Monday, February 28, 2011

C. J. Grant: The Political Drama

Today’s fascinating post is written by knowledgeable UK collector Mathew Crowther and generously illustrated with choice prints from his private collection.

C. J. Grant: The Political Drama

By Mathew Crowther

“Rude woodcuts adorn all these publications, and seem to be almost all from the hand of the same artist -- Grant by name. They are outrageous caricatures; all squinting eyes, wooden legs, and pimpled noses, forming the chief points of fun.” -- Half-a-Crown’s Worth of Cheap Knowledge by W. M. Thackeray, Fraser’s Magazine, 17 Mar 1838.

Charles Jameson Grant was one of a number of satirists who bridged the gap between the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of English political satire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the onset of the more staid style of Victorian political cartoons which were typified by Punch and the works of John Doyle.

Grant's most prolific and successful period as a political satirist (circa 1832-36) coincided both with the increasing politicization of the English working classes and with the opening up of visual print culture to the masses thanks to the development and rapid proliferation of crayon lithography and wood engraving. During this period Grant moved from producing the kind of expensive, copper plate engraved and hand coloured prints which had changed little since the days of James Gillray (see the image entitled ‘The School of Reform’ for an example of one of Grant's earlier prints), to a cruder and more provocative style which was aimed squarely at a working class audience. I have also included a copy of a radical magazine called John Bull's Picture Gallery which contains one of the earliest examples of Grant's move both towards overtly radical politics and his use of wood block engraving.

The Political Drama series typifies Grant's work in this period. The world of late Hanoverian Britain portrayed in the Political Drama is almost unremittingly confrontational and at times, I feel, Grant displays the same sense of even-handed misanthropy that we would normally associate with Gillray’s works. Authority figures are relentlessly attacked: magistrates are corrupt, policemen are murderous drunkards, politicians are debased, the King is portrayed as a childlike idiot and the clergy are hypocritical gluttons. Throughout the series these various figures conspire to deny the poor even the most basic of political rights and even the rudimentary pleasures of life such as a alcohol and tobacco.

Despite the fact that the Political Drama was deemed to be subversive and that some street-traders may have been prosecuted for selling it, it must have enjoyed significant success because a full colour edition of the series was produced at an increased price of 2 pennies per sheet and a number of more expensive lithographic Political Drama’s were also produced for sale at the price of a Shilling.

The publishing history of the Political Drama series is somewhat puzzling. George Drake* seems to have produced all the 138 woodcut versions but I am aware of at least two other publishers who also produced their own editions of these prints. George Tregear produced a separate lithographic series of the Political Drama which ran concurrently with Drake's wood-engraved version but which seems to have been aimed at a slightly more up market audience, as it was hand coloured and had a higher retail price. Only one copy from this series is known to exist and this is an edition of No. 4 in the series (entitled John Bull, or an Englishman's Fireside!).

O'Hodgson also appears to have issued a separate wood-engraved edition of the Political Drama with hand-colouring. These are also incredibly rare although I have just managed to purchase a coloured edition of No. 6 in the series (entitled The Sinners before Saint Andrew).

I'm not sure whether these were ‘official’ reproductions or pirated versions for which Grant wasn't paid. The fact that Grant was taking commissions from scandal sheets to supplement his income so soon after the termination of the Political Drama series suggests to me that he either didn't make much money from it, or he frittered his earns away rapidly.

One example of Grant's non-political work, Whim Whams No. 4 is part of series of larger single page illustrations of social humour. In this example Grant portrays an imaginary British expedition to the Moon.

The British Government's decision to tighten up the enforcement of the Stamp Tax after 1836 seems to have effectively wiped out the market for cheap, single-sheet, penny satires like the Political Drama and thus propelled Grant into a career as jobbing illustrator. From 1837 onwards the vast majority of Grant's output was confined to the pages of the Penny Satirist and Cleave’s London Satirist & Gazette of Variety. Interestingly Grant and Cleave also launched a separate, short-lived, broadsheet called Cleave’s Gallery of Grant's Comicalities which doesn't seem to have run to more than a few editions in 1837 and which focused on whimsical social humour rather than politics.

