Sunday, January 7, 2018

The International Day of the Cartoonist 2018

On December 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. There is talk of discrimination, public accommodations, and so on in the case. Make no mistake, though. What is at stake here is whether the State can require an artist to create something he wishes not to create. Larger still are the questions of whether the individual serves himself or the State, whether he can be made to perform labor against his will by the State, and whether there are such things as private enterprise and private property, or whether those things are merely extensions of the State and exist to serve the purposes of the State. I'll have more to say on these questions below.

Masterpiece Cakeshop of Lakewood, Colorado, is owned and run by Jack Phillips. Mr. Phillips may or may not be a cartoonist, but he is an artist. Anyone who doubts that should see his work and the way in which he creates it. Although he may not be a cartoonist, I write about Jack Phillips today, the International Day of the Cartoonist, because of the issues involved in the case against him and in his case against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. I started observing this day in 2015 when five cartoonists were murdered in Paris in the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. They were murdered because they dared to draw what they pleased. I have since written about cartoonists who have been oppressed, threatened, harassed, tortured, imprisoned, or killed, again, for their art. Usually, when artists are treated this way, it is at the hands of the State, or, in the case of radical Islam, a political mass movement with aspirations towards control of the State. Jack Phillips won't be tortured or killed for his art, but he has already been harassed and may face other punishments for choosing not to create something he wishes not to create. My question is this: If he and artists like him do not comply with the requirements of the State, what shall be done with them? Shall they be fined, even to the point of bankruptcy or impoverishment? Shall they be endlessly harassed? Driven out of business? Imprisoned? Shall they have their substance eaten out? Or should we simply allow them their freedom?

* * *

In thinking about cartoonists and the Masterpiece Cakeshop case last month, I developed a hypothesis. My hypothesis is this: that the nation's political cartoonists, specifically those who lean to the left, will perceive the implications of this case for the artist, namely, that if one artist can be made by the State to create something against his will, then no artist is safe from official coercion; and, if those political cartoonists understand the implications, they are likely to remain silent on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. My hypothesis does not include conservative political cartoonists, as artists of that political or philosophical persuasion are almost certain to support the rights of the individual over the power and authority of the State.

So how do you test a hypothesis like this one? Well, I did what everyone does these days: I searched the Internet. Before doing that, though, I drew up a short list of political or editorial cartoonists who I believe lean to the left. In alphabetical order, they are:
  • David Horsey (b. 1951) of the Los Angeles Times, formerly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Mike Luckovich (b. 1960) of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Joel Pett (b. 1953) of the Lexington Herald-Leader 
  • Ted Rall (b. 1963), a syndicated cartoonist
  • Tom Toles (b. 1951) of the Washington Post
David Horsey and Joel Pett, by the way, were born in Indiana. Whether they like it or not, I'll call them Hoosiers.

As it turns out, I found very few drawings from political cartoonists on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The cartoons I did find are pretty mild, I think, and don't address what I believe to be the real heart of the case, nor do they come out with any strong support for the two men who made the original complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop or for the general idea behind their complaint. None was drawn by the cartoonists on my list.

Mike Keefe (b. 1946), a 
syndicated cartoonist with the Colorado Independent, formerly of the Denver Postdrew a cartoon dated December 7, 2017, showing Moses holding the Ten Commandments and stating: "And if you violate any one of these, no wedding cake for you!" (You can see the cartoon at the website of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists [AAEC], here.) That apparent allusion to Seinfeld may be a deflection from the far more serious topic at hand, in other words a way of noticing the topic without saying anything serious about it.

Chip Bok (b. 1952) of the Akron Beacon Journal, another cartoonist who was not on my list, also drew a cartoon commenting on the controversy. It shows a black man sitting at a lunch counter in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 and saying to the waitress: "Now that I'm sitting at your lunch counter, I'll have a slice of gay wedding cake." (The cartoon is dated December 9, 2017. You can see it on Mr. Bok's website by clicking here.) I don't think 
Mr. Bok's cartoon is especially well thought out. In fact, it seems to me practically a non-sequitur. But if Chip Bok's purpose is to equate homosexuality with being black in America, he ought to have studied our country's 400-year history of enslavement, rape, murder, torture, lynching, oppression, segregation, discrimination, and other offenses against African-Americans before making such a foolish calculation.

