Jim Ivey’s Photo Album, Part Two

More photos from Jim’s scrapbook:

A 1948 party of the Washington Star editorial art department staff. From left to right, Jim Ivey, Del Pruit, Zang Auerbach, ‘Pappy’, Bill Perkins, unknown, unknown. A wild night of debauchery did not ensue…

At the 1974 Orlandocon Jim Ivey auctions off a C.C. Beck Captain Marvel original. Roy Crane has entered an opening bid and attempts to stare down anyone bidding against him.

At the 1967 grand opening party of the Cartoon Museum Jim Ivey ruins the market for his own original art by drawing caricatures of all the attendees. Swift move, Jim!

Dapper young Ivey has to erect a barricade of chairs to ward off a swarm of adoring women at the 1967 grand opening of the Cartoon Museum.

In 1968 the National Cartoonist Society sends a delegation of members to visit the Cartoon Museum. From left to right, Ivey, Ray Helle, Les Turner, Mel Graff, Dick Hodgins Jr. The Cartoon Museum squeeks by on the inspection, gets written up for improperly stored meat, dirty oil in the fryers.

The San Francisco Museum of Art stages an exhibit of international editorial cartoons with material put together by Jim Ivey in 1962. Attendence seems to be less than overwhelming.

Caricaturist ‘Pancho’ (squatting) presents sketches to a group of syndicated cartoonists at the San Francisco Press Club in 1960. Standing, from left to right, are Jim Ivey, Al “Priscilla’s Pop” Vermeer, Jimmy “They’ll Do It Every Time” Hatlo, George “Grin and Bear It” Lichty, Charles “Peanuts” Schulz, Frank “Short Ribs” O’Neal, Bob “The Better Half” Barnes. Every one of the standing cartoonists is thinking, “I coulda done better than that.”

Curator of the Cartoon Museum hard at work, circa 1975. Yes, his cash register really was an old cigar box.

French political cartoonist Tim visits Ivey in San Francisco in 1962. The pair shoot a TV pilot about two gritty, hard-bitten caricaturists on the mean streets of Frisco.

Fred Lasswell presents Ivey with the National Cartoonist Society Silver T-Square Award. Ivey supplies his own captions for the dignified ceremony.

Jim Ivey’s Photo Album, Part One

For those of you who don’t know Jim Ivey, here’s a capsule resume. Jim was a groundbreaking editorial cartoonist, internationally known for his unique style. He worked at the Washington Star, San Francisco Examiner, St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel, a distinguished career spanning over three decades.

In 1967 he opened the Cartoon Museum, a gallery and collector’s haven for cartooning fans, offering original art, books, comics, tearsheets and ephemera, even cartooning classes. It wasarguably the first establishment of its kind, and always unique in its scope and atmosphere.

In 1974 Ivey started the Orlandocon annual convention series, ostensibly a comic book convention, but actually far more eclectic and far-ranging, embracing all phases of the cartooning art. The roster of guests over the years was a who’s who of cartooning, most of whom were attracted by the presence of Ivey, one of their own — it was one of the few events, other than National Cartoonist Society events, where cartoonists could meet and enjoy each other’s company.

After many successful years of operation, both the Cartoon Museum and Orlandocon succumbed in the 1990s due to the comic book industry implosion. Though Ivey never focused exclusively on comic books, that portion of the business unfortunately financially overshadowed the rest.

Ivey is now in his eighth decade, mostly retired though he does do occasional freelance cartooning jobs. He tries to read a book a day, and keeps both his wit and drawing pen sharp through writing correspondence liberally peppered with cartoons.

Jim Ivey is a raconteur, bon vivant and a very dear friend. We have known each other for a quarter century now, ever since I wandered into the Cartoon Museum as a teen. Jim taught me his love of cartooning, just as he did for so many others, and with Stripper’s Guide I carry on in his footsteps. If you enjoy this blog, you have Jim Ivey to thank. He imparted to me a fascination with comic strip history, an appreciation for scholarship, and the importance to always remember that cartoons are supposed to be fun, so don’t get too all-fired serious about the whole thing.

