What The Cartoonists Are Doing, May 1916 (Vol.9 No.5)

[Cartoons Magazine, debuting in 1912, was a monthly magazine devoted primarily to reprinting editorial cartoons from U.S. and foreign newspapers. Articles about cartooning and cartoonists often supplemented the discussion of current events.

In November 1913 the magazine began to offer a monthly round-up of news about cartoonists and cartooning, eventually titled “What The Cartoonist Are Doing.” There are lots of interesting historical nuggets in these sections, and this Stripper’s Guide feature will reprint one issue’s worth each week.]

The publication in Punch, and other British journals, of cartoons deliberately unfriendly to America has aroused quite a storm of protest. Sir Edward Grey, British secretary for foreign affairs, speaking in the House of Commons, expressed the opinion recently that the friendly relations between the United States and England had been jeopardized to some extent by such cartoons, which, however, could not be suppressed unless they transcended the law.

Discussing the Punch cartoon comparing President Wilson to the prophet Job (reproduced in the April Cartoons Magazine), the Syracuse Post-Standard says that the drawing is but a mild rebuke when one considers certain British cartoons on the subject of Secretary Lansing’s “Ancona” note. The German cartoons picturing Uncle Sam stuffing his pockets with gains from munition selling at the expense of the Teuton cause, this newspaper points out, are even more vitriolic.

“One wonders,” it adds, “what would have happened to Punch if that estimable journal had printed the cartoons of Carter, Starrett, Cesare, or Kirby.”

 Says the Buffalo Enquirer:

“Cartoonists have little sense of responsibility and rarely withhold a shaft for the harm it may do. The cartoonists should give serious attention to Sir Edward Grey’s reply to the question whether friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain had been injured by the English cartoons reflecting on American diplomacy. Every American who has felt his wrath rise when looking at British cartoons will confirm the secretary for foreign affairs. Still better proof is the fact that foes of the British circulate British cartoons in the United States for the purpose of arousing American ire. It is equally true, of course, that American cartoons madden the British and Germans just as British and German cartoons anger us.”


Boardman Robinson, the former New York Tribune cartoonist, since his return from the war zone, has been delivering a lecture called “From Saloniki to Petrograd.” It deals with the artist’s experiences in the typhus hospitals of Serbia, on the battlefields of the east front, and in the Russian jails.

When Fourteenth Street, New York, was the real Rialto and hang-out for actors, both good and bad, says “Zim,” Grant E. Hamilton and I used to take our noonday bite at the famous Lüchow restaurant opposite Tammany Hall, and I know by the way those Shakespeareans and comedians sized us up we were mistaken for a fat song-and-dance team. It was our before-dinner delight to assume every aspect of the exalted race that was basking in the meridian sun during its off-duty hour, and often we’d catch wireless remarks as to our bookings. Once during my absence, “Ham,” as I called him, ran the gauntlet of inquisitive eyes alone. On this trip he recorded many remarks about the other fat one. “He’s alone today—wonder where his partner is.” This was our opportunity to study stage characters in real life. Every man to the lowest and basest comedian felt himself an important cog in the theatrical machinery. Each was attired in his best raiment, some having their entire estate upon their backs, surmounted by fur collars overhung with curly locks of varied hues. I once spoke the name “Ham” rather loudly in addressing my partner Hamilton, and as “Ham” is a show term for Shakespearean actor, many eyes were riveted my way, causing me, of course, to draw my head within my shell. The movies have wiped out this interesting feature of artistic life and circumstances have dissolved my attachment for the place.

N. L. Collier, cartoonist of the Chicago Journal, having the distinction of being named after an oceanic coal hod, has been amusing himself by clipping headlines from the newspapers. Pasted on his desk are such captions as:


“Who,” he asks, “would want to be a collier?”

The good ship “Breakfast Food,” which is allegorical for your morning paper, made a short cruise at the annual dinner of the Dutch Treat Club at Delmonico’s, New York, recently. The Dutch Treat Club is an organization of artists, cartoonists, and writers. The “Breakfast Food” made its appearance in the opening scene of the comedy, “The Breath of Scandal,” written by James Montgomery Flagg, who played a leading role.