The most pointed cartoon that I found on the topic is actually from 2015 and was drawn by David Horsey. In it, an angry cake baker is handing out slices of wedding cake to a crowd of well-dressed people. The triple-tier cake (a devil's food cake, I'm sure) is decorated with the words: "Have a Happy Abomination." The cake topper is two little devils holding hands. The cake baker is saying in anger: "Which one of you sodomites wants the first piece?!" On the left is a caption that reads, "Caveat: You may not want a wedding cake made by someone who thinks that your marriage is evil . . ." Mr. Horsey's cartoon (to be found on the website of the Los Angeles Times, here) accompanies his own opinion piece on the religious liberty law advanced in Indiana in 2015. Mr. Horsey's piece may be slightly snooty, but he closes it with this reasonable consideration:

Gay activists are winning battle after battle, and may want to show some magnanimity in victory. If, in the end, it really comes down to a matter of a few wedding photographers, florists and bakers who disapprove of same-sex marriage, what is gained by forcing them to provide their services? If somebody doesn’t want to share the joyful occasion, does anyone really want to have them around? No wedding needs to be spoiled by a party pooper who thinks committed, lifelong love is a sin. 
I would like to think that David Horsey's opinion has not changed in the last two years. On the other hand, he might very well be flayed by the leftist media for writing something like that today. We should be clear, here, that Jack Phillips is almost certainly not like Mr. Horsey's cartoon caricature, nor is any true Christian likely to be. But then men of David Horsey's political stripe are permitted to trade in broad and inaccurate stereotypes where others are not.

In any case, you can't prove a negative. The fact that I found only two cartoons on the topic of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and none drawn by the five cartoonists on my list does not really confirm my hypothesis. (Maybe I should have designed my experiment better.) In other words, an absence of evidence doesn't make a firm foundation for a case. But if left-leaning political cartoonists remained silent on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, might that indicate something about where they stand? Maybe. Maybe not. There has certainly been enough else to keep them busy for these many months. Maybe I can test my hypothesis again when the Supreme Court announces its decision later this year.

* * *

A year ago today, I wrote about the cartoonist Joe Szabo, who was born and educated in Communist-controlled Hungary before fleeing to the United States. (Click here to read that entry.) Here he is discussing journalism in his native country with his friend Len Lear:
Journalists in a Communist country are considered a part of the political apparatus. You're not a watchdog, just the opposite. You are a lapdog. You are not there to print the news or to be objective. You are there to make the authorities in government look good and not to deviate from the party line. You are basically a public relations person for the rulers and oppressors.
Substitute the word artists for journalists, and you begin to close in on the questions central to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, namely: Is an artist his own person, an individual free to express himself or not as he chooses, or is he simply a part of the apparatus of the State, merely one of a collective compelled to serve its purposes? Is an artist a free and autonomous person or, in Joe Szabo's words, is he "basically a public relations person for . . . rulers and oppressors"? Does an artist own his own property? Does an artist have any right or claim to his own time, labor, energy, and creativity? Or do all of these things simply exist within the domain of the State, to be held, distributed, and controlled by the State as it sees fit? Is the artist his or her own master, or are artists simply servants of political power? And if an artist is such a servant, then what about everyone else? Are we not servants also?

I'll close with two quotes on totalitarianism. One is from an artist, T.H. White in his novel The Once and Future King (1958):

"Everything which is not forbidden is compulsory."

The other is from one of the architects of totalitarianism, Benito Mussolini:

"Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."

Shall it be forbidden the artist to create or not to create as he or she pleases? Shall artistic expression for the State's purposes be made compulsory? Shall anything be permitted to reside outside the State? Or shall we as artists--and as people--be free?

Original text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Money in the Face of the Modern Girl"

Time was when illustrators (and cartoonists) were celebrities and among the highest paid people in the arts and entertainment in America. Sidney Smith, for example, signed a contract in 1922 to draw a chinless wonder called Andy Gump at a rate of $100,000 a year for ten years. In 1935, Smith got a raise, his new contract guaranteeing him $150,000 annually for his work on the daily comic strip The Gumps. Unfortunately for Smith, the Grim Reaper came calling. Smith wrecked his car on October 20, 1935, and was instantly killed. Other artists were a little luckier and enjoyed comfortable, often lavish, lifestyles, especially in the artists colonies around New York City, in New Rochelle, New York, Silvermine, Connecticut, and Leonia, New Jersey, for example. Chicago Tribune staffer John T. McCutcheon, a Hoosier cartoonist and the longtime dean of American editorial cartoonists, even owned his own tropical island.

