Friday, May 22, 2015

Original Art from the “Sloperies”

[1] Ally Sloper in Close-Up. William Baxter original, 
ink on lightweight paper, 1886.

American publisher Bill Leach has been collecting Ally Sloper original art since the 1980s. His mother’s maiden name was Sloper, so “what started out as a minor interest has become a major addiction.” Along with Dennis Cunningham, founder of Weirdom fanzine, later Weirdom Illustrated, Bill Leach ran the graphic print shop Grafitti Graphics in Clearlake, California, from 1977 to ’87.

In 1986 Leach bought all of the Rich Corben art Cunningham had in his possession and republished Corben’s Tales from the Plague, originally published in Weirdom Illustrated no. 13 in 1969. Corben supplied a new cover and “I got Corben to use my face on the torch wielding maniac, so I have that on my resume now!…” With Barry Cunningham, brother of Dennis, he published four issues of County Comix in 1981-82, featuring Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Clearlake titles.

[2] Heads of the People. Full-page William Baxter cartoon, Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, Oct 23, 1886.
ABOUT 150 years ago, Judy (subtitled: ‘or The London Serio-Comic Journal’) began to be published in London, its first issue was dated 1 May 1867, its last 23 October 1907. The comic character Ally Sloper F.O.M. (Friend of Man) came into the world on 14 August 1867 in a comic page with the strange title “Some of the Mysteries of Loan and Discount,” by author-artist Charles Henry Ross.

FUN. Then, in 1870, the comic journal Fun, rival to the weeklies Punch and Judy, was bought by the Dalziel Brothers, a long-established family firm of wood-engravers, the largest in London at the time. The firm was started in 1840 by the two brothers George (b.1815) and Edward Dalziel (b.1817). In 1872 the Dalziels also purchased the title Judy. Edward’s son, Gilbert Dalziel became its business conductor. In 1883 Charles Henry Ross sold all rights to his Ally Sloper character to Gilbert Dalziel of Dalziel Brothers, who then launched Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday with proprietor W.J. Sinkins on May 3, 1884. This publication ran until September 9, 1916. It was revived unsuccessfully in 1922 and again in 1948. The address of its editorial offices was given as “The Sloperies,” 99 Shoe Lane, EC. Primary art was by William Giles Baxter or W.G.B. (1856-88) and, after his early death, by William Fletcher Thomas (1862-1922). 

NO FUN. The Dalziel Brothers who bought those magazines in the 1870s, saw their wood-engraving business dwindle during the 1880s photomechanical reproduction revolution, and went bankrupt in 1893.    

[3] “May Your X-MAS Day Be Happy, and Your Bills Be Light.” Original William Thomas art, 1899.
[4] Bill Leach with the William Thomas original.
[5] The “Sloperies” – Editor’s Bell. Sloper and Freedom. Original William Baxter art, 1880, 32 x 25 cm.
[6] “Billstickers will be prosecuted!” Original William Baxter art, Christmas 1882, 33 x 27 cm.
[7] The Eastern Crisis. – Grease: Its Use and Abuse. Full-page William Baxter strip of cartoons, Ally Sloper's Half Holiday, Feb 6, 1886.
[8] A Cabinet Council at “The Sloperies.” Full-page William Baxter cartoon, Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, Aug 21, 1886.
[9] Turning over a New Leaf. William Baxter cover, Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, Jan 2, 1886.
[10] Our Contempo-Raree Show. Businessman Gilbert Dalziel pictured by Houghton, FUN, May 21, 1895.
[11] Bound volume, Gilbert Dalziel’s signature, 1886.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Death and Mr Pickwick – a novel

“MY DEAR CHARLIE, – There has been going on for years an attempt on the part of Seymour’s widow, to extort money from me, by representing that he had some inexplicable and ill-used part in the invention of Pickwick ! ! ! ” — writer  Charles Dickens in a letter to his son, dated April 4, 1866
by John Adcock
BRITISH literature in serial form goes back as far as the 17th century but serial novels entered the mainstream in February of 1836, when a young Charles Dickens (24), a reporter on the Morning Chronicle, agreed to write the text to accompany comic prints by the illustrator Robert Seymour. Four hundred copies of the first instalment were printed and appeared on March 31, 1836, under a very long title — The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club containing a faithful record of the Perambulations, Perils, Travels, Adventures and Sporting Transactions of the Corresponding Members, edited by “Boz” the name under which Dickens rose to fame — with four illustrations by Seymour, published by Chapman and Hall in London.

