Saturday, April 1, 2017

I Thought of a Tramp — The birth of Happy Hooligan

 “The awful part of this work is its speed. (…) It almost seems to me now like shoveling coal into a furnace, or pouring water into a bucket without a bottom. It just goes on and on. lF.lOpper, 1930

“MR. OPPER has drawn Happy Hooligan for the past 30 years (1900-30), and a daily cartoon, when he has the time and inclination to do so.” Frederick Burr Opper was born in Ohio in 1857, in Madison, a small town in the middle of the state. He never went to college and only attended school until he was fourteen.
“First I went to work in the little general store there, and after that on the village newspaper. No, not to draw or write, just a general factotum all over the place. When I had been there about a year and a half, I decided to come to New York, and took a job in a dry goods store doing a little of everything, writing price tags and such things. All this time I had an idea of selling my drawings to the comic papers.”
[2] Happy Hooligan’s dreams, 1908.

FOR THREE YEARS, in between his other work, he sold cartoons and comic pictures to Frank Leslie, who eventually took him on his staff. He then went to Puck for eighteen years, leaving there to work for Mr. Hearst.
“It happened that they wanted a new series of comics, and I set about inventing one. I thought of a tramp. Tramps were not so very new; there had been all kinds of tramps, so I decided to make him a little different by putting a can on his head. What gave me the idea was that at that time all the saloons put their empty kegs in the streets for the breweries to pick up and refill. The tramps would hang empty tomato cans around their neck, go to these kegs and tip the remains of the beer from the empty barrel into their cans.”
[3] Chicago Examiner, January 22, 1911.
“Besides the comic strip Mr. Opper does several cartoons a week, more or less of a political nature, for the daily papers. In order to do this he has to do a great deal of newspaper reading, so as to be absolutely up to date on current events. (…) His only relaxation? Sketching! He likes to go to Europe, preferably the little English villages, and sketch with a soft pencil and a sketch book, even as you and I. (…) Incidentally, he is much more proud of his sketch book than his comic strip. He has two children and six grandchildren.”
[4] Tomato can hat. Cartoon by Jimmy Swinnerton in San Francisco weekly The Wasp, Sep 2, 1893.
HE MOVED with his family to an old-fashioned home in New Rochelle in 1916. His workroom is the sun parlor on the first floor. “Before that we lived near Stamford, Conn. We had a great big old-fashioned farmhouse a hundred and fifty years old, although I’ve never farmed in my life.” He sold their farm and part of the sales agreement is the present house in New Rochelle. They lived on 78th street in New York at first, with the house in New Rochelle used as a Summer place. At the time of this article and interview, F. Opper is seventy-three years of age.
“Comics have become a great industry. Years ago, when I was first in the game, there were only three or four of them. Every city in the country now has its comic artist, and also buys from feature syndicates. The business is getting bigger and bigger, until I do not see how it can grow anymore without toppling over.”
[5] Chicago Examiner, June 21, 1908.

With text extracts from: ‘Our Famous Neighbours — Frederick Burr Opper Of New Rochelle — Creator of Happy Hooligan, New Rochelle Cartoonist Finds ‘Fans’ Prone to Criticize Slightest Errors — Sketching His Chief Relaxation,’ By Alissa Keir, in The Yonkers Statesman, Wednesday, December 31, 1930, page 5.

NOTE. in this article the ‘32 years’ of Happy Hooligan has been changed into a more correct ‘30 years’ by Yesterday's Papers. Our lead picture was first published on a 1904 Valentine’s Greetings postcard.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The final Hearst Building at Market and Third in San Francisco, 2017

[1] Hearst Building.
WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST, for his daily newspaper The Examiner, used several buildings in San Francisco, California. His final one still stands, on the corner of Market and Third — the rebuilt office tower from 1911. The city had eight cable car routes at the time and many cable cars crossed in front of the building. But paper as well as cable cars have since long moved elsewhere. These photos were especially taken for Yesterday's Papers on the 4th of February, 2017.