A good deal of the wealth and celebrity enjoyed by American illustrators and cartoonists was made possible by the technological advances of the late 1800s and early 1900s, advances that made the artwork printed in popular books, magazines, and newspapers evermore true to the original. In the Golden Age of Illustration, from about 1880 to about 1920, printing, paper, and binding improved in quality; American industry perfected methods of mass production and mass distribution; and large numbers of readers had a little extra time and a little extra cash to spend on popular entertainment. The popular press was where they got much of that entertainment, especially before movies came into their own. Art schools and art organizations proliferated during those years of 1880 to 1920 (and after). Art schools turned out myriads of illustrators, cartoonists, commercial artists, letterers, typographers, and designers. And if you were good enough and worked hard enough, you might succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Your name would daily, weekly, or monthly be before the American public, and that public would clamor for your work.

The Indianapolis Star was one newspaper to recognize the success and celebrity of the nation's magazine illustrators. On April 10, 1910, the Star printed on the front page of its magazine section an article called "Money in the Face of the Modern Girl." Written by an anonymous feature writer, the article opens:
"My face is my fortune, kind sir," the model said to the artist, and straightaway he reproduced her comely features in water colors [sic] upon his illustration board, and sold the painting to the art editor of a popular magazine, thereby receiving a check which enabled him to return to his lodgings without dodging the landlord and the tailor. The painting, printed with ravishing color effects on the front cover of the magazine, created such an increased demand for the periodical that the publishers told the art editor to take all the artists's work he could get. Thereupon the face of the model likewise became the fortune of the artist.
The article might be a little cynical in tone. Its author might have regretted the commercialization of art and the newfound wealth and prominence of the lowly commercial artist. But it reveals an important historical fact, namely, that color reproductions of art, especially art depicting the modern girl of the time, helped move books and magazines. In the process, the illustrator of the popular press became a recognized and respectable figure. Some made a banker's salary, and a sidebar to the article gives us a keyhole view into the past. I have transcribed the sidebar here:

Earnings of Leading Magazine Illustrators of Country.

Harrison Fisher . . . . . . . $75,000

Howard Chandler Christy . . . $50,000
Howard Pyle . . . . . . . . . $20,000
C.D. Gibson . . . . . . . . . $15,000
James Montgomery Flagg. . . . $15,000
Maxwell Parrish . . . . . . . $15,000
Frank X. Leyendecker. . . . . $12,000
Joseph C. Leyendecker . . . . $12,000
Orson Lowell. . . . . . . . . $12,000
Jessie Willcox Smith. . . . . $12,000
Sarah Stilwell Weber. . . . . $10,000
Elizabeth Shippen Green . . . $10,000
Frank L. [sic] Schoonover . . $10,000
George Brehm. . . . . . . . . .$8,000
Lucius W. Hitchcock . . . . . .$8,000
C. Allen [sic] Gilbert. . . . .$8,000
Henry Hutt. . . . . . . . . . .$8,000
Albert Wenzell. . . . . . . . .$8,000
A.I. Keller . . . . . . . . . .$8,000
Hamilton King . . . . . . . . .$7,500
John Cecil Clay . . . . . . . .$7,500
Walter Taylor . . . . . . . . .$7,500
F.C. Yohn. . . . . . . . .  . .$7,500
H.C. Raliegh [sic]. . . . . . .$7,500
Worth Brehm . . . . . . . . . .$5,000

(The names in bold are not bold in the original. I have made them that way to set the Hoosiers apart from their fellows. More on each of them below.)

Many of the names on this list will be familiar to fans of American illustration. Those in the top ranks of earnings are also among the top ranks of illustrators as artists, and they have been subject of countless books and articles published over the last century and more. The others deserve some attention, too, though. I'd like to go through all of the artists listed here, one by one, if only briefly.

