Archive for the ‘cartoonist’ Category

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Cartooning: Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning Part Two

Willard Mullin

SINGLE PANEL COMICS, SPORTS CARTOONISTS, EDITORIAL CARTOONS AND COMIC BOOKS

We continue with the section on two column panel and sports cartoonists from Gene Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning (1950). Here are step by step descriptions of the creation of panel cartoons by George Clark and Lichty; as well as an article on Robert L. Ripley and features on sports cartoonists Pap, Howard Brodie and the great Willard Mullen. Following that is a gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoons, features on C. D. Batchelor and Bill Crawford, and a cursory look at how comic books were edited.

TWO COLUMN PANELS

Two column panel cartoons are a staple of newspaper comics today, even though the width of the standard column has shrunk. As the size decreased, artists were forced to reduce detail. Daily strips are so small now, it’s hard to do anything wider than a medium closeup in every panel. The two column panel cartoon has become the last bastion of cartoons with any kind of detail at all. Here, Gene Byrnes covers a few of the most popular single panel comics from the late 40s.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

GEORGE CLARK
The Neighbors

George ClarkGeorge ClarkGeorge Clark was born in Oklahoma. He began drawing at a very young age, and by 16 years old, his cartoons were appearing in the Daily Oklahoman. His first syndicated cartoon was "Side Glances", and in 1939, he created the one panel comic he is best known for, "The Neighbors". Clark’s gags were inspired by quiet observation of people in soda fountains and railroad stations. He would photograph situations, street scenes and expressions to incorporate into his drawings. The family in the comic was loosely based on his own wife and children.

He would create all of his comics for a week in one marathon session. He wrote, "It takes me at least six hours to warm up. I sit there trying to work and wondering what I’ve been doing all these years that it should still come so hard to me." When the ideas started flowing, he would work nonstop for up to 12 hours straight to complete the six cartoons for the week. He commented on the grueling process by saying, "When I’m trying to think of ideas for cartoons and they won’t come, I think it would be wonderful to paint landscapes, with no gags in them."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

LICHTY
Grin & Bear It

Lichty

George Lichty was one of the most famous and highly paid one panel cartoonists in the newspapers. He created the cartoon, "Grin And Bear It" in 1932, and it ran every day for many decades. When asked to what he attributed the popularity of his wonderful lummoxes with names like "Bascomb Belchmore" and "Senator Snort", he replied, "From little acorns mighty oafs grow."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

LARGE PANEL COMICS

When newspaper comics were at their zenith, whole pages were sometimes devoted to a single comic. Other comics would be half pages. Interspersed throughout the comics pages were quarter and third page single panels that depicted scenes and panoramas filled with gags. Today, each comic is so small, it’s lucky if it can put across a single gag. A lot of the richness and depth of view has been lost.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

ROBERT L. RIPLEY
Believe It Or Not

Robert RipleyRobert RipleyRobert Ripley was unique among cartoonists, because he truly lived his strip. Ripley travelled the world in search of the odd and unusual, which he featured in his daily newspaper comic. He passed away in 1949 at 56 years of age.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

SPORTS CARTOONISTS
“PAP”

PapPapThomas "Pap" Paprocki was referred to as the "Rembrandt of the sports pages". Born in 1902, he began his artistic endeavors at age nine, when he took painting lessons from an artist near his home in New York. A gifted athelete, it was natural that he would gravitate to being a sports cartoonist. In 1932, he began working for the Associated Press, where his column and drawings ran for over three decades. Check out the meticulous planning he put into his work.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

HOWARD BRODIE

Howard BrodieHoward BrodieHoward Brodie worked as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. During WWII, he became a combat correspondent, creating illustrations of GIs in action that made a huge impact on readers stateside. He was a decorated veteran, and also served as a combat artist in Korea and Viet Nam. In the 50s and 60s became a courtroom artist, famous for his ability to capture the drama and detail of the proceedings in his quick powerful sketches.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

