Saturday, February 23, 2013

Matt Morgan of FUN

[1] Fun, February 27, 1864.

MATTHEW SOMERVILLE MORGAN (‘Matt’ Morgan to his associates) was born in Camden town, London, on April 27, 1839 to a theatrical family. He studied scene painting in the studio of Telbin and Grieves and was employed at Drury Lane where his father led the orchestra in several theatres. He was taught drawing by the well-known engraver Thomas Hicks and Royal Academicians Absalom and Coxe Smyth. He married early in life and began working as a book illustrator before working as a traveling sketch correspondent for The London Illustrated News, traveling through France, Italy, Spain, and Algiers. He was in Africa in 1858 and covered the Franco-Prussian war in 1859. Morgan was a member of the Prince of Wales set.

[2] Fun, July 23, 1864.
Matt Morgan contributed volume covers, political cuts and ‘socials’ (technical term used for gag cartoons) to London Fun between 1862 and 1867 although he was not the only artist providing the big cuts.  

[3] Fun, Vol. IV, 1863.
In 1867 he was the sole cartoonist on The Tomahawk (‘A Saturday Journal of Satire’, 11 May 1867 - 27 Aug 1870), a satirical paper edited by Arthur À Beckett with the assistance of his older brother Gilbert À Beckett. Their father was the famous Gilbert À Beckett of Punch. Gilbert Jr. was a playwright. Morgan’s signature was a miniature tomahawk. The Tomahawk was similar to Punch but was mostly text with a one or two page color tinted woodcut in each twopenny issue. Matt Morgan was the first cartoonist on Judy (1867) at the same time he labored on The Tomahawk. Morgan was sole cartoonist for a Tomahawk spin-off, the monthly literary periodical Brittania (1869-1870).

[4] The Tomahawk, October 24, 1868.
Sir F.C. Burnand snidely recalled in “Mr. Punch”; Some Precursors and Competitors, that

‘…he made no secret of the fact that he went to Tenniel’s pictures for his models, and, as he said to me, “You couldn’t find better anywhere.” This was absolutely true. Matt also showed me what was his method of serving in statu pupillary to John Tenniel. He took one of his master’s cartoons, some tracing-paper and a pencil, – that was all. Then he got on the tracks of Tenniel’s lion and traced him; then he worked on Brittania’s lines in the same manner. Result – a Matt “Morganatic marriage” in artful cartooning.’

[5] The Tomahawk, May 9, 1868.
According to stories told by Morgan himself, two of his Tomahawk cartoons ran afoul of the Royal family, a ‘Brown Study’ showing the Scottish gilly, the Queen’s favorite servant, rumored to be Victoria’s lover, standing behind the throne of England, and another featuring the Prince of Wales as Hamlet following the ghost of George IV. Apparently these scandals necessitated Morgan’s banishment from the country. Morgan was not the author of the cartoons; the subjects were chosen by his employers. According to Richard Scully the truth was more mundane, Tomahawk went bankrupt (Morgan as well) and he had no choice but to accept Frank Leslie's timely offer of American employment. He may also have been running from a disgraceful affair with a Covent Garden actress.

[6] Matt Morgan in America, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, November 8, 1873.
‘He then went to sunny Spain, and led a wild roving life with the gipsies. He sent some sketches to Frank Leslie, who at once recognizing their merit, and needing a man to beat Nast, sent for Matt. The latter reached New York by the first steamer, and strolling up to Frank Leslie’s publishing house, was met by John, the dignified English porter. Matt at that time was a curious sight to see. He wore Spanish pantaloons, loose and flowing and slit at the bottoms, a short gilt-spangled velvet jacket, a bright-colored scarf and wide brimmed sombrero. Several daggers and poniards hung from his belt, and his mustachios were fierce enough for a Rinaldo Rinaldini or bold buccaneer of the Spanish Main.’ – St. Louis Globe Democrat, March 30, 1876.
[7] Fun, July 9, 1864.
Whatever the truth of this Barnumesque newspaper account, Morgan found employment in America with Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun. Leslie hired Morgan in August 1870 to replace the late William Newman (died July 1870).

