Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Fineheimer Twins and The Irresistible Rag

How do you expect a comic artist to tell how he gets up his ideas? That would be giving away his groceries. And besides, half the time he doesn’t know himself. To my mind, the best ideas are the most ridiculous ones – I mean, without being silly. — H.H. Knerr

HAROLD HERRING KNERR, or H.H. Knerr, was born September 4, 1882 at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the son of a leading Philadelphia physician. Knerr’s first job was drawing pictures of gravestones for the Philadelphia Record newspaper. His first cartoons appeared in the Philadelphia Press. His first — comic series was Zoo-Illogical Snapshots drawn for the Public Ledger. In 1899 he moved on to the Philadelphia Inquirer where he drew further series entitled Little Scary William — Adventures of Mr. George — As a Cook Wifey Was a Frost — George was A Real Good Boy — and The Irresistible Rag. The hero, a ragtime flute-playing tramp, was like Jimmy Swinnerton’s comic character Laughing Sam, and Clare Briggs’ Sambo Remo Rastus Brown characters. Knerr stayed with this employer for twelve years drawing daily and Sunday page comic strips, some capitalizing on the popularity of the Katzenjammer Kids made by Rudolph Dirks.

[1] January 20, 1907
From 1903 to 1914 Knerr drew The Fineheimer Twins, a Katzenjammer derivative, for the Inquirer. The similarity of the Fineheimers to the Katzenjammers helped land Knerr the job as Dirks’ replacement on Hearst’s New York American where he was assigned the Katzenjammer Kids Sunday page in November 1914. His many interests made it “difficult for him to keep up as comic artist (...) His hobbies were golf, horseback riding, and aeronautics, including ballooning and airplaning.” The strip topper on Knerr’s Katzenjammer Kids Sunday was his own creation, and a wonderful comic in its own way, Dinglehoofer and his Dog Adolph, started on May 16, 1926.

[2] March 10, 1907
Other strips originating with the Philadelphia Inquirer were Sidney Smith’s series of strips, Bear Creek Folks (Brer Wolf) — Sleepy Willie — and Midge and Madge. Billy Marriner drew Little Si — Little Abe Corncob — “Wags” The Dog That Adopted A Man — and Too Strenuous Thomas. The strip Jimmy the Messenger Boy looks like the work of Marriner but is always signed “Redw. Shellcope.” Clarence Rigby had Little Ah Sid, the Chinese Kid and Inquisitive Clarence. C.M. Payne drew The Little Possum Gang — Scary William — and Bear Creek Folks.

[3] March 31, 1907
Harold Knerr appears to have been a lifelong bachelor, a shy man residing in a hotel in New York with his valet. On July 8, 1949, Knerr was found dead in his central New York city apartment by his physician. He had been having heart problems for 10 years previous. His brother Horace, in Philadelphia, and a sister, Mildred Knerr, of Carmel, California, survived him. He was replaced on the Katzenjammer Kids by Charles H. Winner.

[4] April 14, 1907
[5] August 16, 1914
[6] April 9, 1916
[7] Percy Crosby dinner photo for his second marriage, at the Hotel Warwick, in New York, April 4, 1929 — f.l.t.r. Harry Hershfield, Louis Biedermann, Jack Callahan, Russell Patterson, Percy Crosby, Bert Green, Cliff Sterrett, and HAROLD KNERR. In the Sunday Repository, Canton, Ohio.

The Fineheimer Twins scans courtesy of Pierre-Henry LENFANT of Lomé (TOGO).

Original art and autograph courtesy of Don KURTZ.

Topper illustration from Comics Kingdom HERE.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

KRAZY – A Life of HERRIMAN in Black and White

‘The Clocks of The Universe Are Chiming The Hour of Now — And Joe Stork, who Dwells on The Topside of The Enchanted Mesa” in The Desierto Pintado — And Who Pilots Princes, And Paupers, Poets And Peasants, Puppies, And Pussy-Cats, Across The River Without Any Other-Side To The Shore of Here, is Telling Krazy Kat a Tale Which Must Never Be Told, and Yet Which Every One Knows.’ — opening frame of Krazy Kat Sunday by George Herriman, in Los Angeles Examiner, February 11, 1917
‘Wundafil Mr. Stork. 
Just simpfully Wundafil.’ 

