Friday, December 1, 2023

Cartoonist Quotes –


"It is easier to make a good picture than a bad one. If the picture is good you feel that it is good and sail clear through it. If it’s bad it’s torture to grind it out.
If you look back ten years (1916) at any comic strip that has been running right along to the present time, you will find that the characters have changed in appearance. Characters change without consent of the cartoonist at all. They get away from you. The changes are so gradual half the time the cartoonist is not conscious of them.

Most people say they are astonished at the developments in the comic art field during the past ten years. I’m not astonished. They are perfectly natural developments and I expected them.

There’s a lot of artistic talk going around these days. I make no pretensions of being an artist. I just do my own work in my own way." ‘Jerry on the Job’ Is Widely Popular, (Alexander Somalian in The Fourth Estate), Binghamton NY Press, August 6, 1926

[Motion Picture Herald, May 5, 1934]

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Sporting Page –

Sid Smith sporting cartoon, Oct 15, 1909. Nearly every major cartoonist drew sporting cartoons at one time or another: Billy DeBeck, Bud Fisher, Geo. Herriman, Harry Hershfield, and Sid Smith for the Chicago Examiner (Buck Nix appearance on the right).


Monday, October 16, 2023



by Bill Leach

This card back image comes from the rare German children’s book “ALLY SLOPER AND THE PAINT POT”.

As an avid collector of Ally Sloper art and objects, I had been trying to find a set of the unsanctioned SLOPER FAMILY playing cards.  I had only seen two sets in all my years of collecting.  The first set was on another collector’s web page and was NOT for sale…but he was kind enough to send me scans of his set.

This is the complete set of SLOPER FAMILY cards featuring all four ethnic suits.  There are 48 cards in the deck.  Another set of four cards and two Jokers were added in order to create a contemporary set of cards.

Then years later a set popped up on EBAY.  I placed my bid and won the set for a reasonable price.  I paid for the purchase and a day later the seller wrote me stating that he had cancelled my bid, refunded my money and that they were no longer available.  Well, we all know what that means….the seller was offered a better price from another person….so he sold the cards (and his personal integrity) to another person. By cancelling my bid it took away my ability to leave a negative feedback.  I guess people without any integrity know how to work the system.  Well, I was very disappointed, but what can you do?  You can’t force a person to be honest even when they are contractually and morally obligated to do the right thing.  So I had to live with the fact that I had lost out on the set of cards that I had so dearly wanted to add to my collection. 

I looked at the scans the other collector sent me and wondered if he would be willing to send me better scans, so I could print them out.  He responded and let me know that he could not scan them again as he had since matted and framed the set.  Then he followed up by letting me know that he had decided to sell them and they were at an auction house in the UK.  So I signed up for the auction and waited.  I was a bit concerned, in addition to the auction house fees, there were VAT taxes and a very high price to pack and send the large framed piece to the US.  But I was willing to pay the price and waited patiently for the day of the auction.  There is an 8 hour difference between the US and the UK, so I waited until the wee hours of the morning and signed into the live auction being streamed over my computer.  I watched lot after lot go by, waiting for my chance to bid on the SLOPER FAMILY card set.  Finally it was time.  I was set to go.  The lots were flying through at a rapid pace and it was my turn to bid.  I clicked on the BID button…nothing happened…clicked and clicked again, until  I heard the auctioneer state that the lot had closed, with me sitting frustrated at my computer, never even getting a single bid through to the auction house.  The set sold for a fair price…a bit more than I had paid through EBAY, and I was devastated.  I complained to my wife and told her what had happened.  She was sympathetic but after a few hours of my moaning and complaining she had had enough and told me to put on my “big boy pants” and get over it.  Well, the nerve of some people!!!

The SLOPER FAMILY card set hammered out at 220 pounds even without my bid!

But she was right, I was wasting time and energy on something that was out of my control….I could no more change my fate at the auction house, than I could change the lack of moral compass of the EBAY seller who refunded my legitimate purchase, so he could sell it to out from under me.  What to do…WHAT TO DO?!!!