[8] The Tomahawk, July 4, 1868.
Morgan left Leslies employ in 1875 and worked on stage scenery in New York. In 1880 he was engaged as manager by the Strobridge Lithographic Company in Cincinnati where he stayed until 1885 painting canvas dioramas and lithographic posters. He painted dioramas of Jerusalem, Pompeii and Christ Entering Jerusalem taken from a scene in the stage-play Ben Hur. At the time of his death he was working on scenery and decorations for the new Madison Square Garden. He founded the Matt Morgan Art Pottery Company and the Cincinnati Art Students’ League.

Matt Morgan was the chief political cartoonist for St. Stephen’s Review in London from January to August 1885. He was the first art director of and chief cartoonist for Collier’s Once a Week (1888-1889), later Collier’s Weekly.

[9] Fun, Vol. VI, 1864.
His work appeared in many illustrated newspapers including covers for the Dramatic Mirror Christmas Numbers. Morgan died June 2, 1890 at his residence at Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. He had been married twice and had sixteen children. He had married his second wife in the 1880's in Canada. His most famous child was Fred Morgan, political cartoonist for a quarter century on the Philadelphia Inquirer. Fred also contributed illustrations to Once a Week. Another son, Reginald Morgan, took a career as a scene painter and a daughter, Miss Bertie Morgan, drew caricatures for Truth, Life, and Once a Week.

[10] Matt Morgan, June 15, 1890.
[11] The Tomahawk,  December 26, 1868.
[12] The Tomahawk, August 8, 1868.
[13] Fun, April 2, 1864.
[14] Fun, endpiece, Vol. VI, 1864.
[15] February 22, 1888.
[16] Fun, June 25, 1864.
[17] Fun, March 19, 1864.
[18] Fun, July 2, 1864.
[19] Matt Morgan’s caricaturist daughter, 1890.
[20] The Tomahawk, October 26, 1867.
[21] Fun, March 26, 1864.
Further reading:

‘The Epitheatrical Cartoonist’: Matthew Somerville Morgan and the World of Theatre, Art and Journalism in Victorian London by Richard Scully, Journal of Victorian Culture Vol. 16, No. 3, December 2011, 363–384

Sex, Art, and the Victorian Cartoonist: 

Matthew Somerville Morgan in Victorian Britain and America, 
by Richard Scully, IJOCA (International Journal of Comic Art), 
Vol. 13, No.1, Spring 2011, pp.291-325.

Thanks to Richard Samuel West for corrections.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Frederick Barnard and John Gordon Thomson of FUN

[1] February 7, 1877.
FUN began on September 21, 1861, in London and lasted until 1900, second in longevity only to Punch. The periodical was said by David Anderson to have been begun by ‘a speculative shopkeeper named M’Lean, who sold looking-glasses in Fleet Street.’ Mark Bryant, writing in History Today, says the founding editor was London playwright and actor Henry J. Byron. Thus, Thomas McLean or one of his sons was probably once the proprietor or printer. 

McLean was a Haymarket print publisher who began publishing in 1821. By 1830 he was publishing comic broadsheets consisting of cartoon vignettes by William Heath, Robert Seymour, and Charles Jameson Grant under the title McLean’s Looking Glass. Richard Scully, who provided much of the background information for this post from his own research, writes: ‘According to my records, the paper was printed by Charles Whyte (1861), MacLean (1861-65), Edward Wylam (1865-69), the Dalziel Brothers (1870-93), and M. Elton & Co. (1893-1900).

[2] August 13, 1870. Fun cartoonist Frederick Barnard was replaced by John Gordon Thomson on September 10, 1870.
Anderson went on to name the first editors of Fun as ‘a Mr. Urquhart, with the assistance of a son of the proprietor.’ Tom Hood Jr. was the second editor followed by Henry S. Samson, proprietor and editor of the Referee. Richard Scully again: ‘The editorial succession was as follows: Henry J. Byron (1861 to 13 May 1865), Tom Hood, Jr. (20 May 1865 to Nov. 1874), Henry S. Sampson (5 Dec 1874 to 1878), Edward Dalziel (1878-93).’

