Monday, September 19, 2016

Comics: Bob Laughlin, Letterer and Artist


Robert Gordon Laughlin
Birth: September 18, 1925, Englewood, New Jersey

1930 United States Federal Census
Name / Age
William H Laughlin, 32 [Advertising Writer/Subway Card Advertising]
Gwendolyn Laughlin, 31
Virginia J Laughlin, 7
Robert G Laughlin, 4
317 Westview Avenue, Leonia, Bergen, New Jersey

1940 United States Federal Census
Name / Age
William H Laughlin, 43 [Advertising/Railways]
Gwendolyn Laughlin, 41
Virginia Laughlin, 17
Robert Laughlin, 14
317 Westview Avenue, Leonia, Bergen, New Jersey

Leonia High School
1942 Leonia Lore (Yearbook)
The Leonian, Art Editor
Junior Class
































Leonia High School
1943 Leonia Lore (Yearbook)
The Leonian, Art Editor
Senior Class




































World War II Army Enlistment
Enlistment Date: December 3, 1943
Enlistment Location: Newark, New Jersey

Heritage Auctions
Harvey Comics correspondence from Robert Laughlin (circa 1947).


















Fawcett Companion: The Best of FCA, Fawcett Collectors of America

P. C. Hamerlinck
TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001
page 29: Photograph of Fawcett artists
page 104–105: Laughlin interview

Alter Ego
Vol. 3, #65, February 2007
Laughlin mentioned

Alter Ego
Vol. 3, #118, July 2014
Laughlin mentioned

American Newspaper Comics
Allan Holtz
University of Michigan Press, 2012
Cuffy comic strip syndicated by Select Features Syndicate and published from 1963 to 1964.

Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 18, Part 1, Number 1, Books and Pamphlets, January-June 1964
page 496: Laughlin, Robert G.
Cuffy. By Bob Laughlin. © Robert G. Laughlin. v.1, no. 1. © 11May64; A699646.

Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 21, Parts 7–11A, Number 2, Works of Art, July–December 1967
page 238: Laughlin, Robert G.
World series baseball cards. [1903 Pirates vs. Red Sox & 64 others] Prints on 7 sheets. © Robert G. Laughlin; 17Oct67; K81036.

Kitz ‘n’ Katz

Cartoonews
No. 10, 1976
pages 11–14

Legacy.com
Robert G. “Bob” Laughlin

Death: May 14, 2006, Southbury, Connecticut
The Record (Woodland Park, New Jersey), May 17 to May 20, 2006
Laughlin – Robert ‘Bob’ G., cartoonist, of Southbury, CT, formerly of Westfield, NJ, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 14 at age 80. Mr. Laughlin was born on September 18, 1925, in Leonia, NJ, the son of Gwendolyn D. and William H. Laughlin. After graduating from Leonia High School where he was a star pitcher on the baseball team, Bob served in the U.S. Army during WW II at Fort Bragg, NC from 1943 to1945. 


For several years Bob was the final preparation artist for George Gately, creator of the comic strip Heathcliff. He was also a brilliantly talented cartoonist himself, creating and publishing several original comic strips. Included in his portfolio were “Freddie Fumbles”, carried by Mechanix Illustrated, “Cuffy” the cat, carried by Cat Fancy Magazine, and “Rufus” the dog, carried by Dog Fancy Magazine.

 In the 1980’s Bob created “Kitz and Katz Komiks,” about a whimsical pair of cats, one black and one white, who just could never seem to solve the dilemma of “who’s who?” as they cavorted about their world among a cast of supportive characters, “Nootin” the squirrel, “Kozy” the cat and “Wowbow” the backwards barking dog, just to name few. 

Bob also created several collector series baseball cards for the Fleer Gum Corporation. His artistic talents also ranged to watercolor and wood working. Bob was a lover of crossword puzzles, games, music, and played the piano. Mr. Laughlin was “a loving husband, father and grandfather.” His soft spoken ways and sense of humor were appreciated by all who met him. He loved his craft and was a devoted fan and collector of Krazy Kat by the comic artist George Herrimann. Bob was also an avid New York Yankees fan. 

