Ink-Slinger Profiles: Rick Fletcher

A Short Biography of Rick Fletcher
 by his son, Ross Fletcher
 [Stripper’s Guide thanks Mr. Fletcher for allowing us permission to print this essay, 
which is copyright (c) 2012 Ross Fletcher. All rights reserved]

Rick Fletcher was born in Burlington, Iowa on June 1 1916 to William and Maude Fletcher. He was the second of four children: Russell, Richard, Martha and Edward. Rick had a keen interest in drawing from an early age. Encouraged by his mother, he drew every day and studied art and anatomy books from the local library, teaching him perspective, composition, color and technique. In his diary, he wrote that when asked how he learned his art skills, “I say that I go to art school at the library.”

After graduating from Burlington High School with the class of 1934, Rick and his family moved to Galesburg, Illinois. There his father worked for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad as a fireman on the steamers, and later as an engineer on the stainless steel Burlington Zephyr. His mother was a happy homemaker who loved to raise her family and cook wonderful meals, including Eggplant Parmesan, Rick’s favorite.

Rick’s career growth in 1935 was quite remarkable. During March, the 18-year old Rick and his younger sister Martha started a business. Rick would design and draw paper dolls and Martha would sell them at school to her friends. A diary entry recorded his take, “Made twenty six cents.”

Rick also entered the Knox Laundry Anagram contest, winning three tickets to the Orpheum Theater. The following week he used his little brother Ed’s name and won first place again. The third week he entered with a neighbor girl’s name and won yet again. Another quote from his diary said; “The president of Knox Laundry asked the girl’s sister if Rick Fletcher didn’t do the drawing. My reputation is getting out.”

On May 2 1935 Rick won a twenty-two dollar Mixmaster food mixer in the Doyle’s Furniture Store contest; this further boosted his confidence. He gave the food mixer to his mother.

On September 26 1935 Rick wrote to a longtime friend, Joe Weber, who was working as a photographer at the new Tri City Star newspaper in Davenport, Iowa. He asked about the possibility of a job in the art department. Weber brought Rick to the attention of Mr. Hinkle, the publisher, who liked Rick’s work and hired him for fifteen dollars a week starting October 3 1935. Rick soon moved to Davenport to become a one-man art department. Within a week he complained in his diary, “work is coming in too fast to get any quality” but decided “composition is what puts the drawing over.” Rick went to the Davenport Library for more art instruction material.

Rick worked at the Tri City Star for two years, then found a more desirable position at the Rudy A. Moritz Advertising Agency in Davenport. Rick was hired as the art director, producing ads and campaigns for national accounts. This position allowed him more time to produce higher quality work.

Rick’s final entry in his 1935 diary summed up the enthusiasm he held for his career. “This has certainly been some swell year, all because of my artwork. My first big cash in was the Mixmaster food mixer that I won and gave my mother, and then the big achievement which was the job at Tri City Star. My greatest help has been from Joe Weber and Mr. Hinkle, the Publisher of the Star and the Beacon Publishing Company…I can consider 1935 as a year I was launched in my career, which I hope will reap me rich rewards and fame in the future, it really was an eventful year.”

In 1942, Rick’s career was interrupted by World War II. He went to Camp Dodge in Iowa on September 29th1942, then on to Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers in April 1943 and assigned as a First Lieutenant S-1 Adjutant to the 308th Engineer Combat Battalion with the 83rd infantry Division.

Rick went through five European military campaigns from D-Day +10 at Omaha Beach, the Battle of Normandy through the hedgerows zigzagging across France, into Belgium, Holland and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He raced through the German Wehrmacht into Germany along with the 83rd Infantry Division when General Eisenhower ordered the Army to stop. He was in Zerbst Germany near the Elbe River just eighty-eight miles from the bunker where Hitler was hiding in Berlin. Two weeks later Hitler committed suicide in the bunker when the Russian Army invaded from the eastern front. Rick received the Bronze Star for his service in the war in Europe.

At the end of the war until his trip back to the United States, Rick was assigned various positions; commanding officer of the Sonndorf Prisoner of War Camp in Germany; purchasing and contracting officers to build camps for Displaced Persons and Prisoners of War; and trial judge advocate. Aside from his regular duties in the U.S. Army, Rick hand-lettered signs and painted vehicles. He also passed the time by drawing caricatures of himself, expressing his moods in his letters home.

Rick’s desire to draw became increasingly problematic as many supplies were scarce while overseas. Rick frequently instead relied on his 35mm Leica camera to produce quick, convenient photographs. Throughout Europe he took photos of citizens, soldiers and landscapes, eventually making a scrapbook. He later made a watercolor painting of Belgian peasants based on a photo he took from his jeep.

He was separated from service as a Captain on February 27 1946. His name is inscribed in the Book of Honor at the Court of Patriots – Rock Island Arsenal Museum, located on the same property as the National Cemetery in Rock Island Illinois where he is buried along with his wife Beverly.

After the war Rick was offered jobs at two locations, the Chicago Tribune and a local engraving studio. In a diary entry Rick decided to choose the Tribune because “I just liked walking down Michigan Avenue and going into the Tribune Tower, which has quite a mystique in Chicago.” Rick joined the advertising art department in April 1946, handling illustrations and cartooning. Rick studied for several years under the supervision of Carey Orr, Pulitzer Prize winning chief editorial cartoonist; learning advanced comic strip technique. Orr taught many illustrators, including, back in 1917, then high school student Walt Disney.

Tribune colleagues took notice of Rick’s art, which showed quality and versatility. While he worked in the advertising department, Rick continued to pursue opportunities in illustration by submitting original samples of his own work to editors at the Chicago Tribune. The Old Glory Story was Rick’s first strip, a color Sunday feature, starting in February 1953. Written and researched by Athena Robbins, this award-winning story began as an illustrated history of the American flag. The feature was so well received that Robbins and Fletcher were asked to continue it after the initial story was completed, exploring other aspects of American history. The unique aspect of The Old Glory Story was that all the stories, flags, people, uniforms, weapons and transportation were illustrated with historical accuracy and reproduced in full color. The feature ended up running over thirteen years, finally ending in April 1966. The stories told in the strip are as follows:

The Old Glory Story 2-15-1953 – 9-25-1955
Daniel Boone 10-2-1955 – 1-8-1956
George Rogers Clark 1-15-1956 – 4-29-1956
John Sevier 5-6-1956 – 8-19-1956
Captain Robert Gray 8-26-1956 – 11-18-1956
Mad Anthony Wayne 11-25-1956 – 2-17-1957
Lewis and Clark 2-24-1957 – 7-7-1957
Zebulon Pike 7-14-1957 – 10-6-1957
Stephen Decatur 10-13-1957 – 12-29-1957
William Henry Harrison 1-5-1958 – 4-6-1958
Andrew Jackson 4-13-1958 – 8-24-1958
Defense of Baltimore 8-31-58 – 11-23-1958
Stephen F Austin 11-30-1958 – 2-22-1959
Astorians of Oregon 3-1-1959 – 5-24-1959
Lewis Cass 5-31-1959 – 8-23-1959
Jed Smith 8-30-1959 – 12-20-1959
Dewitt Clinton 12-27-1959 – 3-13-1960
Sam Houston 3-20-1960 – 6-12-1960
Great Western Migration 6-19-1960 – 9-11-1960
Kit Carson 9-18-1960 – 12-25-1960
Old Glory at the Crossroads 1-1-1961 – 6-6-1965
Frontier Adventures 6-13-1965 – 4-17-1966