One of the features of the evening was the presentation of birthday honors to deserving members of the club. Arthur William Brown, who illustrates the stories for the Saturday Evening Post, received the Order of the Kodak, which gives him permission to take two negatives of any pretty girl who is without a chaperone. Herb Roth was awarded the Order of the Cave Gentleman, and will be allowed to flaunt an electric sign above his studio door with the inscription “Chez Herb.”

Abe Kabibble, Harry Hershfield’s perennial delight, broke into the League of Cook County Women’s Clubs at Chicago recently. In other words, Mr. Hershfield was invited to address the meeting, and to introduce Abe and his cigar to the ladies.

In his talk Mr. Hershfield told why he had created Abe.

“Abe Kabibble is intended to exemplify a higher type of Jewish humor,” he said. “Previously there had been shown on the stage and in burlesque a type of alleged Jewish humor not at all complimentary to the Jewish people and not at all justified. So I decided to make ‘Abe Kabibble’ a clean-cut, well-dressed specimen of Jewish humor.

“In drawing a cartoon I believe the public should be taken into the artist’s confidence. The idea should be brought home to them.

“I am a Jew and know the life of my people well. The names of the people mentioned in the cartoons are not fictitious. They are the names of people whose families I know.”


Commenting upon the much advertised salaries of Reub Goldberg and other comic artists, the Christian Science Monitor says:

“What would Artemus Ward, Josh Billings, Petroleum V. Nasby, Thomas Nast, and other of the well-known humorists and cartoonists of the nineteenth century, say if they were to know that a humorist who draws ‘comics’ has just been guaranteed a minimum salary of $50,000 a year, and that he expects to make as much more in work ‘on the side’? Before they could make any discriminating reply they would have to consider two facts: the syndicate system, by which a clever man’s work now appears simultaneously in hundreds of papers, and the altered standards of humor.”


Speaking at Valparaiso, Ind., recently, William J. Bryan said that if he were an artist he would go the world over and reproduce one of John T. McCutcheon’s cartoons in which anarchy’s slogan is represented as “Dynamite makes right.”

The Brooklyn Times comes nobly to the defense of the newspaper artist in an editorial reply to Mr. Frederick Dielman, “once president, we believe, of the National Academy of Design.” Mr. Dielman is quoted as saying that there were things published in New York under the name of art which were “simply horrible.” He referred to the cartoons and so-called funny sections of the metropolitan newspapers, and added: “Youngsters come to me who have heard of the large salaries paid to men who draw these things, and are ambitious to become artists of this type.” Says the Times:

“In the name of a discriminating public we rise to ask, who is Frederick Dielman? We know Goldberg, who gets a salary only a trifle less than the annual stipend of Charlie Chaplin; we know Opper; we know Bud Fisher and we know Tom Powers. We feel that we know Art from ‘A’ to ‘T.’ But this Dielman person, who ever offered him fifty thousand a year for a series of comics? By what authority does he speak for Art? Upon what colorful supplement has he scrawled an illegible but glorious signature? Yet, he has the presumption to declare Hans Katzenjammer is not art. He would have us believe Abe Kabibble is something a little lower than a cubist caricature. He cannot find a place for Mr. Jiggs in the classic, the compressionist, the impressionist, the post impressionist, or the depressionist school. Fie on Mr. Dielman! As Leonardo da Vinci once said to Mike Angelo, “Where does he get off?’”

Hal Coffman, the cartoonist, who for some weeks had been trying to locate a mysterious impersonator who was using is name, finally discovered that a Joseph Harold Coffman Welsh, of the Mills Hotel, New York, was the person he was after. The latter, summoned before a police magistrate for disorderly conduct, admitted that he had shortened his name, and had been posing as the cartoonist. The temptation to be known as an artist, he said, had been too much for him, but he was “very sorry.”

The Students’ Art Magazine in an effort to discover from its readers who is America’s greatest cartoonist, appears to be still in the dark. As the result of a vote taken, no two readers selected the same cartoonist, each naming a different one. The logical inference, observes the editor, would be that the present age has produced a great many good cartoonists, but none whose claim to renown stands out preeminently above those of his fellows.