WILLARD MULLIN

Willard Mullin
Willard Mullin has been featured in this blog before in reference to his work on the Famous Artists Cartooning Course. He grew up in Los Angeles, but like most newspaper cartoonists of his era, he moved to New York in 1934. He worked for the New York World Telegram for over thirty years, where he created the iconic caricature of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the "Brooklyn Bum". Mullin eventually became a respected illustrator for Time, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post. Although sports cartooning is pretty much a dead artform, Mullin’s work is timeless and will live on long after the game has ended.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

EDITORIAL CARTOONING
By C. D. Batchelor

C D BatchelorC D BatchelorClarence Daniel Batchelor started as a staff cartoonist at the Kansas City Star. He worked as a freelance illustrator for a time before joining the New York Daily News in 1931. He worked there for 38 years as an editorial cartoonist, He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for the accompanying cartoon of a young man labelled "Any European Youth" being propositioned by a skull faced whore representing war, captioned… "Come on in, I’ll treat you right! I used to know your Daddy."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

PULITZER PRIZE WINNERS

Mauldin
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

WILLIAM CRAWFORD

Bill Crawford
As I went to Google to research this blurb on editorial cartoonist Bill Crawford was a master of the medium. He was awarded the National Cartoonists Society awards for best editorial cartoon of 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1966; he was awarded the Silver T-Square Award in 1977; and he served as president of the organization in 1960. His cartoons first appeared in the Newark News, and later were syndicated to over 700 newspapers around the country.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

COMICS MAGAZINES
By Whitney Ellsworth

Byrnes Complete Guide To CartooningByrnes Complete Guide To CartooningWhitney Ellsworth started out as an assistant artist at King Features, working on strips like Dumb Dora and Tilly the Toiler. He was chief editor at DC Comics during the golden age of Superman, Batman, The Spectre, and The Green Arrow- but Superman was the series he was most closely involved in. Ellsworth wrote many of the story outlines for the comic books, and in the early 50s, he wrote the pilot episode of the Superman TV serial, Superman Meets The Mole Men. He retired in 1970.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

It’s interesting to compare the editorial script to the finished artwork provided here. The only thing the artist used was the basic situations, a few details and the dialogue. The staging of the panels and the pacing of the action from panel to panel had to be completely reworked to function visually. It’s surprising that Byrnes gives this section on comic books such short shrift. Ellsworth focuses on the technical and editorial aspects of the comic book business, and barely mentions the artists who actually create them. Perhaps if Byrnes had gotten Joe Shuster, Bob Kane or Jack Kirby to write this section, it would have been a different story.

Many thanks to Marc Crisafulli and David King for sharing this great book with us.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Newspaper ComicsNewspaper Comics
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Cartooning: Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning Part One

Cartoonists People On Paper

Footage of Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Bud Fisher, Chic Young, Al Capp and other cartoonists at work in their studios…

"Passing Parade: People On Paper" (MGM/1945)

(Quicktime 7 / 24 megs)

REG’LAR FELLERS, LI’L ABNER, FLASH GORDON, TERRY & THE PIRATES, GAGS & GALS, STEVE CANYON… Meet The Men Behind The Comics

ByrnesByrnesToday, we began digitizing an important book… Gene Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning 1950. Marc Crisafulli and David King generously lent us a copy of this amazing collection of capsule features on all of the major cartoonists of the early 50s for digitization. It’s said that Ralph Bakshi learned to cartoon from this book.

In the coming days, I will be posting more from this book, along with a little biographical info on the featured artists. Today, the cartoonists profiled are all newspaper comic strip creators… Gene Byrnes, Jefferson Machamer, Alex Raymond, Louis Eisele, Charles Voight, Al Capp and Milton Caniff.

