Ink-Slinger Profiles: Jack Smith

A New York Times obituary, published October 13, 1935, said Jack H. Smith was 66 when he died; his birth was around 1870. He has not been found in the 1870, 1880 and 1900 U.S. Federal Censuses. In Indiana’s Laughmakers (1990), Ray Banta profiled Smith. His source was The Sunday Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana) article, “Newspaper Artists and Their Work the Public Seldom Sees,” published on December 13, 1903. Banta wrote, “Jack’s father, Samuel R. Smith, died when Jack was about five years old. Later, the family moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where Jack and his brothers, Charles and John, entered Indiana University. Jack majored in mathematics, but…switched to philosophy under Dr. William Lowe Bryan. It was at the suggestion of his professor of philosophy that he first submitted his drawings to papers at home and abroad. He achieved almost immediate success.…Smith was ‘editor, manager, illustrator, and staff, all in one’ for the I.U. Illustrator, which was launched in November, 1897.…After five years in the university, he came to Indianapolis and became illustrator and cartoonist for The Indianapolis Press.…When the Press discontinued publication, Smith went to the Nashville News as head of its cartoonists and artists. He returned to Indianapolis around 1901 and resumed his career with The Indianapolis Journal.”

In the 1900 census, his mother, Hilda, and brothers lived in Indianapolis at 1024 Virginia Avenue. Smith gradually moved to the east. His strip Uncle Billy was a Philadelphia product. According to the 1910 census, he and his mother, 65, lived in Manhattan, New York City at 348 West 45 Street. An Illinois native, he was a newspaper artist. Smith produced illustrations and The Motion Picture Boy for Motion Picture Magazine; apparently his work appeared every other month. When the Motion Picture Boy began and ended has not been determined. Ads for his cartoon school appeared in the magazine, and other periodicals such as Boy’s Life and Popular Electricity and Modern Mechanics.

Motion Picture Magazine, August 1915
Motion Picture Magazine, October 1915
Motion Picture Magazine, December 1915

Smith has not been found in the 1920 census. He produced the strip Daddy Dusk, The Sandman in 1927. He has not been found in the 1930 census. Smith passed away on October 11, 1935. The New York Times reported his death two days later.

Jack H. Smith, who had been a cartoonist for the old New York Herald and other newspapers, died on Friday, in the Fordham Hospital, Bronx, after an illness of several weeks at the age of 66. Of late years Mr. Smith had conducted a correspondence school for cartoonists at his home, 2122 Bryant Avenue, Bronx. A brother, Charles, survives.

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