Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Roy Crane

Captain Easy by Roy Crane
Roy Crane, Father of the Adventure Strip

by Rick Marschall

When I was growing up – yes, I have grown up; grown older, anyway – my father nurtured my interest in comics, a vicarious interest, I eventually realized. He indulged and encouraged my drawing, collecting, and… reaching out to living, breathing cartoonists. When I was young, some of the ink-stained idols of his youth were still alive.

Annual vacations to Florida invariably included visits, usually one or two days, to cartoonists. I would arrange them beforehand, and my mother and sisters resented them, of course. The visits invariably were on the last one or two days before we headed the station wagon back toward New Jersey.

Every year, Frank King would be one of the stops, supplemented by other artists like Roy Crane, Les Turner and Mel Graff around Orlando; Lank Leonard and Zack Mosley on the east coast; Fred Lasswell in Tampa. In Florida I met Jim Ivey, cartoonist and collector, whose historical publications and local museums influenced me greatly – second in inspiration to his vast knowledge, big heart, and generous spirit.

These visits, and their resultant friendships, will be fodder for occasional future Crowded Life installments. One I will share here is about Roy Crane.

It was a privilege to know Roy, whom I realized before I met him was a special talent. His strips were cinematic; his scripts were taut, or funny, as the most compelling of novels; his early Sunday pages were marvels of layout, composition, and colors; his famous use of Craftint and Duo-Tone shading tools were astonishing, creating photographic effects otherwise unseen in the funnies; he pioneered the continuity strip, and its sub-categories of action and adventure. Did I mention that he drew the most alluring women in the comics, before or since?

–Buz Sawyer by Roy Crane
The serendipitous “right place at the right time” nature of my youth enabled me to acquire early tearsheets of Roy’s work – Wash Tubbs; Captain Easy; Buz Sawyer; and Rosco Sweeney Sundays. The latter two ran in the New York Journal American, attracting my attention… but it was his early work that floated my boat.

Roy almost felt the same way, by the time I met him in the 1960s. He had retired, for the most part, although his name still appeared on the strips. In his waning days on Captain Easy he grew similarly overwhelmed and, frankly, discouraged. When newsprint shortages and syndicate strictures dictated that he compose the Sunday page according to a template, he said, all the fun went out of it.

Already the Sunday page duty was “the straw that breaks camels’ backs,” he said – seven deadlines a week, not six. But the fun of constructing pages with enormous splash panels, random arrangements, and circular panels, had been an exhilarating counter-balance.

On my first visit, our vacation-loaded car had gotten lost in the winding roads that wove around steamy Orlando’s many lakes. Pre-GPS, of course; and my father was growing steamy himself. When we finally arrived at Roy’s house, I was so unnerved that I asked at the door, “M-Mr Ray Croyne? I am Mick Marschall.”

Roy Crane sketch
Despite the tropical heat I soon cooled, and Roy’s wife Ebba brought us sweet tea. Roy’s studio was stacked high with books, artwork, and boxes. Not a dream: he was one of the first cartoonists contacted by Syracuse University to donate his work. He was happy, he said, to make room around the studio and house. In such a mood, he offered me some mementos – daily and Sunday originals; a Big Little Book (despite having been inscribed to his daughter, “To Marcia from Pop” back in the 1940s); and sketches he drew.

He casually vouchsafed some gossip. He listed other cartoonists who lived in the area – Leslie Turner, who inherited Captain Easy, was probably his closest friend – and offered to make introductions in my subsequent vacations (I was glad my mother and sisters were in the car and didn’t hear that). He said that many of the local cartoonists would meet for lunch at least once a week… but I remember he mentioned that Mel Graff, the Secret Agent X-9 artist whose style attempted an amalgam of Crane and Caniff, generally was excluded. “Drinking problem.” (I subsequently had enjoyable visits with a very sober Graff, however.)

The mention of Caniff recalls another casual comment that I was interested to hear. Two of our story-strip idols, Roy Crane and Milton Caniff, really did not get along. Or something more serious than that. A part of Roy’s antipathy stemmed from his being lured from the NEA Service and Captain Easy to join King Features where he created Buz Sawyer. The principal bait was “You will be OUR Caniff” (who was still drawing Terry and the Pirates for the Chicago Tribune). However, KFS simultaneously was courting Caniff… their strips (Milt created Steve Canyon) had debuts almost at the same time… and Buz Sawyer never DID receive the push that Canyon did.

(Frank Robbins, one of the best of the Caniff clones, was lured away from Scorchy Smith at the same time, with the same promise, to create Johnny Hazard; and similarly was resentful. Neither Crane nor Robbins was completely angry, as King was a great home, even despite the false premises and promises.)

I kept in touch through the years, and would see Roy at events like Reuben dinners and Jim Ivey’s OrlandoCon. Once, at dinner with Roy and Jud Hurd, at a posh New York restaurant, I asked Roy about the Landon Correspondence School. It was one of the great mail-order cartooning courses, and Roy took lessons but also became an “instructor,” taking the drawings of students and mailing back suggestions and corrections. (By the way, I am writing a book for Fantagraphics on the history of these great schools.)

–Rick Marschall, Jud Hurd, Claude Moliterni and Roy Crane
Old man Landon was to some degree a charlatan, because Roy said a major function of the mail-order course was to discover talent, and seamlessly recruit cartoonists for Cleveland newspapers and the nascent syndicate NEA Service.

This dinner was sometimes in the 1970s, and I think I was Comics Editor of Publishers Newspaper Syndicate then. I wish I had had a camera or even a mere tape recorder at the table, because Roy was inspired to go theatrical. He said that Old Man Landon always wore detachable celluloid cuffs on his shirt sleeves… and Roy pulled his suit jacket sleeves way up. He said that Landon had a ridiculously high-pitched voice… that he proceeded to imitate, loudly. He emphasized the circus-barker routines of Landon… recreating every aspect of  his pitches. And so forth. Hilarious.

