Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Making of a “Funny” by George McManus

Mr. McManus took them into so many lands with pen and paint-brush that now they are able to travel on their own, as befits the two most distinguished linguists of the comic section. For, in addition to the universal language of the rolling pin, the swift kick and the sock on the nose, they speak, through the papers in which they appear, German, Italian, Yiddish, Polish, several Slavic languages, Dutch, Spanish, Hungarian, Japanese, Chinese — virtually every language of the civilized world, “including the Scandinavian.” The Laugh That Circles the Globe by Llewellyn Rees Jones, 1926

EDWARD W. MURTFELDT wrote the following five-page article — The Making of a “Funny” — for Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 136, No. 6, June 1940, which was published when George McManus was 56. 

[1] page 84
[2] page 85
[3] page 86
[4] page 87
[5] page 88
[6] George McManus, Rosie’s Beau, Aug 19, 1917

Monday, August 1, 2016

CHARLES W. SAALBURG, The Man Who Washed The Kid

[1] The Kid in yellow by R.F. Outcault (Sep 6, 1896, detail from The World)
The “Kid” came on the scene first simply as “one of the chorus,” to help fill the picture, and took no prominent part. By a happy inspiration the man who laid out the color scheme gave a glaring yellow to the gown (really a night-shirt) in which Mr. Outcault had clothed him. Someone remarked that he was a funny little mite, an odd type of gutter-snipe; and Outcault drew him again and again, each time the color man arraying him in yellow. Mr. Outcault emphasized the ears of the brat, and promoted him from a “thinking” to a “speaking part” by inscribing some impudent legend on his gown; and the Yellow Kid had arrived! The Truth about the Yellow Kid, in The Call, June 1, 1905
Why yellow? The color was a technical expedient. The four color rotary press had been invented several years before and all colors except yellow seemed to work fine. Charles Saalburg, engraving room foreman of the World, found that tallow wax kept yellow from running and celebrated his discovery by liberally dousing Outcault’s drawings with the color. Funnies Are Solidly Established in Americana, by Hugh A. Mulligan, in Buffalo Courier-Express, March 10, 1957
by John Adcock

CENSUS. The 1870 San Francisco census, administered through the Post Office, listed the names “of every person whose place of abode on the first day of June, 1870, was in this family.” The head of one such family was William Saalburg, aged 35, occupation editor. He had real estate valued at 15,000 dollars and a personal estate of 1,000 dollars. His wife Jennie (Jette Landsberg) Saalburg was 28, a housekeeper with five kids. His birthplace is given as Prussia, 
but he was actually born a Polish Jew in Posen, a province of Prussia.

[2] The Ting-Ling Choir. Saalburg front-page, The Inter Ocean Jr. (subtitled: ‘Supplement to the Weekly Inter-Ocean’), nr. 13, Tuesday, June 19, 1894 
[3] Photo of Charles William Saalburg, 1894

FAMILY. The census page shows quite a number of Prussians residing in the area; the owner of a furniture store, a wet nurse and a cigar dealer. Other neighbors included a woman from Hong Kong, a live-in domestic, an engraver from Canada with a New York wife, a miner and his family from Maine and a housing contractor from Scotland. Saalburg’s age is 45, his wife’s 39. The five children are listed as Simon, 9, Phoebe, 7, Charles, 5, Johanna, 3, and Dora, 8 months. The family grew over the next decade and the 1880 census lists the couple’s children as Simon, now 19, Phoebe, 17, Charles, 15, Josie, 12, Dora, 10, Georgie, 8, and Walter, age 3. All the children were born in San Francisco, California. Simon, the oldest at nineteen, was a journalist and later a bookkeeper.

[4] Which One Will Get It? Saalburg cover, The Wasp, nr. 1, Jan 9, 1892
[5] Out In The Cold. Saalburg center spread, The Wasp, nr. 7, Feb 20, 1892 
CHARLES. Charles William Saalburg was born in San Francisco in 1865. His father William Albert Saalburg (or Sualburg in the 1880 census, where he’s listed as 45 years of age) had just arrived in San Francisco in 1852. In 1856 he was the editor of the San Francisco Weekly Times

In 1889 father William A. Saalburg, Ludwig Rosenthal and son Charles W. Saalburg operated Rosenthal-Saalburg Co., lithographers and printers from Ellis Street, San Francisco. At the same time (1889-90) and from the same address William A. Saalburg was editing the Jewish Times and Observer (begun in 1880) and W. Saalburg’s Jewish Calendar. To the Jewish Calendar his son Charles W. contributed sketches.

