Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hawkshaw the Detective

MONK COMICS. Gus Mager’s comic strip Hawkshaw the Detective ran from February 23, 1913, to September 24, 1922. The strip was a continuation of Sherlocko the Monk which was one of a number of alternating characters — Knocko the Monk, Braggo the Monk, Rhymo the Monk, Colfeeto the Monk, Tightwaddo the Monk, Henpecko the Monk — in an earlier series of Monk comics which ran from 1904 to 1912. Sherlocko starred in a Sunday page which was renamed Hawkshaw the Detective in 1913. The strip was revived between 1931 and 1952.

1912 [1] Sherlocko the Monk. The Adventure of the Flying Rumor, July 24.
HAWKSHAW. Originally ‘Hawkshaw’ was the name of the detective character in the melodrama The Ticket of Leave Man, written by Tom Taylor, comic writer and editor of Punch, in 1863. The Ticket of Leave Man was introduced to American readers in a serial novelization published in The Flag of our Union for March 1865. Bob Brierly; or, the Ticket-of-Leave Man was published by Robert M. DeWitt in 1867, under the byline “Henry L. Williams Jr.”

c.1912 [2] Sherlocko original art. 
1913 [3] Hawkshaw the Detective – The Affair of the Bank Messenger, June 22.
1911 [4] Gus Mager.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kootenay Newspaper Pioneer – “Colonel” R.T. Lowery

“Colonel” Lowery Passes On […] A journalistic pioneer, and a humorist and satirist of the old school; a man of loveable nature and yet one most warmly damned by men too narrow in vision and too selfish by nature to understand his character… Okanagan Commoner, June 2, 1921
The Puritans opposed bear-baiting on Sunday, not because it gave pain to the bears, but because it gave pleasure to the people. — Thomas Babington Macauley 
Someone says that Colonel Lowery once caught a fish in Kootenay Lake and tamed it so it would eat out of his hand and follow him like a dog. Was that the fish that fell off the Nelson boat and got drowned? The Phoenix Pioneer, July 31, 1915 

1892 [1] Advertisement in The Miner, June 18.

by John Adcock
IN 1886 two American men named Hall and Oakes, from Colville, Washington, found copper-silver deposits on Toad Mountain, near Nelson, British Columbia, setting off a rush to the West Kootenay that attracted miners and fortune-seekers from Eastern Canada, the U.S. and Europe. In 1887 the two men staked out four claims called The Silver King, the Kootenay Bonanza, the American Flag and the Kohinoor. Mining towns sprang up all over the place and newspapers “on wheels” followed them.

1895 [2] Nelson.
IN PRINT. The first printing presses in the Kootenay’s, one belonging to R.T. Lowery, were two old American army models sent over the mountains by mule in 1893. John Houston used a rowboat to float an army press from Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho to Nelson, B.C., where he started a newspaper, called The Miner, followed by The Tribune. His press claimed to have published the first newspapers at Kaslo and Slocan City. Houston and his foreman, Colonel Charles Ink, started the Nelson Miner newspaper on June 21, 1890. John Houston would become the first mayor of Nelson, B.C. in 1897. Also living in Nelson at the time was Colonel E.S. Topping, the American born founder of Trail, B.C.

“Colonel” Robert Thornton Lowery, newspaper editor, publisher, financier and tramp printer was born in Ontario on April 12, 1856, where he started a newspaper called the Petrolia Topic. After a brief ownership he sold out and arrived at the Kootenay silver district of British Columbia in 1893. Buying a Washington Press and metal type fonts he began his boomtown newspaper career at Kaslo, B.C. with a weekly Freethought journal titled Lowery’s Claim, founded in 1893. Kaslo was situated on the west shore of Kootenay Lake, once known as Flat Bow Lake. A fall in silver prices and a shuttered bank put an early end to the Kaslo Claim.
In years gone by he [Lowery] has had an eventful career in the mining camps of British Columbia. When publishing in Kaslo, British Columbia, he predicted the collapse of the mining boom in that town and was nearly lynched for his truthfulness. He got out a farewell issue of his paper. On the first page was a tombstone made of printers’ rule and over it the inscription, “Busted B-gosh.” The issue contained the unpaid advertisements turned upside down as a gentle reminder to the delinquents. After that he jumped the town. The Inland Printer, Vol. 38, Nov, 1906 

c.1895 [3] Kaslo.
The last issue also carried Lowery’s farewell editorial to Kaslo:
Such is life in the wild and silvery west. One day a prospective millionaire — the next nothing to live on but wind and one of Burke’s checks. In lieu of crepe we have hung the printing office towel on the door knob. Turn off the gas, ring down the curtain and exclaim, “The play is over, the flag is hauled down. The Kaslo Claim is dead, extremely dead. 