Rube Goldberg

Reub Goldberg’s new animated cartoons, a writer in the New York Telegraph observes, are a reminder that two years ago this artist wrote a number of scenarios for the movies. A New York literary critic said at the time of the films:

“They were so funny that they defeated their own purpose. Hunchbacked generals riding billy goats led scarecrow soldiers to battle, and let 16-inch cannon balls bounce off their bosoms. There was no point of view from which to get an angle on the crazy comedy. No moments of tragic relief. Tragedy to be effective has to have its period of comic relief by way of contrast. The same holds true for comedy. It must start from the normal and proceed to the absurd. The simplest laugh in the world is a man slipping down on a banana peeling. It is laughable because the man is walking along normally with no intention of springing any funny stuff. The sidewalk flies up and smites him in the back of the neck, while his arms and legs fan the air like an overturned turtle. The beholders laugh hysterically. The unexpected transit from the normal to the absurd is comedy. The Goldberg scenarios were so continuously comic that they never switched back to a normal status for the beholder to get his breath and start laughing.”

“We don’t like to be criticising our superiors all the time,” remarks the Ohio State Journal in a moment of pique, “but it does seem to us that, if we got $105,000 per annum for doing no more work than Mr. Bud Fisher does, we wouldn’t put the syndicate to the necessity of explaining at least once a week that, owing to circumstances over which it had no more control than a rabbit, we were unable to do our daily stunt yesterday.”

Because the modernists have stolen their stuff and called it art, the Society of Amateur Fakirs of the Art Students’ League of New York, was forced to give a costume dance this year to raise their annual scholarship fund. The dance was given at the Vanderbilt Hotel on April 5. Formerly the “Fakirs” sold their travesties on the National Academy’s pictures, but since the advent of the modernists, who regard such atrocities as real art, the “Fakirs” have been hard put to it to gain recognition.


A recent cartoon by Cesare in the New York Sun, showing Bryan in the act of scuttling the Ship of State, gains in verisimilitude, observes the Brooklyn Eagle, from the fact that the auger is inserted only above the water line.

Chapin’s cartoon in the St. Louis Republic, showing D. R. Fitzpatrick, the Post Dispatch cartoonist, “breaking into the big league” with his first mustache, is said to be responsible for a mustache epidemic in the suburb of Piedmont, where Chapin lives. More than a score of young men, most of them unmarried, inspired by the cartoon, pledged themselves not to touch a razor to their upper lips for sixty days.

Lee Stanley, of the Central Press Association, is very youthful in appearance. The other day he presented Bill, the office boy, with a pair of theater tickets. Bill, elated at the prospect of an evening’s entertainment with all expenses paid, skipped out of the office relating his good fortune to everybody. “Where’d you get the tickets?” he was asked. “Th’ kid what makes the cartoons give ’em to me,” was the reply.


W. A. Rogers’ cartoon in the New York Herald, entitled “They would never have given up the ship,” should, in the opinion of New York Town Topics, be painted as a historical picture, and hung in the White House. The cartoon depicts President Wilson, pale and haggard, at his desk, considering the “Lusitania” settlement, while behind him are grouped all the former presidents. Mr. Rogers, declares Town Topics, has described the situation exactly.


The Petey statuette, the counterpart of C. A. Voigt’s popular little cartoon character, is now completed. The artist modeled the figure from sculptor’s clay, and will use it as a pattern for the plaster figures that are to follow.  Petey is shown in his favorite chair, his mouth open, and a frown upon his brow. Apparently he has been caught in the act of giving Henrietta a dressing down for wearing a too frivolous costume.

The real Petey Dink, it is said, lives in Rochester, N. Y. He is a successful banker and manufacturer, is short and irascible, and objects very much to being reminded of the fact that he resembles a cartoon.

None of John Roche’s cartoons in the Los Angeles Express is complete without a certain little bug—a namesake, by the way, of the cartoonist. One of the engravers on the paper must be given credit for the first one that appeared. He took the liberty of adding it to one of Roche’s cuts, and, though it was a crude affair, it helped to carry the idea. What was meant for a joke turned out to be a tragedy, for it cost the engraver his job. Now, however, the little cockroach appears on every drawing Roche turns out, while its clever side comments are always appreciated.