REG’LAR FELLERS
By Gene Byrnes

Gene Byrnes intended a career in sports, but after being laid up from a leg injury in 1911, he took to copying cartoons by Tad Dorgan and decided to take a correspondence course in cartooning. He began his career as a professional cartoonist with the help of Winsor McCay, who got him a job with the New York Telegram as a sports cartoonist around 1915. In 1917, he created his most famous strip, Reg’lar Fellers. which ran for over thirty years. He wrote several influential books on cartooning and illustration in the 40s and early 50s. He passed away in 1974.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

RIP KIRBY
By Alex Raymond

Alex Raymond is best known for creating the comic strip, Flash Gordon in 1933. He was responsible for several other important strips as well, as creator or ghost artist, including Rip Kirby, Jungle Jim, Tim Tyler’s Luck and Tillie the Toiler. His strip, Secret Agent X9 was created in collaboration with Dasheill Hammett. He died in a car accident in 1956.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

JEFFERSON MACHAMER

Thomas Jefferson Machamer began as a staff artist on the Kansas City Star in the early 1920s, and soon moved to New York, where he secured work with the New York Tribune. He made his name with his cartoons of pretty girls in Judge magazine in the late 1920s. In 1932, his strip, Gags & Gals debuted in the New York Mirror. He continued to be active in both newspaper cartoons and magazine illustration throughout the 40s and 50s, and passed away in 1960.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

LOUIS EISELE

I don’t have any information on Louis Eislele. If anyone out there knows his biographical details, please post them to the comments below.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

CHARLES VOIGHT

Charles Voight was known as a “girl specialist” with illustrations and comics in the New York World and Life magazine in the early decades of the 20th century. His strips included Petey Dink and Betty. He passed away in 1947.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

ON THE WRITING OF CONTINUITY
By Al Capp

At the age of nine, Al Capp lost a leg in a streetcar accident. He became the youngest syndicated cartoonist in the country at age 19 with his strip, Colonel Gilfeather. He ghosted the strip Joe Palooka for Ham Fischer for a while, before striking out on his own with Li’l Abner in 1934. The strip was among the most popular of all time, entering the popular culture with Capp’s creations like "Sadie Hawkins Day", "Kickapoo Joy Juice" and "The Shmoo". Capp’s strip inspired a Broadway musical and feature film and ran until 1977. Capp died two years later.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

DETOUR GUIDE FOR AN ARMCHAIR MARCO POLO
By Milton Caniff

Milton Caniff was born in Ohio in 1907. He took a job as a staff artist with the Associated Press in 1932, and soon inherited Al Capp’s strip Colonel Gilfeather when Capp left the syndicate. In 1934, Caniff created the comic strip he is best known for, Terry and the Pirates. The series was hugely popular throughout the war years, but Caniff didn’t own the copyright- it belonged to The Chicago Tribune/New York Daily News. He left the comic behind to create a new one, Steve Canyon, which spawned a short-lived television series and ran until Caniff’s death in 1988.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

STUDYING THE COMICS PAGES

In this section, there are three articles on how to get fresh ideas, Byrnes goes through the newspaper analyzing the appeal of various comic strips, and Chic Young and Hal Foster are featured.

HOW TO GET IDEAS
By Dana Coty

I don’t have much information on Dana Coty (Dec. 19, 1901 – March 19, 1962) aside from the fact that he worked at Disney in the mid-30s, and was a story man at Famous Studios.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

J. N. Darling (Ding)
on EDITORIAL IDEAS

Ding DarlingDing Darling"Ding" Darling was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Sioux City Journal, The Des Moines Register, the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Globe. His editorial cartoons dealing with conservation causes were a staple of the opinion sections of many papers for decades. He passed away in 1962.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

