddly, his last signed illustration is June 15, but his art seems to continue for a few additional weeks. Later that summer the new artist, Jack Hamm, comes on board, who also fails to sign his first few weeks. His first signed cartoon was on September 2. Hamm wasn't quite as good an artist as Flanagan, in my opinion, but he made up for it by amping up the cheesecake factor in his cartoons.

Jack Hamm art on Let's Explore Your Mind

[With forty years of history to cover, this is going to be our first ever two-part Obscurity of the Day -- see you here tomorrow for much more on Let's Explore Your Mind]

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