By J. N. M. Brown

The writer of the following human document is so far distant that it required three months for his manuscript to reach us.-Editor.

Now that the mercury, as Mrs. Wiggs would say, has riz to zero, I feel sufficiently thawed out to hold a pen. Strange things happen at the north pole. You may doubt it, but one’s brains tend to congeal at a temperature of sixty below zero. At forty below the blood runs thickly, and feeling slowly leaves the extremities. One’s nose, ears, and cheeks freeze, and a thin film of ice forms over the eyeballs. At the very lowest temperature the native leaps head first into a snowdrift, and after thawing out in its genial warmth, plunges forward into the next drift.

Probably you are wondering where I live? If I were to tell you, my community would doubtless cast me out as being too veracious. Suffice it to say that the north pole is adjacent. Frequently it comes and camps in our back yard.

In summer the thermometer goes up to 90, and in the winter, down to 90. This trifling difference of 180 degrees, doesn’t seem to trouble those who have farms or real estate to sell. They say, “Oh, but you don’t feel the cold up here! It’s so dry.” The moment they sell out, they take the train to Panama, where it is warm all the time.

Being an artist, my present activities are confined to caricaturing walruses and Eskimo dogs, making genre pictures of the kitchen stove, and thawing out the water pipes.

Those of you who practice art in more temperate climes may imagine that the immortal fires die out around the arctic circle. But you are wrong. We manage somehow to keep the temperature of our dwellings up to 15 or 20 degrees below the freezing point if there is plenty of fuel. Fuel ran out the other day, and I burned up the dining-room chairs, the beds, the table, and my drawing board.

I claim to be the only artist capable of properly’ portraying the aurora borealis. Most pictures of the northern lights are wrong. They remind me of futurist sketches of the sun. The real thing looks as if the British navy were having search light practice during a Zeppelin raid. You see a large ray of light climb slowly through the sky. Then a few more rays climb up to keep it company. Then they all do the Ziegfeid Follies finale to the tune of “It’s a Grand Old Rag,” scamper from west to east, die down, flare up, die down again, and fill the heavens with a yellow effulgence.


John T. McCutcheon, the versatile cartoonist and war correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, is back from the war. He has brought his dog with him, and Chicagoans feel immensely relieved now that the little canine is back in the corner of John T.’s cartoons, where he belongs. Mr. McCutcheon was stationed at Saloniki, which stronghold he regards as free from attack for the time being.

“I think the most remarkable condition I have ever seen existed prior to January 1 in Saloniki,” he said. “The allied armies were in control. But the civilian Germans, Austrians, and Turks were in constant and almost necessary evidence.

“For example, it was no uncommon incident to see British army officers dining in a German restaurant, of which there were two. There would be a table occupied by British officers and immediately next to it a table at which sat German officers.

“British, Russian, German, French, and, in fact, the consular and diplomatic officers of all nations might be seen dining in the same room. Of course the representatives of warring nations did not intercommunicate.

“This state of affairs continued until the first of the air raids. Immediately came the arrest of all German and Austrian diplomatic representatives. I am inclined to believe, however, that these raids were mostly for the purpose of taking photographs.

“We heard from time to time news that the Germans would begin their advance ‘next week.’ The postponements were as frequent as the announcements, and we finally came to believe that these statements were being made for the purpose of causing the allies to hurry all possible reinforcements to Saloniki, thus weakening other points.

“Whether it was intended to weaken the defenses at the Suez canal or on the western or eastern fronts has not developed, I believe.

“One hears much of the length of the war, but it is all speculation.”


Prominent New York newspaper artists, including T. A. Dorgan, of the Journal, and Oscar Cesare, of the Sun, contributed to a souvenir program for the bazaar held at the Grand Central Palace recently for the benefit of the Jewish war sufferers.