Grant's decision to provide illustrations for scandal sheets like The Town and Cockney Adventures & Tales of London Life -- a cheap imitation of The Pickwick Papers, suggests that by the late 1830s and early 40s his financial position was becoming less secure and that he had less freedom to choose which projects to devote himself to. It's also known that he quarreled with former publisher Tregear around this time, and in a note written to an acquaintance, who subsequently published a short article about Grant in 1870, he describes himself by 1840 as being “an obscure object in the background” of London's print culture (Notes & Queries, 1870, pp. 209-210).

There was a notable tailing off of Grant's work in the first half the 1840s. A short-lived attempt by the publisher B.D Cousins to hire Grant to produce a second series of the Political Drama seems to have failed and very few copies of these prints seem to have survived.

*Editor’s note: George Drake was a prolific publisher of penny works at the time Grant was drawing the ‘Political Drama.’ Most of his titles at this time were edited and probably written by young comic songwriter Thomas Prest, future author of the penny blood ‘Ela the Outcast; or, the Gipsy of Rosemary Dell.’ Some of these titles may have been illustrated by C. J. Grant. The text and illustrations for this post are courtesy of Mathew Crowther. For more particulars on the life of C. J. Grant see my previous post, The English Comic Strip. (J.A.)

1835 *The Calendar of Horrors! A Weekly Register of the Terrific, Wonderful, Instructive, Legendary, Extraordinary and Fictitious* Edited by Thomas Prest. London: Printed and Published by George Drake in 91 weekly penny numbers, April 2, 1835 - December 8, 1836.

1835 *The Magazine of Curiosity and Wonder, a Weekly Miscellany of the Surprising, Remarkable and Astonishing * Edited by Thomas Prest, London : Printed and Published by George Drake in 30 nos. Nov. 5, 1835 - May 26, 1836. Octavo 1d.

1835*The Singer's Penny Magazine, and reciter's album : a superior collection of all the most new and popular songs, duets, glees, trios, catches, and recitations, comic, sentimental, Bacchanalian, sporting, amatory, English and Scotch* by Thomas Peckett Prest, London: George Drake 1835-1836

1836 *The British Pocket Vocalist* Edited by Thomas Prest, woodcuts by Lisle. London: George Drake, No. I-II 28 July 1836 - 6 October 1836.

1836*The New Historical Note-book; or, Soldiers and Seamens Recorder! Containing an interesting account of all the Military and Naval Engagements, Sieges, Rebellions, Mutinies, etc. from the Norman Conquest to the Present Period; Together with the Lives of Renowned Heroes, and celebrated Characters of all Ages, Nautical and Military Tales, Anecdotes, etc.* Edited by Thomas Prest, London : George Drake, Printers : S. Robins, then G. Purkess. Nos. 1-8, February 4, 1836 - March 24,1836.

1836 *The Horrors of War, Authentic Narratives* successor to *The New Historical Note-book* Edited by Thomas Prest, London: George Drake. Two numbers, 31 March 1836 - 7 April 1836.

1836 *The Penny Play-Book; or, Library of Dramatic Romance* Edited by Thomas Prest, London: George Drake. Nos. 1-19. 1d. April 21, 1836 - Oct. 1836.

1836*Tales of Enchantment; or, the Book of Fairies* London: George Drake, at 11 nos. Sept. 15, 1836? - Nov. 24, 1836.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Works of the Amateur Casual (1832-1929)

James Greenwood was born in 1832 and died in 1929. 
Greenwood worked as a compositor in a printing works then began a career in journalism. He wrote novels, children’s books, short stories and collections of journalism. The most celebrated author of social reform was Henry Mayhew who wrote articles for the Morning Post and published a 4 volume survey of London Life and Labor (1861-1862) Greenwood’s brother Frederick was first editor of The Pall Mall Gazette in 1865 and suggested James spend a night in the casual ward of a workhouse. The ensuing articles entitled “A Night in the Workhouse” were published in 1866 and caused a sensation with the reading public. Booth, of The Salvation Army, called it “The beginnings of the reform of our poor law.”