I decided if I could not add a set of these turn of the century cards to my collection I would print up a set from the scans the first collector sent me.  But the scan quality was poor and the cards were not in the best of shape.  I consulted with a few friends that were very computer literate in the digital arts.  They gave me a lot of advice and I was able to carefully clean, repair and recolor each card, making them look better than new.  I enhanced the color and pixel by pixel corrected the misprinted and misaligned areas.  I also changed the numbers and suits so the cards could be used in contemporary gaming.

Each card was carefully repaired.  The text was replaced and any misaligned printing was corrected.  The background color was replaced and figural colors were enhanced.

But now I had to create some extra cards, as it was one set of cards shy of a modern deck, and there were no Jokers.  I also needed an image for the back of the cards.  I took a wonderful image from a very rare German book “Ally Sloper and the Paint Pot” and used it for the card backs.  But what could I do about the other two cards?  I had a set of “TRIPLEM” cards.  This game has each character divided into three parts, and the game is to reconstruct the characters to win.  I took the three cards with Ally Sloper’s image and scanned them as one.  After carefully cleaning and repairing the cards, I had one solid image to use for the ACE.  I used this same image on all four suits…or “families”.  As for the Joker, I used another three cards from the TRIPLEM deck…I used Mr. Punch, from the PUNCH comic newspaper.  Now I realize that Mr. Punch was NOT part of the Sloper Family, but he IS the Joker and is dressed as such, so I cleaned him up and used him with good justification.  There is a connection of this character to Sloper.  Ally Sloper was first published in the pages of JUDY, a comic newspaper in 1867.  JUDY was the rival paper of the long standing PUNCH newspaper (referencing the old Punch and Judy puppet show characters).  While they were two separate entities, they did go hand in hand….like peanut butter and jelly.  So using Mr. Punch as the Joker just seemed like a good fit. 

The TRIPLEM card game features each character broken up into three parts.  The object is to build complete characters.

The TRIPLEM decks’ ALLY SLOPER and MR. PUNCH before being digitally assembled.

ALLY SLOPER and MR. PUNCH after being reassembled.

The SLOPER FAMILY card set is very ethnic, some might call it racist.  But it was a product of the 1890s and was created and sold without permission.  There were four suits, but instead of hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, the creator used ethnic families:  ENGLISH, CHINESE, EGYPTIAN and AFRICAN.  Each card represented a person in the Sloper Family and their personas and names changed with the varied ethnicities.  Today’s gaming companies would never be so bold as to use these various ethnic personalities, but in the 1890s, it must have been fair game. 





It took me over an hour to repair each card, but in the end I had a nice digital card set.  Initially I was going to print up one set at the local print shop on one of their nice printers/copiers.  But they could not run card stock through the machine.  So I decided to have them professionally printed by an online gaming company.  I was shocked when I found out how much it would cost for one set of cards.  In the end I decided to print two dozen sets, which brought the price down quite a bit.  So I got the set for my collection and a case of card sets to sell to my collector friends.  Then I realized, I don’t have ANY collector friends that collect Ally Sloper.  This situation is a double-edged sword; on one hand, I don’t have any competition when collecting Sloper material, at least not from US collectors.  But I also don’t have any friends that I can brag to about my Sloper treasures, nor do I have any friends with Sloper material that I can buy, sell or trade with.  They say no man is an island, but I am a man all alone on the Sloper Sandbar. 

This partial set of THE SLOPER FAMILY CARDS were printed much smaller. The deck featured four each of only the ENGLISH suit printed with black ink. The print quality was very poor.

There was also another unsanctioned set of THE SLOPER FAMILY GAME.  The set used the same imagery but was printed in black and white and eliminated the ethnic cards by using four each of the “ENGLISH” suits.  This set was smaller and very poorly printed. 

How did I become such an obsessed SLOPERIAN COLLECTOR?  It all goes back to the early eighties.  A crazy collector friend of mine named Ronald Graham called me up and said, “Bill, you have to buy this book….I don’t have the money, but you need to get this book.  It is a really rare bound volume of Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday”.  He gave me a phone number and I called it.  The book was about $65.00 and contained a years’ worth of weekly comic newspapers from 1898 featuring the title character ALLY SLOPER on the cover and throughout.  What Ronald Graham did not know, and what caused me to take his advice was that my Mother’s maiden name was Sloper and my Sloper lineage goes all the way back to the 1500’s in England, Scotland and Ireland.  So when the book arrived, I shared it with my Mother and we both got a kick out of it.  So much that I decided to try and collect MORE Sloper art and objects.  This is a bit harder to do than I thought.  Most Sloper items I have found are not in the US and dealing with auction houses and postage can be an expensive proposition.  But over the last forty years, and a big thanks to the internet, I have been able to amass the largest collection of Sloper original art and merchandise in the world.   I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.

