Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Forgotten Man — Dan Leno

[1] July 17, 1912.
DAN LENO, the sporting cartoonist of the Bulletin, is in town en route north looking for a “vacation.” ‘Sporting Cartoonist Here,’ in Press Democrat, July 14, 1910

[2] Dec 2, 1911. Light Weight Throne.
OBSCURE CARTOONISTS. Online, you often see articles with additional titles like FORGOTTEN CARTOONIST. Usually, while obscure, comic strip historians have not completely forgotten those cartoonists. Dan Leno is a horse of a different color though, his short life in comics is completely unknown and information about his life and career are difficult to uncover. He was a derivative cartoonist, among others borrowing style and ideas from Tad Dorgan, George Herriman, Rube Goldberg and Harry Hershfield. The earliest mention of Dan Leno is in my opening quote, in which we learn he worked as a sporting cartoonist on the San Francisco Bulletin as early as 1910.  
[3] Dec 27, 1911. The Dingbat Family.
THE BEE. The Press Democrat, published out of Santa Rosa, California, noted on December 10, 1910, SATURDAY “BEE” TO BE PUBLISHED HERE. The Bee was to be published by Billy Silver for the Press Democrat as an 8-page weekly, colored in pink and green, with cartoons by Dan Leno and Louis Breton. Charles Mansfield would provide illustrations. All three men were from the Bulletin’s staff.
[4] April 13, 1912. Everybody’s Doing It.
LOS ANGELES HERALD.  Dan Leno’s first Los Angeles Herald cartoon — contemporary with cartoonists George Herriman, Gus Mager, Harry Hershfield, Tom McNamara, and Hal Coffman — appeared on Dec 2, 1911, on the sporting page. The Herald later listed a range of titles, ‘A bas, as the French Say,’ ‘Mr. Bonehead Buys an Auto,’ and series with titles like ‘Such: Can You Beat It ?,’ ‘Old Ill Wind,’ and ‘Such Is Life.’ His last cartoon appeared on February 28, 1913. These last few cartoons were done in a wispy labored style, perhaps the result of the unspecified disease which sent him north to Acme, Alberta, where he died around March 21, 1913.

ROSINA LENO.  A woman living in Acme, named Rosina Leno, married a man named Jacob Bitz in 1885 (HERE) so it is possible that Dan Leno was her relative and possibly born in Alberta, Canada. And that is all that is known at present about Dan Leno, who according to his obituary was famous for his sporting page cartoons long before he joined the staff of the Los Angeles Herald.
[5] April 16, 1912. Troubles of His Own.
[6] April 24, 1912. They’re with Us Again.
[7] April 25, 1912. Have YOU Helped ?
[8] July 4, 1912. Eight photos of Los Angeles Herald sporting experts 1/ Earle V. Weller, 2/ George L. North, 3/ James W. Coffroth, 4/ DAN LENO (bottom left), 5/ Fred C. Thomson,  6/ Larry Lavers, 7/ Jay Davidson, and 8/ Ed W. Smith.
[9] Nov 20, 1912. When in Doubt Blame Finnegan.
[10] Jan 25, 1913. Joys of a Cartoonist.
[11] April 12, 1913. Pluvius’ Double Header.
[12] March 21, 1913. Famous Cartoonist Meets Death Bravely; Keeps Public Laughing to the Last.
[13] Cartoon styles by TAD – HERRIMAN – LENO – a 1904 Tad Dorgan, 
a 1909 George Herriman, and a 1912 Dan Leno.