Among the distinguished writers during Tom Hood’s time were George Augustus Sala, Ambrose Bierce, W.S. Gilbert, Francis Burnand, Tom Archer, William Brough, Tom Robertson and Clement Scott. This group of writers were known as ‘the Gang’ and met in a tap-room at Ludgate Station. Matt Morgan, Boyd Houghton, William Brunton, Paul Grey, J.F. Sullivan, Frederick Barnard, John Gordon Thomson and Wallis MacKay were some of the artists. 

“July 1868.- Amateur Morning Performance at the Haymarket, for the benefit of the widowed mother of Paul Gray, the artist, when a new burlesque written by the contributors to “Fun”, was produced, entitled Robinson Crusoe; or, the Injun Bride and the Injured Wife.” -Era Almanack, 1868.

[3] September 10, 1870. First Fun cartoon by John Gordon Thomson.
Frederick Fred Barnard was born in London on May 16, 1846. Barnard was one of the few Victorian cartoonists to have his cartoons published in all the major London comic periodicals including Punch, Fun, and Judy (under Charles Henry Ross). In the 1880s he contributed to Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday. During the 70s Barnard illustrated the works of Dickens for Chapman and Hall and painted portraits for the Royal family. In 1883 Chatto & Windus published Behind a Brass Knocker by Frederick Barnard and Charles H. Ross, engraved by the Dalziel brothers. Barnard died on September 28, 1896.

[4] January 8, 1870. Fun cartoon by Frederick Barnard.
Barnard’s succesor on Fun was John Gordon Thomson, who drew big cuts’ (as Punch termed the central cartoons) for Fun from 1870 to 1893 when he was succeeded by Wallis Mackay. Thomson was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, on September 2, 1841, and had moved to London by the time he was 20 to work as a civil servant. Thomson contributed to Punch in 1861, The Graphic in 1870, and moved to Fun the same year.  He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1878, illustrated books and magazines for Samuel Beeton and others. It’s presumed Thomson died sometime in 1911. 

[5] August 24, 1872.
[6] September 19, 1874.
[7] December 17, 1879.
[8] June 29, 1881.
[9] February 21, 1883.
[10] September 8, 1886.
[11] October 26, 1887.

Monday, February 18, 2013

American Comic Book Chronicles 1960-64

John Wells, American Comic Book Chronicles 1960-64. TwoMorrows Publishing, 2012.
When this entertaining history begins I was ten years old, when it ends, fourteen – my peak comic book reading years. Other than perennial favorites Superman and Batman, superheroes had been in decline. Funny animals and westerns were the most prolifically published comic genres. Walt Disney, “creator of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck,” was building a theme park. By 1964 superheroes, ressurected antiques from the thirties and forties as well as fresh faces, dominated sales lists across North America. American Comic Book Chronicles sifts through this period year by year, exploring publishers, artists, writers and distributors, who, contrary to our boyhood visions of ‘the cartoonist’s life,’ worked in an often cut throat business environment. Stan Lee was not far off the mark when he coined “The Bull Pen” to describe Mighty Marvel’s New York offices.

A shadow industry of scribes and amateur cartoonists sprang forth, working in their bedrooms and studies late into the night with spirit duplicators, mimeographs and hectographs, producing comic fanzines and waking at dawn, blear-eyed, to prepare for the school day ahead. The relationship between fans and professionals was beneficial to both parties in a decade of swift changes that contained freeways, jet planes, television, radio, movies, transistors, and a Cold War.

