Sunday, May 29, 2016

Meet the Colonel

Yesterday, I posted the first three panels of the premiere episode of A.E. Hayward's "Colonel Corn." I don't want to keep anybody in suspense over the Colonel's budding interest in crime fighting, so here's the whole Sunday comic from October 24, 1915:
"Colonel Corn" by A.E. Hayward, October 24, 1915

Saturday, May 28, 2016

100 Years Ago: Colonel Corn

Political commentary on the comics page didn't start with Prickly City, or Doonesbury, or even Pogo; it dates all the way back to the very beginning with Yellow Kid. We're not going back quite that far today, however, as Soapboxback Saturday takes another look at the Sunday Funny Pages of a century ago.

A.E. Hayward was the nom de cartoon of Alfred Mark Hayward (1884-1939). Hayward used the "E" — for Earle — to distinguish his cartooning work from his "serious" painting. He had a penchant for punny names in his cartoons; His most successful strip was "Somebody's Stenog," which he drew from 1918 until his retirement in 1933, centering on the foibles of a stylish blonde stenographer deceptively named Cam O'Flage.

From 1915 to 1918, he drew "Colonel Corn" for the New York Herald Syndicate about a self-important aspiring politician with plenty of ambition but no particular aptitude. The colonel was introduced on October 24, 1915, without his last name, deciding to launch his political career by getting appointed to the police department — the clear implication from Panel One being that his family would be better off were he to apply himself to some honest work.

It can't have been a coincidence that his career plans echoed that of a certain Col. Theodore Roosevelt, although Joel Corn still hadn't attained the first rung of the ladder by the time he took aim at the 1916 presidential contest.

"Colonel Corn" by A.E. Hayward, May 14, 1916
At this point 100 years ago, incumbent Woodrow Wilson was unopposed for renomination as the Democratic nominee for President. A win in the Oregon primary over auto manufacturer Henry Ford was sealing the Republican nomination for Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who had been touted as a possible Republican nominee since 1904. The candidate of the party's Old Guard had been Elihu Root, but at 71, the former Secretary of War decided that he was too old to run. Former President Teddy Roosevelt had returned to the Republican Party and was making speeches around the country as if he were a candidate; he would turn down the Progressive Party nomination when it was offered to him.
"Colonel Corn" by A.E. Hayward, May 21, 1916
In the May 21 episode above, Hughes is the candidate who "doesn't say anything at all and draws a crowd"; as Chief Justice, he wasn't yet actively campaigning on his own behalf. Former President Teddy Roosevelt produces the "whiskered nut-eating bird" (while Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan shows off his "eclair-eating peace eagle"), a reference to Roosevelt having returned from a trip to the West Indies with a guácharo, proclaiming it as his own discovery in spite of its existence already being well documented.

I guess the whiskered nut-eating bird briefly stood a chance of joining the political cartoonists' bestiary with elephants, donkeys and bull meese. It reappeared in the following Sunday's episode of Colonel Corn, and in this cartoon by the New York World's Rollin Kirby:
"Another Bearded Bird" - Rollin Kirby for New York World
"Throwing one's hat in the ring" is a boxing-based cliché for declaring oneself for public office, and there are lots of cartoons showing piles of hats in a ring on the ground. I had never seen the hat-in-the-ring cliché depicted this way before running across the May 28 episode, however:
"Colonel Corn" by A.E. Hayward, May 28, 1916
Ultimately, the popularity of the whiskered nut-eating bird was no match for that of the Teddy Bear. For which, generations of toddlers should be eternally grateful.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Q Toon: The Ayes Had It

This past week, we were treated to the sausage-making spectacle that is the United States House of Representatives. Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) offered an amendment to a defense spending bill to require that defense contractors not discriminate against LGBT employees  writing into law an already existing executive order of the Obama administration.

In light of the healthy number of major corporations already having come out in defense of their LGBT employees (and prospective hires) after legislatures in Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere pushed bills to legalize antigay discrimination, you would think the Maloney amendment would be a no-brainer. In fact, a majority in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives seemed to think so, too.

When time for the vote had run out, the Maloney amendment had the votes to pass. But then Republican leaders, horrified by the prospect that some antigay wedding cake baker somewhere might lose his defense contract, kept the vote open so that they could pressure enough Republican "aye" votes to switch to "nay" to defeat the amendment.
The identities of the seven vote-switchers were not publicly recorded on the House floor. The amendment failed 212-213. Democrats in the House were in an uproar, shouting "Shame, Shame, Shame," and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer protested because the presiding officer did not require that the members record the changes.
Later, Hoyer's press office tweeted the names of seven Republicans who he believes switched their votes.
They include California Reps. Darrell Issa, Jeff Denham, David Valadao, and Mimi Walters; Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, Iowa Rep. David Young and Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
Hoyer's beef is with a breach of the rules of the House:
Once the time period allotted to a vote has expired and the voting is closed, the results and individual positions cannot be changed. In the House, it’s customary for Representatives to file “Personal Explanations” explaining missed votes, or votes they entered incorrectly. These don’t permit lawmakers to actually change a vote or record one after the fact. They are statements of intent that lawmakers can point to and say, “Here’s how I would have voted.”
Members can change their vote before time expires by presenting a card to the tally clerk. That wasn't done in this case.