Pickwick Club sales were slow at first, on April 20 illustrator Seymour (37) placed the muzzle of a fowling piece into his mouth and blew out his brains after the second number of the series, but despite this inauspicious start Pickwick recovered and went on to become the most beloved character in English fiction. Now, nearly 180 years later, Death and Mr Pickwick tells of the “creation and afterlife” of Dickens’ most popular novel.

PLOT AND STORY. The narrator is a hack writer employed by a collector of Pickwickian texts and illustrations to write Death and Mr Pickwick under the pseudonym Inscriptino. The collector uses the pseudonym Mr. Inbelicate, referring to a printer’s error in the first edition of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.

Caricaturist Robert Seymour is pictured as a gay married man who suffers from a melodramatic depressive nature. The suspense builds to an excruciating pitch as Dickens and his collaborators shoulder Robert Seymour into second place status on Pickwick, steal his original characters, and spend the rest of their lives covering up the theft. Charles Dickens, John Forster, and Chapman and Hall are not presented in a sympathetic light.

Scenes shift as we observe the celebrated men of the period mingle in gin-houses, highway inns and print-shops. Among the characters are Thomas Rowlandson, illustrator of The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, Pierce Egan, author of Life in London, George Cruikshank, illustrator of Jack Sheppard, the engraver George Adcock, Rudolph Ackermann, William Heath, Gilbert à Beckett, Robert William Buss and “Phiz” (Hablôt Knight Browne). The caricaturist’s wife, Jane Seymour, is one of the strongest female characters.

AUTHOR. Stephen Jarvis, the English author of Death and Mr Pickwick – a novel, a book of 800+ pages based on the life of caricaturist Robert Seymour, builds a splendidly satisfying story from the rubble and romance of obscure episodes in the history of illustrated British literature.

Death and Mr Pickwick – a novel,
Available May 21, 2015, from
Random House (UK) and
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US)

See the Sketches by Seymour HERE.

Jarvis’ novel is already praised as  “…a phenomenon itself…”

★ Peter Kemp in The Sunday Times, May 17 HERE.
(this TST review is only available to subscribers 
but also pasted into author Stephen Jarvis’ facebook page HERE.)
★ Lucasta Miller in The Independent, May 17 HERE.
★ Nicholas Dames Was Dickens a Thief ?” in The Atlantic, May 20 HERE.
Kirkus Review, May 15 HERE.
Publisher’s Weekly, June HERE.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Illingworth’s Genius on VE Day 1945

1945 [1] Illingworth’s VE Day cartoon, Daily Mail, 8 May.

TODAY is the day of Victory Europe in England, VE Day 70. Seventy years ago Hitler and the Nazis were defeated by the Allies, and London went out on the street again free. World War II was finally won. 

L.G. ILLINGWORTH, Welsh-born staff artist of the Daily Mail, published a memorable cartoon that day. He had drawn war cartoons for years, especially in Punch and the Daily Mail, and he knew long before that liberation day would come. 

1945 [2] It’s all over… The VE Day front-page of the London Daily Mail, No. 15,290 of Tuesday 8 May, price: one penny. Illingworth’s large cartoon is on the reverse, on page 2.
Enjoy Illingworth’s wartime genius!

