Ink-Slinger Profiles: Wilson Cutler


Charles Wilson Cutler was born in Pennsylvania on April 23, 1903 or 1904. The Social Security Death Index has the year as 1903, while the California Death Index says it was 1904.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded him in Erie, Pennsylvania at 262 18 Street, where he lived with his widowed mother, Adelaide, and maternal grandfather, Jacob Wilson, in the household of his uncle, Friend Hall, a doctor, and his family. Cutler’s mother was a music teacher; her maiden name, Wilson, was his middle name. About three years later, she took him to California. Her name appeared nearly 200 times in the San Diego Union and San Diego Evening Tribune from 1913 to 1935. She advertised in both papers, which reported her piano performances and pupils’ recitals.

The pair lived in San Diego at 423 Date Street, according to the 1920 census. Cutler’s cartooning talent was displayed in his 1921 high school yearbook, The Russ; his signed his cartoons either as “Cut” or “W. Cutler”.

His achievements were highlighted in the 1922 yearbook. The San Diego City Directory 1923 listed his mother as a music teacher at the San Diego Conservatory of Music and him as a student. The 1927 directory said he was a draftsman. His occupation was artist in the 1929 directory.

He has not been found in the 1930 census, but his mother remained at the same address. The San Diego City Directory 1931 and 1932 listed Cutler as a map recorder for the gas company, and he lived with his mother. They were registered Democrats according to a 1934 voter registration list at Ancestry.com; they lived in San Diego at 1639 Fifth. Sometime during the mid- to late 1930s they moved.

In Los Angeles, California, they resided at 2725 West 9th Street, according to the 1940 census. He was a commercial artist at an advertising agency. Around 1943 he was employed at Douglas Aircraft Company, where he contributed to the company magazine, Douglas Airview; some of his art has been indexed at Wartime Press: September 1943 (“A Douglas Artist Looks at the Swing Shift”—Wilson Cutler sketches Santa Monica workers); January 1944 (“It Takes More than Hairy Ears”—Wilson Cutler sketches the engineers); and April 1944 (cover: The “Old Timer” in an anxious moment, depicted by Wilson Cutler.) American Aviation, December 15, 1943, noted his cartoons on handling cargo. Perhaps his job inspired him to create the strip Rosie Rattletrap. Coronet, December 1944, profiled Joseph Vincent Connolly, the president of King Features Syndicate, International News Service and International News Photos; an excerpt:

…Connolly, too, is boss of the artists who turn out 100 daily-and-Sunday cartoon strips and panels—strips such as Barney Google and Blondie, and panels such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not. He immediately steps into the breach with fresh ideas when a big strip shows signs of growing stale, and he has come up with luncheon-table ideas that have resulted in the creation of wartime comics such as Rosie Rattletrap, featuring a girl riveter in an airplane factory.

The Los Angeles City Directory 1948 listed him as an advertising artist at 756 South Broadway. 

In the early 1950s Cutler created a series of consumer education illustrations for the Better Business Bureau. Two of his gag cartoons can be viewed at Heritage Auctions. He produced illustrations for Brown & Bigelow calendars. He and his mother were Republicans according to a 1954 voter registration list; they lived at 2723 West 9th Street in Los Angeles.

Cutler passed away July 25, 1978, in Los Angeles, according to the California Death Index. An obituary has not been found.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Bert Cobb


Albert “Bert” Cobb was born in Chicago, Illinois around 1869, according to the New York Times, April 3, 1936. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of two sons born to Henry and Sarah. His paternal grandfather was the head of the household; they lived in Chicago. His father and uncle were manufacturers of spring beds. The Times said he grew up in Wilmington, Delaware.


In the 1880 census, Cobb was the second of six children. The Cobbs lived in Wilmington on Washington Street. His father was a car spring manufacturer. According to the Times Cobb “attended military school and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.”

In the mid-1890s, he contributed artwork to sheet music. Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song (2003) said: “…Much of their success with coon songs could be attributed to illustrators Bert Cobb (1869–1936) and Edgar Keller (1867–1932), who designed their covers. Their artwork was, in large part, responsible for the sales that these songs enjoyed, so M. Witmark and Sons, started using Cobb and Keller, too.” In the late-1890s he was cartooning in Philadelphia.

Cobb has not been found in the 1900 census. He was a contributor the The World‘s comics section in 1900.

The World, 12/14/1900



A Kittiwake of the Great Kills (1904), a collection of animal short stories, had an illustration by him. Three Cobb caricatures were featured in Representative Men of the West in Caricature (1904); page 47, Francis Emory Warren; page 69, C.B. Schmidt; and page 259, Frederick W. Standart. In 1907 his work turns up in Boston; he produced Stumble-Toe Joe, and Ambitious Teddy.

Cobb has not been found in the 1910 census. His Meddlesome Millie appeared in the Boston Post beginning in February 1911. Later that year he was in Detroit, Michigan when he was a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. His arrival was reported in The Battle Creek Idea, September 15, 1911. During his stay in Chicago, he contributed several caricatures to the Hamiltonian and Republican National Convention Program. The convention was held in Chicago, June 18, 1912.

The Times said: “…He specialized in political cartoons and formerly contributed to Puck and other magazines. He was formerly a cartoonist for The New York Globe, The Boston Globe, Kansas City Star and other newspapers….”

He has not been found in the 1920 census. The Greensboro Daily Record (North Carolina), June 23, 1922, published news of Cobb’s cartoons series:


Bert Cobb, one of America’s foremost cartoonists, who is preparing a series of cartoons of “Captain of the Automobile Industry,” has paid Clarence A. Earl, president of Earl Motors, Inc., Jackson, Michigan, the compliment of giving him third place on the list of executives whose likenesses he will reproduce. Mr. Cobb’s series of cartoons are being sent to newspapers in all parts of the country and are arousing considerable interest in automobile circles….