Greenwood took up the cause of railway-men and was instrumental in gaining them a union. In 1895 he arranged with The Ragged School Union to send poor children to the country for summer holidays. An appeal by the editor of The Telegraph provided 80,000 pounds for Christmas hampers for crippled children. In 1866 he wrote The True History of a Little Ragamuffin, a documentary account of a street Arab. He wrote children’s books and one, King Lion, was an inspiration for The Jungle Book. The story King Lion appears in The Boy’s Own Volume of Fact, Fiction, History, and Adventure. It started in the Midsummer, 1864 annual and is continued and concluded in the Christmas, 1864 annual. These were the third and fourth annuals in the series of bound volumes of the boy’s paper, published by S. O. Beeton, 248, Strand, W. C. London.

P. J. Keating said his fiction was “a mixture of the domestic sentimentality of Dickens and the more brutal and bizarre elements of “the Newgate novel.”’ If we take Greenwood’s word for it, the author of Wilds of London spent three years in penal servitude for a theft from his employer. He was scathing in denouncing the penny dreadfuls, calling them "pen'orths of poison" and yet he wrote serials for penny dreadful publisher Edwin Brett. Lofts mentioned his work appearing in Young Men of Great Britain, Young Gentlemen of Great Britain, Boys World, Our Boys Paper, New Boys Paper and Boys Pocket Library. One dreadful was written under Greenwood’s real name, Joe Sterling, or, a Ragged Fortune.

Greenwood did not object to penny dreadfuls because of the violence, his objection was against the glamorizing of criminals. In The Adventures of Reuben Davidger he writes some horrible scenes that outdo anything I have ever read in a blood:

“Topmost of the buried pile was the head of our lady passenger, and so it was well placed, as its beautiful long brown curls (which many a time, as I waited at the captain’s table, had caused my heart to flutter with admiration) hung down and over the other ghastly heads, partially concealing the features. Attached to the brown ringlets by a long copper hairpin was a tag of red cloth, placed there, as I suppose, by the ruffian whose spoil the lady's head was, that he might know his own.”

Article on "Penny Awfuls," with portrait, is reproduced HERE.

Works of James Greenwood including melodrama:

Under a Cloud, by Frederick and James Greenwood, “The Welcome Guest” 1858. Published as a three volume novel in 1860.

Under a Cloud, drama in two acts by C. H. Hazlewood, 15 April 1859, Britannia

Wild Sports of the World. London : S.O. Beeton, 1861. Published in eight monthly parts, beginning in May, 1861. The title-page. reads: Wild sports of the world : a boy's book of natural history and adventure. By James Greenwood. With woodcuts from designs by Harden Melville and William Harvey, coloured illustrations from water-colour drawings by J.B. Zwecker, Harrison Weir and Harden Melville, portraits of celebrated hunters from original photographs, and maps showing the habitats of animals and plants all over the world.

“Under a Cloud,” by Frederick and James Greenwood, serial in The London Herald, New Series, (old Series H. Vickers) J. Berger, 13 Catherine Street, Strand. 1863.

“Reuben Davidger; or, Seventeen Years and Four Months Among the Dyaks of Borneo,” by James Greenwood, Boys’ Own Magazine, S. O. Beeton, 1863

King Lion, by James Greenwood, Illustrated by CHB, The Boy’s Own Volume of Fact, Fiction, History, and Adventure. Starts in the Midsummer, 1864 annual and is continued and concluded in the Christmas, 1864 annual. These were the third and fourth annuals in the series of bound volumes of the boy’s paper, published by S. O. Beeton, 248, Strand, W. C. London.

Curiosities of Savage Life by James Greenwood, London: S. O. Beeton, 1864.

Savage Habits and Customs. With woodcuts and designs by Harden S. Melville; engraved by H. Newsom Woods. London, S.O. Beeton 1864

Curiosities of London Life 3d edition London : S.O. Beeton, 1865

The Adventures of Reuben Davidger : seventeen years and four months captive among the Dyaks of Borneo, London : S.O. Beeton, 1865.

