Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jimmy Sundays in 1908


Jimmy — He Goes To School,
 Jimmy Swinnerton, Chicago Examiner, March 29, 1908

Jimmy Goes Camping, Jimmy Swinnerton,
Chicago Examiner, March 15, 1908


🔼

Self-portrait of F. Morris Howarth



Self-portrait of F. Morris Howarth from American Caricature and Comic Art by La Touche Hancock in The Bookman, Vol. XVI, September 1902-1903.

“The method I use in doing my work,” he confesses, “is absolutely mechanical. I go about it in just the same manner as any mechanic does in working out a piece of work in his own trade. Inspirations of any kind seldom, if ever, come to me, therefore I have schooled myself to sit down and grind out my jokes and ideas in much the same way as a miller does his flour. If I wish a joke on any subject I dig at it until I find it. Incidents in real life seldom appeal to me in a humorous manner. I have written thousands of jokes and concocted thousands of humorous situations, but few have ever emanated from events coming under my direct observation.”



Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Dick Moores versus Dale Messick

    
1977 [1] Gasoline Alley Sunday by Dick Moores, Dec 11. 
      
by Rick Marschall 
    
“O Tempora! Oh, Moores!…”

OUR SECOND installment of A Crowded Life in Comics will start somewhere in the middle of my crowded life. Like ‘middle age,’ literal mathematical calculations can get scary. I will jump around, here in columns to come, from childhood to last month; from formal meetings with cartoonists to casual encounters; and so forth.

With that understanding, I will recall today a Dick Moores story — my homage to one of comics’ geniuses, a gentle giant — and collaterally tell a story on stuffy syndicate executives. Not out of spite, but to reveal or confirm that certain types of syndicate chiefs were some of the nails driven into the coffin of the once-thriving syndication field.

It was 1975, and I was Associate Editor/Comics of the New York News-Chicago Tribune Syndicate in New York City. The syndicate was oddly specific about my title Associate Editor/Comics, down to the slash; I suppose to distinguish me from the Text Editor in the next office. I had jumped from a similar job at United Feature Syndicate, ironically a few floors away in the same building — the News Building, 220 E 42nd Street. Emblazoned across the front of the News Building was Lincoln’s aphorism, ‘The Lord must have loved the common people, because He made so many of them.’ (Altered by my college professor, ‘The Lord must have hated the common people, because He made them so damn common.’)

Anyway, I was lured to the job by Robert S. Reed, whom I knew peripherally from golf tournaments in Connecticut; and Jack Minch, who had been a salesman for NEA Service (Alley Oop, etc.) and used to call at the paper where I was cartoonist, The Connecticut Herald. We had a jolly time every few months when he called with some new feature to sell. I was among the first editors to buy Frank and Ernest.

When I was hired, Minch had become VP or General Manager of NYN-CT. He might have even brought me in, but was a different character when three-martini lunches were not involved; nor were sales commissions. Full of himself, he was a blowhard who wrote execrable promotional copy, but insisted on doing it, and seemed to regard every piece of tedious prose worthy of a Nobel Prize. He took most of the work off Reed’s desk, so they were a happy couple for awhile.
    
1977 [2] Dec 18.
DICK MOORES. The annual Reuben Awards were approaching — the National Cartoonists Society version of Oscar night, in those days invariably held in New York City, at the Plaza or the Waldorf. Usually in April, to coincide with the American Newspaper Publishers confab.

I had made quick friends with cartoonists in my stable whom I did not already know. I was friends already with Leonard Starr, Bill Holman, and Henri Arnold in the office; Bill Kresse, Bruce Stark, Bill Gallo, and George Ward of the News’ bullpen downstairs. I made friends with Chester Gould (at the time down in the dumps because he designed promotion for the lagging Dick Tracy because the syndicate would not produce its own promo for the strip; and they coldly ignored even these gestures); and Dale Messick. I met Mike Witte and Tug McGraw, partners on a new baseball strip, Scroogie. It flopped, but as a Mets fan I was thrilled to work with the legendary relief pitcher.