Republican House leadership has responded to Rep. Hoyer's complaints by promising to require that amendments be "pre-printed." The new rules give Ryan and pals time to pre-instruct their members how to vote.

Monday, May 23, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning. I'd hammer in the evening all over this land.

But I'd take a good long nap through the middle of the day.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Set Your Clocks Back 100 Years

Welcome once again to Springback Saturday, with breaking news from a century ago. The Christian Science Monitor of May 23, 1916, takes front page note of a newfangled "scheme" just underway in Great Britain:
LONDON, England, Monday - Pleasantly named, the Summer Time Act was initiated yesterday morning, and though in the morning comparatively few reaped benefit, the evening showed the advantage of the scheme originated by Mr. Willett. The evening went on and on and at 10 o'clock, summer time, or at 9 o'clock old time, it was still light; some persons realized then the economy of the arrangement which shortens by an hour all over the country, in private houses, offices, factories, etc. the use of fuel and artificial light. Of yesterday's 23 hours in London, 13 were on record as bright sunshine.
The change of official clocks in many cases was made at the time prescribed by the act, 2 a.m. old time, yesterday morning.
Business firms in many instances stole the hour from the sun when closing Saturday for the week end and in Kingsway three clocks recorded three different times, one individual having done in May what he should do in September. Shortly before 2 a.m. the minute hands of Big Ben raced round 66 feet and the hour hand round five feet of clock surface in record time, little notice being taken of the feat, since Big Ben does not strike at present.
In government and other offices with night staffs the pace of the sun was quickened at the same time, while, generally speaking, clocks in railway stations and factories and elsewhere were changed between midnight and 2 a.m. old time. The general public put their watches on overnight, excepting those who forgot to do so.
Morning services were well attended, though a number of persons arrived as services were finishing.
Yesterday and today are beautiful summer days, and no better could have been selected to show the benefits of the Willett scheme and to prove the truth of the poet's maxim that the best of all ways to lengthen our days is to steal a few hours from the night. 
The Mr. Willett mentioned in the article was builder William Willett, who wasn't the first person to propose Daylight Saving Time, but advocated strenuously for it from 1905 until his death in 1915, upset at never having enough time in the evening to get in a complete round of golf. Parliament took up the idea in 1908, although it never got anywhere until World War I upped the ante by crimping the coal supply.

As this diagram from the May 28, 1916 Philadelphia Inquirer points out, the Axis Powers had already been employing Sommerzeit since the beginning of the month. Both sides of the Great War returned to "old time" on September 30, which was nice and considerate of everybody. It wouldn't have been sporting for one side to continue waking up an hour ahead of the other.

Since this blog is supposed to be about cartoons, here's John McCutcheon's cartoon about Daylight Saving Time for the Chicago Tribune on May 23, 1916:
Little could he know that 100 years later, we'd be rousing ourselves out of bed in the dark in March and November, burning up those savings on the gas and electric bill. 

McCutcheon's cartoon is arguing in favor of a newfangled idea, which generally isn't great fodder for an editorial cartoon. We're much better at poking fun or expressing outrage at things through reductio ad absurdum, taking ideas to their logical extreme. If we're in favor of an idea, we ridicule the alternative. Sticking with telling time the way we always had, however, hardly seems open to lampoon or exaggeration.

I did try hunting up a cartoon with a more skeptical view of Daylight Saving Time; but with the race for the Republican presidential nomination wrapping up, the Punitive Expedition in Mexico bogging down, and the ever-present issue of Preparedness dragging on, I guess most American cartoonists thought there were more pressing things to draw about that week.
P.S.: You may have noticed the Monitor headline about "equal suffrage for Porto Rico." No, the House was not endorsing statehood for the American territorial possession, but that women there should have the same voting rights as Puerto Rican men.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Q Toon: Finding the Perfect Tone

I ran across somebody's complaint recently about focusing so much LGBT attention on the bathroom clauses of these bathroom bills in North Carolina, Mississippi, and elsewhere. We're not paying enough heed, the argument went, to the "religious liberty" clauses creating the right of wedding photographers, bakers and florists, not to mention therapists, pharmacists paramedics, and tow truck operators to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

To which oversight, I suppose, transgender persons must sympathize. Through the years they've been quietly dropped from various efforts to win LGB folks rights to equal employment, military service, marriage, and so on.