Roy Crane was a man without shadow of guile; casual, friendly, generous, and funny. Oh – and talented. Like nobody else, hardly, in all the comics. Charles Schulz’s primary affection, by the way. And mine; and many future cartoonists.



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sunday with Little Orphan Annie

Harold Gray
Star Weekly
May 25, 1963


Sunday With Rudy Dirks

The Katzenjammer Kids

Rudy Dirks
Chicago Examiner
Nov 29, 1908


Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson


by Rick Marschall

International Batman Day was observed recently. Holy contrivance! (There. I have gotten that cliché or meme out of the way.) My “mind” swung back to some Gotham memories.

I met Bob Kane in the late 1960s or early 1970s. As young as I was, I was known a little bit as a collector of comics and original art in the New York City area, at Phil Seuling conventions and such. I think it was at one of those cons, or maybe through a friend-of-a-friend, that we met. It seemed strange to me, but not unwelcome, and neither a rare occurrence with professional cartoonists back then, that an older, established cartoonist would want to discuss old comic strips, and pick my brain.

Especially a cartoonist who was a legend. Which Bob Kane told me he was. Several times.

He had a small collection of newspaper-strip art; or I should say one time I visited him in his Manhattan apartment, he had several magnificent originals. He must have scored in a great trade. He wanted to sell them, but I had not the money they were worth. We DID trade – he was a tough bargainer – and I forget most of the pieces I gave up or received. There was a Calkins Buck Rogers I received; and pre-Popeye Segars. Sappo or The Five-Fifteen; and a magnificent but primitive (as per most early Segar) Looping the Loop. (A few years later the Segars were stolen from my portfolio as I made convention rounds behind dealers’ tables. I was always fairly certain which dealer lifted them… but we all have stories full of “sighs” through the years…)

Back to Bob Kane, and two strange aspects of visits.

One: after our trade, he owed me value-money or more artwork, and nothing he offered was of interest to me. I believe we had a $600 difference. No worries, he assured me; he would send me a check. A “spoiler”: short of hiring the We Never Sleep collection agency, I could not squeeze a nickel out of him.

Fast-forward three years or so, and I was Comics Editor at United Feature Syndicate. Later syndication jobs were more demanding and responsible – but some day I will tell the story, here, of how I made a MAJOR goof, editing a Peanuts Sunday page at UFS. But one of the chores at UFS was reviewing submissions when they arrived for consideration. Most were by aspiring cartoonists, and a few by veterans looking for new fields to conquer. One envelope surprised me: the return address was “Bob Kane” in the city,  lettered with predictable flourish.

In the envelope were samples of – not a crime, suspense, or superhero feature – but a panel; a humor panel; and the “star” was an Archie Bunker type character. Beer in hand, in front of the TV, the guy spouted off complaints in every panel. One detail I have omitted: these were about the worst-drawn cartoons imaginable. It hardly seemed possible, because (as the blind cover letter stated) Bob Kane was a legend of cartooning.

I don’t mean to claim the duplicity of a Gotham villain… but saw an opportunity to exercise Justice. The package was not addressed to me, but “Comics Editor”; Bob had no idea what paths I took during the years he was evading his obligation. I will plead guilty to the following string of events:

I called Bob Kane, and identified myself as the Comics Editor at United Features. God help me, I told a white lie, and said I reviewed his samples and was interested – well, actually, I WAS interested, in a certain way. “Yes? Yes?” Bob responded, seemingly ready to throw Batman under the bus forever. Then I introduced myself… and invited him to remember our exchanges (or incomplete exchanges).

He vaguely remembered – he said – me and the original art he traded away and received. But he was “happy” to complete the deal and would send a check. He actually did so, within the week. Eventually I will get back to him about his submission.

The second interesting occurrence was related to a sketch of Batman and Robin. I think it was during my first visit. He asked if I would like a drawing of Batman. Sure; thank you! He brought out a huge sheet of Ross Board (a drawing paper with a patterned grain), and with a Flair pen, in one corner started drawing the famous outline of Batman’s head, bat-ears (or whatever they are) and all… until the right “ear” was drawn shorter than the one on the left.

A curse under his breath, and Bob spun the paper and started drawing in another corner. A similar discrepancy. To myself, I thought, “Why not do a pencil preliminary?” and “Hasn’t he drawn Batman a million times?”

– Adam West, Bob Kane, Frank Gorshin– 

The fourth time was a charm. There was Batman. There was Robin. There was the inscription, the date, the signature. He handed the whole sheet to me… almost. Before I could accept it, he held it back and asked, “You know I usually get $250 for these sketches. I get requests from museums.” I looked at the famous creator of Batman, and politely declined – maybe the first such person to do so that week – and reminded him that I did not ask for, or commission, that artwork. Of course I am not sorry that my disinclination was unsuccessful. The piece is now on my wall. My response was not a bluff, but mirrored my offense at his revelation as an old-fashioned schnorrer, not a world-beloved creator. He yielded, however, out of generosity and, probably, regretting that he had already committed my name to the piece, in effect ruining it for the next potential customer.

Not too long afterward, and not related at all, I became friends with Jerry Robinson. He had worked with Kane on Batman when he was a teenager. Jerry, first as background artist and letterer, rose quickly to do major art duties and even is credited with the conceptions for Robin and the Joker. When he laterally switched from Kane’s employ to DC Comics, he worked with other eventual friends of mine: George Roussos; Siegel and Shuster; Jack Kirby. He eventually worked everywhere, seemingly – political cartoons, newspaper humor panels, syndicated strips, book illustrations. In fact when I first met Jerry, my initial enthusiasm was to shake the hand of the guy who illustrated a schoolboy favorite of mine, the Scholastic paperback Moon Trip.