And I met Dick Moores. I had been a longtime admirer; the versatile cartoonist had assisted Gould on the early Tracy; had drawn his own crime strip, Jim Hardy; followed by Windy and Paddles; a domestic humor strip called Merton Musty; and did Sunday Disney comics for years, all before assisting Frank King and inheriting Gasoline Alley.

Dick was never bad, but in the mid-1970s his work on Alley was astounding. Well written (with new characters of his own in the cast); overflowing with meticulous detail — hand-done shading and cross-hatching, almost mechanical; unorthodox camera-angles, for instance up-shots — odd for a man much taller than six feet, I always thought; and delightfully gratuitous design surprises, like upper and lower case lettering; no panel borders; and… much more. Every strip was a masterpiece.

My admiration was not unique; I was not a fan crying in the wilderness. My cartoonist friends in Connecticut around that time — on golf courses, over lunches, at parties — would revel in Dick Moores’ work. Most had never met him. But — ‘Did you see the details in Tuesday’s strip?’ and ‘Wasn’t the bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood in Gasoline Alley insane last week?’ … like that.
   
1977 [3] Dec 25.
REUBEN AWARDS. So this became my unofficial survey, added to my own wonderment. I pegged Dick Moores to win the Reuben Award that year as Cartoonist of the Year.

I was sure the lunkhead execs at the syndicate would be sweaty with anticipation. But they had other plans for the Reuben dinner. The syndicate would reserve two tables. At the ‘head’ table, the suits would sit with Tug McGraw, a natural bragging decision, given that moment in time. But also they pimped… Dale Messick. A wonderful lady, colorful and successful, and perhaps deserving of a Reuben statuette. Brenda Starr, Reporter was iconic. She was the predicted princess-in-waiting in the eyes of Reed and Minch.

At the second table, I was deputized to ‘handle’ the ‘old man’ Dick Moores, who traveled from North Carolina with his son-in-law Chuck. In fact Dick might have been younger than Dale, but his strip was old-news and rural in their eyes.

… besides, the syndicate was trying to option movie rights to Brenda Starr. Ah. Feelthy lucre. (In fact, it was a film shot in 1986, 10 years later, but only released six additional years after production. Starring Brooke Shields, Timothy Dalton, Jeffrey Tambor, and Charles Durning, it is legendary as one of the worst productions and biggest flops in Hollywood history. Its budget was $16-million; and its box-office was a mere $67,000: a very difficult feat.)

So my wife and I were the evening’s companions of Dick Moores and his son-in-law. (I recall having invited Hal Dareff of Hyperion Press, which had just produced 22 volumes of Bill Blackbeard’s early comic series, The Hyperion Library of Classic American Comic Strips.) This ‘task’ was pleasant indeed. No offense to Dale, but she was not destined to win the Reuben; Dick Moores was destined, if there is a God.

There is. When ‘Dick Moores’ was happily announced as the winner of the Reuben Award (for work done in 1974, technically), the entire head table, as if they were deaf, halfway rose from their seats to whoop it up for Dale. At our table, my wife and I compensated in the cheerleading department, and the modest Dick Moores made it to the stage. He received prolonged applause from the entire assemblage — sincere from his peers.
     
1975 [4] Dick Moores (b. 1909) with Rick Marschall.
The syndicate heads were boorish and churlish, barely congratulating Dick Moores, and mumbling to anyone who would listen about the black eye Women’s Liberation suffered that evening.

We spent the rest of the evening basking in Dick’s modest pride, and seeing all the well-wishers who embraced him. That’s the rest of the story, but the important fact is that Dick Moores was recognized by his fellow cartoonists; and I did not really have to feel like a soothsayer. He was great.
    
1971 [5] Feb 3, Gasoline Alley, original daily strip.

