Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Ally Sloper Mask

Publisher, art teacher, and Ally Sloper collector Bill Leach has been collecting Ally Sloper original art since the 1980s. His latest acquisition is a Victorian era papier-mâché Ally Sloper mask created in a factory using a mask mold. The mask has no manufacturer’s name or labeling. The mask is a bit damaged, says Bill, but he intends to repair and repaint the piece. Some might say to leave it as it is But it will bring me more joy when it is nicely painted. The Victorian British establishment was said to be startled by rumors that British railway-strikers were seen wearing Sloper masks at their rallies…

[8] Stereograph photo card of a man in Ally Sloper mask posing with a 3D stereo-view camera.


Friday, May 11, 2018

The Art of Rube Goldberg Exhibit in San Francisco

The Art of Rube Goldberg 
is currently on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 
San Francisco, California, through July 8, 2018.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Eddie Campbell’s The Goat Getters

“Goat getting” long has been a favorite stunt of many great ring-men. But I’ve never practiced the art. I’ve never tried by one ruse or another, by trickery or subterfuge, to take the nerve or the confidence out of my opponent. I felt it wasn’t necessary … This “goat getting” is supposed to get a man so excited and so frothy that he loses control of his poise and his calmness, and in his own furious anger swings wildly, and is always off balance because of frantic eagerness to deliver a killing punch. Gene Tunney, heavyweight boxing champion,  March 10, 1927
by John Adcock

MAJOR THESIS. Comic artist Eddie Campbell’s latest book — elaborately titled inside as, THE GOAT GETTERS: A new angle on the beginnings of comics casting a bright spotlight on THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY. And Reserving a Few Mellow Sidelights for The San Francisco Graft Trials, Harry Thaw’s Murderous Crime Of Passion, The Story of the Lemon. ARTISTS: JIMMY SWINNERTON!! TAD DORGAN!! ROBERT EDGREN!! BUD FISHER!! RUBE GOLDBERG!! GEORGE HERRIMAN!! written and designed by Eddie Campbell — is not yet available but already causing some conversation over its major thesis; that the early sporting cartoon, as practiced by men like Tad Dorgan, George Herriman and Rube Goldberg, is the “missing link” in histories detailing the origin of the daily black & white newspaper comic strip.

BIRTHPLACE SAN FRANCISCO. The Amazon blurb (where the reader can sample a chapter or two) in similar fashion presents the book as “a new take on the origin of the comic strip,” while Eddie Campbell claims that the sporting page was the venue for the invention of the daily comic strip, and that San Francisco was its birthplace. Is it a coincidence that the best of these cartoonists, Tad Dorgan, George Herriman, Rube Goldberg, and Milt Gross (once Tad’s office-boy) carried their slang-heavy verbal and artistic slapstick into the most successful of the daily newspaper comic strips? I think not — and each and all of them drew their verbal inspiration from Tad Dorgan.

SPORTING LANGUAGE. Critics like myself do not have to agree with Campbell’s conclusions to enjoy this splendid book, a sprawling epic which aims and succeeds in providing “a reconstruction of the whole picture,” with a focus on boxing, counting the days when the sporting pages — modeled on the British sporting newspapers like Pierce Egan’s Life in London and Sporting Guide (1824) and Bell’s Life in London (1827) — gave several sporting cartoonists ample column space to experiment with vivid language and pictures. The language was the language of the sporting underworld; rich in slang, celebrating the gambler, the pug, the bum, the gangster, and the rube. This was during a period when boxing was illegal in most states and fights were staged on barges, in farmer’s fields, and in sweltering boomtowns in the desert. Ears were torn, eyes were gouged, and tons of blood were spilled. Most of the sporting cartoonists of this era (approximately 1894-1913) not only celebrated this preoccupation with the lag’s life — they lived it. To them it was the most significant and fondly remembered time of their lives.

