Category : New of Yore

News of Yore 1960: McNitt Reminisces about Central Press Association


Central Press Has 50th Birthday Party

[from Editor & Publisher, October 15 1960]

The Central Press Association, a unit of King Features Syndicate, observed its 50th anniversary with a dinner Oct. 14 at the Press Club in honor of V. V. McNitt of New York, who founded CP here in 1910.

Small Beginning
Mr. McNitt had the following to say in regard to the early days of Central Press:

“The Central Press Association was a very little fellow with a rather impressive name when it began business 50 years ago. I kept it 20 years. King Features bought it 30 years ago. For a long time it has been an institution giving me great pride: an institution in which others are more entitled to pride now than I.

“In 1910 I was winding up a short career of four years with the Cleveland Press, for which I originally had great hopes. Some had fared better than I, and others hadn’t lasted quite as well. The Scripps-McRae newspapers were exciting and uncertain places of employment in those times. Irvin S. Cobb told me in later years the Cincinnati Post put up with him for three weeks and then advised him to go back to Louisville. O. O. McIntyre quit the Post about the same time I left the Press. Our reasons were the same: we sensed that we were regarded as expendable and decided to move first.

“The service of the Newspaper Enterprise Association was produced in those days in the Press building on West Third Street in Cleveland. It was a daily service, made primarily for Scripps newspapers and others that adhered to the same editorial policies. About 60 papers in all were served.

“Other illustrated news services 50 years ago were Hearst’s International, the New York Herald service, American Press Association, and the North American Press Syndicate. I persuaded myself there was room for another.

“On the evening of our first wedding anniversary, June 12, 1910, I entertained my wife at dinner at Weber’s restaurant in Cleveland, and asked her whether she could agree to let me quit my $45 job and start a newspaper feature service. She must have trusted me as only a fond young wife can trust an insane young man. She didn’t ask: ‘What are you going to use for money?’ She didn’t remind me that I had built a little house to establish her in when I married her, with years of payments yet to make. She didn’t point out once more that she would become a mother in about seven months.

“She only said: ‘If you want to start a business, I’ll stand by you.’

“So I never went back to the Press office, but resigned by mail. My salary stopped instantly.

Desk Space
“My first task, after writing letters to a number of Ohio publishers on my typewriter, was to rent desk space in somebody else’s office in the Garfield building on Euclid Avenue.

“The first encouraging answer came from George B. Frease, publisher of the Canton Repository. He was always proud of being my first client as a syndicate man, and I was equally proud of him.

“I was beginning to get clients without having any features to sell. By the 10th of July I had made arrangements with Harry S. Thalheimer, business manager of the Cleveland Leader, to operate in the Leader building, with Leader financing, using the Leader’s features, news cuts, and mechanical facilities.

“Benjamin F. Bower, publisher, also agreed to let me syndicate the features appearing in the Cleveland News. These included Bob Satterfield’s cartoons, Edna K. Wooley’s column, and a sports feature by Ed Bang.

“Sets of proofs of all the features of both newspapers were printed and assembled during the latter part of July, and before the month was over, I was away on a selling trip. Sales of the new Central Press service were made in Erie, Sharon, Youngstown, Alliance, Canton, Lorain, and two or three other towns; enough to bring the total sales to $150 a week by Aug. 31, first release date.

“With the merger completed the Central Press Association had 180 newspaper clients.

“In September 1911, I had gone to Los Angeles for Central Press to cover the trial of the McNamara brothers, charged with dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building and killing 21 employees. In addition to sending stories and photos to Cleveland for the regular illustrated news service, I carried on for a few weeks a special photo service for metropolitan papers in the east.

“Martin J. Hutchens, managing editor of the Chicago Journal, suggested to me when I stopped to see him on the way back to Cleveland, that I ought to venture again into the field of big-city enterprise by getting a well-known man to report the national political conventions in 1912. He promised to write his friend, William J. Bryan, on my behalf.

Bryan Reported
In the month of April, 1912, I met Mr. Bryan in his hotel in Cleveland. In the brief time it took him to dress, Before going out to give his lecture on “The Prince of Peace” in a Cleveland church, Mr. Bryan told me the terms on which he would cover the conventions for Central Press. He would accept a percentage of cash proceeds of sales, without any fixed guarantee or any advance payment. He would pay his own traveling expenses and hotel bills.