The Times said: “Since 1923 he had devoted himself largely to etchings of famous dogs.…” The New York City Directory 1925 listed his occupation as cartoonist and home address as 180 West 238th Street.

The 1930 census recorded him in the Bronx, New York at 3820 Waldo Avenue. He married Elizabeth when he was 51 years old, around 1921.
His occupation was artist. The St. Petersburg Times (Florida), February 17, 1930, reported the exhibition of his etchings. Two books of his dog etchings, Portraits of Dogs and Hunting Dogs, were published in 1931.

Cobb passed away April 2, 1936. The Times reported his death following day: “…[he] died…in Grasslands Hospital, Valhalla, N.Y., of pneumonia after a ten-day illness. Mr. Cobb, who lived at 39 Cleveland Drive here, was 66 years old.”

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Charles Bowers


Charles Raymond Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa, on June 7, 1889, according to his World War II draft card. In many newspapers, his middle name was Ray. Find a Grave has his birth as June 6, 1887, and Wikipedia has it as June 7, 1877 or 1887. The New York Herald-Tribune and the Associated Press said, in November 1946, that he was 57 years old at the time of his death, which would make his birth year 1889. After examining census records and newspaper articles, I believe his birthdate was June 7, 1877.

Ancestry.com has a family tree for Bowers’ mother, Isabel Belle Lorimer (her maiden name) who was an Iowan native born in August 1850. Her mother was a French Canadian and her father a Missourian. Her name appeared in the 1856 Iowa State Census and 1860 U.S. Federal Census. She married around 1872.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Bowers was the third of four children born to C.E. and Bell Lormer [sic]. They lived in Vernon Springs Township, Iowa. His father, a North Carolina native of Irish parents, was a physician and surgeon. Five years later, the 1885 Iowa State Census recorded Bowers as the third of five children. His parents were Charles E. and Mary I., and they lived in Cresco, Iowa; Cresco is part of Vernon Springs Township.

Michael Sporn Animation has scanned pages of the Cartoonist PROfiles article by I. Klein who wrote about his time doing animation for Bowers. The article begins with a transcription of Bowers’ obituary in the New York Herald-Tribune, November 27, 1946: “…Mr. Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa, and started in the career of amusing his fellow man by appearing in a tightrope act in a circus at the age of six, and in the next twenty years he played in the circus, in stock companies, painted signs, designed posters and painted murals.” The February 1928 Photoplay magazine published an advertisement for Educational Pictures, which was a profile of Bowers written by the magazine’s editor: “…His life has been almost as goofy as his genius. His mother was a French countess, his father an Irish doctor, and Charley was born in Iowa. After that anything was possible. It happened. At five a tramp circus performer taught him to walk rope. At six the circus kidnapped him. He didn’t get home for two years and the shock killed his father….” Mug Shots is a website devoted to several forgotten silent film comedians, including Bowers. The site has a timeline of his career: “c.1889: Born in Cresco, Iowa; c.1895-1898: Worked as a circus performer. Began walking the tightrope at age six.” According to the 1885 state census, Bowers was 7 years old and at home with both parents.

Information regarding his education and art training has not been found. The Herald-Tribune said, “…he played in the circus, in stock companies, painted signs, designed posters and painted murals.” Bowers moved to the east coast and found work as an actor. The earliest reference found, so far, was in The New York Dramatic Mirror, May 13, 1899, which published a “Letter List. Members of the profession are invited to use The Mirror’s post office facilities. No charge for advertising or forwarding letters. This list is made up of on Saturday morning. Letters will be delivered or forwarded on personal or written application. Letters advertised for 30 days and uncalled for will be returned to the post office. Circulars, postal cards and newspapers excluded.” In the list, his name appeared as “Chas. R. Bowers”.

 Bowers’ costume design credit
Salt Lake Herald 8/7/1902

Bowers cast as an artist. The World 6/13/1903



The Dramatic Mirror, September 9, 1899, list of theatrical productions included A Temperance Town, with Bowers in the cast. The tour was scheduled to begin at Bar Harbor, Maine, on September 14. The Sun (New York), October 6, 1899, noted a change: “Edgar Temple appeared for the first time in ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ last night. He replaces Charles Bowers.” The January 6, 1900 Dramatic Mirror said, “…A good farce-comedy well played is always welcomed with delight by our theatergoers, and A Temperance Town drew large houses at the Empire 25–30. The play is as entertaining as ever…The supporting co. was in every way satisfactory, the principals being…Charles R. Bowers…” On November 24, 1900, the Dramatic Mirror noted “Joseph’s Haworth’s tour in Robert in Sicily will open next week. In the cast will be…Charles R. Bowers…” Bowers’ name appeared in the Letters List of several issues of the Dramatic Mirror during 1901 and into 1902.

Bowers has not been found in the 1900 federal census. Maybe his theatrical career floundered and he looked for other opportunities. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, Volume 2 (1999) has an entry on Bowers (but with Thomas as his first name) which said: “…In 1905 Bowers secured a job as a cartoonist on the Chicago Tribune, later going over to the Chicago Star.” I have not found samples of cartoons from that year, but a few of his 1916 cartoons, in the Chicago Tribune, are here. Bowers’ antics were covered in “Bright Lights of Bohemia,” published in The Sun, October 29, 1906. Eventually, he found work on the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, New Jersey, and, at this time, his earliest known cartoons are from July 1907.