The SLOPER FAMILY burial plot in Northern California now includes Bill Leach's parents, James H. Leach and Shirley Mae Leach formerly Shirley Mae Sloper.

My parents have since passed and are buried in the Sloper Family plot in Northern California.  I will be there someday….but not today.  Today I share my newly printed SLOPER FAMILY CARD SET with all of you.  Cheers! 

Bill Leach poses with his newly printed SLOPER FAMILY cards in front of an original 1899 illustration from ALLY SLOPER'S CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY.

I had to print 24 sets to make them affordable.  If anyone would like to obtain a set of these cards….please contact me, Bill Leach at:  I only have a small number of these sets left and doubt I will have any more printed.  I am asking $25.00 plus shipping per deck. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Tragic Life of Thomas Mayhew


by Robert J. Kirkpatrick 

The name of Mayhew will be very familiar to students of 19th century literature. Henry Mayhew was one of the founders of Punch, but perhaps better-known for his monumental work London Labour and the London Poor. His brother Horace was a journalist (he wrote for, amongst others, The Illustrated London News and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper) and comic novelist; and another brother, Augustus, was a journalist (on The Illustrated Times), novelist and comic dramatist. A fourth brother, Thomas, also had a very brief and ultimately tragic career as an author, and consequently has been all but airbrushed from history.

The Mayhew brothers were born into a wealthy family headed by Joshua Dorset Joseph Mayhew, a solicitor, and his wife Mary Ann. Their first son, Thomas Charles Wilson Mayhew, was born on 19 May 1807 and baptised at St. James’s Church, Westminster, on 1 March 1811. He entered Westminster School on 31 May 1820, and after leaving he was articled to his father for five years in November 1825, and wrote his first book, A Complete History of an Action at Law, published by J. & W. Clarke, whilst still a student at Lincoln’s Inn (to which he been admitted in January 1827) in 1828. Two years later, his translation of the French drama Ambition, or Marie Mignot, was performed at the Haymarket Theatre, with the script published by Thomas Richardson in the same year. Also in 1830 he was enrolled as Attorney of the Court of the King’s Bench, and was subsequently admitted as Attorney of the Court of Common Pleas.

His journalistic activities also began in 1830, when he became editor of Henry Hetherington’s Penny Papers for the People, an unstamped series of one penny weekly pamphlets, and the following year he edited the first issues of Hetherington’s The Poor Man’s Guardian. A syndicated newspaper article after his death claimed that he was “the proprietor of Barnett’s Library of Music, The Parterre, and a number of other literary productions…. [and] part proprietor of the Fitzroy Theatre,”[1] although his assocaition with The Parterre was subsequently denied by its editors.[2] A subsequent article claimed that he was also “the proprietor and projector of several cheap popular works,” and was “connected at one time with Figaro, The Studio, compiler of The Diamond Shakespeare, superintended and almost wholly edited The Popular Dictionary of Universal Information…..”[3]

In the meantime, he had married Catharine Lawrance (born in Somerset in around 1806) at St. James’s Church, Westminster, on 1 January 1831. They had a still-born son on 20 November 1831, but went on to have a daughter, Catharine Mary Anne, born on 15 October 1833.

As a solicitor, he was briefly in partnership in 1831 with Thomas Edlyne Tomlins, as Tomlins and Mayhew, at 3 Staple Inn, and he was also in partnership with his father and James Johnson at 26 Carey Street, Lincoln’s Inn, but he left in March 1833.[4] According to an affidavit which was an adjunct to his will he had homes in Amwell Street and Myddleton Square, Clerkenwell, although a syndicated newspaper article reporting that he was living in Camden Town  at the time of his death.

