Dec 19, 2012

Jack Cole Sells Silk to the Burlap Market: A Stunning 1955 Gag Cartoon

 DAY 6 

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

Mirth was a digest-sized monthly offering a musky sheaf of mostly sexy girl cartoons of widely varying quality. This cheapo magazine was part of a line of similar joke books and digests on cars and watersports (not what you may be thinking -- water skiing and boating), including titles like Smiles and A Pocketful of Pepper. We are slowly discovering that Jack Cole sold a pile of great gag cartoons to the publisher, H-K Publications, Inc. in late 1954 and possibly also at various times in 1955. This would be the period when Cole left comic books and applied himself fully to a career as a magazine cartoonist. 

In his 1956 Freelancer article about his cartooning career (reprinted in this blog here), Jack Cole wrote of having limited success in 1954-55 with the higher paying markets and having to lower his sites: 
"After a few pointed hints from editors, it finally dawned on me. You CAN'T sell burlap in a nylon market, so I retreated to the minor class magazines (bless them all) where I should have $TARTED in the first place..."
H-K publications appears to have been a publishing company of Joseph Hardie and Raymond Kelly, who also co-founded the Centaur line of comics in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Cole's first comic book work appeared in various Centaur comics (supplied by the Harry Chesler shop, where Cole started out when he moved to New York in 1937). It's possible that Cole had a connection with H-K Publications, although it would have been more than 15 years since his work graced the pages of Hardie and Kelly's books.

H-K also published Comet -- an amalgamation of comics and prose --  in the early 1940s. In the mid forties, they appear to have inaugurated Mirth. In the 1950s, H-K published such illustrious titles as Boat Sport, Auto Craftsman, and Outboard Dealer News. It's possible that a Cole cartoon or two might be found in the pages of the non-girlie H-K magazines. After all, Cole did cartoons for a Stamp collecting magazine during this time, so why not for Speed Mechanics or Water Ski?

Last Christmas, my stocking overflowed with Cole when I discovered a scan on the Web of an issue of Mirth (March, 1955)  that contained a whopping 12 Jack Cole cartoons (click here to see those great cartoons). This Christmas, I have discovered an additional 14 previously forgotten Jack Cole cartoons published in various H-K publications from 1955. I'll be sharing that lot over the next few days, as well as a few other gems from the Cole-mine.

Today's Cole in your stocking comes from the pages of the October, 1955 issue of Mirth, the only Cole cartoon found in that issue. This is a paper scan from my own collection. Although the cartoon is unsigned, there can be no doubt this is the work of Jack Cole. The beautifully stylized Laurel and Hardy Music Box staircase winding the up the side of the cliff, and the modernistic home embedded into the edifice are drawn with the typical mix of precision and abstraction that characterizes the work of Jack Cole in the mid 1950s. The entire cartoon is a tour de force layout of positive and negative space. Surely this ambitious cartoon was originally meant for a higher market, which is perhaps a clue as to why it is unsigned.

See also this post at M.O.D.M. blog on H-K magazines.

The 12 Days of Cole-Miss Postings:
Days 1 and 2: Jack Cole's Sexy Playboy Style Humorama Cartoon Covers (1950-60s)
Day 3: 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)

Wishing You the Best,
Paul Tumey

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