Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Moon

Hide the little painted sled,

Put the fishpole 'neath the bed:

Another spirit has upward sped --

Willie's dead.

-- SWIZ.

Volume I Number 1 of “The Moon” was launched on 28 May 1902, with a quote from Dryden. “There is a pleasure in being mad which none but madmen know.” The Moon was published in Toronto, Ontario by Moon Publishing Company, until 18 July 1903.

The Moon was blatantly Imperialistic (except when the Imperialism was of the American sort,) violently anti-American, and filled with grotesque racist caricatures of Irish, African, and Native-Americans, all beautifully drawn by the most famous Anglo-Canadian cartoonist at the turn of the century: Arthur G. Racey, using the pseudonym “Chic.” Less offensive contributions were made by cartoonists and illustrators Newton McConnell, Sam Hunter, Fitzmaurice, C. W. Jefferys, and John Wilson Bengough.

The reviews of the time were enthusiastic. The Mail and Empire wrote:

“I make my bow to the Moon. I saw her in the full and over my left shoulder. Great, therefore, shall be my luck this month. Frankly, I am delighted that we are going to have a comic paper of our own. Life is such a biting, sneering little rat of a paper at all things concerning our British Empire, our flag, ourselves, that I am glad to see we are starting a "comic" of our own, and as The Moon is so very far above Life, she can see all the joke of it, the folly, the satire, the melodrama of the little anthill called earth. Again, my bow to you, O Moon, also one small subscription, for, to tell the truth I am a trifle afraid of you. The paper is a capital one and spares nobody - while it is genial in its satire. All the same, I tell you a snowball from The Moon is calculated to give us a shock now and then. Did you see the Magnates on the first page? If not, why not?”

Sam Jones wrote from Philadelphia: “It grows better every week. It is the best thing of its kind ever published in Canada,” and Sir Gilbert Parker said: “It is good enough to pay for. I never spent money more willingly. I am learning to laugh again -- sometimes at myself, which is a sign of health. I hope you may be successful, though truthful.”

The Brockville Times (Ontario,) wrote that “The Moon” of last week has some very bright scenes. The cartoons by Hunter, Racey, and Jeffrey’s are admirable, while the smaller skits and sketches are bright and clever. “The Moon” is essentially Canadian in spirit and ought to prove a good antidote to the blatant stuff poured into Canada from the United States. “The Moon” is said to have made a very good start already. It certainly merits a generous patronage in Canada.”

W. T. Stead, editor of “The Review of Reviews,” wrote: “Some of your cartoons rank with the best in the world.” The Review of Reviews for October, under the heading Current History in Caricature, reproduced five cartoons from THE MOON, and had this to say:

“I am delighted to introduce my readers to some of the cartoons this month from The Moon, a comic weekly published in Toronto, in whose artist (Mr. C. W. Jefferys) we welcome a valuable addition to those who with pen and pencil illustrate the contemporary history of mankind.”

Despite the quality of illustrations The Moon never made much impact outside of Toronto. Few Canadian publishers could withstand the combined barrage of publications from Britain and the United States then littering the newsstands and cigar shops. Comic strips, except for a brief flourishing in French Canada, lacked the sophisticated syndication of the American comic supplements, and remained short-lived regional aberrations. Editorial and political cartoonists fared much better in newspapers and Canadian magazines. Racey’s cartoons, for instance, appeared in the Chicago American, The Canadian Magazine, Le Monde Illustre, The Metropolitan, The Owl, Le Canard, The Montreal Witness, The Montreal Herald, The Toronto Star, Toronto Saturday Night, Grip, and other publications.

Racey also did much advertising material for Irving Cigars, a series of cartoons featuring the “Man from Mars” and another series “Pickwick Up-To-Date.” These were published all over Canada, in the Manitoba Free Press and Lethbridge Herald among others. In 1915 he was doing political cartoons for the Family Herald of Montreal and during the thirties his cartoons were appearing in the Grain Growers Guide, home to Doo Dads cartoonist Arch Dale.















5 comments:

  1. This is the first time I've encountered this brilliant cartoonist. He shows great range and technical skill, as well as a more-than-biting wit. Judging from the society girl, it wasn't just immigrants and minorities he "uglified."

    I enjoy Jefferys' send-ups of American magazines in "A Quiet Evening." Especially Inside the Boudoirs of 500 American Girls and Katzenheimer(?) Kids--Awfully Funny.

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  2. Definitely an interesting author, this is the first time I hear of him, but he certainly has both original style and wit that can both be appreciated even nowadays. I especially like the piece with spider being a good correspondent, I didnt expect the point at all:-D

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  3. Just dropping by to say how much i appreciate your blog.

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  4. Arthur G. Racey is my great uncle... so cool to find his work still out there! Now I know where my artistic talent came from. Thanks for all the wonderful information that has been lost and now found. Any idea how I can get copies of any of the pictures of Arthur or his work?

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