Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hector Brault IV

Here's Bronco Prairies and Héros du Rail with banner by Hector Brault. these British reprints show the influence of Walter Booth. Coconino has a Walter Booth site under construction HERE with one quality adventure in pop-ups, Le Moteur d'Or, with a trip by Rob the Rover and Dan by ship and rail to Vancouver, B.C., Indians, canoes, snowshoes, and a dog-sled that becomes a sail-sled.

Hector Brault III

Le Loupe de l'Ouest with banner illustrated by art director Hector Brault, scanned carefully to preserve what's left of this thrilling looking adventure. Date unknown.

Hector Brault II

More great Hector Brault banners from Le Samedi 19 Septembre 1942, Le Secret du Manoir.

Hector Brault

Hector Brault illustrated the top banners over reprinted British comic serials for Montréal's Le Samedi magazine. Brault was the magazine's art director. This page is from 19 Septembre 1942. Brault illustrated “Tom Brinfin et Dodolf” in 1942 as seen here on Lambiek.

An illustrated history of québécoise bande dessinée here at BDQ.

*Thanks to Michel Saint-Loup and Michel Viau for their helpful comments. Beyond the Funnies: The History of Comics in English Canada and Quebec (here) was co-authored and co-curated by comics scholars John Bell and Michel Viau.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Toronto Mystery Men I

“Everything I ever attempted in the way of serious art seemed to me to have a humorous streak in it.” - Richard Taylor

The first rather grim Tely Mystery Men strip appeared May 3, 1924, under a title banner reading simply "? ?? ???" The unnamed threesome looked like undertakers in their tall stovepipe hats and white gloves. Each Mystery Man wore a long black overcoat which swept the ground only distinguished by a different number of buttons, one two and three, and as the strip went on the audience was to discover that minus the hats, the hairs on their heads matched the number of buttons on their coats. If that wasn’t enough to delight readers of the "Tely" they were equipped with blank oval eyeballs.

A photo of Richard "Dick" Taylor appeared on the same page. He was a handsome dreamy-eyed lad with a neat part in his hair and was wearing a striped tie. "Dick", we were informed, was born in Fort William, Ontario in 1903 and moved to Toronto one year later. His first art teacher was a local portrait painter, and he continued his studies at the Toronto Central Technical School.

To promote the new Canadian strip, the Features Editor ran another contest offering Fifty Dollars (split amongst 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners) to christen each of the un-named "Three Funny Fellows." Both the daily strip (still headlined by the mysterious "? ?? ???" ), and the TELY MYSTERY MEN contest ran side by side with weekly updates and exhortations to contestants. Banner blurbs beamed to the reader from above and below panel. You, too, could win a $25 Grand Prize for naming the Mystery trio.

"I suggest as the names for the Three Mystery Men in Dick’s Comic Strip : --The Pickwick Hicks, Pick, Hick and Wick. Being so much alike, so are their names. Their humor is somewhat akin to the innocent homeroom adventures of Dickens’ Pickwick Club. One of them generally leads and picks the action, another is quick (Wick) to execute the action. The other is generally the ‘Hick’ of the joke or humor," wrote the winner, W. Hargreaves.

On October 27, 1924 the "Tely" Mystery Men came to a finish.

While MM was still appearing another contest had begun,the Pup-U-Larity Contest, with stuffed toys and one real dog worth $100 given away as prizes. The purpose was to promote a new strip by the American cartoonist Frank Hopkins, the "Tely" Snuggle Pups, from the John F. Dille Co., which began October 21, 1924 and ran until January 8, 1925.

Dick Taylor, (1902-1970) cartoonist and water-color painter,went on to work for The Goblin, Collier's, Esquire, The New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia he drew one other comic strip in 1935 (so far I haven't been able to trace this one) , "Dad Plugg," for a Canadian communist periodical, The Worker, signing himself "Ric."

Below and in the following post are a selection including the first and last strip.

The Toronto Mystery Men II

Queen City Ink

On August 30, 1924 Toronto's Exhibition grounds were treated to the startling sight of three men dressed as the Tely Mystery Men. The Mystery Men were characters in a comic strip and they owed their existence to a Toronto Telegram comic strip contest won by 21 year old Richard Taylor, a future cartoonist on the New Yorker and Esquire.

"Here’s an impression in black and white line work of the Evening Telegram’s "Snuggle Pup" float at he Exhibition on Young Canada’s Day this week. Amateur black and white artists will find it interesting to compare the drawing with the photograph of the same float given in the Children’s Tely to-day. The "Mystery Men," Dick’s comic creations of the imagination, were there in the flesh and entertained the children by their antics. When the photograph was taken they were off down the midway, surrounded by an exuberant throng of youngsters."

(A note on the poor reproductions accompanying the following post. When Canadian newspapers were first microfilmed the original newspapers holdings were dumped in the trash. This crime against history left poorly photographed often illegible pictures to work with. I have tried more than once to obtain clear copies but this is the best I could do. Bill Blackbeard was the man responsible for saving color comic sections in the United States without which modern books about comic strips would also have to rely on poor microfilm copies for their volumes of comic history.)

The Toronto Telegram ran 3 comic strips in 1924 ; Pantomime by J. H. Streidel, Adamson's Adventures by O. Jacobson, and Rube Goldberg's ever-changing daily. OOjah, Punch artist Thomas Maybank's comic elephant, appeared on the children's page, and Gluyas Williams supplied daily one and two-panel gags. TheToronto Telegram made up for the lack of strips with "Comic Art Contests," so that every Saturday they would publish a large page made up from the contributions of local Toronto artists (see Charlie Chump).The pay was in cash prizes and large numbers of would-be cartoonists answered the call. The Features Editor claimed 3000 to 4000 contributions to the contest that gave birth to Richard "Dick" Taylor's "Mystery Men" comic strip.

The 1st two contests were for single-panel work but Comic Art Contest No. 3 was a comic strip competition, and the readers responded in droves. On April 5, 1924 a full page of four panel strips from readers were published under the blurb, "Out of Queen City Ink Bottles New Funny Folk Are Created." Prizes were 2, 5, and 10 dollars, and could be much less when the prizes were shared among competitors. Many of the same aspiring cartoonists contributed weekly comics for years, affording a ready source of cheap material for the Telegram. Isabel Byers, F. J. Willatt, Lloyd E. Dodson, and J. M. Barnett (author of MOLLY MORPHEUS DREAMS) were regulars. Dedicated amateur Bert Rolestone kept his strip SALLY IN OUR ALLEY going on weekly prize money for an extended period of time.

The contests were a very good deal for the Telegram. They nourished the dreams of a load of young and old gentlemen and ladies, and were probably widely enjoyed by readers and the relatives of the prize-winners. The Toronto Evening Telegram’s 3rd Comic Cartoons Competition closed on March 31st, 1924, and the $25 first prize went to 21 year old Richard Taylor for his comic strip The Mystery Men, which was promoted by the paper as The "Tely" Mystery Men.

To Be Continued....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Charles R. Snelgrove

Charles R. Snelgrove was quite a talented cartoonist but, again, nothing bographical is available. Lambiek claims he died in 1939. If true it must have been sudden as his last Robin Hood strip was printed on November 11, 1939. His beefy Robin Hood drawings were for another strip from Men of the Mounted author Ted McCall.