IDEAS FOR ADVERTISING CARTOONS
By Sam Cobean

Sam CobeanSam CobeanSam Cobean was an inbetweener on Snow White, barely surviving on $16 a week, when he joined the strikers fighting for the creation of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. After returning to work when the contract was settled, Sam realized that Disney was not the place for him and took a job as a copy boy at the Washington Post. There, he developed an interest in political cartoons. During the war, he worked in a unit producing training cartoons and pamphlets along with cartoonist Charles Addams. Addams introduced him to the editor of the New Yorker, and Cobean’s cartoons appeared there for many years afterwards. In 1950, he created a book of cartoons, titled "Cobean’s Naked Eye" which was a bestseller. He died in a car accident in 1951.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

STUDIES OF COMIC STRIPS

In this section, Gene Byrnes analyzes the style and appeal of various contemporary newspaper comics. The most interesting thing about the strips he features is the high level of draftsmanship, and the diverse variety of styles and approaches to the medium. Newpaper comics were once considered the pinnacle of cartooning… but today, they have plunged to its nadir. Comparing Prince Valiant to Drabble or Bringing Up Father to Cathy is a depressing task. It’s shameful that so great an artform has been allowed to deteriorate so far. I hope there are aspiring cartoonists out there who are willing to take up the difficult task of restoring the comics page to its rightful place in American culture again. This overview is a good place to start investigating the forgotten art of newspaper cartooning.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

SUNDAY PAGES
Featuring Chic Young & Hal Foster

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

Chic YoungChic YoungChic Young was born in 1901 and began his career as a newspaper cartoonist in 1923. His first strip for King Features was Dumb Dora and in 1930, he created the strip, Blondie, one of the longest running newspaper comics of all time. He drew it until he passed away in 1973, and his son, Dean continues to write it to this day. Blondie was hugely successful and spawned film and TV adaptations.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

Prince Valiant

Hal FosterHal FosterHal Foster was raised in the wilds of Halifax, Nova Scotia where he was an avid boater and outdoorsman. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade and began a course of self education studying sketching and anatomy. He set art aside to become a hunting guide and gold prospector, but at age 28, he decided to devote his life to a career in art. He received classical training at the Chicago Art Institute, the National Academy of Design and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1927, he was contracted to do a comic strip adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. 1n 1937, Foster introduced an original property, Prince Valiant, the most successful adventure strip of all time. Foster produced the strip for over 40 years, passing away in 1982.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

Other artists featured in this section are Jimmy Hatlo, Otto Soglow, George McManus, Chester Gould and Frank King… all worthy of spending a few minutes Googling and reading up on.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

The posts I present here at Animation Resources aren’t intended to be the last word on any subject, particularly one as large and multifaceted as the history of cartooning. My hope is that you use these posts as a springboard for your own investigation. Take the names and examples I present here and start searching the web for more… scour bookstores and flea markets… and expand your frame of reference beyond just what is presented here. I wish I had a source of "hot tips" like this when I was first starting out. Take advantage of this great resource we’re building.

Many thanks to Marc Crisafulli and David King for sharing this great book with us.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Newspaper ComicsNewspaper Comics
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.

Friday, January 9th, 2015

MEMBERS ONLY: Zim’s Correspondence Course in Cartooning and Caricature Volume 1

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Animation Resources is proud to present exclusively to our membership the first of four volumes of Eugene Zimmerman’s landmark correspondence course in cartooning as a 200 page high resolution e-book. Members, to download a copy, login to the Members Only Download Page. This download will only be available during the months of January and February 2015 and might never be available again.

If you have not joined Animation Resources yet, see the Membership Signup Page. Over the next year, Animation Resources members will be receiving the entire Zim course, consisting of four volumes and nearly 1000 pages packed with incredible drawings and creative advice!

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FOREWORD By Ralph Bakshi

I grew up in a time, in the middle of the 20th century, when most drawings in cartooning- magazine gag panels, comic strips and animation– were all formula. The same funny character shapes were repeated over and over again. This was called "having a great style".

I didn’t realize that a great part of the history of cartooning had been lost until my wife Elisabeth and I stumbled across this complete set of Eugene Zimmerman’s cartoon course at an estate sale. Subsequently, and with great enthusiasm, I ran around from one book store to another looking for old copies of Judge and Life, the magazines that Zim had drawn for fifty years earlier.