1944 [3] Christmas 1944 in the US. Americans are busy shopping. By Illingworth, 23 December.
1945 [4] The war in Poland. By Illingworth, 15 January.
1940s [5] Leslie Gilbert Illingworth (1902-79), a little self-portrait.
1939 [6] “Why not an offensive today?…” By Illingworth, 2 November.
1939 [7] “Why so startled, Fuhrer? Don’t you recognize one of your first members of the party?…” By Illingworth, 10 November.
1940 [8] Neutrality. By Illingworth, 22 January.
1940 [9] A surprise for breakfast. By Illingworth, 27 January.
1940 [10] Careless listening costs lives. By Illingworth, 27 March — “with apologies to Fougasse.”
1943 [11] The Dogs of War. By Illingworth, 2 September.
1943 [12] Where is Hitler? By Illingworth, 15 March.
1943 [13] Donkeys spread rumours. By Illingworth, 11 September.
1944 [14] Here lies the German general staff. By Illingworth, 6 October.
1944 [15] Hitler’s special excursion to victory. By Illingworth, 31 July.
1950s [16] Leslie Gilbert Illingworth, self-portrait on scraperboard.
1970s [17] Little self-portrait.

The genius of Illingworth is best illustrated in the 4,563 cartoons held in The National Library of Wales (most of the pictures shown above come from it), an incredible collection, for the larger part original art, HERE — just start searching for ‘Illingworth.’

See Tony Robinson’s Victory in Europe, a brand new documentary on Discovery Channel, HERE.

And see VE Day in numbers, HERE.

Thanks to Huib van Opstal,
and to Brian Hughes from
Surbiton, Surrey (1937-2010),
who cut out and saved Illingworth’s 
Daily Mail’s VE Day cartoon
as a young lad.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How “TAD” Amused Millions for Years

“TAD hated ‘sob’ stories” — Original by Louis Biedermann.
When TAD died on May 2, 1929, San Francisco Mayor Rolph ordered all public buildings in that city to fly the flag at half-mast. As Rolph noted: “TAD was San Francisco and San Francisco was Tad. The world has lost a great man and San Francisco has lost a great son.”

SLANGUAGE. Wilfred J. Funk, the dictionary publisher, credited ten Americans with “fashioning the current American ‘slanguage.’” In order they were H.L. Mencken, T.A. “TAD” Dorgan, Walter Winchell, Bugs Baer, Ring Lardner, Sime Silverman, Damon Runyon, Gelett Burgess, George Ade and Gene Buck. 

Memorial to TAD in US papers, June 23, 1929.
TAD is the writer-artist name of Thomas Aloysius Dorgan. Born in 1877 on April 29 in San Francisco, California, USA. Died aged 52 in 1929, on May 2 in Great Neck, Long Island. Married to Izola G. Dorgan, born around 1885.
Images courtesy of Brian Walker, a founder of the International Museum of Comic Art.
Full-page newspaper article titled How “TAD” Amused Millions for Years While He Outgamed Death. Untold Intimate Tales of the Great Cartoonist Who Laughed Away the Tremendous Odds Against Him. With a Last Portrait bij Louis Biedermann (who added “from photo” to his signature), four photographs, and illustrations bij TAD and George Herriman.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chalk Talk and Lightning Cartoonists

[1] J.W. Bengough.

by John Adcock  

IN an 1895 interview with Frank Beard the American artist claimed to have originated the chalk talk “about twenty years ago (1875).” Claims like this one should always be treated with suspicion; a case could be made that cave paintings might have been accompanied by lectures thus qualifying as chalk talks. The earliest lectures on caricature with diagrams would appear to be by the pioneering British/American cartoonist Frank Bellew as noted in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on December 28, 1861, as follows,
“We are glad to see that Frank Bellew, Esq., is about to make the public partake of his extensive knowledge of Comic Literature and Caricatures, by giving Lectures upon those subjects. The first is to be on Caricature, and will be illustrated by humorous diagrams made at the moment. 
The second will be on the London Punch which cannot fail to be of great interest, as he has been, and still is, one of its favored contributors and artists. When it is said that he is also the leading caricaturist of Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun, we can add nothing more in his favor. His first Lecture will be given in New York.”
The earliest American chalk talkers seem to have entertained in churches, YMCA type organizations, and later Vaudeville. In England it was done through churches and Music Halls. In time the cartoonists took up the stage and lecture hall billing themselves as “lightning cartoonists.”