“Mr. Bryan was an exciting, controversial figure as a delegate from Nebraska to the Baltimore convention, which nominated Woodrow Wilson for President. At the preceding Republican convention in Chicago, from which Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose wing seceded, Mr. Bryan had a great deal of friendly attention.

“The whole enterprise, which included additionally a series of articles on the campaign through the fall, resulted so profitably for Mr. Bryan that he was able to buy the tract in Miami, Fla., where he later built a fine home.

“Central Press’ share of the convention revenue permitted settlement of all obligations. Dan Hana had bought the Leader, and was about to put up a monumental new building for it. Harry Thalheimer concluded I would be better off going my own way, so the Leader accepted full payment of $2,500, with interest at seven per cent.

“Not long afterward Central Press moved from Superior Avenue to a new building on East Fourth Street, between Euclid and Prospect Avenues. This was the Frederick building handsome with white terra cotta front, in which we had nearly all of one floor.

“The Leader had formerly done our mechanical work, except for photo-engraving, which we did with our own equipment. Now it was necessary to set up new composing and stereotyping departments, get a new etching machine for the engravers, and buy enough office furniture and equipment for everybody. I was exceedingly proud of our new place.

“Operating costs were higher now, and the need for a larger newspaper clientele was insistent. There was nothing to do but get more business. When the national conventions of 1916 came, Central Press had William J. Bryan as a special correspondent again, with Samuel G. Blythe and Irvin S. Cobb besides. The performance was repested in 1920.

Merger Effected
“In 1927, a fairly new competitor named Editors’ Feature Service, backed by Mrs. Mary Harriman Rumsey and managed by William H. Johnson, was merged with the Central Press Association. This deal was promoted by Averall Harriman, to cut his sister’s heavy losses and perhaps get out of the syndicate business entirely.

“Johnson had been a syndicate operator for William Randolph Hearst and the New York Tribune. Soon after the merger, Central Press opened an editorial office and small mechanical plant in New York to get faster distribution of news mat service in the east.

“King Features Service bought the Central Press Association in 1930, maintaining the Cleveland offices and plant, and moving the New York operations into King Features headquarters on 45th Street. Joseph V. Connolly managed the deal for King, and made the new assignments of personnel.

“Feeling myself still a young man, I used a part of my share of the proceeds to buy a small city afternoon daily in Massachusetts: the Southbridge Evening News. One of my first moves to improve the paper was to become a client of the Central Press Association.”

News of Yore 1900: Newspaper Editorial Cartoonists Profiled

 Cartoonists of America

 The Funny Fellows who Furnish Pictorial Political Sermons to the Newspapers

by Miller P. Culvek

Originally published on October 21 1900 in the Dubuque Sunday Herald

Although the modern cartoonist has not exactly pushed the spellbinder and the leader writer from the stool of chief importance, he has given these worthies a hard battle in the race for popularity, and the victor is yet to be declared. The up to date reader now takes a glance at the cartoon in his dally paper as an appetizer for the elaborate details of the news column and the clinching arguments of the editorial page. A happy depiction of the subject of current interest is the great cartoonist’s forte. Since the days of Tom Nast, who did “Boss” Tweed to an untimely death with his little pencil, the cartoonist has been an indispensable feature of progressive American journalism. It was the popularity of the cartoon, a popularity due to Nast’s brilliant genius, which gave rise to the humorous weekly printed in colors, and as Nast’s power waned, more for want of a subject than.a lapse of energy, the public looked with longing for the appearance of Puck and Judge, with their rival cartoons from the hands of Keppler, Wales, Glllam and Opper.

Opper, now one o£ the New York Journal’s staff, is among the last of the old school cartoonists, yet few of his admirers would admit that he is any the worse for that. His character studies fairly talk .from the printed sheet, his tramps are redolent of trampdom and his ward politicians seem ready to step out of the saloon and haul the reader up to vote straight. Frederick Opper was born In 1857 and began work for the New York papers at the age of 20. After doing comics for Leslie and Harper, he joined the staff of Puck, where his cartoons alternated from week to week with those of, Keppler and Wales.

Homer Davenport, the westerner whom the New York Journal has been starring, is ten years younger than Opper and has been in journalism only eight years. Born and reared .in a small town, in Oregon, he had. few advantages, and owes his skill to natural genius, supplemented by hard work. There are judges who place Davenport at the head of the American cartoonists of today, but in any contest for honors in that field Mr. Pulitzer would beg to present as a rival, The World’s well known artist, Charles Green Bush.