Meanwhile, in 1961, while working on Old Glory at the Crossroads, an opportunity was presented by Chester Gould, the creator of Dick Tracy and Rick’s colleague at the Chicago Tribune. Gould’s young assistant, Dick Locher, had to leave for family reasons, and Gould hired Rick as a part time assistant artist, His duties for Gould included penciling panels, illustrating and inking backgrounds, advertising layout and illustration, as well as developing story-lines.

During the spring of 1962 Gould hired Rick on a full time basis to be part of the Dick Tracy production team, which at the time included Chester Gould’s brother, Ray, for lettering; Jack Ryan, production art, and Chicago Police Detective Al Valenis for police-related research.

Rick concurrently worked on The Old Glory Story and Dick Tracy from 1961 until the last Old Glory strip was completed in 1966. Rick performed as a member of Chester Gould’s production team for the Dick Tracy comic strip continuously for 16 years, 1961-1977, learning Gould’s unique drawing and story style that Rick called “Gouldism”. This long-term experience and an already award-winning illustration career led Chester Gould and Tribune executives to agree to have Rick Fletcher take over production of Dick Tracy when Gould retired on December 24 1977.

Working with a young new writer, Max Allan Collins, Rick began showing his strengths by equipping Tracy with state of the art equipment: a nickel plated Colt Trooper MKIII .357 magnum revolver with illuminated night-sights and the 2-way wrist TV (which Rick created with his younger brother Ed in 1963 while working with Gould).

Rick drew the Dick Tracy comic strip for five years, always researching the latest technologies, reflecting current trends in popular culture and listening to his fans. Rick also utilized proper law enforcement techniques and procedures learned from several of his friends in law enforcement. Among them were Julio Santiago of the Dakota County Minnesota Sheriff’s Office, friends working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his old friend Al Valenis from the Chicago Police Department.

Contributing time and talent to his local community in Woodstock Illinois, Rick produced several illustrations for fundraising auctions, as well as personal cards for friends in the hospital. On several occasions Rick  acknowledged friends and family by using their name or likeness hidden somewhere in the background of the Dick Tracy panels, then present them the original art as a gift.

Teaming with the Chicago Tribune from early 1946 until cancer took his life on March 16, 1983; described by his colleagues as the “world’s greatest artist of guns, hardware and machinery in the history of comic strips,” and having hundreds of millions of readers around the globe agree, Rick proved his abilities to manage and produce exquisite, timeless American illustrations.

Postscript: Rick Fletcher is often confused with another man with a nearly identical name who cartooned for the Chicago Tribune in the same era — Dick Fletcher. That other fellow produced the strips Surgeon Stone and Jed Cooper. In case there is any lingering doubt about there being two cartooning Fletchers at the Trib, here’s proof in the form of a 1956 Joseph Parrish caricature of the two:

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Billy Ireland


William Addison “Billy” Ireland was born in Chillicothe, Ohio on January 8, 1880, according to the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962 at Ancestry.com. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of two sons born to William and Lizzie. They lived in Chillicothe on Paint Street. His father was a traveling salesman. According to Ohio Cartoonists, Ireland “…was hired by the Columbus Dispatch shortly after his high school graduation in 1898. A self-taught cartoonist, he worked for the Dispatch until his death…”


In the 1900 census Ireland was a cartoonist and the middle son. The family remained in Chillicothe but at another address, 174 South Paint Street. His father and older brother were a wholesale merchants. According to the New York Times, May 30, 1935, he married Florence Sayre of Marion, Indiana, in 1906. The Sunday full-page version of The Passing Show began on February 9, 1908.

In 1910 the couple lived in Columbus, Ohio at 316 Linwood Avenue. He was a newspaper cartoonist. The Washington Herald (District of Columbia), October 24, 1914, published O.O. McIntyre’s column which included a piece about Ireland.

Billy Ireland, the cartoonist, has been in New York taking in a few of the new shows and loafing with the newspaper boys along the Great White Way hangouts. Ireland has a summer home outside of Columbus, and has a neighbor who has the habit of feigning deafness when he wants to avoid answering an awkward question. Ireland went over to him and said: “I’d like to borrow your cart this morning for an hour or so. Mine is having a spring mended.”


“You’ll have to speak louder,” the old farmer answered, I don’t hear very well, and I don’t like to lend my cart, anyhow.”

A World War I draft card for Ireland has not been found. The 1920 census recorded him in Columbus at 264 Woodland Avenue. The couple had two daughters. His occupation was a newspaper cartoonist.


The Portsmouth Daily Times (Ohio), May 6, 1924, carried the Associate Press news that Ireland, “…who has been incapacitated for two months, was operated upon at his home…for thyroid trouble. He rallied well and his physicians expect a speedy recovery.” The Lima News (Ohio), September 20, 1925, noted his interest in oddities.

…William A. (“Billy”) Ireland, cartoonist of the Columbus Dispatch, got the opportunity a few days ago to draw a two-headed snake from a natural model.


Ireland devotes considerable of his pen and ink space to depicting freaks of nature that are found in the gardens, fields, and forests of Ohio. He draws triple-eared corn; mangoes, potatoes and other vegetables shaped like animals and persons; and all kinds of poly-formed herbs, but the two-headed snake opened up a new field in his experience.

His father passed away June 22, 1926 according to The Times Recorder (Ohio). The Newark Advocate (Ohio) reported Robert F. Wolfe, publisher of the Columbus Dispatch and Ohio State Journal, fell from The Dispatch roof to his death, after visiting Ireland a few minutes earlier. Wolfe had not been feeling well for several days. Ireland was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral service for Wolfe.


Evidently, he was a train enthusiast. In 1928 several newspapers, including the Newark Advocate, announced his upcoming February 17 ride in the cab of a railroad engine from Columbus to Indianapolis. Sadly, less than two months later, his mother passed away on April 11 in Chillicothe. The Canton Repository (Ohio), November 16, 1928, covered the ceremony, in Newark, Ohio, where Ireland and John T. McCutheon planted trees in an arboretum.


The family remained the same size and at the same address in 1930. Newspaper cartoonist was his occupation. Ireland passed away May 29, 1935, according to the Canton Repository article of the same day.

