Harrison Cady was one of the most famous and prolific cartoonists of the early decades of the 20th century. Although he is best known as the illustrator of Thornton W. Burgess’ Peter Rabbit series of books, and the cartoonist behind the newspaper comic bearing the same name, Cady was an active illustrator as well. His illustrations and comics appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Life, St. Nicholas Magazine and Boys’ Life.
These “bird’s eye views” are masterpieces of visual organization. Instead of just one overall composition, there are dozens spread all through the image. The amount of planning and pencil milage that must have gone into these complex images is impressive.
Animation Resources supporter, Jonathan Barli of Digital Funnies contributed these amazing scans to the archive database. Jonathan is hard at work on an important project- documenting and restoring early cartoons and comics in digital form. When I spoke to him about Animation Resources, he instantly understood what we are trying to do. Jonathan has donated high resolution TIFF images of his entire collection to Animation Resources.
Here is a selection of Cady’s Birds’ Eye View illustrations for Boys’ Life magazine…
Here is a similar format comic… "Right Around Home".
Dudley Fisher was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1890. He studied to be an architect, but dropped out to take a job as a layout artist at the Columbus Dispatch. After returning from WWI, Fisher created a comic strip called "Jolly Jingles". Year after year, he cranked out rhyming verse until he couldn’t stand it any more. In December of 1937 he decided to take a break from jingles and draw what Christmas on his grandmother’s farm would be like (if he had a grandmother and she lived on a farm!) He drew it as one big full page panel and readers immediately took to it and clamored for more. King Features picked up the strip and titled it "Right Around Home". These great Sunday pages date from early in the run- 1939.
When asked by a young artist what sorts of pens and paper to use to draw cartoons, Fisher recommended not worrying about things like that, saying "I feel certain that Michaelangelo could have done a masterpiece on meat wrapping paper with a toothbrush and shoe polish. It’s all got to come out of the artist- not the ink bottle."
Thanks for the wonderful scans, Jonathan!
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.