Saturday, June 18, 2016

So You Want to Be a Cartoonist

It's been a long, emotionally draining week. Personally, we here at Sketchback Saturday think it's time to lighten up a bit, if only for a moment.

Putting together some of these collections of 100-year-old cartoons, I've lately been scouring Cartoons Magazine from the era, enjoying the cartooning advertisement section. I wouldn't want to say anything disparaging about the K. Rickett Practical Cartoon Lessons, but I'm afraid that neither James Jordon nor Fitzgerald Nassue made a lasting name for themselves in the world of cartooning as far as I can tell.

For only a fifth of the cost of K. Rickett's Practical Cartoon Lessons, one could just purchase some cartoon ideas from the MacKay Studio in Philadelphia. Astound one's audience by turning a four-leaf clover into a bobbed hair-do, or a music stand into a rear-view of an elephant taking a bath!

The reader would be advised to act fast; there was not to be much of a future in vaudeville cartooning.

Kind of like newspaper cartooning today.

The future, we cartoonists are told, is in animation. Editorial cartoonists Ann Telnaes and Mark Fiore have moved all but exclusively from print to animation, for example; but W.L. Evans was way ahead of them.

Oh, to have lived in the days when there was a Big Demand for Comic Artists. If animation wasn't your thing, the Landon Course of Cartooning promised that Comic Series Drawing was A Growing Field:

Appearing in the lower left corner of the Landon ad, "Freckles and His Friends" was still running in the local newspaper when I grew up, although the Freckles I knew was completely different from the kid in the 1921 advertisement. He was a teenager, for one thing, nearly indistinguishable from Archie.

Freckles started out as a seven- or eight-year-old kid, and at first, cartoonist Merrill Blosser let his title character grow up; in the 1930's, Freckles was a star of his high school football team. But at that point, Freckles stopped aging; so in the 1950's, Freckles (seen here in the black sweater) was still hanging around the Shadyside malt shop:
Merrill Blosser: "Freckles and His Pals," May 19, 1954
After Merrill Blosser retired from cartooning in 1966, Henry Formhals, Blosser's assistant since 1935, continued the strip for another five years. Freckles never grew his hair long, smoked pot, or protested the war. Given his advanced years, he must have had a deferment of some sort.

But I digress. Returning to the topic at hand, here's a cartoon by a cartoonist not trying to sell aspiring cartoonists on the opportunities of cartooning a century ago:
Jim Navoni for Cartoons Magazine, June, 1916

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