Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Fun Factory –

of Farringdon Street 

The Fun Factory of Farringdon Street, by UK comics historian Alan Clark (author of Comics, an Illustrated History with Laurel Clark, 1992), tells the story of Alfred Harmsworth's Amalgamated Press and the Fleetway House from 1890 to 1960, from the comics (The Funny Wonder, Comic Cuts, Illustrated Chips &c.) to the boys' story papers (Union Jack, Pluck, Magnet &c.). The book is small in size but packed with historical fact and lavishly illustrated. Only available on EBAY.

Edwardian Comic Papers (2021) is out of print now, but is a potpourri look at the publishers, editors, cartoonists and writers of the Edwardian era of comic journals illustrated with period photographs and illustrated comics like Jester & the Wonder, Big Budget, Lark's, Scraps, World's Comic, Funny Cuts &c. Features a lot of unknown fact and history including American imports by Dirks, Charles Dana Gibson, and Opper.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Solly Walter –

 Death of a Great Cartoonist.

Solly Walter, caricaturist, newspaperman and illustrator, was born in 1846 in Vienna, Austria. He settled in San Francisco in 1883, and died February 26, 1900 in Honolulu.

     DEATH OF A GREAT CARTOONIST. INTO the fifty-three years of his life, Solly Walter, who died in Honolulu two weeks ago, had crowded an eventful career as soldier, engineer, and artist. The last was his chosen vocation, and in it he was a master of technique, while the boldest of his conceptions gave a strong, vigorous individuality to all his work. As a cartoonist he was at his best, and his finest productions in this class of art were unquestionably those he designed for the Wasp during his seven years’ connection with this paper as head of the art department. 

His cartoons for the Bohemian Club high jinks, at several of which he was sire, were pure art, too, and are valued possessions of the club. Walter, born an Austrian, had become a true citizen of the world. He was an adept linguist and a brilliant man in every respect. That, after years of travel in many lands, he should finally repose under the palms of peaceful Oahu, is an end that fits his own conception of perfect rest. The Wasp, San Francisco, March 17, 1900

     THE BOHEMIAN CLUB JINKS at Meeker’s Grove last Saturday night was the most successful affair the club has had for years. From soda to hock” the outing went with the go that only brilliant and jolly fellows could give it. There was not a moment when all the Bohemians assembled beneath the forest shades were not imbued with the spirit, or spirits, of the night. It was a grand — a howling success, and the members of the club and their guests cannot be too extravagant in their expressions of appreciation of tbe excellent work done by the gentlemen who directed the festivities. Joe Redding was the presiding genius, and to him belongs most of the honor for the scheme of the entertainment. 

In making out the details he consulted with that prince of good fellows and excellent artist, Solly Walter, otherwise known as “The Melancholy.” Solly, for the nonce throwing off his funereal air, which has been more pronounced than usual since his brief but tempestuous career at Fresno, entered with a will into the spirit of the thing. He devised the beautiful and appropriate decorations, and conceived the “props,” including the Druidical arches, the altar, the catafalque with its four ox skulls, and the skeleton dancers. 

From a scenic standpoint, the jinks were perfect; not a detail was omitted which would have increased the impressive beauty of the forest temple. Nor are the participants in the solemn ceremonies to be less praised than the originators, designers, and directors.

For a week previous to the night of nights, the advance party had the camp to themselves, and they made the forest resound as they howled and howled in the endeavor to develop the proper forest pitch in their voices. The evening before the jinks a jolly party composed of Donald de V. Graham, Joe Redding, Jack Stanton, Amadee Joullin, Van Stow, Solly Walter, W. G. Harrison, Jack Levison, Frank and Charlie Stone, and other sons of Bohemia, gathered round the campfire, they swapped lies in the good old way, and shook the leaves from the trees with their boisterous laughter, a hollowed log acted as a chimney to their fire, and made a lasting pyrotechnic display that gave light to a scene of weird beauty. 

