Dec 25, 2012

12 New Jack Cole Cartoon Finds!

DAY 12  

 12 days of NEW Jack Cole finds! 
 Posted every day until Dec. 25th 

Well, fellow denizens of the dank, dusty, delirious world of old comics, it's been a fun 12 days. Every day, I've shared with you some Jack Cole cartoons and comics that are new to Cole's Comics -- and, in some cases -- pretty much new to the world. As a grande finale, here's a big pile o' Cole for your enjoyment, with notes and the usual kerfuffle.

Here's a set of Cole gems from a 1955 H-K Publications Digest. The fellows who ran H-K turn out to be same guys who published Centaur comics, where Cole started his comics career 16 years earlier. Was there a connection? Did Cole look up his old associates and sell them some cartoons? Possibly.

  First up is yet another of Cole's "searchlight" cartoons. We published one yesterday, as well.

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)
In case the joke eludes you, it's a reference to a standard song called Chlo-e (Song of the Swamp). Debuting in 1927, the song describes a lonely fellow searching for his Chloe in "the dismal swampland." Click here to hear Eva Taylor's 1928 recording of the song. And, for a piece of sublime surreal screwballism, check here's Spike Jones' deconstructed version from the 1945 film Bring On The Girls featuring the brilliant Red Ingle:

If you happen to be a fan of novelty songs, I recommend checking out Red Ingle (there's a bunch of his songs on Spotify). His recording, Serutan Yob is one of my favorite things, although it appears to be mostly the brainchild of comic genius Jim Hawthorne. But, I digress...

Getting back to Cole, the March, 1955 issue of Smiles featured nine Jack Cole cartoons! Here's another from the same issue, a comic reversal with a strong composition:

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)

Among the Cole cartoons in this issue is this "go peel a watermelon" two-page gag that ran underneath some text jokes and another gag. Many of the H-K digests of this period had 2-page spreads like this, created by various artists. I dunno about you, but I could stare at that graceful peeling for quite awhile.

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)
Ger Apeldoorn (see his great blog) has suggested that the H-K Cole cartoons might actually have been done to order, from presentation sketches Cole submitted in person. This was a common practice, and many publishers had an open house one day to the week where they would see cartoonists in person, review sketches, and (if the cartoonist was lucky) select some for finishing and purchase. I've been thinking that perhaps the piles of Cole cartoons in H-K were rejects from other mags, but perhaps not. The above cartoon, which is obviously tailored to the magazine's format and needs, suggests Ger is right.

Here's another from the same issue:

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)

And, another -- a beautifully composed and rendered gag that, in lesser hands might not be as funny:

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)

The last cartoon found in this issue is a goodie, with a a great gag and a Plastic Man style face distortion:

SMILES - March, 1955 (collection Paul Tumey)

Just in the last few days, I discovered scans (sadly low-res) of two 1960s Humorama magazines that sport Jack Cole cartoons on the covers:

September, 1963
August, 1964

Before we sign off the 2012 12 Days of Cole-Miss Event, here's a few more colored Cole Humorama cartoons, recycle as covers of early 1960s issues of Popular Jokes. These came to me as a wonderful holiday gift, from our friend Ger Apeldoorn, who received them from comics researcher Banks S. Robinson. Thanks, Ger and Banks!

Popular Jokes 5 - August 1962

Popular Jokes 11 - November, 1963

Popular Jokes 12 - February, 1964
And lastly, here's one I found on the Web:

Popular Jokes 21
That's 12 new Jack Cole finds for today -- Happy Hogandays! 

And that wraps up the 12 Days of Cole-Miss! Over the last 12 days, with the kind help of some friends, I've shared 15 new pages of Cole comics and 24 rare Jack Cole cartoons. I hope you've enjoyed it all as much as I have -- or, if you are coming to these posts post-holidaze 2012, I hope you'll click on the links below and check out some of these swell cartoons.

Paul Hogan Tumey

Dec 24, 2012

Stretching Toward Playboy: Jack Cole Cartoons Grace a 1954 H-K Pulp

DAY 11  

 12 days of NEW Jack Cole finds! 
 Posted every day until Dec. 25th 

Recently, my pal the graphic novel author and comics historian Frank Young paid me a visit. I was showing him some of my latest finds and dug out the recent pile of 1950s humor digest magazines I bought from a collector. Many of these issues are marked up and have bits cut out. Some of the captions are rewritten. I suspect the collection once belonged to an aspiring cartoonist -- or even a pro who was ripping off old material.

