Thursday, September 26, 2019

C. G. Bush, Cartoonist

by S. H. Horgan, The Inland Printer, Oct 1907


Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Crowded Life in Comics –

Down the Bunny Trail

Rick Marschall

I have just returned from the 14th annual Symposium of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. I recently was named their Cartoon Archivist, as noted here, and indeed the keynote was a “Cartoon-Off,” with the honorable Clay Jenkinson and myself showing 15 cartoons each, commenting, and inviting the registrants’ votes.

Among many things to which my “mind” raced back was not Roosevelt specifically, but peripherally:

When I was very young I already had twin obsessions – more than a couple, really – but two were Roosevelt and vintage cartoons. My mother’s mother was born in New York City of German parentage. She moved from Manhattan when young and quickly acquired and never lost a Brooklyn accent. “Berl the water” and “Don’t get boined,” were such footprints of speech.

Perhaps her ears were affected, too; or maybe my famously quiet voice, but one day in the kitchen I wanted to ask if she ever laid eyes on Theodore Roosevelt in her youth. An  “excuse me” and a “what?” and “speak up” had me repeating “Theodore”… until she thought I was asking if she attended the theater as a girl.

An unconscious shift to my second interest. Her face lit up, and she recalled being taken to a Broadway musical as a girl. It was one of several musical comedies staged around the pioneer comic-supplement character Foxy Grandpa. She didn’t remember much about the plot or the songs… but she remembered that there were moments so funny that a fat man sitting on the aisle laughed and laughed.

“His face turned so red when he laughed that I thought he was going to pop!” she told me. So that was tattooed on my memory, too, and through years since I cannot think of Foxy Grandpa and his two grandsons without thinking of little Augusta Vagt watching that man almost laugh himself to death.

Foxy Grandpa commenced in 1900 in the color pages of the Sunday New York Herald. The artist was Carl Emil Schultze, who had signed his cartoons in Life magazine with his surname, but his newspaper work as “Bunny,” often beside a furry mascot. His other features for the Sunday funnies were random gags or short strips under the title Vaudevilles, and were collected in a book of that name.

An immediate hit was Foxy Grandpa. Its premise was simple – indeed, a one-gag premise. Oddly enough, the early strips virtually all were variations on a single joke. Happy Hooligan was a well-meaning tramp whose kindly efforts backfired. Hans and Fritz would conspire, execute a prank, and be punished. Little Jimmy was distracted from every errand, with comic results. Buster Brown’s pranks went awry on their own. Maud the Mule kicked people – usually her owner, Si – into the next county to assert her dominance. Alphonse and Gaston’s politesse inevitably resulted in chaos, not order.

… and so on. In all, a remarkable but ironic foundation for commercial successes and a viable and pliable art form. Yet such was the early days of the comics. Foxy Grandpa’s formula was, simply, the mirror-image of the Katzenjammer Kids. The grandsons plotted a trick on the old boy, who predictably outsmarted them in the ultimate panel. It is amazing that for almost 20 years the boys were surprised each week. And each week.

And in various formats, appearances, books, and Broadway musicals. As far as I have seen, or remember (having the complete run in the Herald and Hearst’s American to which he moved amidst much fanfare soon afterward; and ultimately to Munsey’s Sun) neither Grandpa nor the boys had Christian nor surnames. Neither “Little Brother” who eventually joined the cast. No intermediate generation of parents were ever seen, beginning tradition that a homonymic namesake, Charles, continued. (On stage, Grandpa had a name: Goodelby Goodman; and the boys were Chub and Bunt.)

I will share here memorabilia including buttons and songsheets generated by the stage sensations. Not pages nor reprint-book covers here; maybe later.

“Bunny” had a sad ending to his life and erstwhile successful career. He died in poverty in New York City’s West side in 1939, filling his last years with occasional pages for early comic books, a couple of children’s books, and drawing sketches of Foxy Grandpa for neighborhood businesses and kids.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Western Illustrations of Arthur H. Lindberg

Arthur Harold Lindberg

1895          Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of an immigrant Swedish Metal Worker.

1909          At 14 years old, worked his first job at the Goddard works of the Wickwire-Spencer Company, Worcester. (Worked 54 hours a week at 10 cents an hour)

1915          Graduated from high school at the age of 20, took art classes at the Worcester Art Museum School, then studied at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.

