Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
W. M. Goodes was one of those mysterious and prolific cartoonists that it is impossible to find any biographical material about. His cartoons appeared in Puck, Toronto Saturday Night, Toronto Star, Massachusetts Ploughman, Harper's Round Table, Winnipeg Free Press, and the New York Herald. He shared illustrative work on Bill Nye’s posthumous work, A Comic History of England, with cartoonist A. M. Richards, from J. B. Lippincott Co. in 1896. Following that Goodes illustrated a book called Comic History of Greece By Charles M. Snyder, 1897, also fom J. B. Lippincott Company.
His caption strip cartoons here are from Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, hidden away in the back pages with the advertising. The neat thing is that the strips featured a continuing cast of characters, John (papa), Sue (ma), three boys and a commentating cat. The comics had no title. They ran in Lippincott's from 1909 to about 1912. Top is a panel from April 1909 and below is a full strip from November 1909.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Cartoon Jamboree's gag cartoons were on the low end of the scale compared to the New Yorker and Esquire. The color covers, front and back by Bill Wenzel, were a treat, and some of the cartoonists, such as Ali and Bernhardt, appeared in more upscale magazines. Cartoon Jamboree was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the star of the magazine was O'Brien with his simply drawn clodhopper fifties male characters and curvy alluring women.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
“Michael Woolf delights in child life. He illustrates capitally its amusing imitation of grown people, its witty sayings, its unconscious knowledge of human nature. Subtract the exaggeration – which is the caricaturists right – and you have truth. Children are drawn towards this man who understands them so well, but a primary school girl embarrassed him some time ago. “Mr. Woolf,” she said, “are you never homesick?” “Why?” asked the artist. “Because you live so far away from your country. Mamma told papa at dinner last night that you are a Bohemiam.” > Cartoonists of New York in the Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, November 7, 1886.
Top illustration Harper’s New Monthly Magazine June 1877. The Street Arabs of Michael Woolf from Godey’s Magazine, Vol. CXXXIII No. 797 November, 1896. See also > American Judy.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Cockeyed No. 1, 1955 published by Whitestone.
A list of some of the many humor magazines and comics of the fifties taken from Culture & the Comic Strips by Sol M. Davidson, published in December 1958:
Mad, Crazy, Whack (Jubilee pub.), Wild (Atlas), Panic, Riot (Atlas), Eh! ,Flip (1954), From Here to Insanity, It’s Unsane Crazier than Insane (Star pub.), Get Lost (Mike Ross pub.), Cuckoo, Cockeyed, Lunatickle, Snafu, Trump.
Contents page for FOO, Vol. I No. 1. FOO was published by the Monarch Publishing Co. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at 1 Adelaide St. which I am told is a nice central downtown location close to the historic Adelaide postal station. A quote from one of the letters from Oscar Hackwriter: "Down with Foo and Mud too."
Many thanks to James J for the scan of the contents page and the cover.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
“At several points, Kelly would have us believe a duck is employed as a mailman in a well-known Southern swamp. Where did he obtain this information? Where, in other words, is the source for this duck? What good is a duck without a source?” Bill Vaughan in the Kansas City Star, November 1959.
Walt Kelly was many things to many people. Foremost he was a humorist and comic strip artist, but he was also a gentle teacher of the nation’s young, who he knew would follow Pogo from the nursery comics to the newspapers. By crafting a comic strip for adults and children he helped to steer the children through a period fraught with fear and anxiety, a period he referred to in a Saturday Review article as the “cold-hearted war.” The children’s love for Kelly’s creations knew no bounds. In 1950 a four year old girl left her happy home in search of Albert Alligator. Police took her in hand as she exited a bus in Chattanooga, 200 miles from her home.
Pogo was a highly intellectual strip but Walt Kelly understood that the audience for comic strips was the average family, the same readers who rated Blondie the number one comic strip of the nineteen fifties. He noted that it was “widely thought, and erroneously, that the comics page is for children. It is partially, but mainly it is for the fellow who buys the newspaper, and he usually shaves and reads the sports pages too.”
On the surface Kelly’s poems, songs and stories were funny but on a subliminal level they left messages, teaching and subtle warnings in the reader’s minds. A poem like “This is the Hunt,” (1954) a story like “Who Stole the Tarts?,” (1954) or a continuity like “The Atom Bugs” (1950) had a subtle educational effect on the mind. They imparted wisdom and laughed at bigotry and bullies. The readers understood and they stuffed Kelly’s mailbox with millions of letters. Kelly, in turn, never underestimated the intelligence of his readers.
“My mail is about half from children and half from adults and the half from the children shows a high level of understanding, a perception and awareness of life (which I don’t remember stumbling across in my salad days) , and a great sense of humor. The adults who write have not much to be ashamed of in comparison. All of these people seem to understand what the strip is about and the letters are usually full of phrases such as “This is the first fan letter I have ever written,” and “Here’s an idea that occurred to me when I was studying the editorial page in search of laughs.”
The importance of Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo, published in 1959, and covering the years 1948-1959, lies in it’s wise appeal to young and old through allegory, fable, image, history and language. Our first experience with Walt Kelly was through the nursery comics published by the Western Publishing & Lithographic Company. Parents bought The Brownies, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Fairy Tale Parade, Mother Goose Comics, and the incomparable Pogo Possum to be read to the tads and tots in their malleable years. Kelly knew the kids would follow him from the comic books to the newspaper comic strip and he always worked with one tender eye on that audience.
