Thursday, November 17, 2011

Webster on the Pallophotophone

Famous Artists Give Addresses From WGY Here. Schenectady Gazette, 17 Mar 1923
Charles Dana Gibson and H. T. Webster spoke on WGY, the General Electric Radio station in Schenectady, NY “by use of the pallophotophone, a reproducing device which photographs sound.” The speakers, “whose voices were heard… themselves were elsewhere.”
Gibson spoke on “Laughter as a Tonic” while Webster talked about how cartoons were made. Here’s H. T. Webster >
“The correspondence schools, in their advertising, give the impression that the art is ridiculously simple, and that any person over ten years old who can’t learn to draw first class cartoons after a few lessons is an imbecile. The cartoonist’s life is painted in rosy colors. The inference being that any member of the profession dashes off a drawing before breakfast -- hands it to his third assistant secretary, who rushes it to the paper and comes back a few minutes later pushing a bale of fifty dollar bills in a wheelbarrow.
In other words the correspondence school in cartooning makes the reader feel that of the two occupations -- ditch digging and cartooning -- cartooning should be given the preference.
I want to say, after many years experience, that drawing a daily cartoon is not the carefree frolic it is said to be. It is mighty hard work. There is nothing I can think of just now so nerve racking as to sit and stare at a blank piece of bristol board for an hour or two hoping that an idea will happen. This is the time I usually feel I was hasty in refusing the job in the brickyard when I was a boy. Once the idea is hatched getting it down in black and white is comparatively simple. A few hours of scratching and you are through, with nothing to do but make another one.
George Ade once said every man knocks his own job but sticks to it like glue. I know there isn’t a man on earth I would trade jobs with. There is a lot of satisfaction coaxing a smile out of a man who has just paid his income tax and who defies anyone to make him turn up the corners of his mouth. It doesn’t happen as often as it should. Genuinely humorous ideas are rare. So many of them are obviously artificial. But when one good one does turn up it attracts as much attention as a flapper with her galoshes buckled. One appeared a few weeks ago in Punch. A fare was shown climbing into a taxi; a blizzard was raging outside. The fare remarks ‘rather wintry morning this’ and the driver replies, ‘I give you my word sir, I ain’t seen a butterfly all day.’
Punch published another masterpiece not long ago. It was drawn by Bateman and called ‘The One Note Man.’ A man was shown getting out of bed, bathing, shaving and having a hurried breakfast. He is next pictured running for his train. On his arrival in the city all the details of his activities before reaching his place of employment are faithfully drawn. He arrives at the concert hall and takes his place in the orchestra. The program starts. Our hero sits idly while the horns blare and the drums roll. He glances at the music occasionally. As the number progresses he begins to sit up and show signs of life. Finally along towards the end of the piece he places his flute to his lips and blows one note. The action of the drawing is now reversed. The musician leaves the concert hall, catches his train for the suburbs, walks home from the station, has his dinner, undresses, bathes and goes to bed. This drawing occupied four pages in the magazine as I recall it.”

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