Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: William F. Marriner

William F. Marriner was born in Kentucky in March 1873, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. He and his wife, Arline, had been married for three years; his occupation was “artist/picturer”. The couple lived with her mother, Mary E. James, the head of the household, at 207 West 95th Street in Manhattan, New York City. In the 1880 census there was a “Willie F. Marriner”. If this child was the cartoonist then he was the third of four children born to William and Lucy. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky.
Marriner’s work and home addresses were listed in American Art Directory, Volume 3 (1900), on page 91: 53 West 24th St., New York, NY; h. 207 W. 95th St. He belong to the Blue Pencil Club which was made up of newspaper writers and artists. They published the monthly, Blue Pencil Magazine. Marriner’s drawings can be found in the issues dated March 1900 (self-portrait), September 1900, May 1901, and September 1901. (Google “blue pencil magazine” to download the free PDF.) He was one of nine cartoonists who contributed illustrations to the book, Toothsome Tales Told in Slang, published in 1901 by Street and Smith.
In the World Encyclopedia of Comics, Volume 4, Rick Marschall wrote about Marriner’s career:
From 1902 to 1905 he worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York World (briefly) and T.C. McClure’s Syndicate…

His first comic was Foolish Ferdinand…Mary and Her Little Lamb was another, longer running feature, and Sambo and His Funny Noises ran until Marriner’s death….

Marriner’s most enduring and engaging effort, however, was Wags, the Dog That Adopted a Man. It…ran from 1905 to 1908, with reprints years thereafter by boiler-plate syndicates.
[Allan’s note: Marschall has some facts wrong; Marriner’s first series was The Centaurs in 1898, and he worked for the Inquirer 1900-06 and McClure briefly in 1901, and then 1905-14. He also worked for Hearst and appeared in the short-lived Chicago Chronicle comic section]
Another excellent book, covering Marriner’s career, is John Canemaker’s Felix: The Twisted Tale of the World’s Most Famous Cat (Da Capo Press, 1996), pages 27 to 31.
Marriner passed away on October 9, 1914. The New York Tribune published two articles on his death. On October 10: 
Mystery in Death of Artist in Fire
Shot Heard Before House Burst into Flames—Police Seek Burglars.
Hackensack, N.J., Oct. 9 — The fact that a shot was fired just before the home of William Marriner, an artist, at Harrington Park, burst into flames at 3 o’clock this morning, led County Detective Blauvelt of Hackensack, to make an investigation.
The artist’s body was found in the ruins of his home burned almost beyond recognition. It was near the front door. The authorities think that Marriner, who was alone at the time, may have interrupted a burglar and was shot. It was accepted as strange that his hat and handkerchief were found in the roadway near his home.
Walter Bogert, who owns the house that was burned, gave two strokes on the fire alarm, but as the signal is seven strokes the firemen did not respond.
The residence was valued at $6,000. Mrs. Marriner had been visiting relatives in New York City with her son. A neighbor hurried to notify her. Marriner was said to have been employed on “The Cosmopolitan Magazine.”
And on October 11: 
Told of Arson Threat
Sleuths Say Dead Artist Planned to Burn Village.
Hackensack, N.J., Oct. 10 — County Detectives W.V.A. Blauvelt and John W. Courter, of Hackensack, after an investigation of the death of William Marriner, a magazine artist, whose charred body was found in the ruins of his summer home at Harrington Park yesterday, are of opinion that Marriner died a firebug and a probable suicide. The detectives base their conclusion on an interview with Carl Hoberman, a neighbor of Marriner, late last night.
“Marriner was under the influence of liquor on Thursday afternoon, after a visit to Westwood, and when I stopped to speak to him he remarked: ‘If my wife doesn’t come home tonight, I’ll burn my house and the whole village.’ ” Hoberman told the detectives.
County Physician Samuel E. Armstrong of Rutherford, who ordered the investigation, says he now feels satisfied that the artist was not a murder victim.

One comment on “Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: William F. Marriner

  1. Allan,

    Clare Angell was also a member of The Blue Pencil Club and a contributor to Blue Pencil Magazine. He was born on March 4, 1874, in Lansing, Michigan. He was a cartoonist and illustrator of newspapers, magazines, books, and postcards. But I can't find a record of his death. Do you or any of your readers know where and when he died?

    Terence Hanley

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