The real story of the sixties was the rivalry between DC and Marvel begun with the appearance in 1960 of The Brave and the Bold No 28 featuring The Justice League of America. Marvel (as it would come to be known) brought out Fantastic Four in 1961 and the company was dominant by the end of 1964. All of the sixties companies are detailed here, including Dell/Gold Key, ACG, Charlton, Archie Comics, Harvey Comics. That ‘Sick Humor’ was drifting in the sixties air, inspiring the “satire” magazines MAD, HELP, SICK and CRACKED. John Wells delivers his unblinking gaze on the creators, the publishers, the fans and the industry, stripping back the shadows with the aid of direct quotes from the people involved in the sixties superhero revival.

American Comic Book Chronicles 1960-64 is a good start to this colorful historical series, which includes a second volume by John Wells covering comic companies up to 1969. Also promised are 1970s by Jim Beard, 1940-44 by Roy Thomas, 1945-49 by Roy Thomas, 1950s by Bill Schelly. I’m looking forward to reading the entire series. A three part interview with author John Wells is HERE.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Quackery, self medication and reckless advertising in the gaslight era

[1] PFDA Commemorative Stamps.
by E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra
Things are seldom what they seem;
Skim milk masquerades as cream;
Lard and soap we eat for cheese;
Butter is but axle-grease.
[2] Neuralgine Advertisement.
When considering the dreadful state of sanitation and the commonplace adulteration of foodstuffs in Nineteenth-Century North America, coupled with a vast medical ignorance, it is a wonder that anyone survived to adulthood. That they did is a testament to the hardy constitutions of our forebears. Nevertheless, survival came at a painful cost. Visitors from abroad noted that Americans seemed a sickly lot – sallow, dyspeptic and plagued by a variety of health disorders. The heyday for patent medicines, ranging from worthless to downright toxic, coincided with the first boom in the advertising industry. Early advertisements were barebones items in unrelieved columns of newspaper typography. But by the mid-Nineteenth Century, advertisers had an arsenal of color lithographs, “trade cards,” newspapers, magazines, “medicine shows” and other venues to catch the eyes of potential customers. On the plus side, many dedicated healers used a variety of beneficial minerals and plants to treat patients, notably quinine, foxglove and iodine. The potential market for miracle cures was so vast that an army of quacks and charlatans emerged to profit from the demand.

[3] London Morning Post, May 16, 1777.
Before passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, there was no government oversight of the thousands of quack patent nostrums peddled by showmen, grocers, reputable pharmacists and medical practitioners. Likewise, legal penalties for peddling bread whitened with plaster, vegetables brightened with verdigris, “swill” milk from diseased cows, spoiled beef and other toxic groceries, were sporadic and local. Saloonkeepers sold stale beer and camphene-laced “whiskey.” Cosmetics contained Arsenic and Belladonna. Even in “clean and wholesome” rural areas, people drew water from wells contaminated by runoff from pigpens and chicken runs, and contracted “summer complaint” from spoiled food simmering on the back burners of wood-fired stoves. Lack of refrigeration caused people to preserve meats in salt and nitrites. Shellfish were consumed raw. Many existed on a diet consisting of “hog, hominy and corn whiskey” from earliest childhood. The steady exodus from rural to urban areas led to overcrowding and stress as the tempo of city life quickened. The term “Neurasthenia” was coined to describe the enervation and debility brought on by these unrelenting pressures.

[4] Holloway’s Ointment Pot.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand why most Americans turned to narcotics and alcohol to ease the very real pain of their lives. This had nothing at all to do with recreational drug use – people in all walks of life and of all degrees of morality suffered the agonies of aching teeth, neuralgia, rheumatism, digestive problems and aching joints, not to mention cancer, tuberculosis and STDs. Medical literature at the time made little distinction between palliative and curative treatments. If the pain disappeared, the patient was “cured” – for the time being. The so-called "placebo effect" also played an important role. A harmless preparation of soft wax and perfume, sold as “Holloway's Ointment,” was essentially a moisturizer, yet thousands valued it as a cure-all for skin problems. People who faced the horrors of surgery, either without anesthesia or exposed to the dangers and wracking aftereffects of Chloroform and Ether, suffered not only post-surgical pain, but also serious infection and fever. Opiates, such as Morphine, were hailed as a blessing to humankind, allowing enough freedom from pain to let convalescents sleep and heal. Various derivatives of the Opium poppy have been used successfully in healing for thousands of years.

