Thursday, March 8, 2012

George G. Small (1835-1886)

George G. Small, author, publisher and humorist died at the Hotel Hungaria, Union Square, NY, on 10 Mar 1886, leaving a wife and one child. Once a rich man, he was now comparatively poor and suffering from consumption. He was fifty-one years old. Fifty people attended his funeral. Among the mourners were Frank Tousey, Thomas Worth and J. A. Wales.

Small was originally a carpenter and his first earnings from writing came from Fox’s Police Gazette. In July 1868 Hunter & Co. published Bummer Boy, a “Spoony” Burlesque by “That Brick.” Small was known under the pseudonym “Bricktop” and his books were the foundation of the publishing house of Collins & Small.

In February 1875 Small and his partner John A. (or alternately John B.) Collins, of 59 Beekman Street, were arrested and charged by Anthony Comstock with “publishing or causing to be published a certain obscene newspaper,” Wild Oats. They were released on posting $500 bail. 

Small was founder and editor of the comic paper Wild Oats, which employed an illustrious group of cartoonists including J. A. Wales, Frederick Burr Opper, Thomas Worth, and Livingston Hopkins. Small held a half-interest in Wild Oats and reportedly earned over $15,000 per annum from the comic paper. 

It was Collins and Small who first published the LAUGHING SERIES, BRICKTOP STORIES. No. 1 was illustrated by Thomas Worth and number two, “My Mother-in-Law sported fifty comic illustrations by Livingston Hopkins (creator of the famous Professor Tigwissel, collected together by Doug Wheeler HERE). They also published the humorist John Carboy and an illustrated Wild Oats Songster.

Bricktop and Hopkins photo
Courtesy Daniel McKeown
from Lone Hand magazine (Australia)
Small wrote for George Munro’s Fireside Companion and Munro’s Ten Cent Novels. For the rival brother Norman Munro he contributed to New Sensation and Our Boys. George G. Small and Frank Tousey entered into a publishing partnership when they took over Norman Munro’s Boys of New York in 1878. 

Tousey & Small’s partnership was short-lived and was dissolved on 21 Dec 1878 by mutual consent.  The firm and its publications were carried on by Frank Tousey alone. Small continued to contribute to the BONY; a mysterious hero (he wore a wolfshead over his brow) was introduced by him on 29 Oct 1881 in the serial “The Ocean Wolf,” and he contributed to the Detective Library. Other Tousey & Small titles were The New York Boys’ Weekly and The Boys Leader.

He was the original “Peter Pad” and “Tom Teaser,” creator of The Shortys, Tommy Bounce and Tommy Bounce, Jr. For his adventure and detective stories he used George G. Small, “Capt. George Granville”, and “A U.S. Detective.”

*Thanks to Joe Rainone

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