Jerry, who clearly wore several hats, as well as toupees, was president of both the National Cartoonists Society and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. I assisted him with research on his history book The Comics. I probably saw him, in later years, more often at overseas comics festivals than in the US. (He operated an international syndicate of editorial cartoonists, enabling him to make frequent foreign trips.)

He drew a sketch of Batman for me, too, and did not hint anything about the going rate.

A final Batman memory. A few years after leaving Marvel Comics, and never having been associated with DC – despite having several good friends whom I respected there – I was asked to write the Foreword for the first volume of their DC Archives series. The first Batman volume. I was known, certainly, more as a historian than as a Batman fan, so that evidently was their motivation.

… and I dove in, with appropriate response, feeling honored and responsible. As I remember, my assistant at Remco Worldservice Books would camera-sep and clean up the old pages too; part of the deal. I talked to many cartoonists, including Jerry; I researched antecedents of fiction and the stage whose personas foreshadowed the Bat Man; I considered the feature’s unique (if possibly unintentional) focus on revenge, at least equal to justice; and – I think gave Bill Finger a portion of credit before justice was eventually accorded him. I was proud of the piece.

The DC Archives now number in the skillions of titles, it seems. My casual relationship with Batman enabled me to be part of another origin story (so to speak). Eventually I saw Bob Kane at a Comicon, and had him sign a copy. He did indifferently, making no claims; charging me no signing fee.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Robert Ripley – Beginnings

 – June 15, 1910 – 
ANOTHER California sporting cartoonist destined for fame was LEROY ROBERT RIPLEY who was born in Santa Rosa, California, on Dec 25, 1890, although he would claim the year of his birth as 1893. He would say he sold his first cartoon to the old Life while just four years of age. In 1909, Ripley moved to San Francisco to become a sports cartoonist at the Bulletin for $8 a week. He worked under sporting editor Hy Baggerly. He was fired and moved across the street to the Chronicle, whose star cartoonist at the time was Harry Hershfield
 – Feb 27, 1910 –
Hershfield was employed on to the San Francisco Chronicle from 1902. From sporting cartoons, he drifted into comic strips where he wrote and drew Homeless Hector, Desperate Desmond (Journal, 1911), Dauntless Durham of the USA (1913) and Abie the Agent. Hershfield persuaded sporting editor Harry B. Smith to put Ripley to work illustrating a “journalistic crusade” against slot machines which he had been assigned. “The boy’s good, it’s only fair you give him a chance,” said Hershfield, who preferred to draw sporting cartoons. 

Unfortunately, the assignment coincided with a two month engraver’s strike, which suited Ripley, who had very little experience of art. Every day he showed up at the art room “drawing his head off” and observing. By the time the strike ended he had gained confidence and soon was raised to $20 a week, where he stuck. 

 – June 12, 1910 –
At intervals he would approach John de Young, the proprietor of the paper, seeking a raise. A glowering de Young would say “If you are deserving of this increase you shall have it. We do not want a dissatisfied employee on the newspaper.”

One day the other artists made Rip believe he was indispensable. “De Young won’t let you quit,” they said. “You go in and say you will quit if you do not get the money –” “Very well, Mr. Ripley,” boomed Old John, “We do not want a dissatisfied employee on the paper.” Ripley went back to the art room almost in tears. He had no money and no job, and a job was important, because the Ripley family had moved to San Francisco to be near the son who was making a metropolitan success. The mother and a sister and a brother were all depending on that $20 a week. – How Believe It or Not Became a Byword, Herbert Corey, The Daily Colonist, Feb 17, 1929
 – Jan 30, 1910 –
Somehow Ripley managed to save enough money to start anew in New York where he landed with Associated Newspapers, a syndicate of about 50 newspapers, including the Globe. Ripley claimed his hiring was the work of J.N. “Ding” Darling who told his bosses. “You take him. If he does not make good I will be responsible for his first six months salary.”  Ripley’s first fame came though his cartoons depicting the Jeffries/Johnson battle at Reno, Nevada in 1910 and he continued covering the ring throughout the Jack Dempsey championship. The press contingent at the Willard-Dempsey fight included such notables as Robert Edgren, Thomas A. “Tad” Dorgan, Hype Igoe, Rube Goldberg, Robert L. Ripley, and W.O. McGeehan, all of whom got their starts in San Francisco.

 – Aug 14, 1910 –
In 1919 Ripley began adding strange events to his sporting cartoon panel. The cartoons were so popular that he changed the title, and Believe It or Not! was born. Artist Paul Frehm became the artist in 1937 and his brother Walter Frehm joined in 1959. Norbert Pearlroth was the writer/researcher from 1923.

 –Spalding's Official Handball Guide, 1923– 
by john adcock

TAD — His Monument

His Monument
Will B. Johnstone
New York World
May 25, 1929

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sunday with George Herriman

George Herriman

 Krazy Kat,
Chicago Examiner,
Feb 24,1918

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Rudolph Dirks

–Rudolph Dirks panel 1917–

The Other Katzenjammer Kids

by Rick Marschall

In these installments of memoirs I will return more than once to Rudolph Dirks, the father of the comic strip. He was the primal source of sequential panels, a cast of characters, and the signs and symbols of cartoonists – motion lines, stars of pain, dotted vision lines, etc. – originating, or at least codifying, these elements as essential components of strips.

I will also refer more than occasionally to his son John Dirks. From Rudy I had the briefest personal encounter, in his nonage (he was born in 1877; d. 1968). I was born in 1949 (still kicking when last I checked), but we did correspond. His son John I knew much better, and visited him frequently at his homes in Ossining NY; later Old Lyme CT; and at his vacation home – Rudy’s old studio – in Ogunquit ME. For a while I was John’s editor on Captain and the Kids, and he arranged to have me be Guest Curator of an exhibition at the Ogunquit Museum of Art.