All the surrounding trees were brilliantly illuminated, and where the light fell full upon the branches it formed with them a beautiful silver lace-work, made the more beautiful as it was thrown into bold relief by its back-ground of jet. The dark figures of the forest devotees showed but where the rays of light found an angle to rest upon. Here the prominent nose of Graham cast fantastic shadows upon the pale cheek of Joullin, and the images seemed to dance the merrier as if to keep time with the music that flowed from the tips of the Redding fingers, as tbe gentle Joseph hammered out his repertoire upon the piano.

The High Jinks closed with a devil of a speech delivered by Ned Hamilton, who represented Beelzebub. It was a masterly effort, and uttered in Hamilton's deep tones, with great impressment, filled the audience with a weird dread. The speech, in construction and in delivery, well-illustrated the great virility of the speaker's mental and physical individuality. 

The address of General Barnes, the Bohemian, was the poetical flower of the evening. One who saw and heard the doughty veteran at the jinks and saw him next morning in the tented town's principal street, as he carefully scraped the superabundant whiskers from Joullin’s cheek with a dull razor, would understand why the General is popular. In the Low Jinks, Graham made a hit as a lightning change artist. He impersonated Uncle George Bromley, Harry Brady and Solly Walter in form, face, beard, hair, voice, and movement in rapid, succession, and was rewarded with rounds of applause. 

Adolph Bauer must have walked on air. His great success was well merited. His symphonic orchestra and the chorus, led by his masterly baton, performed their programme faultlessly, and the Sunday morning conceit, also under his direction, was to many the banquet of the whole affair. Of course, everybody was sorry that Stewart and Rosewald were not present. Their “unavoidable” absence, it is said, was entirely due to “professional reasons.” Lotz’s solos on the horn were magnificent. Without going into more detail, it may be said in concluding these remarks upon the Bohemian festival, that the club may well congratulate itself upon being able to give a better entertainment than similar organization in the world.S.F. News Letter, July-Dec 1893


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Original Comicalities – Jones Again!


Grahams Magazine, Philadelphia, Vol 45 Issue 6,  Dec 1854




Read another long Original Comicality HERE
from Graham's Magazine, Vol 45 Issue 4, Oct 1854 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sambo Remo Rastus Brown –

Just as it seemed I was about to make my fortune on a twenty-five-dollar-a-week shift, and that I could go back home and claim the girl I was convinced every fellow with a grain of sense was trying to steal away from me, the half-tone picture came along and kicked the feet from under newspaper artists. It looked like the end of the world then, but it proved to be exactly the thing we needed. Now we were compelled to use our imaginations, our inventiveness. - Seven Men Who Draw Funny pictures – And Large Salaries, Literary Digest, Aug 14, 1920

WHEN Negro boxer Jack Johnson was about to fight the great White Hope James Jeffries for the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1910 at Reno, Nevada cartoonists flocked to cover the fight. Clare Briggs created Sambo Remo Rastus Brown, neighbor and friend to Jack Johnson, and followed him cross country. After many adventures SRRB finally arrived in Reno and became Johnson's sparring partner and second. In 1912 Sambo Remo reappeared in the comic strip Dandy Dreamer, Sr. and Sambo Remo Rastus Brown.

Sept 19, 1926


Thursday, March 11, 2021


by Jack O’Brien

NY Herald Tribune, 1959

Cool Cat, Editor and Publisher, Nov 21, 1959

Cool Cat, Editor and Publisher, Sept 19 1959

More Jack O’Brien HERE


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Happy Hooligan –


Nov 27, 1913


Friday, February 5, 2021

Maverick Victorian Cartoonist –

 Marie Duval

"...her pictures are not imitations of Mr. C.H. Ross's absurd style and can be very easily distinguished from that gentleman's production, because Mademoiselle is an artist, and C.H. Ross is not." – Charles Henry Ross, 1869

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist offers the first critical appraisal of the work of Marie Duval (Isabelle Émilie de Tessier [1847–1890]), one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the later nineteenth century. It discusses key themes and practices of Duval’s vision and production, relative to the wider historic social, cultural and economic environments in which her work was made, distributed and read, identifing Duval as an exemplary radical practitioner. The book interrogates the relationships between the practices and the forms of print, story-telling, drawing and stage performance. It focuses on the creation of new types of cultural work by women and highlights the style of Duval’s drawings relative to both the visual conventions of theatre production and the significance of the visualisation of amateurism and vulgarity. Marie Duval: maverick Victorian cartoonist establishes Duval as a unique but exemplary figure in a transformational period of the nineteenth century.