Jersey Journal 7/3/1907
 Jersey Journal 7/5/1907

 Jersey Journal 7/9/1907

 Jersey Journal 7/11/1907

He was in demand as a speaker and entertainer with over two dozen reports of his chalk talks in the Jersey Journal, from 1907 to 1913. In the 1910 census, Bowers, his wife, Josephine, and mother lived in Manhattan, New York City at 180 Claremont Avenue. He was a newspaper cartoonist. According to the census, the couple had been married nine years and were the same age, 28, but he was really 32. (The 1910 census was enumerated in April.) Born in Pennsylvania, Josephine’s parents were from France. One of his sports cartoons was credited for the local baseball team’s victories. The May 31, 1910 Jersey Journal said:

Charley Bowers and his Saturday cartoon, “A Sad Home Coming,” is to blame. The cartoon, with the “dead” Jersey, “looking natural” in his coffin, and the weeping fans, got the Jerseys’ “goat” and what they did to the Orioles Sunday and the Indians yesterday was simply “fine business.”

…Jack Ryan showed them [the team] Charley Bowers cartoon.

The treatment acted like magic. “Huh! Dead ones are we?” muttered the tail-enders. “Bowers has another guess coming!”

 Jersey Journal 5/28/1910

When he left the Jersey Journal has not been determined. As mentioned earlier, his panel, Life’s Little Phonies, was published in 1916, if not earlier. His next venture was animating the Mutt and Jeff comic strip characters. He and Raoul Barre went into business together as the Barre-Bowers Studios. 
 Dramatic Mirror 5/19/1917
New York Herald 8/5/1917

Around this time, Bowers directed and wrote a handful of live-action shorts: Domestic DifficultiesPromotersThe Prospectors, A.W.O.L., and The Extra-Quick Lunch. In an issue of Cartoonist PROfiles, Isadore Klein wrote about working for Bowers, starting in the summer of 1918. His previous employer was Hearst’s International animation studio. He traveled from Newark, New Jersey to Fordham in the Bronx, New York City. During the interview, he told Bowers he was familiar with his editorial cartoons for the Newark Evening News. “After hemming-and-hawing, Mr. Bowers said he believed there was room on his staff for me…not as a full animator, but he would have me do an occasional scene between some other studio work. He told me my salary and that I could start as of then.” Klein went on to explain how Bowers was pushed out of his job.

…The studio was buzzing with excitement and surmises. What could it all mean? We found out soon enough. Dick Friel had double-crossed his boss, Charles Bowers, by informing on him to Bud Fisher. The behind-Bowers’-back information was that Charles Bowers had been padding the payroll. In other words, Bowers’ list of employees’ salaries as given to Fisher’s office was higher than what the studio staff was receiving. The charge was that Bowers pocketed the difference…The motive on Friel’s part was to dislodge Bowers from his top job and for himself to take over. He was successful….Friel was now head of the studio….Well, Charles Bowers was not as easily buried as it at first appeared.”

In 1920, Bowers and Josephine lived in Manhattan, New York City at 551 West 156 Street. He was a cartoonist who aged just three years since the last census. His wife did him one better at two years. His mother lived with her oldest daughter in Montana. According to the family tree, his mother passed away around 1925.

Around February 1920, Klein had quit the studio and began work in the art department of a trade magazine. “…About two weeks later, while at work I received a phone call at the office. The call was from Charles Bowers….He asked me to come up and work for him. I answered that I had decided to change profession from animator to commercial artist. He then offered me a tempting salary, as an animator. I weakened and agreed to see him in Mount Vernon (N.Y.) where he lived….” Klein accepted the job offer, and later said, “…This operation at Mt. Vernon, N.Y. continued for about a year, when suddenly Mr. Bowers announced that we were moving back to New York City, not downtown, but to Fordham, about one mile north of the Fordham studio….Bowers spent most of his time in his small laboratory rooms. He not only did his plastic puppet thing there but also wrote our cartoon stories….” Bowers also illustrated four volumes of The Bowers Movie Book, which were published by Harcourt, Brace & Co. in 1923: book one, Mother Goose; book two, Aesop’s Fables; book three, The Circus; and book four, Once Upon a Time.

The Daily Star (Queens Borough, New York), July 9, 1924, reported the new industrial plants in Long Island City, Queens. One of them was “…Old Dominion Motion Picture Products Corporation, manufacturers of motion picture cameras, who will erect a building on First avenue, Long Island City….” Three days later the Daily Star reported the following: “At the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Queensboro Chamber of Commerce, twenty-one new members were elected. The list of new members with their addresses and business connections follows: …Charles R. Bowers, Old Dominion Motion Picture Company, Long Island City….” In Cartoonist PROfiles, Klein wrote:


My next association with Charles Bowers took place in 1924. By that time he was in sort-of production with his plastic puppets in Astoria, Long Island. He said that he was again opening an animated cartoon studio. The location would be in Long Island City, on Long Island [Queens], not too far from Astoria. He put me on staff as an animator and told me to report for work at a given date which was within a week of two…the address…Jackson Avenue near Queens Plaza. I reported on time. The studio was a large loft in a three story frame building….

…This Astoria Studio remained Bowers’ home base. His visits to the Jackson Avenue studio were infrequent. The stories would be picked up by one of the animators whenever the boss phoned that a story was ready. On the occasions when Bowers did visit us he acted the part of Big Papa. He would treat his animators to a fine lunch at a stuffy but expensive German restaurant several blocks from the studio. Another place he would takes us to at noontime would be to The Chamber of Commerce restaurant in a building facing the open air platforms of the Queens Plaza subway station….At those luncheons Mr. Bowers behaved just as he did in Mount Vernon at lunch, he told us tales of his prowess. They were tall tales, but worth listening to. Beside, the free lunches made up for any strain on our credulity.