Bush is a worker who at least did not come up in the irregular way. He believes that the cartoon should be an editorial in picture form, with a dash of humor thrown In. Before Bush found his element he studied art three years in Paris, and even after that was compelled to give lessons in drawing to make both ends meet In his little household, for while abroad he found an American girl courageous enough to marry a struggling artist. While drawing weekly cartoons for the New York Telegram, Bush made a few hits that brought him fame. One of these was his “Klondike,” a powerful sermon against the lust for gold which even the religious papers copied. Then he gave David B. Hill the little hat with its big streamer bearing the legend, “I am a Democrat.” Being well read in the classics, Bush draws upon history and mythology for characters and settings, while the main idea of the cartoon is often developed in a chance conversation or even worked up after the artist sits down to his task with the feeling that something must be done.  “Study, application and hard work” is his stereotyped advice to beginners who burn for fame and yearn for emoluments around the art sanctums of the New York press.

The career of Charles Nelan, cartoonist of the New York Herald, is an illustration of the fact that the cartoon is an old feature breaking into a new field. The press is growing, and the cartoon is essential to the new development. Nelan was an Ohio boy, and says that, after losing several positions for drawing funny pictures, he concluded that funny pictures must be his forte. He made his first cartoon for a weekly paper published in his native town of Akron. This drew the attention of Cleveland editors to the budding genius, and he got regular work there. Finally he engaged with a league of papers and manipulated the chalk in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago, by which time his work was known in the east, and The Herald took him on the strength of his western reputation three years ago.

For a real free lance cartoonist one instinctively turns to Leon Barrit, now of the New York Tribune, hence a free lancer no longer. Barritt, like Topsy, “jest growed.” He began active life as a newsboy in his native town of Saugerties, N. Y. From selling newspapers to reporting, editing and publishing was a natural step, but meanwhile young Barritt kept his eye upon art. He had learned wood and photo engraving, and, working at that in Boston for a year, returned to journalism and finally launched his bark upon the troubled sea of Gotham life as a contributor of cartoons to any paper which would buy. His name appeared regularly in nearly every daily of consequence, and, his ideas not being narrowed down to the requirements of a single sheet, his work had a wide range.

A newspaper man whose, name is known to the public as a clever correspondent from the seat of war in the Philippines and South Africa is John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Record. His letters have been extensively copied, but it was only the accident of happening to be in the Pacific when Dewey sailed to Manila that caused him to put pen to paper as a journalist. He says that while at school in his native town of Lafayette, Ind., he developed cartoon symptoms, and they have stuck to him ever since.

Crane, the Boston Herald man. is new to that paper, but his work is well known In New York, having appeared in The Recorder, now defunct; The World and The Herald. He was art editor of the Philadelphia Press four years and held the same position on the New York Herald two years.

The traditions of life in America are rather reversed by the career of Felix Mahony, cartoonist of the Washington Star. Born In New York of cultured ancestry, he passed through school and college and began the study of art in Washington. Mahony Is now 30 years old and has delighted readers of The Star with cartoons and caricatures for the past three years.

A. J. Van Leshout now enlivens the Chicago Inter Ocean with a pencil once devoted to rough caricatures of railroad men who came under his notice while a telegraph operator. Finally his contributions to the press were accepted and he abandoned the key to become a cartoonist. After working two years on the staff of the New York Press, he engaged with The Inter Ocean.

Ryan Walker, whose signature—a black cat—has become famous in the St. Louis Republic, where he is the all round “funny man,” is a Kentuckian 30 years old. He worked at everything from engraving to pork packing, from publishing to reporting, in order to study human nature. He turns out two or three cartoons a day, besides managing the comic supplement and doing outside work.

W. R. Bradford, who contributes an occasional cartoon to tho Chicago Tribune, is a machinist by trade and a cartoonist by nature, having inherited skill with the pencil from his father.

Hedrick of The Globe-Democrat has had a varied career as a. self-taught newspaper artist. He emigrated from the Texas prairie to the St. Louis sanctum three years ago.

“Donnie”, J. H. Donahey of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, began work as the “devil” of the Ohio Democrat, and by hard study has won reputation for high art in his cartoons.

A glance at a cartoon signed “Bart” (C. L. Bartholomew) in the Minneapolis Journal is like a hasty survey of a well ordered dinner table: the beholder is conscious of being up against a feast, details of which may be left for future investigation. He is the pioneer cartoonist of the northwest, and The Journal set the pace in the matter of printing a daily cartoon.

