Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Past, Present and Future

Monday Cartoon Day.

For many years Associated Press did not only provide comic strips and political cartoons with their syndication services, they also had a comic comic section of their own, the same way King Fatures had a section of their own called Puck. Of course, AP primarily was a journalistic servic, which provided articles, photos, statistical graphics and other newsrelaed items. Most of their collaborators worked from an actual bullpen, including those that did comic strips. This means that they could always get theor artists to do some incidental work. Between 1932 and 1944 artists such as Milt Caniff, Noel Sickles, Mel Graff, Hank Barrow and several others did spot illustrations for news items, short stories, kids stories and magazine features. They were also switched between their strips, although my guess is that they did that from home. I do get the impression that some of these strips (like Scorchy Smith and Patsy in Hollywood) were owned by AP, though and they were the ones who assigned the artists. That's how Hank Barrow ended up taking over Milt Caniff's panel The Gay Thirties and probably how the artist Morris took over Scorchy Smith from George Tuska in the late fifties.

Sometimes these artist broke free of the AP stronghold. Milt Caniff didn't stay long and neither did Milt Graff. George Wunder, who took over Terry Pirates from Caniff in 1946 had worked in the AP bullpen as well. But for me, one of the greatest, unknown talents from that pool was Hank Barrow. Working in a style similar to that of Caniff, but slightly more cartoonish, he first came to the fore when he took over the aforementioned Gay Thirties. He also joined Noel Sickles and Walt Scott in drawing plitical cartoons. i have shown samples of allthree, which I find more than worth looking at. I have whole stack of Barrow cartoons waiting to be scanned. But his best work, for me, can be fund in the Sunday only feature Things To Come, a half pagae collection of cartoon illustrated items about future inventions. Unlike the later (and similar Closer Than We think (which ran from the late fifties to the early sixties) Barrows future projections often were less science fiction and more social science. If an invention was mentioned, usually not the invention itself was shown, but the way it would change people's lives. That suited Barrows drawing style and the results are remarkable, you will agree.

In my whole career as a collector I have only seen one AP section in color. On the websites I use to access old newspapers I have only found two runs of Ap sections in black and white microfiche, bot of which were short runs not covering the whole fifteen year period this section was distributed. The Barrow samples I have here are all I could get from one of the sites.


John on the Sunset Coast said...

Beste Meneer Apeldoorn-

Like you, I enjoy old comic books, particularly golden age books, and the original color MAD and some of its copy cats.
Your posting today (AP comics) was especially interesting. Of course many things have come true, but two items especially interested me most:
Panel 2 - the 'self driving" car is just now, 70 years later, becoming reality.
Panel 8 - tire air pressure sensors have been widely available for several years now.
What the mind can conceive, can be achieved, no matter how long it takes.
Dank je wel for your fine blog

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks for the comments. I will have more Tings To Come from a later period. If you like Mad and it's imitators come by frequently for an important announcement.

Allan Holtz said...

For the record, I'm still trying to find the first AP Sunday section myself -- Ron Goulart claims October 1941 (but doesn't cite a newspaper), earliest I can trace back to is end of November 1941 in NY Post.