As time went on [animators] Harrison, Gould and Gillet stayed apart from George Rufle and me. They often talked in whispers. Then, about four or five months after the Jackson Avenue studio went into operation, Burt Gillet called everybody together. Harrison and Gould flanked Gillet. He made an announcement. This is no longer the Charles Bowers Studio. It is now The Associated Animators Studio. Mr. Charles Bowers is no longer part of this animation operation. Then Burt told that the new bosses were himself, Harrison and Gould….

After Gillet made his announcement, he added that the three of them were going to Astoria to inform Mr. Bowers that he was OUT! Our three new bosses left and were gone for the rest of the morning. Then about one-thirty in the afternoon Mr. Bowers walked into the studio with two moving men. They removed everything in the studio…[except] the camera and camera stand…[which] belonged to…Gillet.

The Daily Star, July 28, 1925, reported an incident involving Bowers.

Jimmy Donohue, 3110 Washington avenue, Astoria, got into the movies yesterday and got right out again.

The final fadeout of the picture will come before Magistrate Harry Miller in Long Island City tomorrow when Jimmy will be arraigned for sentence on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Jimmy imbibed a little too freely yesterday and went to the Old Dominion moving picture studio at 190 First avenue, Astoria, near Webster avenue. At the studio he met Charles R. Bowers, an actor, 663 Lexington avenue, Manhattan.

Here he is said to have threatened Bowers, as the latter was going on a set. The camera was clicking merrily and Bowers pushed Jimmy away. The picture was ruined when Jimmy followed Bowers on the set and fought with him, it was said.

Yesterday Bowers told the Magistrate he called Patrolman Otis Parmenter of the Hunter’s Point precinct. Parmenter arrested Jimmy and charged him with intoxication and disorderly conduct.

Bowers said he had befriended Jimmy a year ago when he was down and out.

“I haven’t taken a drink in a year,” said Jimmy.

“Well, you seem to have made up for the year you lost,” remarked the Magistrate as he held him without bail until tomorrow.

The Daily Star, August 4, 1926, published the following legal notice:

In accordance with the provisions of law, there being due and unpaid charges for which the undersigned, Lloyds Film Storage Corporation, is entitled to a lien as warehousemen on the goods hereinafter described, and due notice having been given to all parties known to claim an interest therein, and the time specified in such notice for the payment of such charges having expired, there will be sold at public auction by J.H. Mayers, auctioneer, at 161 Harris Avenue, Borough of Queens, City of New York, on the 20th day of August, 1926, at 10 o’clock in the forenoon of that day, the following property:

…10. Five (5) reels of motion picture film held for the account of Chas. R. Bowers and or Bowers, Inc….

In 1928, Photoplay magazine carried ads for Educational Pictures, which profiled its stars, including Bowers in the aforementioned February issue. His filmography is here. Some of his surviving films are discussed at The DVD Journal.

 Daily Star 3/31/1928

 Daily Star 1/26/1929

The Herald-Tribune obituary said he was survived by his wife, Winifred. The fate of his first wife is not known. The 1930 census recorded Bowers and Winifred in Norwalk, Connecticut on RFD Weed Avenue. His occupation was inventor of commercial inventions. He misrepresented his age as 40 years old. His wife was 27.

I. Klein wrote: “…he did persist with his animated plastic puppets. In 1940 when I returned from Hollywood with my wife and two daughters, we all attended the first New York World’s Fair several times. On one visit we encountered a Charles Bowers Production in one of the exhibition halls. it was a motion picture of animated plastic puppets combined with live action. The theme was wax. It showed the multiple uses and application of wax. It was a very well-executed job….”


Bowers signed his U.S. World War II draft card in 1942. His address was “Terhune Drive (Green Gables) Pompton Lakes Passaic N.J.” Once again, he misrepresented his age as 53. His occupation was cartoonist and described as five feet seven inches, 130 pounds with blue eyes and gray hair. The Herald-Tribune obituary said, “…In 1941, when he became seriously ill, he was not able to keep up with the commitments of his contracts, and he could not find an artist or writer to do them for him. He taught his wife, Mrs. Winifred Leyton Bowers, to do some of the work—she learned to draw so well that her work is now on exhibit at the Pompton Lakes library—but the contracts lapsed.”

Bowers passed away November 24, 1946, in Paterson, New Jersey. Some sources said he died on the 26th. The first paragraph of Herald-Tribune obituary, published Wednesday, said: “Charles R. Bowers, fifty-seven, a pioneer in the field of animated cartoons and at one time a wealthy producer of motion pictures comedies, died Sunday at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Paterson, N.J., after an illness of five years. His home was in Pompton Lakes.” A November 1946 calendar shows that the 24th is a Sunday and the 27th a Wednesday. The Billboard, December 7, 1946, obituary is here. The Herald-Tribune obituary named Bowers’ wife as his only survivor, but his youngest sister, Agnes Isabelle Byers (1880–1961), was alive at the time according to her family tree at Ancestry.com. His oldest sister, Mary, died in 1920. The fate of his siblings, Susan, Paul and Lois, is not known.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: W.O. Wilson


(Identifying anyone who uses their first and middle name initials is a challenge. I found several references to the artist W.O. Wilson in books, periodicals and on the web, but not one had any hint to his first or middle names. I searched “W.O. Wilson” at Ancestry.com and found a candidate on a passenger list, which had his age, place and date of departure. With the year of birth and, possibly, place of birth, I had just enough information to narrow my search. The censuses gave me several candidates who had the same first, William, and last names, but it was the occupation of artist that pinpointed him. Other important documents were two naturalization applications with additional details. Also, knowing when he produced his newspaper comics convinced me that I had found him. With this circumstantial evidence, I present the following profile.)