‘Billy’ Ireland Dies After Heart Attack
Famous Ohio Cartoonist Found Dead in Bed.
By United Press

Columbus, May 29.—William “Billy” Ireland, 55, widely known cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch and a member of that newspaper’s staff for 36 years, was found dead in bed today. He was believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Mr. Ireland, whose cartoons frequently appeared in magazines, was born in Chillicothe. He started to work for the Chillicothe Daily News in 1897 and later worked for the Chillicothe News-Advertiser.

For many years he has drawn “The Passing Show” in the Sunday Dispatch. During his career, Mr. Ireland rejected many offers to go to New York to work.

The next day the Repository published the following:

Ohio Joins Columbus In Paying Tribute To Cartoonist Ireland
Creator Of Passing Show Dies Suddenly At His Home; Famous Throughout State.
By The Associated Press.

Columbus, May 29.—W.A. (Billy) Ireland, genial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch, died unexpectedly at his home today. He was 55.

His sketches, which were reproduced in numerous newspapers and magazines, brought him nationwide renown.

As the “janitor” of a full page in the Sunday Dispatch, Mr. Ireland gave full play to his unusual humor. He signed the page with a shamrock and drew a remarkable resemblance of his own stocky, white haired figure, as the “janitor” of the page, known as “The Passing Show.”

Notables Send Condolences.

His annual “gypsy tours” to various parts of the nation were illustrated in detail in the page. Born in Chillicothe, he often brought persons from that city into his drawings. Always he gave emphasis to his love of the out-of-doors.

The suddenness of his death shocked the community. He had been in his usual haunts early in the week, joking and discussing fishing trips with friends.

Consequently, funeral arrangements were uncertain.

City and state officials expressed amazement when informed of Mr. Ireland’s sudden death. Tribute was paid to him by Mayor Henry W. Worley, Bishop James J. Hartley, and L.W. St. John, athletic director of Ohio State University, among others.

Native of Chillicothe.

Born in Chillicothe, Jan. 8, 1880, Mr. Ireland launched upon his career as an artist as a schoolboy, making chalk plate sketches. With the exception of a short period in Chillicothe, his entire professional career as a cartoonist and newspaper artist was given to the Dispatch here.

An optimist and a humorist, Mr. Ireland inserted his very spirit into his drawings, especially “The Passing Show,” where items of human interest dominated.

His Passing Show characters “Jerry and the Judge” were as real to his readers as though they lived in the flesh. He was intensely proud of his country and his state. Many of his cartoons pictured “Old Man Ohio”—an embodiment of what he felt represented the Buckeye state’s best citizenship.

Mr. Ireland played just as hard as he worked. His vacation trips were devoted to gathering ideas for “The Passing Show.” The Atlantic coast fishing villages knew him, as did the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas. His summer home was on Cape Cod. Golf was his hobby, with motoring, fishing and camping close seconds.

Was Found Dead In Bed.

Mr. Ireland was a member of the Scioto Country club here; the Columbus Athletic club and the Elks. He was a Mason and a Rotarian. He was a member of the St. Paul’s Episcopal church.

The widow, Mrs. Florence Sayre Ireland, and two daughters, Ruth and Betty, survive.

Mrs. Ireland found the cartoonist dead in bed late this morning. He had died during the night of heart disease from which he had suffered minor attacks for some time.

He had been connected with the Dispatch for 36 years, rejecting repeated offers to go to other newspapers

On May 31, the Repository said Ireland’s body was taken to Chillicothe for burial. Ireland’s last Passing Show was published on June 2, 1935; it was continued by Harry Keys. The Toledo Blade (Ohio), November 8, 1941, reported Ireland’s name was added to the Ohio journalism hall of fame at Ohio State University.


Ireland was mentor to several cartoonists including Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles, and Dudley Fisher. Frank Spangler got his start by substituting for Ireland. Columbus Dispatch cartoonist Ray Evans paid tribute to Ireland.

The Portsmouth Daily Times, September 26, 1984, published “State To Honor Artist” which said:



Gov. Richard Celeste and Lt. Gov. Myrl Shoemaker are to dedicate a shelter house at Great Seal Park today in honor of Billy Ireland, a cartoonist who sketched his vision of the park shortly before he died in 1936 [sic].

The park offers visitors a view of the hills and pasture that are pictured on the state seal.


The comics collection at Ohio State University was renamed the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in 2009. The original art for a few of his editorial cartoons is at Heritage Auctions.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Tarpé Mills



June Tarpé Mills was born in New York City on February 25, 1912. Her birth year was determined by examining the 1930 United States Federal Census, which was enumerated in April and recorded her age as 18. Trina Robbins used the same year in her profile of Mills for the book, Womanthology. The birth month and day was on a 1947 passenger list at Ancestry.com, although the birth year was recorded as 1918. She has not been found in the 1920 census.

In the 1930 census, Mills was the youngest, at age 18, of three children born to Margaret, a widow who was a hairdresser at a beauty salon. The census recorded her occupation as artist model in the artist industry. Her older siblings, Thomas, 23, and Margaret, 19, had the Tarpey surname. They lived in Brooklyn, New York at 970 St. Marks Avenue. At age fifteen, their mother married John J. Tarpey around 1907. Some time after daughter Margaret’s birth, they divorced. The father, who remarried, had custody of the children, according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Some time between 1920 and 1930, Margaret’s children from her first marriage joined her household. 

The elder Margaret remarried to Mills, whose first name is not known, and they had June. His fate is not known. In the 1930 census, the name recorded was “June T. Mills”, so it appeared she used the Tarpey name but changed the spelling to Tarpé.

In The World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976), Maurice Horn wrote: “One of the few female cartoonists successful in the action genre, Tarpe Mills started Black Fury (soon to be changed to Miss Fury) on April 6, 1941, as a Sunday feature for the Bell Syndicate.”

The New York Post, April 6, 1942, profiled Mills in the article, “Meet the Real Miss Fury—It’s All Done With Mirrors” by James Aronson.

…Tarpe Mills, Erasmus Hall High graduate, said that she literally stumbled into cartooning. She posed for portrait painters, photographers and sculptors to pay her way through Pratt Institute. She studied sculpture and was told that she showed promise; but the market for birdbaths was pretty dry, so she went into animated cartooning.

Among other things she created a few cat characters which were used in a series of pictures, and finally, she said, “I was carried out of the joint with a nervous breakdown.” It was back to posing and free-lance drawing.

“Then,” she said, “a foot injury kept me out of circulation and I started a serial called “Daredevil Barry Finn” for one of the children’s comic books. I hated to drop Barry, so I went into the business whole hog and turned out such hair-raising thrillers as “The Purple Zombie,” “Devil’s Dust” and “The Cat Man.”

Miss Mills dropped her first name (she won’t say what it was) because it was too feminine.

“It would have been a major let-down to the kids if they found out that the author of such virile and awesome characters was a gal.” she said.

