Monday, December 1, 2008

James Simpkins (1910-2004)

Jasper by Winnipeg cartoonist James Simpkins, January 3, 1970, Edmonton Journal comic section.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Comic Advertising: Montréal

From Le Samedi 20 octobre 1956. The top advertisement surprised me. The toque, the lumberjack shirt, the moustache, the gum-boots -- this French-Canadian depiction is the same as the English stereotype. The difference is that unlike the dastardly villain of the movies this fellow is a real hero.

Hector Brault VII

Some more British reprints from Le Samedi 20 Octobre 1956. It's hard to tell the original source but cowboy heroes Ken Maynard and Tim McCoy were featured in other strips I'm guessing it may have been Film Fun or it's companion Kinema Comics. Another possibility is a short lived comic called Film Picture Stories which ran 30 issues in 1934-1935. Buck Jones was featured on the covers. All three were edited by Fred Cordwell and published by Amalgamated Press.

See all Hector Brault posts HERE.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Comic Art of Arch Dale

TOP > Arch Dale portrait with his creations, the Dog, the Little Man and a Doo Dad drawn by Free Press artist Robert Reck.

Arch Dale was born in Dundee, Scotland on May 31, 1882 and in later years would bitterly recall the poverty and violence of the slum-dwelling coal miners, factory workers and their families. At the age of seventeen Dale began his career as a cartoonist, first on the Dundee Courier and later on the Glasgow News. He relocated to London where he worked on the early comics published by Alfred Harmsworth; Comic Cuts and the Funny Wonder. The two comics were bundled together and sold overseas in Canada at five cents a shot. Dale’s editor in London gave him ship-fare for Canada where he took up homesteading in the Touchwood Hills, in Saskatchewan, an area of rolling hills, grass, and water, ideal for cattle-ranching.

Dale’s homestead was 100 miles from a railway and he later claimed it was his craving for cigarettes that led him to move all the way to Winnipeg where in 1907 a cartoon submitted to the Winnipeg Free Press was accepted. He continued contributing cartoons to the Free Press and added the Grain Growers' Guide to his list of clients beginning with editorial cartoons in the October 1908 issue. The Doo Dads were foreshadowed in a busy 28 August 1909 single-panel titled The Brownies Picnic, featuring naked long-legged creatures engaged in various escapades.

In 1910 he returned to Scotland for a visit. From Scotland he moved on to Manchester where he accepted a position as staff cartoonist, replacing Percy “Poy” Fearon on Hulton’s Daily Dispatch. Here, also, he drew a series called The Imps (1912-1913) for Ideas, also published by the Hulton Press. The Imps resembled Dale’s earlier Brownies, one of whom was to be seen reading a paper titled Ideas in the 1909 cartoon. This suggests that Dale may have worked for Hulton before his move to Canada in 1906. The Imps comics were reprinted in the Toronto Star Weekly in 1913. Another Ideas strip was Soggy the Scout.

Dale left Manchester, joining “Poy” on Northcliffe’s London Evening News then returned to Canada in 1913 to rejoin the Winnipeg based Grain Grower’s Guide where he created the Doo Dads on October 24, 1917. Whereas the Brownies and the Imps were grotesque, lean creatures with long legs, the Doo Dads were small, cute, roly-poly fellows with fried-eggs for eyeballs. Dale soon added Lady and Baby Doo Dads, in response to readers letters. In the later years of the war the Doo Dads single-panel with captions was running on children’s pages in newspapers coast to coast. Our heroes even took on the beastly Hun Dads, who had moustaches, wore spiked helmets and spoke pidgin English.