William Oliver Wilson was born in Natal, South Africa on January 31, 1867, according to his United States of America Declaration of Intention application from the Department of Commerce and Labor Division of Naturalization Petition for Naturalization, which was filed on April 26, 1909; this document is at Ancestry.com. According to the declaration, he, a British citizen, arrived in New York City on February 4, 1890 from Durban, South Africa; his former residence was in Barberton, Transvaal, South Africa. His occupation was artist, age 42, who lived at 53 South Lena Air, Freeport, Nassau, New York. He stood five feet seven inches, 145 pounds, with brown and gray hair and gray eyes. The passenger list had his arrival in New York occurring on February 13, 1890, having sailed from Liverpool, England. His age was listed as 24 (birth year 1866) and occupation as builder. Presumably he received his art training in South Africa.

The United States of America Petition for Naturalization application, from the same federal department and division, was filed on December 8, 1911 and it said he “resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least, immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 6 day of May anno Domini 1901, and in the State of New York, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 6 of May, anno Domini 1901, being a residence within this State of at least one year next preceding the date of this petition.” He was an artist living on Chippewa Avenue in Hollis, Queens, New York City with his wife, Nellie, and three children, who were born in 1904, 1907 and 1911. His petition was witnessed by author George Folson, and artist Frank Crane. Wilson became a naturalized citizen on March 21, 1912.

The earliest mention of him, so far, is at R. Michael Wilson’s WildWestTales.com, who transcribed a number of articles from the San Francisco Chronicle. In his article “Illustrating America’s Newspapers in the 19th Century”, he said: “…The Chronicle, in early 1897, decided to host an art show and sale to support its charitable project. There was a [call] for donations of artwork and the Chronicle received sketches from newspaper staffs across the continent. In anticipation of the art show, scheduled for February 27, 1897, Chronicle writer John Bonner wrote an extensive article on the history of newspaper illustration from 1842 to 1897…His article appeared in the February 24 edition.” The transcription of the article, “The Chronicle’s Exhibition of Pictorial Art in Journalism”, had a list of the contributing artists including W.O. Wilson of the New York World. On February 27, J.H.E. Partington, of the Chronicle, wrote:

The Chronicle exhibit of original newspaper drawings this day opened to the public at 424 Pine street marks an era in the history of art in San Francisco and is likely to have a profound impression on the public and the artists of the city. One thing is quite clear that the artists or, to speak more accurately, the painter in oil and water colors, has got to accept the fact that his exclusive claim to the title of artist is now triumphantly disputed by a band of newspaper art workers, growing every day in power and popularity and quite capable of proving their right to the name.

It will not do any longer to deny that men who have such mastery of line, of drawing, of values, of composition and of dramatic power in telling a story as Keller or Jefferys of the New York Herald, as Trowbridge and W. O. Wilson of the New York World, as Miss Underwood of the New York Press, as Gruger of the Philadelphia Ledger, as Fiala of the Brooklyn Eagle and a score of others represented in this exhibition are infinitely ahead of the average painters of the country in artistic gifts and capacity….

 Boston Herald 3/19/1898
  Boston Herald 7/29/1898

   Boston Herald 7/29/1898

  Boston Herald 8/1/1898

In 1898, Wilson was sent by the New York Herald to the front lines of the Spanish-American War in the Caribbean, according to New York and the War with Spain: History of the Empire State Regiments (1903). After the war there was an inquiry, by the House of Representatives, into the conduct of Admiral Schley. During the conflict, Wilson was one of the newspapermen on a press boat which was in contact with Captain Sigsbee of the ship, St. Paul. Wilson was not called to testify.



The World 11/20/1902




Apparently his newspaper work required him to travel for extended periods of time, so this may have been why he was not counted in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The naturalization documents place him in New York City beginning May 6, 1901. The birth of his first child, in February 1904, suggests he was married in Spring 1903, if not earlier. In this decade he produced the strips Horace the Hero, The Richleigh Family, The Wish Twins and Aladdin’s Lamp, and Madge the Magician’s Daughter. A search of eBay found several issues of Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Monthly, in this decade and the next, with his drawings.

The 1910 census recorded Wilson and his family in Freeport, Hempstead, Nassau, New York at 53 South Lena Avenue. He was married to Ellen, who was Irish, and had two children. His parents were born in England. He was a portrait artist. According to the 1915 New York State Census, he lived in Union Course, Queens, New York at 449 Lott Avenue. The household included a third child and his wife used the name Nellie. A World War I military record for him has not been found.

In the following federal census, he remained in Queens, New York but at 8409 105th Street, where he continued as an artist. The 1925 state census, recorded him on the move again, this time at 90-24 178 Street in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He was a commercial artist in the 1930 census. His family lived in Queens Village, Queens, New York at 107-40 Robard Lane. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 13, 1933, reported an upcoming art exhibit.


Modernist Work to Be Shown at Art Guild Exhibit
The Long Island Art Guild on Wednesday night will open its first show at the Queens Borough Public Library, 159th St. and Shelton Ave., Jamaica….

…Ebbitt A. Levitz, secretary of the guild, says that the feature of the show will be new and younger artists, who reside on Long Island, and have not as yet been able to show their work to the public. The oldest entrant is W.O. Wilson, 70, who will show a painting entitled “5th Ave. and 42nd St.” The composition was five years in the making….

In 1940, he, his wife and youngest child, William O. Wilson Jr., lived in Long Beach, New York at 161 West Hudson Street. Apparently, their son, a clerk, cared for them. A World War II draft card (the so-called “old man’s draft” in 1942) has not been found for Wilson Sr. When he passed away is not known; an obituary or death notice has not been found. According to draft documents, Wilson Jr. enlisted on February 24, 1941 and was single without dependents. Maybe both his parents had passed away earlier.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Joe Bowers


Joe Bowers was the pseudonym of Hugh Joseph Deeney, who was born on April 18, 1894 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to his World War I draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of three sons born to John and Sarah, both Irish emigrants. They lived in Philadelphia at 3813 Olive Street. His father was a railroad conductor.


