Archive for the ‘cartoons’ Category

Scarf cartoon warning to Isadora Duncan

December 16, 2014
Tom Browne cartoon warning to Isadora Duncan

The fate of the cyclist in this Tom Browne cartoon should have been a warning to Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was a popular dancer from California who lived in Europe in the 1920s. She met an untimely death at the age of 50 when travelling in a car as a passenger – her long scarf became entangled in one of the rear wheels and broke her neck.

That happened in 1927, so this three-frame Tom Browne cartoon from 1904 predates the accident by 23 years.

The cartoon was carried in Cassell’s Penny magazine with the three frames broken up by jokes. Cycling was still a relatively new sport – notice there is no sign of any brakes on the bike.

Like many publishers, Cassells produced fiction magazines alongside its books. As well as the Penny Magazine, it published Chums and the upmarket monthly Cassell’s Magazine.

The Penny Magazine lasted until the mid-1920s, when it was taken over by T.P. O’Connor, a prominent journalist and Irish nationalist politician who sat as a  British MP, to become T.P.’s and Cassell’s Weekly. O’Connor is one of two journalists marked by a bust in Fleet Street, the other being Edgar Wallace.

 

Furniss, Ward and Bryan – three great Victorian caricaturists

December 2, 2014
A cover of Tit-Bits magazine from 1899

A cover of Tit-Bits magazine from 1899 with a Pears soap display advertisement

‘How Caricaturists Catch Their Subjects’ was the title of an 1889 article in George Newnes’ groundbreaking weekly Tit-Bits (from all the most interesting books, periodicals and contributors in the world). The unnamed interviewer ‘caught up with’ Harry Furniss – a Punch contributor best known for his ‘I used your soap cartoon’ and trying to establish his own humorous magazine, Lika Joka; Leslie Ward – ‘Spy’ of Vanity Fair; and Alfred Bryan (who reveals that ‘A good cartoon costs about £20,’ … ‘with the engraving’).  The article is repeated here, both for its insight into this trio and as an example of the style of Victorian as well. There were no images in the original article but I have added some images and explanation.

A representative of Tit-Bits has recently been chatting with a trio of celebrated caricaturists, who are admittedly at the head of the respective branches of their art.

Harry Furniss cartoon from Punch that was later used by Pear's soap, one of the founders of modern advertising techniques, for its campaigns - included as  full-page in a Punch almanac

Harry Furniss cartoon from Punch that was later used by Pear’s soap, one of the founders of modern advertising techniques, for its campaigns – included as full-page in a Punch almanac

Mr Harry Furniss may be found in the immediate neighbourhood of Primrose Hill. He is thirty-five years of age, an amateur juggler, plays golf in the same club of with the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, MP, is captain; is a splendid horseman – see the worthy artist “doing” Hampstead on horseback every morning before settling down to work – and, occasionally, when out, is persuaded to mimic MPs in voice and gesture, which later, as everybody knows is his forte with the pencil.

“Just in time. Have a cup? Oh! I always take a little Souchong at three.”

We took a cup and a chair, and “H.F.” took us into his confidence by saying “I started in knickerbockers. Yes; when at school I wrote a little journal and illustrated it myself, all in MS, and published it every fortnight. It exists no longer. At 19, I came to London town, and as you know my favourite ‘pitch’ now for many years has been the precincts of the House.

“I have a special privilege from the Lord Chamberlain to go there, and all the sketches you see are taken from life, for I would rather have my man for a minute than all the photographs in the world. I do a lot of my sketches in the lobby of the House, spending two or three evenings a week there. I just make a rough idea in my note-book, retaining all the little peculiarities of my subject, for mannerisms are the secret of caricaturing.

“Then I elaborate on the morrow, getting my model – here he is, he has been with me for 10 years, and has sat for every MP during that period – to pose so as to get the folds of the coat, trousers, etc. In the House of Lords we are not allowed to sketch, so I keep watch outside.

“I have spoken about mannerisms. The late Mr W. E. Forster had a habit of walking with his arm on his hip; hence he was so caricatured. Mr Joseph Arch always wipes his hand down his coat before shaking hands, whilst Mr Gladstone – who, in common with the late Earl of Beaconsfield, is simply invaluable to the caricaturist, has many little peculiarities.