Photos by Bas Peters
[2] In 1938, the 1911 front and lobby were revamped.
[4] The cut-off SE corner with front entrance. View into Third Street at the South of Market side.
[5] Market Street. View southwest, to Upper Market. Hearst’s earlier office in Market Street (1887 to 1898) was just a block away on the right, corner of Market and Grant.
[6] Market Street. View northeast, to the Ferry Building. Palace Hotel second block on the right. Former San Francisco Chronicle building on the left. Drive down or zoom in on the Ferry tower…
[8] Entrance to the cocktail bar now housed in Hearst’s former printing basement. Huge rolls of newsprint for The Examiner were loaded down here since 1898 in Hearst’s first office tower, a building destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. 


More about Hearst in the upcoming biography and reading of Jimmy Swinnerton (1875-1974) by Huib van Opstal.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Respectable Papers of Boston and Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, 1842

Gloucester Telegraph, Sep 16, 1842

EXTRA, NO. IX. The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, often labeled “the first American comic book”, first issued to subscribers as a 40-page ‘Extra, No. IX’ issue of Brother Jonathan weekly in New York, and dated September 14, 1842, was a reworked bootleg version in English of Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe Töpffer’s comic strip Les Amours de Mr. Vieux Bois or Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois (1827, Geneva album published 1837). 

If Oldbuck might be called the first American comic book, the following short newspaper quip might be called the first criticism of comic books in America,
Does the “Brother Jonathan” often humbug the public with such trash as the “Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck”? The respectable papers of Boston should not become a party to such impositions by puffing them. — Gloucester [Massachusetts] Telegraph, Sep 16, 1842

Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846), self-portrait

Friday, January 20, 2017

HARLEY by Dan Thompson

 DAN THOMPSON  is a member of the national Cartoonist Society and lives in North Carolina. His first cartoon was called LOST SHEEP, a web comic posted by Comic Sherpa HERE. His second, the exciting adventure strip RIP HAYWIRE, is syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndicate and can be ogled HERE. Rip Haywire dates back to the first week of January 2009 and has been issued in six reprint volumes so far. His 100-page graphic novel titled Rip Haywire and the Curse of Tangaroa! was published by IDW Publishing in October 2011. March 2016 he published a chapter book for kids under the title Li’l Rip Haywire Adventures; Escape from Camp Cooties.

 Author-artist  Thompson is an avid reader of reprinted collections starring Captain Easy, Buz Sawyer, Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon and Dick Tracy. He likes to keep busy — he also draws the features BREVITY [HERE] and KIDSPOT [HERE] for Universal Uclick. His newest comic strip is HARLEY which will start March 6 on GoComics. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Angoulême 44 in France, a truly International Comic Book Festival

Cartooning For Peace.

THE PRESS KIT for this year’s Angoulême fest is produced by 9eArt+ and designed by Le Goff & Gabarra, the ‘Wise Design Studio’ of creative directors Camille Gabarra and Tugdual Le Goff. See their beautiful work HERE.

A highlight in Angoulême is the exhibit about Petite histoire de la révolution française, by Grégory Jarry et Otto T.

The Grand Jury of 2017 is presided by Posy Simmonds from London, England, who’s against a Brexit.

This year’s attractions are, among others and in no particular order, Hermann, Will Eisner, Franquin, Mézières et Christin, Alex Alice, Kazuo Kamimura, Loo Hui Phang, Outsider Comics, Disney artists, Sophie Guerrive, Philippe Dupuy, French Marvel Panini Comics, Grégory Jarry & Otto T.

See some of the latest French books on Disney’s Mickey Mouse, HERE.

This is the 57-page Press Kit for the 44th edition. The cover and poster show mainly male attributes connected to war and battle.

All Festival Cats are drawn by Lewis Trondheim.