Miss Mills said she writes “Miss Fury” to provide amusement for kids and grownups alike. “Fashions, a hint of romance and human interest for the adults. Fantasy and action for the youngsters.”

She admitted she doesn’t know where she got her inspiration except that she was one of the imaginative kids “who hang around the house reading books instead of running around outside playing hop-scotch.”

Who poses for the girl characters in “Miss Fury,” she was asked.

“It’s all done with mirrors,” she said. “I find it simpler to sketch from a mirror than to have a model and explain just what the character should be doing.”

According to the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Periodicals, Part 2, Periodicals, 1943, New Series, Volume 38, Number 3, Mills owned the copyright to the Miss Fury comic book.


Mills passed away in December 1988, according to an issue of Witty World. Her obituary has not been found and she is not in the Social Security Death Index. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1918–1999 has an overview of her career. Her comic book credits are at the Grand Comics DatabaseHeritage Auctions has the original art for strips of Black Fury and Miss Fury [Allan’s note: which appear to be dailies, though the strip was Sunday only!]. Trina Robbins has written extensively about Mills in A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993), The Great Women Superheroes (1996) and Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1944-1949 (2011).

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Chris Ishii

Kishio Christopher Ishii was born in Caruthers, Fresno County, California on August 11, 1919, according to the Archives of American Art (birthplace) and the California Birth Index, 1905-1995 at Ancestry.com. He was in Japan when the 1920 U.S. Federal Census was enumerated. On June 12, 1920, his family sailed from Kobe, Japan and arrived in Seattle, Washington on July 1. He was the youngest of four children born to Koshiro and Naka. His father was a farmer. They had visited his father’s mother in Toyotamura Kagawa-ken.


The 1930 census recorded him in the 17th Judicial Township, Fresno County on Fig Avenue. He was the fourth of six children, and his father continued as a farmer. Ishii graduated from Caruthers Union High School. Archives of American Art said he attended “Chouinard School of Art…in Los Angeles and upon graduation worked for Walt Disney Studios until World War II.” In late May 1941, a strike was called against Disney. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson (2006), said, “A local newspaper article of the time noted that all four of the Nisei artists went out on strike: Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi, and James Tanaka.” They found work elsewhere when the strike ended.



On December 7, 1941, Japan declared war on the United States by bombing Pearl Harbor. Life soon changed for thousands of Japanese Americans on the West Coast. In April 1942, Ishii was relocated to an assembly center, a racetrack in Santa Anita, California. A newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker, was produced and soon featured his cartoon character, Li’l Neebo. First, there was a contest to name the character.


Pacemaker 5/15/1942

Pacemaker 5/19/1942


Pacemaker 5/22/1942


Pacemaker 6/3/1942


Pacemaker 7/29/1942

When the assembly center closed in September, Ishii was transferred to the Granada Internment Camp in Amache, Colorado. Cartoon Brew said Li’l Neebo appeared in “Granada camp’s newspaper Granada Pioneer. The character was also drawn for the paper by other interned artists, as well as used in puppet shows at the camps.” Cartoon Brew has samples of Li’l Neebo as a comic strip. Newspapers of Amache has links to a Li’l Neebo strip and two illustrations. Sonoma State University’s North Bay Digital Collections has a photograph of Ishii volunteering for the United States Army. The photo’s description said: “…When Chris left Amache, the comic strip was continued by Tom Okamoto, another Disney animator, and later by Jack Ito.” A mini-biography at the Internet Movie Database said:

At the start of World War II he was interned at the Assembly Center at Santa Anita and then transferred to the Granada Relocation Center in Amache, Colorado. In both places, he worked on the camp newspapers as a cartoonist. Volunteering to join the U.S. Army from Amache in 1943, he served in the Military Intelligence Service as an illustrator for the Office of War Information, assigned to the India/China/Burma theater of war. He met and married his wife, Ada Suffiad in Shanghai, bringing her to the U.S. with him at demobilization. After the war he briefly studied art in Paris, France.


Stars and Stripes Magazine Section 1/19/1946


Stars and Stripes Magazine Section 12/29/1946


Archives of American Art said: “…In 1951 he traveled to Paris on the GI Bill to study at the Académie Julian with Fernand Léger.” The IMDb bio said, “…In 1952, he settled with his family in New York…He worked at UPA Studios on ‘A Unicorn in the Garden’ and ‘Madeline,’ and on Gerald McBoing Boing and Mr. Magoo cartoons. Joining with two partners in 1965, he formed Focus Productions…He became a freelance artist in 1975, and contributed the animated sequence in Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’…”

His wife passed away February 17, 1988. Ishii passed away November 6, 2001, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. A filmography is here.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Tom Okamoto

Sadayuki Thomas Okamoto was born in Kent, Washington on March 15, 1916. His Japanese name is from the record, Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II. The birthplace was on a 1918 passport application, although the birth year was recorded as 1915. His birthdate is from Washington Births, 1907-1919. According to the application, he lived in Hiroshima-ken, Japan since September 28, 1916. He, his mother, older brother and sister arrived in Seattle, Washington on March 16, 1918, as recorded on a passenger ship list. All records are from Ancestry.com.


Okamoto has not been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. His name was recorded on a passenger ship list. From Yokohama, Japan, he arrived in Seattle on November 14, 1927. He has not been found in the 1930 census, and the date of his move to Los Angeles, California is not known. Editor & Publisher, December 24, 1955, said, “…After one year at Sacramento Junior College, he attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, following with a job as staff artist in the Walt Disney studio.” Asian American Art, 1850-1970 (2008) said: “The growing industry of Hollywood provided employment to many Japanese American artists—behind the camera or at the animation table….Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Tyrus Wong, Milton Quon, Wah Ming Chang, James Tanaka, Robert Kuwahara, and Gyo Fujikawa all worked for Disney at some point in the pre-World War II period…”

In late May 1941, a strike was called against Disney. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson (2006), said, “A local newspaper article of the time noted that all four of the Nisei artists went out on strike: Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi, and James Tanaka.” Apparently, the quartet found work elsewhere when the Disney strike ended.




On December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor had a devastating effect on the Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Tens of thousands of them were relocated in camps. Okamoto found himself at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Santa Anita, California in April 1942. The assembly center was a racetrack. Here, he was reunited with Chris Ishii and, no doubt, met Bob Kuwahara. A newsletter was created, the Santa Anita Pacemaker. The July 16, 1942 issue had an article about Okamoto:

Artist Paints ‘Last Look,’ Lonely Church Scene

Tom Okamoto, one of the outstanding artists in the Center, who teaches art classes daily from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Grandstand, said, “There are two kinds of art. One is to please other people. The other is to express the way you really feel. I think the latter is much deeper and satisfying.”

As an example of this, after Okamoto was evacuated to Santa Anita from the westside in Los Angeles, he painted a picture called “Last Look.”