In the 1910 census, the family remained in Philadelphia but at 3703 Brown Street. Information regarding his education and art training has not been found. According to Deeney’s undated World War I draft card, he was a self-employed artist in Chicago. He gave his Philadelphia address as his home address. His description was short height, medium build with blue eyes and dark hair. The date of his move to New York City is not known.


In the 1920 census, Deeney was a lodger on Manhattan’s west side, 138 62 Street, and worked as an artist. At some point he returned to Philadelphia and produced Dizzy Dramas under the name Joe Bowers.

The 1930 census recorded Deeney at his parents home, 3813 Olive Street, in Philadelphia. He was an “artist publishing a newspaper”. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he worked in the comic book industry. According to the Grand Comics Database, Dizzy Dramas appeared in some issues of the comic book Famous Funnies.

The Day 7/2/1934
The Morning Leader 3/24/1930



Deeney served in the military during World War II, although a draft card has not been found. He was stationed at Camp Blanding, Florida, a National Guard reservation. The Best of Yank, the Army Weekly, 1942-1945 (1980) published his letter:

Dear Yank,
I am enclosing a picture of me before I got my “rating.” Here you see me as latrine orderly with my helpmate. That building in the background is “it.” Inside, you know, is where all the rumors generate. Well, I must stop now because they are yelling for me. One hillbilly sergeant is shouting, “Deen—ah! Deen—ah! Private Fuss Class Deen—ah! Come yeah out of that thar hut ‘fo ah beats yo’ end off!”


-Pfc. Hugh Deeney
Camp Blanding, Florida



The book, The CCC Chronicles: Camp Newspapers of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942 (2004), mentioned the comic strips in the CCC newspaper Happy Days:



…In keeping with the propensity of Happy Days to use talent from the field, and to help keep the paper fresh and current, a new cartoon strip by R. Lemon, “The Little Sarge,” began appearing in the paper on May 6, 1939. This also reflected an emerging military orientation. Similarly, in early 1942, Pvt. Howard Amend, then in the Army, introduced his strip “Beansy O’Brien,” depicting the trials and tribulations of young soldiers. “Rear-Rank Ralph” by Joe Bowers also emphasized the foibles of rank and file servicemen in both the Army and Navy.


The character, Rear-Rank Ralph, appeared earlier in a Dizzy Dramas published in the Toledo Blade, November 18, 1941. Deeney’s life came to a tragic end as reported in the Trenton Evening Times, May 12, 1943:

Comics Artist Killed on Camp Rifle Range
Philadelphia, May 12 (AP). Hugh J. Deeney, 41, Philadelphia artist, who drew the comic strip “Dizzy Dramas” under the name Joe Bowers, was killed accidentally yesterday on the rifle range of Camp Blanding, Fla., the War Department notified his family.

Deeney was actually 49 at the time of his death.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Rolfe Memison


Rolfe Memison, aka Rolfe Mason was born Rolfe Julius Memisohn in Berlin, Germany on November 5, 1905. His birthplace was on a 1923 passenger list at Ancestry.com, and his birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and the books, Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehöriger 1933-45 nach den im Reichsanzeiger veröffentlichten Listen, Volume 1 (The Expulsion of German Citizens in the Kingdom After the 1933-45 Gazette Published Lists), and Deutschland, Index von Juden, deren deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft vom Nazi-Regime annulliert wurde, 1935-1944 (Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944), which recorded his name as “Rolf Julius Israel Memisohn”.

Rolfe, a merchant, sailed with his maternal uncle, Paul Saloschin, and his family, from Hamburg, Germany on October 3, 1923; they arrived in New York on October 14. His uncle lived at 57 East 96th Street in Manhattan. (In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Saloschin was a detective.) America was to be Rolfe’s permanent home.

He has not been found in the 1930 census. At Ancestry.com, a London phone book has a listing for a “Rolf J. Memison”. It’s not known how long he was in London or if he became a British citizen. ListeBerlinL said his mother, “Memisohn, Luise genannt Lucy” emigrated to England in 1937. A profile in Editor and Publisher, October 21, 1939, said:

…Born in England in 1906, Rolfe came to America for the first time in 1923, and it was here that he received his first artistic encouragement. He copied a Rembrandt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, taking two days from his job of packing radio receivers, and the reproduction sold for $5. It determined him on an art career.

Three years later he went to Paris to study art and then came several years of traveling and painting through France, Italy, Denmark and Norway. Then to Spain for five years and back to England when Spain revolted. He continues:

“Last summer I returned to the U. S. to make this my permanent home, and settled in a studio on top of a midget Gotham skyscraper (six floors). It contains a drawing table, easels, Spanish pictures, bullfight posters, two guitars, a black cat and a blond girl with blue eyes named Barbara.

“She’s an Indiana girl, reared in Florida. We were married last year, and she has become a whiz at cooking ‘Paella Valenciana’ and bouillabaisse, and posing in a Spanish shawl.”

Rolfe hid his German roots from the public. His strip, Brenda Breeze, debuted in 1939. At some point he moved to California, where he became a naturalized citizen on August 13, 1943. His name was recorded as “Rolf Julius Memison”, and he resided at 3331 Blair Drive, Los Angeles. When his younger brother, Fritz Theodor Memisohn, was naturalized on August 11, 1944, he changed his name to Frederick Theodore Mason. His mother, as Lucy Memison, was naturalized on March 9, 1945 in Los Angeles. She passed away January 26, 1954. At some point Rolfe adopted the Mason name.