[6] California One And Indivisible! Saalburg center spread, The Wasp, nr. 1, Jan 4, 1890
[7] Wasp To Southern California Editor. Saalburg cover, The Wasp, nr. 23, June 7, 1890

CARTOONISTS. Like many cartoonists young Charles Saalburg was smitten by drawing from an early age and drew the ire of his teachers with his blackboard caricatures. He left school after completing grade four. At sixteen he was apprenticed to a lithographer and put to work coloring maps. He packed a grip-bag and encamped for New York where he became a lithographic color man for the firms Sackett, Wilhelms and Betzig and Julius Bien & Co. Charles Saalburg left New York, returning to San Francisco via Hartford, Springfield, Boston, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

[8] Henry Nappenbach, lithographer-illustrator in San Francisco, came from Berlin to the U.S.A. He began contributing to The Wasp in Oct 1886, and soon joined the art staff of The Examiner; photo from The Wasp, Oct 12, 1895
[9] Charcoal Sketches. Signed H. NAP by Henry Nappenbach, a page from The Overland Monthly, 1895

THE WASP. He began applying his talents to drawing color cartoons for the San Francisco Wasp. The weekly published The Wasp was founded in 1876 by Messrs. Korbel and Brothers and became the property of Samuel W. Backus in 1889. It was the first comic weekly in America to print cartoons in color — although chromo-lithography had been available previously — and was in wide and popular demand for its illustrated prints and cartoons.
I was only eighteen years old when I started in as a cartoonist on The Wasp, and part of my job was to sketch the theatrical subjects of the day, on the stage and in their dressing rooms, as well as the literary giants on the lecture platform and in their favorite cafes and restaurants. Many of them I came to know very well, indeed as they wandered into the editorial rooms of The Wasp with stories and poems, many of which have since become classics. C.W. Saalburg, 1926
[10] Speaker Reed Finds A Quorum. Probably Saalburg’s earliest Wasp work, nr. 7, Feb 15, 1890

SEARCH. Saalburg was born in 1865 so this suggests he joined The Wasp in 1883, but I could find none of his cartoons in available issues from the 1880s. Saalburg’s memory may have been faulty; the earliest color cover illustration I could find signed SAALBURG was February 15, 1890. The previous color cartoons were by George Frederick Keller, Henry Barkhaus, Solly H. Walter, and Henry Nappenbach. It could be that he served a very long apprenticeship on the printing end of things before becoming a staff cartoonist. Further muddying the stream is the fact that the dramatic etchings of celebrities he refers to were not begun until 1891. One article claimed that in 1890 Backus (whose ownership began in 1889) placed Charles Saalburg in charge of the art department of The Wasp with assistance from Henry Nappenbach.
For three years (1889-1892) I worked on The Wasp, doing a double-page cartoon in color, as well as both the front and back covers of the journal and the lithograph work for all three.  C.W. Saalburg, 1926

[11] San Francisco. Corner of Ellis and Taylor streets where Saalburg’s parents lived, photo 1905 

Langley’s San Francisco Directory for 1892 lists him as living at 1208 Ellis Street with his father. His occupation is listed as artist at Wasp Publishing Company. The Wasp printed his last cover on April 16, 1892. A newspaper reported that Saalburg left The Wasp because “its indecent cartoons offended his taste.” A more likely reason for leaving was his employment by William Randolph Hearst to draw political cartoons for the San Francisco Examiner whose art staff at the time included Homer Davenport, Harrison Fisher, James Swinnerton and W.W. Denslow.
Denslow, who became widely known as a newspaper artist, arrived among us as a cowboy in a slouch hat and chaps and armed with a pair of guns. He was a wild-looking customer, so when he asked for a job it was given to him. Everybody was afraid he might shoot up the art department if he was refused…  C.W. Saalburg, 1926
[12] The Inter Ocean, Chicago, masthead 1874
[13] Chicago Inter Ocean office; 1890s postcard 

CHICAGO. Saalburg left Hearst in short order and accompanied by sketch artist W.W. Denslow traveled through Canada, in 1893 arriving at Chicago, Illinois. The pair settled into a studio in the Evening Post building. In July Saalburg approached H.H. Kohlsaat, proprietor of the Chicago Inter Ocean, and was hired to take complete charge of the newspapers color supplement.