1917          During his senior year at Pratt, enlisted in the US Air Force and served 14 months in France as a Sergeant-Major during World War I.

1919-22     After the war, returned to Worcester, worked at Wickwire-Spencer and resumed evening art classes at the Worcester Museum School, and then moved to New York City.

1922-30     Studied nights at the Grand Central School of Art, and the Art Students League of NY, where he was awarded a life membership for his superior work.  Studied under Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell, Frank Vincent Dummond and George Bridgeman.  Worked as a commercial artist.  Became friends with Girard Delano and a student of Walter Beck, who advised him in making his own pastels.

1927          Married Esther Perry Barlow, who learned to paint under his tutelage and became and accomplished watercolorist and was also an award winning quilter.  They moved to Long Island, NY, the new headquarters of Wickwire-Spencer.

1928-29     Illustrated Western Magazines – now referred to as pulps

1931          Daughter, Perryann born

1933-37     instructor & Registrar at Nassau Institute of Art

1937-38     Did illustrations for Gulf Oil Company weekly cartoon strip about the Mayan Indians.

1939          Received BFA at the Pratt institute

1941          Received BE in Art at the Pratt Institute, and moved to Buffalo, NY.  Took Art Instructors position at Kenmore Senior High School.

1942-43     Worked steel production in the summer in Western NY factories doing war production.

1944-45     Taught private art classes, did illuminated scrolls, started doing art restoration of paintings.

1946          Summer study, received MA at Columbia University

1946-48     Obtained permission from the City of Buffalo to enter industrial site (previously restricted due to defense work) and executed a series of fifty paintings.  He found beauty and color even in the blast furnaces of Bethlehem Steel.

1947          One man show at Carl Bredemier Gallery, Buffalo, “Our Industrial Waterfront”.  Received Frontiersman Award from Buffalo Business Magazine for the time and effort he had given to the presentation of Buffalo Industrial scenes in oil paintings.

                  During the mind 1940’s was voted into the Buffalo Society of Artists by its members.  Exhibited in the society’s membership shows and served as its president in 1954 and 1955.
Arthur H. Lindberg devoted his retirement years to art, private art classes, illuminated scrolls, cleaning and restoration of paintings, commissioned portraits and Fall painting trips to New England.  Increasingly frustrated and disillusioned by emphasis on and the support of abstract art in the Buffalo Art Community, he refused to exhibit his work for fear of being misunderstood and rejected for continuing as a realist in such pro-abstract surroundings.

He was commissioned to do illuminated scrolls for many groups and people in the Buffalo area.  He was especially proud of the scroll which was presented in 1955 to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England.

Art was active with the Buffalo Society of Artists and was president for a couple of years.  He sketched with Art Kowalski, Bill Ludecke and Walter Prochoniak.
Art painted in oil, watercolors and pastel.  He loved to include water in his paintings and was drawn to the shipyards in New England, as well as the waterfront in Buffalo.  Another series of his paintings represented the area around Stowe, VT with its’ brilliant fall color.

1953          Did independent study in Sweden and Denmark, and was included in Who’s Who of American Artists.

1977          Died in Kenmore, NY.

1980          Retrospective show at AAO Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1982          One man show, “Beauty in Buffalo Industry”, held at the International Institute, Buffalo.

1984          Included in exhibit “Buffalo Waterfront”, at the Charles Burchfield Center, State University College at buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

1987          Included in exhibit and catalogue “The Wayward Muse: A Historical Survey of Paintings in Buffalo”, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1987-88     One man show of industrial paintings of Buffalo’s waterfront, Linda Hyman Gallery, NY City, NY.
1988          Retrospective exhibit of drawings, watercolors, pastels, lithographs and oil from 1916 to the late 1960’s, at Art Dialogue Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

2009          Six of Arthur H. Lindberg’s pieces are in the Burchfield Penney Collection, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY and one piece is in the permanent collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
























[24] Mimi and Papa


[26] Shields & Co. Mural

[27] Courtyard Art Show

[28] Richard Nixon Scroll

[29] Arthur H. Lindberg Article Pg. 1

[30] Restoration Before and After

Previous Post:

Cartoonist Arthur H. Lindberg (“Lyndell”) and Gulf Funny Weekly 

Arthur H. Lindberg’s Gulf Funny Weekly comics and artwork
 have been donated to Ohio State University

Special thanks to Pam H. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Crowded Life in Comics –

A Mock Feud In the Pages of Puck.

by Rick Marschall.