Harper’s Weekly clings to the feature which made it a power in the fight against Tweed 30 years ago. The cartoons now appearing- in that journal are the work of one of the editors—W.A. Rogers—who, like Opper, is something of an old timer. Rogers worked on The Daily Graphic in the seventies. He made a hit with a political cartoon in the Garfield-Hancock campaign, and his pencil has never since been idle. He is an all round illustrator for the weeklies and magazines.

[thanks to Cole Johnson for submitting this article]

News of Yore 1965: Reamer Keller Debuts New Panel

Reader Laughs Rx: ‘Medicare’ Panel

By Ray Erwin (Editor & Publisher, Oct. 9 1965)

Laughs for readers are pre­scribed and provided by a new “miracle drug”—a newspaper cartoon panel concocted for the New Year of 1966.

The cartoon: “Medicare.”
The cartoonist: Keamer Keller.
The format: Six two-column panels a week.
The release: Jan. 3.
The distributor: Adcox Asso­ciates, San Francisco.

With Congress enacting Medi­care legislation and with tele­vision broadcasting soap operas about medical men, interest in the medical world has increased to the point where it was deemed a timely background for a new newspaper gag panel.

Sample Captions
To give an idea of the funny flavor of the coming “Medicare” panel, here are some sample captions under the bold-stroke cartoons:
“It’s time you started taking out something besides the nurses, Pendergast!”
“She has complete confidence in you. I told her you had a rabbit’s foot on your hip.”
“He has a real sympathetic cluck.”
“I’ll be glad when 307 is well enough to get his face slapped!”
“Got five girls’ names ready?”
“No, Mr. Kovacs—I don’t think bourbon is a very good substitute for coffee.”
“You’ve tried every an­nouncer on tv! Please try a doctor!”
“Quick! Do you have anything on brain surgery made easy?”
“Carter’s drug store? This is an emergency—the doc­tor has run out of lollipops and balloons!”
“I like the way he handles a stethoscope—it doesn’t tickle.”
“You need lots of fresh air and sunshine. When you get home get rid of your telephone.”
“The house isn’t the same with­out you, dear. The silence is deafening!”
“Good news, dear! I’ve found an obstetrician who gives stamps!”

Comic’s Creator
The creator of the new comic panel, Keamer Keller, is world renowned in the field of car­tooning. During the last 30 years, Keller cartoons have been seen in most major magazines in the U.S. and Europe and in other parts of the world.

More than 22,000 of his car­toons have appeared in every conceivable type of magazine and he has become somewhat of a legend in his own time. His work appears regularly in McCalls, Esquire, Saturday Eve­ning Post, New Yorker, Play­boy, for example.

Some of his funniest cartoons dealt with the field of medicine and the new panel developed from this background.

Idea Is Born

“I found that invariably whenever I drew a cartoon about doctors, nurses and their patients there would be an im­mediate reaction,” explained Mr. Keller. “I always was de­luged with requests for the original drawing. To an artist this is positive proof that you have produced a good, funny cartoon—one that has been right on target.”

Throughout the country many Keller original cartoons hang in doctors’ offices, are pinned to hospital bulletin boards and proudly displayed by members of the medical profession. Mr. Keller hopes for the same warm reception for his new panel.

Meet Mr. Keller
Reamer Keller was born in Shenandoah, Va., but moved at an early age with his parents to Portsmouth, Ohio. He worked for the Columbus Citizen and Ohio State Journal. After four years of architectural studies at the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, he headed for New York to follow his first and enduring love— cartooning.

He worked for a year on the old Financial News and the New York World-Telegram and then began selling cartoons to Life, Judge, Colliers and other maga­zines. He also worked for a number of advertising agencies.
He now lives with his wife and two children in Atlantic Highlands, N. J., surrounded by pets of many sizes and kinds.

Tomorrow — Obscurity of the Day: Medicare

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News of Yore: C.R. Macauley

Brooklyn Eagle Personalities

C.R. Macauley
Editorial Cartoonist
[Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 9/22/1929]