Finally, I likely will return to the landmark set of 20 commemorative stamps, “Comic Strip Classics” for the United States Postal Service, a project for which I was hired to provide artwork, consult on choices, write info and the book that was published.

–Rudolph Dirks stamp post office document–
So, having shared what I will tell, I scarcely have room to tell what I am telling. Anyway, I want to explain a couple of surface-skimming episodes in my precious friendship with Dirks vater und sohn, and honoring Hans and Fritz on stamps.

Rudy was still alive and still producing Captain and the Kids when I was young. I wrote a fan letter around 1962, and eventually received a nice answer, with an original Sunday page original. I thanked him and asked if I could visit – from the return address I saw that he lived on East 86th Street in Manhattan. My family lived in the New Jersey suburbs then, having moved from the German section of Queens, Ridgewood; and several relatives lived the German section of Manhattan – Yorkville, whose center thoroughfare was 86th Street. My father’s aunt lived in an apartment two blocks from Rudolph Dirks.

–Rudolph Dirks letter 1962–
So I didn’t wait for a possibly slow reply this time. Taking a chance, I took a bus to New York City (armed with drawings to be critiqued), but my real goal was to meet the Master  and extract information about the “Old Testament” days of comics history. The Yellow Kid coalesced in his definitive personality and showcase in 1895-96. But the Katzenjammer Kids were born, as a pair of male Athenas, their mischievous personas set from the start. Likely inspired by Wilhelm Busch’s Max and Moritz in Germany (and in their first week, never again to be seen, was a third brother), there they were… and are. Never have their personalities or even costumes changed since then.

(A length interview I conducted with John Dirks, digging into matters as minute as whether Rudy retained a German accent from his youth in Schleswig-Holstein, appeared in Hogan’s Alley number 20.)

–John Dirks rough for stamp–
In any event, I realize that I was on quest to encounter Living History. Rudy was ill on that first call, and as his wife held the door we exchanged some conversation – not enough! – from his room where he sat. He was merely elderly, with a shock of white hair; I suppose I expected him to have a foot wrapped in a bandage for the gout; a heating pad on his head; and other accouterments of… well, his own comic-strip world.

I will fast-forward here past the visits and friendship with John and Mary Dirks.  A wonderful, warm, creative couple. Some day here I will tell the story of his syndicate rudely ending his strip, and how I fomented a minor public protest campaign. The syndicate was embarrassed… apologized to John… and since “The End” was ordained, took satisfaction in their humiliation. As I say, later.

–John Dirks pen and ink for stamp–
In 1994 I was invited to consult with the US Postal Service as they prepared a set of comic-strip stamps for their “American Classics” series. The designer said that he was getting desperate to find someone could provide decent images of the 20 famous comic characters (the first consultant provided almost laughably inappropriate, almost irrelevant images). So… I was hired, and had a year of interesting and often absurd adventures.

But one of the things I determined to do was have John Dirks draw the image for the Katzenjammer Kids. Every other cartoonist represented was deceased, except for Dale Messick (Brenda Starr) who was included mostly because they wanted least one woman cartoonist represented. I lobbied for Edwina, Rose O’Neill, and Grace Drayton to no avail.

–John Dirks color guide for stamp–
They accepted the idea that John, son of the creator of Hans and Fritz, and their decades-long papa, would do the art, or least submit same for approval. You will see here, in steps, an original panel done by his father (in 1917) that I thought would be a good image, displaying Captain, Kids, Inspector, and mischief. Then John’s rough; then his pen-and-ink drawing; then his color guide; then the stamp as it appeared in a Postal Service internal approval document.

Pure nostalgia!  – I don’t mean the Dirks team, or comics history, or the back-story of the postage stamp. I mean… when a stamp cost only 32 cents! Dod gast it.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sunday with Little Nemo


Winsor McCay

September 8, 1912

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Harry Hershfield

– Self-caricature with Ghosts –

Harry Hershfield, the Mensch

by Rick Marschall

Harry Hershfield was a blessing to know. Part of this crazy Forrest-Gump like existence, where a guy writing to you in 2018 (me), actually knew or met, corresponded with or visited, pioneers like Rube Goldberg and Harry Hershfield and Rudy Dirks and Jimmy Swinnerton. Pioneers, yes, but relics, really, in the temporal scheme of things. But holy relics!

My initial cartooning contacts, Al Smith (Mutt and Jeff) and Vern Greene (Bringing Up Father) not only took me to monthly meetings of the National Cartoonists Society in New York City, beginning when I was 11 or so; but they introduced me to other cartoonists, or arranged my visits to them.

–Harry Hershfield and Gus Mager–
Harry Hershfield was a legend similar to Rube Goldberg, in terms of longevity and the dizzying variety of jobs, roles, accomplishments, and professions in their biographies.

After a career drawing sports cartoons, Desperate Desmond, Dauntless Durham of the USA, Homeless Hector, Meyer the Buyer, and Abie the Agent, Harry became a big name in radio as a panelist on the popular comedy game show Can You Top This? Still later he served as the “Unofficial Toastmaster” of New York City. He wrote movie scripts; newspaper columns; was head of the story department at MGM Animation; and was a frequent guest on radio and early TV shows.

When I was a teenager I would take the bus into Manhattan from New Jersey, sometimes to visits the syndicates; sometimes to visit Gene Byrnes, or Jay Irving, or… Harry Hershfield. My friends at school didn’t know these names, but their parents and grandparents did. Mine did too; and I surely did.

–San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 25, 1908–
Harry invited me to his studio in the Chanin Building, opposite Grand Central Station, many times. He liked, rather than resented, my many questions about the early days of the comics business. Some days he would close the blinds, sit back in his chair, and reminisce with his eyes closed. Those are times I wish I had recorded the conversations!
Both rooms of his office were piled high with papers and memorabilia, photographs and original artwork. He had two faux fireplaces – one had belonged to Chauncey Depew, and I recall his being surprised that I knew who Depew was – and a hand-colored Yellow Kid original by Outcault. He promised it to me “some day,” but he evidently promised it to many people (it found a home with the Museum of Cartoon Art). 