FIRST TIME. The Goat Getters is the first time an author has attempted to chronicle the entire early days of the sporting cartoon and my hat is off to Eddie Campbell for his superb work in hunting down, cleaning up, and collecting together over 500 illustrations from those far off golden days. Campbell is a marvelous writer too. He brings the natural insight of a cartoonist and a humorist to his observations. Among the many artists covered are Homer Davenport, Jimmy Swinnerton, Tad Dorgan, Robert Edgren, Bud Fisher, Harry Warren, Rube Goldberg, George Herriman, Kate Carew, Fay King, Clare Briggs, Harry Hershfield, A.D. Condo, Nell Brinkley, Dan Leno, Hype Igoe, Robert Ripley, Sid Smith, Pete Llanuza, and a large number of other comickers both famed and forgotten. And oh yes, there are goats, plenty of goats — fifty on the last 4 pages alone.

Front cover title: 
THE GOAT GETTERS. Jack Johnson, the FIGHT of the CENTURY, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics, by Eddie Campbell, IDW Publishing/Ohio State University Press (The Library of American Comics), Hardcover, 320 pp., ISBN 978-1684051380 — available May 1, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

In the roads of Paree with cartoonist Pierlis

1909 [1] Detail.

Frenchman Pierre-Marie-Joseph Lissac (March 19, 1878, Limoges - 1955, Chevreuse) worked as cartoonist under the pennames ‘Pierlis,’ ‘Pierre Lissac’ and ‘Kiss.’ Bylined as Pierlis he did these large cartoons for Le Rire. This is a selection of fifteen, published as full-pagers in 1909-13. 

1890s [2] Title design of Le Rire weekly, Paris, France.
1909 [3] Small exercises. March 13.
1909 [4] War preparation. April 10.
1909 [5] The army’s role during a general strike. May 1.
1909 [6] A pretty Paris fire. May 29.
1909 [7] Large exercises. Sep 25.
1910 [8] Swedish gymnastics. Nov 19.
1910 [9] Melancholia. Feb 18. 
1910 [10] Air support. Aug 5. Signed with both his penname Pierlis and his real name Pierre Lissac. 
1910 [11] Nine days of camping. Oct 7.
1910 [12] First contacts. Nov 4.
1910 [13] Dung duty. April 5.
1910 [14] A fixed solution. May 10.
1910 [15] The husbands’ train. Aug 23.
1910 [16] A new school year starts. Oct 4.
1913 [17] Militairy program. Dec 20.
1913 [18] Found no photo of Pierre Lissac yet.

Pictures selected by Huib van Opstal from the Gallica archives.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Leo “The Lion” – Cartoonist O’Mealia

1913 [1] Odd Facts About Stars of Prize Ring, in The San Francisco Call, Sep 15. “…“Jack” Johnson always laughs when in the ring…”
“What did Leo do today?” was the question from the steady Daily News readers of his time. A sports cartoonist like no other I’ve seen doing this work, Leo had a style all his own. It was pen and ink painstakingly applied — line by line — by his talented hand, adding to it a whimsical sense of humor. He signed his name “By Leo” and put his trademark small lion in every drawing. The lion was a lovable little squirt of an animal who sometimes would run around the edges of the cartoon delivering a message. A cartoon without that lion was not a genuine Leo. — sporting cartoonist Bill Gallo, 1960

1913 [2] Lion plus Leo signature.