1892 [4] The Miner.
SLUMPS. The slump in silver in 1893 was followed in the early spring of 1894 by a great fire which wiped out one side of Front Street and left a shantytown of tents for dwellings. In the summer snowmelt from the Selkirk Mountains flooded the Lake, fifteen times higher than any previous flood. On June 3, 1893 “the whole of the Kootenay country was visited by a terrible cyclone, accompanied by a scorching wind (…) torrent of rain and terrific thunder and lightning.” The wind propelled massive waves off the Lake which tore through the town and ripped apart the houses. The town was destroyed and once again the people settled in tents. By 1895 there was a second mining boom at Kaslo and the Nelson Miner described the town as it was then:
Kaslo is a thoroughly American mining town, and consequently it is not altogether the peaceful and prosperous hamlet that might be met with in the farming districts of Ontario. It is a busy bustling place with more saloons than there appears at first sight to be any necessity for. The streets are roughly graded, in many the stumps of trees and huge rocks are left standing. 

REAL PAPERS. After he left Kaslo “Colonel” Lowery moved on to Nakusp, B.C. where he published a real newspaper called The Ledge, beginning October 5, 1893, puffed ever after as “the oldest mining camp paper in British Columbia.” The Ledge was published out of New Denver between June 6, 1895, and December 29, 1898. Lowery recruited a newcomer to New Denver, one Jim Grier, as his printer’s devil. He started a handful of other newspapers; the Sandon Paystreak (1896), The Slocan Drill (April 5, 1900), and the Poplar Nugget (Dec 4, 1903).

1905 [5] The Ledge, March 1.
“Colonel” Lowery Passes On, in Okanagan Commoner, June 2, 1921: 
For seven years, from 1897 to 1904, it was our good fortune to live in the Slocan and to be a co-worker with “Colonel” Lowery. We look back upon those days as a time never to be forgotten. It was in the boom days of the Silvery Slocan, the heyday of poker and blackjack, of wine and Scotch, and the strenuous life in the oldest profession on earth (…) If “wine and women” meant sin and noise and frolic mean hell, then hell “broke loose” frequently in the Lowery days of the Silvery Slocan, and the Lord must have loved it for we had so much of it (…) and these were the days, this the atmosphere wherein Col. Lowery lived at peace with his fellows and the universe. His greatest trouble was in escaping from the wiles of the wealthy widow that ever pursued him, for he was a bachelor and had no children.
     In those days we printed at the Ledge office, New Denver, in addition to the Ledge itself – an 8-page seven-column newspaper – the inside pages of the Lardeau “Eagle,” then run by Johnny Langstaff (now in the Customs’ Office at Vernon), and of the Sandon Paystreak, and also put out monthly Lowery’s Claim, a magazine which for a time created some noise, but was finally ruled out of the mails by puny post office officials more pious than prayerful.
1895 [6] New Denver.
20th C. With the new century the old mining towns were rapidly filling up with pious politicians, pastors, business men and their families. Drinking, gambling and even Sunday fishing became subject to the new blue laws. At this period Lowery was at his most vigorous in attacking the religionists and political authorities. In December 1901 the Canadian Pacific Railway boycotted Lowery’s Claim, banishing newsvendors from selling it on the trains. Worse was to come.

ATTACKS. On January 13, 1902 the Post Office department prohibited Lowery’s Claim from transmission by post on the grounds that it “contained articles offending against decency and good morals.” The ban lasted through 1903 but, luckily, Lowery ran another Kootenay newspaper, The Ledge, published at New Denver at the time, and used it as a pulpit to attack the Post Office while appealing. Meanwhile he published another humorous magazine, The Ozonogram, out of Vancouver. Lowery’s Claim was reinstated on the promise of future good behavior.