The Adventures of Seven Four-Footed Foresters : narrated by themselves, by James Greenwood with illustrations by H.S. Melville ; engraved by Vizetelly. London : Ward and Lock, (London : W.H. Cox) 1865

Silas the Conjurer : his travels and perils by James Greenwood. First published serially in the 1865 Midsummer and Christmas volumes of the Boys Own Volume of fact, fiction, history, and adventure. London : S.O. Beeton, 1866

A Night in a Workhouse by the “Amateur Casual” (James Greenwood) Pall Mall Gazette, January 12, 1866, first (of 3) installments. Others January 13, and January 15, 1866.

A Night in a Workhouse reprinted from the “Pall Mall Gazette,” 1866. 1 shilling edition.

A Night in a London Workhouse, Digby, St. Giles. One-penny broadside. 1866.

A Night in a Workhouse from the Pall Mall Gazette, London : Bowering, 211, Blackfriars Road, Sell & Son, King Street, Borough, and all Newsagents. 1866, penny edition. How the Poor are Treated in Lambeth ! The Casual Pauper! “Old Daddy,” the Nurse ! The Bath! The Conversation of the Casuals! The Striped Shirt! “Skilley” and “Toke” by Act of Parliament! The Swearing Club! The Adventures of a Young Thief! &c., &c, &c.

Brittania Theatre. THE CASUAL WARD; or, a Night in the Workhouse. Written by Colin Hazelwood. 18/2/66.

Royal Pavilion Theatre. THE CASUAL WARD; or, a Night in the Workhouse. 18/2/66. Joseph Cave, manager, Hazlewood, author.

Effingham Theatre. NOBODY’S SON; or, A Night in a Workhouse. 18/2/66.

The True History of a Little Ragamuffin by the author of "A night in a workhouse". London: S. O. Beeton, 248, Strand, W.C. (ten doors from Temple Bar) 1866, New York: Harper, 1866.

The Hatchet Throwers by James Greenwood with thirty-six illustrations, drawn on wood, by Ernest Griset, from his original designs. London : John Camden Hotten, Piccadilly., 1866.

The True History of a Little Ragamuffin by James Greenwood, author of "A night in a workhouse,” with illustrations by Phiz and J. Gordon Thomson. London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler, Warwick House, Paternoster Row c.1867.

“Jack Stedfast,” by James Greenwood, Boys of England, No. 97, 1867

Unsentimental Journeys; or Byways of the Modern Babylon, by James Greenwood, 1867

Legends of Savage Life by James Greenwood with thirty-six illustrations, drawn on wood, by Ernest Griset, from his original designs. London : James Camden Hotten, 1867.

The Purgatory of Peter the Cruel by James Greenwood with thirty-six illustrations, drawn on wood, by Ernest Griset. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1868.

The Bear King: a narrative confided to the marines by James Greenwood ; with illustrations by Ernest Griset. London: Griffith and Farran, successors to Newbery and Harris, 1868. Griset, Ernest Henry, 1844-1907. 98 pgs.

The Seven Curses of London, by James Greenwood, London : S. Rivers & Co. 1869

“Jack Stedfast ; or, Wreck and Rescue.” melodrama, 1869.- Brittania. Mr. C. Pitt’s adaptation of James Greenwood’s JACK STEDFAST 5/9/69.

Joe Sterling; or, A Ragged Fortune by James Greenwood, London : E.J. Brett, c. 1869

“Satan Free: a Story of Old Calaban,” by James Greenwood, The Young Men of Great Britain, no. 49, 1868, companion to Boys of England.

“Penny Awfuls” by James Greenwood, St. Paul’s Magazine, XII. 1873.

The Wilds of London by James Greenwood with twelve illustrations by Alfred Concanen, London: Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly, 1874.

In Strange Company Being the Experiences of a Roving Correspondent by James Greenwood, “The Amateur Casual” Second Edition, Henry S. King & Co. 1874

Low-Life Deeps an Account of the Strange Fish to be Found There by James Greenwood, a New Edition, London: Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly, 1876 (and 1881).

“Prince Dick of Dahomey,” by James Greenwood, The Boys’ World (John Allingham, pseudonym: Ralph Rollington) c. 1879

“Life in a Workhouse,” by James Greenwood (The Amateur Casual), illustrated by J. Barnard. The title was afterwards altered to “The Model Guardian.” Began serialization in The Million, No. 1,Vol. 1, February 12, 1870. From all accounts this was a fictional reworking of the original non-fiction articles.

