Obscurity of the Day: Earl

Some of the hardest features to track down are those that are self-syndicated to smaller rural papers. It’s surprising how many are lurking out there, flying under the radar, sometimes for decades at a time.

One that I just discovered recently is Earl, a very funny panel that was sold mostly to rural weeklies out west. The star of the show is a modern day cowboy who suffers the trials and tribulations of ranch life in a way that can produce laughs even for a city slicker like me. Some of my favorite Earl cartoons are those featuring the ‘Cosmopolitan Bride’, Earl’s newly wedded wife from the big city. There’s also the unusual motif of ‘branding’ many of the animals with descriptive names, a cute little conceit that works surprisingly well. The art is a little rough, but I think the humor more than makes up for it.

The creator, a real life cowboy, is Wally Badgett, but he signs his work M.C. Tin Star (the M.C. stands for Miles City, Montana, of which he was sheriff for a time).

The only newspaper samples I have of the feature are from 1997-99 in the Circle (MT) Banner paper, but the series must have started earlier as the first reprint book of the feature was out by 1995. Reprint books of Earl must sell pretty well because there have been a total of fourteen of them, the latest published in 2004. I don’t know if Badgett is still actively selling Earl as a newspaper feature, but he does still have a website for selling books and calendars.

News of Yore 1915: Stuart Carothers, His Rise and Fall

Carothers Making Good as Cartoonist
[Daily Fayetteville Democrat (Arkansas), 8/21/1915]

Stewart Carothers, of Chicago, formerly of Fayetteville, is the author of the Charlie Chaplin [sic: Chaplin’s] Comic Capers, which are now appearing daily and Sunday in sixty metropolitan newspapers in the United States. Besides the daily Charlie Chaplin comic strip, Mr. Carothers has a full page in colors in each Sunday issue of the Chicago Herald, portraying the antics of the movie comedian of international fame, Charlie Chaplin, and another of his creations, The Haphazards of Helene [sic: Movies of Haphazard Helen].

The Chicago Herald has the copyright for the Charlie Chaplin Comics, and is said to be deriving a handsome profit from the sale of exclusive rights to the feature. Mr. Carothers is now well up on the salary list of the Herald staff, being second only to the sporting editor, the city editor and the managing editor.

Mr. Carothers attended the public school of Fayetteville and was later a student in the University. His cartoons have appeared in a number of issues of the Cardinal, the University Annual. His brother, Neil Carothers, is Associate Professor of Political Economy and Sociology in the University of Arkansas.

Cartoonist Falls to Death at Loop Hotel
[Chicago Daily Tribune (Illinois), October 4, 1915]

Stewart W. Carothers, Herald cartoonist, who drew the Charley Chaplin pictures, was killed early this morning by falling out of a window at De Jonghe’s hotel.

His body was found at 3:30 o’clock by Policeman Fisher, who was walking through the alley in the rear of the hotel.

R.A. Skinner of 4441 Walden street and H. Bergum of 912 North Mozart street were with Carothers during the night. They went to De Jonghe’s about 1 o’clock, where Skinner and Bergum registered. Carothers accompanied them to their room on the fifth floor.

Carothers was invited to remain in the room on account of the lateness of the hour.

Skinner and Bergum occupied the bed, and Carothers laid down on a couch.

How he happened to fall from the window is not known. Skinner and Bergum did not know of his death until informed by Lieut. James McMahon.

Policeman Fisher said he walked through the alley at 2:30 o’clock and the body was not there at that time. On his next trip he stumbled against the body that lay on the cement pavement at the north end of the hotel.

Will Be Buried in Mississippi.

Mrs. Neil Carothers Goes to Starkville to Attend Son’s Funeral.
[Dallas Morning News (Texas), 10/5/1915]

Austin, Texas, Oct. 5—Mrs. Neil Carothers, director of the woman’s building of the University of Texas, accompanied by her daughter, Miss Katherine, left today for Starkville, Miss., to attend the funeral of her son, Stuart W. Carothers, who was killed yesterday by falling from the fifth story of a hotel in Chicago. Mrs. Carothers was advised by telegraph yesterday of the accident and instructed that the body of her son be taken to Starkville, Miss., for internment.