[14] The Inter Ocean in four editions; 1883 overview 
[15] The Daily Inter Ocean. Cigarette card with portrait of its editor, William Penn Nixon, 1890s
[16] The Daily Inter Ocean, page one, July 11, 1891

COLOR PIONEER. The Inter Ocean was a pioneer of color printing from June 23, 1892, when they published a special for the Democratic Convention. Three days later, June 26, 1892, The Inter Ocean was publishing a regular weekly supplement. The first print runs of the Illustrated Supplement ran to 40,000 copies but with experience 320,000 copies a week were being produced. Thomas Nast (b. 1840) was there presenting the old guard of cartooning, Art Young the coming generation. Saalburg was credited with being the first cartoonist to publish a color cartoon in a newspaper.
The Inter Ocean is the First paper in America to demonstrate the fact that four and eight colors can be thrown artistically on paper from the cylinders of a rapid running printing press. The fact that colored work can be done on a perfecting press shows its unique value in the illustration of current events; the proceedings of yesterday becoming the pictures of today. This paper is a pioneer in the Western world, but it proposes to advance the standard of this class of work as rapidly as energy and well directed enterprise will limit. Our Illustrated Tinted Supplement, in The Inter Ocean, June 23, 1892
[17] The Ting-Lings Do The Field Columbian Museum. Saalburg center spread, The Inter Ocean Jr., nr. 13, Tuesday, June 19, 1894 
[18] The Ting-Lings Go Cycling. Saalburg center spread, The Inter Ocean Jr., 1894 
SEEING DOUBLE. The Illustrated Supplement, was primarily  aimed at adults. But in early 1894, separate color sections for both The Weekly Inter Ocean (published Tuesday) and The Sunday Inter Ocean were retitled The Inter Ocean Jr. — and both identically titled supplements had large-sized front-page and interior cartoons featuring Saalburg’s tiny Chinese characters called The Ting-Lings. (Publication dates given for all these Ting-Lings cartoons are April 29, 1894, to July 8, 1894.) The exact size and variation of C.W. Saalburg’s total Ting-Lings production still has to be puzzled out it seems. It has been suggested that his cartoons were inspired by Palmer Cox’ Brownies.

[19] The Ting-Lings Go A Fishing. Saalburg front page, The Inter Ocean Jr. (‘Supplement to The Weekly Inter-Ocean’), nr. 9, Tuesday, May 22, 1894
[20] The Ting-Lings Listen To The Phonograph. Saalburg front page, The Inter Ocean Jr. (‘Supplement to The Sunday Inter-Ocean’), nr. 64, Sunday, May 27, 1894 
ENGLAND. Over in England, London was celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a cartoon of The Ting-Lings appeared in Alfred Harmsworth’s ladies’ magazine Home Chat, about May 15, 1897. Cartoon art historian Denis Gifford already noted that Home Chat published Jungle Jinks, the earliest known British nursery comic, which started on October 29, 1898. Saalburg’s comic series The Ting-Lings were collected in book form consisting of eight pages by London publishers Dean & Son and published Christmas 1897, with a further volume promised for the following year. While in London Saalburg contributed puzzles to Pearson’s magazine and may have contributed cartoons to newspapers.

[21] Saalburg returns home after six years. News flash A Clever Artist Coming, in The Call (San Francisco), Dec 21, 1898; with a portrait drawn by William Kelly, a Call staff artist
[22] R.F. Outcault, photo, 1903
The Yellow Kid ceased to be because the stigma of ‘yellow journalism’ haunted the papers who used the character.  R.F. Outcault, Father of “The Yellow Kid” Tells Cause of its Death, in Colorado Springs Gazette, Nov 13, 1905