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist, Roger Sabin, Simon Grennan, Julian Waite, Manchester University Press, 2020

Marie Duval ARCHIVE


Sunday, January 31, 2021

A Crowded Life in Comics –

         It Is Over at Dover

by Rick Marschall

Conversations with friends recently have revealed to me that many fans of comics, cartoons, and vintage graphic art are not aware that Dover Publications has gone belly-up.

Many of us cut our eye teeth on Dover books. Their variety of titles often introduced us to great artists of the past, and amazing works. And then, unless we happened already to know someone’s work, Dover books would feed our creative and intellectual appetites.

Dover’s catalog was, of course, far wider and deeper and higher than cartoons and graphic art. History, music, literature, poetry, technical books, incunabula, children’s books, instruction, patterns and clip-art, medicine, religion… Dover’s catalog was like a veritable library of old-fashioned Dewey-decimal cards in drawer after drawer.

I am sure many readers share my own experience with Dover – and maybe with the very same books – as I first discovered in grade school and high school the work of Heinrich Kley, Wilhelm Busch, Howard Pyle, Peck’s Bad Boy, and the “color” Fairytale books of Andrew Lang.

The company and its distinctive operation was the brainchild of Hayward Cirker. The quiet, distinguished man and his wife Blanche began Dover as sellers of remaindered books and then tentative reprinters of out-of-print books. Hayward was an omnivore, cognoscente, and (respectfully, admiringly I write) an intellectual vacuum cleaner. He claimed merely to be “curious.”

In fact his system was to seek out (mostly) public-domain books, free of editorial and royalty encumbrances; avoid setting new type or re-designing the original books; occasionally offer new and learned Forwards; design new covers; and, mostly, issue as paperbacks. Dover was a pioneer in the format of what became known as Trade Paperbacks – removing the stigma of cheap pocketbooks, not only by respectful designs but by using (and asserting the commitment to) quality paper stock and sewn signatures, not glued pages.

The other distinctive of his business model, providing the ability to keep his titles with astonishingly low price-points, was to avoid the publishing industry’s traditional Returns policy. Many bookstores and chains still order books and retain steep percentages when they sell… or if they sell; and then they have the right to return them to the publishers. For publishers this is cumbersome; unstable; required paperwork, shipping, and warehousing challenges; and results in damaged stocks. For authors, it justifies the slow reporting and payments of royalties.

Dover sold their books to interested retailers at steep discounts, but outright – no returns. Shops would have to order carefully, but would re-order; and sometimes patiently wait for the right customers to make happy discoveries. Lower overhead, all around, especially for Hayward, whose catalog eventually included thousands of titles.

If Hayward Cirker was the brains, Stanley Appelbaum was the feet, executing matters as a junior-Cirker – no less curious, no less intellectual. He saw to administrative matters at Dover, but also collected, edited, and contributed – for instance the superb collections cartoons from Simplicissimus and L’Assiette au Buerre.

Harvesting the vineyards of Public Domain could be seen as commercial rag-picking, but the taste of Dover’s offerings and the quality of its productions made the publisher a pre-eminent house, and a respected, and reliable, resource for people like “us.” In the classical-music recording field (in which Hayward and Dover briefly dabbled) it was practiced by labels like Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, and Turnabout buying European companies’ masters and releasing budget LPs.

Perhaps the greatest example of harvesting Public-Domain material was George Macy of the Limited Editions Club. Commencing in 1929 and continuing for many decades, the LEC designed elegant books, every one different in size, paper, and illustrations; all strictly limited to 1500 copies signed by the illustrator or designer, and numbered; in slipcases. With few exceptions the books were classics of world literature (therefore out of copyright), a happy coincidence that allowed Macy to engage designers like Bruce Rogers and W A Dwiggins, and arrange for illustrators ranging from John Held Jr and Boardman Robinson to Picasso and Matisse. I have acquired more than 130 LECs and purr like a kitten when I glance at my bookshelves.