In 1919, Arch Dale married Claire Porter in Winnipeg, their daughter Julie Dale, cartoonist and illustrator, would become head of the Free Press art department in the fifties. In December 1921, Arch Dale went to Chicago to work with the Universal Feature and Specialty Co., where he syndicated his Doo Dads (1921-1927). The Doo Dads ran in the US until 1924 as a single-panel cartoon then branched out with a color Sunday page on 13 Feb 1924. At this time there is a distinctly noticeable George Herriman influence in Dale‘s comic pages, probably due to his assistant Fred Neher, who helped with lettering and backgrounds. Neher was an Indiana cartoonist and creator of Otto Watt, Goofey Movies and Life‘s Like That. With the loss of Arch Dale the Grain Grower’s Guide replaced his editorial cartoons with those of Bert Billings (also one of Dale’s replacements in 1910) but continued to publish book collections and run the Universal Feature’s Doo Dads in black and white, until Dale’s return in 1926.

Dale may have grown tired of the Doo Dads because upon his return he immediately began a new comic strip in the Guide, The Adventures of Dickie Dare, which began on 27 January 1926. Dickie Dare was a jungle strip which took place on the wonderful Isle of Zamboango. Dickie, accompanied by a dog, Stumbo, and a stereotyped African named Bimbo, fought lions, snakes, woggle-bugs and Scissors-Bill, a hungry crocodile. Word balloons were reinforced with large blocks of unnecessary text running under the panels.

The comic strip was superbly drawn but old admirers of the Doo Dads were not impressed. Dale was deluged with mail demanding a return of Doc Sawbones & company. One young boy in Ypres, Saskatchewan, wrote a long poem called Give us Back the Doo Dads, which began

Give us Back the Doo Dads,
Those funny little chaps;
Nicky Nutt and Tiny,
In their little wee Scotch caps.

On 1 April 1926 The Adventures of Dickie Dare was discontinued and The Doo Dads returned on 1 May 2006. Word balloons replaced text in a five part multi-panel serial in the American style titled The Mysterious Whatsit. Another feature was begun in the late twenties, Mr. Knowitall, a single-panel in the Guide reminiscent of Rube Goldberg’s inventions. Dale would continue with his editorial cartooning until his retirement in 1954 when he was succeeded by Peter Kuch as staff artist. Arch Dale’s wife passed away in 1955 and he followed seven years later in the spring of 1962, at eighty.

Through two world wars Arch Dale drew thousands of cartoons from his desk in the corner of the Free Press Library, where the floor was pitted with burns from the endless hand rolled cigarettes that he lit with borrowed matches. In a preface to one of Arch Dale’s Free Press collections an anonymous author wrote of the master at work:

“A series of circles and lines appear like magic all over his drawing paper. They look like nothing and, to the outsider, mean still less. But, as you watch, the drawing takes shape and with almost incredible speed there emerges one of those clever drawings that interpret in sharp and humorous line some outstanding issue of the day. A few more strokes and the little dog appears, frequently serving a double purpose as sly comment on the picture and as Archie’s signature. So well known is the dog that a few years ago a letter with nothing on the envelope but the little dog was safely delivered to Archie at the Free Press office.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raoul Barré Links

Barnacle Press presents 12 English language Sunday pages of Raoul Barré’s Noahzark Hotel from the McClure Syndicate in 1913 HERE. The strip, produced in New York in 1912, also appeared in La Patrie as A l’hôtel du Père Noé in 21 episodes, the last in June 1913.

Ten minutes of an animated 1915 film Cartoons on Tour featuring the Animated Grouch Chasers is HERE. The Animated Grouch Chaser was one of the earliest series of cartoons (over 20 episodes) begun in May 1915 for the Edison Studios.

The Phable of a Busted Romance (1916) is at Arf Lovers blog HERE.

Pioneer Portraits, a reminiscence of Barré by Dick Heumer HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Raoul Barré

More Raoul Barré from 24 June 1901 in En Roulant Ma Boule Album.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Raoul Barré (1874 -1932)

Raoul Barré 1874-1932 painter, illustrator, newspaper artist, animator. Top 24 June 1901 from En Roulant Ma Boule Album. In that collection each drawing appears on a separate page and I have pasted them together much as they would have appeared in the newspaper.

Title: Tale of a savage

The panels say the following:

1. Mr. Sauvageau, well immersed in the role of the character he must represent in the pageant's procession, explains to Mrs. Sauvageau the different terrible poses which will drive the crowd wild.--First, I discover, in the distance, my enemy approaching.