[5] Snake Oil Advertisement.
Residents of South America’s Andes Mountains were accustomed to chewing on Coca leaves to overcome the fatigue of hard labor at high altitudes. In low concentrations, the active ingredient – Cocaine – acted as a mild stimulant. In Asia, people chewed the Areca or “Betel” nut for the same reason. Only when chemists refined and concentrated substances like Opium and Cocaine did their toxic and addictive properties become hazardous to health and society. Ironically, the “impurities” in these drugs were thought to be habit-forming and injurious, thus “purifying” them would make them safer and more beneficial! Sigmund Freud and many colleagues advocated Cocaine as a “brain food.”

[6] Cocaine Toothache Drops.
Unfortunately, since narcotics attach directly to the brain’s chemical receptors at the molecular level, causing both the release of natural Dopamine, (and physical changes in the brain itself,) the overuse of concentrated opiates in a legitimate medical setting can prove just as addictive as frivolous recreational drug taking. During the Civil War, thousands of wounded soldiers found themselves in the grip of drug addiction. By 1868, there were perhaps 100,000 addicts in the U.S.; one Ohio physician claimed that drug addicts outnumbered alcoholics in his town!

[7] Dr. J. H. McLean’s Cordial.
The available over-the-counter remedies of the day compounded the problem (pun intended), hooking additional thousands through “soothing syrups” to calm teething babies, “toothache drops,” “cough suppressors,” “appetite stimulators,” “nerve tonics,” liniments “to be taken internally or externally: good for man or beast.” Besides a few harmless herbs, perfumes and coloring, many of these contained Opium, Cocaine, Laudanum or Morphine, dissolved in a base of 30 to 40% alcohol. Because these nostrums were cheap and readily available, people could take them for years without having to go through withdrawal. However, the ailments that prompted them to begin taking palliative drugs usually proved fatal in the long run, without proper treatment.

[8] Parker’s Tonic 1882.
Narcotics were so commonplace that little or no social stigma attached itself to various habits, with the exception of those associated with suspect minority groups. Swallowing pills of Opium or chewing Hashish in one’s drawing room was perfectly fine – frequenting “Heathen Chinee” opium dens was taboo. Cocaine soon became linked with black longshoremen in New Orleans, and Cannabis (Marijuana) with Mexican migrant workers – groups beyond the pale of polite society. The development of the hypodermic needle ratcheted the narcotics problem up several notches and dropped “mainlining” addicts down many degrees in public opinion. Sherlock Holmes and his “seven per cent solution” of cocaine was the last of the popular drug-addicted literary heroes.

[9] Heroin Cough Sedative.
It is amusing – and somewhat frightening – to reflect that major policy decisions were made by people stoned on drugs. The craze for gothic horror and phantasmagoria that pervades Victorian literature may be partly explained by the opiate haze in which many artists and writers lived. Thomas de Quincey, the English Opium eater,” and FitzHugh Ludlow, the American “Hasheesh” eater, brought experimental and recreational doping into the literary mainstream. The humor magazine Vanity Fair advertised a Hashish candy during 1862, no doubt inspired by Ludlow’s writings. This confection was marketed by the “Gunjah Wallah” Company, (i.e.: “Ganja Man!”) Similar ads appeared in Harper’s Weekly.

[10] FitzHugh Ludlow.
Quack nostrums to treat STDs, on the other hand, were always considered disreputable, and merely advertising them for sale in a publication was grounds for losing one’s second-class bulk postal license and prosecution under various obscenity codes. Publisher Frank Leslie narrowly avoided prosecution by reformer Anthony Comstock for certain ads in his mildly racy Day’s Doings in 1870. Somehow, Richard Kyle Fox’s National Police Gazette got away with running similar ads for many years, coupled with ads for “manhood restorers,” male enlargement preparations, male and female contraceptives (sold as “rubber goods,) abortifacients, such as Pennyroyal, and other “female regulators.” The Police Gazette also reveled in illustrations of “swell actresses” and their Opium-smoking orgies, and Cocaine-maddened maniacs on the rampage, despite advertising products that contained these drugs.