He was the husband of Florence Laughlin (formerly Florence MacDowell) of Southbury, CT, formerly of Westfield, NJ. Florence and Bob were married in 1978 and resided in Westfield, NJ until 2004. In addition to his wife, Mr. Laughlin is survived by his daughter Holly Bardes and son-in-law George of Dumont, NJ, his late daughter Wendy Deserio of Palisades Park, NJ, Nancy MacDowell - Kaye of Redding, CT, Tom MacDowell of Littleton, MA, his grandsons Jim Bardes, George Bardes, Christopher Deserio, granddaughters Jamie Deserio, and the late Christine Bardes. 

Memorial services will be held Friday, May 19 at 2 PM at Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home located at 235 Main Street North, Southbury, CT.

Further Reading
Lambiek Comiclopedia
Who’s Who in American Comic Books 1928–1999


Related Posts
Ben Oda
Irv Watanabe
Morrie Kuramoto
Artie Simek
Ira Schnapp and here
Martin DeMuth


(Next post on Monday: Crosscup & West Engravers)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Alphabets: ITC Alphabet Soups


International Typeface Corporation
ITC Typeface Directory, 1984
52 page catalog; selected pages













































(Next post on Monday: Bob Laughlin, Letterer and Artist)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Anatomy of a Logo: The Freeman



The Freeman was an illustrated African-American newspaper that debuted July 14, 1888, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Most of the issues can be viewed here. Above is the masthead from the third issue. The new year brought a new masthead, below.


J Wilton Cunningham

The Freeman masthead of 1889 was engraved by a person who also did portraits that were initialed “JWC” (the C looks like a G). The engraver signed his name on the left end of the ribbon. The name, as it appears above, is partially legible. There is the initial “J”, middle name “Wilton”, surname “Cunningham” and two letters. The 1889 Indianapolis city directory has someone named Joseph W. Cunningham but he was a teamster. An artist or engraver named Cunningham has not been found in Indianapolis. Apparently Cunningham did not live in Indianapolis. There was an artist, John Wilton Cunningham, who was born in 1868 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a St. Louis, Missouri resident when he died in Texas on August 28, 1903. The St. Louis Republic published an obituary the following day. 

The publisher, Edward E. Cooper, described what he wanted to Cunningham who submitted a sketch or sketches. The approved sketch may have been developed into a detailed drawing and used as a guide for the engraving. 

A new masthead was introduced in the 1889 year-end issue.



TUCKER. DEL.

Moses L. Tucker created the masthead that debuted December 21, 1889. His name appeared under the right-half of the ribbon, as seen above. I don’t know what “Del.” stands for. The publisher and Tucker probably discussed what would be in the masthead. In Pioneer Cartoonists of Color (2016) author and cartoonist Tim Jackson examines Tucker’s masthead.

Tucker was profiled and pictured in The Freeman, June 8, 1889.



The Freeman
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
June 8, 1889
page 1: Moses L. Tucker
Artist of Atlanta, Ga.
Moses L. Tucker was born in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 30th, 1868, where he has lived most of his time.

He always displayed talent for drawing. Having to work in the day, he found the evenings best for study. What little he has accomplished was under adverse circumstances.

In the year of ’86 he was employed as shipping clerk in a book publishing house. It was at this place that he improved himself the most, as he was where he could see and read the works of some of the best artists.

One day a gentleman gave him a subject to draw, to illustrate a little story. After he had completed it, he carried it to this gentleman, who submitted it to the publishers (Atlanta Engraving Company.) They were much pleased with it, and they sought to employ him. Thinking this a good chance to improve himself, he resigned his place at the publishing house and began to work for the Atlantic Engraving Co.