Jim has agreed to allow me to share with you a big batch of photos from his scrapbook, which I think you’ll find are a darn sight more entertaining than those snapshots of Aunt Millie’s vacation you have to look through each year. The photos came to me in a big stack, in no particular order, and because I’m lazy, I’ll present them in no particular order. I’ll identify the culprits as we go along, and throw in some commentary which is 99% pure baloney. Here we go…

Will Eisner (right) lectures Jim Ivey on some fine point of graphic storytelling at Orlandocon 1979. Jim adopts Thoughtful Pose #3. With his back to us is local radio and TV personality Bill Berry, who hasn’t a clue what Eisner’s going on about.

Jim Ivey and C.C. Beck discuss the relative merits of cigars versus cigarettes at the first Orlandocon in 1974. C.C. seems to have Jim on the ropes in this debate, or is it just one too many vodka gimlets?

Three cartoonists from Red China make a pilgrimage to the Cartoon Museum in 1990. They tell Jim that they are the creators of the only science fiction comic book published in China. Ivey is in no position to dispute their tale.

Photo copyright Charlie Roberts, 1975.

Harvey Kurtzman in his studio, 1975. That impish grin is a direct result of how much he is paid to produce the page he’s pointing at.

Jim Ivey about to cold-cock Burne Hogarth with an Ignatz Award at the second Orlandocon in 1975. Ivey designed the award, a brick sporting a brass plaque, as an homage to some comic strip or something.

Even the honored guests at Orlandocon 1974 were obliged to stand in line to go to the bathroom in the overtaxed facilities. From left to right, Edmund “Scorchy Smith” Good, Mel Graff, Les Turner, Ralph Dunagin, and the lucky stiff at the head of the line, who’s dashed out of frame as a vacancy has opened up in the loo.

Comics historian and author Ron Goulart interviews Les Turner at Orlandocon 1974. Turner is telling Goulart about an idea he’s mulling over for a new comic strip he’s thinking of calling “Star Hawks”. Goulart takes copious notes.

Jim Ivey snatches away the last Dunkin donut in a rare etiquette gaffe at Orlandocon 1982. C.C. Beck and daughter Gladys look on dejectedly as the pastry disappears.

The original sponsors of Orlandocon. From left to right, pulp illustrator Neil Austin, collector and dealer Charlie Roberts, film buff Rob Word, and Jim Ivey. Surrounding them is about $100,000 worth of original art, value then a tiny fraction of that. Among other items, there is a Little Nemo Sunday in the foreground, on the wall behind a Hogarth Tarzan, a Foxy Grandpa Sunday, a Krazy Kat Sunday, a Happy Hooligan Sunday, and a Segar Thimble Theatre Sunday.

Photo copyright 1974 Charlie Roberts

Roy Crane and Hal Foster at Orlandocon 1974, looking understandably glum after being mobbed by Disney fans who think they’re Walt and Roy Disney. Well, it is Orlando after all.

News of Yore: Big Ben Bolt Debuts

Norman Rockwell Model To Produce Comic Strip

E&P – 1/28/50

At 15 John Cullen Murphy modeled for Artist Norman Rockwell and the picture became a cover on the Saturday Evening Post.

In the years that followed, Mr. Murphy went off to art school and the established artist took an interest in his work. During summers in Vermont, he let the younger man use his studio near New York. Before 1940, Mr. Murphy was in a class where he could draw covers, instead of sit for them.

Now, the 30-year-old artist will draw a daily strip, “Big Ben Bolt,” featuring a prizefighter (“a prizefighter who is highly intelligent but unsophisticated”) and drawn in realistic style. King Features will release it Feb. 20.

One of his earlier free lance jobs was drawing sports cartoons for Madison Square Gardens, Inc. He also used to hang around Stillman’s gym to sketch fighters in training.

Writing the continuity for the adventure strip will be Elliott Caplin, brother of cartoonist Al Capp and writer for “Dr. Bobbs.”

