Sunday, December 11, 2016

.. The Boat Has Come...

Friday Comic Book Day.

Yesterday I shared the first leg of a longer set of Claire Voyant Sundays by Jack Sparling. Today I saw that the daily version was also rprinted in the first two issues of the comic book Keen Teens. Like the strip, this book is from before te end of the war, so these must be pretty early.

I Can See Clearly Now...

Thursday Story Strip Day.

As promised, I am following my run of Hap Hopper with Jack Sparling second strip, Claire Voyant. Claire Voyant was published by the left wing PM newspaper, but it got a wider circulation. Like Hopper, it had a man and a woman in the lead. But this time, the girl got the top billing. And rightfully so. Although Sparling's sometimes scratchy line was a bit out of date at this time (he changed it when he got into comics) he managed to keep this strip running for a couple of years. Every overview always says that 'getting your own newspaper strip' was the dream of every artist, but Jack Sparling is a good example of how it could also be a trap. Four years he spent on Claire Voyant, not receiving the success that would warrant the amount of work. After that he left newspaper strips and concentrated purely on comic books for a long time.

When you upload images to Blogger you get to see them all together in a loading window. Seeing these all together, it struck me that the coloring on this strip did not help. It is flat an unimaginative (and it only gets worse as the strip goes along). I don't know if that is the fault of the Chicago paper I got these from or if it was Sparling's own color guides. But you only need to compare it to Steve Canyon or Bruce Gentry or even George Wunder's Terry and the Pirates to see it would not have been one of the first things you read in your paper.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Littlest Don

Wednesday Illustration Day.

Here's one I am proud of. In the last couple of years I have shared everything I could find of the work of Don Colhoun, a forgotten figure in American Cartooning. Most if it seems to have appeared in a magazine called 1000 Jokes in the late forties. He seems to have produced only serial gags, that is: gags that use more than one image to tell a story, usually with text underneath. What makes these gags so unique is how singular and accomplished his UPC inspired style was and how much it resembles the later work of Jules Feiffer. One of his contributions shares more with Feiffer than just the style, though. The Little President was published in the same period and predates the similarly themed Monroe by Jules Feiffer by ten years. In The Little President a little boy gets elevated to the highest seat in government. In Monroe a little boy gets drafted and is made a soldier. Now I am not saying Jules Feiffer took something from Calhoun, or even saw it. I don't believe in labeling things in such a way. Stan Lee often gets a bad rap for doing formats that others have pioneered and I don't agree with that either. Point is, certain themes may be 'in the air', as we say in Dutch, or sometimes people look at something else and both make the same leap from that. But I do think that this book should be noticed, so I am representing it here completely.

Don Calhoun went into advertising and became a successful executive at one of the major ad agencies. When he retired he even wrote a satirical novel about his experiences. He sounds like an interesting man.... who may still be with us. When I first posted some of his material one of his relatives contacted me to say he was in his late nineties and still very much alive. After that I never had contact with them again and if Mr. Calhoun is still around, he will now be over a hundred years old. I would love to know more about him.

For the other samples of his cartooning, follow the link.

More after the book.

While searching for more information about Don Calhoun, I found this, confirming his death in 2012. 

Obituary: Donald Gilmore Calhoun, 98, ad man, author, former resident

Donald Gilmore Calhoun, author, artist and ad man, died on Monday, Nov. 19, in Burlington, Vt., at the age of 98. While serving as an ensign in the Navy in World War II, he wrote and published “The Little President” and “Dear Kids.” After the war he worked for McCann Erickson (Interpublic) as head of their creative department and then as a partner with “Jack Tinker and Partners.” While living in New Canaan and commuting to New York, he took time off to write two comedic novels: “Dando Shaft” (1965) and “Is There Life After Advertising?” (1974). He is survived by his children, John Calhoun, Steve Calhoun, Faith Gordon, his sister Judy Schurman and his grandchildren Chris Calhoun and Alisha Gordon.

I did not know he wrote another cartoon book, which I will now look for.