Charles R. Macauley’s first cartoon appeared in the Canton Repository in 1892, on the defeat of John L. Sullivan by James J. Corbett…he loses patience with people who ask him if Canton is in Ohio, where it is…He’ll bet on it because he was born there…although he can’t prove it because he hasn’t been there in 35 years…he has drawn for Puck, Judge, Life, the World, and the New York Herald…he started out in life as a bookkeeper…discovered that he couldn’t add, and was eventually fired for drawing a caricature of his boss in the company ledger…he became a cartoonist two weeks after winning a prize offered by the Cleveland Press for the best cartoon on the subject of Thanksgiving…he conceived the unusual idea of including a Turkey in the winning composition…and got a job on the Cleveland World two weeks later as cartoonist…

when he works he wears a blue smock and a stiff collar…his favorite hates are hypocrisy and intolerance…he likes the theater, the movies and all sports, among which he classes chess…he likes the color blue, when it’s touched off with a complementary of yellow…he gained considerable reputation as an artistic, albeit amateur book-binder…he’s never written a testimonial letter or interviewed Bernard Shaw, whom he classes as the world’s foremost humorist…he thinks Mussolini is a synonym for applesauce…his godfather and mentor, who was President William McKinley, did his best to talk him out of art into commerce, unsuccessfully…back in the days when “T.R.” was bullying the Big Navy into being, it was Macauley who drew the “Big Stick” and sent it thumping its way down the Ages…

he has known five Presidents intimately, although one of his very best friends was the late Chuck Connors, Mayor of Chinatown…one of his most cherished possessions is a personal letter written him by the late President Wilson a few weeks before his death…he gets goose pimples when you mention the name of Volstead…and Prohibition has him to thank for its emblem, the camel…he has no hobbies, and collects anything…he prefers Biographies to all other forms of literature, and smokes cigarettes in a long, black holder…he has read Einstein and claims actually to understand the Theory of Relativity…which he’ll explain to anybody who’ll listen…he is an eager student of Astronomy, and once spent two weeks behind the Telescope at Mount Wilson, same being the largest in the world…he has several pet hates but can’t remember what they are…

he averages seven hours of sleep every night, although he doesn’t need more than five…with the exception of the Executive Offices, he has the only office in the Eagle Building that has a carpet…he has no superstitions, and eats fish on Friday only because he likes it…his chief ambition is to make a good after-dinner speech, but he has never been able to gratify it…his office walls are covered with contemporary cartoons signed by Briggs, Rollin Kirby, Ned Brown, and Maurice Ketten…he thinks there should be a law against thin soup…he is married and likes it…his favorite sport is trout fishing in blue water, and he wears tortoise-shell glasses…he smokes cigars when he has to…his middle initial stands for Raymond…and he declares vehemently that if he had it to do all over again he’d be a cartoonist. —Rian James

[Charles Raymond Macauley was born in Canton, Ohio on March 29, 1871, according to The Artists Year Book (1905). In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, he was the first of three children born to John and Abbie; they lived in Austintown, Ohio. A few years later the family returned to Canton where Macauley would meet his godfather, William McKinley, the future president of the United States.

In 1900 Macauley was a cartoonist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he boarded at 1416 Arch Street, near the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The following year he returned to New York City. In 1910, Macauley, his second wife, Emma, and daughter, Clara, lived in Manhattan at 203-205 West 112th Street; his occupation was cartoonist at a newspaper. He moved to California where the 1920 census recorded him and his third wife, Edythe, in Los Angeles at 6778 Hollywood Boulevard; he was a cartoonist in the motion picture industry. The book, Los Angeles from the Mountains to the Sea (American Historical Society, 1921), has an excellent profile, up to 1920, of Macauley.

The couple returned to New York City. Macauley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon, Paying for a Dead Horse, can be viewed at the Ohio Newspaper Association website. The cartoon was published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on February 23, 1929; the award was announced on May 13, 1930. The Macauleys lived in Brooklyn at 231 Ocean Avenue, as recorded in the 1930 census. Macauley succumbed to multiple ailments on November 24, 1934 in New York CIty. Excerpts from the New York Times article of November 25:

Charles Raymond Macauley, the newspaper cartoonist…died yesterday morning in St. Vincent’s Hospital after an illness of only a few days. The causes of death were pneumonia, a cardiac malady and low blood pressure.…From 1901 to 1904 he was engaged in literary work…Besides a number of novels which he wrote and illustrated, Mr. Macauley wrote several photoplays. His written works, besides “Fantasmaland,” were “The Red Tavern.” “Whom the Gods Would Destroy,” “Keeping the Faith,” “The Man Across the Street” and “The Optimistic Spectacles.”…

…Mr. Macauley was born at Canton, Ohio, on March 29, 1871, the son of John K. and Abbie Burry Macauley. He went to public school in his home town but devoted more time to sketching his teachers than to study…For forty years Mr. Macauley’s cartoons had appeared in leading newspapers and periodicals in New York and Philadelphia, but for three years previous to his coming East he had drawn cartoons for newspapers in Canton and Cleveland….Walt McDougall, veteran cartoonist, said of Macauley that he was “a heaven-inspired thirty-third degree master cartoonist.”

