August 1st, 2012
A few months ago, we received several new graphic novel titles, including two immensely oversized books by Gary Panter. Shortly after that, we had a class come in to look at Medieval manuscripts and the professor also asked if we could get out some modern books influenced by the Medieval. These new graphic novels certainly contained a lot of imagery and symbolism that could be related and they were a hit with the class as well.
Gary Panter was born December 1, 1950 in Durant, Oklahoma. He went to school in Texas, lived in California for a while, and now resides in Brooklyn. In trying to understand Gary Panter, it should be noted that he defies categorization into any genre, and he is an amazingly prolific artist.
He became noticed in the 1970s as a California punk designer of flyers and album art for various bands. At that time, he also exhibited his first major paintings and continues to paint. Panter and Pee Wee Herman began a long collaboration and he designed the sets and puppets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, which garnered him several Emmy awards in the 1980s. He contributed to Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly’s Raw magazineand other comic anthologies. He became a legend in punk and underground comics, influencing such people as Matt Groening. In the 1990s, he published seven issues of his Jimbo comic book. He had designed Jimbo in the 1970s as a sort of alter-ego. He also is a musician and a designer and stager of light shows. And he makes sculptures. This is not an exhaustive list.
In addition to comics, Panter has also published several books featuring Jimbo. Special Collections has the Fantagraphics limited editions of two of them: Jimbo in Purgatory, published in 2004, and Jimbo’s Inferno, published in 2006. Each book is signed and numbered and has a block engraving tipped in. These books are loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. In Jimbo in Purgatory, Jimbo meets icons such as Frank Zappa, John and Yoko, robots and dragons. Each character is a stand-in for a character in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
In Jimbo’s Inferno, Panter borrows dialogue as much from from Lewis Carroll and Frank Zappa as he did from Dante. Hell in Panter’s version is a giant shopping mall called Focky Bocky. Jimbo’s Inferno was awarded the American Book Award in 2007. Panter was the second Fantagraphics published author to win the prestigious award. Joe Sacco’s Palestine was a recipient in 1996.
“Don’t try to pass a pop quiz on Dante’s Hell based on a reading of this comic,” … “It won’t work. Even though the comic is engorged with Dante’s Hell and though Jimbo mouths a super-condensed version of what happens in The Inferno, canto by canto, characters are fused, actions inverted, parodied, subject to mutation by my odd memories and obsessions and whims…” Source
In addition to the Jimbo books, Special Collections holds a copy of an artists’ book, Facetasm : h simulated and real by Gary Panter and Charles Burns. We also have a number of issues of Raw magazine, which he contributed to.
Charles Dana Gibson was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts to a politically active family in 1867. His father was a Civil War Lieutenant and an amateur artist. During a childhood illness, Gibson’s father showed him how to make silhouettes of people and animals. At the age of 12, Gibson entered and won a local art competition. Recognizing his early talent, his parents enrolled him in New York’s Art Students League. After two years of study, he sold his first pen and ink sketch to John Ames Mitchell at Life magazine. It was a cartoon of a dog baying at the moon. Mitchell did not think the work was well executed, but felt the artist had honesty and courage and gave him a chance.
Gibson steadily improved. He sold work to other major magazines and was called on to illustrate books as well. By 1889, he had saved enough to go to Europe to study there. He came back in 1890 to contribute regularly to a number of publications, including a weekly submission to Life. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life around this time. She was a beautiful, confident, athletic, thoroughly modern woman. She was kind but did not suffer fools gladly. She epitomized the turn-of-the-century American ideal of a truly American aristocracy. Not only was she immensely popular, she soon became a marketing bonanza and appeared on a wide variety of items, even wallpaper.
Gibson married Irene Langhorne in 1895. His elegant new bride and her sister, Nancy Astor, served as inspiration for his ever popular Gibson Girls. But even before the end of World War I, the Gibson Girl’s popularity was fading and began to be replaced by John Held’s Flapper, a more modern and fun-loving woman.
Though best know for his cartoons of beautiful women and befuddled men, Gibson also drew cartoons that addressed social and political issues of the day. He and Mitchell were fiery, pro-American war advocates, trying to push the country into World War I as early as 1914.
When John Ames Mitchell died in 1918, Gibson bought the magazine for $1 million. By then, the publishing world had changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though Gibson managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Gibson retired, turning Life over to publisher, Clair Maxwell, and treasurer, Henry Richter. By that time, the magazine had gone from a weekly to a monthly.
Gibson was the president of Society of Illustrators in the 1910s. During World War I, he headed a government agency that produced war posters. On his retirement, he began painting in oil. He died in 1944.
Charles Dana Gibson’s work is part of our digital project on the Images of Life. To see more, go to the Images of Life site. We also have a few books on Gibson such as The Gibson book: a collection of the published works of Charles Dana Gibson and we have a great collection of Life magazines with Gibson’s work.
July 16th, 2012
Our newest digital project, Images From Life, brings some of the classic cartoons, covers, and ads from the first Life magazine out from the archives. Life magazine was founded January 4, 1883 by John Ames Mitchell and Andrew Miller in a New York artist’s studio. Miller served as secretary-treasurer and managed the business side. Mitchell, an illustrator, served as its publisher. He invested in a revolutionary new printing process using zinc-coated plates which improved the reproduction of illustrations and artwork. This helped give Life an edge over its completion from the successful, established humor magazines, Judge and Puck. They hired Edward Sandford Martin, founder of the Harvard Lampoon, as the first literary editor.