•!•

Pictures [1-3] courtesy of ilovecomix.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Introducing… A Crowded Life in Comics

    
1897 [1] The Billposter And The Kid. A Tale of Revenge, by Carl Anderson, in New York Journal, Jan 24.
   
by Rick Marschall 
    
“In the comic strip we have the embodiment, the culmination, of civilized man’s 4,000 years of groping for the perfect form of communication.” — opening line of first Editorial in Nemo, June 1983

THE FIRST installment of this column will be a crowded introduction, or explanation; and the ‘crowded life’ will appear in weekly slices. It feels a little presumptuous to appear confident that readers will care about my career and activities, whether in the comics field or out. In fact it is presumptuous; but I thought the same way about blogs 15 years ago, then took the plunge 10 years back, and have written a weekly web message without a miss, with 170,000 hits or so. Perhaps peeking in someone who displays presumption is only a 21st-century spectator sport. But not clicking or clicking out is simpler than yelling at one’s postman, or burning newsletters in an old-fashioned bonfire every few months.

Also, I overcame false modesty and yielded to the suggestions of Yesterday’s Papers editor John Adcock that I write an ongoing memoir. This was the secret ingredient in the recipe. Some of you will know that years ago I edited a magazine called Nemo: The Classic Comics Library. Fondly remembered on two continents, a 32-issue run back in 1983-92 when vintage comics largely were unknown even to devoted fans and scholars.

Nemo ceased publication for various reasons, but I was proud of it, and of the dust it raised. In a way the reprints and scholarship that followed were partly engendered by Nemo. And I feel that, better than anything else of an ongoing nature, Yesterday’s Papers is the legitimate heir to the vision and accomplishments of Nemo. So it is proper that I find a way to be part of this online magazine of John’s — and proud to be here.

NEWS FLASH. Oh, two notes. Nemo will be starting up again: a print magazine; larger page size; approximately 200 pages; with color. And, closing the circle, John Adcock will be our Associate Editor… while maintaining his stewardship of YP!
   
1983 [2] Dik Browne, Milton Caniff, Rick Marschall.
So I am glad to be here, but at my age I am glad to be anywhere. That is an old joke, and not, however, a hint that these recollections are a function of a realization that Marschall’s life is drawing to a close. Of course, maybe it is (I leave such spiritual wrestling-matches to my blog) — but, mostly, I have come to the point of realizing that I have been blessed with… well, a crowded life. In and out of comics.

I was a guest on Comic Book Historians podcasts recently, and the three interviewers knew things about my career that I barely remembered. Last week, my son, a TV news producer in Florida, found three employees including the weekend anchor jumping with excitement upon learning that his father (me) had been Editor at Marvel; asking things that he didn’t even know.

I’ve got to get some of this stuff down!

BLESSED. I used the word ‘blessed.’ By circumstance, geography, parental encouragement, I have realized that I am sort of a Forrest Gump of the comics game. Just to continue the introduction for people unfamiliar with my spotted past —

I have been a political cartoonist for several publications; I have illustrated books and magazine articles;

I have been a newspaper reporter and columnist; have founded six magazines and edited eight; I was a comics editor with three newspaper syndicates, and of Marvel Comics;

I have written 74 books (history, biography, children’s, humor, Baroque music, country music, television history, Christian apologetics and devotionals; and the field of cartoons and comics, anthologies, reprints, and criticism. Hundreds of magazine articles in the categories and others litter the landscape.
   
1916 [3] Krazy Kat by George Herriman, June 11.
As a writer (of comics) I wrote stories for Marvel; many scripts for Disney comics, mostly in Europe; and introductions to many books and catalogs;

I served on the Boards of Director of the San Francisco Academy of Cartoon Art, the Museum of Cartoon Art, and the Museum (and Foundation) of Caricature and Cartoon Art in Washington DC. I have attended many comics conferences and symposia in the US and Europe, where I have spoken and organized exhibitions; at various times I was the US representative of Lucca, Angoulême, and ExpoCartoon in Rome. I also repped, at various times, for European comics publishers Dargaud, Strip Art Features, and Glénat.