Leo Edward O’Mealia was born in Le Roy, New York, March 31, 1884. The family moved when he was fourteen and he grew up in Rochester New York where he “played baseball in the Caledonian Avenue vacant lots that back up to the Pennsylvania Railroad yards, and he was a pupil in Immaculate Conception school.” O’Mealia’s first job as a cartoonist was on the old Rochester Herald under John Scott Clubb where “I was put on sports … they made an artist out of me.” His most popular creation was called Sod Bug, about an insect who commented on local baseball games. From the Herald he moved to the Rochester Times, still drawing sporting cartoons, and compiling a collection of his newspaper cartoons titled Mut and Flea Brain Leaks. He sold over 1000 copies in advance of publication.
1913 [3] Three Men in a Tub, in The Evening Herald, July 29. “…I thought it was very dangerous, but it’s nothing but cheese!…”
Mr. O’Mealia worked on the New York Journal under the late Winsor McCay, once one of the best-known cartoonists in the country, and was assistant to the famous “Tad” Dorgan, the sports cartoonist of the daily paper. When Tad’s heart, which he always said was one of those “dime-a-dozen tickers,” gave out, Leo subbed and later succeeded the renowned Dorgan. Comic Strip Artist Visiting Old Home Town, in Rochester Democrat Chronicle, Aug 3, 1935
Winsor McCay was drawing political cartoons for Hearst at the time and touring the vaudeville circuit with the animated Gertie the Dinosaur. The company made a stop in Rochester and played the Temple theatre. John (Mickey) Finny, the Temple’s manager, introduced McCay to O’Mealia over a poker game. Through McCay’s intercession he was given a job as cartoonist on the “sporting side” of the New York Evening Journal. There he was given into the charge of sporting cartoonists/columnists Tad Dorgan and Hype Igoe.
1913 [4] The History of a White Hope No. 1, in The San Francisco Call, Sep 2. “…He “threw” all the strong men…”
On the journal he was doing small fill in bits when Arthur Brisbane, Hearst’s great editor, stopped at the young man’s drawing board, admired his work, and advanced him to a full-fledged sports cartoonist. At that time, he adopted the slogan “Leo the Lion,” which has identified his sports cartoons ever since.Seen and Heard, Henry W. Clune, Democrat Chronicle, June 13, 1957
1913 [5] The History of a White Hope, in The San Francisco Call, Oct 15. “…Moran walked all around the ring…”
The Great White Hope era began on Dec 27, 1908 when Negro boxer Jack Johnson defeated the Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. Jack London, journalist, called for retired champion James Jeffries to return to the ring to “remove the smile from Johnson’s face.” The period ended April 5, 1915 when Jack Johnson lost the Heavyweight Championship to Jess Willard at Havana, Cuba.

1913 [6] Here’s a Regular Hard Luck Story, in The San Francisco Call, Oct 27. “…He holds the stakes…”
One of O’Mealia’s one-panel serials on the sports page was about a boxer named George “Sledge” Seiger, titled The History of a White Hope. O’Mealia left after two years to draw comic strips for Associated Newspapers syndicate. For the next seventeen years he drew comic strips. Among them were Little Pal, Freddie’s Film, Jungle Definitions and Wedlocked. In 1929 he began drawing an adventure strip called Sherlock Holmes (the Conan Doyle character he was also illustrating reissues of novels at the time) followed by another comic strip, Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu.

1930 [7] Sherlock Holmes – The Musgrave Ritual; A New Adventure, Leo O’Maelia comic strip after Conan Doyle.
The busy cartoonist was reported to have assisted Percy Crosby on Skippy and Robert Ripley on Believe It or Not. He gave up comic strips in the early 30s to work as a free-lance illustrator and as a comic book artist at National periodicals drawing for More Fun, Action, Adventure and Detective Comics. He was one of the cartoonists Jerry Siegel considered for the drawing of Superman.

1950s [8] “I’ll string along.” Opening of the Baseball Season — with the  Pirates, Reds, Orioles, Senators, and a Dodger fan.
1950s [9] Photo of Leo O’Mealia.
In 1939 O’Mealia signed on with the New York Daily News. His first assignment was illustrating Jimmy Powers sporting column. Leo (“The Lion”) Edward O’Mealia died on May 7, 1960, at Brooklyn, New York.

1955 [10] Who’s a Bum! Leo O’Mealia’s classic victory cover outsold every other paper that October Wednesday when the Dodgers beat the Yankees — read Bill Gallo’s background story in our Further Reading link to the Daily Mail.
Other cartoonists signing with ‘Leo’ were the American Leo Hershfield, the Dutch Leo Debudt, and the Dutch Alfred Leonardus Mazure or Maz.

FURTHER READING. Genuine Leo – Gallo Remembers Leo O’Mealia, by sporting cartoonist Bill Gallo in the New York Daily News, May 8, 1960 HERE.