GEORGE Joseph Herriman (1880-1944) was an American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Krazy Kat. Now there is a first biography, published this week — titled KRAZY; George Herriman, A Life in Black and White. Impeccably researched by New Orleans author Michael Tisserand. A book that draws back the curtain on the shadowed life of the renowned comic strip artist, and the secret he kept up to the day of his death, that he was a Creole man, born in New Orleans, passing for white in Jim Crow’s dangerous America. 

CONTRADICTIONS filled his life. As a sporting cartoonist during the Great White Hope era of boxing, to a soundtrack of ragtime, coon songs and jazz, Herriman drew numerous racial cartoons that were indistinguishable from the stereotypical creations of his contemporaries, Tad Dorgan, Rube Goldberg, Harry Hershfield and Bud Fisher. Like his close friend, Jimmy Swinnerton, and much of black and white America, he once participated in a minstrel sketch in blackface.

[1] George Herriman, photo of Dec 1, 1912

HERRIMAN lied about his birthplace and ancestry, avoided photographers as much as possible, and parried questions from interviewers with self-effacing good humor. Herriman’s bottled-up double life was relaxed in one instance, in the Krazy Kat comic strip, where he used dream and fantasy to explore race, color-line, and gender. There are so many instances of kat and mouse changing color from black to white that it is indisputable that the deeply ambiguous verbal poesy hid painful autobiographical truth. Several puzzles are illuminated but for readers several mysteries remain. Numerous anecdotes show that Herriman’s fellow ink-slingers, who followed his work, spent an inordinate amount of time ribbing him about his ancestry and his curly hair. Were they aware of the “tale which must never be told, and yet which every one knows?” That’s a question that will never be answered; Michael Tisserand, unraveling the puzzles like a string from a ball of twine, keeps such speculations to a minimum in favor of facts.

[2] Krazy Kat, Jan 16, 1914 (not in book; found vertically published)

KRAZY’s illustrations are slight but well-chosen. It has nice photographs and image-pages. My daughter came down and looked at me in the armchair with the just arrived book and said incredulously, ‘You finished that already?’ It stirs my imagination. Tisserand in ten years of research did a magnificent job digging up unknown stories of Herriman, Tad and what he calls the ‘Sports,’ I would have used ‘sporting cartoonists’ but that’s a minor quibble. It is a book, to use a cliche, that is difficult to put down. In the words of Krazy Kat: ‘Wundafil Mr. Stork. Just simpfully Wundafil.’

[3] Krazy Kat, June 11, 1916 (not in book)

BRILLIANT and knowledgeable as KRAZY is, it is the best kind of biography, illuminating the revolutionary life of a comic artist while providing a perfect pen-picture of the racially-charged times he and his fellow Hearst cartoonists lived through. Herriman’s cartoons influenced such disparate literary giants as P.G. Wodehouse, E.E. Cummings and Jack Kerouac. His Krazy Kat comic strips, all in print to date, will, from this day forward, be parsed for meaning with as much passion as Dylanologists expend on deciphering the lyrics of Bob Dylan — and all this just in time for a joyful Christmas!