After he had been with this company for about three months, they began to publish a paper called the Cracker. The idea struck one of the firm that Moses’ drawings could be used by them. After this there was hardly an issue that did not have some of his drawings in it.

Some of his original comic pictures were copied by the eastern and western papers quite extensively. He has several comments that he clipped from the leading newspapers. He remained with the Cracker until it suspended publication.


1890 Indianapolis City Directory
Edward E Cooper
Publisher The Freeman
18 1/2 N Penn
home 518 N West

Moses L. Tucker
Engraver, The Freeman
boards 518 N West

The Freeman
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
April 2, 1892
page 8: Adjudged Insane. 
For a number of months Moses L. Tucker, formerly cartoonist on The Freeman, has at times acted so oddly, that the impression began to obtain that he was gradually losing his mind. Some weeks ago it became necessary to sever our business relations with him, since which time he has gone from bad to worse. His hobby was that some one had poisoned him, and that the motormen of the electric lines were in a plot to annoy him. Last Saturday a Commission on Lunacy set on his case, and declared him “non compus mentis.” He was taken to the Hospital for the Insane. Some three years ago, when The Freeman first discovered Tucker, he was a young man of much promise and talent, and had he pursued the proper course, would have taken a high place among the noted “cartoonists” of the day. He has at different times furnished work for Texas Siftings, Judge and other periodicals, but certain injurious, secret habits, and excessive cigarette smoking, in the end, sapped both his mental and physical vigor. His condition is a sad one, and full of suggestiveness for thousands of young men everywhere.



In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Tucker was the second of three children born to Jacob, a laborer, and Ann, a laundress. They lived in Atlanta, Georgia. The family remained in Atlanta and had grown by five children in the 1880 census. The 1900 census recorded Tucker as an inmate at the “Marion County Poor Asylum” in Wayne, Indianapolis. According to the 1910 census, Tucker was a patient at the asylum in Warren, Indianapolis. A family tree at Ancestry.com said Tucker passed away March 30, 1926.


G.A. TOPP. SC. INDPLS.


A new masthead appeared on the May 31, 1890 issue of The Freeman. This masthead remained in use until the newspaper ceased publishing in 1916. The masthead was engraved by George Augustus Topp, of Indianapolis, whose name can be seen above. Presumably the publisher described what he wanted in the design. According to the death certificate, Topp was born January 5, 1869 in Indianapolis. Topp’s parents, Charles and Joanna, were German emigrants. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, the Topp family resided in Center, Indiana. Indianapolis city directories, from 1888 to 1893, listed Topp as a wood engraver or engraver. Topp was not in the 1894 directory. In 1895, Topp had a tool manufacturing business, G.A. Topp & Company. In the 1900 census, Topp lived with his father on a farm in Indianapolis. Topp, a dairyman, worked for a dairy farm in the 1910 census. He has not yet been found in the 1920 census. According to the 1930 census, Topp married when he was 53 years old. Topp, an ice house foreman, and 37-year-old wife, Thelma, lived in Indianapolis at 134 21 Street. In the 1940 census, they resided across the street at 139 21 StreetTopp passed away August 26, 1946, in Indianapolis.

***

While researching The Freeman newspaper, I came across the work of Henry Jackson Lewis. The best biography of Lewis is at Common-Place which discusses Lewis’ range of birth dates.

Lewis was counted twice in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Lewis and his family resided in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where Lewis’s occupation was laborer. His age was 40 and birthplace in Iowa. Common-Place said Lewis’ birth was in Mississippi. Lewis was also counted in Monticello, Arkansas, where he was an artist. The Mississippi native was 27 years old. Monticello is about 45 miles south of Pine Bluff. Lewis’ family was in Pine Bluff while he worked in Monticello for a period of time. Below are details of the 1880 census. 





Here are engravings, based on drawings by Lewis, from 1883 issues of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.








Next are newspaper articles and listings of Lewis in Indianapolis city directories.