NOTE. This is of course not about British comedian ‘Dan Leno’ (real name: George Wild Galvin, 1860-1904) who toured the US in 1897 as ‘The Funniest Man On Earth’ and licensed a London comic weekly to use his name in the title, Dan Leno’s Comic Journal (1898, subtitled: ‘One touch of Leno makes the whole world grin’).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Comics — And Their Creators: Harold Gray

‘Joseph Medill Patterson, publisher of the New York Daily News, ordered the strip killed on October 27, 1925, asking “Who ever heard of a rich orphan?” Outraged fans flooded the Daily News with mail protesting the move and the strip was reinstated with an editorial apology. Harold Gray said of Patterson: “He wasn’t so much for the New Deal as he was for me keeping my goddam beak out of politics.” ’ — The Reporter, October 24, 1950

Literary Digest, March 10, 1934


Friday, March 17, 2017

This Is About Garge Herriman


HERRIMAN. That’s the monicker you see signed to the Krazy Kat drawings. His first name is George, but the boys call him Garge, because that’s the way he pronounces it himself.
     Now I’m not going to sit here and chuck the swell about that guy, I’m going to tell the truth.
     Garge came from somewhere out west, we think it’s Los Angeles. He came here on a side door Pullman. Of course he wouldn’t want me to say so if he was here but it’s a fact just the same. He hangs around with a lot of painters, poets and authors these days, but when I first saw him he still had grease from the box cars on his pants.
     He looked like a cross between Omar the tent maker and Nervy Nat when he eased into the art room of the N.Y. Journal 20 years ago. We didn’t know what he was so I named him The Greek and he still goes by that name.
     Garge is short and wide like the door of a safe and as Johnny Dunn the announcer used to say of his wrestler, “He is strong. He can bend IRUN BARS WITH HIS NAKED HANDS.”
     Garge also had a peculiar way of drawling. He is never in a rush as he drawls his words. He calls garden GORDON, he calls harness HORNESS, he calls cigars CIGORS and so on.
     He ALWAYS wears a hat. Like Chaplin and his cane Garge is never without his skimmer. Hershfield says that he sleeps in it.
     Garge has three hobbies. They are Arizona Indians, chili con carne and boxing gloves. He once knocked a guy cold on the elevated station at 42nd street, N.Y. City, and has been living on that rep ever since.
     No one has ever found out what this knocked out gent did to Garge but it must have been something AWFUL because he has never once lost his temper with us and he has been through some tough afternoons and evenings. No matter what happens Garge is always the same. You can steal his pens but he only smiles. You can knock California but he merely smiles. You can cut up rubber in his tobacco pouch and he’ll smoke it just to let you laugh. He is like the old rye the guy told of. Not a harsh word in a whole barrel of it. There never was a smoother tempered gent. I’ll bet right now that if you asked Garge what the brick that hits Krazy Kat was made of he’d say VELVET. Then he’d add “You don’t think I’d want that poor lil cat to be hurt, do you?” Garge is a great reader and a great movie fan. His favorite author is CHORLES DICKENS and his favorite movie guy is CHORLIE CHAPLIN.
     He will sit by the hour and talk of them. That is, he used to before the soda stores took the places once held by the Pilsner peddlers.
     He brags about his favorites, Garge does, but never about himself.
     The violet imitated Garge when it assumed that attitude of shyness.
     He thinks he’s the rottenest artist that ever got behind a pen and no matter how many boosting letters he gets about his stuff he’s of the same opinion still. Of course WE KNOW BETTER.
     Half the guys that never get a boosting letter admit that they’re good. Garge doesn’t and never will. He is always last. He laughs, though. Yes, he gets his giggles. When he laughs you’d think he had just taken a sniff of snuff. It isn’t a laugh, it’s a sort of internal explosion.

From: Circulation, No. 11, Vol. 2, March 1923, page 12

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Comics — And Their Creators: Johnny Gruelle

“I wanted to get away from the slapdash style of comics. I have always loved fairy tales and have wanted to illustrate them.” — Johnny Gruelle in New York Herald, November 6, 1910

Literary Digest, October 27, 1934
More of Johnny Gruelle [1880-1938] HERE.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

H.T. Webster—They Don’t Speak Our Language

They Don’t Speak Our Language, six-page article by H.T. Webster, published in The Forum, December 1933

[1] p.367
[2] p.368
[3] p.369
[4] p.370
[5] p.371
[6] p.372