Friday, September 24, 2021

The Netflix Of It's Time

 Saturday Leftover Day.

The Pictorial Review was a syndicated magazine for papers that subscribed to King Features syndication package. During WWII it carved out a nice place for itself by featuring covers and heavily illustrated articles by some of the illustrators the Hearst owned syndicate had sent to the various war fronts. For most of the war these magazines featured on large color illustration on the front and at least two pages more of similar il;ustrations in black and white inside. Sometimes one tabloid page each, sometimes two to a page, but always impressive. Illustrated maps of war movements were common as well (as they were in most papers). 

In August 1944 the syndicate added something else to the packages. They asked some of their best read columnist to create a seperate new column for Sundays, which were illustrators by the best cartoonists they could lay their hands on. In the tradition of Netflix, heart only bought the best and let them do what they were good at. This resukted in a particulary interesting magazine, with the war art on the front and the often very funny columns inside, each with three or four illustrations by people such as Colin Allen, Abner Bean and Carl Rose. With that, they also had various cartoon pages, usually with page filling cartoons or at the most four to a page. Cartoonists used for that were Barbara Shermund, E. Simms Campbell (one of the black artists covered in Ken Quattro's unmissable Invisible Men), Irving Roir, Henry Boltinoff, George Wolfe and British artist David Fennick. But the best was yet to come.

Within a couple of weeks three new cartoonists were added, two illustration new columns and one writing and drawing his own. Otto Soglow was added as the cartoonist of Geroge Dixon's Well, That's Washington! He reamained on that serie until well into the fifties and did some of his best non sequential artwork for it. Virgil Partch was assigned the column by Arthur "Bugs" Baer. WSorking in a lush brush style, he may have delivered some of the best art he ever created -  without the gags, but maybe because of that with some of the best grtesk images I have ever seen him do. He worked on the column only for a year before he was replaced by Ralph Stein. The third important addition was the pre-publication of Milt Gross' last great comedy book, Dear Dollink. Written in Gross' trademark mock YIddish (which he had used for Nize Baby years before that), it was a series of letters written by a Jewish mother (Momma) to her son (Frankie) at the front, telling him all about what was going on at home. It is almost unreadable, but often very funny. And when in January 1945 the book came out, it was an immediate hit. 

Now, most Gross bio's mentioned that this was his last book, because he had to slow down after a heart attack later that year. But what they don;t mention is that he returned to Pictorial Review for a second series of Dear Dollink, after a short hiates. When he started again, I don't know precisely because my private collection of these rare and exoensive magazines skips from January to May. That's why I was very excited to find a digital source for al of these magazine, which I have slowly started to download.

I am not done by a long shot, but I have gotten far enoiugh to present them to you one per week, with an extra large strat just to get you hooked. I am showing all of the illustrated columns, along with the Louella Parsons gossip page, just because I know some people will like them. Their digital size allows them to be enlarged enough to be read. There are some, I would love to get completely and do a reprint book of. One of the problems is that due to the large tabloid size, soemthing will have to be done to include all text in a readable way. Not every column is as funny (Athur Baer's pages are unbearable, if you forgive me the pun), but all are essential to understand the illustrations. At least, here you can read them for yourself (even if you may have to download them and enlarge them on your own computer).

I am also selling my own collection of Pictorial Reviews from this period. They are up on Ebay now for very low starting prices. It's one of those things that rarely gets offered and when it does, they are up for months or years for very inflated prices. I have been looking at the same eight issues at $35-$45 for over a year now. Mine start at $8 to $12, depending on content, size and condition. Get them while you can, you will be helping my efforts to find more.


Jeff Nelson said...

Hey, Ger, this is in reference to what you have been talking about in the Vintage Gag Cartoons group. I actually have captured all the VIP, Gross, Shermund, E Simms Campbell and Soglow pages I could find from the archives of Pictorial Review. [I still want to go back through them again at some time in the near future and look for a few other cartoonists I passed over previously, like Michael Berry.] They are, of course, in b&w; but the quality is relatively good for the majority of them. If you like, I can put them together what I have into a zipped folder and upload them, if you want to see them... Just let me know if you want me to do so.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Please do. I will use them here, though. I hope you agree. If any are in lesser condition I can always go and look form them myself. In my experience was somtimes lacking in readabillity. I will always try and look for scans that have good picture visibillity (which sometimes requires a lighter scan) as well as readabillity of the text (which sometimes requires a darker scan). But yes, thanks! That saves me a lot of trouble and time.

Jeff Nelson said...

I'll be happy to provide you with these works - always good to save a friend unnessacry labor and repetition. But I find that I accidentally left the disk containing these materials in my locker at work today; so I am hoping to get on with the project tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I already shared all of the Barbara Shermund cartoons I found in Pictorial Review over at boutje's newspapercomicstrips blog, and he has them posted there. Here's a link, so you can at least get a good start:

jeff nelson said...

Here is the link to a folder containing all of what I have grabbed from Pictorial Review. Please feel free to utilize them in any manner you like. If you can find better quality images from your sources, all the better...

Note that the Soglow folder is especially large - over 750 files. If it's too large for you to download, just let me know, and I can break it up into smaller portions.