THE WORLD. Following the Inter Ocean’s lead Joseph Pulitzer published his first color supplement in New York, on Sunday, January 1, 1893, and a “comic supplement” for May 21, 1893 with a large cartoon by Walt McDougall on the cover. The Inter Ocean stopped publishing color cartoons in July 1895 when Kohlsaat sold the newspaper to Yerkes who was cutting costs to make the paper profitable. It was sometime in 1895 that Saalburg moved to New York where he was hired to take charge of the color department of Pulitzer’s New York World.
Color work of a high grade is Saalburg’s specialty. He is the patentee of a process by which half a dozen or more colors may be run on a newspaper press at one time. He achieved fame in New York by getting out 500,000 colored sheets in three days, the shortest time on record. In London, where he recently located, he found slow presses and inadequate means of making colored papers. Saalburg is a London Lion, in The San Francisco Call, Dec 21, 1896 
DON C. SEITZ. Don Carlos Seitz (1862-1935) in his book Joseph Pulitzer; His Life and Letters (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1924) wrote in the Introduction that he was “the one person remaining with the World who had the longest association – eighteen years – with its owner.” He had this to say of Saalburg’s time at The World,
The pressman in charge, William J. Kelly, owed most of his experience with colors to printing block samples for George Mather’s Sons, the ink makers. When his efforts were criticized he replied that no one could print the wishy-washy color schemes that came to him in plate form; give him something solid and he would show results. Charles W. Saalburg, the colorist at the time, happened to be painting up one of Outcault’s drawings; with his customary quickness he replied: “All right, I’ll make this kids dress solid yellow.” He did and a one-tooth infant in the group stood out like a sunrise. Don Carlos Seitz, 1924
[23] Outcault signature fun in Kid page, Sep 6, 1896

INVENTOR AND PARENT. Kelly would have been foreman of the press room in charge of printing machines and Saalburg probably foreman in charge of all pictorial reproduction which included etchers, photographers, blockers and routers. In 1916 Don C. Seitz already published a longer detailed version in his book Training for the Newspaper Trade (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company). At the time of writing Seitz was a business manager of the New York World and had served as Pulitzer’s advertising manager in 1895-97. He attributed the rise of the colored comic supplement to idle presses. According to Seitz,
As the inventor of the Sunday comic and so incidentally the parent of “yellow” journalism, I may be pardoned a line of history. In 1893 the New York World had installed the first color press in America adapted to newspaper printing. It was built by the Walter Scott Company, of Plainfield, New Jersey, and was an excellent machine. It lacked, or was thought to lack, capacity for large editions, and another machine, constructed by R. Hoe & Company, was installed. The latter lay idle for months and the former was used usually to daub bits of color on the face of a local supplement — little city scenes like the flower market in Union Square. No results were visible in circulation and the cost was considerable. Coming into the mechanical and business departments, after a ten-year journey through the reportorial and editorial side, I had often noted the popular craving for amusement, the almost pathetic desire to see something funny, and I urged that the color presses be set to producing a “comic” sheet. Mr. Pulitzer, absent in Europe, cabled the single word “experiment,” so, with an equipment consisting of Frederick A. Duneka, for long and now the head of Harper & Brothers, a pair of shears, and Walt McDougall, the cartoonist, the “experiment” began. The immediate effect was to send the paper from the quarter million class, where it had long lodged, into the half million, where it has since remained, in the teeth of tremendous competition.
      The “yellow” phase developed when William J. Kelly, the pressman, whose knowledge of color printing had been obtained from printing specimen books for George Mather’s Sons, the ink makers, complained that he could get no results from the wishy-washy tints turned out by the art department and begged for some solid colors. About this time R.F. Outcault, a clever youth from Sandusky, Ohio, who had recently invaded New York, turned in to the Sunday editor, then Arthur Brisbane, several black and white drawings depicting child-life in a tenement district called “Hogan’s Alley.” I carried Kelly’s kick to C.W. Saalburg, the colorist who was painting the key plate of the “Alley,” and being of quick understanding  said: “All right, I’ll make that kid’s dress solid yellow!” Suiting the action to the word he dipped his brush in yellow pigment and “washed” the “kid.” For once Kelly was right. The “solid color” stood out above all the colors in the comic. The “yellow kid” arrived. The success of the series led to the capture of Mr. Outcault by the rival Journal, newly revived by William R. Hearst, and to a fortune for the artist. The rivalry resulting, for the World’s “kid” was long continued by George B. Luks, since a notable American painter, and stamped “yellow” on an enterprise that is now common to all newspapers. The wide use of Sunday comics has vindicated the inventor’s idea that there was an intense desire for amusement in the land — whatever the Sunday-school teachers may think. — Don C. Seitz, 1916, pp. 89-92
[24] Kid in orange. Outcault cartoon, in The World, Nov 24, 1895

THE YELLOW KID. The first appearance in a colored nightshirt of the future Yellow Kid, and future Mickey Dugan, was in a small cartoon titled An Untimely Death, from November 24, 1895, where his nightshirt is an orange color. The character blossomed into the full color Kid dressed in yellow on January 5, 1896, in Outcault’s cartoon Golf — the Great Society Sport as Played in Hogan’s Alley (HERE). This startling use of color had all to do with the bidding war between Pulitzer and Hearst for Outcault’s services, and resulted in the coining of the phrase “Yellow Journalism” still credited to Ervin Wardman, editor of The New York Press. Outcault signed his last Yellow Kid (actually more Casey Corner Kids already, see HERE) on May 1, 1898.