1900 [7] The Ledge’s masthead.
TRAMPING THE COUNTRY. Lowery, suffering ill-health, temporarily suspended publication in June 1902 and after a holiday in Ontario returned to the Kootenay’s to begin a long period of peripatetic publishing. With his subscription list in his pocket, Lowery tramped the country with a printer’s devil, publishing “on wheels” from every mining town wherever he happened to be. From late 1901 until 1906 he was publishing both The Ledge and Lowery’s Claim from a whirlwind of West Kootenay towns; Kaslo, Slocan City, Nakusp, Sandon, New Denver, Enderby, Nelson, Rossland, Fernie, Greenwood and Grand Forks. In 1903 he was temporarily publishing at Vancouver, B.C.

c.1900 [8] Nelson Street scene.
The office of LOWERY’S CLAIM is in a pleasant locality, one where the sun shines, the birds sing, and the cows do not break in and steal. It is within a few yards of a bank, church, saloon, coffee mill, coffin emporium, and the office of a dynamite factory. It is bounded on the east by a potato patch, on the west by a sidewalk, on the north by a brass band college, while to the south the Board of Trade building silently stands guard, like a stranded ship in still water. The Claim Office, in Lowery’s Claim, October, 1905, Nelson, B.C.

FINES. The Lord’s Day Act was passed on July 12, 1906, regulating the movement of railways, vessels and buying and selling on Sundays. Sunday games and contests were banned outright, punishable by $10 fines.

1905 [9] August 16.
It is better to have seven merry, joyful days than six groaning with wage slavery and the seventh tied to a church door like crepe to the house where someone is dead. Lowery’s Claim, Oct 1905

OBSCENE. Lowery began a sustained attack on politics and religion in the Claim’s pages. He also spoke a little too frankly of sexuality in its pages. After reading Lowery’s Claim, no. 35, July 1906, the post office declared the articles “of a low order, most of them being indecent and obscene” and barred use of the mail once again. The last number was issued on September, 1906, from Nelson, B.C.

c.1900 [10] Columbia Avenue, Rossland.
Confucius said: “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to yourself.” Five hundred years later Christ said: “As ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them.” All of which proves that master minds often have similar thoughts, even when centuries intervene, and the Associated Press was still unborn.
Any person who lives up to the Golden Rule is a truly good man, be he the follower of Christ or Confucius or Tom Paine, and is entitled to share the honey of heaven if there be such a place, in spite of the fact that Taoists, Baptists, Buddhists, Catholics, Mohommedans, Presbyterians and scores of other sects claim that they have all the angel territory pre-empted for their special use. If there be a New Jerusalem it should be the abode of all good men without respect to creed, color, race or nation. — Robert Lowery, in Lowery’s Claim, no. 33, 1906

1903 [11] Humanitarian Review.
CANADA LIBERTY. Also in September, Lowery, “publisher of a Freethought paper which he calls Lowery’s Claim,” wrote a letter from Nelson, B.C. to the editor of the southern California based Humanitarian Review saying:

Owing to ill-health and being shut out of the mails, I will suspend the Claim. Liberty is dying in Canada; it is the only country on earth that refuses me the use of the mails.

1903 [12] Greenwood.
“Colonel” Lowery Passes On, in Okanagan Commoner, June 2, 1921: 

Twenty years ago Col. Lowry started The Ledge at Nakusp, when the place was a red hot railway construction camp and it required four policemen to keep order. The Ledge and the Colonel have been located in several places since then, but Greenwood will probably be their abode for some time to come. The Colonel is one of the last of the real old time Kootenay publishers, John Houston, F.J. Deane, Col. Egan, Charlie Ink and some of the others having gone to push clouds with the angels, as the Col. himself would put it.

ENDING. The final home to Lowery was Greenwood, known as the “Boundary,” where his old printer’s devil from New Denver, James Grier, helped run The Ledge. Lowery settled in, spending winters in California for health reasons and publishing The Ledge until 1920. He was also financier and owner of the Similkameen Star, published at Princeton in 1914-18. ‘Colonel’ Robert Thornton Lowery died of Bright’s disease at the Grand Forks, B.C. hospital on Friday, May 20, 1921, aged 65. On May 24 a number of his Greenwood associates and his brother Samuel accompanied his remains to “his favorite town” at Nelson, B.C., and laid him to rest. The funeral was held under the supervision of the old-timers’ association of British Columbia.

1900 [13] Map of the Kootenays.
Col. Lowery was a man that one did not have to agree with to be his friend. He recognized that men must differ in opinion while life lasts. He died at the age of 65. He did not leave a fortune. He made money in the printing business but did not save it. In the old days he played poker with the best of them, and lean journalistic months always meant fat poker periods. He was a most religious man, but his church was the Great Out-of-Doors. His God was the God of Goodness and a Square Deal. He would have nothing to do with orthodox churchianity, and this feeling was reciprocated by the church for him. Honors being even there was no dispute necessary and there was the best of feeling between them. “Colonel” Lowery Passes On, in Okanagan Commoner, June 2, 1921

c.1890 [14] Portrait of R.T. Lowery.
DOG PETE. The author of “Colonel” Lowery Passes On was probably Jim Grier, whose own roll of  newspaper proprietorships contained the Midway Advance, Boundary Creek Times, Phoenix News, Greenwood Daily Times, Greenwood Miner, West Fork News and The Slocan. His dog was immortalized by R.T. Lowery in the Greenwood Ledge in 1913:

A TRIBUTE TO A DOG. — The print shop in New Denver is tinged with gloom. Jim Grier has lost his dog Pete. It is feared that the beautiful animal may have fallen down the chute of a sausage mill or been borrowed from some pirate from Silverton. Pete was a perfect canine picture, with a classical face, and a sad, far away expression in his limpid eyes. He might have been a sunflower before reincarnation dumped him into the Lucerne of America. Pete was a talented dog, and could eat a chunk of liver without using a fork or saying grace. He was honest and never touched any of the pie in the office, licked the paste, nor chewed the roller composition. He was not big enough to eat delinquent subscribers, but he could chase a chicken a mile without losing his dignity. Pete had a musical strain; his nightly singing to Luna was just as sweet as the rendition of Home Sweet Home in Gaelic. However, like a fallen star Pete has “went,” the towel hangs on the knob of the print shop door, and the neighborhood is blanketed by a wide ledge of silent gloom.


Sources: B.C. Historical Newspapers
at the University of British Columbia Library

Friday, December 25, 2015

To the little children of Belgium – Christmas 1914


The Tale of a Belgian Hare 
Frances Ebbs-Canavan 
Lillian Clarke Sweeney.

“To the little children of Belgium
deprived of their homes and their birth-right,
this favorite story of some of her little children 
is lovingly dedicated.

Victoria, B.C.    Christmas 1914.”
Images courtesy of Jaleen Grove

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Importance of Mr. Peewee

[1] Mr. Peewee by MacGill, September 16, 1903.

MR. PEEWEE. The American-Journal-Examiner, Hearst’s San Francisco newspaper, was the first newspaper to publish consecutive daily newspaper strips. On January 31, 1903, appeared a one-shot gag strip called The Importance of Mr. Peewee by Ed Flinn. Harold Arthur MacGill (1875-1950) revived the character Mr. Peewee as a daily from September 9, 1903 and it ran until at least September 23, 1904, under a variety of artists including Fred Long and a cartoonist who signed visually with a bulldog in a tiny frame. This is based on following the cartoons in the New York World so might not be entirely accurate. The last strip I found was a cartoon drawn by MacGill in the Salt Lake Herald titled The Whole Peewee Family on March 1, 1908. So, did the strip run until 1908 or was the 1908 cartoon just a one-shot nostalgic remembrance by MacGill?

[2] H.A. MacGill, May 25, 1919.
Harold Arthur MacGill was born in Canada, in an as yet unidentified city, on November 5, 1875. His September 1918 draft registration card identifies him as a declared alien and states his present occupation as a cartoonist in the employ of Frank Munsey of New York and his next of kin as Agnes MacGill. He resided at Bayside, Queens, New York. 

[3] Percy and Ferdie, March 14, 1916.
“Cupples & Leon sold nearly 6,000,000 copies of the Percy and Ferdie series by H.A. MacGill and issued Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff in a first printing of 1,000,000. Bringing up Father, by George MacManus, also sold in the millions.” — Fifty Years of Bestsellers
[4] Percy and Ferdie, April 21, 1922.

H.A. MacGill’s title The Hall-Room Boys, later titled Percy and Ferdie, his second comic strip, was copyrighted June 10, 1905; the next two strips appeared June 14 and 15, 1905. To discover if it appeared daily and consecutively or sporadically, the newspapers were not available. March 2, 1915, was the last available copyright date on that title, Percy and Ferdie began March 14, 1916. Just previous to this he had been drawing the daily title The 2nd Mrs. Mack.

[5] Mr. Peewee by Bulldog (a visual signature), January 19, 1904.
[6] Dozens of New York cartoonists and caricaturists pictured at their Beefsteak Dinner. Photo from The Fourth Estate, October 10, 1908.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merkl’s DINOMANIA – McCay – Dinosaur Monsters – New York – King Kong

[1] 1905 — Git App! McCay’s very first dinosaur — drawn as ‘Silas’ with respect for the ‘paleontological facts…’ Dinosaur-jockey panel from Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, 4 March.
by Huib van Opstal

WORSHIP. For five years Ulrich Merkl has been chiseling away at his second book about Winsor McCay — Dinomania; The Lost Art of Winsor McCay, the Secret Origins of King Kong, and the Urge to Destroy New York — available now.