At the time of his death Mr. Carothers was employed on the Chicago Herald as a cartoonist and was making rapid headway in his profession. While a student in the Austin High School he gained distinction among the students for his ability to do free hand drawing. Finishing his high school course, he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where his brother, Neil Carothers, was teaching and who is now a teacher at Princeton. Going to Chicago three years ago he took a course in the Chicago Art Institute.

Stuart Carothers Buried.
[Times-Picayune (Louisiana), 10/9/1915]

Starkville, Miss., Oct. 8.—The body of Stuart Carothers, whose death occurred in Chicago early Monday morning resulting from a fall from a fifth-story window of his hotel, reached Starkville Wednesday night and was taken to the residence of Prof. A.M. Maxwell, his uncle.

His mother, who is in charge of the Woman’s Building of the University of Texas, arrived early Wednesday.

The funeral service was held at the residence of Prof. Maxwell. Rev. F.Z. Browne, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, assisted by Rev. W.A. Jordan and T.H. Lipscomb, officiated. The interment was in Odd Fellows cemetery.

[Stuart Wallace Carothers was born in Tennessee in February 1893, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. He was the third of three sons born to Neil and Carrie, whose maiden name was Wallace, as recorded in the Lineage Book (Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume LIV, 1905). The family lived in McNeil, Arkansas. In 1910 Carothers lived with his mother and sister in Austin, Texas at the University Woman’s Building; his mother was the head of the household and a widow. He was unemployed. (I believe “Stuart” was the preferred spelling based on both census records, the Dallas Morning News, and Times-Picayune articles.) Eventually Carothers found work at the Chicago Herald newspaper where he did a comic strip based on Charlie Chaplin, and originated Movies of Haphazard Helen (Billy DeBeck claimed he created this feature, but that’s untrue — Allan). Both strips were continued after Carothers’ death; one especially bright light who got his big chance was a very young and raw E.C. Segar, who turned in some really amateurish work on the Chaplin strip. A photo of Carothers can be viewed at Popeye’s Thimble Theatre Homepage.]

Carothers’ last Charlie Chaplin strip.

Obscurity of the Day: Animalgrams

Last week Alex Jay posted a bio of George Hopf which cited his return to newspaper comics in the 1930s with a feature called Animalgrams. I had never seen this feature, and added a comment that I could not vouch for its existence. So naturally a bunch of good folks had to point out how woefully underinformed I am.

Properly chastened, here’s a few samples of Animalgrams submitted by Alex Jay. These appeared in a New York Herald-Tribune-distributed Sunday magazine section titled This Week. The magazine was copyrighted to a United Newspaper Magazine Corporation, presumably a company associated with the  Herald-Tribune. It’s a good thing these panels are bylined, because Hopf’s signature on these could easily be mistaken for that of Syd Hoff.

Alex Jay says that Animalgrams ran in This Week (as seen in the Cleveland Plain Dealer) from January 31 1937 to June 12 1938, the longest run found to this point.

Thanks to all who wrote in with information about the run of this little oddball item!

Ink-Slinger Profiles: J.R. Bray

Corpus Christi Caller and Daily Herald (Texas) 6/24/1916

John Randolph Bray was born in Addison, Michigan on August 25, 1879. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, he was the second of two children born to Edward and Sarah; his father was a minister. The family lived in Rollin, Michigan. According to World Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry (1936), he attended the Detroit School for Boys, and the Detroit School of Art. In Who’s Who in New York City and State, Volume 10 (1938), Bray was a student at Alma College in Michigan.

In 1900 Bray was the second of three children; he was in school. The family lived in Detroit, Michigan at 37 Prentis Avenue. In World Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry, he was a cartoonist at the Detroit Evening News in 1901. The date of his move to New York City is not known. Who’s Who in New York City and State said he continued cartooning at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1903 to 1904. On his twenty-fifth birthday, he married Margaret Till in Detroit, according to a 1924 passport application. He left the Eagle and contributed to a number of periodicals from 1905 to 1913. Bray found success in 1907 with his drawings of Little Johnny and the Teddy Bears, which was written by Robert D. Towne; they were published in Judge, a weekly magazine. The success of this series was reported in the Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon) on August 24, 1907:

…From the first publication of these pictures the circulation of “Judge” went rushing upward by thousands of copies per week and it is still continuing to do so.

More remarkable than this, however, is the demand for their publication in book form. The Reilly & Burton Co., of Chicago, recently secured the book rights to this series and their bare announcement to book sellers that they had done so sent the orders for 500,000 copies.