“You see, a caricature turns on the smallest point. A cartoon of Lord Hardwicke would surely find him in a hat. He gained a wonderful reputation through his hat. He discovered a way of cleaning it which to this day has never been found out.

“Well, out of all those in the House, I most respectfully select Mr Gladstone, as being the best ‘all round’ man. Why, sir, I have sat for hours watching the great statesman, seen his flower fade and his tie work round to the back of his neck, and I firmly believe that Mr Gladstone will be known in the future by his caricatures, for I have never yet seen a good picture of him published.

“Mr John Morley is the most difficult to catch. He looks young one moment and old the next’, and Sir Richard Temple is the easiest. Anybody with marked features is readily caught. I am of opinion that the members rather like it, but to judge from the appealing letters I have from some of their wives, begging me not to make their husbands look too ridiculous, I fear they do not always care about it.

“When a new Parliament meets, of course I am anxious to get the latest members. It is very funny, sometimes, to see how a member will come up to me and say, ‘Can I do anything to help you?’ Mind you, this is often the very man I want; so I get him to hold a supposed subject in conversation for a few moments, and give him a wink when I have done. I have really got him, and to the best of advantage, for all his little peculiarities are bound to come out under such circumstances.

“There is an excellent caricaturist in the House – Mr Frank Lockwood, QC, MP. He sold me once. Last session there was a new member of the House whom I particularly wanted to catch. In my innocence I asked Mr Lockwood to bring my subject along to the lobby – talking to him. Away went the QC; I saw not the evil look in his eyes. I waited for half an hour, but he never returned. I went in search. The new MP had gone; so had Lockwood, with a caricature in his coat pocket!”

And just as we are speaking, a merry peal of laughter reminds Mr Furniss that his own children always sit for the little ones in his pictures, and pretty little models they are, too. Round the walls of his studio are some fine specimens of the style of art of long ago; valuable first editions of books fill his library; four curious-looking Japanese heads, which Mr Furniss calls his “four-fathers,” repose in a corner; and in his billiard-room are original drawings of over two hundred members of the house, for, says the artist, “I can’t keep away from my friends even when having a game of billiards, so I give them a place round the walls where they can look on.”

The “Spy” of Vanity Fair is Mr Leslie Ward, a dark-complexioned gentleman, with a black, military-looking moustache, 38 years of age, and who lives in a secluded little studio out Chelsea way. He will tell you that his father was the well-known RA [Royal Academy member], and that he gave instructions when his boy was sent to Eton that he should never be allowed to finger a pencil, knowing the uphill work of an artist’s life; how in spite of his thoughtful parents wishes, Spy can bring forth a weighty volume showing his very earliest efforts in the shape of caricatures of everybody between the headmaster and the hall-porter.

Then he became a student in the Royal Academy, until, on one lucky Monday in 1873, Millais caught sight of a sketch of Professor Owen which evinced such talent that the great artist gained for him an introduction to the position he now fills.

“I must have done something like 500 caricatures for that one paper since then,” said Mr Ward, at the time taking pencil and paper and preparing to “skit off” the writer. “I work mostly in the mornings, and I may make dozens of sketches before I feel that I have got him. I abominate photos. I like to catch my man out, my favourite method being stalking my subject for a mile or two, and getting his peculiarities that way, or else to be in a room with him, while he is totally ignorant of my presence.

“To be properly caricatured one must be natural. When I took [Henry] Searle, the champion sculler (Vanity Fair, September 1889], I walked with him for six miles; observe the champion taking his constitutional. For Mr Augustus Harris [Drury Lane theatre manager who was renowned for his pantomimes], I went to his house to dinner, and afterwards spent the evening with him at the theatre [Vanity Fair, 28 September 1889.].

“But let me tell you one or two little experiences of the difficulties which beset the caricaturist. I once took the late [Gerald Wellesley] Dean of Windsor [Castle] [Vanity Fair, 8 April 1876]. He was a very early riser, and would get up every morning at seven o’clock and walk round about the Round Tower. I went down to Windsor, and for two or here mornings was up with the dean, and, much to his discomfiture, followed in his footsteps.

“Now, he wore a most hideous slouched hat on these early morning trips, and in this identical chapeau I drew him. When once he saw how he looked in it, for he had a copy of the caricature sent to him, he never wore it again, and his wife told a friend how thankful she was, for she had been trying to get him to give it up for years. He did when he saw my picture!