[3] An outdoor chalk talk by Charles L. ‘Bart’ Bartholomew.
A newspaper column from February 13, 1876, comments on Beard doing a chalk talk in a church in Wisconsin. A squib from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on July 29, 1875, mentioned “Thomas Nast will chalk and talk again. Beecher will talk, but will not chalk. That is to say, each will lecture the coming season.” Canadian political cartoonist J.W. Bengough, of Toronto, Ontario, gave his first chalk talk with cartoons at the Toronto Mechanics’ Institute on March 20, 1874. He used black conté crayons “not much thicker than slate pencils” on white newsprint paper. Thomas Nast was his hero.

[4] Caricaturist Tom Merry.
The earliest chalk-talking cartoonists I have found in England were Tom Merry, billed as the “Lightning Portrait Delineator” in the May 28, 1876, theatrical paper The Era, and Edgar Austin billed as the “Lightning Cartoonist and Instantaneous Sketchist.” I found the following description of Austin in The Standard for March 5, 1879: “Edgar Austin’s lightning cartoons of well-known people are truly astounding.” Austin was the stage name of William Edgar Piercey or Piercy who died in his lodging on the Waterloo Road, Lambeth, at 32 years of age on February 28, 1893.

[5] Valda, the Lightning Cartoonist, Chums, May 9, 1894.
Other early British practitioners of the chalk mentioned in newspaper advertisements were Alfredo, “the Lightning Cartoonist,” who was featured in Pall Mall Gazette, Oct 22, 1899, and Erskine Williams, “the young  Lightning Cartoonist,” in The Era, Oct  12, 1889.

[6] Livingston Hopkins, 1892.
Bengough toured Australia with his chalk talk performance and in 1899 American/Australian cartoonist Livingston Hopkins of the Sydney Bulletin gave a humorous lecture on caricature in that city using chalk on a blackboard.

[7] Clare Briggs.
In 1913 May Van Dyke was in Vaudeville billed as the “girl lightning cartoonist.” Traveling medicine shows also had their performing cartoonists. Ludwig, an American lightning cartoonist of 1916 was billed as “21 years of age and 21 inches tall.”

[8] Neysa McMein.
By 1895 lightning cartoonists were ubiquitous in Europe and the Americas particularly among the artists of the comic supplements. Clare Briggs, Sidney Smith, John T. McCutcheon, Fontaine Fox, Frank Wing, Carey Orr, Frank King and Winsor McCay were the most illustrious names associated with lightning cartooning. McCay carried it further than most — he gave lectures while pointing his stick at animated motion pictures.

[9] Robert Ganthony.
The ancient entertainment is still ongoing although ink markers and paper have replaced chalk and blackboards. You can watch film of the great British lightning cartoonist Bill Tidy in action HERE and HERE.

[10] Winsor McCay.
[11] J.W. Bengough.
[12] Charles L. ‘Bart’ Bartholomew.
[13] Clare Briggs.
[14] Frank King.
[15] John T. McCutcheon.
[16] Sidney Smith.
[17] Sidney Smith.
[18] Reverend Phillips E. Osgood.
[19] Fontaine Fox.
[20] Charles Plumb.
[21] Sidney Smith.
[22] J. Stuart Blackton.
[23] Winsor McCay.

Random Recollections 
by Robert Ganthony (1899) HERE.

Chalk Talk and Crayon Presentations 
by ‘Bart’ (1922) HERE.

J.W. Bengough’s Chalk Talks (1922) HERE.