This is the most phenomenal record of sales known to the book world and according to all precedent in book publication means at least an ultimate sale of 3,000,000 copies….

Proceeds from the book and other work provided Bray with the means to purchase a farm, which was reported in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle (New York) on March 9, 1909.

Mr. John Randolph Bray, who has gained fame as the creator of “Johnny and the Teddy Bears,” which he draws for “Judge” every week, has bought the J.P. Whitley farm on Vineyard Avenue, Highland; and together with his family and father, the Rev. E.A. Bray, will make his home there in the future. The farm consists of about 80 acres, is delightfully located and abounds in historic and artistic hills, which fact induced Mr. Bray to make the purchase. The purchase price was $10,000. There are three houses, a good barn and other out buildings on the place and also a number of fruit trees. It is reported that Mr. Bray will erect several studios and towers among the hills on the west end of the farm….

According to the 1910 census, Bray was a farmer in Lloyd, New York; the household included his wife, the cook Bertha Abels and her son. An animation pioneer, he produced his first short, The Artist’s Dream, in 1913; his filmography can be viewed at the Internet Movie Database. Additional information about Bray Studios is at the Bray Animation Project website. A profile of Bray, in the Corpus Christi Caller and Daily Herald of June 24, 1916, can be read at Chronicling America.He signed his World War I Draft draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived in Manhattan at 611 West 112 Street, apartment 6F. His occupation was “President Bray, Motion Pictures” at “Bray Studios, Inc.” His description was medium height, slender build, brown eyes and hair.

In 1920, Bray, his wife and maid lived at 611 West 112 Street. The census recorded his occupation as “president” in “motion picture making”. At the time of the 1930 census, Bray lived in Norwalk, Connecticut at 94 Winfield Street. He gave his occupation as an artist making paintings. Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Bray signed his draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived at Sasqua Hills, East Norwalk in Connecticut. His employer was Bray Pictures Corp., at 729 7th Avenue in New York City.

Bray’s wife, Margaret, passed away on January 16, 1968, as reported by the Bridgeport Post (Connecticut) on the same date. A little over ten-and-a-half years later, Bray passed away on October 10, 1978. His death was reported in the Seattle Times on October 12, 1978.

John Bray dies; inventor-cartoonist

Bridgeport, Conn.—(UPI)—John R. Bray, a newspaper cartoonist credited with inventing some of the animated-cartoon processes that gave Mickey Mouse life, has died at his home.

Bray, who moved to Bridgeport several years ago, died Tuesday. He was 99.

Bray’s career as a cartoonist began in 1901 with The Detroit Evening News. From 1903 to 1904, he served as a cartoonist for the former Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Between 1905 and 1913, he contributed cartoons to Life, Puck and Judge magazines and McClure Newspaper Syndicate.

In 1910, he invented a process improving on animation methods invented three years previous, and in 1912 he introduced some of the first animated cartoons in theaters around the nation. Almost all of the early animators, including Walt Disney, used his processes.

The book, American Silent Film: Discovering Marginalized Voices, edited by Gregg Bachman and Thomas J. Slater, has an excellent chapter on Bray, his studio and some of the cartoonists who worked for him; it can be viewed here.

Herriman Saturday

Sunday, February 2 1908 — Battling Nelson and Rudy Unholz are meeting in the ring on Tuesday, the only time these friends shall become ring foes. Herriman plays on the situation for this large cartoon for the Sunday sports page.

Herriman also submits a graphic review of a new indoor circus, run by Dick Ferris on South Hill Street. A small affair with some dubious acts, the big hit of the show wasn’t even a circus act, but singer Arthur “Rags” Wallace, who made up a song on the spot in which he commented on the other performers and many of the patrons in the stands.

Obscurity of the Day: The Paramount-Bray Animated Cartoon Promotional Comic Strip

One of the early animated cartoon production companies was the Bray Studio, which churned out a tremendous number of shorts from 1913 to 1927. For a sample of their fare, go check out Bobby Bumps and the Stork (1916) on Youtube. Extra credit if you make it through the whole six minutes of this aimless, herky-jerky stuff.