Dr [Charles] Goodford, the late Provost of Eton, always carried a very big umbrella on his shoulder, military fashion [Vanity Fair, 22 January 1876]. He had a peculiar way, too, of standing with his legs wide apart. So I drew him. When he saw the caricature he said, ‘Well. I’m sure I never stand like that.’

“’You do!’ his wife assured him; ‘it is exactly like you.’

“’Nonsense’; I’ll never believe it,’ replied the Provost.

“But one day he was walking along the streets of Windsor with his wife, when he suddenly halted to look in a shop window. Behind was a large mirror. He saw himself in the glass, and, turning to his wide, exclaimed: ‘My dear, you are perfectly right!’

“I spent a day at Chislehurst for the purpose of making a drawing of the Prince Imperial [Louis Napoléon, Vanity Fair, 14 July 1877]. Cetewayo, the Zulu king, was holding a sort of “at home” when I caught him [Vanity Fair, 26 August 1882]. He was quite unaware of the fact that, when he shook hands with me, I had transformed his face into my head.

“The story as to how I caught Cardinal Newman [Vanity Fair, 20 January 1877] might interest you. It was necessary for me to go down to the Oratory at Birmingham to see the Cardinal, and I arranged with an old schoolfellow who lived just outside the city of screws, to spend a week with him, and call on my respected subject whilst there. Strange to say, when I got to Euston, the very first man I saw on the platform was the Cardinal himself, who was going down by train. I followed him about, and, though he may never know it, I say at the same table as he did in the refreshment room to which he had gone before starting.

“I went on to my friend’s at Birmingham, and still wanting one or two details, I called at the Oratory one day and inquired what time the reverend father would be going out, as I should like to catch a sight of one I so greatly admired. They told me he had a cold that day, but he might possibly be going out on the morrow. The next day, which was my last, found me waiting, but as nobody came out, I determined to call again. I did.

“’I think the Cardinal will see you,’ said the attendant. ‘I will go up and ask him.’ And do you know, sir, I felt so terribly nervous at the thought of deceiving him, and so fearful that my excuses for calling would not warrant my disturbing the one I wanted to see, that I do not know to this day what message was brought back by the attendant. As soon as he left me I opened the door and quietly bolted!”

Dan Leno caricatured by Alfred Bryan for the actor's autobiography, 'Dan Leno, Hys Books'

Dan Leno caricatured by Alfred Bryan for the actor’s autobiography, ‘Dan Leno, Hys Books’

Another well known caricaturist is “A.B.,” which stands for Mr Alfred Bryan, and amongst all his brother cartoonists “A.B.” is held up as the kindest-hearted man in the profession. He is thirty-six years of age, with hair just turning grey and a fair moustache. He “pencils” in the precincts of Chancery Lane, and you may see his initials attached to the principal cartoon in ‘Moonshine.’ They also appear in the [weekly theatrical review] Entr’acte, Judy [a rival to Punch], and Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. He always does the Christmas cartoon for the World.

“A good cartoon costs about £20,” said “A.B.”; “that is, with the engraving as well. I never back a sketch at the theatre, but I keep my eye on the relative angles of the head, and perhaps when I get home jot down one or two ideas to fill in next morning. I take a mental photography, and I don’t like the person is wanted to know I am in the track. Mr Irving, Mr Toole, and Mr Willard are splendid subjects. I have managed to represent Mr Bradlaugh by two strokes and a dot, and tried to tell people who certain folk were intended for merely by showing their collars and their boots. Perhaps a little anecdote will tell you how quickly you can catch your man when in good time.

“Once I was sent down to Bristol to make a sketch of a popular preacher who was going to lecture there. I went down on behalf of a well-known weekly paper. I sent in my card to the wanted one, and he immediately gave me admission.

“’I cannot let you see me,’ he said ‘for purposes of making a sketch. Here you have come all this distance when a post-card would have brought back my answer. No; certainly not. Good-day.’

“But,” said “A.B.,” ”I had him – he was in next week!”

 

Should cartoonists credit their sources?