On the walls were inscribed photos of Hershfield with Einstein; Hershfield with Chaplin; Hershfield with FDR; etc. One day, talking about old comics as we were, he picked up the phone and called Sylvan Byck, Comics Editor at King Features Syndicate. “I’ve got a young boy here who likes the old timers, believe it or not,” he explained. “Can you send him some old drawings?”

–San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 27, 1908–
A week later in the mail I received a package with vintage original artwork by Herriman, Segar, Swinnerton, Opper, Jimmy Murphy, Chic Young, McManus, Alex Raymond, Westover, TAD, Hershfield himself, and others. Can someone hum, “Those Were the Days, My Friends”?

Random memories. One day I brought my friend Michael Goldberg to meet him, and Harry jumped on the fact that a fair number of Jews had the un-usual name of Michael…  and went into a lengthy history (or theories) of Lost Tribes and historical migration. On another day, he suddenly asked me how old I was; I had attained the mature mark of 18 years. He chuckled when he observed the numerical palindrome of sorts – I was 18; he was 81. (Do the arithmetic – Harry’s years were 1885-1974).

–Sketch by Harry Hershfield 1973–
One day he he asked me, impromptu, if I would like to attend the NCS meeting that evening in the Lambs Club. I called to my parents to announce – I didn’t have to ask. Neither did I have to change: I always wore a jacket and tie when I visited Mr Hershfield. It was a memorable evening. Part of the entertainment was a friend of Harry, the Irish tenor Jimmy Joyce. At one point in the evening Jimmy sang “Danny Boy,” a sentimental favorite of Harry – there’s that Irish connection again – and the venerable cartoonist Ken Kling (Joe and Asbestos) was in the audience, drunk and with some rent-a-babe “showgirl,” making a ruckus. I never heard so many “shushes” as that evening...

Harry signed one of his books to me, “To Rick – may you live to be as old as some of my jokes!” I’ll take it… I’ll take it, living to his own great, and ripe, old age of 89. I will share, here, a couple of drawings, a sketch he did for me, and photos from the beginning and end of his amazing career.
–Harry Hershfield at 87, at an NCS dinner–


Monday, September 3, 2018

INDEX to NEMO: The Classic Comics Library

Compiled by JOHN ADCOCK

INTRODUCTION. Over its 32-issue run (1983-1992) the original NEMO: The Classic Comics Library, “an education in the history and aesthetics of cartooning in the 20th century,” was published at a point in time when the student of the comic strip had very few published examples of historical source material to examine. The complete contents of NEMO were a major impetus to future research into the origins and biographies of seminal comic strips, newspaper publishers, and the artists and writers who filled the comic pages with humor, fantasy, and adventure.

Soon the fondly remembered NEMO will return to bookshops in a large-size, high-resolution, full color annual (perhaps semi-annual) magazine of approximately 200 pages published by Fantagraphics. Rick Marschall has described the proposed contents as “Scholarly but not academic.” He writes 

To my mind, — or my "mind,” many articles and abstracts in Academic journals these days; yes, including those devoted to comics, are properly sociological studies, or based on statistical abstracts about politics, race, gender, etc., and usually treatments in those categories of tendentious viewpoints. They ALL deserve their place in the sun. But many of them should be categorized as (say) critiques of intellectual neo-colonialism; or aspects of responses to repression of gender identity, 1923-1928. Or some such places in the sun.
BUT, my interest — and Nemo's focus — is not with such content. To me, with these sorts of abstracts... comics are a SUBSET. Topics, issues, debates on wholly different agendas, using comics as reference-points. Or pawns. Sublimated. They have their place, but not (always; never say never) in Nemo, or my books.
I want NEMO to be an unsurpassed reference library of comics history (and analysis; and background; and context; and related forms of popular culture; and cetera) — exhaustive as each article can be. I am assigning writers the task of providing more context and analysis than others have done, mostly; of considering the influences and impacts of everything we address; and, to repeat, to place everything in Popular-culture, or even fine-art, contexts). To put it another way — I want the new Nemo ultimately to become a PRIME RESOURCE for academicians and thesis candidates.

So: scholarly but not academic, much like its predecessor. Already academic articles and criticism about comic strips and popular culture have their own multiple outlets in print and online  "scholarly but not academic" deserves the same privilege. On to the Table of Contents 

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 1, June 1983

Editorial by Rick Marschall, 5

Waiting for a Boat to Civilization – classic Terry and the Pirates episode from 1940, 7

The Comic Genius of Cliff Sterrett, introduction by Gary Groth, 21

Browne the Magnificent, Dik Browne Interview by Rick Marschall, 28

Happy 10th Anniversary, Hagar! 42

Graphic Delights Along Gasoline Alley, 44

A Carl Barks Discovery, Tom Andrea, 49

The Forgotten Years of George Herriman, Bill Blackbeard, 50

Andriola and the Commandos, classic strips introduced by Ron Goulart, 62

Penmen of the Past: T.S. Sullivant, Rick Marschall, 70

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 2, August 1983

Editorial by Rick Marschall, 5

Of Supermen and Kids with Dreams, Interview with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by Tom Andrae, Geoffrey Blum and Gary Coddington, 6

The Reign of the Superman, Seigel and Shuster’s 1933 Superman fanzine thriller reproduced, 20

Leaping Tall Buildings, Falling on Faces, A History of Superhero Strips in Newspapers, Ron Goulart, 30

Waiting for a Boat to Civilization, Caniff’s Great Pirate Episode Concludes, Introduction, REM, 36