J.R. Bray himself was an old newspaper cartooning hand, and he brought newspaper pals like L.M. Glackens, Cornell Greening, Sam Loyd, Leighton Budd, A.D.Reed, Clarence Rigby, Milt Gross, Foster Follett, and Carl Anderson into the studio with him. So there was a predisposition in those hallowed halls to think about newspapers. This preoccupation resulted in the studio producing a series of newspaper comic strips to advertise their animated fare. The series was short-lived; it seems to have been actively distributed for only a few months, perhaps in the form of a 10-12 strip offering that was never repeated. The only samples found so far ran in October 1916 – January 1917 (and I think perhaps the January sample could be assumed to be running late). Most strips takes their titles from the company’s cartoon productions and presents a gag from that short.

I was informed of this series by Cole Johnson, who sent me images of the strips he’s found, and I was able to add some more. So let’s take a look at what we have. First we have three Farmer Al Falfa episodes; these were credited to Paul Terry, an important animation pioneer in his own right. Notice in the third one that a suspiciously ‘Mutt-ey’ character co-stars (Mutt and Jeff had their own cartoon series produced by a different studio). These strips use titles that are slightly different from IMDB’s animated film titles (Farmer Al Falfa’s Wolfhound, Farmer Al Falfa’s Prune Plantation, Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York). I don’t know who the artist is here, but it’s the same guy who did the Heeza Liar and one of the Bobby Bumps strips below.

Next up we have three of Earl Hurd’s Bobby Bumps strips — sorry, these are in pretty bad shape. The better repro’d square versions of two of the strips are from the magazine Film Fun which ran abbreviated versions of the strips with longwinded captions underneath the panels. IMDB’s film titles are the same as the strip titles, except that Bobby Bumps Goes to the Circus is listed as Bobby Bumps At The Circus.

Earl Hurd started his own early animation studio in 1915, with Bobby Bumps, an ersatz version of Brick Bodkin, his New York Herald character. J. R. Bray went into a business partnership with Hurd, as between them they owned the two most important patents in the new field of animation. (Bray invented the concept of transparent “cels” on which the images were drawn, Hurd had created the peg system of keeping the pictures in register. ) You’ll see “Licensed under Hurd-Bray patents” on cartoons up to the mid-1930’s, when they expired. Note that the art on the lodge episode doesn’t stick with Hurd’s drawing style for some reason.

Next up are Colonel Heeza Liar strips from the studio head himself, J.R. Bray. Here again we have three episodes (do I sense a trend?). The first is from the short Colonel Heeza Liar Gets Married, the other two are from unidentified cartoons in that series. One includes a cameo by Carl Anderson’s police dog character, who had his own series of shorts.

Finally we finish off with an adaptation of an L.M. Glackens cartoon short. Glackens did a series for Bray concerning a caveman named Haddem Badd. Seems like there ought to be two more, though, don’t you think?  I mean, we must be consistent… Have no idea why Glackens’ initials are seemingly wrong.

It seems pretty obvious that this series was produced to advertise the films and was distributed free to newspapers. Or perhaps they were distributed to local movie theatres who ran Bray shorts, with the suggestion to pass them on to the local paper. In any case, very few papers printed them and the strips found so far come mostly from backwoodsy titles — Greenville (MS) Weekly Democrat, Perrysville (OH) Journal, and El Paso (TX) Herald.

If you reader-researchers can find any more episodes from this series (I have the funny feeling that there are two more lurking out there), Cole and I would both be tickled pink if you’d share your finds!

For more about Bray, go to Tom Stathes and Dave Gerstein’s website about the Bray Studio.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for many of these scans, and for improving this post with a much needed injection of  his expertise on the subject!

Ink-Slinger Profiles: By George! I’m Percy Winterbottom!

The Life and Times of Percy Winterbottom

Being a Biography of the Wonderful Boy Impressionist and Creator of the “New Art.”

By Prof. Josh M.A. Long.

Author of
“Life and Times of Uncle Tommyrot,” “Days and Doings of Darius D. Sawftsawder,” “The Muse of Mary Mushandmilk,” “Chemistry for Children, or the Fairy Tales of Science,” &c., &c.
[The World (New York), September 5, 1897]


In compiling this present work the author cannot help stating at the outset that it is an honor to which he feels his poor talents inadequate. And with all due modesty, he is compelled to assert that at his hands the subject of these pages has a biographer who has fathomed the grand, gloomy and peculiar boy genius of whom he writes.

Chapter I.
The Babyhood of Percy Winterbottom.