In August 1832 he launched The Penny National Library, an ambitious project (published by Frederic Lawrance at 113 Strand – by December 1832 it had moved to 369 Strand). This initially consisted of six weekly serial educational publications – a grammar and dictionary, a universal biography, an ancient history, a history of England, a law library and a geography and gazetteer, with other similar serial works being added a few weeks later. Other publications soon followed, including The Comic Magazine, edited by “The Editor of Figaro in London” i.e. Gilbert Abbott à Beckett, and, in March 1833, The Critic, a literary and satirical journal.  

However, Thomas soon found himself in financial difficulties, and on 30 October 1833 he was arrested on a unpaid bill of exchange for £159, and was committed to the Fleet Prison. He disputed his arrest, claiming privilege as an attorney, although the person to whom Mayhew owed the money had him arrested on the basis he was trading as a printer and publisher.[5] The following month he entered into partnership with George Frederick Isaacs and Irenaeus Mayhew (his uncle), as printers and publishers, from 369 Strand and 14 Henrietta Street, although steps were already being taken towards his liquidation[6] – the partnership was formally dissolved in March 1834.[7] It was later suggested that Mayhew had lost £10,000.[8]

Thomas Mayhew committed suicide on Thursday 23 October 1834 at his chambers at 2 Barnard’s Inn, Holborn. This fact, and the subsequent inquest, was widely reported in London newspapers. It was initially reported that his body was discovered by his wife and her brother, who were concerned that he hadn’t come home and that he was in straitened financial circumstances, and that they forced open the door to his rooms.[9] This version of events was contradicted during the inquest, which was held on the evening of Saturday 25 October at the Swan and Sugar-Loaf public house, Fetter Lane. This heard that a solicitor, Philip Lawrence, had been approached by Thomas’s wife, concerned about his absence – he went to the chambers, where the porter gave him a package which contained the keys to the chambers, and these were used to gain access.[10]

It was clear from the evidence given that Thomas had swallowed a large quantity of prussic acid, and had also deliberately inhaled the fumes from a piece of burning charcoal. The inquest was told that that as well as his financial problems, Thomas was overwhelmed by work. At the time of his death he was apparently working on a history of England, an encyclopaedia, and a translation of French plays. He was subsequently buried in the churchyard of St. James’s Church, Westminster, on 29 October.

It is hard to believe that in the short period of time between 1832 and 1834 Thomas Mayhew was both working as a solicitor and had his fingers in so many literary projects. Yet there is no doubt that this was the case, as confirmed in the Law Report referred to earlier. It was rare for writer in Bohemian Fleet Street to commit suicide, although several killed themselves in other ways, so this was a measure of just how overwhelming the pressure on Thomas Mayhew was. 

His wife Catharine subsequently moved back to her parents in Somerset, and went on to marry James Thomas, a solicitor, in Lyncombe, on 29 February 1848. She died later that year, and was buried in the cemetery at Bath Abbey on 29 September 1848. His daughter Catharine married Charles Arthur Raynsford in 1864, and they went on to have one daughter born in 1866. They divorced in 1890. She went on to spend a year in Otto House, a private asylum in Hammersmith, between August 1894 and 1895, and she was re-admitted in February 1900 – she died there on 14 March 1900, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, Kensington.

[1] See, for example, Morning Post, 25 October 1834, p 4.

[2] See, for example, Morning Post, 31 October 1834, p 3.

[3] See, for example, Morning Advertiser, 27 October 1834, p 1.

[4] London Gazette, 30 August 1833, p 1614.

[5] The Law Journal for the Year 1834, Vol. 3, p 47.

[6] Morning Herald, 4 December 1834, p 7.

[7] London Gazette, 25 April 1834, p 755.

[8] Men of the Time, Kent & Co., 1857, p 522.

[9] See, for example, Morning Post, 25 October 1834, p 4.

[10] See, for example, Morning Post, 31 October 1834, p 3.