In the background of the picture stands the tower of the Japanese M.E. church at 35th and Normandie. The picture has an air of desolateness and loneliness about it.

“I wanted to show the loneliness of the scene. Just before we piled into the buses, I walked around and took one good ‘last look,’ at this place. In spite of all the traffic and people milling about there was a desolation of spirit. I wanted to express it on canvas.”

Okamoto believes that in teaching the students the fundamentals of art, the students should be encouraged to choose objects that are the most familiar to them or closest to them—something they know and understand.

“A teacher,” said Okamoto, “should find out the background of his students in order to bring out their hidden talents and capabilities.”

The Pacemaker also published Ishii’s panel cartoon, Li’l Neebo. Soon, Ishii and Okamoto were transferred to the Granada Internment Camp in Amache, Colorado. Sonoma State University’s North Bay Digital Collections has a photo of Ishii and the description says: “…Chris created a cartoon character names “Lil Nerbo” [sic] or little Nisei boy. The cartoon strip he created quickly became a favorite with evacuees. When Chris left Amache, the comic strip was continued by Tom Okamoto, another Disney animator, and later by Jack Ito.”

According to Editor & Publisher, “…In 1943, he [Okamoto] served in the Army as a master sergeant in military intelligence…” He was stationed at the Military Intelligence Service Language School, located at Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota. While he was there, Okamoto designed an emblem for the school. Editor & Publisher also said: “…when he was discharged in 1947, he went to Art Center School in Los Angeles until 1951.”


This snippet was found in Scene, The International East-West Magazine, Volume 3, 1951: “Tom Okamoto, California cartoonist, gets fresh ideas for his syndicated cartoon strip by watching his two sons, Deems and Eric, in the living room of the Okamotos’ new home in El Monte, Calif. Mrs. Okamoto looks on.” Named after his oldest son, Deems began sometime in 1951. In late 1955, his strip, Little Brave, was named the top winner in United Feature Syndicate’s $10,000 Talent Comics Contest. The Sunday Herald (Connecticut), February 12, 1956, announced the winners, too. He used the pseudonym Tom Mako on his strip.



The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 12/5/1957

Oswego Valley News (New York) 12/21/1967

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 6/19/1958

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 10/24/1957

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 5/15/1958


Okamoto passed away November 20, 1978, in Contra Costa, California, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Bob Kuwahara

Robert “Bob” Kuwahara was born in Tokyo, Japan on August 12, 1901, according to Kuwahara’s biographical sketch at the In Memoriam page of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) website. Wikipedia said his Japanese name was Rokuro. The NCS bio said he, “…came to good ol’ U.S.A. in 1910…held a book upside down the first day in school but managed to get away with a sheepskin from the Los Angeles Polytechnic High School in 1921…” Asian American Art, 1850-1970 (2008) said he lived in Santa Barbara, California from 1910 to 1914, then in Los Angeles. The newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker (California), July 1, 1942, published “Former Studio Artist Now Supervises Art Classes” which said, “…Kuwahara got his start as a cartoonist for the Poly Optimist, a Los Angeles high school newspaper. He attended the Otis Art institute then went to New York where he did portrait work for well-known book publishers.”


The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Rokuro Kuwahara in Los Angeles at 138 Carr Street. He was the youngest of six children born to Yusho and Yoshio. His father operated a laundry. According to the NCS bio, “…followed 7 years of drawing and painting at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles…off to New York in May, 1929 for a fling at commercial art…Crash!…You know what happened in 1929…”

Asian American Art said he:

…worked as an editor of the English section of the Rafu Nichi-Bei newspaper. After resigning from the Rafu Nichi-Bei in 1929, Kuwahara held a successful solo-exhibition of pastel portraits and pen sketches at the Olympic Hotel in Los Angeles and sold thirty-two pieces. The Rafu Shimpo newspaper reproduced two of Kuwahara’s sketches…with a review of the show….Shortly after this success, Kuwahara moved to New York City to work as a freelance portraitist and artist for various book publishers.

In the 1930 census he lived in the Bronx, New York at 950 Woodycrest Avenue, apartment B25. He was a commercial artist. His roommate, Thomas Hayakawa, was a translator. His drawing of Ralph Waldo Emerson was recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc. 1930 New Series, Volume 25, Number 3. The New York Times, April 3, 1932, published a portrait of Emerson by Kuwahara. The portrait was copyrighted by William Edwin Rudge, a book publisher, who produced an Emerson book, Uncollected Lectures, in 1932. Evidently, Kuwahara’s drawing was based on a photograph.



According to Asian American Art he returned to California in 1931. In Los Angeles, he found work in animation and married Julia Suski, a musician and graphic designer for the Rafu Shimpo. At NCS, Kuwahara wrote that he “went crawling back home and to work for Walt Disney in 1932. Then off to M.G.M. in 1937…” Some of his Disney credits are at The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts. Asian American Art said, “…Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Tyrus Wong, Milton Quon, Wah Ming Chang, James Tanaka, Robert Kuwahara, and Gyo Fujikawa all worked for Disney at some point in the pre-World War II period…”






His mother passed away April 3, 1940, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, life for the Japanese on the West Coast was in upheaval. Tens of thousands of American citizens were removed from their homes and sent to camps under military supervision. Asian American Art said:

During internment, Kuwahara and his family were held first at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. Kuwahara’s accomplishments were well known to camp supervisors. While at Santa Anita, Kuwahara was allowed to teach art classes twice a week.

The Santa Anita Assembly Center was in use for six months, April to September 1942. The center’s newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker, was published during that time. Kuwahara was mentioned in the following issues: June 3, 1942, page 3, “Candidates for Election“; June 6, 1942, page 1, “Art Classes“; July 1, 1942, page 2, “Royal Spartans See Magic”, and page 3, “Former Studio Artist Now Supervises Art Classes” (available at Genealogy.com); July 4, 1942, page 4, “Creativeness Shown in Handicraft Exhibit.”

During the relocation to Heart Mountain, Asian American Art said he collaborated with a group of “Nisei artists that included Hideo Date, Riyo Sato, and Benji Okubo….they practiced their craft, taught art classes to the residents, and displayed their works in shows….In 1943, Kuwahara exhibited a collection of watercolors at the Chicago branch of the American Friends Service Committee.” With his release in 1943, he moved to Chicago to work as a commercial artist. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, Etc. 1944 New Series, Volume 41, Number 12 had the following entry.



[Kuwahara (Robert)] Animal coloring book. [Body by R. Kuwahara, cover by J.C. Schumacher: © Nov.’ 8, 1944; AA 469537; Merrill pub. co. Chicago. 33037



At NCS, Kuwahara said, “…we finally resettled in Larchmont, N.Y. in 1945. Did a comic strip “Miki” for G.M. Adams Service for 5 years but couldn’t pull up it’s circulation…gave it up and went to work for Paul Terry in 1950…Paul sold out to C.B.S. in 1955…studio is now known as Terrytoons-CBS…” According to Asian American Art, he lived in New Rochelle, New York, from 1945 to 1950, before settling in Larchmont. Terry’s name was credited to the comic strip Barker Bill, but it was ghosted by Kuwahara. The Winnipeg Free Press published the strip beginning September 27, 1954 (below). Tralfaz has the first week here. Mark Kausler’s CatBlog has more strips here and here. (Use the search box for more Barker Bill strips.)



