Saturday, May 16, 2009

A. D. Condo (1872-1956)


Facts about A. D. Condo, the man behind the “Everett True” comic strip, have been scarce until now, which is strange because Condo’s popularity and fame was immense during the entire period of his long career. A. D. Condo may just have been the most popular cartoonist on the entire continent of North America. One contemporary reviewer of Martin Sheridan’s “Comics and their Creators” decided Sheridan's history was not complete, because it neglected to mention A. D. Condo and Clare Victor “Dwig” Dwiggins, famed for the “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn” comic strip.

“Everett True” began in 1902 as one of a series of different characters alternating weekly in Condo’s comics. The last comic strip under the Condo name was printed in 1946, forty-four years later. Even then “Everett True” continued as a pale version of its former self well into the sixties under the title “Uncle Ev,” featuring Everett True. Condo’s comic characters were ideal for the stage.


In March 1913 a group of Condo’s characters from the strips, “Oscar and Adolph,” “Diana Dillpickles” and “Mr. Skygack,” the man from Mars were brought to the stage in a musical variety show put on by Joseph Weimer. Fred Schaefer, A. D. Condo’s writer, or “hunch man,” produced a book giveaway for the show which was titled “Oscar and Adolph.” Viewers of a parade in Indiana, in 1913, were delighted to see “Everett True” and “Skygack” among the marchers. The American Bioscope Company produced a movie in early 1916 which starred a frighteningly realistic doppelganger of the original king of Swat in the person of comedy star Bobby Bolder, a native of London, England.



The following article appeared November 18, 1923 in the Montana Daily Independent.

CONDO’S REFORMER ‘EVERETT TRUE’ HAS NOW SWATTED 6,000 PESTS

By A. H. FREDERICK.

Six thousand pests, or thereabouts, have been swatted -- a good many of them, I hope, into oblivion -- by the iron fist of “Everett True,” militant reformer.

It was way back in ‘04 that A. D. Condo created “Everett True.” This places “Everett” in the pioneer class of comickers appearing daily. Yet he still holds his own with the best of them, growing ever more popular.

Condo preceded “Everett” into the world by thirty years.

He was born (meaning Condo) at Freeport, Ill., in 1872. Shortly afterwards the Condos moved to Missouri, where the father, a Methodist preacher, lost his life in a cyclone.

“Ministers,” says Condo, “were paid little in those days. We hadn’t much. After the cyclone we had less.”

In 1882 the family settled at Findlay, O., where Mrs. Condo taught school.



BORN AN ARTIST

A fondness for picture-making was born in condo. Even at four years old he was happiest with pencil or crayon, and throughout his childhood his mother often had to shoo him out to play, so apt was he to linger indoors at the game of draughtsmanship.

It was for newspaper art that the boy had a preference from the time when he first began his work seriously, and it was into a newspaper office that he gravitated naturally even before completing the customary course in the Findlay grammar school.

In the 80’s, however, there was no such demand for daily paper illustration as developed a little later, so it was as a printer’s devil that Condo made his start and not until ‘96 did the opportunity come that he had been waiting for.

That was the year of William Jennings Bryan’s first and most spectacular run for the presidency.

With his sensational campaign practically overnight a cartoonist became an essential member of the staff of every up-to-date newspaper.



CHALK PLATE WORK

Accordingly Condo went to work as a chalk plate artist for the Toledo (O.) News.

In 1902 after consolidation of the Toledo News and Bee, he joined NEA at Cleveland, making general comics.

A. M. Hopkins was editor-in-chief at the time. He suggested a series of strips, each series to run a week and then give way to a new one on a fresh subject and with a fresh group of characters.

Condo went to it in co-operation with Jack Raper, now of the Cleveland Press as “hunch man.”

One day Editor Hopkins proposed a weekly series picturing the adventures of an individual of the “Truthful James” type -- a man who always told the truth, regardless of consequences or any consideration of policy, circumstance or convenience.

Out went the series and made such a hit that it was decided to continue it.



JACK CHOSE THE NAME

Raper, however, didn’t like the name “Truthful James,” and it was on his motion that “Everett True” was adopted.

The “Everett” of those days hadn’t quite the amplitude of girth that distinguishes him at present. That he’s gained more or less weight isn’t surprising. He’s going on twenty years older. But the spirit of the crusader burned as brightly in him in him in 1904 as at this time of writing.

Alternating with “Everett” when he first made his appearance were two other strips, “Oscar and Adolph” and “Diana Dillpickles.” Later they were dropped and “Everett became a daily. Also Condo became his own “hunch man.” He’s remained so ever since.

By the way, he doesn’t consider “Everett” a comic.

“Rather,” he says, “it’s a corrective dose, in sweetened capsule form. It may go down pleasantly, while the patient laughs. But after its down it has a purpose.”



CONDO NO CRUSADER

“Also you might say that “Everett’s” no picturization of myself. I never have been a gratuitous pest-swatter, though sometimes I’ve longed to be. I’ve answered that question by mail so often that Id be glad to leave it generally known the answer in the negative.”

Personally Condo’s a person of much gravity, but behind this gravity lurks an ever-ready smile and many a lightning quick-flash of humor.

He has a daughter, now of high school age, who’ll tell you “daddy’s” the greatest man in the world, with “Everett” a close second.

Back in 1910, NEA sent Condo to California to “get art” on the Johnson-Jeffries fight scheduled originally to be held there. Later he returned to Cleveland, but, the opportunity presenting itself, he went back to the Pacific coast and lives in Berkeley this minute.





A. D. Condo (NEA)

*Update: Steven Rowe commented that based on census records "Armando D. Condo (19 Sep 1872 -24 Aug 1956) died in Albany, California."

4 comments:

  1. Armando D. Condo (19 Sep 1872 -24 Aug 1956)
    died in Albany, California

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  2. His first name is "Armundo." Here is a link to his WW2 draft card.

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  3. Thanks, some more good information.

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  4. Armundo Dreisbach Condo is my husband's second cousin twice removed. According to the family history book he was familiarly called "Ardo." Thanks for posting this sketch of the man.

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