November 12, 2014
Steve Bell sends up David Cameron's immigration strategy in the Guardian (21 October p29)

Steve Bell sends up David Cameron’s immigration strategy in the Guardian (21 October p29)

To address the question posed by the headline, in the cases discussed here, my answer is Yes. So, congratulations to Steve Bell, the Guardian‘s political cartoonist, for crediting Alfred Leete in this cartoon last month.

This image is, of course, a parody of Leete’s famed Your Country Needs You magazine cover for London Opinion at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. It’s the most influential magazine cover yet seen and is copied or parodied, knowingly and unknowingly, an untold number of times each day all over the world.

All too often, cartoonists demonstrate their lack of knowledge, or meanness of spirit, by not crediting their direct rip-offs. So brickbats to Peter Brookes of the Times in August for his Leete parody below. No doubt he would defend the borrowing, but why not credit the source? As Bell demonstrates, it is easily done. There’s a double brickbat here in the centenary of the start of the Great War. For Leete joined the Artists’ Rifles and went to the front at the age of 33. Furthermore, his image became the famous recruiting poster and has been credited with being the face of Lord Kitchener’s volunteer recruitment campaign. Leete later gave the artwork to the Imperial War Museum, where it can be seen to this day.

Peter Brookes political cartoon in the style of Alfred Leete from the Times (August 5)

Peter Brookes political cartoon in the style of Alfred Leete from the Times (August 5)

The Times cartoonist of today established his name with a cover for Oz, of all places, back in the 1971. Brookes copied a cover by Peter Driben for US title Beauty Parade (February 1949) for the Oz ‘Young love’ cover (issue 37, September 1971). For that one, he signed himself ‘Peter Hack-Brookes’.

Peter Hack-Brookes cover for Oz from September 1971 - a copy from a US magazine cover from 1949

Peter Hack-Brookes cover for Oz from September 1971 – a copy from a US magazine cover by Peter Driben from 1949

Caricatures in the Great War

October 27, 2014
Kitchener of Khartoum - caricature by Will Scott

‘K of K’ – Kitchener of Khartoum – caricature by Will Scott on the cover of Drawing magazine in February 1916

Will Scott was a new name to me when I saw this issue of Drawing magazine.  But this is a great caricature of a ship-like Kitchener, the War Lord who laid the foundations for Britain’s victory in the Great War with his foresight and call for volunteers.

The cover refers to an article by Scott about political satire, in which he is scathing in his views on British cartoons:

One cannot seriously suppose here is anyone who is really impressed by a British cartoon, or that there would be a single sigh of regret if our cartoonists ceased business tomorrow … We have not a single satirical journal worthy of the name.

Scott is a forgotten name now, but he did come to fame, though not as cartoonist or art critic. He turned to writing short stories for magazines and newspapers such as the Passing Show and Daily Express. His detective novels and stage plays were made into films in the 1930s and his The Cherrys series for children was popular right into the late 1960s. Scott is credited with more than 2,000 short stories, claimed as a record for the UK during his lifetime.

Back in 1916, the black and white artists at Punch and other titles must have been spitting at his remarks, though Scott goes on to credit the Tatler‘s HM Bateman – with his ‘exquisite sense of “silly”‘ and Will Dyson at the Daily Herald with breaking the mould. The website dedicated to Bateman describes how he ‘went mad on paper’ after suffering a breakdown:

Until this time conventional cartoons had been illustrated jokes – drawings with a few lines of text or dialogue underneath. Take away the dialogue and the drawing becomes meaningless, the joke lay in the words. From 1909 onwards Bateman drew no more illustrated jokes and so changed profoundly the art of the cartoon, invested it with a new freedom of line and expression. The drawing became funny in itself, self-explanatory. He made emotion the subject of his cartoons and the characters became actors expressing feeling, rather than illustrations to an idea.

The Cartoon Museum is organising an exhibition of his work later this year: H.M. Bateman: The Man Who Went Mad On Paper.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography credits Dyson’s work on the Daily Herald with changing Britain’s attitude towards the working man and capitalism:

Dyson hacked into the pomposity and humbug of pre-war England, championing the working man boldly and without reserve. ‘In British cartooning Before Dyson’, his friend Vance Palmer wrote, ‘the working man had been depicted as a pathetic figure, a depressed person lacking any human dignity. Will Dyson drew him young, militant, an image of hope with fist up-raised’… He represented Capital, Finance and Power as a gross figure of large paunch, top hat, spats and a cigar, the image of greed in a world of ignoble advantages. Hackneyed now, the symbol was a notable creation in its day.