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Davenport in Denver —

Two caricatures of Homer Davenport by AW Steele and Warren Gilbert, Denver Post cartoonists, May 11, 1904.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Weirdom’s “Tales From The Plague” by Richard Corben —

[1] Richard Corben, color by William Skaar, April 2023


Bill Leach, contributor of much Ally Sloper material to YESTERDAY”S PAPERS, has published a limited edition reprint of Dennis Cunningham’s THE PLAGUE, drawn by Richard Corben, under the imprint of his own EC HorrorZine, HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR  Available through BUD PLANT ART BOOKS (HERE).  Bill used the original first cover and included 12 pages of engravings that had not been used in subsequent editions. William Skaar, artist of DEANNA OF THE DEAD, provided the cover color. This welcome reissue of THE PLAGUE brought back warm memories. I was a contributor to WEIRDOM No. 12 (a very small and amateurish pen & ink contribution in the interior) in 1968. The next issue, No. 13, introduced the brilliant cartoonist Richard Corben with his startling and unique Special Plague Issue. Dennis Cunningham was kind enough to send me a copy of Nos. 12 and 13, thus introducing me to one of the greatest fantasy artists of all time. Corben’s story was gothic horror drawn in the painstaking style of medieval engravings. Bill Leach provides a brief printing history of THE PLAGUE which I reproduce below. — John Adcock

[2] Weirdom Illustrated No 13, 1969. Dennis Cunningham, 
Publisher, editor and writer, illustrator Richard Corben 

You hold in your hands the fifth version of Weirdom’s “THE PLAGUE”. Dennis Cunningham and Bill Leach are thrilled to present this very special edition of HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR to the countless Corben fans throughout the world.  We lost Richard Corben in 2020, but his creative expertise lives on through his amazing body of work and the many reprints that are currently being published.

[3] Richard Corben page

This was Richard Corben’s first attempt at illustrating a graphic novel.  Corben was 28 years old and still working at Calvin Productions when he began working on “THE PLAGUE” in 1968.  Dennis Cunningham was one of the first publishers to use Corben’s art in the comic book industry.  During the late sixties and early seventies Cunningham published a series of underground comics titled “Weirdom Illustrated.”  It was here in number 13, the “Special Plague Issue” that Corben’s first graphic novel saw print.  It didn’t take long before Richard Corben was recognized as one of the top artists in the country.

[4]Tales From The Plague, comic book, second edition, November, 1971.

“THE PLAGUE” has been published on four previous occasions.  First in April 1969, falling under the title “Weirdom Illustrated, Number 13, Special Plague Issue,” this small digest size edition was printed by Dennis himself, while on leave from the Army.  There were only 1,000 copies printed, which makes them extremely rare today.  The second printing came two years later in November 1971.  Now titled “TALES FROM THE PLAGUE” and featuring a new cover comprised of panels from the story.  This comic book size edition had a print run of 10,000, which makes it a very scarce comic book.  

[5] Preliminary watercolor for the third edition by Richard Corben.

Jumping forward fifteen years, Dennis’ friend and business partner, Bill Leach, printed the third edition still using the title “TALES FROM THE PLAGUE.”  This magazine size graphic novel would feature a new cover painting by Corben.  Bill routinely boasts at having his likeness used in the new Corben cover painting, featuring “Braggart Bill” as the torch wielding maniac.  The print run of 15,000 sold out quickly as the public’s appetite for Richard Corben’s art had grown to international heights since the first two editions. 

[6] Third edition cover painting and publisher Bill Leach.

In 1989, a European publisher, Toutain-Editor, created the fourth iteration using the newer cover painting and translating it into Spanish. The title is quite long and was just one volume in the series: “Richard Corben, Obras Completas No. 9, MANUSCRITOS DE LA PLAGA.”

This fifth edition takes us back to the beginning.  Printed digest size and including the twelve pages of vintage engravings that had been discarded in the second, third and fourth editions.  Cunningham and Leach are proud to publish this “Artifact Edition” and hope you will enjoy making it part of your “Richard Corben Collection.”

HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR, Number 16, April 2023

First printing 500 copies.  Contact Bill Leach at ComicArt4u for more information.  All contents written and copyright 2023 Dennis A. Cunningham.   All artwork created by artistic genius Richard V. Corben (1940-2020).  Cover colorist:  William Skaar.

[7] “Braggart Bill” Leach

Bill Leach is headed to the San Diego Comicon this week. He will be part of an EC FanAddicts panel Saturday night and showing off the new issues of HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR. Issue #17 is a 104 page Complete EC Checklist-1942-1956. See details HERE.