Max, Maurice and Willie, the Saga of a Little Yellow Book, Another Origin: The Comic Strip, William Randolph Hearst, Bill Blackbeard, 48

Western Art in the Funnies: On the Range, The Western Art of Fred Harmon (1934-1938), 53

Penmen of the Pat: Art Young, 60

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 3, October 1983

Editorial by Rick Marschall, 5

The Segar Nobody Knows: E.C. Segar’s Knockouts of 1925 (and low blows before and after): The Unknown Thimble Theatre Period, Bill Blackbeard, 6

Popeye and the Depression, 14

Segar, Student and Teacher, 17

Thimble Theater: Cartoonists Center Stage! : Through an Ink Bottle Darkly… Oof! Zam! Plop! Segar pokes fun at his own profession of cartooning, Introduction REM, 20

Popeye the Editor-Man, 22

Les Aventures d’Hergé: Hergé: Genius and Friend, A personal recollection of Tintin’s creator and his remarkable comic series, Mike Greg, 26

Lifting the Veil on Slumberland: In His Own Words: Winsor McCay on Life, Art, Animation…and the Danger of Greasy Foods, Winsor McCay, Introduced by Rick Marschall, 34

A Paean to the Every Day: The Panel Art of J.R. Williams, Reveries of a Rumpled Age, Donald Phelps, 41

“Youse is a Viper”: The Life and Hard Times of Bunker Bill, Jr., Billy DeBeck, Ron Goulart, 46

Penmen of the Past, Gluyas Williams Interview with Rick Marschall, 60

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 4, December 1983

Hard Choices and Soft Answers, Editorial by Rick Marschall, 4

A Flash in the Pan: A Surprising Collaboration: Kurtzman and Frazetta’s Contribution To Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon, Introduction by Rick Norwood, 7

Playwright for Paper Actors, The Autobiography of Allen Saunders Chapter 1 and 2, 27

Penman of the Past: Harrison Cady, 34

A Forgotten Western Classic, Warren Tufts’ Lance Sundays, Introduction by Alex Toth, 44

George Storm, Pioneer of the Adventure Strip, Ron Goulart, 57

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 5, February 1984

Guest Editorial by Harold Gray, 5

Fantasy in the Comics: The Explorigator: Dreamship of the Universe, RM Introduction, 7

Mort Walker Talks Candidly About His Career, Comics’ Future, History And Funny Stuff, Interview with RM, 22

The Dreary Apartment on Angst Street: Chronicles of George and Josie: The Bungle Family’s Little Glories of Inanity, Harry Tuthill, Donald Phelps, 39

Playwright for Paper Actors Chapter 3,  the Twenties: Mornings at the Blackboard, Afternoons and Evenings at the Drawing Board, Allen Saunders, 52

Penman of the Past: Franklin Booth, 58

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 6, April 1984

Editorial: Raping Paper, Rick Marschall, 5

Floyd Gottfredson’s 45 Years With Mickey, The Mouse’s Other Master, Floyd Gottfredson Interview with Tom Andrae, 6

The Complete Mickey Checklist, Plot Synopses of Every Mickey Mouse Strip Adventure, 15

Writers, Artists, Inkers, The Mickey Mouse Daily Strip Personnel: 1930s-Present, 21

Mickey Mouse Sunday Page Chronology: Continuities (1932-1938), 23

Before the Dawn of Perelmankind, Forgotten Cartoons of a Master Humorist, S. J. Perelman, Rick Marschall, 24

Fantasy in the Comics: The Teenie Weenies by Wm. Donahey,  31

Hamlin’s Pied Piper, Alley Oop: King of the Jungle Jive, V.T. Hamlin Created – or Recreated – a Wondrous Comics World of Action, Humor and Scenery, Introduced by Rick Norwood, 39

Playwright for Paper Actors Chapter 4 and 5: A Story Mill Starts to Grind, Allen Saunders, 52

Penman of the Past: J.H. Donahey, 58

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 7, June 1984

Editorial by Rick Marschall, Notes and Comments, Meet Our Contributors, 4

Wild Blue Yonder, Smilin’ Jack? Forget the Story and Art…Here Was a Man Who Loved Drawing Comics! Donald Phelps, 5

A NEMO Exclusive: The Carl Barks tribute, 11

Two Disney Legends Share Their Memories, a conversation between Barks and Gottfredson, 12

Bah! Humbug? The Joyous Season, Geoff Blum, 16

Notes from the Duck Front: A Letter From the Duck Man, Selection of Barks Correspondence, 20

Adaptation and Refinement: Animation Vs. Comic Book Creation in Barks’ Work, Fine-Tuning A Cartoonist’s Genius, Tom Andrae, 22

The Past, Present, and Future of the Disney Appreciation Movement: The Year of the Duck,  Bruce Hamilton Interview with Carl Barks, 27

Everyday Life and Faraway Daydreams: The Two Worlds of Danny Dreamer, Clare Briggs, Mark Johnson, 40

Playwright for Paper Actors Chapter 6 and 7, The Scoop That Saved the Scooper’s Job, Allen Saunders, 47

Morality and Comic Malice, Wilhelm Busch Book Review, M. Thomas Inge, 54

Penmen of the Past: ZIM, 58

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 8, August 1984

Editorial, The Master Harold Gray, Rick Marschall, 5

Satire on the Comics Page: The Life and Love, Friends and Foes, Trials and Triumphs of Little Orphan Annie, Kenneth Barker, 8

Those Eyes: Little Icon Annie, ‘Who’s That Little Chatterbox?’ Little Orphan Annie, Donald Phelps, 33

The Master Storyteller: Harold Gray, Cartoonist and Mythologist, Annie’s Real Daddy, Harry McCracken, 40

Little Orphan Annie Bucking the World, Complete Reprint of A Rare LOA Book From the Classic Years, 49

