Showing posts with label Secret History of Comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Secret History of Comics. Show all posts

Friday, November 24, 2017

Back to the Future with Winsor McCay

by Mike Rhode

Warren Bernard is known to many as the Executive Director of the Small Press Expo, but he's also an indefatigable collector of specialties in the comic art field. He and I refer to these as the "Secret History of Comics." Lately, he's been providing a lot of ads drawn by New Yorker cartoonists to Michael Maslin's Ink Spill. When I visited him recently, he pulled out a whole box of Winsor McCay's editorial cartoons clipped from the Chicago Herald and Examiner. I looked through barely any of the box (there's always something more to see at his house), but what struck me was how sadly relevant are these cartoons dating from 1929-1930 by McCay (who was also creator of Little Nemo, and Gertie the Dinosaur, and a founding father of animation). Almost 90 years later, we're still dealing with many of the same issues and Warren provided scans for me to share with you.

There's a narcotics problem hollowing out the social and civil life of our country....

and an international drug problem...

...although it's apparent to everyone that the  War on Drugs dating back to Ronald Reagan and the 1980s has been a stunningly expensive failure.

Distrust and ill will lead to tariffs that block trade and business...

...while a President's speech disrupts international organizations.

Schools are failing their students, leading to high levels of ignorance... 


... which is infecting the mood of the country...

... leading to an endemic lack of trust in government among certain Americans ...

 ...while also filling prisons, which now are being run for profit, and thus prime for overcrowding. 

Public works projects, including highways, are desired by 'common citizens and tax payers' ...

... but the large companies in the country are using their power to manipulate Congress and the media on their own behalf...

...while farmers suffer from high seed prices, low commodity prices and high debt while big agribusinesses like Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland Company get even bigger. 

Meanwhile, there's ongoing probes of the Executive Branch and Congress for sexual, ethical, lobbying and foreign interference issues...

that's going to take a lot of effort to resolve and preserve democracy.

 Meanwhile, 16 years of ongoing wars have led to tens of thousands of veterans, many with medical issues, having problems integrating back into society.

Sadly, I'm afraid that Warren and I could have added many more cartoons if I had time to look through more than a tenth of the box.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Rube Goldberg says, "Beat It!"

As part of our 'Secret History of Comics,' here's a Mutt and Jeff Series Sweet Caporal cigarettes card that I picked up last weekend at a flea market. Although the back of the card says over 250 designs of "Original Pictures Illustrating Popular Phrases by 'Bud' Fisher, T.E. Powers, R.L. Goldberg, 'Tad', Gus Mager, etc., etc., Warman's Tobacco Collectibles: An Identification and Price Guide by Mark Moran, says that there's 100 cards. 

I don't see myself getting into collecting these, but I'd like to hear about other examples that people have.

Oddly enough, Goldberg's crazy designs for machines are making a comeback and you can buy toys with his name on in Target right now.




Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Nation covers itself with a Doonesbury strip on the President...

...and they would like you to know about it. It goes on sale March 14th.

Trump's War On The Media-And How Journalism Can Prevail:
Doonesbury and Columbia Journalism Review join special Nation issue on covering a hostile White House and regaining public trust and audiences.
This release is also published here.
New York, NY -- March 2, 2017 -- 
Donald Trump loves to attack the news media, but he wouldn't be president today without them, argues acclaimed press critic and guest editor Mark Hertsgaard in this special issue of The Nation. Gracing the cover of "Media in the Trump Era" (March 20, 2017) is a lacerating cartoon by legendary Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. The issue's articles -- some published in conjunction with The Columbia Journalism Review -- stress solutions, not lamentations. Plus, something not normally associated with The Nation: laughs! The issue's overriding purpose, however, is deadly serious: How should the news media cover the combative new president, and how can American journalism regain public trust and audiences?
Continued at

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Claude E. Toles exhibit at the Cosmos Club

Lieberman's favorite work by Toles (not exhibited)

by Mike Rhode

Randy Liebermann purchased a collection of Elmira, New York cartoonist Claude E. Toles a few years ago. A selection of the material is now on display at the Cosmos Club, which is only open to members and their guests. He kindly showed the exhibit to me last weekend and has agreed to let us feature it here.

Toles is barely known today. He worked for about 10 years from 1891-1901, before dying at age 26 of Bright's disease (ie kidney failure). In that time, he was stunningly prolific, doing over 6000 drawings, or 600 / year, or about 2 / day. Very few of these seem to have survived. The best source for information on Toles is John Adcock's article, A Remarkable Collection: C. E. Toles (1875-1901), and this link will take you to all of Adcock's articles on Toles, and more pictures. Alex Jay also did a fine job digging around on Tole's life, and Allan Holtz has another example on the same site. Liebermann had all of the pieces in this exhibit conserved, and they look very good indeed. The Library of Congress has a piece, described here.

The Cosmos Club's Art Committee chose Deja vu All Over Again: The Art of Claude E. Toles as the exhibit title because they felt that many of the political situations seen in Toles' 115-year-old cartoons were recurring now. Here's their exhibit text and Toles' editorial cartoons for the Elmira Telegram.


The first image a visitor sees is this one of a man who's too poor to have his shoes shined.

President Grover Cleveland and Congress were at odds over 
his Supreme Court nominees as the next four cartoons show. 

"David's Hornblower a Blasting Hoister for Grover's" depicts a modified Edison talking machine.

The President was at odds with Congress over his Supreme Court nominees.

 Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were looking very good to voters.

Despair - Liebermann noted that there was a depression from 1893-1897 but no social net.

Liebermann usually collects material on technology, and Uncle Sam grasping this wet cell battery shows the electric shock of racism over the annexation of Hawaii.

Toles drew Congress as lost in a snowstorm

A standard end of year cartoon for 1893.

Like any other working cartoonist, Toles did a wide variety of work including sheet music,

gag cartoons,

original art, with tear sheet in lower right

tearsheet with 19th century style joke

magazine mastheads (Twain also lived in Elmira),

proto-comic strip pages,

...and illustration work which doubled as social commentary.

"A Varsity Crew. As It Isn't" ca. 1899. Women didn't row in college

His rowers were definitely influenced by Charles Dana Gibson's Gibson Girls...
But his babies preceded Rose O'Neill's Kewpies by a few years...

And what this art nouveau fairy coxswain means is anyone's guess.

The only known photograph of Toles

Besides being very prolific, and short-lived, Toles may confuse historians due to his multiple signatures...

...which he definitely did on purpose when he moved to Baltimore to set up The International Syndicate which would sell stock images to a newspaper or magazine.

Toles drew most, if not all of the cartoons and illustrations in this book, but signed a variety of names to cartoons of different styles as demonstrated in his scrapbook, which Liebermann brought in for us to see.

Photo by RL

Finally, one last piece also not in the exhibit is this unsigned painting, which Liebermann had extensively conserved. Randy thinks it's a one-off piece; I think it shows that Toles was considering moving into the newly-enlarged illustration market which was about to enter its golden age.