In the 1960s he produced the panel Shopping Around. Rolfe J. Mason passed away July 23, 1985 in San Luis Obispo, California, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Edd Ashe

Edmund Marion “Edd” Ashe Jr. was born in Connecticut on August 11, 1908, according to the Connecticut Death Index at Ancestry.com. In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of Edmund and Estelle. His father was an artist. They lived in Manhattan, New York City at 320 West 111 Street. His parents maintained a home in Norwalk, Connecticut, on Wolf Pit Avenue, according to city directories dated 1908, 1910, 1923 and into the 1940s.


Ashe has not been found in the 1920 census, and little is known about his childhood education except that he graduated from the Franklin-Marshall Academy, according to the New York Times, June 15, 1941.
In the 1930 census, he lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 1241 Murdock Street. Classics Illustrated Artists said, “…His father, E. M. Ashe, was a renowned illustrator (until the early years of the Twentieth Century) and then a fine artist. He was also the head of the art department of Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.” The Carnegie Institute of Technology yearbook, The Thistle 1931, had this entry for Ashe (see photo).

Edmund M. Ashe
Westport, Connecticut
Painting and Decorating
Beta Theta Pi
Tau Sigma Delta
Pi Delta Epsilon
Puppet 3–4
Art Editor Thistle 3

Ashe was among the graduates mentioned in the the New York Times, June 10, 1931, article “Carnegie Institute Graduates 750”. He was one of three students awarded the Jansen Prize. The New York Evening Post, November 5, 1932, reported “Mrs. Louise G. Ashe sues for divorce from Edmund M. Ashe Jr., New York illustrator…” Beginning in 1939 he found work in the comic book industry. His credits are at the Grand Comics Database.

The New York Times reported his marriage on June 15, 1941.


Beatrice Bishop a Bride
Married to Edmund M. Ashe Jr., Illustrator, in Smithtown, L.I.

Smithtown, L.I., June 14—Miss Beatrice Bishop, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elliot F. Bishop of Palm Beach and Montauk Manor, Montauk Point, L.I., was married to Edmund M. Ashe Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ashe of Charleston, S.C., here today in the Presbyterian Church Manse. The Rev. Raymond A Case performed the ceremony in the presence of the two families.
The bride attended Ogontz Camp School and the Erskine School, Boston. Mr. Ashe, an illustrator, was graduated from Franklin-Marshall Academy and Carnegie Institute of Technology.

The couple will reside in Westport, Conn.

The couple was listed in the Norwalk Directory 1946 at Wolf Pit Avenue. He continued working for comic book publishers.


In the 1950s, he drew the comic strips Mark Hunt and Guy Fortune. Ashe played a minor part in the formation of the Society of Comic Book Illustrators, according to Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books (2010).

The date of his move to New Milford, Connecticut is not known. He had a listing in the New Milford Directory 1960. In the 1983 directory he lived at 105 Buckingham Road. Ashe passed away September 4, 1986, in New Haven, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Death Index. Additional art credits are at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Two of his murals are here.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Frank L. Fithian


Frank Livingston Fithian was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in November 1865, according to Who Was Who in American Art (1985), and the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1870 census, he was the only child of Francis and Sarah; his father was a store clerk. They lived in Philadelphia.


Ten years later, they were recorded in Haddon, New Jersey. His father was a liquor merchant. The New York Times obituary, April 10, 1935, said “he had lived in Haddonfield since he was 9 years old….” Who Was Who said he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and in New York art schools.

The Hall Family History (1949) and a post at Genealogy.com said Fithian married Marianna Wood on February 3, 1892. An Historical and Genealogical Account of Andrew Robeson (1916) said the marriage was in 1893. The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1898, reported “Frank L. Fithian, the well-known artist, severely burned his right arm while modeling with wax this week.”


In the 1900 census, Fithian, Marianna and their two daughters lived with his parents in Haddon at 240 Washington Avenue. He was an artist and illustrator. Some of his panel cartoons were published in the Philadelphia Sunday Press. The Times said “Mr. Fithian for more than fifteen years painted many of the cover designs of Judge and also drew illustrations for that magazine as well as Puck (click “The Wreck of the Mary Jane”, page 25), The Youth’s Companion, The Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, Collier’s and other publications.”

In 1910 the census recorded the Fithians in Haddonfield at 232 Washington Avenue. He was a magazine illustrator. Ten years later, he remained at the same address, where he was an artist and illustrator. He designed a toy that was advertised in the Kalamazoo Gazette (Michigan), November 13, 1920 (below).


His toy design was patented February 15,1921; the application had been filed April 7, 1919.

He did not change his address according to the 1930 census. He was a painter. Fithian passed away April 8, 1935. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported his death the following day.

Haddonfield, N.J., April 9.—Funeral services are to be held Thursday for Frank Livingston Fithian, nationally known illustrator, painter and designer, who died yesterday at his home, 240 Washington Ave., here. He was 69 and had been in ill health more than five years.
As a young man he won note for his cover illustrations. One of his best known works was his illustration of Curry’s History of the Civil War, in which his drawings were made from descriptions given him by the author. He leaves his wife, Marianna, and two daughters. Interment will be in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Elmer Wexler


Elmer Wexler was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, August 14, 1918, according to an interview in Alter Ego #36. In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of Harry and Sarah. (His name was recorded as “Alma” and classified as “daughter”.) They lived in Bridgeport at 445 Maplewood Avenue. His father was a merchant in the tailor trade. Wexler said, “…My father came from Lithuania and my mother came from Poland. They got married when they met in the United States….”


They remained in Bridgeport but at a different address, 633 Colorado Avenue, according to the 1930 census. Wexler was the oldest of three children. His father, Morris (Harry was his middle name), was a tailor. Wexler said:


…I went to Pratt Institute and graduated in 1938. [He received a certificate in Pictorial Illustration at the School of Fine and Applied Art, according to the New York Times, June 9, 1938.] It was a three-year course. The first year was general courses: we studied illustrations, advertising layout, copywriting, and architecture….The second year, we had to make a decision about what we were going to specialize in. I was interested in illustration.

