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.