He married three times. His first wife, whom he married in 1893, was Miss Clara Hatter. They had one daughter, Clara. He married Miss Emma Worms in 1897. In 1914 he married Miss Edythe Belmont Lott, who survives. Mr. and Mrs. Macauley lived at the Hotel Chelsea, 222 West Twenty-third Street….]

One comment on “News of Yore: C.R. Macauley

  1. wow this is cool, Clara daughter of Charles is my great grandmother, we have a few items from Charles, his silver flatware set monogrammed M a signed first edition of fantasmaland with additional illustrations my aunty has several drawings and my uncle has the Pulitzer Prize Charles won, Clara married Howard I Earl.
    you can contact me at

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News of Yore 1952: Heads of State Love, Hate the Funnies

Farouk Has ‘Harold Teen’ To Console Him in Exile

E&P, 8/9/52

A few weeks before his abdi­cation from the throne of Egypt, former King Farouk requested and received a set of cards bearing drawings of characters in the “Harold Teen” comic strip, syndi­cated by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate un­der the pen of Carl Ed, the artist.

Like millions of American youngsters, Farouk collects cards that are distributed from time to time with candy cigarettes. A few years ago characters of the comic strips marketed by CTNYNS were stamped on cards distributed with candy bars manufactured by a Cambridge, Mass., candy company.

Lacking from Farouk’s collec­tion was a set of “Harold Teen” cards, including Harold, Lillums, Shadow Smart, Pop Jenks and other characters.

In mid-June Farouk’s private secretary asked a collector in Bris­tol, England to supply the set for him. The collector did not have the set and forwarded the request to Col. Robert R. McCormick, edi­tor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Col. McCormick turned the request over to the syndicate managers and Carl Ed. A set of cards was assembled and sent to Egypt. With them Mr. Ed sent two original drawings.

A note of thanks from Farouk was sent to Mr. Ed and the syndi­cate by H. Husny, the then king’s private secretary. Whether former King Farouk has taken his cartoon collection with him into exile, Mr. Ed hasn’t heard.

News and Notes
E&P, 9/27/52

Prime Minister Nehru of India told the All-India Newspaper Ed­itors’ Conference last week that he “couldn’t stand what are called comic strips. I am supposed to laugh, but I feel very gloomy.” He said he would “even pay money to escape from them.”

News of Yore 1952: No Day of Rest for Beetle

King Offers Sunday Page On Private Beetle Bailey
By Erwin Knoll 8/2/52

Private Beetle Bailey, who in the past year-and-a-half has safely entrenched himself as by far the most accomplished goldbrick in this man’s army, will per­form his duty-shirking antics for Sunday read­ers too when King Features Syndicate launches a color page Sept. 14. Undertaken at the request of papers subscrib­ing to the daily strip, the Sunday page will be available in tabloid, one-third and half-page regular sizes, and has already been signed by the Amer­ican Weekly.

As in the daily strip, Sunday action will take place in and around the stateside training camp in which Private Bailey seems to be doomed to spend the rest of his army days, relieved only by an occasional home furlough. As be­fore, the emphasis will be on army humor with primarily civilian ap­peal. And the theme will con­tinue to be Private Bailey’s re­lentless war against standard oper­ating procedure.

“Beetle Bailey” was launched by King two years ago as the nation’s only comic strip dealing exclusively with college life, fea­turing Beetle as B.M.O.C. (Big Man on Campus for the uninitiat­ed.) With the beginning of mass inductions under the Selective Service law, it was decided to have Beetle join the colors, and immediately the strip’s popularity took an upward turn.

Fan mail indicates that wives, sweethearts and mothers clip the strip and forward it to servicemen, and reprint rights are often re­quested by camp newspapers. Teen-agers also seem to make up a large part of “Beetle Bailey’s” fan circle.

Creator of “Beetle Bailey” is Mort Walker, 28 and, of course, an ex-GI. He patterns Beetle and his buddies after some of his Kappa Sig fraternity brothers at the University of Missouri, where he edited the Missouri Showme, once described in these columns as the outhouse of journalism.

Walker, the son of an architect and a former newspaper illustra­tor, started drawing at the age of four, sold his first cartoon when he was 11. When he was 15 he drew a once-a-week comic strip called “The Limejuicers” for the late Kansas City Journal. A year later he was an editorial designer for Hallmark greeting cards.

