Friday, March 2, 2012

Vanity Fair: a Civil War Comic Paper

Vanity Fair, another sixteen page quarto was commenced December 31, 1859. Louis H. Stephens was the publisher, and Frank Wood, the burlesque writer and dramatic critic was the editor. The cartoons were drawn by Henry L. Stephens, a brother of the publisher, assisted by Bellew, E. F. Mullen, McClenan, Sol Eytinge and others. The corps of writers embraced among others Fitz James O’Brien, William Winter, dramatic critic of the Tribune, Henry Clapp, Jr., (“Figaro”) Richard Henry Stoddard, George Arnold, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Charles Dawson Shanley, C. F. Browne, (“Artemus Ward”) and Thomas Bailey Aldrich. After a little over a year, Charles Godfrey Leland became the editor and was succeeded in a brief time by “Artemus Ward,” who left, after contributing some of his best sketches, on a lecturing tour. Charles Dawson Shanley then assumed editorial control, and continued until the periodical expired on the fourth day of July, 1863, aged about three and one half years.” -- Comic Periodicals of America HERE

Henry L. Stephens, the principal cartoonist on Vanity Fair, was born in Philadelphia 11 Feb 1824 and died at Bayonne, New Jersey 13 Dec 1882. His first venture into comic art was illustrating a small pamphlet entitled Billy Vidkins. He studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and was engaged as an artist by Frank Leslie in 1859 followed by a stint at Harper’s Weekly. In 1863 he began a series of chromolithographs and drew cartoons for Mrs. Grundy in 1868 and for Punchinello in 1870. He was an accomplished watercolorist and illustrated The Comic Natural History of the Human Race, six volumes of Nursery Rhymes for Julius Bien, Mother Goose Melodies, published by Hurd & Houghton, and Aesop’s Fables. In 1860 R. M. De Witt of Frankfort Street published The Goblin Snob: an Extra Extravaganza and Funny Phantasy imagined and perpetuated in nearly fifty plates by Henry L. Stephens. Vanity Fair was published from 100 Nassau Street, jokingly known in the trade as “the Swamp.” Several volumes are available for perusal HERE

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