(Indiana)
November 24, 1889
page 16: Relied on Himself.
A Colored Man Who Acquired an Art without the Assistance of an Instructor.
At the end of a long, dark and narrow hallway, on the south side of Washington street, in the most uninviting quarters, a Journal reporter found a wood-engraver’s shop. Strange to say the engraver was a colored man, and quite as odd in appearance as any character Dickens gave to the world. Indeed, as bis face broke through the gloom of tho darkened room, with a ragged patch covering bis left eye, the cheek beneath glazed and knotted as though scared with molten metal, the reporter could not help being reminded of the man in Bleak House who assisted George, the trooper, about the shooting gallery. The left hand of this colored man also showed, as did his face, marks of the fire, the flesh of fingers being twisted out of shape, and in some places ploughed almost to the bone.

Lying upon the work-bench before him were several pine blocks upon which he had carved out letters, evidently for poster work. “I never had any instruction,” said the worker, putting aside the block upon which he was engaged and laying down his burin, “I jest picked it up like. My home is at Pine Bluff, Ark., and I am thirty-one years old. I believe I could have made more progress at this if I had begun earlier, but I began only four years ago. I learned something about the carpenter’s trade, but being out of work I went up to Little Rock and got a place as porter in a printing office a newspaper called the Gazette. The paper had illustrations sometimes, chiefly outline cuts and the engravers were white men. I just picked it up, as I said. I watched the men at work drawing and engraving and I tried my hand at it. I haven’t but one eye, but that is a good one in judging of form and size.”

The reporter asked him is to his eye, and was told by the engraver that while an infant he fell into an open fireplace and was badly burned. “I came to Indianapolis,” said he, “in January, last, to work at the Freeman office, in making wood cuts, and most of the cartoons published in that paper, until recently, were made by me as were the engravings generally.” The work done by this colored man, who is wholly without education, is only remarkable when his opportunities and surroundings are taken into consideration. The surprising thing about it is, not that he does the work so well, but that he should be able to do it at all. He does wood engraving, mechanical and freeland [sic] drawing, India-ink work, and what is called chalk work. As the reporter rose to come away the engraver, whose name is Henry J. Lewis, handed, over a pencil sketch of the Journal man, which he had made while the brief interview was in progress. The drawing was remarkably well done, the pose of the figure and the facial expression being admirable.



1888 Indianapolis, Indiana, City Directory
No listing

1889 Indianapolis, Indiana, City Directory

No listing

1890 Indianapolis, Indiana, City Directory

Name: Henry J Lewis
Street Address: 321 S Olive
Occupation: Engraver


Name: Henry J Lewis
Street Address: 34 Lincoln la.
Occupation: Artist



The Indianapolis Journal
(Indiana)
April 11, 1891
page 8: Death of a Colored Artist.
Henry J. Lewis, the colored man who came to this city from Pine Bluff, Ark., two and a half years ago, and achieved some reputation as an engraver and cartoonist, died yesterday forenoon, at 10 o’clock, of lung disease, at his home on Lincoln lane. He was about thirty-five years old, with no education, except that he could read and write yet his proficiency with the pencil and burin was something remarkable. His idea of form was excellent, and he had little trouble to rapidly reproduce anything that came under his observation. He was far from being attractive in personal appearance, being very careless in that regard, beside which he bad lost an eye, and wore a ragged patch over the sightless and misshapen orb. Yet he was a genius, and with proper direction might have made his way in the world. He had done considerable pictorial work on the Freeman, of this city, and occasionally found sale for a sketch to Puck, Judge or some other of the humorous papers. The sketches he sold to thee papers were chiefly portrayals of negro life in the South, and they were accurate picture taken from his own observation.




The Freeman
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
April 18, 1891
page 8: Obituary
H.J. Lewis, Esq., cartoonist upon The Freeman’s staff for the last two years and a half, died at his home in this city on the 9th inst., of pneumonia. He had not enjoyed good health for a number of months, but nothing serious was thought of his condition until about two weeks ago, when he took his bed for the last time.