In 1948, college and army serv­ice behind him, he came to New York and started selling gag panels to the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, This Week and other national magazines, and joined the top 10 cartoonists in the country in number of panels sold. It was in the pages of the Satevepost that he introduced the confused youth with hat perennially over his eyes who evolved into Beetle Bailey.

While turning out his daily strip and advance pages for the new Sunday feature Walker continues to hit the big magazines with gag panels regularly. And to keep busy he has just taken on the editorship of the Cartoonist, quar­terly publication of the National Cartoonists Society.

3 comments on “News of Yore 1952: No Day of Rest for Beetle

  1. I was looking for Beetle Bailey’s sunday startiung date. So this means the first Checker book won’t have any sundays. I hope they don’t mess it up.

    Is there anywhere on the web I can find the BB sunday? I’ll go and have a look.

  2. Don’t know if Ger Apeldoorn got an answer about the Sunday Beetle Bailey strips–but all you have to do is go to King Comics web site to see them. They have a nice selection of vintage strips–The Phantom, Bringing Up Father, etc. I don’t know if the first Sunday Beetle is still up–but you can at least read them there! Try this one–

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News of Yore: Autry Enters the Comic Strip Cowboy Ranks

New Autry Strip Has Cowboys, Spies, Space
By Erwin Knoll, 7/26/52

Anyone who says Western comic strips are fading out—and some syndicate people have been saying just that in recent months —will find folks who strongly dis­agree with him up in the New York offices of general Features Corp. for General has just announced with much bally­hoo a new “Gene Autry” strip to be offered to newspapers this Fall, and executives at the syndicate confidently speak of building the strip into one of the nation’s top comic features.

But “Gene Autry” won’t rely on a Western story line alone for its audience appeal. In fact, the strip is something of an “all things to all men” proposition. It will feature, besides the cowboy angle, conventional airplanes, jets, rockets, guided missiles and such. The first sequence starts right off with a foreign agent’s episode complete with “beautiful mystery girl.” Gimlet, a bearded sidekick to the hero, provides comic relief. All sections of the comic strip audience seem to be provided for.

The strip has the magic of the Autry name, of course, and Gen­eral Features expects to benefit from scads of tie-in promotion. Since Autry came to New York with his guitar and a ten-dollar bill 17 years ago, he has made more than 450 phonograph re­cordings with sales of 37,000,000 records; a network radio show has been on the air for 12 years; 32 television stations carry Gene Autry shows, and six full-length motion pictures have been pro­duced this year. The aviation as­pect of the strip will be promoted on the cowboy star’s personal ap­pearance tours, for Autry, a World War II veteran of the Air Corps, pilots his own private plane. In addition, the Gene Autry label has about 60 product tie-ins.

The new strip is being pro­duced for General Features by the Whitman Publishing Co., a division of Western Printing and Lithographing. Artist is Tom Cooke, a veteran of comic mag­azines, commercial art and the Marine Corps. A native New Yorker, Cooke now lives in Big Bear, Calif., where many of the Autry television productions are shot on location. Like Autry, Cooke is a qualified aviator. The strip will be written by Phil Evans, whose background includes free-lance writing, movie scripts, comic magazines and other strips.

“Gene Autry” is scheduled for Sept. 8 release as a six-a-week feature in four and five-column size. A Sunday color page is planned.

3 comments on “News of Yore: Autry Enters the Comic Strip Cowboy Ranks

  1. Any idea who now owns the copyright for the Gene Autry and Roy Rogers strips? Whitman, which produced them, the stars who licensed their likenesses, or the syndicates that distributed them? Any chance they’d be public domain? Sure would like to see these reprinted, but first step is who holds the rights.

  2. while I havent seen any of this 1952-1955 Gene Autry strip, the Gene Autry and Roy Rogers comic books were copyright by the stars (or their companies) – not by Western / whitman.

  3. Hi Penn –
    I recall that Gene Autry, and most of the other strips trading on actors’ names, were copyrighted to the stars. Whitman, General Features and so on were just being granted distribution licenses, while the stars retained copyrights. As I understand it Autry was a pretty shrewd businessman, so his estate probably still owns all the copyrights.


