Sunday, March 28, 2010

Charles G. Bush and the Comic Strip

“While drawing weekly cartoons for the New York Telegram Bush made a few hits that brought him fame. One of these was his “Klondike,” a powerful sermon against the lust for gold which even the religious papers copied. Then he gave David B. Hill the little hat with its big streamer reading “I am a Democrat.” Being well read in the classics, Bush draws upon history and mythology for characters and settings, while the main idea of the cartoon is often developed in a chance conversation or even worked up after the artist sits down to his task with the feeling that something must be done. “Study, appreciation, and hard work” is his stereotyped advice to beginners who burn for fame and yearn for emoluments around the art sanctums of the New York press.” -- Cartoonists of America. The Funny Fellows who Furnish Pictorial Political Sermons to the Newspapers. Dubuque Sunday Herald, 21 October 1900.

Charles Green Bush, a contemporary of Homer Davenport’s, was born in Boston in 1842. He began contributing political cartoons to Harper’s Weekly in the 1870’s and in 1875 studied art in Paris with Léon Bonnat, the portrait painter before returning to New York in 1879 to continue at the Weekly. Both Harper's Weekly and Harper's Magazine were pioneers in the early use of sequential art in America, most importantly in the work of A. B. Frost.

Bush was not known for his comic strip work but in 1890 he drew a series of comics for Harper’s Weekly that show the influence of A. B. Frost, and, in the case of the animated ‘baseball’ strip, probably Eadweard Muybridge, whose photographic studies in human and animal locomotion (1878) had a seminal influence on both the cinema and the comic strip.

Charles Green Bush (1842-1909) illustrated Canadian writer James De Mille's novel The Lady of the Ice (1870), Adeline Dutton Train's Faith Gartney's Girlhood, (1891), and Rhoda Thornton's Girlhood by Mary E. Pratt.(1874). In his book The Political Cartoon, Charles Press argues that the first use of Uncle Sam in a cartoon was by Charles Green Bush on February 6, 1869 in Harper's Weekly, as Frank Weitenkampf showed in "Uncle Sam Through The Years : A Cartoon Record, Annotated List and Introduction," an unpublished manuscript in the New York Public Library, 1949, 24 pg. By 1900 Press states Bush was known as the "dean of American Political cartooning."

Top to Bottom: Harper's Weekly, 30 August, 1890, 25 January 1890, 27 September 1890.

See also A Master Cartoonist HERE

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