On December 24, 1955, Editor & Publisher announced the five winners in “United Feature Syndicate’s $10,000 Talent Comics Contest.” Kuwahara’s Marvelous Mike was one of them. Also a winner was Little Brave by Thomas Okamoto, who was interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. When the Sunday Herald (Connecticut), February 12, 1956, reported the winners of the contest, Okamoto used the pseudonym, Tom Mako. Marvelous Mike strips can be viewed here (first two weeks) and here (final week). Mark Kausler’s CatBlog has the entire run of Marvelous Mike. It begins here and continues for 75 posts.


Debut


Asian American Art said, “He created the Hashimoto Mouse character that appeared in the theatrical release of Hashimoto-san (1959) and directed episodes of the animated television cartoon series Hashimoto Mouse (1959–1963). He also directed episodes of Deputy Dawg.” Hashimoto-san is discussed at the Nishikata Film Review. His filmography is at the Internet Movie Database.

Lastly at NCS, Kuwahara said about himself, “…Hobby: Golf, what else?…Sport: Golf, What else? Most frustrating game I know…but, dammit, I love it!!” He passed away December 10, 1964, in Larchmont, according to Asian American Art. The Social Security Death Index said his wife passed away September 20, 1996. The couple were among the over one million names placed on the STARDUST spacecraft, launched in 1999.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Edgar Martin

Edgar Everett “Abe” Martin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 6, 1898, according to Ernest Lynn’s article in the Advocate (Baton Rogue, Louisiana), September 3, 1960. His World War I draft card has the same birth date. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of three sons born to George and Mary. They lived in Crawfordsville, Indiana at 308 South Green Street. His father was a teacher. The date of their move to Tennessee is not known


In the 1910 census, the family lived in Civil District 7, in Davidson County, Tennessee, on Hillsboro Road. His father was a professor at Vanderbilt University. On September 12, 1918, he signed his World War I draft card. He lived in Jacksonville, Tennessee. His occupation was foreman at the Dupont Engraving Company. His description was medium height and weight, with blue eyes and blonde-brown hair. Martin named his father as his nearest relative, who lived at 403 North 9th Street in Monmouth, Illinois.

The 1920 census recorded the Martin family in Monmouth at 813 East Broadway. His father was a college professor. The Advocate said: “As a freshman Martin used to draw grasshoppers, lizards and frogs in his father’s biology classes. He quit in his junior year to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. He joined Newspaper Enterprise Assn. in 1921.” In 1922 he created Efficiency Ed. Later that year he drew The Nut Brothers. An Ancestry.com family tree said he married Mary Margery Armsby in 1922.

Editor & Publisher, February 26, 1949, said: “Martin landed with NEA in 1921 when he was 23. He drew several comics without much success until 1924 when NEA asked several artists to submit strips for a girl comic. Martin in off hours created Boots [and Her Buddies], submitted the idea, unsigned, and the board of judges picked her.” Boots and Her Buddies began on February 18.

2/18/1924

2/19/1924

2/20/1924

2/21/1924

2/22/1924

2/23/1924


In 1930 Martin lived in East Cleveland, Ohio at 1868 Chapman. Two daughters were part of the family. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist. He signed a long-term contract with the NEA in 1930. The Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), March 15, 1934, reported the Martin family’s vacation in Florida.

Advocate 8/9/1930

Brooklyn Daily Eagle comics ad detail, 11/23/1930


Wikipedia said he moved to Clearwater, Florida in 1940. According to the 1945 Florida State Census, his family lived in Pinellas County at 1500 Maple. His education included college and his occupation was artist. The Independent, February 18, 1949, published a profile of Martin on the 25th anniversary of Boots.

Martin passed away August 30, 1960 in Clearwater, according to various newspapers including the New York Times, September 1, and the Advocate. Wikipedia and Comic Strip Artists in American Newspapers, 1945-1980 (2003) said the date was August 31. Comic Strip Artists said the Sunday Boots was turned over to Leo Carroll, Martin’s assistant.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Katharine P. Rice



Katharine Patterson Rice was born in Delaware on December 2, 1878. Her full name was recorded on her marriage certificate, which is in the Delaware Marriage Records, 1806-1933 at Ancestry.com. Her birthdate is based on three records: she was listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census; the 1900 census had her birth as December 1878; and the California Death Index, 1940-1997 has the date as December 2, 1882.

In the 1880 census, she lived with her mother, Mary, and younger sister, Bessie, in Wilmington, Delaware at 307 West 12 Street. Her maternal grandfather was the head of the household.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), December 25, 1898, mentioned her in the “Wilmington Social Notes” column which included a portrait (below).


Miss Katharine Patterson Rice was sitting by the desk showing some of her drawings. Miss Rice has shown that she has a decided talent for pen and ink sketches. The clever little heading in the Every Evening here and used over the articles signed “Portia” was drawn by Miss Rice.

The Inquirer, May 7, 1899, reported the Wilmington Dramatic Club’s play, “Married Life”, and said, “…Miss Katharine Patterson Rice, who takes a leading part in the play and is an artist of no mean ability with her pen, has designed a sketch for the frontispiece of the program…”

The 1900 census recorded her at the same 1880 address. Her architect father, Edward, was head of the household. She was an “artist painting”. The book, Samuel L. Schmucker: The Discovery of His Lost Art (2000), has the most biographical information on Rice (pages 153 to 162). According to the book she was enrolled, from 1902 to 1904, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and listed in Wilmington city directories as an artist from 1906 to 1922. She met Samuel Schmucker at the academy; after two years there, he studied at the Howard Pyle Drexel Institute for a year. He lived in Philadelphia but also had a Wilmington address in 1908.

According to the 1910 census, Schmucker was a boarder at Rice’s home in Wilmington. While he produced postcards, her fashion drawings appeared on the covers of newspaper supplements in papers such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Colorado Springs Gazette. The Evening Tribune (Providence, Rhode Island), published her drawings in its February 13, May 15 and July 24, 1910 editions. Her comic strip, Flora Flirt, was published in the Philadelphia North American beginning February 23, 1913. 