“Bless Her Heart,” by James Greenwood, Wedding Bells, January 1, 1871.

Mysteries of Modern London by One of the Crowd, London: Diprose and Bateman, 1883.

Toilers in London by One of the Crowd The Toiler, as Herein Depicted, has no Claim, and puts Forth None, to rank in the Same Category with what are Vaguely Termed the Working Classes. London: Diprose and Bateman, 1883.

Odd People in Odd Places; or, The Great Residuum by James Greenwood author of “Tag, Rag, and Co. &c. London Frederick Warne & Co. 1883.

The Prisoner in the Dock: my four years' daily experiences in the London Police Courts, by James Greenwood, London : Chatto & Windus, 1902.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reg Parlett

Mouser was the work of long-time cartoonist Reg Parlett whose father Harry, and brother, George, also worked for the Amalgamated Press. He was in his eighties when he died and still working for Buster. They first appeared in Eagle in the early sixties and moved into IPC's Lion in 1967 when the two publications merged. These two are from Lion.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fetter Lane Fiend

The following short review of penny dreadfuls was published in the Gentleman's Magazine Jan-June 1874. I had never heard of a penny parts issue titled Fiend of Fetter Lane, which you must admit is a great title for that kind of literature. Going by the date I would think this was from A. Ritchie’s New Newgate Calendar, originally published by Edward Harrison in 1864 in 80 penny numbers (No. 1 of “Blueskin” was given away with the first number) and reprinted by Ritchie in the seventies. The Harrison copy, which the illustration above is from, had an advertisement inserted for Ritchie’s version published in seven indexed volumes. The full title was The Diabolical Career of Mother Brownrigg, the Fetter-lane Fiend, and Murder of her Female Apprentices.

Comic Newspapers

Comic Newspapers by William Rayner and others, N&Q 15 Jun 1872. Many of these are discussed in more detail in an 1867 Bookseller article HERE. J. Brander Matthews continued Rayner's list into the comic periodicals of the United States HERE.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor

Good news arrives from OZ via Nat Karmichael: “I have just sent to the printer yesterday a book I have written “John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor.” The 200 page book is both a biography and a collection of 5 complete daily adventures of Air Hawk from the seventies, sporting a superb cover by Eddie Campbell (original Campbell art above).

Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor was begun in Perth, Western Australia in the Weekend Mail of 30 May 1959, and was carried from 12 May 1963 in the Sidney Sun-Herald. The Sunday Air Hawk ended in 1980. The daily ran from 1963 until at least 14 Nov 1984, a nice record for comic strip longevity. John Dixon created comic book character The Crimson Comet in 1947 when he was a fresh-faced 19 year old. The Crimson Comet was a pretend hunchback who wore shades and a trench coat. When duty called he would discard his coat and hump and soar into the sky on his mighty wings. John Dixon moved to the U.S. in 1986 where he contributed to Valiant and other publishers. Air Hawk continued in reprints in Sidney newspapers until the early nineteen-nineties.

Comicoz has also secured the rights to reprint and update John Ryan’s seminal book on Australian comic history Panel by Panel. Details on both titles can be found HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sidney Smith (1877-1935)

There were two things in life that Sidney Smith reportedly loved; money and speed, so it was no surprise to his friends when he died 20 Oct 1935 in a head-on collision near Harvard Illinois en route to his summer home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He had just driven 3 companions to Chicago and was returning home. Shortly before his fatal journey Smith had renewed his “Gumps” contract with the Chicago Tribune - - New York News Syndicate for $750,000 over a five year period. The Rolls Royce Smith was driving had been thrown in to sweeten the pot by the syndicate. In 1922 Smith had been the first comic strip artist to sign to a one million dollar contract over a ten year period.

One hoary newspaper legend about cartoonist Sidney Smith said that at 3 o’clock in the morning Smith and the 3 men he was driving to Chicago stopped at a roadhouse called the Bubbling Over tavern. Smith made a pencil sketch of his first comic strip character, a goat named Old Doc Yak, for the proprietor and “spelled out “good night” with the eyes, ears and whiskers of “Old Doc Yak…”” This article was placed under the headline: GUMP’S AUTHOR SKETCHES LAST, DRIVES TO HIS DOOM.