The thing that made Zim so great was that like all great artists, he had no formula for drawing. He thought about each drawing as it related to life and situation, then caricatured it. He didn’t have a simple cartoon formula to explain everything. He searched for the individual truth of the moment. At all times, his cartoons are hilariously funny and ring true. We recognize the event, the person, his age, social standing and ethnic type immediately. This is what makes his cartooning great.

Zim caricatured all of the people that we know so well. They were just like the people I grew up with in Brooklyn. His characters make me roar with laughter and appreciate all of our individual humanity. Zim’s drawing of objects– a shoe, a can, a pot, a chicken, a chair– come alive in his drawings. Each object has its own unique personality, just like his characters. To Zim, everything is funny and real at the same time.

So here is Zim’s cartooning course. How lucky can you get?

Ralph Bakshi March, 2009

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INTRODUCTION by Stephen Worth

A century has passed since he hit his artistic peak, and perhaps because of that wide gulf, it is impossible to discuss the work of Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman without discussing the issue of race. The result of this is that Zim’s pioneering body of work has been largely misunderstood, or worse yet, completely erased from the history of cartooning.

In his introduction to ZIM: The Autobiography of Eugene Zimmerman (1988), Walter M. Brasch quotes Dr. Charles Press, professor of political science at Michigan State University. Press, the author of a book titled, The Political Cartoon, describes Zim’s work as…

…the kind of comic art where the last panel shows someone’s feet up in the air with the big word “plop!” It is at its most typical, characteristic of “correspondence school art.” The artist simplifies by offering clichés– “here is the way you draw a shoe, here is the way you draw an ear.” The clichés extend beyond the characters as well. Not only are the Jew and the Black drawn as stereotypes, but so are the English gentleman, etc. They all look like figures out of an unimaginative central casting.

Brasch attempts to explain why Zim has been forgotten…

By holding minorities up to ridicule, Zim had held all Americans up to ridicule– the minorities for the comic humor, the others for having allowed it. In an effort to cleanse a nation’s history, perhaps America deliberately tried to bury its past– and that included all art by all writers who used the stereotypes, even if much of their work was nonracist.

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It’s obvious why critics and historians have swept Zim under the rug— they see only the ethnic gags on the surface of Zim’s cartoons. They don’t see the keen observation, artful exaggeration and underlying humanity that makes a Zim cartoon so much more than just a simple joke based on racial differences. This is understandable for a historian whose principle focus is on social issues. But the surprising thing is that most artists and cartoonists have forgotten about Zim as well.

Overviews of the history of cartooning routinely begin with Wilhelm Busch and Thomas Nast in the 1860s, then jump forward to the introduction of newspaper comics with Outcault’s “The Yellow Kid” thirty years later. The decades between yawn like a black hole in the timeline. One might be led to believe that nothing much of importance took place in the interim. But the truth of the matter is, there were many great cartoonists and illustrators who lived and worked during that forgotten time— Joseph Keppler, A. B. Frost, Frederick Opper, Bernhard Gillam, James Montgomery Flagg, T. S. Sullivant and Eugene Zimmerman. These artists laid the foundation for everything that followed.

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I first encountered Zim’s art in a bound volume of Judge magazines dating from shortly before the United States entered World War I. By this time, Zim had already left the Judge staff to work freelance from his home in Horseheads, NY and his contribution to the magazine was minimal. His cartoons consisted of tiny characters slipped into the margins of the columns, much like Sergio Aragones’ doodles in Mad magazine many decades later. But even tiny and simplified, the vitality of his characters leapt off the page at me. It was clear that here was an artist worth investigating.