 Cleveland Plain Dealer 5/29/1910

Cleveland Plain Dealer 2/5/1911



Rice and Schmucker were married October 27, 1917, in Wilmington, according to their marriage certificate, which said they were 36 years old. On September 12, 1918, he signed his World War I draft card. His birth date was February 20, 1879. The couple lived in Manhattan, New York City, at 5 East 40th Street. He was a freelance artist. As “Katharine Schmucker”, she was mentioned twice in the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, Forty-second Annual Report 1918. The annual commencement was on May 23, 1918 and she received an honorable mention for the Miss Mary E. Sinnott Prize—For Mosaic, and a School of Industrial Art certificate for the Industrial Drawing Course. Schmucker’s wife should not be confused with his first cousin, Katharine Muhlenberg Schmucker (1884–1966), who was an artist, too.

As “Katharine Schmucker” in the 1920 census, she was a boarder at the Easton Sanitarium in Easton, Pennsylvania. The Schmucker book said he was “vice-president of Robert Hoyme, Inc., an advertising/merchandising agency at 150 West 57th Street, N.Y.” Schmucker died of heart failure on September 4, 1921, and was buried in the Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania, his hometown.

Rice has not been found in the 1930 census. According to the Schmucker book, she was mentioned in her mother’s 1932 obituary and was a San Francisco resident. City directories, for 1932 and 1934, had her address as 433 Powell Street. Her father passed away January 28, 1933.


The Schmucker book said the Victoria Hotel was her last known residence. Rice passed away September 23, 1955, at the Alexander Sanitarium in San Mateo County, California. She was buried at the family plot in Wilmington.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Charles Lederer

Charles Lederer was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on December 31, 1856, according to Who’s Who in America 1910-1911 and The Book of Chicagoans 1911. In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of two children born to Jacob and Bettina; his father was a designer. The family lived in Lowell. In 1870 he and his parents resided in Brooklyn, New York; he was in school. The Book of Chicagoans said he was a “cartoonist and illustrator since 1875 for Frank Leslie’s, Harper’s, New York World, New York Herald….”


He has not been found in the 1880 census. The Chicago Herald organized an expedition “to search out the spot where Christopher Columbus first set foot upon the soil of the new world.” The Herald‘s Washington correspondent Walter Wellman, artist Lederer, a photographer and mechanic sailed from New York City, June 4, 1891, as reported in the Herald. The New York Times, February 1, 1934, said, “The first feat that brought him [Wellman] to wide notice was a jaunt to the Bahamas. There he located the exact landing place of Christopher Columbus on Watling Island or San Salvador, and placed a permanent marker at the spot….” The Sunday Inter-Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), September 11, 1892, profiled Chicago newspaper artists. On Lederer it said:

…About the only one who had the necessary skill and could give the required lightning action was Charles Lederer, of the Herald, who has the honor of having introduced this brand of newspaper enterprise in Chicago. The son of an artist residing in Lowell, Mass., Mr. Lederer, was born thirty-six years ago, and has been making pictures for a living for the past twenty. He could furnish a barrel of interesting incidents of a variegated career, but won’t. He possesses an extraordinary facility, originality, and a gracefulness in drawing. Its most prominent characteristic is its large popularity with the masses, which has done much to place the Herald where it is in popular esteem. He is short, but won’t admit it, has the hair and complexion of a stage villain, and has thus far escaped matrimony. He is a great club man, but claims to travel in the goody-goody class. He admits having $4.75 in the bank and $1.69 due and outstanding, under the impression that Mr. Bradstreet would see this notice. He speaks English in a North Clark street dialect. When pressed to give an account of himself he stated that he had struck out at 16 and worked on nearly all the New York illustrated papers and after having been discharged from the same number came to Chicago in 1877. Then he did general designing, illustrating publications from the pinkest of sporty papers to Sunday school books, with great impartiality. In 1883 newspaper illustration was introduced, and he worked on the Mail, Times, Tribune, News and Herald, remaining with the latter since 1885. Besides the regular run of newspaper illustration, he has done “comics,” caricatures, and special and humorous writing which achieved much popularity.



When Lederer quit the Chicago Times-Herald in March 1895, it was national news, including newspapers such as the Kansas City Times (Missouri) and San Francisco Call. The May 13, 1895 World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) noted he had been living at his summer home in Atlantic, Iowa. The Aberdeen Daily News (South Dakota), December 9, 1895, reported Lederer “who as a cartoonist has no superior, has recently been sent to Europe by Mr. Kohlsaat, and some illustrated articles from his pen are now appearing…” The World Herald, (Omaha, Nebraska), January 26, 1896, said about Lederer:

…he is known all over the country as the great cartoonist of the old Chicago Herald, on which paper he made his reputation. He still contributes a story, for Lederer can write, with pictures to the Chicago Times-Herald on Sunday, but his principle work is now being done on the New York Mercury, the first page of which is daily illuminated with a cartoon from Lederer’s pen. His illustrations of various phases of political life in the empire state are attracting considerable attention, and his pictures are already being copied, although he did not commence his work on the Mercury until the first of this month. Lederer’s pen is a wicked one, and as a political cartoonist he is a terror to the opposition. Fortunately he is a democrat, from choice and principle, and therefore his thrusts are damaging to the enemy alone.



Evidently, Lederer tried his hand at publishing according to a World Herald item published June 4, 1898.


Buys Out the Messenger.
Atlantic, Ia., June 3.—Charles Lederer, formerly staff artist on the New York World, has purchased the Messenger printing plant of this city, and will run an independent newspaper, although personally he is a Democrat. Lederer takes possession Monday.

The 1900 census recorded Lederer in Chicago, Illinois at 514 North Avenue. His stepmother and a servant lived with him. His occupation was artist. The Book of Chicagoans said he was a “cartoonist and illustrator…for…[the] Chicago Herald and Record-Herald, [and] Chronicle…” For the Chronicle he contributed Red Squab and Maudie’s Beau.

According to the Book of Chicagoans he married Bertha Adele Mitchell, of Chihuahua, Colorado, September 29, 1907. The couple spent time in Europe. According to a New York passenger list, they returned from Genoa, Italy to New York City on December 5, 1907. For a brief time, he and his wife performed together; a brochure for their performance, Fun with Chalk, can be viewed at the Iowa Digital Library.

In 1910 they lived in Chicago at 1115 East 61st Street; his wife was 26 years old. He was a newspaper artist of his “own account”. Herringshaw’s American Statesman and Public Official Year-Book (1914) had an address for Lederer at 106 North La Salle Street in Chicago, and said he was publisher of American Advance, and art manager for American Illustration and News Service. In 1914 he contributed Old Doc Quack to the Chicago Tribune Sunday comics page. Cartoons Magazine, October 1915, reported his recent endeavors.


Lederer Visits West
Charles Lederer, the veteran Chicago cartoonist, accompanied by Mrs. Lederer, has been visiting the Pacific coast. He attended the meetings of the National Educational Association in Los Angeles, and looked in at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Since his retirement from the active newspaper field, which he entered in the days of chalk plates, Mr. Lederer has been writing and illustration a series of art books for school use.