A few awards have come my way: Friend of Fandom, Eisner, and Harvey awards from Comicon in San Diego; Yellow Kid award from Lucca Festival (for EPIC Magazine); Max und Moritz Prize at Erlangen Festival; RTL award in Luxembourg; and various recognitions for the 20-stamp commemorative series for the US Postal Service;

Speaking of which I consulted, provided artwork and information, and wrote the 100-page book for the Postal Service ‘American Classics’ comics history stamps; and was sent to 11 cities to promote comics and the stamps. Along the way, in similar events and publicity tours, I have spoken at the Library of Congress, at the Kansas City Public Library (Truman Foundation), on C-SPAN and on NPR; and at many universities;

Speaking of which I have taught comics history, techniques, and criticism, at the School of Visual Arts; Rutgers University; Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts); and Summer Institute for the Gifted at Bryn Mawr University.
   
[4]
RECALL. The bulk of these reminiscences will not be a recitation of jobs on my résumé, or lists of desks I have sat behind, but to recall the people I have been fortunate to meet and/or interview. A partial list might cause you to stick around; an eclectic bunch, and will stray from comics occasionally — hey, it’s all popular culture:
…Rube Goldberg, Harry Hershfield; Roy Crane; Rudolph Dirks; John Dirks; Joe Venuti; Jimmy McPartland; Teddy Wilson; Alice Roosevelt Longworth; Herblock; Spiro Agnew; Strom Thurmond; Jerry Lee Lewis; John Severin; Al Smith, Vern Greene; Gluyas Williams; Roy Acuff; Bill Monroe; Sam Phillips; Walt Kelly; Jimmy Swaggart; Frank King; Otto Messmer; Matt Koehl; Abbie Hoffman; Jerry Rubin; William Kunstler; Lyn Nofziger; Dik Browne; Dick Hodgins, Johnny Hart; Brant Parker; John Wheeler; Jim Ivey; Jerry Dumas; Harry Neigher; William Loeb; Jean Shepherd; Bob and Ray; Al Capp; Jacob Burck; Stephen Becker; Jack Finney; Mort Walker; Edwina Dumm; Gerald Ford; Henry Kissinger; Charles Schulz; Faron Young; Pete Hamill; Mac Wiseman; Leonard Starr; Stan Drake; Carl Barks; Floyd Gottfredson; Ron Goulart; George Jones; Tammy Wynette; William F. Buckley; Jeff MacNelly; Russell Patterson; Chester Gould; Pierre Couperie; Donald Phelps; Will Eisner; Noel Sickles; Jackie Gleason; Art Buchwald; George Wallace; Mark Russell; Al Kilgore; Bill Holman; Milton Caniff; Robert Novak; Burne Hogarth; Stan Lee; John Buscema; John Romita Sr. and Jr.; Hal Foster; Ernie Bushmiller;  Mell Lazarus; Hank Ketcham; Harvey Kurtzman; Jean Giraud (Moebius); Al Hirshfeld; Mookie Wilson; Alberto Breccia; Benito Jacovitti; Hardie Gramatky; Hank Snow; Hermann Huppen; Eric Gurney; Mel Blanc; Jules Feiffer; Loretta Lynn; Arnold Roth; Stan Lynde; John Fischetti; D. James Kennedy; John Cullen Murphy; Herb Gardner; Alex Toth; Guillermo Mordillo; Maurice Horn; Martin Williams; Bill Blackbeard; Denis Gifford; Warren Tufts; Jim Raymond; Dean Young; Bob Weber Sr. and Jr.; Orlando Busino; Debra Murphrey; Vittorio Giardino; Gill Fox; Leslie Turner; Charlie Rich; Ann Coulter; Maurice Sendak; Bill Mauldin; Art Spiegelman; Francoise Mouly; Allen Saunders; Jack Kirby; Studs Terkel; Frank Thomas; Ollie Johnson; Raeburn van Buren; Jack Clement; Will Gould; John Stanley; Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; Curt Swan; David Levine; Chuck Jones; Otto Soglow; Phyllis Schlafly; Jack Dempsey; Bob Kane; Jack Davis; Harlan Ellison; Nicole Lambert; Lee Falk; Merle Haggard; Joe Kubert; Walter Gibson; Jack Kent; Dr. Seuss; Mickey Gilley; the Statler Brothers; Gil Kane; Fred Lasswell; Al Williamson; Gene Colan; Mike Greg; Ferd Johnson; Dr. Bennet Omalu; Bill Gaither; Howard and Vestal Goodman; Mark Lowry; Hugo Pratt; Mike Yaconelli; Bill Watterson; Al Kaline; Tony Campolo; Tweed Roosevelt; Matt Groening; Jack Phillips; David Irving; Edmund Morris; Wade Mainer; Paul Manafort...
In no particular order…  And there are others I have forgotten, but these names and their associated stories might interest visitors to A Crowded Life in Comics in weeks — months? years? — to come.
   
