Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: John V.B. Ranck

John Van Buren “Jack” Ranck was born in Pennsylvania on November 15, 1875. His birthplace is based on census records and the birth date is from the Social Security Death Index. Ranck has not been found in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Information regarding his education and art training has not been found.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 1895, published the following classified advertisement.

Artist—Original pen artist wants position on paper or lithographic designing or sketching. Jack Ranck, Burlingame, Pa.

An 1896 Columbus, Ohio city directory listed a “John V Ranck” who was a draughtsman residing at 189 North 5th.

In the 1900 census, Ranck resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 28 53rd Street. He and his wife, May, had a year-old daughter, Dorothy. His occupation was recorded as “Plaster”.

The 1906 Cleveland, Ohio city directory said Ranck was a Cleveland News artist who lived at The Naylon. Ranck was still with the News in the 1907 directory but at a different address, 640 East 115th NE. Ranck appeared to be a freelance artist, at “16 Wick blk”, in the 1909 directory which had his address as 10800 Orville Avenue NE.

According to the 1910 census, Ranck was a Brooklyn, New York resident at 380 East 17th Street. He was an art manager.

The 1912 and 1913 New York City directories said Ranck was an editor who worked at 203 Broadway in room 906, and resided in Brooklyn at 1618 Beverly Road.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ranck drew Household Hints, from September 19 to 30, 1913, for the New York Evening Mail. The following year Ranck produced The Uniped, which was written by C.L. Edson and ran from January 13, to April 3, 1914 in the Evening Mail.

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, August 25, 1914, had this patent filing: “John V. Ranck, Brooklyn, N. Y., assignor to Powers Photo Engraving Company, a Corporation of New York. Filed Apr. 14, 1913. Serial No. 761,119. (CI. 95—5.)”

1915 New York state census said art manager Ranck and his wife lived in Brooklyn at 781 Ocean Avenue. The 1915 Directory of Directors in the City of New York had this listing: “Ranck. John V., 203 Broadway. Multitone Engraving Co., Incorporated, The, Dir.”

Ranck was one of many newspaper artists who attended the dinner by the publication committee of the Motion Picture Board of Trade. It was held at the Hotel Astor on March 12, 1916 and reported in The Editor & Publisher and The Journalist, March 18, 1916, and Motography, March 25, 1916.

In the 1916 New York City directory Ranck remained at the same Brooklyn address and was an artist with the Evening Mail. Ranck’s address was 1547 Broadway in the 1917 directory. The Billboard, June 9, 1917, noted Ranck’s new location: “J. V. Ranck, who draws the best pictures in pictures says he has moved to Suite 1702 Godfrey Building.”

Ranck produced artwork for scores of sheet music covers.

Ranck’s full name appeared on his World War I draft card which he signed September 12, 1918. The self-employed artist resided at 18 Oak Lane, Mountain Lakes, Morris County, New Jersey. He was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and gray hair.

Ranck the illustrator continued to reside in New Jersey in Boonton at Mountain Lakes in the 1920 census. Ranck maintained a studio in Manhattan at 1170 Broadway, room 1103, in the 1922 New York City directory. In 1925 and 1926 his Manhattan studio address was 235 West 40th.

The 1930 census recorded Ranck as a self-employed magazine illustrator whose home was Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. A 1933 directory listed Ranck’s Manhattan studio at 56 Cooper Square, 11th floor.

According to American Newspaper Comics, Ranck illustrated a series of milk panel advertisements from 1938 to 1939.

Commercial illustrator Ranck’s address was 221 Fairview Avenue, Boonton, New Jersey, in the 1940 census. That same year, the first issue of Reg’lar Fellers Heroic Comics published two pieces by Ranck.

American Newspaper Comics said Ranck drew the series This Is America! for the Independent Press Service. The series ran from1944 to 1949.

The Altamont Enterprise (New York), June 6, 1947, published an editorial cartoon by Ranck.

Manhattan, New York City directories, from 1957 to 1960, listed Ranck at 25 Tudor City.

Ranck passed away in November 1965. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was in New Jersey. Ranck was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery

—Alex Jay

One comment on “Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: John V.B. Ranck

  1. Hi,
    I have an original ink drawing by John VB Ranck, where my mother was featured in a Milk ad in 1938, showcasing United Air Lines. Exciting to see this article about the artist!
    saw this comment:
    According to American Newspaper Comics, Ranck illustrated a series of milk panel advertisements from 1938 to 1939.
    Quite true!

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