I first met Hayward Cirker about 40 (gulp!) years ago. We had discursive conversations on discursive topics, but, strangely, this man of eclecticism and many accomplishments was not decisive. I almost did a half dozen books for Dover – one would have been great cover art from Puck, Judge, Life, and other vintage magazines, and caused me to remove covers from issues in bound volumes in my collection – but none happened until, years subsequently, a version of my first collaboration with Dr Seuss.

No editor or packager would have gotten rich working with Dover; I think they paid $1500 for projects. But the honor of being inside the tent where those Heinrich Kley books were born provided some alternative compensation. Other compensation was his invitation after every meeting in his office in an unpretentious office near the Holland Tunnel on Varick Street in lower Manhattan, to stop in the large stockroom of their titles and “pick whatever books I’d like.”

Hayward Cirker died in 2020. Dover (named for the Long Island apartment building where he and Blanche lived in the 1940s) continued on. Then it was sold, I think twice, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. I might have been as much in the dark about its demise if I were not one of its authors and on the court’s list of affected parties. I doubt there are few monetary assets to divide in a bankruptcy proceeding.

After all, it was a privilege, in a Crowded Life, to not only be in the center for a little bit of a publishing entity that was a major factor in my growth as a fan and scholar; but even to do a book with Dover’s imprint. I used to hum, and am, again, the lyrics of Vera Lynn’s classic song, “There’ll be bluebirds over / The white cliffs of Dover...”

A letter from publisher Hayward Cirker before we first met. Ironically, it had been several months previous that I had submitted a proposal, among several, to package a collection of Verbeek’s Upside-Downs. He wrote in this letter, inquiring if I would write an introduction to such a book he was considering! (It never did come out.)

- - - 30 - - -


Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Crowded Life in Comics –

 Comic Art’s Forgotten World

by Rick Marschall

Recently I wrote in this space about a magazine that died stillborn, the most unlikely collaboration it would have been, between Stan Lee, Johnny Hart (BC and Wizard of Id) and myself. GROG! would have been a European-style magazine – that is, in the tradition of the day’s Linus or Eureka – focusing on strips, comic books, history, interviews, and such. I have since unearthed some of the working memos and proposals, and I will share them.

I have launched five magazines in my career and edited eight. In our field, I steered 31 issues of nemo: the classic comics library, as well as a few spinoff publications and book series. I am working hard on another crazy (= fantastic!) magazine, also for Fantagraphics, a nemo 2.0 – the same general focus, but more pages, larger page trim, full color. Heavy lifting, but it will be great. We’re getting a lot of support from scholars and fans.

I also conceived of Hogan’s Alley and somehow convinced Tom Heintjes to join… actually, be a partner. He, and my old friend David Folkman as Art Director, have really run with it. It is healthy and, although still one-third owner, I seem to have been scrubbed from a public affiliation with it. What’s a masthead between friends? I do not want to forget writing for TBG and more important, frequently for The Comics Journal, a point of pride.

With all these memories and current activity floating around in my “head,” I recalled another magazine about comic art – a real pioneer, short-lived, full of great dreams and promise.

The World of Comic Art was published between 1967 and 1972. Dorothy McGreal was the Editor and Publisher out of California. It existed on the virtual intersection of “overly ambitious” and “ahead of its time.” Slick paper, 48 pages, color covers… minimal advertising, unfortunately.

But Dorothy received cooperation from cartoonists, and she scored some important interviews. The magazine ran five or six issues before giving up the ghost, fondly remembered. And a real pioneer in the field. Dorothy died in 2000, I believe.

Just before I left for college I inquired about writing for her, and pitched a couple articles, one on F. Opper, and an interview with Harry Herschfield, who had generous befriended me. I wrote neither, and if I wrote anything else I am embarrassed to say I don’t recall (my issues are in storage). I went off to college – Washington DC in the late ‘60s – and actually started selling political cartoons. Distractions; plus I casually thought The World of Comic Art would last forever.

Even the ‘60s did not last forever,

Issues can be found in the collectors’ market, and any fan – any reader of the web magazine Yesterday’s Papers or interested in the imminent resurrection of NEMO – would naturally be interested to have them.

Here, a letter from Dorothy responding to my inquiry; and covers of the late, lamented  World of Comic Art.