Their introductory issue had the motto: “While there’s Life, there’s hope.” They let the readers know that while they would address issues of politics, fashion, society, religion, literature, etc., they would do so with “casual cheerfulness,” speaking fairly, truthfully, and decently. They also wanted to have fun.
By 1893, Life magazine decided to construct its own building. It included studio space and apartments for the artists, to create home within Life’s home. The firm of John Mervyn Carrere and Thomas Hastings created a Beaux Arts building and contracted Philip Martiny to create a sculpture for the entrance of the building. He created Winged Life, the cherub that became the symbol of Life magazine throughout its existence. The building now serves as the Herald Square Hotel. If you go to their site, you will find a lot of information on Life magazine and its artists.
Many famous illustrators and authors were contributors to Life. One of the most important was Charles Dana Gibson who sold his first contribution, an illustration of a dog outside his kennel howling at the moon, to Life for $4. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life in the 1890s. She soon became the nation’s feminine ideal and earned a place in history. Robert Ripley published his first cartoon in Life in 1908 and Norman Rockwell’s first cover for Life was published in 1917. Dr. Seuss submitted cartoons in the late 1920s.
After World War I, the publishing world changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though they managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Though its staff tried hard to keep current, it fought to make a profit in the 1930s. Henry Luce purchased Life in 1936 for its name only.
With Images From Life, we wanted to share some of the legendary art and artists with the SCAD community. Some of the artists are well known, some are not so well known. We also wanted to share some of the advertisements in Life. They are very informative of the time period. If you want to find the collection directly, we will add a link soon, but for now, use the link on the Library’s catalog page for the Don Bluth Collection of Animation. When you get to the Bluth Collection, click on the home option at the top and this will bring you to all of the collections. Just select the Images From Life icon with the cherub. This is a fascinating look at advertising and cartooning history, and we hope you will enjoy looking at is as much as we enjoyed bringing the project to you. We have barely touched the surface of the materials that are available from Life, and are going to continue to add new images as time permits!
July 12th, 2012
Harry Grant Dart was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1869. His worked for a time creating crayon portraits for the National Crayon Company brochures. In the 1890s, he drew for the Boston Herald and then, the New York World. The World sent Dart to Cuba as a sketch artist for important events in the days before photos were common in newspapers. Eventually, he became the art editor of the World.
Around the same time, he started his cartoon strip, the Explorigator. It featured fantastic aircraft with a crew of kids lead by Admiral Fudge. They set out to explore the moon and find the Man in the Moon, moonbeams, a Mood Lady, and Catamarinktum Cave populated by Moon cats. There are even tame watermelons that can be ridden. The strip only ran for 14 weeks in 1908. The strips are available online from Barnacle Press but these are in black and white. To see these amazing comic strips in color, come to Special Collections to see Forgotten fantasy, Sunday comics 1900-1915: visions from Lyonel Feininger, Winsor McCay and many more! edited by Peter Maresca, published in 2011, call number PN6726 .F37 2011.
Dart went on to become a very prolific cartoonist for Life and Judge during the 1920s. He is best known for his futuristic and aviation-oriented cartoons and comic strips. He was very egalitarian and often put women at the helm of his complicated flying machines. He is also known for his detailed cartoons with futuristic speculations. He predicted the press covering sporting events in blimps above the stadium in a 1912 cartoon for Life (see cartoon below). The first baseball game covered by radio was not until 1921. He used a robotic servant in a cartoon from 1911 from Life. He often used an ensemble cast of thousands in a montage of scenarios and locations to illustrate his point. Dart died in New Hampshire in 1938.
June 27th, 2012
We have been working on a new digital project in Special Collections on the old periodical, Life, which was published between 1883 and 1936. It is not like the Life you may remember that was mostly photos. This older Life was like the New Yorker, with reviews, essays, stories, editorials, and best of all, cartoons, political and otherwise. In doing this project, we have discovered some truly original and wonderful artists that we want to share. So, over the next few posts, we will share a few. The first one is considered to be one of the most influential cartoonists of his time: T. S. Sullivant. However, most people never heard of him. He was considered to be a gag cartoonist and the creator of the modern caricature cartooning. If you want to read more about him, The Comics Journal Special Editions, Winter 2002, volume 1, has a great article about him written by Jim Woodring. This issue of Comics Journal is located in Special Collections.
T. S. Sullivant was a true pioneer in the field of cartooning. At a time when most American cartoonists were drawing fairly realistic looking characters and animals, Sullivant drew his figures with exaggerated facial and anatomical features. He inaugurated the big heads and big feet of modern caricature cartooning. Sullivant’s subjects were animals, cave men and women, Biblical characters, and ethnic groups, and his cartoons are as funny today as they were when they were written almost 100 years ago.
Thomas Sterling Sullivant was born in Columbus, Ohio. He may have studied art in Germany, where he lived for several years. He returned to the United States in 1885 and moved to Philadelphia where he studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Art with Thomas Eakins. In 1886, he sold his first cartoon. He soon was appearing in a number of periodicals, including Life. He continued to study with various artists, such as Edward Moran and E. D. Bensell. He utilized a pen and ink style that was meticulously cross-hatched, which was popular at the time. His cartoons were masterfully distorted figures of animals and stereotypical people referred to as “grotesque yet believable.” He also worked for a number of other periodicals and for William Randolph Hearst, but returned to Life in 1911 and contributed cartoons until his death in 1926. He is considered to be one of the most influential cartoonists of his time.