2. -- I unbury the war-ax

3. -- Then I make the frightful cry (Hou! hou! hou!)

4. -- Armed to the teeth, eyes squinting and jaw flushed with blood, I crawl as prudently as a snake.

5. -- Suddenly, I prepare to leap...

6. -- ! ! ! ! ! !

7. -- I think it's poisoned.

8. -- Pretty smart what you've gone and done there, stupid child!

9. Little Paul. -- I reckoned youse was 'nother savage come to beat up mom.

*Translated by Dr. Georges T. Dodds

*In search of Raoul Barré by André Martin
Montreal : Cinématique québécoise, 1976

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dick Hartley

Dick Hartley cartoons from the Grain Grower's Guide through 1910.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bert Billings

Two cartoons by Bert Billings from the Grain Grower's Guide of Manitoba. The reference is to George McManus comic strip Their Only Child which you can see HERE.

Top 2 Aug 1913 Bottom 23 8 1913.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hal Foster versus the Combines

This rare Hal Foster political commentary appeared in the Wiinipeg, Manitoba Grain Grower's Guide on November 26, 1913. The GGG's main cartoonist Arch Dale had been in England for a few years and Foster was just one of the many cartoonists who replaced him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

H. A. MacGill

H. A. MacGill was a contemporary of George McManus and Rube Goldberg. His most famous early comic strip was The Hall Room Boys. He drew another strip called Percy & Ferdie which sold 6,000,000 copies in the Cupples & Leon issued comic books. Percy & Ferdie was re-published in one of the earliest comic book or comic book supplements ever to be published, The Funnies, in 1930. The two samples of The Economical Husband are from October 1912.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jeff Buchanon

Jeff Buchanon by Gordon Johnston, artist, and E. Dewar, writer. Syndicated by the Toronto Telegram from 19 May 1960 t0 12 Aug 1961. Parliamentary reporter Jeff Buchanon and his red-headed sidekick Al McNally travelled Canada fighting spies, Indians and terrorists. In an effort to promote the strip across Canada storylines took our hero from Ottawa to Northern Ontario, Labrador, Winnipeg and British Columbia.

I was living in the West Kootenays when this sequence took place and was quite excited to have a comic strip character having adventures in my backyard when the strip was cancelled unexpectedly in the middle of the episode for 8 March 1961 (see bottom strip) leaving readers high and dry. That was a common occurence, the same thing happened with the James Bond comic strip featuring Dr. No.

B.C. was dealing with real terrorism at the time near the Arrow Lakes. Sons of Freedom Doukhobors were planting bombs in provincial post offices, trains, and movie theatres (during the children's matinées). Although the Sons of Freedom are not mentioned in the strip they were the obvious villains of the piece and sabotage of the new Mica Creek dam was believed to be a real possibility.

More of Jeff Buchanon HERE.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ben Weider (1923-2008)

Ben Weider, who helped establish the fitness empire that bears his family's name, died at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal on Friday at the age of 85. In the fifties the magazine racks were stuffed with the sports, martial arts, and bodybuilding periodicals of the Weider brothers, Ben and Joe, who brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to America. Joe Weider (born 1922) was publishing sixteen titles in the fifties out of New Jersey. Ben Weider resided in Montreal. An obituary, Bodybuilder creates an empire, can be found HERE and a biographical article HERE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Les Callan

Les Callan wrote, "These cartoons were first published under the caption "Monty and Johnny" in the Canadian Army newspaper "The Maple Leaf," Northwest Europe Edition, 1944-1945. They record events from D-Day to VE-Day."

Monty was, of course, Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery, and Johnny was an average Canadian soldier fighting in the liberation armies of Europe.

After the war Monty and Johnny were collected in a paper-covered book called Normandy and On... From D-Day to Victory, -published by Longmans, Green and Co., Toronto with text and art by Lieut. Les Callan. The cartoons are as much history as fantasy, Callan was drawing the situations and the people along side him, fighting Canadians who battled their way through France, Belgium and Germany to victory. A modern reprinting of Normandy and On... would be nice to see.