★ KRAZY; George Herriman, A Life in Black and White, by Michael Tisserand, illustrated, over 500 pp., US release date, Dec 6, 2016; UK release date, Jan 12, 2017.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How You Help Draw Comic Strips

THIS is how you, Mr. and Mrs. Reader, guide the hands that create Dick Tracy, Blondie, Li’l Abner and the other pen-and-ink folks who live in the funny papers…


‘How You Help Draw Comic Strips’
by H.W. Kellick

The American Legion Magazine, 
Vol. 44, no 2, February 1, 1948,
pp. 26-27, 45-47

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Young A.B. FROST & Out of the Hurly-Burly

The “comic artist,” as I take it, is the artist who draws what are known in the profession as “comics,” pure and simple — pictures that are true to nature and funny at the same time. — H.C. Bunner

by John Adcock

YOUNG A.B. FROST got his start in Philadelphia at fifteen years of age, employed by an engraver. He then studied and worked as a lithographer (a bad one according to himself) for the next five years. He started his career as an illustrator when his friend William J. Clarke introduced him to his brother, the humorist Charles Heber Clarke, who wrote under the name “Max Adeler” and employed Frost to illustrate Out of the Hurly-Burly (1874). The book was a smashing success. Still, Henry Cuyler Bunner in an article titled ‘A.B. Frost’ in Harper’s Magazine for October 1892, wrote of the illustrations
It is hard to see in those coarse woodcuts, that look as if they were carved with a penknife, the touch of Mr. Frost’s firm and facile hand. Those who know his work today must find it difficult to realize that these rough productions represented a positive superiority to the efforts of other young men of his day and generation; yet they did, and the fact was immediately recognized. But as we look at those cuts today, it seems as if that engraver could have killed any genius that ever lived.

1874 [1] Pen drawing
1874 [2] A.B. Frost art reproduced in woodcut

THE NEXT YEAR. A.B. Frost (full name Arthur Burdett Frost, b. 1851) was working in New York on The Graphic, and in 1876 made his first drawings for Harper & Brothers. H.C. Bunner who edited the humorous weekly in the years 1877-96 described how he had “seen one modest “comic” redrawn, wholly or in part, five several times, to get just the proper effect — the effect that made you remember that picture as you would have remembered it if the thing had really happened; if you had stood on the very ground and seen it all with your own eyes.”

HERE & NOW. Recently, Rüdiger Krischel purchased in England eight original pages of original “comics” described as “1880s original artworks for illustrated magazines Life, Harper’s Young People, Harper’s Bazaar and Out of the Hurly-Burly with some pages by artists A.B. Frost (‘Tim Keyser’s Nose’) and Peter Newell (signed).” 

Fully titled Out of the Hurly-Burly, or Life in an Odd Corner by Max Adeler and A.B. Frost the book was published in 1874. Krischel’s pages with pen drawings hold some interesting annotations as follows.
[page 1] “Hurly Burly” and “Penny Comic” – [page 2] “Life” and a date which is hard to read but it looks like 2/10/88 – [page 3] “Hurly Burly” – [page 4]  “Barnes” and “Harper’s Young People” and “Peter Newell” – [page 5] “Hurly Burly” and “Penny Comic” – [page 6] “Bull Ant” – [page 7] “Life” – [page 8]  Signature, GHG?

1874 [3] Pen drawing
1874 [4] Pen drawing
1874 [5] A.B. Frost art reproduced in woodcut

ESTIMATION. At first I thought the images were drawn by a variety of artists. The title page of Out of the Hurly-Burly states “with nearly Four Hundred illustrations by Arthur B. Frost, Fred B. Schell, Wm. L. Sheppard, and Ed. B. Bensell.” But my opinion has changed since my initial impression and I’m quite sure now that all of the illustrations on all eight pages are the work of one cartoonist, probably A.B. Frost. Co-editor Huib van Opstal disagrees and believes they are simply clumsy copies, in no way are these pen and ink drawings ever made by A.B. Frost himself. The hand-written text is consistent from page to page. “Penny Comic” may refer to a publication although I haven’t traced this to a source. “Barnes” and “Peter Newell” probably refer to contacts rather than signatures to the art. There was a New York cartoonist named C. Barnes who worked on Golden Days in the eighties. That leaves “Bull Ant” and “GHG,” neither of which ring any bells to my mind.