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 9, October 1984

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

The Hal Foster Interview: The Master, HAL FOSTER, On Comics and Illustrating, Raymond and Hogarth, History and Fandom, Fred Schreiber, 7

George McManus’s Pioneer Work of Fantasy, Nibsy the Newsboy, 21

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow in Animation by the Man Who Defines it’s State, The Joseph Barbera Interview, Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier, 39

Playwright for Paper Actors Chapter 8 and 9, the ‘30s, Hilarity in the Newsroom, Allen Saunders, 46

A Ghost Remembers, Life in the King Features Bullpen of the '30s, Martin Sheridan, 52

The Election Decided by Cartoons: One Century Ago: The Dirtiest Presidential Campaign Ever, Rick Marschall, 56

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 10, December 1984

Editorial, Rick Marschall, Meet Our Contributors: Sensibilities and Sensitivities, Donald Phelps, 4

When the Cartoonists Shine, ‘Tis the Season: Cartoonist’s Christmas Cards, 5

The Mell Lazarus Interview, “Getting an Idea and Making It Work,” Shel Dorf, 13

Fantasy in the Comics: The Forgotten Genius, Gustave Verbeek, Upside-Down Visions, Rightside-Up Delights, 21

The Great European Comic Heroes, R. and J.M. Lofficier and Fred Patten, 40

Bill of Fare: Mutton Jeff, Mutt and Jeff’s Family Album, Bill Blackbeard, 46

Playwright for Paper Actors, Chapter 10, The Craft of Strip Writing, Allen Saunders, 54

Penman of the Past, Raymond Crawford Ewer, 59

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 11, May 1985

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 4

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 5

Dwig, A Pen-and-Ink Poet, Clare Victor Dwiggins, Jay Rath, 10

The Comic Obsessions of James Montgomery Flagg, Rick Marschall, 16

Penman of the Past: Charles Dana Gibson, 27

The Force Was with Him, the Escapades and Escapes of Slim Jim, Rick Marschall, 48


NEMO: The Classic Comics Library Annual No. 1, 1985

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 3

Disorderly Conduct: The Screwball Tradition of Comics, Donald Phelps, 4

Smoky Stover, 9

Rube Goldberg, 18

Grossly Exaggerated: The Manic Worlds of Milt Gross, Ron Goulart, 26

Salesman Sam, Rick Marschall introduction, 34

The Forgotten Seuss, Rick Marschall, 39

The Nut Brothers, Rick Marschall, 45

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 12, June 1985

The World War II Cartoonist Corps, They Beat Swords into Pen-Nibs, Rick Marschall, 5

King Features Characters Go to War, 20

Fantasy in the Comics: Frank King’s Make-Believe World, Mark Johnson, 25

Beyond Mars, A Forgotten SF Strip Classic, Ron Goulart, 34

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 54

Penmen of the Past: Rose O’Neill, 56

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 13, July 1985

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

The 1930s Comics Noir World of Red Barry, Undercover Man, Introduced by Rick Marschall, 7

The Incomparable [TAD] Dorgan, 37

TAD: The Balladeer of Broadway, W.O. McGeehan, 38

The World His Stage, The Studio His Prison, W.O. McGeehan, 40

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 56

Boarding House Days and Arabian Nights, The Life and Imaginary Times of Major Hoople, Donald Phelps, 60

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 14, August 1985

The Tenants of Moonshine, Donald Phelps, 5

The Decorative Art of Geo. McManus, 19

Playwright for Paper Actors, Chapter 11-13, The Art of Plotting, Allen Saunders, 31

R.I.P. VIP, Bhob Stewart, 39

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 49

Our Heroes’ Hairbreadth Adventures: From Desperate Deeds to Wup-Wups, Mark Johnson, 51

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 15, October 1985

Of Stout Fellahs and Real Thrills: Dickie Dare, Rick Marschall, 5

The Costumes of Tim Tyler, The Disguises of Lyman Young, Javier Coma, Translated by Rick Marschall, 27

Again…Curses, Foiled Again! Hairbreadth Harry, Mark Johnson, 35

The Great European Comic Heroes, R. and J.M. Lofficier and Fred Patten, 50

Book Reviews, 58

Letters, 64

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 16, December 1985

Editorial, Rick Marshall, 5

The Diary of a Deluded Dandy: Baron Bean, 7

Huck Finn’s 100th Birthday, Rick Marschall, 15

Illustrating Huckleberry Finn, E.W. Kemble, 16

An American Classic and a Classic Comic Strip, Rick Marschall, 19

Penmen of the Past, Joseph Clement Coll, 35

The Great European Comic Heroes, R. and J.M. Lofficier and Fred Patten, 46

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 55

Hairbreadth Harry Returns to Earth, Rick Marschall, 61

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 17, February 1986

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

“Bringing in the Reward,” the Chester Gould Interview, Max Allan Collins and Matt Masterson, 7

“Boss” Herrod and Big Boy, Dick Tracy episode, 25

Flat Foot Floogie, Donald Phelps, 33

Bud, Which Way to the Noble Hotel? Tom DeHaven, 42

The Brow: “My Greatest Villain”, 46

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 18, April 1986

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

Al Capp Interview by Rick Marschall, 7

“The Comic Page is the Last Refuge of Classic Art” Al Capp, 16

Li’l Abner Meets the Bald Iggle, Rick Marschall Introduction, 18

Penmen of the Past, Winsor McCay, 33

When Comics Wore Toppers, Jim Ivey, 44

Playwright for Paper Actors, Chapter 14-15, From a Slum Child’s Philosophy to America’s Favorite Fiction, Allen Saunders, 57

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 64

Letters, 66

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 19, June 1986

From the Secret Saunders File: Kerry Drake and the Mystery of the Disappearing Inker, 5

Penmen of the Past, Russell Patterson, 26

The Biting Political Cartoons of Frank King, Rick Marschall, 43

Playwright for Paper Actors, Chapter 15-16, The Social Impact of Comics, Allen Saunders, 51

