Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Will Lawler

William “Will” Vincent Lawler was born on January 12, 1876, in New York, New York. His full name and birth date are from his World War I draft card, however his Social Security application has the day as 14. The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), September 7, 1945, said Lawler’s birthplace was New York City.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Lawler as the second of four children born to Thomas, an Irishman and waiter, and Catherine, a Scotswoman. The family resided in Manhattan at 126 Mott Street.

The Herald Statesman said Lawler “was educated in parochial and public schools in New York City.” Information about his art training was not mentioned.

According to the 1900 census, artist Lawler lived with his parents and four siblings in Manhattan at 1668 Second Avenue. His father was a policeman. Lawler was at the same address in the 1905 New York state census.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Richard Fenton Outcault created the series Buster Brown, in 1902, for the New York Herald. When Outcault left the Herald, at the end of 1905, he took Buster Brown to Hearst. A court battle decided the Buster Brown series title was owned by the Herald. A number of ghost artists and writers produced Buster Brown from 1906 to January 1911. The Editor & Publisher, September 29, 1928, identified Lawler as one of the artists, “For many years two ‘Buster Browns,’ drawn by different artists, appeared in American newspapers. William Lawler drew the Herald’s ‘Buster Brown’ for many years.”

Will Lawler’s Buster Brown April 28 1907 with hidden signature of the artist

The Herald Statesman said Lawler married Margaret Morrissey on February 12, 1907. The New York Herald, December 29, 1907, announced their child’s birth, “To Mr. and Mrs. William Vincent Lawler (nee Margaret G. Morissey), a son [William], December 23, 1907.”

Lawler has not yet been found in the 1910 census. The Herald Statesman said Lawler was a Yonkers resident beginning in 1909. Yonkers city directories for 1911 and 1912 listed Lawler, a cartoonist, at 38 Randolph. The following year he was at 110 Saratoga Avenue. From 1914 into the early 1930s, Lawler’s address 112 Saratoga Avenue.

For the New York Evening Telegram Lawler produced two series. Sisters of Eve ran from December 26, 1912 to February 13, 1914. It was followed by Discord in “A” Flat, from February 22, 1913 to January 24, 1914.

Editor & Publisher, February 21, 1914, published Lawler’s observation about cartoonists in comics.

The comic artist of today is a power in newspaperdom and in most cases is paid well, and in some handsomely, because his work when good is what attracts readers and readers make circulation. His work not only appears in the paper that pays him his salary but is syndicated in many papers throughout the United States, thus enabling the publisher to not only pay the artists good salaries but also make a profit on their labor.

In 1917 Lawler copyrighted his statuette, Kaiser’s Goat.

On September 12, 1918, Lawler signed his World War I draft card. His occupation was advertising cartoonist who had an office at 159 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. His description was tall, medium build with gray eyes and dark hair.

According to the 1940 census Lawler was a artist with the World Telegram. He was a Yonkers resident at 118 Saratoga Avenue. His highest level of education was the eighth grade.

Lawler passed away September 6, 1945 at his home in Yonkers. The Herald Statesman said he “was formerly a cartoonist for the old New York World, New York Herald and Globe.”

—Alex Jay

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