So, anyway, I've managed to include the bakers and florists in panel one.

In my home state of Wisconsin, state representative Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, has reintroduced his bathroom bill, claiming that it's purely needed to criminalize the heretofore legal activity of sexually assaulting children in public bathrooms, and that it isn't aimed at transgender lavatory customers at all.
"There have been individuals in society for hundreds of years that believe they are a different gender. That's not the problem here," Kremer said. "The problem is that there are going to be people that are going to take advantage of the situation."
His protestations might carry more weight if we hadn't been equally assured that Republicans' voter ID laws had nothing to do with thwarting Democratic voters, and that Act 10 had nothing to do with breaking unions. We've become inured to the repeated spectacle of Governor Snotwalker telling us some right-wing agenda item is "not a priority" only to have him sign it into law within the week. I just can't believe you guys. Ever.
Nationally, Kremer and his ilk are the same people who complain that their rights are being trampled upon if someone wishes them Happy Holidays or offers them the choice of whether or not to marcar dos para español. Keep that in mind whenever they pretend that their efforts to write discrimination into the law have nothing to do with the people they want to discriminate against.

Monday, May 16, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

Now that I don't have to draw the governor to resemble Peter Parker, he's got much more of a beak.

Which will come in handy if I want to draw him as Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot someday.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bobby Make-Believe

The old clock on the wall says it's Slumberback Saturday, so let's step into the wayback machine once more and check out some more vintage cartoons.

I closed last Saturday's blog post with a comment that the days for Bobby Make-Believe, the Sunday comic by Frank O. King, were numbered. Today's post skips ahead a few years from 1916 to 1919 in search of that final strip.

Gasoline Alley was an established feature of King's "The Rectangle" by this point; here's the bottom half of "The Rectangle" of June 1, 1919:

But King was still drawing Bobby Make-Believe for the Sunday funnies. It would be nicely poetic if this Bobby Make-Believe from May 11, 1919 were Frank King's farewell to the lad, but it isn't.

In my searches, I ran across a couple web pages that state that Bobby Make-Believe came to an end when Frank King stopped drawing it. That isn't quite true. More authoritative sources agree that another cartoonist took up the cartoon after King, but none of them say who that was.

In the Chicago Tribune funny pages on September 21, Bobby, still nursing a grudge against Adolph the grocery delivery guy, takes up only half of a page. (The Chicago Tribune had experimented with including the comics in a tabloid formatted "color section" over the summer, but the Sunday funnies had returned to full-size sheets by the fall. Some cartoons returned to full size, while Bobby made room for another cartoon on the page.) This cartoon is signed by King:

I'm not able to find a signature in the following Sunday's installment (September 28). Unless King's signature is obscured by the dark color of Fatty Green's woodshed in the last panel, this may be the first post-King Bobby.

I don't perceive a marked change in style, so I could easily be wrong about the pen changing hands on September 28. Jumping ahead to November, the episode below (now back to a full page) is initialed by someone other than King, and the lettering of the title of the cartoon is very different:

Whoever took over the cartoon from Frank King, by New Year's Day, 1920, the Tribune dropped Bobby Make-Believe from the Sunday funnies. It would be a while, however, before Gasoline Alley would find a home there.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Q Toon: Judging by Its Cover

Caitlyn Jenner is going to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing nothing but an American flag and an Olympic medal.

There's not a whole lot of point getting worked up about that, so let's talk about the West Virginia primary.

There's not much point in getting worked up about that, either. It's late in the primary process; the Republican contest has already been decided, and the state's Democrats have a history of voting against the front-runner.

Or do they?

Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 51% to 36%; it's hard to imagine that coal mining enthusiasts who disagree with Hillary Clinton that there's little future in coal mining found much more in Sanders's position on mining to agree with. (On guns, maybe. Mining, no.) Indeed, an additional 9% of the vote went to a protest candidate, Paul Farrell, upset with the two candidates' attitude against coal mining, and 2% went to Keith Judd. In 2012, Judd, a felon who filed from a Texas prison to be on the Democratic primary ballot, garnered 41% of the vote against President Obama. And in 2008, Democrats there were just fine with Hillary Clinton, voting overwhelmingly for her over the presumptive nominee, The Black Guy.

44% of Sanders voters in West Virginia's open primary plan to vote for Donald Trump in November, even if Sanders somehow seizes the nomination from Clinton. There might very well have been down-ballot races of interest to genuine Democrats, but I suspect that a significant chunk of Sanders's so-called support could be chalked up to Trump voters making mischief in the Democratic race. (Trump himself told his supporters there not to bother to voting for him.)

I confidently predict that West Virginia will vote against the Democratic nominee in May and November of 2020. And 2024. And 2028. Even if any of those nominees are Donald Berzilius Trump.