Percy Winterbottom, the Great, was born at Swope Corner, Pa. The exact date has been lost, but it is supposed to be either April 1, 1887, or April 1, 1837. Owing to a slight blur or blot on the fly leaf of the family Bible it could not be determined with any degree of certainty whether it was ’87 or ’37, and his father, a singularly intelligent man, could throw no light upon the subject. Suffice it is, that, while the year may be in doubt, a minor point after all, the day of the month is established beyond all question. So we can say for sure that Percy Winterbottom, the oldest boy artist in the world, first saw light upon April 1, the year mattering not. It is but right, then, that his countrymen should set aside his natal day as a national holiday.

Percy Winterbottom, when but a few weeks of age, gave evidence of that wonderful precocity in art which in a few years was to bring him the fame and riches so deservedly his due. The story that his detractors have spread about, that in his early youth his parents were at some trouble to keep him hid from the dogcatchers, is the basest of canards. It is not even worthy of denial.

The first of his immediate relatives to notice the outcroppings of genius in the child was his Aunt Matilda, who exclaimed one day, to the great surprise of his parents, “Gracious me! Look at the strange ways in which that child is drawing his breath!” This was the first sign he gave of his unique artistic talent. As an infant he drew his breath differently from other children, and later on he drew his pictures in the same strange manner, to the delight of his admirers and the confusion of his critics.

When he could scarcely walk he drew everybody’s attention, and his father burst into tears and said he saw no future in store for his son (who he intended should enter the junk business) as he was fated to be an artist. Shortly after this Percy Winterbottom took to eating at an Italian table d’hôte in the neighborhood, sometimes going without food in this manner for a week at a time. Here he became affiliated with Walter Mose, of the pre-Raphaelite school of impressionistic drawing, whose influence can be noticed upon his work to this day.

Chapter II.
The Boyhood of Percy Winterbottom.

In the year of our Lord 1897 we find Percy Winterbottom at the zenith of his fame. Early in the year he affiliated himself with Jimmie Jones, a child journalist of brilliant promise, and together the two published that gem of juvenile journalism, Jimmie’s Paper, which at once achieved an artistic and literary success, but, owing to dissensions among the stockholders, suspended publication with its seventeenth number. Short as this space was, it was sufficient to place Percy Winterbottom head and shoulders above all the artists of the “eight-years-ago” school, so called from a peculiarity in their artistic ritual which does not permit them to see a drawing of any kind with our remarking that they “had done it eight years ago.” It is not out of place here to mention briefly the subsequent career of Jimmie Jones, with whom Percy Winterbottom was associated.

After the suspension of Jimmie’s Paper young Jones became disgusted with journalism and left it forever, beginning again at the bottom of the business ladder as a hod-carrier’s clerk, in which pleasant pursuit he is now prospering. Of the wonderful boy artist, Percy Winterbottom, little more need now be said. His pictures speak for themselves in no uncertain tones. Week by week they cause amazement and surprise in the columns of the great Comic Weekly. His half page cartoons are simply indescribable. See them for yourself. The greatest of modern masters, Munkascky, Bougereau, Carl Marr, Kenyon Cox, Sergeant and all the rest of the pairing push, unite in saying that they never saw such pictures before and that there is nothing like them, nothing with which to compare them. After this, further comment would be superfluous. Suffice it is to say that Percy Winterbottom, for the past twenty or thirty years, has been the greatest boy artist this county has ever produced. His is truly “the new art” He has his enemies; the successful always have; he has his detractors, for envy rears its hydra head where [text missing]…follow, but he stands to-day at the head of his own school and style of drawing. Percy Winterbottom, the great, inimitable, the unapproachable!

Let those among his lukewarm friends say, as many do, that Percy Winterbottom does not draw as well as he did fifteen minutes ago. The present biographer believes, and states it without fear of contradiction, that art, with a capital A, has the renaissance in that most wonderful delineator of realistic art, Percy Winterbottom, the wonderful boy artist!

[Obviously the profile of Percy Winterbottom was a work of fanciful fiction. Even the author’s name, Prof. Josh M.A. Long, was a fabrication. Josh isn’t short for Joshua; it’s the slang word meaning to kid or joke. Say the name quickly: josh ’em along. So, who was Josh M.A. Long? Don’t ask! The World revealed the name of man behind Winterbottom on December 22, 1897 on page 14. The paper printed quotes from a number of writers, humorists, artists and cartoonists who praised its creation, Father Puncherbocker.