I began combing the online resources and used bookstores, but it was difficult to find information. However, when I mentioned Zim to my friend, Ralph Bakshi, his voice boomed through the telephone— “ZIM! Ha! Ha! You found Zim! I was keeping him as my secret!” Ralph explained that he had stumbled across a copy of Zim’s cartooning course in the late 1960s, and kept it close at hand as he created his first few animated features— Fritz the Cat (1972), Heavy Traffic (1973), and most importantly, Coonskin (1975). Ralph had kept his interest in Zim to himself all those years, but now he enthusiastically shared his thoughts with me, and allowed me to digitize rare material from his library. The puzzle pieces began to come together to reveal the true genius of this overlooked master of the art of caricature.

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Caricature consists of equal parts observation and exaggeration. Zim was adept at both. In his autobiography, Zim tells a story about one of his outings to find subjects to caricature…

When the instantaneous camera was invented, the Judge Company bought one as an experiment, or perhaps took it in exchange for advertising. It was in the form of a stiff false vest front covered with suiting, at the time fancy vests were in vogue. The camera was a flat, nickel-plated circular affair with a revolving plate capable of holding eight pictures and which operated automatically when the shutter closed. It was intended as a detective camera. You could approach a person and, with one hand in your trousers pocket, pull a string which led into the pocket, operating the shutter.

Hamilton and I were slumming for character studies one day and experimenting with the new little plaything. The first human to strike our fancy was an aged woman scavenger whose upper part was buried in a barrel of rubbish, with the rear elevation conspicuously aimed at us. After taking a couple of preliminary shots, we desired a study of the face as well, so Hamilton told me to get ready, and let out a tremendous yell. The woman jumped clear of the barrel. I pulled the string, got her face and quickly left the neighborhood, followed by a whole paragraph of the most exquisite profanity that ever warbled from the throat of a filthy bird.

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The level of specificity of detail in the clothing, architecture and attitudes of the characters in Zim’s cartoons reveal that he wasn’t just recycling clichés or stereotypes, he was drawing upon keen observation of the world he saw around him. Then, as now, the most exaggerated and interesting characters resided in the poorer neighborhoods, and in the 1890s, New York City contained a particularly wide palette of character types to study.

Before Zim entered the scene, caricature was reserved for the powerful and well-to-do. The cartoons in Life magazine featured men in tuxedos and top hats and women seated on sofas in palatial sitting rooms. All of the humor was contained in the caption, and the formulaic artwork was based more on an abstract concept of “good taste” than it was on anything remotely real. Puck magazine generally focused on politicians and public figures, taking a hard-hitting approach to current events. But Zim looked to the common man for inspiration. His work reflected the dynamic nature of the American melting pot better than any other artist of his day.

Zim exaggerated the ethnic differences he saw in the Irish, Black, Jewish and other immigrant neighborhoods of New York, but he didn’t just apply a stereotypical formula to his caricatures. Looking at Zim’s detailed images of everyday life among the various ethnic groups, one is struck by the amount of individuality among the characters. Each person is a unique personality, exaggerated to enhance his own peculiar characteristics.

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There is an important distinction to be made between clichéd stereoptyping of ethnic groups and the sort of observational caricature that Zim excelled at— the difference is honesty. Although the gags and dialogue occasionally strayed into routine formulas, Zim’s drawings never did. In his cartooning course, Zim spoke about the constraints sometimes placed upon him by the editorial staff…

An artist is not always the father of the joke attached to his drawing. Very often, an art editor accepts an idea or suggestion which is without a picture; thus the artist is requested to make a drawing to correspond with the idea. Now it may happen that the art editor and the artist differ in their conception of humor and inasmuch as the art editor’s opinion predominates in this case, the artist proceeds to illustrate the joke as directed.

The general public, while not aware of these facts, lays all the blame on the artist, and the artist must cheerfully accept the public’s condemnation. It has been my custom in such cases to insert a lot of interesting detail to make the drawing as catchy as possible, in order to hide the inferior quality of the joke.