1874 [6] Pen drawing
1874 [7] Pen drawing
1874 [8] Pen drawing
1874 [9] Pen drawing
1874 [10] Pen drawing

Thanks to Rüdiger Krischel.


Friday, October 7, 2016

The first five comic books published in 1902

Swinnerton’s cover for On and Off the Ark (1902), 1 of the first 5 comic books published by W.R. Hearst.

THE RESULTS ARE IN. Yesterday’s Papers co-editor Huib van Opstal took a closer look at Jimmy Swinnerton (1875-1974). After nearly two years the results of his findings may be published here any day now — a long ‘biography and reading of James Guilford Swinnerton’s life and work.’ 

Many international contacts kindly helped. Shown above is one of the images before it was restored for Yesterday’s Papers.

★ ★ ★ 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

South of Market Street — Memorials to TAD

[1] “Fitz trains and trains and trains —”, Tad, July 18, 1904.

Millions knew him. He analyzed human nature in pictures as well as Dickens did in words (…) Prize fight enthusiasts with half an inch of forehead, or Charles Dana Gibson, with a brow like the dome of St. Peters will tell you
“Tad was a great man.”
Arthur Brisbane
by John Adcock
THOMAS Aloysius Dorgan, “born south of Market Street,” was one of several people who “went West” on May 2, 1929, and was memorialized the same month in San Francisco’s South of Market Journal. Five pages by three authors — Newspaper Pals Throughout Country Mourn “TAD” As Real Friend.

THE MOST interesting thing about these tributes is the information about his close relationship with Arthur Brisbane, editor of Hearst’s New York Journal. Seemingly TAD’s writing was inspired by “Big George.” 

THE TEMPLATE for the comic sporting cartoon was invented by Jimmy Swinnerton, when he was a young staff artist in the 90s at the Hearst Examiner where his sparring partner was Homer Davenport. But it was TAD Dorgan who was the greatest inspiration, artistically and verbally, on all sporting cartoonists, and many later acquaintances like Milt Gross (TAD’s 1912 office boy). Among well-known TAD-inspired sporting cartoonists that turned into daily strip artists — scores of others are footnotes now, or completely forgotten in that field — were George Herriman, Bud Fisher, Harry Hershfield, and Rube Goldberg. All gifted cartoonists who mostly wrote their own scenarios.

[3] Newspaper Pals Throughout Country Mourn “Tad” As Real Friend, 5-page in memoriam feature in South of Market Journal, Vol. 4, No. 6, May 1929, with texts by Edgar T. Gleeson, Damon Runyon, and Pat Frayne. Page Ten.
[4] Page Eleven. “…He made the world laugh when his heart was breaking…”
[5] Page Twelve. Stories of Tad by Damon Runyon.
[6] Arthur Brisbane (b.1864), New York Journal editor, ca. 1904 photo. Brisbane was called ‘Big George’ by Tad.
[7] Page Thirteen.
[8] In Soft? — Beware. Tad, Washington Times, Dec 12, 1920.
[9] Page Fourteen. Sports Figure Passes by Pat Frayne
[10] Tales about “Tad.” Miss Laura Foster of the San Francisco Bulletin discovered ‘Tad” about seven years ago. The Wasp, April 2, 1904.
[11] Did You Ever take Notice? Tad double cartoon, BEFORE — and AFTER the boss arrives, San Francisco Examiner, Feb 12, 1909.
[12] South of Market Journal (subtitled: ‘Official Organ South of Market Boys, Inc.’) is published monthly. Headquarters: Whitcomb Hotel, San Francisco. Cover illustration, Vol. 4, No. 12, Nov 1929. There’s also a sister organisation, the South of Market Girls.

In memory of TAD — Thomas Aloysius Dorgan
April 29, 1877, San Francisco, California – 
May 2, 1929, Great Neck, Long Island, U.S.A.