Show business, sports, and politics are replete with stories of feuds. I say “stories of feuds” because many of them are manufactured for the public’s attention if not enjoyment. There are, of course, bitter and long-running rivalries that have poisoned the wells of comity, certainly within families. In other spheres of life, self-interest or self-preservation usually triumph.

The old Jack Benny-Fred Allen “feud” attracted listeners and gossip for years, but the radio comedians were friends. Likewise W C Fields and Charlie McCarthy; but it is difficult to stay angry at a piece of wood for too long.

And we remember Ralph Kramden’s threat (in The Honeymooners) to a momentary opponent: “When I see you walking down the street, move to the other side!” And Norton’s response: “When you walk down the street, there ain’t no other side!” Somehow the perfect squelch, the mot juste, resonates more than love lines do.

In the supposedly staid Victorian Era, there was an example of “inside jokes,” sarcasm, camaraderie, and a mock feud that is funny today. I will share brief details here.

Puck Magazine commenced as an English-language weekly in 1877, a few months after founder Joseph Keppler launched the German-language edition. It became America’s first successful humor magazine, although dozens had existed, with varied acceptance, since the 1840s. Puck featured lithographic color cartoons – an attractive wrinkle – on its front, back, and middle-spread pages; usually political themes. The bulk of the cartoon work, including black and white social cartoons on interior pages, soon fell to Frederick Burr Opper.

Opper (1857-1937) was a workhorse of incredible talent and native humor who followed Keppler from Leslie’s Weekly, and known to comics fans today as the creator of many seminal comic strips around the turn of the century into the 1930s (Happy Hooligan, etc).

Almost from the beginning, the fecund H C Bunner was the mainstay of Puck’s editorial columns. He wrote the paper’s editorials and provided ideas to cartoonists; he signed poems and funny stories, and contributed many anonymous works; he recruited and trained a host of talented humorists for the succeeding generation. Unjustly neglected and forgotten today, Bunner was a master of the short story in the manner of Frank Stockton (another forgotten genius). The American short story of the day was a wonderful genre, now scarcely commemorated by limp rose petals tossed toward O Henry and Saki, but whose ranks were populated by clever writers like Bunner.

Many of Bunner’s books were in fact collected short stories originally written for Puck, and illustrated by Opper (and, chiefly, by C J Taylor).

In 1884, amidst the fury of the nation’s most contentious Presidential election, Cleveland vs Blaine, Opper and Bunner conducted a sideshow for readers through a mock feud. The national election was in fact mightily influenced by the “Tattooed Man” cartoons in Puck, depicting the Republican Blaine stripped to his skin, on which was festooned his many political scandals and sins.

The editorial fusillades that season mostly were Bunner’s, but the cartoons were Keppler’s, Opper’s, and Bernhard Gillam’s. Opper, relatively young, drew cartoons that sometimes were less than polished. In a letters column – “Answers For the Anxious,”  probably manufactured within the offices – notice was taken of an awkward cartoon by Opper of politicians attempting to stop a water wheel at a mill.

Puck’s reply (surely written by Bunner) thanked the reader but also criticized his spelling and grammar. Opper the cartoonist, however, was defended with faint praise.

In the next issue, “the artist” responded, angrier at the Editorial Office’s weak endorsement than of the critical reader. And the following week, the Editor shot back in mock dudgeon, stating that it was barely worth the time to wallow in matters concerning mere mortals – cartoonists. In subsequent weeks Opper fired his shots through cartoons more than words.

It was grand fun. Claiming the dignity of an Oxford Union debate, it spilled itself before readers like a barroom brawl. As I say, grand fun – no reader would have thought otherwise. But, again, in the stuffy Victorian era, such entre-nous peeks behind the curtain of kidding and elbow-poking sarcasm was rare. Still fun.

Some day, somewhere, I will reprint all the exchanges, insults, and mock threats. Here, however, Opper’s drawing of the theatrical “truce.” Naturally, he cannot keep himself from depicting H C Bunner (with fair accuracy, trademark cigarette and pince-nez specs)  as a coiled viper; and himself as an artiste crowned with a laurel wreath.

Original art from my collection, first the half-finished pencil sketch; and the “finish” as it appeared in the happy pages of Puck through the Summer and Fall of 1884.

RM 52