The Paul Tumey pile of old humor mags , which includes some rare Jack Cole cartoons

I had gone through this pulpy pile earlier to sift out 11 "new" Jack Cole finds. I had a hunch that a second perusal might yield another Cole cartoon or two. Frank and I spontaneously sifted the pile, carefully reading each awful gag cartoon. Frank discovered some amazing early cartoons by Mel Lazurus, of Miss Peach fame. He also delighted in several early Thaves (Frank and Ernest) cartoons. After a dizzy hour or so, I lamented that there just wasn't any more Cole to mine from this vein. Just as I picked up an issue of Smiles and said this, I opened it at random and there, in front of me was Cole cartoon I had previously missed! I quickly sifted through the book and found two more! Score!

The cover to Smiles, Sept 1954 (Not by Cole)

I'm pleased to share with you today the three "new" Jack Cole cartoons found in the September 1954 H-K publication, Smiles. The date is interesting, because it's by far the earliest H-K Jack Cole publication date we've found, so far, about six months prior to the fabulous Cole bonanza of 23 cartoons published in March, 1955.

The first Cole cartoon in the book is unsigned, but undeniably Cole:

by Jack Cole, from Smiles, September 1954 (Collection Paul Tumey)
This sequential light beam cartoon is a concept we find in 3 other published Cole cartoons of the time., including one published in the January 1954 issue of The Saturday Evening Post (see here for that cartoon). It's a unique concept, and Cole spent some time and energy playing with it. He seemed to enjoy drawing beams of light. Many of his comic book covers and stories have light beams and pools of light used as strong design elements.

The second Cole cartoon in the book is one that cracked me up. The drawing is amusing, but the power of the gag is really in the caption.

by Jack Cole, from Smiles, September 1954 (Collection Paul Tumey)
I've read in a few interviews with Cole's colleagues that he imbibed himself. There's a letter from Cole (published in Steranko's History of Comics), written to his folks back home in which he assures them he is living clean and not touching a drop. This letter comes from early in his career, so perhaps Cole changed his ways in the years to come. he was, after all, hanging out with cartoonist Bob Wood, who was living high those daze. It's possible this cartoon is slightly autobiographical. In any case, it's a funny gag and I love the art.

The third and last Cole cartoon we find in this issue presents a performing duo and a typical Jack Cole gag drawn from a small detail of life. Fingernails, house lights, toasters and TVs -- all the common, everyday details of ordinary life were fodder for Jack's cartoon factory in the 1950s. The visual design of the cartoon, with a bold T shape and an artful line, foreshadows his Playboy cartoons.

by Jack Cole, from Smiles, September 1954 (Collection Paul Tumey)

Here's the full spread to help you appreciate how much better Cole's cartoons are than the rest of the material in these magazines:

That's all for today. Tomorrow, the last day of my 12 Days of Cole-Miss publishing event, will pull out all the stops and present a big pile of goodies. I hope everyone has a safe, sane, and enjoyable holiday season.

Paul Tumey

Day 10: Two 1939 Jack Cole Cartoons in Colliers

All text copyright 2012 Paul C. Tumey

Dec 23, 2012

Jack Cole Places TWO Cartoons in a Single Issue of Collier's! (1939)

  DAY 10  

 12 days of NEW Jack Cole finds! 
 Posted every day until Dec. 25th 

Today's Cole in your stocking consists of two rare "lost" Jack Cole cartoons from Collier's Weekly. Both cartoons are paper scans from my own copy of the September 2, 1939 issue which I acquired through several misadventures involving a verbose fat man, a fey killer, and a sexy but deceitful woman named Bridget O'Shaughnessy. 

It must have been exciting for Jack and Dorothy (Dot) Cole, a struggling young married couple relocated to New York City from New Castle, Pennsylvania to have two cartoons appear in one issue of a major national magazine. By the time these sales saw print, though, Cole was already working at the Harry Chesler shop. For some examples of Jack Cole's 1939 comics, mostly published in Centaur titles, see this article.