[NOTE] South of Market is the name of a downtown San Francisco district. Market Street was a main artery which William Randolph Hearst picked for his Examiner building at the North-East corner of Market and Third streets, right in the center. One opened in 1898 and went down in the earthquake of 1906. And one opened in 1911, which can still be visited at 5 Third Street.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Comics as Art — in 2016

[1] King.
Thoughts about a large exhibition of American newspaper comics in Germany, titled Pioniere des Comic; Eine andere Avantgarde (Pioneers of Comics; A different Avant-garde), with works by Feininger, Forbell, Herriman, King, McCay and Sterrett
by Andy Bleck

ART. Are comics art? I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to answer this.

The problem is the tremendous fuss everybody is still making about fine art, because our idea of civilization is so caught up with the great works of art. Compared to fine art, other human achievements like politics or science, seem slightly grubby and ephemeral. Ephemeral, because they always can be improved upon. Art since around 1400 (and music since around 1700) cannot be improved. The masterpieces of classical Western art are perfect. Hence the fuss. 

Why shouldn’t comics be called art? you may think. Any old rubbish is called art nowadays, why not comics? Maybe because comics aren’t any old rubbish. Comics are important.

As interesting as the degree to which comics might or might not be art, is the fact that comics often aren’t even accepted as an art form. Why is almost any human activity nowadays pronounced to be some sort of art form or at least worthy of study, with museums devoted to virtually everything, except comics? Any old schlock gets a look-in. Except comics.

[2] McCay. The exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, upon entering starts with the first Winsor McCay animation. 
[3] McCay. Little Nemo, 7 April 1909. 
[4] McCay.
[5] McCay. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, 5 May 1906. 
[6] McCay. 
[7] McCay. Detail from Dream of the Rarebit Fiend — note the leftover pencil pre-drawing. 
[8] McCay. 
[9] McCay.
[10] McCay.
[11] McCay. Little Nemo, 1 May 1910. 
[12] McCay. Note the way McCay’s text sections are pasted in. They’re on darker, more discoloured paper. At the exhibition you can see the odd spots where he had to redraw edges of artwork around balloons.
[13] McCay. Another McCay animation is Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), shown together with an original drawing for it. Probably his only animation that reaches the quality of his comics. 

The exhibitors in Frankfurt have a theory. They think it is because comics were created as a popular entertainment, whereas art is elitist.

So, why are photography or cinema held in such high esteem then, with dozens of museums and institutions taking care of them? Cinema is even more admired today than contemporary art, literature or music. It’s true that with the emergence of more elitist (if only because less entertaining) comics, the art form has garnered more academic respect. But really — what is the problem with comics?

I have a theory.

THEORY. First you need to understand what comics are. Comics are not — exclusively — the type of picture stories developed in American newspapers (as claimed by this exhibition in Frankfurt). Comics are not visual narratives. Comics are not ‘sequential art.’ Comics most certainly are not ’a combination of text and images.’

[14] Feininger.
[15] Feininger.
[16] Feininger.
[17] Feininger. 
[18] Feininger. These are not preparatory drawings, but second versions Feininger made for possible publication in Germany. Unfortunately nothing came of it.
[19] Feininger.
[20] Feininger.

Comics are a very specific type of sequential art. They consist of static images which work as a group but also do not work as a group. The reason they don’t is because when you look at comics, one after the other, they suggest to the viewer the passage of time. They do this by pretending that a picture that follows another picture is not really an entirely new picture. It pretends to be the same picture again, but different. When the viewer understands this underlying relationship between the pictures in a comic, he will no longer view them as separate entities. He understands that a picture following another is not an additional picture. It is a replacement. He can still see the preceding picture. Indeed, only by constantly comparing the pictures that follow each other, can he understand that they are not supposed to be viewed as a group — the focus is on one picture, and then the next. The shift of focus from one picture to the next is in fact replacing one picture with another. Most people reading comics do not realise the iconoclastic brutality of this.

[21] Forbell. Most of Forbell’s 18 Sunday pages are shown. It’s hard to believe the publication date (1913) — you’d expect twenty years later at the earliest.
[22] Forbell.

