“In those days the big city newspapers were after the mobs, and my cartoons were directed against gangsters and the crooks who later became the targets of Tom Dewey. One night when I went back to my apartment I found a note shoved under the door. It read: ‘Your next cartoon will be your last.’”
He produced Ralston-Purina’s Tom Mix Comics (1940-1942), another four-color giveaway, with writer Ray Bouvert and inker Bill Allison. He drew the first few Sunday strips of Vesta West (Aug 30, 1942-1944), published in the Chicago Tribune Comic Magazine, before it was turned over to Ray Bailey. He produced aviation training and maintenance manuals during the war and in 1949 opened his own advertising studio which involved him with Nabisco Shredded Wheat promoting the radio serial hero Straight Arrow. He created the “Flying Red Horse” for Mobil Oil, and helped develop “Smoky the Bear” and the “Little Con Edison Man.”
“It’s 14 to 16 hours every day. The deadlines were consistent nightmares. You cannot hire assistants because they tend to change the character of the strip. Then the editors write letters and complain. You can’t go anywhere. I took a vacation once and had to take my drawing board to the beach. I got sick and was forced to continue cartooning while I was in the hospital. Cartoonists can never get ahead. A few do, but not many.”
The Straight Arrow daily comic strip ran from July 3 1950 to August 4, 1951, with scripts by Gardner Fox and artwork by Joe Certa and John Belfi.
Fred Meagher quit cartooning in 1955 and went to work for the American Can Company as a special project designer until his retirement in 1969. He died January 26, 1976.
“Drawing Talent, love of Horses Brings Fame to Clearfield Artist” by Betty Hamilton, The Progress, Clearfield, Pa., 31 Aug 1950
“Clearfield Native Fred Meagher Looks Back at Career as an Artist” by Richard Harpster, The Progress , 17 Aug 1971, originally appeared 28 July 1971 in the Jersey Free Press, Phillipsburg, N. J.
“Distinguished Artists to Judge Smith Valley Festival” Nevada State Journal, 25 May 1975.
“A Short History of Straight Arrow” by Bill Harper, Alter Ego, No. 11, Nov. 2001
“Straight Arrow 1949 to the Present” by John Belfi, Alter Ego, No. 11, Nov. 2001
“In Search of the “Enigmatic” Fred L. Meagher” by Bill Harper and Jean Walton, Alter Ego, No. 11, Nov. 2001