1960 [5] Peanuts by Charles Schulz, in Vancouver Sun, Sep 17.
I will not make this feature into a scrapbook, or a record of musty memories. I aim to recall interesting anecdotes and revelations that shed light on comics history and popular culture. I will share my thoughts on the language and structure of strips, literature, movies, music, and such… and open some windows, and even doors, to greater discussions.

The installments will NOT be as long as this intro-piece is. But on the web we waste a few electrons; not whole trees like in the old days.

Continued In Our Next —

•!•

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Return of NEMO: The Classic Comics Library



“A run of Nemo’s is an education in the history and aesthetics of cartooning in the 20th century.” — A Farewell from The Publishers

Nemo: The Classics Comics Library made its startling debut in June 1983, published by Fantagraphics Book by Gary Groth, edited by Rick Marschall, designed by Art Director Peppy White, with Contributing Editors Tom Andrea, Bill Blackbeard, Ron Goulart, Jay Maeder and Donald Phelps. Nemo ran for 32 issues — the last two as a double issue dated January/Winter 1992 — plus one annual, Screwball Comics, in 1985.

In the first thirty issues Nemo published “a breathtaking amount of the best cartooning the world has ever seen. Frank King. George Herriman. E.C. Segar. Winsor McCay. J.R. Williams. Gluyas Williams (no relation). Harry J. Tuthill. Franklin Booth. Carl Barks. Floyd Gottfredson. Clare Briggs. Harold Gray. George McManus. Gustave Verbeek. Charles Dana Gibson. James Montgomery Flagg. Frank Willard. Joseph Clement Coll. Chester Gould. Alex Raymond. Jack Kent. Percy Crosby. John Held, Jr. Jimmy Swinnerton. Rube Goldberg. Garrett Price. Ferd Johnson. Even Norman Rockwell. And Let us not forget William Faulkner. It’s a list that would make the most blasé swoon.”

ANNOUNCEMENT TO MY FRIENDS IN THE COMICS FIELD
from Rick Marschall:

A brief announcement to share here. For 32 issues, Nemo: The Classic Comics Library was a magazine that pioneered the study and appreciation of vintage comics and cartoons, and related forms of art and culture. For some people, including working cartoonists of the day, it was more than study and appreciation... it was, by testimonies of letters, conversations, and response I still receive, a journal of DISCOVERY too.

NEWS FLASH. This news flash is to let you know that Nemo is returning. I return as Editor; Fantagraphics will be Publisher; among the large editorial and creative team, many already on board, are John Adcock, who has piloted the splendid online magazine Yesterday’s Papers (and will continue); and Jon Barli, my partner at Rosebud Archives and Art Director of a recent Comics Journal monster.


And, as if Rick Marschall’s announcement was not enough “startling” news to digest, Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth has just announced that The Comics Journal will also be coming back in the old print format. Read all about it HERE.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Nelson Mandela Exhibition Drawings



Nelson Mandela 

An Exclusive Exhibition of the Great Mans Drawings



HERE

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Crossover Sunday/Hooligans and Katzenjammers



F.B. Opper/Rudolph Dirks, 
Chicago Examiner, 
Dec 6, 1908

🔻

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday with Gus



Gus Mager, Chicago Examiner, Feb 27, 1910

Monday, June 18, 2018

Exhibition: UNDERGROUND HEROES: NEW YORK TRANSIT IN THE COMICS


Kerry Drake, 1944, New York Transit Museum Collection

UNDERGROUND HEROES: 
NEW YORK TRANSIT IN THE COMICS
Exhibit opening at the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn on June 21, 2018

The New York Transit Museum’s newest exhibition, Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics is a raucous ride through New York’s transit system from a range of visual storytellers and draws on satirical cartoons, comic strips and comic books from the 19th through the 21st centuries.