Comics are too inventive, even for that great inventor Leonardo. He compared painting to poetry and — surprise, surprise! — valued painting higher, because poetry could not conceive a work in its entirety at once — each part only results from the preceding part, which then dies. Leonardo must have disapproved of medieval comics in illuminated manuscripts. (Read ‘decorated in colour’ for ‘illuminated,’ and google Cantigas de Alfonso el Sabio as a good surviving sample.)

This technique of brutally replacing one picture with another only became possible after the image-worshiping culture of ancient Greece and Rome was confronted and suffused with the image-despising culture of Judaeo-Christianity, when the emperor Augustine adopted the new religion.

The reason comics are the only art form not given any respect is because comics are the only art form not practiced by the ancient Greeks.

Photography and cinema may seem more technically advanced than the first comics in early Christian manuscripts, but they can be understood and ‘dealt with’ as a variation of painting and theatre. The brashness and ubiquitous deluge of photography and the fast-paced complexities of film may seem more aggressive than a meek little picture story. But in terms of what they do to the concept of the sanctity of the image, it is the little comic which is the iconoclastic ruffian.

When you understand this, you can see the dangers of viewing comics as yet another variation of fine art.

[23] Sterrett. Surrounding wall decoration composed of Cliff Sterrett panels from various pages. Very spectacular, although I would have preferred a complete story. A comic. 

[24-25] A round red reading couch with German translations of McCay, Sterrett, Feininger and Herriman, and the exhibition’s catalogue. 
[26] Sterrett.  
[27] Sterrett. An afterwards coloured-in original of Polly and her Pals, 26 Sep 1926.
[28] Sterrett. 
[29] Sterrett. Polly and her Pals, 21 Sep 1958. Three of Cliff Sterrett’s originals from the 1950s impressed me by their slick professionalism and sheer size. Very inspiring.

Comics are not a subsection of fine art or of literature. The reason people need to make an effort to embrace them is because they are uniquely new: a few hundred years as opposed to hundreds of thousands for every other art form. Children have no problem accepting comics for what they are, because their assumptions about other art forms — or the world in general — are far less fixed or developed.

Does that mean comics shouldn’t be exhibited in fine art galleries? Actually, no.

Making cultured and probably influential people understand that comics are an art form is almost impossible. Because, to some extent, it contradicts the aesthetic demands of sanctified forms of expression like painting or literature, while at the same time it provides a venue for artistic expression that isn’t just another art form — like pottery, cooking or shoe design — a venue that’s possibly similar in potential to the big four: Art, Architecture, Literature, and Music.

Suppose you wanted to teach comics in a school. Would you try to persuade the teaching profession to create a new subject, comics? Or would you rather try to sneak it into art classes or the literature curriculum perhaps? More urgently, comics need to be preserved for future generations. This may include not just storage, but complicated de-acidification. Which takes serious money. So, even though it would be preferable to let dedicated comics institutions take care of comics, one must be realistic. If declaring comics to be art means they have a better chance of survival, let’s pretend they are.

[30] Herriman.
[31] Herriman. Krazy Kat, 28 August 1938. The original drawing of a Sunday page compared with the printed version

There are nevertheless some reasons for not pretending comics are art, or some disadvantages one should be aware of. The exhibition in Frankfurt has chosen types of comics which seem to surpass fine art in the degree of avant-garde inventiveness, such as expressionism or surrealism. It was this which made it easier to invade the hallowed ground of an exhibition space normally reserved for fine art. Clever. But I wonder if it was McCay, Feininger or Sterrett who were the innovators. The real invention came just before, some years earlier, when Dirks, Opper and Swinnerton infused the picture story format, that had existed in American weekly magazines for decades, with a new vitality, changing its character so much that many people (including the exhibition organisers) came to think: here we have a completely new art form. But it’s not all that new. Only when you understand that comics are neither as old as is sometimes claimed (like cave painting and similar well-meant but misleading suggestions) nor as new as sometimes claimed (like the works of Outcault or Töpffer), can you appreciate what’s interesting about comics in terms of their placement within the arts in general. Comics exist in parallel to what is nowadays perceived as modern developments in fine art. (Time will tell whether the history of 20th century art will be revised somewhat.)