Born in Brooklyn into a family of artists, Harrison Fisher (1875 or 1877-1934) was most well known for his pictures of the modern woman, known as the Fisher Girl and the American Girl, for Cosmopolitan, The American Weekly, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Although Ohioan Howard Chandler Christy (1872-1952) drew and painted pictures of war and the machines of war, he, like Fisher, was known for his young woman, the Christy Girl, of the 1910s and after.

Howard Pyle (1853-1911) is justly called the Father of Illustration in America. For about a decade he ran a school for artists and illustrators in his native Wilmington, Delaware. His students included some of the other artists on this list. Pyle died in Florence, Italy, and lies interred in a nondescript mausoleum in the back of a small cemetery for non-Catholics on the outskirts of that city. I have been to his grave. I wish that more people would pay it a visit and pay their respects to a great American artist.

Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), a master of pen and ink, created the still-famous Gibson Girl, a hugely popular interpretation of the modern woman of the 1890s and early 1900s. The author of "Money in the Face of the Modern Girl" noted Gibson's decline in popularity as color reproduction was perfected in the early part of the twentieth century: Gibson worked almost exclusively in black and white.

Like Gibson, James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) was an Easterner and an artist of the city and its society. His rendering of Uncle Sam--a self-portrait--has become an icon of American popular art, but Flagg, like his contemporaries Fisher and Christy, excelled at drawing and painting young and attractive women.

Maxwell Parrish (1870-1966) of Philadelphia and New Hampshire was a magician of light, color, design, and technique. It would not be any overstatement to say that he stood alone among the artists on this list and of his time--no one I know of has since matched his accomplishments as a painter who seemed to have captured sunlight in his pigments. He was and still is an extraordinarily well-admired artist.

Frank X. Leyendecker (1876-1924) and Joseph C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) were German-born artists and one of two sets of brothers on this list. Frank died young. Joseph was known for his ultra-sophisticated men and women, especially for his famous Arrow Collar man.

Though born in Iowa, Orson Lowell (1871-1956) drew pictures of life in society. His style and subject matter are similar to those of Charles Dana Gibson, although his pen work is perhaps finer and more controlled, almost to a photographic effect in many of his pictures.

Philadelphian Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) was and is renowned for her sensitive and beautifully rendered images of children and their mothers. She created illustrations for advertising, magazines, and children's books. For several years, she shared a studio with other women artists, including Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green.

Sarah Stilwell Weber (1878-1939) of Pennsylvania studied with Howard Pyle and was a friend and associate of other women artists. She, too, created advertising art and illustrations, including sixty covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954), also of Pennsylvania and also a student of Howard Pyle, illustrated books and magazines, including Harper's Magazine, St. Nicholas Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and Woman's Home Companion.

Born in New Jersey, Frank E. Schoonover (1877-1972) studied under Howard Pyle and created the same kind of heroic and adventurous illustration, of war, history, fantasy, pirates, and the American West. Schoonover taught at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis in 1927 and possibly later.

An illustration created by Frank Schoonover for the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Note the date: this picture was made one hundred years ago.

There are three native-born Hoosiers on the list above, starting with George Brehm (1878-1966). Born in Anderson, Indiana, Brehm attended Indiana University and cartooned for The Arbutus, soon after for the Indianapolis Star. Like so many artists from the Midwest, he headed to New York City to find his fame and make his fortune. Brehm created illustrations for most of the popular slick magazines of his day, as well as for many books and advertisements, including for Coca-Cola.

"Misbehaving" by George Brehm.

There must have been something about Indiana boyhood that stuck with Hoosier artists of the early twentieth century, for they returned to that subject again and again. George Brehm and his brother Worth were only two of the artists of boyhood. Others included John T. McCutcheon, Gaar Williams, and Merrill Blosser of Freckles and His Friends fame. 

Lucius W. Hitchcock (1868-1942) is not well represented on the Internet, despite his success as an illustrator of books and magazines, including Harper's. Hitchcock also created illustrations for The Conquest of Canaan (1905) by Hoosier author Booth Tarkington. Although Hitchcock was born in Ohio and not in Indiana, I would like to show one of his pictures here to correct in some small part the fact that he has been overlooked, at least in the digital realm.

An fine illustration by Lucius W. Hitchcock from Harper's Magazine, March 1910.

Born in Connecticut, Charles Allan Gilbert (1873-1929) was an illustrator and animator, and a camouflage artist during World War I. He is most well known for his memento mori picture All Is Vanity, from 1892.