Allen Saunders Remembered, Rick Marschall, 54

Big Chief Wahoo Hits Hollywood, 55

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 20, July 1986

When Knights Were Bold: Oaky Doaks, introduction by Rick Marschall, 5

When Newspapers Respected Their Features, Jim Ivey, 21

Fantasy in the Comics: The Terrors of the Tiny Tads, 43

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 63

Letters, 65

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 21, August 1986

God Save the King! King Aroo, The Inspired Nonsense of Jack Kent in the Land of Myopia, Rick Marschall, 5

Harold Gray’s Other Orphan: Little Joe, Rick Marschall, 35

Mixing With the Best of Them, Gunboat Hudson, 56

The Slum Kids of Percy Crosby, Rick Marschall, 58

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 22, October 1986

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

John Held’s Flapper Strips, Rick Marschall Introduction, 6

Joe Palooka Retains the Title, Rick Marschall, 15

The Labor Pains of 1886, Rick Marschall, 25

Jimmy and Company, Jimmy Swinnerton, Donald Phelps, 36

Book Reviews, 59

Letters, 65

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 23, December 1986

The Ageless Golden Age of Little Orphan Annie, Rick Marschall, 5

A Family Album of Hi and Lois, Brian Walker, 33

The World’s Longest Trolley Ride, Fontaine Fox, Arthur “Ted” Clark, 46

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 64

Letters, 66

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 24, February 1987

The Many Comic Inventions of Rube Goldberg, Jim Ivey, 5

The Works of Rube Goldberg, 19

Rube Goldberg Prisoner of War, Rube Goldberg, 22

This Cartoon Business, Rube Goldberg, 28

Boob McNutt Sequence, Rube Goldberg, 34

The Masses, Twelve Angry Men, Rick Marschall, 46

Guest Editorial, Frank King, 64

Letters, 66

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 25, April 1987

Edwina at 93, Kids and Dogs and an America That we Have Lost, Interview by Rick Marschall and Bill Janocha, 5

“Cap” Stubbs and Tippie Sequence, 24

Snappy Art, Sappy Copy, The Comic Strip Ads of Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles, Rick Marschall, 36

Eyewitness to Comics History, the Reminiscences of John Wheeler: Newspaperman, Rick Marschall Introduction, 47

Squirrel Food, Gene Ahern, Mark Johnson, 61

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 26, September 1987

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 5

Those Early Cartoon Contests…Humble Beginnings for Today’s Greats, Edward J. Hohman, 8

The Comic Zoo of T.S. Sullivant, Nancy Belman, 12

Silent, Please! The Unspeakable Greatness of Carl Anderson’s Henry, Jay Rath, 42

Henry Today, Dick Hodgins Jr. artist of the Henry daily strip, 44

Grilling the Prime Beefs: The Outbursts of Everett True, Mark Johnson, 54

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 27, November 1987

A Forgotten Facet: The Cartoon Paintings of Norman Rockwell, Rick Marschall, 5

Fantasy in the Comics: Wells and Kaber’s Lovely Lilly, 22

The Chalk-Plate Cartoon and its Production, Thomas G. Shonkweiler, 29

What a Differnce a Century Makes, Rick Marschall, 34

William Faulkner Reads the Comics, The Comic References of an Amateur Cartoonist, M. Thomas Inge, 36

The Haunting Beauty of White Boy, Garrett Price, Michael Barson, 45

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 28, Dec 1987

Editorial: Images of Others…Images of Ourselves, Rick Marschall, 5

A Brief History of Ethnicity in the Comics, Charles Hardy, 6

From Subhuman to Superhuman: Ethnic Characters in the Comics, Pamela B. Nelson, 9

Abie the Agent, Gimpl the Matchmaker, Berl Schliemazel, Et Al., John J. Appel, 12

Corncob and Cornpone a Black Abe Martin, Sara Beaumont Kennedy, 15

From “Under Cork” to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics, Steven L. Jones, 16

An Extinct Species of Graphic Humor, Rick Marschall, 22

Grossly Exaggerate: Oy! Giffs de Comic Woild of Milt Gross! Rick Marschall Introduction, Nize Baby Sequence, 45

Torchy Brown: A Landmark Black Comic Strip, Rick Marschall Introduction, 56

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 29, February 1989

Editorial, Rick Marschall, 2

Fantasy in the Comics: Gasoline Alley’s Flights of Fancy, Rick Marschall Introduction, 5

Good Moon Rising: An interview with Ferd Johnson, Rick Marschall, Gary Groth, 18

Ming Foo: Threats and Thrills, Fantasy and Fortune Cookies, Introduction by Rick Marschall, 45

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 30, April 1989

Editorial, Meet Our Contributors: Richard Samuel West, Rick Marschall, 2

A Landmark publishing Event: Waking Up in Slumberland, 5

“Dumb It Down,” The Comic-Strip Craftsmanship and Common Denominators of Ernie Bushmiller, Brian Walker, Introduction by Rick Marschall, 30

Joseph Keppler Riding the Crest: The Master of the Colored Political Cartoon, Richard Samuel West, 44

Sam’s Strip Returns! Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, 60

NEMO: The Classic Comics Library No. 31-32, back to back double issue, January/Winter 1992

Guest Editor: Gary Groth


Editorial: A Farewell from The Publishers, 4

Charles Schulz Interview, Rick Marschall and Gary Groth, 5

The Schulz System: Why Peanuts Works, Thierry Groensteen, 26

A Panel Disappears, Harry Morgan, 41


Caniff’s Private War to Save Steve Canyon, R.C. Harvey, 4

“Krazy Kat” a love story, Edward Sorel, 22

Cliff Starrett’s Polly & Her Pals: The Best From ’43, Gary Groth Introduction, 27