Obscurity of the Day: It’s Only Ethelinda

The pretty girl comic strip genre didn’t really take off until the 1920s. Before then some cartoonists, George McManus for instance, were noted for their lovely damsels, but very few strips made them the main characters. It’s Only Ethelinda was one of the few strips of the oughts that focused on a curvaceous beaty. Not that Ethelinda paraded around in deshabille like the flapper girls of later strips, of course — the 1900s was not a decade that countenanced that sort of wanton sexuality. Back then a short-sleeved frock and a glimpse of ankle was about as close to promiscuity as could be dared.

It’s Only Ethelinda ran 8/23/1908 to 7/17/1910 in the Philadelphia North American. The strip, on the rare occasions when it was signed, gave credit to ‘Grif’. Some have conjectured that this is Syd B. Griffin, but I’m not convinced since the style doesn’t look right and this strip dates a full five years after his other known newspaper strips, all of which were done for New York City syndicates.

The Yellow Kid Blues

We all know the old tale, first spun by Moses Koenigsberg, that the Yellow Kid was originally colored yellow in order for pressmen to have a large space in which to test troublesome yellow ink. We also know that the story is almost certainly just that, a story. Two facts indicate that the story is false; first, that newspapers were printing yellows with no apparent problem before the advent of the Kid; and second, because the kid was initially colored blue, not yellow at all.

But most stories do have a grain of truth about them, and I wonder if I might just have stumbled across that grain. Below you will find an article from the June 1893 issue of American Pressman, in which a correspondent is complaining that they are having trouble with blue ink. The problem described is exactly that described by Koenigsberg, just not the color he claimed. And the date is telling, because this is just the time when the New York World was starting to print in color (albeit long before the Yellow Kid would make his appearance).

Did the World’s early troubles with blue ink somehow get mixed up with the story of the initially blue Kid, and ended up combined as a single, somewhat mangled, tall tale? No way to tell, but interesting nevertheless.

Working Colors on Each Other
(American Pressman, June 1893)

How to work a job in two, three or four colors, on top of each other, and keep the colors true, so that there shall be no amalgamation, is a problem that has so often puzzled pressmen.

We have before us an anxious inquiry from one who has a large cut on the press in three colors—certain shades of yellow, red and blue. He worked his yellow first, after striking his key-form; then he put on his red and ran that off. These two colors seemed to go all right, and to “stay put” but when he got on his blue the trouble showed itself, and he found he was stumped because, as he says himself, “the impression showed up with a fatty or mottled look, especially after it had lain for some time; and the color wasn’t true, wasn’t what was wanted.”

The remedy is an easy one. Have your sheets thoroughly dusted over with powdered magnesia, in the same way as you use bronze powder, and you will find the trouble disappear, for the reason that the inks will be prevented from amalgamating.

This is precisely the same treatment as you would give either a black or colored form, whether cut or type, on top of which you had to print in gold bronze—powder it with magnesia dust. By this means you can print anything that goes on a press on top of a dozen colors.

The secret of the trouble of working colors on top of each other is that the oil of the fresh ink softens the oil of the ink that has already been worked, and which is supposed to be dry. There is life in oil, as there is life in water (though neither has affinity for the other, yet both work in many respects in the same way). As soon as the under ink is set free by its fellow, the fresh ink, both begin to caper about and spread and run together, and of course they carry with them the coloring matter they hold, which now also partially released, breaks up into particles and presents the “fatty or mottled look” which our correspondent complains of.

Blue is a hard color to work sometimes, even alone, as many pressmen have experienced, especially with type of heavy face or cuts with solid surfaces. If the operator would stop to consider, he would find that there is grease somewhere, on his rollers, on his form, or on his distributing plate. Blue ink of all kinds, and certain blues more than others, rebel against the slightest suspicion of foreign grease, and instantly show their dislike for the stranger by assuming a mottled or spotted character. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty from dirt and everything else that injures. Keep everything clean.