An article in a previous issue also touches on the topic of caricature. In ‘Cartoons and the War’ David Wilson writes:

Tirpitz’s whiskers are today to the public what Gladstone’s collars were to an earlier generation. Harry Furness, it would seem, invented the famous white wings, but in time the collars came to signify, in a kind of artists’ shorthand, Gladstone himself.

Drawing launched in 1915 as ‘A paper devoted to art as a national asset, entirely owned, edited and managed by professional artists and designers.’ Its message to advertisers expands on the philosophy:

The proprietors of Drawing are making a serious attempt to raise the standard of Press Advertising. They believe that advertisements should embellish a magazine, that is, be of a kind which readers will admire instead of regard – as is usually the case – as an objectionable feature. Only those which come up to a certain artistic standard will be accepted by Drawing. Nothing ugly or common will be inserted. Those which consist mainly of an illustration and show originality are preferred. If you have nothing suitable of your own, our artists will design a distinctive advertisement for you, under the supervision of experts. NB. We refuse advertisement so goods not actually manufactured in Great Britain’

The editor was George Montague Ellwood (1875-1955), one of the founding members of the Guild of Craftsmen. He held the post until 1924 and during that time expanded the magazine’s coverage and its title to become Drawing and Design. He wrote several books, including English Furniture and Decoration, 1680-1800.

When a woman ruled the roost for Punch ad sales

October 14, 2014

 

Marion Jean Lyon was hard of advertising sales for Punch in 1923

Marion Jean Lyon was head of advertising sales for Punch in 1923 ((c) magforum.com)

Punch advertising manager Marion Jean Lyon  in 1923

Marion Jean Lyon in 1923 (Magforum.com)

The above advert for Punch from the autumn of 1923 describes the veteran weekly as ‘the foremost humorous journal in the world’. No small claim, and backing it up from the weekly’s Bouverie Street offices just off Fleet St was advertising manager Marion Jean Lyon.

She was one of the most successful people in the history of advertising sales, and, as head of sales for Punch, she was able to boast that all the advertising space was sold until the next year. Lyon held the post at Punch, which was a national institution, until she died in 1940. She was one of many women working in the industry in such roles, alongside women advertising managers at Everywoman, Woman and Housewife.

Lyon’s success was noted in another weekly, the Spectator (21 October 1922, p37):

A remarkable illustration of the ever-increasing part women are playing in business life is afforded by the appointment of Miss Marion Jean Lyon, a Scotswoman who came to London 16 years ago, to the position of advertising manager of Punch. Joining the office staff of Punch 12 years ago, Miss Lyon gradually worked her way upwards till she was made assistant to the late advertising manager, Mr Roy Somervell. She has recently been appointed to the vacant position, to the great satisfaction of all those who had experience of her business ability. The position of advertising manager of Punch is one of the most important and highly paid in Fleet Street and it is interesting to find that a woman has won it.

The year 1923 was a big one for Lyon, because she married Leonard Raven-Hill, who had joined Punch in 1901 and been second cartoonist to Sir Bernard Partridge since 1910. Not only that, she helped found, and became first president of, the Women’s Advertising Club of London in 1923. The WACL is still going today.

There is an intriguing symbol used in the advert – a clockwise swastika, below the words ‘goodwill throughout the civilized world’. Ten years later the symbol would become associated with the Nazis, but it is one of the world’s oldest symbols and was, for example, regarded as a a good luck totem by early aviators.

swastika symbol

Notice the swastika symbol below the text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey in Town magazine

October 1, 2014
Opening of 5-page article on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey with sketches by Clive Arrowsmith in Town magazine

Opening of 5-page article on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey with sketches by Clive Arrowsmith in Town magazine

Clancy Sigal wrote the words and Clive Arrowsmith did these sketches on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for the July 1966 issue of men’s magazine Town.

This was a special film issue, with articles about Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin, the girls of Casino Royale, Bryan Forbes (who had already directed Whistle Down the Wind and written the script for King Rat and would go on to direct The Stepford Wives in 1975) and beach fashion spreads with the cast of Robert Aldrich’s  The Dirty Dozen.