One acquaintance recalled in 1935 Smith’s “penchant for high-powered cars and fast driving. His great pleasure was to drive a high-powered Dusenburg along good highways at 90 to 100 miles an hour -- so we were not surprised to learn of his meeting his death in that manner.”

Robert Sidney Smith was born in Bloomington, Illinois 13 Feb 1877. When he was 13 he was caught drawing in class and marched to the door by his collar. The teacher said “Young man, you go home. You’re not fit for anything but a cartoonist.” Smith began his career as a newspaper cartoonist on the Bloomington Sunday Eye in 1895. “Whenever the paper had any of my drawings in it I used to sit on the doorstep waiting for it to arrive Sunday mornings. After I had feasted my eyes on my pictures in print for awhile I would dress up -- I had a new suit at he time -- and go down to the Public Square to strut all day and talk about “the paper.””

Jobs were hard come by so young Smith packed up chalk and a blackboard and hit the freights with empty pockets and a lot of nerve for a lecture tour of the United States. He toured Texas, Tennessee, all over, giving chalk talks at churches for a quarter apiece, at the mercy of inclement weather and farmer’s dogs. He spent a year traveling while mailing weekly cartoons to a Boston newspaper that sent him small checks wherever he happened to be at the moment.

He went on to work for the Indianapolis News, Indianapolis Press, Indianapolis Sentinel, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post, Pittsburgh Press, Toledo News-Bee, and Chicago Examiner. “Hardly a day has passed when one or more of my pictures did not appear in a paper somewhere.” His first mildly successful character was “Old Doc Yak” begun at the Chicago Tribune in 1911. “I carried Doc with me for fourteen or sixteen years. It seemed a shame five or six years ago to have to part with him, after we had been pards for so long. But by that time the Gumps had come along. I couldn’t carry both. The Gumps, I saw, had elements of a wider popular appeal.”

Andy Gump was said to have been conceived by Captain Patterson of the Chicago Tribune but Smith claimed credit himself in newspaper interviews. The 3 principal characters were Andy, his wife Min, and his son Chester. Later rich Uncle Bim arrived from Australia, and when he became smitten with the gold-digging widow Henrietta Zander the whole world went nuts with speculation over his impending marriage. Faithful readers weighed in with their opinions by writing letters and a contest for the 3 best letters was hatched. Prize no. 1 was a bale of hay, no. 2 a nickel-plated mouse-trap, and no. 3 a bird-cage. Uncle Bim left the bride waiting at the altar and she sued him for breach of promise. Newsboys were sent out on the streets with the final verdict, bawling at the top of their lungs “Uncle Bim -- no marriage!”

“The family adventures of the Gumps now appear in one hundred and six daily papers and sixty Sunday editions. A peak of interest was reached not long ago during Uncle Bim’s engagement and approaching wedding to the Widow Zander. Some few people wanted to see the wedding through. But the great majority thought it was not a proper match; they were violently opposed to it, and they apparently got more and more excited as the day of the wedding approached and it looked as if nothing could prevent the ceremony. I got letters from everywhere about it.”

Andy Gump wasn’t always lean and lanky, with no chin. “When I first thought of him he was a fat little man carrying a cane and smoking a fat cigar…I tried various experiments. I put whiskers on him and that didn’t help. I tried sideburns and tortoise shell rimmed glasses. That didn’t help. At last I took him and squeezed him and stretched him out from his nose down. He lost his chin by the squeezing, and lost his bay window and gained his long neck and present height by the stretching. At last he suited me.”

Smith worked on The Gumps in a large 12 room house fronting the lake at Lake Geneva Wisconsin. The estate also housed a log cabin, a caretaker’s home and a four car garage. At the centre of the circular drive leading up to the house was a big fountain which lit up at night. Smith gave large parties and wandered his grounds in midsummer wearing a coonskin cap. A big statue of Andy Gump stood on the front lawn greeting visitors. The statue passed into the hands of the city in 1943 and then went through a series of disasters. The original statue was destroyed in 1967 during a youth riot and was replaced by a new one which was “kidnapped” in 1989 and again replaced. A plaque honoring Smith was stolen from Lake Geneva in 1952 but subsequently found.