Obscurity of the Day: Go-Go

Here’s a delightful little strip, one of many that have tried to give a starring role to a cop over the years. Few of these ended up being particularly successful, I guess because of the public’s ambivalent feelings toward the profession. I must admit that since I got a ticket yesterday in a speed trap in Ridgeway South Carolina my admiration for the profession is at a lower ebb right now.

Go-Go was syndicated by the International Syndicate of Baltimore, a syndicate whose only real comic strip success in papers came with the long-running Scoop The Cub Reporter back in the teens. The syndicate’s real bread-and-butter product was their one-column ‘he said-she said’ gag cartoons, which they supplied in bulk to newspapers. These fell out of favor in the twenties, though, so International tried a number of strips, most of which never really got anywhere.

Go-Go was well drawn and many of the gags hit, but yet the strip never got going. It ran in 1924 (sorry, I don’t know specific start and end dates) in very few papers. The strip was signed by someone named Gibbs.

Obscurity of the Day: Beatrice and her Kid Brother Bill

M.T. “Penny” Ross essentially ripped himself off with Beatrice and her Kid Brother Bill, a strip that is really just Mamma’s Angel Child with boys instead of girls, and an older sister instead of a mother. And yes, they are boys, though they’re rather androgynous looking. Ross took less time on the art of this strip — where Mamma’s Angel Child was always graphically innovative, this strip, though drawn exceedingly well, wasn’t one to make your eyes pop out like Ross’ bread-and-butter strip.

What’s amazing about Ross, to me anyway, is that he was able to get away with cartooning in, if I may be excused for being impolitic, a flamboyantly feminine manner. It’s no surprise that many fans have assumed that ‘Penny’ was a woman. We’re talking 1910s Chicago here, not San Francisco today, so I have to wonder how he got along with the rest of the boys in the bullpen. Do I give the folks of those long ago days less credit for openmindedness than they deserve?

Beatrice and her Brother Bill ran from January 11 through May 31 1914, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune.

Obscurity of the Day: So It Seems

So It Seems looks and reads like nothing so much as a Mad magazine feature. Perhaps if it had appeared in Mad, rather than the daily comics page, we’d still be reading endless reprints of it, like The Lighter Side Of. As it is, the feature may not have even completed its first year. So It Seems was initially credited to Lou Cameron when its run started on March 3, 1952, but was signed by Sy Grudko starting on September 15 of that year. The feature lasted until at least February 1953, but not much longer (anyone have an end date?).

The paper from which these samples were taken continued displaying the Lou Cameron credit after 9/13, but I’m assuming that they just failed to update their boilerplate text.

Obscurity of the Day: Artful Arty

Albert Levering was a very well-respected illustrator and cartoonist. His work appeared regularly in Puck, Harper’s Weekly and other high visibility venues. He only did two newspaper comic strip series, though, and Artful Arty and Alec Smart was by far the more successful (but, yes, it’s still very much an obscurity). Levering did a year’s worth of the strip for the Philadelphia Press, which never really succeeded particularly well in syndicating their Sunday section.

The strip ran from 10/15/1905 to 10/14/1906. I sat down to read a strip or two before writing this post so that I could summarize the plot. Well, I ended up reading all that I have on hand, a half-dozen or so, and honestly I’m still not sure what exactly the theme was supposed to be. Either I’m pretty dense or Levering just didn’t have his heart in this half-baked strip. I don’t understand the rummaging angle, which recurs, in particular.

Obscurity of the Day: Bashful Bob

Here’s a strip that came and went, well, like a whizzer. Bashful Bob (aka Schooldays of Bashful Bob) ran from May 31 to June 28 1908 in the Philadelphia North American syndicated Sunday comic section.

The strip was by a fellow who signed himself P.S. Tyre. I don’t know that you could call him a good cartoonist, but he certainly did have a style about him. I really like how he labels the wind in this strip. Not so crazy about the way he couldn’t seem to fit his dialogue in the word balloons. This is the only series I know of by Tyre. I might think it was a pseudonym, but the signature is way too studied to be just a nom de plume — no one would put that much design thought into being anonymous, right?