Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gibbs

Gibbs in 1939

Claude Martin Gibbs was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 1881, according to his World War II draft card which also had his full name. The Baltimore Sun (Maryland), May 22, 1966, said Gibbs “was brought up and educated in Cincinnati where his family moved while he was an infant.” Regarding his education, The Sun reported

“I got as far as the from door of the University of Cincinnati,” Mr. Gibbs wrote in his personal reference file, “but had to back out and go to work.”

Work included playing semi-professional baseball and basketball in the Cincinnati area for several years

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Gibbs and his widow mother lived in Cincinnati at 32 Ninth Street. He was a printer and his mother a dressmaker. Two shoemakers boarded with them. Also in the same building were two artists, a German husband and wife, whom Gibbs nay have known.

The 1900 through 1904 Cincinnati city directories listed Gibbs as a draftsman with The U.S. Printing Company. Gibbs was an artist with the same company in 1905 but lived at a different address, 131 West 9th.

The Sun said Gibbs moved to Baltimore in 1906 and worked for a few years as a lithographer.

The 1907 Baltimore city directory said artist Gibbs resided at 1109 Gorsuch Avenue.

The District of Columbia, Compiled Marriage Index recorded Gibbs’s marriage to Alma M. Luken on February 26, 1909.

In 1910 Gibbs joined The Sun which said, “One of his first assignments was designing the masthead of The Evening Sun, which was established that year.”

Gibbs had not yet been found in the 1910 census. The 1910 Baltimore city directory listed the artist at 2504 Greenmount. A short time later, Gibbs’s address was 702 Linwood Avenue in Baltimore directories into the mid-1920s.

The Baltimore Sun cartoonist signed his World War I draft card on September 20, 1918. He was described as medium height and weight with gray eyes and black hair.

The 1920 census listed cartoonist Gibbs, his wife and three sons, Carleton, Irvin and Robert. They are Baltimore residents at 702 Linwood Avenue.

 Gibbs joined The Evening Sun staff as a political cartoonist, and produced a comic strip, Abe and the Duck*. Editor and Publisher, August 2, 1924, said Gibbs’s friends called him Abe.

They call him “Abe” after his famous grouch character, a lean old geezer with whiskers who knocks everything, and who is always accompanied by an optimistic Duck as a foil. Along with the pictorial comment in this combination, Gibbs writes a good-natured bottle of vitriolic suggestions about the bones being pulled by everybody in the sports game, and brings to his aid a keen knowledge of the game in all its departments. And he knows the game, too—knows it thoroughly and writes into his knowledge a humor that has made a big field of readers His knowledge of the game and his style are the combination that get men into the syndicate runs.

“Abe’s” recreations are as many kinds of work as there are departments of sports. Sometimes he goes home and plays with the three little boys who call him Daddy, and now and then he goes swimming or fishing with the man who writes “Songs of the Craft” for Editor & Publisher. But outside of that he gets most of his fun out of life by jack-knifing his frame over the drawing board, making pictures of Abe and the Duck, and sitting at his typewriter hammering out short, swift, but kindly stabs at everybody and everything in general.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Gibbs produced Go-Go from 1923 to 1924 for the International Syndicate. The series was copyrighted.

Gibbs’s home was at the same location in the 1930 census but the name of the street had changed to Deepdene Road. Gibbs’s mother-in-law was part of the household.

According to the 1940 census, Gibbs was a sportswriter. Gibbs, his wife and son Irvin were at the same address.

On April 26, 1942, Gibbs signed his World War II draft card. His employer was the A.S. Abell Company, owner of The Sun.

Gibbs passed away May 21, 1966, in Roland Park, a suburb of Baltimore. The Sun reported his death the following day. 

—Alex Jay

* note from Allan: although Gibbs definitely used these characters regularly in his sports cartoons for the Evening Sun, I have not been able to find any evidence of a comic strip featuring the characters, in a general perusal of the Evening Sun archives.

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