The 5-page article, ‘2001: An informal diary of an infernal machine’, was written two years before the film’s release. The article opens with a whole page sketch showing an image of Saturn behind Dr Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester), a detail that is changed in the actual film, where the Discovery spaceship follows the monolith’s radio signal to Jupiter.

Sigal, a US novelist and screenwriter, points to a problem that still bedevils people today after seeing the film:

Arthur Clarke is going up the pole, trying to meet with Kubrick to put the end together. Kubrick is finishing the picture and, probably, wondering how to end it.

First spread of the Town magazine article shows one of the astronauts and the maintenance vehicle

First spread of the Town magazine article shows one of the astronauts and the maintenance vehicle (the right side of the page was cut off in the scanner)

Arthur C. Clarke – one of the best and most prolific of the SF writers who lives in Ceylon, where he has business interests, according to the text – was, of course, trying to finish his book.

Sigal speculates about an outcome similar to the ‘benign being that blessed’ Clarke’s Childhood’s End, though ‘it could turn out to be the hydrogen bomb in a rubber mask, like in (Madame Odinga Oginga from Outer Space) Sam Katzman’. He was prophetic on another point:

HAL may yet turn out to be the most interesting actor in the story.

Final spread of the Town article shows a sketch of the frozen scientists that is similar to a sketch shown to HAL in 2001

Final spread of the Town article shows a sketch of the frozen scientists that is similar to a sketch shown to HAL in 2001

In the film, one of the Discovery’s two crew members, David Bowman (played by Keir Dullea), is seen making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation, which he shows to HAL.

One of the sketches is similar to Arrowsmith’s at the bottom of this spread.

Clive Arrowsmith did illustrations for other issues of Town and is probably the famed photographer, who worked as a graphic designer for television after leaving art school before taking to the camera.

The article makes no mention of Arrowsmith having been commissioned by Kubrick to work on the film. So the question is: which came first? Did Town commission the article and then Kubrick take up the sketch idea, or had Kubrick commissioned Arrrowsmith to do the sketches and the latter took the article idea to Town?

In 2001, Kubrick shows one of the astronauts making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation

In 2001, Kubrick shows one of the astronauts making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation

Detail of Clive Arrowsmith sketch in Town magazine - compare it with the still from 2001 below

Detail of Clive Arrowsmith sketch in Town magazine – compare it with the still from 2001 above

One of the Discovery astronauts shows a sketch to HAL in a scene from 2001

Through HAL’s distorting camera: Dave Bowman, one of the Discovery astronauts, shows one of his sketches to the ship’s computer in a scene from 2001

Blighty for the troops in the Great War

August 22, 2014
'Water Babies' Christmas 1919 issue of Blighty magazine

‘Water Babies’ Christmas 1919 issue of Blighty, a free magazine for Britain’s armed forces

This cover for the Christmas 1919 issue of Blighty magazine looks to have been inspired by Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, which was already regarded as a classic – and had been published in two editions since the start of the First World War. Like so many books, Kingsley’s was first published as a serial in Macmillan’s Magazine (1862-63).

Among the illustrators for the various editions of the book were Noel Paton (first book edition of 1863), Linley Sambourne (1885), Warwick Goble (1909), W. Heath Robinson (1915) and Jessie Willcox Smith (1916), all of whom were established magazine illustrators. The artwork on the cover here was not credited.

Blighty magazine was an inspired idea and was produced solely for Britain’s fighting forces under the control of the Committee of Blighty from 40 Fleet Street. It was ‘a budget of humour from home’ sent free to the forces with a publishing strategy loosely based on the popular humorous titles of the day such as Punch and London Opinion. Many of their contributors drew or wrote for issues, but the magazine also encouraged contributions from men fighting at the front.

It was funded by advertising along with a special enlarged issue with a colour cover produced for sale at a shilling each Christmas and summer. The 1916 Christmas issue stated: ‘Every copy sold sends three to the trenches.’ This Xmas Home Number came out after the war had ended, of course, and makes no mention of free copies for the troops, because it had been turned into a commercial operation. Though still published from the same Fleet St address, it was now run by The Blighty Publishing and printing had been switched from Walbrook & Co in Whitefriars to George Berridge & Co in Upper Thames St.