The problem here isn't with West Virginia; it's with the presidential primary and caucus system. Come May, one or both parties have no contest remaining, leaving the voters in the late states — including the largest one in the nation — no voice in deciding who will be on the ballot in November. Who is more likely to bother to vote at this point: someone who is fine with the choice made by the early state voters, or someone who thinks that choice is full of crap?

Candidates spend a full year campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the whitest states in the union. Those states are followed by South Carolina, then "Super Tuesday" throughout the South, so moderate candidates tend to be out of the race by February. Any candidate running third in March is viewed as a joke no matter how serious his or her issues are. By April, at least one of the contests is usually in the bag, which is why the New York primary forces voters to declare way back in October which race they plan to vote in.

In a country the size of the U.S.A., I don't know what system would work better. A national primary would put lesser-funded candidates at an even greater disadvantage than U.S. v. Citizens United already has, and regional primaries would tilt the race in favor of the predominant biases of whoever comes first.

Maybe states should vote by month the same way voters do in line at the polls: states A through D in February, E through L in March, M through R in April, and S through Z in May. Four years later, rotate the order just to be fair.

Okay, fine, Iowa and New Hampshire can get to be first all the time. But at the conventions, their delegations don't get to cast their votes until after the balloons have dropped for the winner.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

100 Years Ago: Cartoons of Frank O. King

Lo and behold, it's Sweet’16back Saturday again! Last Saturday's post included a cartoon by Frank O. King, who would later go on to create the long-running comic saga, "Gasoline Alley" — as Pierre Couperie and Maurice Horn describe it in A History of the Comic Strip," "the first Bildungsroman in pictures."

I mentioned that in 1916, in addition to his Sunday funnies page comic, "Bobby Make-Believe," King also drew a full-page black-and-white comic on Sundays titled "The Rectangle." I decided to look that cartoon up for this week's look back, and found that the top half of the Rectangle for May 7, 1916 takes a very light-hearted look at the war in Europe. (You may recall that a couple weeks earlier, the Tribune had run a front-page editorial cartoon by John McCutcheon seeming to pitch the war as if it might be a jolly adventure; that must have reflected editorial policy at the Trib. After the War, the paper would turn isolationist under editor Col. Robert P. McCormick.)
As promised, I'm cutting these cartoons up so that you, dear reader, may be able to embiggen them enough to enreadify them. So here's the bottom half of the cartoon:

In researching last week's post, I was rather surprised to find that The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons by the same Maurice Horn who co-authored A History of the Comic Strip has no entry for Frank King or "Gasoline Alley" — although it does have entries for "The Rectangle" and for King's successor at Gasoline Alley's drawing board, Richard Moore. (The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons had no entries for any of the other cartoonists sampled last week, either; and of their cartoons, only an entry for "The Katzenjammer Kids" as an animated cartoon.)

The WEoC states that "The Rectangle," syndicated to several newspapers around the midwest, was an immensely popular feature, and I would venture to guess that it was more popular than "Bobby Make-Believe." Adults could relate to it, whereas the Tribune Sunday Funnies weren't necessarily targeted to adults in the first place.

The installment of "Bobby Make-Believe" on May 7, 1916 finds Bobby still fantasizing about beating up the delivery man from the week before in order to impress the girl next door:
Dream on, Bobby. Your days are numbered.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Q Toon: In the Flesh

This Sunday, Ted Cruz spoke up in support of North Carolina's HB2 and other "Bathroom Bills" on NBC's Face the Nation and Today Show.

It didn't help him in the Indiana primary, in a state which has already gone around the track on LGBT rights issues.

Well, I for one am glad that Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is down the toilet.

In February, I drew a cartoon portraying A Voice From Above holding up Cruz as the only, but worse, alternative to Donald Trump — only to have Cruz fall to third place in New Hampshire behind the Great White Bread Hope, John Kasich. I drew this week's cartoon over the weekend only to have Lucifer in the Flesh drop out of the race before any of my weekly papers could hit the newsstand.

Now he has to go back to the U.S. Senate, where nothing ever happens ... except ... at ... a ... glacial ... pace.

Plenty of time for my next cartoon about him to get from inkwell to recycling bin.

Monday, May 2, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm back in the bathroom again,
Making sure men there are men.
And each woman's toilet tank
Is sanitized and sacrosanct.
Back in the bathroom again...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Shrinking News Hole

Yesterday, I mentioned that newspapers today are smaller than the ones of 100 years ago. I didn't mean in terms of page numbers, but of page size. So by way of illustration, here are a copy of the Milwaukee Journal from 1937 and a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from this year, photographed side by side:
Now you know why the words in those cartoons were so damned small.

Next time I try to post 100-year-old Sunday comics on the web, I promise to post them in smaller chunks.