George A. Beckenbaugh (Percy Winterbottom)
“I like the idea of blending Mr. Punch with Father Knickerbocker very well, because it cannot fail to amuse New Yorkers and at the same time make the English feel proud.”

George A. Beckenbaugh was born in Maryland in June 1866, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1870 census he was the third of four children born to George and Mary; his father was a farmer. No address was listed so the nearest post office was given, Fair View, Maryland. Ten years later, the family, with two more children, lived in Conococheague, Maryland. Beckenbaugh’s father had remarried and was a census enumerator who counted his own family.

Nothing is known of Beckenbaugh’s education and when he moved to New York City. His writings appeared in print as early as October 20, 1895 in the Wheeling Register (West Virginia). On December 6, 1896, The World published Jimmie’s Papers (Volume 1, Number 1) in its Comic Weekly, which may have been Percy Winterbottom’s debut. Beckenbaugh was listed in both the 1898 and 1899 Trow’s New York City Directory at the address, 60 West 92nd Street. The Dallas Morning News published an interview with Beckenbaugh on April 9, 1899; excerpts from “A Humorist Dissected”:

Did you ever make the acquaintance of a professional humorist? If you have had that pleasure you know something of what a sad and serious business it is to write original jokes or grind out humorous matter for the current periodicals. Judging by the appearance of the average professional humorist, it is a business that makes a man lantern-jawed and stoop-shouldered, that obliterates from his countenance even the shadow of a smile, that casts a funereal gloom over his life and makes him muggy, miserable and melancholy. To learn something about this strange and interesting mortal, with a view to imparting to the public such information regarding him as they wish to know, I called on George A. Beckenbaugh, the humorist, whose works over his own name and under the pseudonym of Percy Winterbottom are so well known to newspaper readers….

“Would you mind telling about your methods of working?”

“I have no particular method. In the first place, I task myself every day. That is, I lay out certain work, and determine to do it before I go to bed again. I know the nature of matter that most papers care for, and I try to please them. That is, with regard to subjects. I writes sketches for one, verses for another and send picture suggestions to another; next week I reverse the scheme, and so keep on. No, I do not write five jokes a year. I long ago found that a joke is nothing less than the nucleus of a story; so I weave all ideas into stories and poems.

“How did I begin to write humor? Well, I began it by writing pathos. The two are closely allied: if a writer excels at one, he excels at the other. It is the pathos in life that appeals to me. I never thought a clown funny. I have been collecting data for a couple of plays, and hope to take up play-writing in a little while.”

In 1900 Beckenbaugh resided in Manhattan at 138 West 21st Street; his occupation was journalist. In the same year, his book, Cotton Tails, was published. The Inland Educator, June 1900, published this review:

“A book of fun, bearing on the board cover the picture of a rabbit wearing checked trousers and sitting on a toadstool…Within are forty-eight full pages of comical pen and ink drawings of animal life, with as many clever verses in large type on the opposite pages. Those who are familiar with the work of the author, George A. Beckenbaugh, will know that they may expect here a collection of drawings grotesque and ridiculous on the one side and yet satirically suggestive of certain animal traits which belong to some members of the human family.”

Beckenbaugh passed away a year later. The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) printed a death notice on February 26, 1901.

BECKENBAUGH—George A. Beckenbaugh, on February 25, 1901, in Harrisburg, Penn., at the home of his brother, E.L. Beckenbaugh, aged thirty-five years [sic: technically he was 34, being born in June 1866].

Funeral on Thursday at 2 o’clock from E.L. Beckenbaugh’s residence. Private. Harrisburg cemetery.

The 1870 census listed Edgar who was four years older. The Sun Almanac for 1902, a supplement to the The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) newspaper dated January 11, 1902, noted Beckenbaugh’s passing. On page 166, in the General Obituary Record, it listed, “Beckenbaugh, Geo. F., 40, humorous writer. Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 26.” The middle initial, age and date were incorrect but the “humorous writer” description was right on the mark.]

Obscurity of the Day: Klondike

Very distressing, very distressing. Here we have the two part series Klondike by Percy Winterbottom that ran in the New York World Sunday sections of August 29 and September 5 1897. What’s distressing is that I cannot find even a peep about Winterbottom in my cartooning library. Yet I know I have read about him somewhere. Grumble, grumble. I guess I must put out the call to Alex Jay to save my bacon on this one and dig up some background on ol’ Percy (no worries, Alex will come to the rescue tomorrow!).