A half page at the back of the magazine encourages people to buy a magazine that was ‘favourite reading’ for the armed services. The copy reads:

‘The paper is now on sale to the public. It is full of pictures and stories by the best humorous artists and writers, amongst whom are many men who sent their first contributions from the mud of Flanders, the sands of Mesopotamia, or the stormy waters of the North Sea … It was sent to you in the trenches. Now you can buy it at the shops and bookstalls. All Old Service Readers should be Civilian Readers now.’

Among the illustrators were Punch artist Ricardo Brook, Glossop, Dyke White, US ‘Gibson Girl’ artist C. Dana Gibson, Horace Gaffron (who had fought with the Gordon Highlanders and drew Good Housekeeping covers in the 1930s) and Arthur Ferrier (one of the most popular cartoonists of the 1940s and 50s).

Yet the strategy did not work, and the title closed within a year. However, Blighty was resurrected for the Second World War, again with official support as a free weekly for the troops. When hostilities ended, it was again turned into a men’s humorous weekly, this time successfully. It was rebranded as Parade in 1960 but collapsed as both advertising and readership were lost from all the weeklies to television and Sunday supplements, and became a top-shelf title.

 

AA Milne, Alfred Leete and St Bride’s Berlud mystery

August 18, 2014
Alfred Leete's blood-stained staircase at St Bride's Printing Library

Berlud! Alfred Leete and the curious case of the blood-stained staircase at St Bride’s Printing Library. Is it a joke based on an early play by Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne?

St Bride’s Printing Library has done a blog item – The curious case of the blood-stained staircase – about this Alfred Leete artwork they’ve discovered. They write:

‘… a blood-stained staircase in front of a dark green door with eyes peering through the letter box. Elsewhere in the image, a policeman stares in shock, or perhaps horror at the staircase. Adding confusion to possible interpretations is the paint can sitting at the bottom right corner of the door, which begs the question as to whether it is really blood at all. The word Berlud! is printed at the top of the frame’

There’s another curious detail – the copper’s bloodless, claw-like hands. Such a contrast against the ruddy face. They look like the hands of the vampire in Nosferatu, the 1922 German horror film. The word Berlud dates to June 1922 – it was in the title of an early play by AA Milne, Berlud, Unlimited. Also in April that year, the first murder mystery by the man who would go on to write Winnie the Pooh had been published, The Red House Mystery. It’s certainly possible the two men knew each other – in 1906 Milne was made assistant editor on Punch, which published Leete’s cartoons (though his Kitchener ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster was first published as a 1914 cover for a Punch rival, London Opinion). They were the same age and both served in the first world war.

I suspect this wasn’t a poster but the artwork for a whole page illustration of the sort Leete did for The Tatler. It could well have been a cartoon for the theatre pages of the society weekly. The Red House Mystery sold well and Milne was certainly making a name for himself with the literary public.

The letterbox and its peering eyes brought to mind the advertising flyer below from 1902. This letterpress flyer for the weekly Pictorial Magazine used spot colour to promote its latest serial, ‘The House with the Scarlet Knocker’, and carried an excerpt from the tale on the back. Could this 1902 image have sparked Alfred Leete’s imagination?

A letterpress flyer for the latest serial in Pictorial Magazine - could this 1902 image have sparked Alfred Leete's imagination?

A letterpress flyer for the latest serial in Pictorial Magazine – could this 1902 image have sparked Alfred Leete’s imagination?

 

 

 

 

Ravages of War in Kaiser Wilhelm’s face

July 15, 2014

Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm - The Ravager

Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm, with his moustache and military uniform, at the start of World War I. He is described as ‘The Ravager’

This postcard depicts Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm, with his flamboyant moustache and military uniform, at the start of World War I. He is described as ‘The Ravager’ and there appearss to be a tear falling from the right eye. It is when the card is turned upside down that ‘The Ravages of War’ he was responsible for are made clear.

The postcard turned upside down reveals the 'Ravages of War'

The postcard turned upside down reveals the ‘Ravages of War’ with the moustache becoming an imperial eagle

His nose and moustache become an eagle with a crown above its head – the German imperial symbol – atop a marble column. The falling tear has become a lion – a symbol for Britain – which is trying to climb the column to reach the eagle. And the lower eyelashes now spell out the names of the first Belgian cities that fell to the Germans – Liège and Namur.