I was ten (1960) when my brother brought home a fat hardcover copy of Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo from the local library. I didn’t quite understand everything I read, the political references were over my head, but I read over and over those which I could understand. The fractured English that the citizens of Okefenokee swamp spoke was Kelly’s gently subversive way of teaching children about the pits and pratfalls of world politics while, at the same time, developing in the reader notions of tolerance and respect through wise fairy tale allegories about the vagaries of human nature. Kelly used the same techniques, metaphor, parable, and the fairy story, in his articles for adults. Pogo was both entertaining and instructive.
As I matured I found my understanding of the language and message of Pogo growing, and increasingly my orbs would wander from the funny pictures to the explanatory articles interspersed among the comics. These were partly autobiographical and mainly political. In these explanatory sections Kelly addressed McCarthyism and loyalty oaths, the cold war and the atomic bomb, censorship, war, complacency, ignorance, and above all intolerance. When Kelly wrote these words he was, once again, always, writing for his double audience of children and adults.
Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. (1913-1973) was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, a theatrical scene painter, gave him his first drawing lessons. In time he became a reporter, writer, and artist for the local Bridgeport Post, where he recalled, he illustrated the life of Bridgport’s most famous citizen, P. T. Barnum, three times. In 1935 he was hired by the Disney studios and worked at animation for the next six years under the encouraging wing of top model man Charles Thorson, a colourful cartoonist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The model man’s job was to provide the animators with sketches of the characters from all sides showing all manner of action and facial expression. The two worked together on Snow White and Dumbo.
Pogo originated as a “spear-carrier” in a feature called “Bumbazine and Albert the Alligator” in 1943’s Animal Comics published by Dell Comics, which led to a feature comic book in October 1949, “Pogo Possum,” which had an initial press run of 500,000. Meanwhile Kelly continued drawing “Peter Wheat,” a monthly advertising giveaway, while working for Dell. The Pogo comic book was still being published when Kelly carried the talking marsupial to the New York Star where the comic strip began running on October 4, 1948. Only a few papers outside New York picked up the strip until the Post - Hall Syndicate took over in May 1949. Pogo began with about four clients and the daily was soon joined by a colour Sunday page. The Sunday was usually humorous, Kelly kept his political musings mainly in the daily strips.
Pogo was so successful, with an estimated 37,000,000 readers in 1952, that the first of many book collections, “Pogo,” was published by Simon & Schuster in 1951. Canadians were so enamoured of Pogo that in 1950 the staff of the Montreal Star, which published no comics, pleaded with the rival Montreal Herald to run the feature, which they obligingly did. The National Cartoonists Society named Walt Kelly Cartoonist of the Year in 1952. Folksinger Tom Parrott recorded a Kelly song “Only the lone (one small score for two brown eyes)” in 1968 for Folkway Records.
Walt Kelly’s influence on the post-war generation was incalculable and his work is still pertinent to recent troubling times. The last words in Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo were widely disseminated in shortened form as “we have met the enemy and he is us,” adopted as a poster promoting Earth Day in 1970. The original 1959 quote read “There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.”
Hugh Maclean, in an article in the Canadian Forum (The Decline of the Comics Jan. 1954), once described Pogo as “the little possum who comprehends us all.” Walt Kelly (who died in 1973, peace to his manes) left us all a prescient song, “For Lewis Carroll and the Children,” first published in 1954 with a poignant illustration:
The gentle journey jars to stop.
The drifting dream is done.
The long gone goblins loom ahead;
The deadly, that we thought were dead,
Stand waiting, every one.
Pogo’s Pal Kelly by Harrison Fisher, MacLean’s Magazine, April 15, 1950
Pogo Looks at the Abominable Snowman by Walt Kelly, the Saturday Review, August 30, 1958
Reuben Awards page on Walt Kelly
Friday, March 21, 2008
Frank Godwin illustration for Midnight by Jim Kjelgaard, author of Shane. Godwin was a frequent contributor to Liberty magazine in the forties and fifties.
Pat Holbrooke illustration for To Act as God by H. Vernor Dixon.
O. F. Schmidt illustration for Cavort with Me by Neill C. Wilson.
All illustrations from Liberty Canadian Edition December 22, 1945
Thursday, March 20, 2008
H. W. Phillips caricatures were published in the back of Godey's Magazine throughout 1897. He is remembered today as the author of Fables for the Times, illustrated by T. S. Sullivant, and published by R. H. Russel & Son in New York in 1896. He was well known in his time as an illustrator of animal cartoons. The cartoon at top shows the rooster using a variant of a phrase often used in the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip, "Dod-gast it."
Bottom is an article from Godey's February 1894 issue in a regular column, "Our Boys," which gives instructions for making a telephone. I'm mechanically incompetent so if any reader tries this at home please use the comments section to let me know how things worked out.
The Caricatures of T. S. Sullivant (1854-1926) by V. Robard, Godey’s Magazine Vol. CXXXV No.807 Sept. 1897. This venerable illustrated magazine was begun by Louis A. Godey of Philadelphia under the title The Lady’s Book in July, 1830 and had a circulation of 150,000 around the time of the Civil War. It was a women’s magazine featuring stories, poems, and fashions. Godey's hired women to hand-color fashion plate engravings to be given away with the magazine. By 1897 Godey's was published out of New York and came to an end in August 1898. It was then absorbed into The Puritan, a monthly published in New York by Frank Munsey. Vol. I no. 1 of The Puritan was issued January 1897 and ceased publishing in 1901.
The color illustration above was clipped from Crumbling Paper on the STWALLSKULL blog and can be seen in its entirety HERE. T. S. Sullivant at Glen Haven HERE.