Friday, November 26, 2021

Telling Tales

Saturday Leftover Day. 

Anyone who knows my blog, know I have a special interest in the comic section ads that were produced by the Johnstone and Cushing talent agency. There are no more people left who can talk about the daily working of this company in the forties and early fifties, but those are the yeras that interest me the most. With a roster of talent containing Dik Browne, Gill Fox, Bill Williams, Jack Betts, Craig Flessel, Elmer Wexler, Stan Drake and many others, they oproduced some of the best newspaper comic art in the newspapers. And not only the Sundays. In 1952, not long before he was appraoched to do the family strip Hi and Lois with Mort Walker, Dik Browne did a series of one panel ads for Camels, using the slogan: But Only Time Will Tell... not a very good slogan, because time did tell on the cigarette companies, but if they knew how unhealthy their product was, they certainly didn't tell anyone. 

I have show some of these Dik Browne panels before, some in colour even. But I recently found out that they were used in daily papers as well, which helped me find almost all of them. Running from June 1952 to April 1953 at a rate of two per month, I managed to find almost all of them, even if they are in microfiche format. I have written an article about these and other series done by Dik Browne and Gill Fox in the Harry Haenigson style, which will be published this year in the next issue of Hogan's Alley. On the next few saterdays, I will share more of the material, not all of which could be added to the printed piece.


Allan Holtz said...

Looking at these I was half-convinced that Hank Ketcham was involved!

Ger, something you might consider doing that would be so very valuable is to give a little course on how to ID these various J&C guys (and the cartoonists they imitated) so that the rest of us can ID with more confidence.

I look at the J&C and related ads in the 40s and 50s and I think for sure I know who I'm looking at. Then I start second-guessing myself, and before you know it I'm thoroughly confused.
--Allan Holtz

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I went through te same stages. There is no substitute for looking at lots of identifyable material. Doc Vassallo, who taught me in the Yahoo Timely-Atlas group even had binders of every story (photocopied) per artist, so he could leave through them and even determine the style changes per period. And it usually is not very hard. Basic rule: if looks like it might be someone, it probably isn't. Styles are usually very personal and if one artist has done the jonb, it is usually obvious. It's harder when two people work together for a longer period. At Johnstone and Cushing several names stand out: Carl Wexler (for whom we have some solo work in the early forties and a few attributed (Rusty and Dusty) series. I even have one that is signed, I forget what it was for, but it included a clown. Stylistically, I believe he could have been the Gillette artist, but I am just not sure enough. Jack Betts is another one who had his own series (Ben Gay and Nestlé) which he often signed. Similarely Craig Flessel signed a lot of his work, often very small with just CF. But they also seem to have worked on projects together and I have come across many samples when either of them didn't ink their own pencils or inked someone else. Very hard to pull apart. For a while Flessel seems to have set the house style. On the funny side we have Rube Goldberg, Stan Randell and Ronald Coe - all of whom signed a lot. But the biggest problem is with Browne and Fox. They worked together so much, that it is hard to establish which ads are by either of them solo, or together. I thought I had a handle on Browne (see my new article in Hogan's Alley on Browne's earlier Haenigsen influenced style), but your post send me doubting again! Point is, that Dik Browne was out of the ad game by then, fully busy with Hi and Lois (which had added a Sunday) and the kid strip he did for Boy's Life. I assumed he must have been paid a lot for these and added them. But your remark about seeing Ketcham is true. Which points to the idea that these ads could very well be the work of Gill Fox - who was wortking in the Ketcham style for his daily panel Wilbert and more importantly, on the intermittent Sunday filler Bumper To Bumper. And he assisted Browne on the Boy's Life strip. So if I have misjudged Fox's contribution to Boy's Life and I add the gags he did for the Under The Hood advertising comic (which I scanned but have nbot shared yet) these ads may actually be by Gill Fox on his own!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I have to add, the timing of these ads show that it might be a team effort as well. They are earlier than I thought and Browne had not yet started the Sunday Hi and Lois.

Allan Holtz said...

Hi Ger --
Gee, you were supposed to reply that no matter what you can always tell from the way the eyes are drawn, or the hands, or whatever, and describe the secret key to unlock everything. Not sporting, old chap, to say that it's actually really freaking hard. I want a refund for my pricey subscription to this blog.


Ger Apeldoorn said...

John Vadeboncoeur Jr. used to annoy the hell out of me by saying: because I see it. But it is right, in the end it is a very intuitive process. All I can teach is tom be more honest while looking. Don't give in to your wishes. On the other hand, John also held unto attributions that made no sense time- or locationwise, saying someone must have worked on something, when he could not have been there in any way. Case in point for me is one I will show saturday. I have an ad that I am completely sure is by Gill Fox (possibly inked by someone else). Why? Because it screams Fox to me. I can try and pinpoit what it is, but mostly, it's having looked at something else for a long time and just recognizing that. And sorry, but we don't do refunds.