The Rockford Republic (Illinois), October 25, 1918, said Lederer teamed up with actor David C. Bangs. “Lederer does chalk talk stuff while the audience waits, does them in colors and most beautifully, while Bangs recites the works that exemplifies and fully explains the pictures.”


He has not been found in the 1920 census. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 1, Books, March 1920 has an entry for him:

Lederer, Charles, 1856-

The Lederer art course; a complete, simplified system of drawing, design, cartooning and color work, by Charles Lederer. New York, Independent corporation [1920] 34 pt. illus., plates. 23cm.© Mar. 31, 1920: 2c. and aff. Apr. 8, 1920; A 565500; Sam S. Gerstle, Chattanooga. (20-6655) 1476

The art course was advertised in periodicals such as Popular Science Monthly and Everybody’s Magazine. In 1923 he produced Turn Me Over.


The Chicago Daily Tribune reported Lederer’s passing on December 14, 1925; a snippet from the article: “Charles Lederer veteran newspaper cartoonist dies in county hospital at age of 70”. Cole Johnson accessed the article and wrote, “Charles Lederer was attacked by Bright’s Disease, and was initially hospitalized in Racine, Wis., from there he was moved to the Cook County Hospital in Chicago on Dec. 7. He died there on Dec. 13. ‘So far as his friends know, he left no relatives’. A meeting of newspapermen was scheduled to raise funds for his funeral.”

An earlier profile appeared in the Inland Printer, December 1893.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Frank King

Frank Oscar King was born in Cashton, Wisconsin on April 9, 1883, according to Who’s Who in Chicago and Vicinity 1936. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two sons born to John and Caroline. They lived in Tomah, Wisconsin at 1710 Superior Avenue. His father was a mechanic. The New York Times, June 25, 1969, said

…Tomah, a small town in the Kickapoo Hills…provided much of the background and setting for “Gasoline Alley”….His talent for drawing soon found vent in country fair competitions and one day he drew a sign for a bootblack in the local hotel for 25 cents. A traveling salesman later saw the sign and learned it had been drawn by the son of one of his customers and arranged an interview for the young artist with a newspaper editor in Minneapolis. Mr. King took the job for $6 a week and in four years doubled his salary doing art work for the paper.

Who’s Who said he graduated from high school in 1901, and attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1905 and 1906. The Minneapolis Journal (Minnesota), March 20, 1905, mentioned King’s chalk talk at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The Wisconsin Biographical Dictionary (2008) said:

…by the time he decided to pursue his studies at the academy, he had been working as a cartoonist at the Minneapolis Times for five years, beginning in 1901 when he was eighteen.”


In 1906, he worked for a short time at an advertising agency then became a staff member of the Chicago Examiner. He stayed until 1909, and then switched to the Chicago Tribune where he had his own weekly cartoon.

The Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina), April 26, 1926, published King’s brief account of his life.

As to biography—here goes. Birthplace, Cashton, Wis., but tired of the town and moved to Tomah one month later. High chair, measles and arithmetic there, also higher education culminating in learned essay at graduation from high school entitled “Newspaper Art.” It embraced everything I had learned since and much more. Stuck type for Tomah Journal and spent four years in art department of Minneapolis Times. Left to go to art school in Chicago, and Minneapolis Times collapsed one month later. Three years with Hearst but he didn’t know it. Then The Chicago Tribune, Motorcycle Mike, Bobby Make-Believe, Rectangle, Gasoline Alley, Walt and Skeezix.



The 1910 census recorded him in Chicago at 4936 Jackson Avenue, where he was boarding with a doctor and his family. King’s occupation was newspaper artist. His first strip for the Chicago Tribune was Oh Augustus in August 1910. In 1913 The Rectangle debuted, which later introduced the characters of Gasoline Alley. In 1914 he contributed Hi Hopper to the Sunday comics page.


Who’s Who said he married Delia Drew, of Tomah, on February 7, 1911. The Evanston (Illinois) Directory 1917 listed him as a cartoonist at 611 Madison. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was in Glencoe, Illinois at 533 Madison. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist at the Chicago Tribune. He was described as medium height, slender build with gray eyes and black hair.


King lived in Glencoe at 533 Madison Street, according to the 1920 census. He was a newspaper cartoonist. His son was nearly four years old. The Rockford Register-Gazette, April 7, 1923, published an article about vehicle license numbers. It noted the numbers of the following cartoonists:


John T. McCutcheon, noted Chicago cartoonist, carries license No. 10 on his Studebaker…Number 348, of “Doc Yak” fame, is held by Sidney Smith, Chicago Tribune cartoonist and creator of the “Doc Yak” strip and now author of the Gumps. Number 354, which appears on Andy Gump’s chariot, is held by Frank O. King, Glencoe, also a cartoonist on the Tribune.

On September 2, 1927, the King family returned from Europe. The passenger list said their son, Robert, was born February 1916 in Chicago. The Tampa Tribune, February 22, 1929, noted the building of his Kissimmee home: “Work has begun on the residence being erected at Lago Vista…by Frank King…Mr. King is here giving personal supervision to the preliminary work….The residence is on Lake Tohopekaliga.”

The King family was counted at their Glencoe address during the 1930 census. He continued as a newspaper cartoonist. The date of their move to Kissimmee is not known. The 1935 Florida State Census listed King and his family; his occupation was retired cartoonist. Kissimmee, Gateway to the Kissimmee River Valley (2003) pointed out the real-life connection to one of King’s cartoon characters.


Another of Kissimmee’s favorite sons, Frank O. King, creator of the “Gasoline Alley” cartoon strip, lived between Kissimmee and St. Cloud for more than 20 years. King’s Highway runs south from Neptune Road to the more than 230 acres that included the cartoonist’s Folly Farm estate on the northeast shore of Lake Tohopekaliga.

The cartoon’s banker, a Mr. Enray, was a caricature of one of King’s neighbors, N. Ray Carroll, president of what then was the First National Bank of Kissimmee. Carroll—and Mr. Enray—gave out saving advice as well as loans….

…The comic strip banker guided the strip’s main character, Skeezix Wallet, as he ran his fix-it shop, named Wallet and Bobble….


Life magazine, February 16, 1942, covered the growth of Skeezix from infancy to age 21. The 1945 Florida State Census counted King and his wife; his occupation was cartoonist. In 1949 the National Cartoonists Society awarded the Silver T-Square to King.

King retired from the Gasoline Alley Sunday strip in 1951, handing it to his assistant Bill Perry. The year 1959 was eventful for him: the San Diego Union, February 8, 1959 noted the passing of his wife, February 7, at their home in Winter Park, Florida; he was named cartoonist of the year by the National Cartoonists Society; and he retired from the Gasoline Alley daily, which was continued by his assistant Dick Moores.

A 1968 photo of him is here. King passed away June 24, 1969 at home in Winter Park, according to the Associated Press. He, his wife and an infant son (1912) were buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Tomah Wisconsin. Gasoline Alley original art is here.