Chicagoan Henry Hutt (1875-1950) began working as a professional artist when he was still a teenager. He created all kinds of illustration but was especially popular for his depictions of young women.

Born in Detroit, Albert Wenzell (1864-1917) studied art in Germany and France but was in no way an art snob. He wrote:
It seems to me, after many years spent abroad, with the consequent opportunity for comparison, that American art has advanced amazingly, further than is generally appreciated at home or abroad. The average American, for instance, admires the drawing of American girls by American Artists. But he rarely goes abroad to have his portrait painted.
American artists excel, it seems to me, in color. There are half a dozen men here now--I don't refer to several well known American artists living abroad—no, there are New York men whose work is not familiar, but whose talent is the first order. It is most unfortunate that our home talent is not more appreciated and encouraged. I have little sympathy with the idea that an artist must live abroad in some so-called art centre. If a man be an artist it makes little difference where he lives. (1)
New Yorker Arthur I. Keller (1867-1924) was a painter and an illustrator of many books of the Golden Age.

Hamilton King (1871-1941) created not one type of girl but two, his Coca-Cola Girl and his Hamilton King Girl for Turkish Trophies Cigarettes. He worked in pastel for many of his illustrations. His clients included Theatre Magazine.

John Cecil Clay (1875-1930) hailed from West Virginia. Like so many of his contemporaries, he drew lots of young, attractive women. His illustrations appeared in The Century Magazine, Good HousekeepingFrank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and Good Housekeeping.

Walter Taylor (1860-1943) was the oldest artist on the list above and the only Briton. I'm not sure why he would be included in a list of "Leading Magazine Illustrators of Country."

Renowned for his historical illustrations, Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933) got his start in his native city working for the Indianapolis News in the 1890s. By the turn of the century, he was in New York City and creating illustrations for leading magazines, especially Scribner's. His work has been reproduced on at least two U.S. postage stamps.

An illustration by F.C. Yohn from The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in an edition of 1926.

Early in his career, Yohn specialized in historical scenes and scenes of war and action, but he was equally good at more sedate tableaux, such as in this illustration. I don't know the source or the date, but I suspect this is from the period 1895-1910, judging from the artist's technique.

"You Can't Do That!" by Yohn, from Scribner's, August 1914, the month and year in which the Great War began. If you think steampunk is something new, think again: artists and authors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were busy at this kind of thing long before any of us were born. For more on Yohn, go to the following URL:


Born in Oregon, Henry Patrick Raleigh (1880-1944) was the only Westerner on this list. He was an extremely prolific and popular artist, illustrating, for example, more than 500 stories in The Saturday Evening Post. Even during the Great Depression, he was making more than $100,000 a year.

Worth Brehm (1883-1928) was the younger brother of George Brehm and like him was born in Anderson. Although he was an accomplished colorist, Brehm often worked in charcoal. He specialized in drawings of children, including for the Penrod stories of Booth Tarkington, which appeared in Cosmopolitan.

Another bit of misbehavior in the classroom, this time by Worth Brehm.

Finally, an illustration by Worth Brehm from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy New Year!

Note
(1)  Quoted on the website of the Society of Illustrators, here.

Original text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mary B. Grubb (1867-1941)

Mary B. Grubb was born on November 5, 1867, in Crawfordsville, Indiana, to Joseph and Emily "Emma" (Funk) Grubb. By her descent from Revolutionary War veterans Philip Kinder (Ginder) and Alexander Ross--and by her successful application--Mary was one of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She taught in public schools in Crawfordsville and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was also the Louisiana state supervisor of drawing. Mary seems to have alternated between Louisiana and Indiana early in her career, but from 1920 until her death in 1941, she called Crawfordsville, the Athens of Indiana, home.

In addition to being a classroom teacher, Mary B. Grubb wrote and illustrated books of instruction and books for children. These included:
  • The Industrial Primary Reader by Mary B. Grubb and Frances Lilian Taylor (Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1912)
  • When Mother Lets Us Make Gifts by Mary B. Grubb with illustrations by the author (New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1914)
  • Our Alphabet of Toys by Mary B. Grubb, illustrated by Carolyn S. Ashbrook (Harter, 1932)
When Mother Lets Us Make Gifts was part of a series of When Mother Lets Us titles published by Moffat, Yard and Company. The series also included a book by Stella G.S. Perry, about whom I have written on my blog Tellers of Weird Tales. Click here for the link

Mary B. Grubb worked as a freelance illustrator for many years and won many prizes at the Indiana State Fair for her leatherwork, basketry, needlepoint, embroidery, and other crafts. She was also a fine artist. Mary B. Grubb died on August 18, 1941, at age seventy-three and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Crawfordsville.