I was very lucky that I was knowledgeable about drawing, and I was offered a free night class. The art director was the head of Street & Smith magazines, which were popular at that time….The only students who allowed to take this class were those the director thought would make it. I started illustrating for Street & Smith even before I graduated….

…I was illustrating for pulp magazines when I graduated: Street & Smith, Popular, and Standard. They were the biggest pulp publishers at the time, and I worked for them all. A year later after I got out of Pratt, the bottom fell out of the pulp business because the war started in Europe. Comic books came in to fill the void and I switched to comics….

…In those days, we were getting ten to fifteen dollars an illustration for the pulps. When I worked for the studios, I was charging the same, and that wasn’t making me wealthy by any means. I had moved to New York City by then and needed to do better. Borge and I and two other friends were renting a house when I got a call from P.M. magazine, which was a liberal newspaper. A lady there had seen my work in comic books and wanted to know if I’d try my hand at comic strips. I asked who’d do the writing, and she got a guy by the name of Kermit Jaedeker
[sic—Jaediker, 1911–1986, Social Security Death Index] and someone else [Charles Zerner according to Ron Goulart, The Funnies (1995)]. The strip was called Vic Jordan and it was fun to do.

Some of his comic book credits are at the Grand Comics Database. Vic Jordan debuted December 1, 1941 (below).

Courtesy of Alter Ego
The New York Times, November 10, 1943, reviewed the exhibition, “Marines Under Fire”, at the Museum of Modern Art. Wexler’s piece, “The Japanese Enemy”, was mentioned. His art was included in the show, “The War Against Japan”, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from May 27 to June 19, 1945. An issue of Editor & Publisher, Volume 98, 1965, said: “…During World War II he served as a combat artist with the U.S. Marine Corps. His drawings at Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Bougainville and other battles were sent back to Washington for publication in newspapers and such magazines as Look and Life….” Harold Helfer’s story “The Beautiful Bungalow” was published in The Field Artillery Journal, November-December 1948. He was in the same outfit as Wexler. His story can be read here (scroll down to page 275).

According to the Connecticut Divorce Index, 1968-1997, at Ancestry,com, he married Mae Hillman in September 1944. Editor & Publisher said: “…[Wexler and Hillman] are graduates in different years from Pratt Institute, where they studied art….”

The Trenton Times-Advertiser (New Jersey), August 18, 1946, published this item: “Elmer Wexler, free-lance artist and an illustrator of Houghton, Mifflin Company juveniles, was chosen to record the recent atomic last at Bikini. His vantage point was in front of a television set in New York City. During the war Wexler sketched the Bougainville and Okinawa landings as Marine Corps combat artist.” In 1946, he also drew the strip Jon Jason; samples from October 5, 11, 12, 18, 24, and 28.

Wexler said, “…After I got out of the service, I went to work in advertising and illustration and left comics behind. I did a lot of work for Johnstone and Cushing…”, a studio that produced comics advertising. He added, “…I started my own studio after Johnstone and Cushing….” In 1967 he was the editor and publisher of Dimensions in Living, a monthly newspaper supplement. Lack of advertising caused the supplement’s demise after three issues. He and Mae were granted a divorce January 19, 1972. Later, he remarried to Pauline.

Wexler passed away October 3, 2007 in Norwalk, Connecticut, according to the Social Security Death Index. The Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists profiled Wexler. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 has an overview of his work.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Merle Mulholland


Merle Julian Mulholland was born in Pennsylvania on June 22, 1898, according to his World War I draft card and the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the census, he was the only child of Charles and Laura, who lived in Jefferson, Pennsylvania on Main Street. His father was a dry goods merchant.

In 1910, he was the oldest of two sons. The family lived in Butler, Pennsylvania at 107 Valley View Avenue. Information regarding his education has not been found. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived with his mother at 117 South Chestnut, Butler, Pennsylvania. His occupation was a machinist, who was described as medium height, slender build with blue eyes and brown hair.

The 1920 census recorded him in Akron, Ohio at 90 Taylor Avenue, where he lived with his wife, Isabel. His occupation was machinist. Information about his art training has not been found. The Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Directory 1929 listed him at 622 Walnut in McKeesport. He was an artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publishing Company.

The 1930 census recorded him at the same address as the Pittsburgh Directory. He was married to Clair; the fate of his first wife is not known. He worked as a newspaper artist. The column, Pittsburghesque by Charles F. Danver, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 7, 1931, hinted at a comic strip by Mulholland.

Stand Up, Merle!
The thumb-nail illustrations in the column this week, you may like to know, are the work of Merle Mulholland, staff artist whose name you will probably see signed to an interesting comic strip one of these days.

Mulholland’s strip, Alec and Itchy, was promoted in the Post-Gazette.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/17 1931

The Post-Gazette, October 19, 1931, highlighted the strip’s debut:

Meet “Alec and Itchy”
Why put off laughing until you can afford it? Turn to the Post-Gazette comic page right now—read “Alec and Itchy,” the latest addition to the Post-Gazette‘s family of funny-strip people—chuckle—forget that your Aunt Jenny is coming for a two-months visit. “Alec and Itchy” and all their friends are being sent out in the interests of happy insanity by Jimmy George and Merle Mulholland, of the Post-Gazette staff. They’ll be a Post-Gazette laugh-feature every morning hereafter.

The strip ended February 27, 1932. The date of his move to Ohio is not known. Mulholland passed away June 3, 1944, in Warren, Ohio, according to Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, & 1958-2007 at Ancestry.com.