[32] King. Original dailies by Frank King, good to see, but less beautiful as artwork than his coloured Sunday pages, especially his ‘one-image-devided-up-into-12 panels’ stories.
[33] King. 
[34] King. Gasoline Alley character dolls.
This Frankfurt exhibition shows that certain comics are also part of that modernism. But what’s really liberating about comics is that their slapdash attitude to ‘the image,’ their technique of constantly replacing something you’ve just admired, has a similar devil-may-care attitude towards the exigencies and restraints of academic modernism.

Claiming comics are art because some of them are even more avant-garde than fine art, could sideline a majority of superb comics. A similar danger lies in regarding comics as literature, complete with awards and reviews, and recognition given to comics with ‘relevant’ subject matters. Again sidelining titles that seem less worthy.

I have no clear answer. If this exhibition makes it possible for more comics exhibtions to take place, let’s call comics art. But always remember that they are also both less and more.

[35] King. A Sunday page original with an instalment of Frank King’s Bobby Makebelieve, 8 Dec 1918.

HOW. One more thing. How come these supposedly avant-garde artists were published in popular newspapers?

Herriman and Sterrett started out with perfectly ordinary cartooning styles. They came up with sensationally arty shenanigans only after having established their comic characters. McCay and King were not drawing in an avant-garde or experimental style. McCay was using Art Nouveau for his line work and the Beaux Arts style for his architectural fantasies. King used some of his Sunday pages to play around with the format. Only Feininger and Forbell jumped in at the deep end, with striking formal inventions from the start, but the characters and stories didn’t have time to mature. Actually, Feininger is not a fluent read. Not because of the European-style artwork, but because it has no comic character you’re particularly interested in, no comic character you could identify with. 

Forbell’s strip is a variation on Swinnerton’s Little Jimmy (1904-58) and C.M. Payne’s S’Matter Pop? (1910-40). The little chap is full of zest and it would have been great to see the strip grow into more intricate stories. Presenting a complete unknown like Forbell with only 18 Sunday pages to his name (15 of which are displayed here at the Schirn) acts like a silent accusation, because if the comics readership from 100 years ago had shown a greater appreciation of Forbell’s outstanding ‘art’ qualities, his Naughty Pete might have resulted in one of the great comic strips.

Lyonel Feininger 1871-1956
Charles Forbell 1884-1946
George Herriman 1880-1944
Frank King 1883-1969
Winsor McCay 1869-1934
Cliff Sterrett 1883-1964

Panoramic photography by Andy Bleck, 2016

Andy’s Early Comics Archive is HERE.

[NOTE]  McCay did not invent animation. Search YouTube for Humorous Phases of Funny Faces 1906, and Fantasmagorie 1908 by Émile Cohl. A lo-res version of McCay’s first animation can be found on YouTube too. Search McCay or Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics.


EXHIBITION. The exhibition is curated by Alexander Braun and shown in the Schirn Kunsthalle, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 23 June to 18 September, 2016. With original and printed works supplied by a variety of private collectors in Germany. On display are original and printed artworks by six American author-artists: Lyonel Feininger, Charles Forbell, George Herriman, Frank King, Winsor McCay, and Cliff Sterrett.

A catalogue is published in German, 2016, Pioniere des Comic; Eine andere Avantgarde, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 272 pp. in hardback, edited by Alexander Braun and Max Hollein, with a foreword by Max Hollein, and essays by Alexander Braun, David Carrier, and Thomas Scheibitz.

[36-37] The Schirn Kunsthalle in the centre of Frankfurt. 
[38] Subway poster for Pioniere des Comic; Eine andere Avantgarde.