The eyelashes spell out  Liège and Namur

The eyelashes spell out the names of the first Belgian cities that fell to the Germans – Liège and Namur

Both cities had been ringed with forts by 1892 and the Battle for Liège was the first engagement of the war. It began on 5 August 1914 and lasted until 16 August when the last fort surrendered. The attack on Belgium drew the British into the war. German troops then turned their attention to the forts around Namur on 20 August, bombarding them with heavy artillery, including the massive Big Bertha (a 420mm siege howitzer). Belgian forces withdrew and the city was evacuated and left to the attackers on 23 August. Magazines at the time such Punch referred to the Belgiums as steadfast in standing up to the Germans but ultimately being flattened by its might – ‘plucky little Belgium‘.

So the card was probably produced in the autumn of 1914. Like Alfred Leete’s famous Your Country Needs You cover from London Opinion, it was a visceral reaction to the war.

Turning back to the card, the detail on the Kaiser’s tunic portrays Belgian troops in front of a church facing cannon fire. One side of the collar depicts a German soldier bayoneting a mother in front of her child. The other side shows a line of troops firing on a fleeing family. The chinstrap depicts three lions.

The helmet shows two French armies with a smaller British force. The helmet’s ‘dome’ turns into howitzers firing at a dove that is falling from the sky, with an explosion to one side and a burning house on the other.

Deatail of moustache as imperial eagle

The nose and moustache become a German imperial eagle on a column, which a British lion is trying to climb. Part of the helmet shows British and French troops

The card was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (possibly from Britain’s first mass-producer of postcards, E.T.W. Dennis) and has an unclear signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup.

Postcard was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (probably from Britain’s first mass-producer of postcards, E.T.W. Dennis) and has an unclear signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup

Postcard was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (possibly from Britain’s first big postcard printer, E.T.W. Dennis) and has a signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup

Most British magazines and postcards did not show out-and-out brutality, instead hinting at illegal actions with slogans such as ‘Remember Belgium’ but French magazines certainly did.

Back of the Kaiser Ravages of War postcard with the 'Dainty series' label

Back of the Kaiser Ravages of War postcard with the ‘Dainty’ series label on the left

Kitchener – this is not a poster!

May 29, 2014
Daily Mail's Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article

Daily Mail’s Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article that mistakenly identifies a poster as the original London Opinion cover

Whatever the faults of the Daily Mail, it exhibits a sense of history in the logo it carries on its ‘answers to readers questions’ page. The logo is based on the original title for the magazine that founded the Daily Mail dynasty back in 1888: Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject under the Sun, founded by Alfred Harmsworth.

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail - based on a magazine title from the 1880s

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail – based on a magazine title from the 1880s

As Answers, this became a massive success, building on the pioneering George Newnes’s Tit-Bits, for which Harmsworth had worked, to help establish British magazines as the first truly mass media. Answers claimed to answer questions sent in by readers directly by post, and those of general interest were published. Answers was a such a success that it was the foundation of a magazine and newspaper empire, the likes of which the world had never seen. Alfred and his brother Harold went on to found both the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, then buy up both the Sunday Observer and the Times and become lords Northcliffe and Rothermere. Alongside the newspapers, the Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway) became the largest periodical publishing empire in the world. Viscount Rothermere rules the roost at today’s descendant, the Daily Mail & General Trust.

London Opinion 1914

The original magazine cover – this is NOT a poster!

So it’s no surprise that the paper is running a series to mark World War One, including an 80-page souvenir issue of its listings section, Event. Pride of place in the May 4 edition was a feature by the brilliant Ralph Steadman, whose father fought in that war and was injured three times. Steadman interprets Alfred Leete’s famous Kitchener image and the article make reference  to its original appearance as a London Opinion cover – but then shows one of the early London Opinion posters in the centre of the spread rather than the magazine cover!

The error adds to half a century of no less an august body than the Imperial War Museum (which was given the artwork by Leete) getting it wrong; Picture Post using the artwork in 1940 and again referring to it only a poster; and biographers such as  Philip Magnus adding to the confusion. Even the British Library captions the cover as a poster in an article by the historian Professor David Welch. To cap it all, the Royal Mint makes no reference to Leete even as it copies his artwork for a commemorative coin!

The full story of Alfred Leete’s cover illustration for London Opinion is told in the book, The Amazing Kitchener Poster.


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