Ulrich Merkl (b.1965) is a German historian, a tireless researcher, writer and designer who lives and works in eastern Germany near Chemnitz, in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. This large-sized book in words and images is about much, much more than dinosaurs and comic strips alone. Many full-page newspaper pages are reproduced in it. It certainly is the book for McCay worshipers.

[2] 1910-11 — The lines of McCay (as Silas) in close-up.
LINE DRAWN. Winsor McCay (1869-1934) did not have a particularly well-drawn line. Seen in close-up his lines were rarely singular and clearly drawn in hurried fashion. He manically scratched on in multifold-line mode. Outlines in his comic strips he often made thicker, giving panels and pages the look of lead framework in stained glass. 

For the period around 1911 when he made his pioneering animated movies — films for which he made all in-between drawings himself, in pen on paper, thousands and thousands of them, for once inking in an even singular line to ensure the best registration — Merkl describes McCay’s working method as:
‘…Religiously adhering to a schedule of seventeen working hours a day, and drawing in lightning fashion…’
[3] 1910-11 — The Giant Hand. A regular nightmare in the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend series, 2 February 1913. A strip actually drawn 2 or 3 years earlier.
A GIANT. What made McCay a real giant in the American comic strip field though, in the early 1900s, was his mastery of other vital aspects of the comic drawing trade. His mastery as a composer of giant newspaper strip designs in beaux arts styling, or his beautiful colouring and page layouts, or his giant editorial cartoons. His zany dream and nightmare subjects and various other absurdities make you nearly forget the plotless aspect of the larger part of his strips. 

Merkl’s two visual McCay books (this is his second) automatically stimulate your viewing because McCay absorbed many influences from many sources, and Merkl attempts to find them all. Dinomania has a glossary, an index, a bibliography and notes, and is chockfull of annotation and inspiration. Bless you Ulrich, for your dandy finds, although the design and reproduction choices made in it gave me nightmares.

PICTURE RHYME. Here’s some lovely picture rhyme proof I found last month of the similarities between a real mining machine as seen by photographer Lewis Hine (b.1874), and a machine-like dinosaur as drawn by Winsor McCay.

[4] 1908 — PICTURE A. Mining machine photo by Lewis Hine who noted: ‘Machine used in Gary, West Virginia, mine that digs the coal and loads it on the car. With it 3 men can do the work of 50 in the old way. Yet they use boys to drive and trap.’
[5] 1933 — PICTURE B. ‘Frightened By A Word — Technocracy,’ pagewide drawing by McCay, in San Francisco Examiner, Sunday 2 April, illustrating an Arthur Brisbane editorial.
[6] 1905 — Disaster comic. Watching a circus parade, the eternally sneezing Little Sammy destroys half a New York city street. Large comic book cover.
[7] 1934 — DINO. McCay’s long lost Dino strip, a cut out panel of original art.
[8] 1928 — THE ŒUVRE. The cover of Frans Masereel’s L’Œuvre; Soixante Bois Gravés, a story in sixty woodcuts with nearly no text.
[9] 1928 — THE ŒUVRE. Masereel’s story begins with a man who chisels away at a giant statue; a full-page woodcut.
[10] 1928-33 — THE ŒUVRE vs KING KONG. Ulrich Merkl’s picture rhyme proof of the similarities between Masereel’s Belgian book L’Œuvre (1928) and the American monster movie King Kong (1933), produced by Merian C. Cooper.
[11] 1928-33.
[12] 1928-33.    
[13] 2015 — At present Ulrich Merkl is working on his third McCay book: the biography of Winsor McCay.

DINOMANIA is published by Fantagraphics Books, 674 numbered illustrations, 296 pages, 40 x 30 cm (16 x 11.75 inch), hardback with dust jacket, ISBN 978-1-60699-840-3.

See and read more of Ulrich Merkl’s Dinomania in his own article last year in Yesterday’s Papers HERE.

Read Huib van Opstal’s review ‘Dreams and Obsessions on Shelf and Screen’ of Ulrich Merkl’s first McCay book plus CD from 2006 — The complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1904-1913) by Winsor McCay ‘Silas’ HERE.

See the Dinomania book for: [1] on page 77, [2] on 162-163, [3] on 174, [5] on 158-159 and the flyleaves, [6] on 171, [7] on 4 and 16 and the dust jacket, [10] [11] [12] on 208. The pictures [4], [8] and [9] are added here by Yesterday’s Papers.