America’s movie cartoonists, according to a recent announcement made by Charles R. MacAuley, have agreed to raise $500,000 as their share of a $1,000,000 actors’ fund. T. A. Dorgan, of the New York Evening Journal, and George McManus head the list of those who have responded to the call for help. The campaign is to be nation wide. Cartoons will be shown in the cinema houses appealing to the generosity of the public. The plans also include a number of public balls and benefits, with a “National Moving Picture Tribute Day” on May 15. Mayors of twenty-five cities will appear on the films in behalf of the movement.

At a dinner given by the publicity committee of the Motion Picture Board of Trade to the cartoonists and newspaper writers at the Hotel Astor, New York, an organized attack was made on the censors. Among those present were Hy. Mayer, Winsor McCay, Fontaine Fox, Rollin Kirby, Frederick Opper, R. M. Brinkerhoff, Ray Rohn, Herb Roth, Cliff Sterrett, R. L. Goldberg, Robert Carter, Hal Coffman, C. Allan Gilbert, George McManus, L. M. Glackens, Gene Carr, H. T. Webster, and W. K. Starrett.


From Cambridge, Mass., comes the report that fair Harvard has been turned upside down by a cartoon booklet entitled “Harvard Inside Out.” The authors are Elmer E. Hagler and Robert C. Bacon, and the idea is borrowed, evidently, from Frank Wing’s “Fotygraft Album.” Thus, Willie Peebles, aged 11, is the interlocutor. Referring to a cartoon of President Lowell, he says:

“That there’s President Lowell. Joe says he’s jest started a finishin’ school fur manly boys down by the Charles River. I shud think it’d interefer with the college a whole lot. Joe says he’s a mighty fine man, though.”

A tribute to Professor Hugo Münsterberg follows: “That’s Hugo Münsterberg. He’s in competition with A. B. Hart for publicity. Jest now Hart’s ahead by about 300 lines, but Hugo’s got an article on the psychic significance of Charlie Chaplin for the Cosmopolitan that’ll put him way in the lead.”


The first cartoonist in need of an idea, suggests the Buffalo Enquirer, might draw a picture of Elihu Root weeping at the grave of Huerta.


An exhibition of St. Patrick cartoons was a feature of a celebration in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, given at the Eastern Cartoon School of Philadelphia.

Robert Minor

Robert Minor, the New York Call cartoonist, who spent several months in the war zone, has been active on the lecture platform since his return. “Travel in Europe these days,” he says, “isn’t exactly a pleasure trip. One of the conditions is that you spend part of your time in jail.”

Mr. Minor was arrested once in France as a German spy, twice in Italy for the same reason, and once in Germany as a British spy. Of the three hours he spent in Germany, two were behind bars.

The stories of atrocities on both sides, he declares, have been greatly distorted. He denounces the news stories from the front, which he pronounces “half truths which are the blackest kind of lies.”

He has been telling socialistic audiences that there are but two nations in the world, “the nation of workers and the nation of parasites.” He is opposed to compulsory military service in the United States, and says that we will be disgraced if we do not at once take the stand that the workingman has no country, and will not fight for the one that is owned by his exploiter.


A movement to interest prominent illustrators and cartoonists in the plans for an adequate national defense has been launched by the Aero Club of America. Among those who have signified their willingness to coöperate are Henry Rueterdahl, the marine artist, James Montgomery Flagg, W. A. Rogers, cartoonist of the New York Herald, and W. K. Starrett, of the New York Tribune. The idea, it is said, was suggested by the remarkable success attending the Brangwyn recruiting posters in England. The organization plans to distribute “preparedness” posters throughout the United States.


For depicting Tommy Atkins drunk, the proprietors of the weekly journal, the London Bystander, were fined recently under the Defense of the Realm Act. The cartoon, which was considered prejudicial to the recruiting campaign, was entitled “Reported Missing,” and showed a British soldier lying in a rather blissful state under a tree with an empty bottle of rum. The picture was drawn by Lieut. C. E. B. Bernard of the Tenth West Yorkshire regiment.


Robert Henry Schulz has left the art staff of the Baltimore News, and is now staff cartoonist for the Binghampton Republican-Herald. In addition to his regular cartoon work he is launching a comic strip entitled “Veronica Versatile and Flossie Forgot.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.