[25] Writer Mark Twain, portrayed by Saalburg, 1926

BRITISH BOOK. Saalburg married Grace Gove of Illinois on September 10, 1896. He left the employ of the New York World in 1896, although he continued to contribute puzzles and cartoons to the newspaper, and by December was working in London, England, for the Acme Art Company “where he commands a princely salary.” Acme Art ordered American equipment and put up press buildings under Saalburg’s supervision. At this time he also contributed to Le Petit Journal (Paris, France) and the New York World. On December 21, 1898, Saalburg, with his wife and child Leslie, was back in San Francisco again staying at his parents’ home on 1220 Ellis Street.

[26] Van Dyck Gravure Print by Saalburg, 1913
These color specimens mark a new epoch in the history of color-printing in America, and will be examined with interest by those who have watched the progress of three-color work. The prints have the appearance of lithographic work, but the results are secured by three printings only, the colors used being yellow, red and blue. No half-tone screens or lines are shown, and the pictures have a peculiarly soft effect which can be obtained by no other process (…) The specimens are evidence of the fact that very creditable work can be done on even the cheaper grades of paper. The Inland Printer, March, 1900
BUSINESSES. In December 1899 Warren F. Furbeck, Charles W. Saalburg and William P. Allen opened the Lithotone Colortype Company in Chicago to promote an invention of Saalburg’s for printing in three colors. A large plant was built, three stories high, “equipped with the latest and finest machinery, electric power and light plant.” The process was kept secret “but not patented.”

[27] Photo of Charles William Saalburg, in The Inland Printer, 1908
By 1908 Charles Saalburg had his own firm, The Van Dyck Gravure Company, in East Orange, New Jersey. Between 1909 and 1922 he registered numerous patents, most dealing with the printing process, and even branching out into window display mechanics, photography and animated pictures.

[28] ‘Emperor Norton’ — well-known San Francisco character, portrayed by C.W. Saalburg, 1926 

TIMES ARE OVER. From 1917 to 1922 his patents assignor was the Animated Pictures Company. In 1922 he was part-owner of the Prismatone Company in New York. A 1963 American Artist article said, “Charles W. Saalburg (…) as proprietor of the Van Dyke Gravure Company, was forced into litigation to protect his interests against virtually all the New York newspapers.” In the 1940 census he was 75 years old, married, and living in Miami, Florida. His father William Saalburg died September, 20, 1914, Jennie Saalburg on March 14, 1916. Both at San Francisco. According to the Florida Death Index 1877-98, Charles William Saalburg died in 1950 at Miami, Florida. He had three children — Leslie (1897-1974), Allen Russell (1899-1987), and Dorothy Ione (1900-1997). Both sons Leslie Saalburg and Allen Saalburg became accomplished illustrators with international reputations in their own right. In the February 1963 issue of American Artist monthly, Allen Saalburg was described as ‘the prominent painter and silkscreen artist whose superb prints require up to forty color impressions and are often mistaken for original paintings.’

Well, those times are all over now. The Wasp has gone, the queer characters have disappeared, famous folk are getting quite well spread over the country. But those were certainly golden days in old San Francisco while they lasted. C.W. Saalburg, 1926
[29] Colored Comics. Grue (John B. Gruelle, b. 1880) reveals all about the technique of modern newspaper color in Bud’s Latest Stunt. He Tells How The Funny Part Is Made, on the front page of The Ogden Standard comic section, Jan 24, 1909; In its original printed colours this page must have looked glorious — but microfilm robbed it of all Grue’s color glory
How The Ting-Lings were found HERE.

Americas First Color Newspaper Supplement HERE.

Bill Blackbeard’s incomplete collection shown in 
The Yellow Kid Cartoon Gallery HERE.

The 1926 quotes and drawings by Saalburg are from his brief memoir published in the New York Times, Jan 3, 1926, titled San Francisco of the ’80s Abounded in Notables; C.W. Saalburg has Memories of Mark Twain, Joaquin Miller, Bernhardt, Davenport and Warfield. 


Melinda Mcintosh and Leonardo De Sá


Pete Maresca, Alex Jay, Allan Holtz, and Musikchoo

[19] front page courtesy of Pete Maresca
[11] photo courtesy of Bancroft Library of U.C. Berkeley