[11] Vanity Fair 1862.
Narcotic substances even found their way into soda-fountain treats. Atlanta’s John Stith “Doc” Pemberton formulated Coca-Cola to assist him with his own Morphine habit, contracted following his wounding in the Civil War. His intent was to create a non-alcoholic version of French Coca Wine. Compounded of the stimulants Cocaine and African Kola nuts, plus Damiana – a reputed aphrodisiac – and his famed secret flavoring syrup in carbonated water, Coke was only available at drugstores. It first appeared in bottles in 1894, and was referred to as “dope” for many years, until the Cocaine, Damiana and Kola nuts were removed from the brew. Only then would it become the beloved global “pause that refreshes,” spread by American G.I.s in World War II.

[12] The Day’s Doings, April 23, 1870.
Although it is in many ways more addictive than Heroin (marketed as a cough syrup by the respected Bayer Pharmaceutical Co.) Tobacco has somehow avoided being classified as either a food or a drug, and its processing and additives have remained mostly unregulated. The Nineteenth Century seems to have been fueled by its own “five basic food groups”: Fat, Sugar, Salt, Alcohol and Tobacco. Tobacco was chewed, snuffed and smoked almost everywhere. Its use became a rite of passage for boys and the mark of the “he-man,” with the exception of cigarettes. “Coffin Nails” were regarded as effeminate. They also were sometimes laced with Opium or Coca extract and linked with decadence. Alcohol, although consumed in prodigious quantities, because it was safer than water, was treated with more ambivalence. Social drinking was fine – public intoxication was not. The various “temperance” (i.e.: abstention) movements gained power throughout the Nineteenth Century and eventually pushed through the Volstead Act that amended the U.S. Constitution and imposed national Prohibition. Ironically, many patent medicines still sold over the counter, contained alcohol. A trip to the pharmacy soon replaced a visit to the saloon between 1920 and 1933.

[13] The Day’s Doings, August 17, 1870.
To overcome the stigma of boozing in public, an ingenious Philadelphia manufacturer marketed “vinous rubber grapes” in the 1880s, filled with one’s tipple of choice. A “grape” could be popped into the mouth discreetly, bitten to release the beverage within, and daintily removed under a hanky. These were a boon to alcoholic theatergoers who couldn’t wait until the intermission for their next shot, much as Nicotine patches ease long air trips for today’s ostracized smokers.

[14] The Day’s Doings, April 23, 1870.
These unabashed advertisements from long-vanished magazines evoke a far different state of mind than the current absolutist attitudes of the “war on drugs.” Despite their seeming optimistic exuberance, the manufacturers and pitchmen knew full well that they were marketing harmful, toxic products that deluded purchasers who only sought relief from illness and pain. They prove the old adage that “if it seems too good to be true, it’s probably not true.”

[15] The Day’s Doings, April 23, 1870.
For further reading

— Otto L. Bettman, ‘The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible’ (New York: Random House, 1974).
— Barbara Hodgson, ‘Opium; A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon’ (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999).
— Barbara Hodgson, ‘In The Arms of Morpheus; The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine and Patent Medicines’ (Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2001).

[16] Police Gazette, December 17, 1881.
[17] Police Gazette, December 10, 1881.
[18] Police Gazette, December 10, 1881.
[19] Police Gazette, March 5, 1898.
[20] Police Gazette, March 5, 1898.
[21] Police Gazette, 1898.
[22] Police Gazette, 1898.
[23] Coca Cola Syrup.
[24] J.G. Dill’s Best Cut Plug.
[25] Allen & Ginter Old Planter.
[26] Cocarettes Advertisement.
[27] Bull Durham Label.
[28] Vinous Rubber Grape Co. Advertisement.
[29] Malt Whisky Advertisement.