Anyhow, this neat little series is one of just two that Winterbottom contributed to the early Pulitzer funnies sections. Both the art and text are inspired lunacy, and I love that Winterbottom billed himself as the inventor of “the New Art” (what we more typically refer to as Art Nouveau, acknowledging the French role in popularizing the style).

The captions, in teeny-tiny type, are just about impossible to read, so let me save your peepers the strain:

Caption 1 (missing a few words cropped out of the scan): We have organized an EXPEDISHUN TWO GO TOO KLONDIKE. No panes have bean speared to make our planz thorough. Sea us as wee start. First comes our guyed — LAUGHING VIPER, THEE PIEYUTE CHEEF. Then comes our faithfull dog, drowing the sledge with provishuns for himself a indian. THIRD is US. Wee are all well mounted on a good serviceabell horse. Wee have soul charge of thee expedishun. Below us is our BODY-GUARD. Next comes a hog. Wee take him along two root out thee gold. If he refuzes to work wee will kil and eat hymn. It is an experiment. After thee hog comes MINIE who who volunteered to go along too keep the party inn a good humor. Last is a COLORED MAN with BAGS for the gold and CAND CHICKENS Four the DOMINIE. WEE started from HOBOAKIN and att this moment are almost att PATERSON. OUR CORSE is DEW NORTHWEST.

Caption 2: When WE reach HOHOKUS, NOO JERSEY, OUR INNDIAN Guyed Takes an over-dose of FIRE-WATER and LOOSES Thee TRAIL. This, TOGETHER with HIS LOUD HOOPING GIVES THEE DOMINIE NERVOUS PROSTRASHUN, and wee are obliged too give up WHAT PROMISED TOO BE A Sucksessful PROSPECKTING TOUR. WEE do knot blame “LAUGHING VIPER,” OUR GUYED, BUT WEE DEW BLAME the dominie. WEE did not want too take HYMN along, but hee said hee wood cheer our hours of sadness. THEE OLD RASKELL, THIS PICKTURE shows us in site of SEECAUCUS. THEE Dominie has our “MOUNT,” and thee COLERD man is holding him onn and driving thee horse. WEE are sketching farmers en-root, so wee will have something too SELL when WEE REECH NOO YORK. NOTE THEE TERROR OF THEE chickens. CONFOUND THEE DOMINIE.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!!

News of Yore 1940: Death of Harry Homan

Harry E. Homan, News Cartoonist

Brooklyn Eagle (New York), July 21, 1940:
Harry Elmer Homan, editorial cartoonist for United Feature Syndicate and a resident of Hempstead, died of a heart attack yesterday in the home of his brother-in-law, Edward C. Crumlish, at Townsend, Del. He was 51.

Mr. Homan, who was on vacation when he died, was with United Feature Syndicate for six years, a job which resulted from a series of political cartoons which he did in behalf of Judge Frederick Kernochan during the electoral campaigns of 1933.

For years he was a leading member of the art staff of the Barron Collier organization and previously was art director of the Odets Advertising Agency. He was also connected with the Handel Company as a designer of ornamental metals.

During the war he enlisted in the Coastal Artillery of the New York National Guard and was later transferred to the Topographic Mapping Service of the 472d Engineers.

During his life he studied under Dean Cornwell and became his assistant, and learned painting with Charles Rosen and Charles Hawthorne. He was born on Feb. 18, 1889.

Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Marguerite Crumlish; four sons, Robert, Edward, Richard and David, and a daughter, Ann. He lived at 117 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hempstead.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at his brother-in-law’s home in Delaware. Burial will be in the Wilmington-Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington.
According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Harry Elmer Homan was the only child of Frank and Emma; they lived in Meriden, Connecticut. In 1910 his mother was the head of the household; his occupation was designer at a novelty factory. They remained in Meriden. On June 5, 1917 Homan signed his World War I draft card which had his middle name. In 1920 he lived in Brooklyn, New York at 407 Adelphi Street. The census recorded his occupation as “Art League School.” Homan had a wife and three children at the time of the 1930 census; he had married around 1922. They lived in Hempstead (Long Island), New York at 100 Albemarle Avenue. He was a commercial artist. His Sunday strip, Billy Make Believe, started on July 22, 1934.