One of the benefits of a newspapers.com subscription is the access to the quotidian details of life. You can have your history books and Ken Burns docs; I’ll take the papers that have little stories about a murder in a hotel room and an ad for some bygone cigarette brand.
And I’d be less informed! But in the end I’d rather know a lot of details and a few broad strokes than the entirely of an era’s political details and nothing at all about the way things looked. Tomorrow will be an excellent example of that thesis, carefully selected to make my point while allowing no dispute. BECAUSE IT’S MY BLOG
Anyway, the old papers abounded with illustration. The period between, say, 1910 and 1950 was the golden age of newspaper illos, and the drawings below - unremarkable for the time - show you the level of talent.
This ran in the Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1928. It’s an example of the riches papers have in their archives and never do a damned thing to repurpose. It’s as if they’re terrified their brand may be associated with anything except This Precise Moment, and young people - who don’t care anyway - will say ewwww, history.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, McBride was twice expelled from school because of his drawings in the school paper. His first professional cartoon was published in 1917 in The Los Angeles Times.
At the age of 16! I could find the cartoon if I had a week, but the LA Times didn’t have a kids’ section in 1917. They added one on the 20s, and it looks like a 1960s or 70s high school contribution page. But we’ll get to that.
It's like an illustration from Punch. The overly mutton-chopped academic. A bit archaic by 1928, but intentionally so. Here are the archetypes.
As relevant today as 90 years ago? Perhaps. More after the break.
It's the costuming I like - a comic about "the way people dress" is less informative than one with a different subject matter, because the latter will be more realistic because the clothes are incidental.
I mentioned that the LA Times had a section for youths, with cartoons submitted by readers. They look like 60s counter-culture cartoons that used the styles of the 20s for their idiotic stoner drivel:
The comics had punny names, because hardy har. You can forgive the cartoonist here for his lapse; he was 14 years old.
See the name? Right.
Phil DeLara (1914 - 1973) was a Warner Bros. animator and Disney comics, MGM and Hanna-Barbera artist.
As an animator, he worked on Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck and later on Speedy Gonzales, The Tasmanian Devil, among others. At Western publishing, he was the main artist of Disney's Chip 'n' Dale comics, but also drew Donald Duck, Gyro Gearloose and Uncle Scrooge as well as Mickey Mouse comics for the foreign-market Disney Studio stories.
There are more. It's such a joy to see the stuff these kids did, and realize they grew up to do it for a living.
This isn't the most obscure thing I've teased out of the newspaper archives; not hardly. Next year will haveweekly feature that looks at old newspapers; it'll be called Clippings, because I have no imagination. Random papers, random dates, stories, movie ads. The number of human stories untold and forgotten are in the grains-of-sand-on-the-beach range, you know. We’ve forgotten the big stories; imagine what we’ll never know we forgot. It will replace Cliffhangers for a year, and I don't think anyone will particularly mind.
Rather mild Tuesday, I'm afraid. Don't worry - tomorrow's a doozy. DO NOT SKIP AHEAD, for your own sake. See you then.