Mr. Lewis, in many respects, was a remarkable man, and had his lines been cast in different places, and his earlier years been spent under different skies, surrounded by other influences and aids, the space he would have filled in the world’s notice might have been one that biography would not have spurned, and without the record of which, future encyclopedias would be incomplete. As a portrayer of southern Negro life and a certain phaze [sic] of “white trash” existence, he had no living master. In this respect he was a genius, and when his equal shall come to us again, we do not know. Indeed, the only fault that could be found with Mr. Lewis’ work in this line, was that he builded too well, for so realistic were his sketches that the fine sensitiveness of the race was frequently aroused and offended.

In his artistic career, he has furnished drawings for the Smithsonian Institute, Harper’s Weekly, Puck and Judge. Compared to the allotted time given to man to live, many years yet remained to him. In life’s pilgrimage he had not reached the place that marks the furtherest stage, but for all that, his time for rest had come, and without ado or warning, he sunk into that dreamless sleep,” in contemplation of which, philosophy is confounded, and wisdom’s remotest, vision is insufficient and unavailing.

It were but simple charity to hope that it is well with him to-day, and that death was but an aperture through which his feverish and worn spirit took its way to spheres of higher mysteries, and a completer life, where conditions may not interfere, or man’s narrowness or unfair hatred prevent the full expression of his unique and striking gifts.




In the book Edward Palmer’s Arkansas Mounds (1990), Marvin Jeter wrote “H. J. Lewis died in Indianapolis, on the morning of April 9 or 10, 1891. The cause of death was given as “pneumanitus” on his death certificate….The death certificate also stated that he was buried in Mt. Jackson, Indiana.”

Another Freeman cartoonist was Garfield T. Haywood who was profiled in The Colored American (Washington DC), February 21, 1903, on page three. 


A Hoosier Artist
A Promising Colored Cartoonist Who Is Making His Way to the Front

Negroes have made great names for themselves as poets, musicians, philosophers and soldiers. We have thus demonstrated our versatility of our country and the age. We are not wanting in artists and are justly proud of the eminent place occupied by Henry O. Tanner, an American Negro, in the exclusive salons of the old world. His career has been an inspiration to many other aspiring youths of the race.

One of our most promising young men is Mr. Garfield F. [sic] Haywood, of Indianapolis, Indiana, who has already made an enviable record in the artistic world. With but little, if any instruction, but with a native gift to be recognized. In his earlier years his bent seemed to be drawing [sic] and his marvelous fidelity to nature soon attracted wide attention. He was born in Greencastle, Indiana, in 1880, but soon found the necessity for a wider field, and coming to Indianapolis found not only remunerative employment in humbler walks of life, but opportunity to develop his remarkable talent. There his wonderful felicity as a cartoonist brought him prominently before the people. The Recorder and The Freeman of his adopted city has availed itself of his services on several occasions. Mr. Haywood is still a young man, his talent is unmistakable and he may be regarded as the coming artist of his race. Every such achievement puts to confusion the arguments of our enemies that the race must be like dumb driven animals.

It is an interesting fact in this connection that the first illustrated race journal published in this country was established by Mr. E.E. Cooper, now of The Colored American, in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. It was the Indianapolis Freeman, and the greatest living Negro cartoonist, Mr. Moses L. Tucker, of Georgia, won fame for himself on that paper. Mr. Tucker eventually succumbed to overwork, and in [sic] now confined in the Indiana Asylum at Julietta, Indiana. He was succeeded by Mr. J.H. [sic; H. J.] Lewis, of Pine Buff, Arkansas, also a superior artist. Mr. Lewis has been dead a number of years. Mr. Haywood drew much of his inspiration and knowledge of technique from these two masters of the art, under both of whom he served for some time.

Additional information about Haywood is here.

(Next post on Monday: The Hawkeye Yearbook, 1924–1925)