Just by way of an interesting "bonus" tidbit, here's a record of Jack and Dot's marriage that appeared in a Greenville newspaper on July 21, 1939:

This is a bit of a mystery because, by all accounts, Jack and Dot were married years earlier. In fact, they kept it secret from their parents, at first, continuing to live at home. I wonder if they were getting married a second time, to allow the families to be involved. Or perhaps the stories about their earlier marriage are not quite right. I truly wish I knew. If I ever come into a windfall, I'd love to go to New Castle and talk to some folks there to find out the story behind this news item and flesh out the story of Jack Cole's early years.

In any case, in my imagination I can see Cole riding the subway in Manhattan, watching someone read a magazine with this cover:

Or maybe he walked by newstands on busy New York streets in September 1939 that sported copies of the issue in which he had not one, but two cartoons. Newstands that looked something like this:

Looking at this photo, it's easy to imagine that maybe there was a comic on the stands as well that featured work by Jack Cole.

As previously documented in this blog, Cole had some earlier sales to Collier's in 1938.

The first cartoon of Cole's in the September 2, 1939 issue of Collier's appears on page 31, next to a bizarre Fisk tire ad that, for some reason, shows a man wrestling an alligator.

Collier's Weekly, September 2, 1939 - page 31 (Collection Paul Tumey)

The cartoon makes a reference to the famous baseball star, Joe DiMaggio... a rare topical reference in Cole's work. Here's the cartoon itself, in a larger size:

Collier's Weekly, September 2, 1939  (Collection Paul Tumey)

I like how Jack's signature appears to be a part of the floor under DiMaggio's feet. We also see in this cartoon Jack's interest in showing agitated human movement -- not quite successful here, but still a good effort. By keeping Joe's back to the reader, Jack spares himself from having to draw a caricature of the celebrity, but also keeps us from tipping to the gag until we read the caption.

The second Cole cartoon, which features an even higher level of physical chaos, appears on page 50:

Collier's Weekly, September 2, 1939 - page 50 (Collection Paul Tumey)

It's worthwhile to show you the entire page, as well as the individual cartoon, so you can get a sense of how much space the editors gave Cole's cartoon, and also to see how boldly his wash cartoons stand off the page. Part of Cole's greatness lies in his thoughtful design. We can see, just by looking at these two full pages, that his designs, with their strong lines and rich washes were very effective for catching the eye and adding visual appeal to the magazine's pages. 

Here's a 1940 Boy's Life page in which Cole's plush, bold cartoon is a visual delight:

Boy's Life, October 1940

Cole would return to this lush visual formula in his Playboy and Jake cartoons of 1955-58, with great success. His 1955 cartoons benefit from the thousands of drawings he had made in the intervening years between 1939 and 1955, and therefore are considerably more successful and accomplished. However, the same basic design approach applies to both eras in Cole's career as a magazine cartoonist. 

Here's the cartoon, in a larger size:

Collier's Weekly, September 2, 1939 (Collection Paul Tumey)

It's a great gag, and it lets Cole do what he does best -- show screwball energy on paper. There's something about the leaping-off-the-page energy of this page that reminds of this classic page from a 1942 Midnight story (shown here as a retouched page from my ebook, The Complete Jack Cole Midnight, Volume 2 -- available for purchase at the right-hand side of this blog):

Even though he had a very promising start as a nationally published magazine cartoonist with top late 1930s markets like Judge and Collier's, Cole needed to make more money -- and that's why he veered into comic books, and began to devote himself to creating longer, sustained sequential graphic stories. At Chesler's walk-up studio, housed in a dank lower Manhattan warehouse, Cole at least drew a regular paycheck. In short order, Cole began to master this burgeoning new form. Just as his magazine cartoons show smart design, so do his comic book stories -- but that's a story for another day!

Check back tomorrow and the next day for the last two postings of my 12 Days of Cole-Miss event -- lotsa good stuff to come!

In the meanwhile, here's what we've done, so far:

The 12 Days of Cole-Miss Postings to Date:

Days 1 and 2: Jack Cole's Sexy Playboy Style Humorama Cartoon Covers (1950-60s)

Day3: A Rare Jack Cole Playboy Style Cutie Pie Cover (1956)

Day 4: Teasing Blonde Triplets and Mad Japanese Spies (Private Dogtag 1944)

Day 5: Stretching to Playboy: Two Rare Jack Cole Judge Cartoons (1936, 1946)

Day 6: Jack Cole Sells Silk to the Burlap Market (1955 gag cartoon)

Day 7: Two More "Lost" Jack Cole Cartoons (1955)

Day 9: The Second Death Patrol story in a new paper scan!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...