On view at the Museum in Downtown Brooklyn from June 21st, 2018 through January 6th, 2019, the exhibit includes such luminaries as Winsor McCay, Will Eisner, Bill Griffith, Roz Chast, Ronald Wimberly and Julia Wertz. The vivid visual commentary offered through the comics demonstrates the influence that mass transit has on the stories that are inextricably woven into the fabric of the City.

“The Streets of New York,” F.B. Opper, 1884,
Flagler Museum Archives
Underground Heroes: New York Transit in the Comics spans more than a century, allowing visitors to see the continuing influence that subways, buses, and commuter rail lines have had on the stories that astound and thrill us.

The Big Apple is often as important as the people (and creatures) in comics narratives, and the creators of these fantastic stories draw inspiration from the world around them. With New York’s rich visual vernacular providing a colorful setting for illustrated stories, it comes as no surprise that our iconic transportation system plays a starring role in many comics and graphic novels and serves as the scene for heroic rescues, as secret lairs for supervillains, and as the site for epic battles of wills. Subways, railroads, streetcars, and buses can whisk heroes to far-flung corners of the city, or serve as a rogue’s gallery of unusual characters.

Top Two Photos: Newspaper Comics Council ad campaign,
1962 with Milton Caniff and Walt Kelly,

New York Transit Museum NYCTA.
Photo Unit Collection.
Underground Heroes: New York Transit in the Comics takes you on an incredible journey and highlights the simultaneous coming of age of the region’s mass transit systems and of comic books,” says Museum Director Concetta Bencivenga. “The foundation of each was built by immigrants who made New York their home and the influence of both mass transit and the comic book genre have expanded well beyond Gotham’s city limits. It is an honor to bring this exhibit to the public and share this rich history.”

Throughout the course of the exhibition’s run the New York Transit Museum will present a series of panel discussions, gallery talks, and sketch nights exploring Underground Heroes: New York Transit in the Comics.

Reservations are also now open for the Transit Museum’s annual summer camp program, appropriately themed Transit Hero Academy, and a selection of new products focusing on some of the comics featured in the show are planned to be available for sale in the New York Transit Museum Stores.

Winsor McCay, 1905, San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection,
The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.
Underground Heroes: New York Transit in the Comics is open to the public through January 6, 2019 at the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. Located in a decommissioned subway station at 99 Schermerhorn Street, the Transit Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and is closed Mondays, major holidays and for special events. General admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 2-17 years old, $5 and free on Wednesdays for senior citizens 62 years and up, and free for museum members. For more information on hours, admission and directions, please visitnytransitmuseum.org/visit.

Walt McDougall, 1893,  San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection,
The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum
Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

From Fulton Ferry Logoso

ABOUT THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM:
The New York Transit Museum is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The Museum explores the development of the greater New York metropolitan region through the presentation of exhibitions, tours, educational programs and workshops dealing with the cultural, social and technological history of public transportation. Since its inception over forty years ago, the Museum – which is housed in a historic 1936 IND subway station in Downtown Brooklyn – has grown in scope and popularity. As custodian and interpreter of the region’s extensive public transportation networks, the Museum strives to share through its public programs this rich and vibrant history with local, regional, and international audiences. To learn more, visit www.nytransitmuseum.org.

What:  Underground Heroes: New York Transit in the Comics   
When:  On view June 21, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Where:  New York Transit Museum, 99 Schemerhorn Street Brooklyn, NY 11201


“Quarantine the Gumbug!”, Amelia Opdyke Jones, 1948,
New York Transit Museum,  William J. Jones Collection,
Gift of William J. Jones & Margaritta J. Friday.


Y



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Comic Advertising: Tom Mix




January 13, 1935

February 7, 1937