Westbrook Pegler wrote on 18 Dec 1931 that “Sid erected a statue of Andy Gump on his estate. He had likenesses of Andy and Min emblazoned on his automobile, which was the most luxurious that money could buy. He took a house in Palm Beach and on one side of the foyer hung a plaster plaque of Andy, on the other side a plaque of Min. He hired a retired prizefighter to box with him, for he was a good-sized man with a childish desire to punch people on the nose and boast of the fistfights he had won.”

Smith enjoyed talking about his fortune which filled other cartoonists with envy. Once, when Smith attended the Artists’ and Writers’ Golf Tournament in Palm Beach, he approached James Montgomery Flagg, a “man of poisonous moods,” and called out “Flagg--” “Mr. Flagg to you Smith,” Flagg replied, turning his back on the cartoonist. The intelligentsia scorned The Gumps, other cartoonists envied his monetary success, but what mattered was that millions of people loved the comic strip that made Smith the highest paid cartoonist in the world.

Pegler called him “almost an absentee comic artist. He had a continuity man to write his material and a forger or ink monkey to go over the penciled outlines with ink.” This was not really an unusual situation; almost every successful comic strip artist followed the same path. Sol Hess, a successful Chicago jeweler, was one of the earliest collaborators. John Wheeler recalled that Hess’ anger over peanuts pay led to his creation of a Gumps clone called The Nebbs, for which Hess was guaranteed $800 per week. Harold Gray was working as a ghost on The Gumps when he created Little Orphan Annie, and Blair Walliser was his collaborator at the time of the accident. Another of his assistants was Lt. Wally Bishop who created the feature Muggs and Skeeter.

Smith, who was married twice, left a widow, Mrs. Katheryn Abel Eulette Smith who he had married in 1926. His first wife Gertrude Craddock of Pittsburgh bore him two children before she died in 1925. His son was involved in a near fatal beating, and when he died was found to have 38 cents in his pocket.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Popeye's Boss

Popeye's Boss from the Toledo News-Bee, 9 Feb 1934. Elzie Segar was one of the few cartoonists who could rightly be described as a comic genius. I recently began reading the first volume of Fantagraphics collected POPEYE "I Yam What I Yam!" I bought the book 3 months ago and have just begun reading about the sailor with "red ink in my veins." Once I'm done I will order volume 2 -- lovely stuff and highly recommended.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Peace in the Phillipines Continues

Three editorial cartoons by Tom Thurlby of the St. Paul Globe, April 16 1903, April 17 1903 and April 11 1903.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Before the War

It's interesting to look though a years worth of editorial cartoons day by day. These cartoons are all from the Montreal Gazette in the year preceding WWII -- 1938 and 1939. All the great villains of the 20th century are here, Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. The cartoons are by the Englishman David Low, Canadian John Collins, Thomas (Bert Thomas?) and a Popeye knock-off by Britisher Sidney Strube. The top cartoon is from January 11, the last cartoon is from Jan 1 1940.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Larry Horak

Yaroslav “Larry” Horak was born in Habin, Manchuria in 1927 and moved to Australia when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931. Most people probably know him from his stint on the James Bond comic strip for London’s Daily Express. On Dec 22 1957 he began drawing Captain Fortune for the Sydney Sun-Herald in the Rip Kirby style. Captain Fortune ran until 1962 when Horak moved to London where he shared a flat with Peter O'Donnell who was doingModesty Blaise for the Daily Express. The character was based on the hit TV show Captain Fortune which featured puppets and clowns. Horak and his writer kept the look of the TV captain, and his chimpanzee, but focused more on an adult reading audience.
The Sun-Herald was the joint Sunday edition of sister dailies The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun.
The Sun folded in the 80s but the SMH and the Sun-Herald continue.

Below is a strip from 23 March 1958 and a close-up from the first strip 22 Dec 1957. More can be seen HERE. Also see HERE and HERE.