Our Alphabet of Toys (1932), with verses by Mary B. Grubb and pictures by Carolyn S. Ashbrook, also an Indiana artist and subject for another day.

An illustration from When Mother Lets Us Make Gifts by Mary B. Grubb (1914). (The title page of the book gives the author's name as Mary E. Grubb.) This illustration is not by Mary B. Grubb (the picture is initialed S.A.E.I.) . . . 

Instead for her book, Mary created a series of simple pictures for children to copy or use, including these Christmas designs.

Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Julia Boyd (1896-1938)

Fashion designer and commercial artist Julia K. Boyd was born on May 14, 1892, in Cambridge City, Indiana. Her parents were Dr. Horace B. Boyd and Carrie (Swearer) Boyd. Her family also included two sisters and two brothers: Oliver, Nellie M., Louise Belle, and Olin Boyd. Though Julia died young, only her mother and her younger brother Olin survived her.

Julia Boyd began designing fashions for her dolls and those of her friends when she was five years old. After graduating from Lincoln High School in her native city in 1910, she studied fashion design at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and at Columbia University. In 1920, she was working in Cambridge City as a commercial artist. By 1929, Julia was in Indianapolis, where she worked for the William H. Block Company, a department store known for its women's fashions and for its daily newspaper spreads advertising those fashions.

Julia Boyd spent seven years traveling the United States and sketching the clothing worn by women in society. She interpreted fashion for everyday women, though, insisting that the patterns made from her drawings be "easy to follow [and] interesting to work with." (1) Her fashion drawings and articles were syndicated nationally by Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) under the title Today's Pattern and sometimes under the subtitle "Julia Boyd Patterns." Readers of the feature could order patterns directly from Julia's own workshop in New York City.

Julia Boyd enjoyed an active life of work, travel, and recreation. She liked riding, playing golf, and swimming. For many years, she lived in New York City with her mother. Sadly, all of that came to an end with her death, from a brain tumor, on September 26, 1938, in a New York hospital. She was only forty-six years old. Julia Boyd was buried in the city of her birth.

Note
(1) Quoted in "Whets Women's Interest in Style" by Marion Young in St. Louis Star-Times, July 13, 1934, page 11. The photograph below is from the same article.






Backdated to October 15, 2017
Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, September 18, 2017

George W. Spayth (1892-1969)

Photographer, cartoonist, reporter, editor, and publisher George William Spayth was born on January 28, 1892, in New Fostoria or North Baltimore, Ohio. His parents were Frank M. and Hattie (Landon) Spayth. He had one brother, Franklin J. Spayth. George Spayth quit school to help support his family and had only an eighth-grade education. In 1900, the family was in Henry, Ohio, and in 1910 in Lima. By then Spayth's mother had remarried.

George Spayth got his first newspaper job in 1913 as a cub reporter in Janesville, Wisconsin. Over the years, he would work for the Milwaukee News, Washington TimesWashington Herald, Galveston News, Houston Chronicle, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Reading Times, and Camden Courier-Post. In 1917, he was in Washington, D.C., and working as an artist out of the Kenois Building. By 1920, he was in the area of Galveston and Houston, Texas. He started as an editorial cartoonist at the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Journal-Gazette in 1920. When he was a child, he had gone on a train ride with his mother and had passed through Fort Wayne. It was the first big city he had ever seen. Spayth spent the first half of the 1920s there, not far from his home in northwestern Ohio.

In addition to drawing cartoons for the Journal-Gazette, Spayth gave chalk talks in and around Fort Wayne and taught commercial art at the Knights of Columbus Evening School in his adopted city. By 1928, he was in Pennsylvania, where he worked for the Reading Times. His historical-educational comic strip Berks History in Pictures began appearing in the  Times on September 17, 1928. The initial plan was for the strip to cover Berks County history up to the present in 300 installments.