A likely example of this sort of thing is a cartoon from the January 1896 issue of Judge’s Library. A black couple out for a night on the town are shown “under the gaslight” on 27th street…

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Armand (who has just proposed)— “Pore liddle honey,
yo’ looks blue! I’s ‘fraid yo’s cold.”
Pauline— “Dat ain’t cold, Gawge. Dat’s blushes!”

Zim makes no attempt to literally illustrate the gag— there is no blue cast to the blush on the girl’s cheeks. Instead, he pours all of his powers into capturing a moment. The boy, a dandy, has a cane tucked casually in his pocket and a hat perched on his head at a jaunty angle. His body is posed in such a way that we can discern the proud way he walks. The girl looks up to him shyly with an admiring glance out of the corner of her eye. The wind blows through her skirt, and the boy’s hand wraps around the girl’s waist holding her close.

But the most interesting detail isn’t obvious on first glance… the boy’s trousers are decorated with an American flag. Cartoonists at this time didn’t treat the flag lightly— its use served a specific purpose. Zim is depicting this Black couple as a typical American boy and girl out on a date. When you consider that Blacks had been slaves just few decades before, this simple image takes on a wider significance. Zim’s cartoon documents how Blacks at the time were making their first entry into mainstream American society. The silly gag sits below the frame in the dialogue, completely irrelevant to Zim’s eloquent image.

Zim didn’t ridicule his subjects; he caricatured them. The point of caricature is to use humor and exaggeration to illuminate truth. The fact that he made fun of so many types of people reveals that he held no special animosity against any particular group. He poked fun at everyone equally. And although he exaggerated the surface differences between people, he always kept his focus on portraying the essential truth at the core of his caricature.

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In his last “how to” cartooning book, How To Draw Funny Pictures (1928), Zim sums up his philosophy of caricature like this…

When you see a haughty person, do not be deceived into believing that it is some great man or famous woman out for a walk. More likely it is some fickle waitress or a pool hall loafer who won $3.00 in a crap game or inherited $47.60 from a dead aunt. Or possibly it may be some haughty clerk out showing off the latest dollar-down-and-dollar-a-week clothing. The really great are never haughty. My work and travels have brought me into contact with the great and near-great in all lines of endeavor— presidents and movie actors, authors and artists, Buffalo Bill and Bryan, Edison and Lindbergh— they were all hearty and unassuming.

Greatness makes one tolerant. Great men are not ashamed to stop on the street and talk to the man in overalls. They recognize the bond of friendship between the common people and themselves. The social sheik who feels above talking to a mere laborer is fooling only himself.

Take this little sermon to heart and treat every man as your equal; it will help you to get ahead. How truly the Bible says, “The greatest among you shall be the servant of all.”


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In our “politically correct” times, it is easy to look at the surface details of Zim’s cartoons and miss the humanity that courses through them just under the surface. Zim’s Correspondence School of Cartooning, Comic Art & Caricature is more than just lessons in how to draw. It’s a philosophy of what it means to be a cartoonist.

My purpose for compiling this book is to serve two purposes… First, I want to shine a spotlight on a forgotten artist whose work helped to lay the foundation for the whole history of cartooning. Secondly, I want to encourage current artists to consider Zim’s philosophy and apply his keenly observed honesty to their own work.

I would like to thank Ralph Bakshi, the Horseheads Historical Society, and the dedicated crew of volunteers at the Animation Resources for their invaluable assistance. I hope you find this book to be useful.

Stephen Worth
Director, Animation Resources
March, 2009

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Every two months, Animation Resources provides a downloadable Reference Pack for its membership. The Reference Packs consist of a PDF e-book set up to be viewed in high resolution on computers and mobile devices, or printed out in hard copy on a laser printer. Also included are two animated films in full DVD quality. The material in these bi-monthly Reference Packs have been selected and curated by the Advisory Board and Officers of Animation Resources. The RefPacks are available for a limited time only, and may never be made available again.

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