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News of Yore: Walt Kelly Profiled – 1952

Walt Kelly Is Named Cartoonist of Year
By Erwin Knoll (E&P,4/26/52)

In a smoke-filled room in Darien, Conn., a deceptively mild-looking man named Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr., is grooming a dark-horse Presidential candidate. The candidate hails from the deep South—the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia, as a matter of fact—but he isn’t a Democrat. Nor a Re­publican either.

And though he hasn’t yet de­clared his intention to run, “Pogo for President” clubs are being formed all over the country and “I Go Pogo” buttons will soon be seen on every college campus.
Reason we mention all this at this time, besides the obvious po­litical overtones, is the fact that Walt Kelly, who draws “Pogo” for Post-Hall Syndicate, has just been named outstanding cartoon­ist of the year by his colleagues in the National Cartoonists Society. The sixth annual Billy DeBeck Award, given in honor of the late creator of “Barney Google,” was presented to Mr. Kelly Wed­nesday night at the Society’s ANPA Convention dinner.

Campus Boosters
But to get back to politics, the “Pogo for President” movement seems to be here to stay. The strip, which in less than three years of syndication has built an impressive list of over 250 news­papers, has from the first found its greatest fans among the col­legiate set, and it was on the cam­pus that the Presidential boom began. Early this year political bids started showing up in Mr. Kelly’s ample fan mail—over 100 letters a week. And several weeks ago Mr. Kelly took formal note of the movement in a letter to some of his campus fans. The letter said, in part:
“It seems a lot of college people want Pogo for President. Nobody has made it clear what they want him President of, but presumably they don’t want him for President of Nicaragua or even of General Motors—though they are both nice outfits, no offense.

“What we have come up with is the suspicion that Pogo is in demand for the job of President of these United States. That is, no large party has come out for him unless you count a large party named Harold from Cornell, but many college groups have been demanding something tangible:
some sign, some word, a campaign button, a free trip to Europe. Any­thing that would indicate Pogo is available would do.”

Mr. Kelly has ruled out the free trip to Europe, but the cam­paign button is in the works. So far, requests for 50,000 buttons have been received.

Walt Kelly is no newcomer to the stresses and strains of a po­litical campaign. In 1948, while working for the late New York Star as art director, political car­toonist and editorial advisor, he drew a series of devastating “me­chanical man” cartoons of Gov­ernor Thomas E. Dewey, depict­ing the Republican candidate as an adding machine, a cash register, a tank, a music box and just about every other mechanical de­vice. The cartoons received nation­wide attention and were widely reprinted.

‘Nature’s Screechers’
It was while working for the Star that Mr. Kelly, in his capacity as art director, directed himself to launch the daily “Pogo” strip. He took his cast of talking ani­mals—they call themselves “na­ture’s screechers”—from a series of children’s comic books he had been doing since 1943. (Before that he had worked for Walt Dis­ney Studios for six years.) He still does four “Pogo” comic books a year.

The new strip caught on with Star readers, but the paper didn’t stick around long enough to bene­fit. When the Star folded in Jan­uary, 1949, the New York Post saw a good thing and took “Pogo” on. Several months later, Post-Hall Syndicate started distributing it na­tionally, and added a Sunday page. The list of papers hasn’t stopped growing since.

Fanatic Fans
Editors who try dropping “Pogo” —several have made the attempt— invariably find the strip has an al­most fanatic claque of fans, who usually succeed in getting it re­stored to the comics page. Mr. Kelly himself is at a loss to ex­plain this great enthusiasm.

“I try to comment on the pass­ing scene,” he says, “and get peo­ple to stop taking themselves and the world quite as seriously as they seem to be doing. It’s a good thing, these days, to make people relax and feel that there’s always tomorrow. The Okefenokee swamp, where Pogo and his friends live, is a land of its own, enabling read­ers to escape into another environ­ment for a few seconds every day. But after all, these are things that so many comic strips try to do, and most of them succeed.”

Some of “Pogo’s” special appeal may be in the almost hypnotic weirdness of the dialogue, a syn­thesis of Elizabethan English, French, Negro and Indian dialects heavily interspersed with out­rageous puns. Mr. Kelly is a stu­dent of languages and a former civilian employee of the Army’s Foreign Language Unit. The “Pogo” dialect is definitely not genuine Okefenokee talk, since Mr. Kelly has never been to the swamp country.

Poison Pun
But “Pogo’s” main asset is un­doubtedly the friendly satire which spares no institution from Mr. Kelly’s poison pun. His credo when he launched his cartooning career was: “I just want to be friendly and maybe make a buck at it.” At 38, Mr. Kelly seems to be succeeding pretty well on both counts.

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