Spayth was still in Reading in 1930, but by 1932, he had moved further east, to Dunellen, New Jersey. He served as editor of The Chronicle of Dunellen before establishing his own newspaper business. From the 1930s until he sold his business in 1967, Spayth published what were called the Spayth Weeklies--The Weekly Call, The Piscataway Chronicle, The Middlesex Mirror, and The Store News--all under his company name of The County Press, Inc.

As he was nearing the end of his newspaper career, Spayth self-published a book, It Was Fun the Hard Way: The Autobiography of a Small Town Editor (1964). He was also an inventor whose brainchildren included a bookmark that automatically kept its place should the reader fall asleep while reading and a device for straightening parking meters. He was married twice, first to Annis L. (Salsbury) Spayth (1882-1957), also a journalist, second to Elizabeth (Crosswell) Spayth. His children by his first wife were Lillian June, Sue, and Joseph. You can find Sue Spayth Riley on the Internet.

George W. Spayth died August 21, 1969, at his home in Dunellen, New Jersey. He was seventy-seven years old.

An editorial cartoon by George W. Spayth from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, December 4, 1923.

What I believe are the first five installments of Berks History in Pictures by George W. Spayth, from the Reading Times, September 26, 1928. In his obituary, Spayth was described as a syndicated cartoonist, but his name does not appear in Allan Holtz's comprehensive American Newspaper Comics (2012). It may be that Berks History in Pictures was syndicated locally, and that might account for the artist's credit as a syndicated cartoonist. It may be also that Spayth's editorial cartoons were syndicated. In any case, his five years or so in Fort Wayne qualify George W. Spayth as a Hoosier cartoonist. We can also add his name to the list of Hoosiers who drew historical, informational, or factual comic strips, panels, or features.

Backdated to September 18, 2017.
Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Art and Artists of Indiana Digital Collection at the Indiana Historical Society

The Indiana Historical Society has announced the creation of its Art and Artists of Indiana Digital Collection. The emphasis in the collection is on the artists of the Hoosier Group, which included T.C. Steele, William Forsyth, Otto Stark, J. Ottis Adams, and Richard B. Gruelle. The collection includes artwork, photographs, correspondence, and publications. You can access it on line at this link:

http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16797coll51

A drawing by William Forsyth from the booklet Art Exhibit of the Hoosier Colony in M√ľnchen, Illustrated by the Bohe Club. The booklet is in the digital collection of the Indiana Historical Society. The members of the Bohe Club (short for Bohemian) included Forsyth, Frederick A. Hetherington, Thomas E. Hibben, C.L. McDonald, and Charles A. Nicolai. Works by T.C. Steele are also illustrated in the booklet. (The date of publication was 1885.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Summertime Picture from Johnny Gruelle

Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938) was born in Arcola, Illinois, but he grew up in Indianapolis, just east of the downtown area and not far from the Lockerbie Square neighborhood where James Whitcomb Riley lived. Gruelle's father, the artist Richard Buckner Gruelle (1851-1914), was friends with Riley (1849-1916). Known as the Hoosier Poet, Riley was famed for his poems of childhood and life in small-town Indiana, including "Little Orphant Annie" and "The Raggedy Man." The poem "Little Orphant Annie" lent its name to Harold Gray's long-running comic strip, Little Orphan Annie. (Like Johnny Gruelle, Gray was born in Illinois but lived in Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University in 1917.) Some years before that, Johnny Gruelle and his family took inspiration from "The Raggedy Man" and named their famous dolls, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, after Riley's poem.

The Gruelle family didn't live far from downtown Indianapolis, yet their neighborhood was rural, or at most suburban in character. I suspect the Gruelle children would have gone berry-picking when they were young. It's that time of year now, when the black raspberries, then the blackberries, ripen and are ready to pick. Berry-picking is the subject of the following picture and poem, the picture by Gruelle, the poem by Ethel Fairmont (1881-1977), from her book Rhymes for Kindly Children (Wise-Parslow, 1937). You can read more about Ethel Fairmont at the website of Nancy S. Weyant, here.

Some of the illustrator's pictures for Ethel's book are a little too British, but that's okay, for Johnny Gruelle was all American and a Hoosier at that. I should point out that today, July 22, 2017, is the anniversary of the death of James Whitcomb Riley. He died one hundred and one years ago, in the centennial year of the state in which he was born.



Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley