Monday, December 06, 2010

First And Last

Monday Cartoon Day.

My friend Michael Lynch is using his blog to show us a series of cartoons from the Saturday Evening Post taken from an album full of clippings. He showed some particular interest in the work of Harry Mace, a cartoonist that was so active in the fifties, that I sort of glossed over him. But I have to agree that his style is attractive and his gags can be quite funny. He seems to have had a regular customer in the Sunday newspaper magazines, such as This Week and Family Week. Before that I found a semi-regular cartoon he did for a Salt Lake City paper. Or at least, that's what it looked like at first. But on closer inspection, it seems more likely that they are part of a daily cartoon series offered by King Features and the Salt Lake City paper just was the only paper providing a name for the cartoon and mentioning it's maker. Still odd, though, that I couldn't find any other King Features cartoons on other days. And what to make of the fact that Mace's earliest cartoon shown here has a number? Or has it? Maybe it's just half of the date that has fallen off. On most of the other cartoons, the date on the cartoon is not the publication date either.

And that is not the only mystery Harry Mace provides us with. In the early sixties he had a daily carton called Amy, which was later taken over by Jack Tippit. For long after that, the cartoon was credited to Tippet and Mace, so I always assumed that Mace had decided to stop drawing it himself. But in researching his name, I found not one, but two articles referring to him as 'the late Harry Mace', both early on in 1964, at least before some of the clipping I have with Mace's name still on it. So I worked backwords to see what Harry Mace's last signed cartoon would be.

On January 2 1964, he was still signing Amy. Than on January the 7th he signs H.M.. On the eighth he is back to Harry Mace, but after that alle cartoons are signed H.M. until somewhere in February it changes to Jack Tippit. Was Harry Mace in in the last days of his life and were the cartoons taken over by Tippit, signing H.M. to provide some continuity, only to take over for earnest after Mace died? Normal procedure would be to just not sign them. Stylisticly, I can't really be sure. Although in the end Tippit was a little less adventurous than Mace, on the whole he continued Mace's style quite well. So there is no difference to see on a daily base.

But some further searced turned up the information that Harry Mace was only 40 years old in 1964. If that is when he died (and I have to assume the newspaper mentions are right about that), he died pretty young. That could have been from an illness, explaining the intricate takeover system. But my first though would be an accident.

Unfortunately, I can't find any further infrormation about Harry Mace. One would hope that some of his surviving family would read this and maybe provide us with some additional information. But as it stands we don't even know if he was married or had any kids.

As for this post, I am starting out with some f those earliest acrtoons. Then we have Amy, which on the whole I do not find as interesting as his non daily cartoon work. After that, we have the This Week and Family Week pieces. I think his silent carooning here is among the best I have ever seen.

Interesting sidenote: if Harry Mace did indeed die early in February 1964, the February 2 cartoon in This Week was the last that saw publication. In that light it is ironic that the series he did for them was called Last Laugh.

Amy seems to have started on Monday, October the 2nd in 1961.

For This Week, Mace usually did larger pieces, or collections such as the first one. These span the period from 1956 to 1964.

Mace's last cartoon?

Finally some originals found on on eof the original comic art sites on the web. The owner says they are from the sixties. Must be before 1964, then.


Ken said...

fascinating and well done. love a mystery. have you ever done anything on george feyer? canadian gag cartoonist who moved to cali in the 60's?

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I'll have a look...

Looking back at these cartoons in a row, I am struck by the fact how much more they look like Tippit's work than the last three cartoons by Mace.

Bill Prindle said...

Harry Mace was a friend of my parents when I was growing up in Redding, CT in the 50s. He gave them a signed cartoon where a couple has just returned from a night out, and the babysitter standing in the midst of a devastated living room, says: "I've decided something tonight, Mrs. Prindle...I don't think I'll ever get married."

Bill Prindle, Charlottesville, VA

Wendy Berlind said...

Harry Mace was married to Kay Mace and had at least one child named Peggy. (I'm the sister of Bill Prindle!)

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Bill, great story! If you ever want to share a picture of that cartoon, I'm game!