Monday, July 14, 2014

Which Kleinwaks Cartoonist Drew This? I'm Not Sure

I was at a thrift store in Gorham, Maine on Saturday and saw a pile of framed, original gag cartoon sketches. Each was signed "Kleinwaks."

"The food here is absolutely
terrible, but they serve
generous portions."

All of the cartoons appear to have been drawn on 11x14 paper in marker.

I stared at the signature, which appeared as two words:


"I've read all your books
and I think your spelling
is simply superb."

I had not heard of the name "Kleinwaks," so I didn't know what to think of these cartoons. I took some photos of them and, when I got home, I hit the Google pretty hard to see what I could find out.

"Some day, Morton, there's going
to be a newspaper strike and
you're going to get the shock
of your life!"

There were clues in the cartoons themselves. I mean, people do not talk that much about reading newspapers at the table any more. Maybe a tablet, but not a paper, huh?

"The fact is, Granby, you've
been replaced by a transistor."

The semiconductor known as a transistor was created in 1907, and went into wide use after WWII. So, this cartoon, implying that everything that's out there has a transistor component, may relate to the 1960s or so.

"You don't have to wait for
the government to slash
income taxes, Higgins. I
took care of it by cutting
your salary."

"Let me tell you a thing or two!"

So, below is a cartoon from 1942 that may be related to the ones above:

YANK Magazine featured the above cartoon by Cpl. Allen A. Kleinwaks in its December 9, 1942 issue. 

I think this was the fellow.

A Newark, NJ native, Mr. Kleinwaks got a job as an artist with the Newark Star Eagle newspaper and then with commercial firms when he was a teenager. His drawings were blown up to billboard size for movie advertisements, including THE JAZZ SINGER (1927) and ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930). During WWII, he contributed to Yank Magazine as an artist correspondent beginning in its year of inception.

After the war, he did a variety of jobs. He worked managing a chain of New York City photo studios. He had a large store in New Jersey that sold toys and sports equipment. He was also selling to the gag magazine markets: Colliers, Look, the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's.

When his wife Eleanor's father was sick, they moved to Waterford, CT.

In 1966 he opened The Wine Merchant in Old Saybrook, CT. He and Eleanor co-managed the store. He opted not to have major brand wines for sale. They were not good-tasting, he thought. He offered low-cost, good wines from all over the world.

And if you walked into The Wine Merchant while Mr. and Mrs. Kleinwaks were running it, you would see the cartoons that he drew, all over the place. He also put his cartoons in the store's newsletter, which reached a peak of 500 subscribers a month.

They sold The Wine Merchant in 1982, with Mr. Kleinwaks promising to continue the newsletter and concentrate on drawing cartoons.

He died two years later.

I don't know where the half dozen cartoons in the Gorham, Maine shop showed up from. Maybe they were originally hanging in the store. Maybe they were in a relatives' storage facility. How they got to Maine, I don't know.

Well, you know the Internet. Maybe someone will see these and know more than me! Hope so.

"New London's Wine Man Retires - But Drawings and Newsletter Will Continue" The Day, New London, CT. Sunday, April 4, 1982.

Allen Kleinwaks obituary. The Day, New London, CT. November 8, 1984.


Brian Fies said...

Dogged detective work, Inspector Lynch! I wasn't sure you'd found your man until that last cartoon (the 1942 style looks nothing like your examples, but the 1982 one sure does). It's nice to see a journeyman artist/craftsman like that get some recognition.

Andrew Kleinwaks said...

Nicely done Mike. Alan Kleinwaks was my Uncle! I figured when my Google Alert came through, that it was another story about a distant cousin, so I was floored to see some of my Uncle's work up here.. Alan fancied himself the artist, and was a damn good one...Not only was he a cartoonist, but he had a serious side to him as well, working with oils. My parents had several of his pieces hanging in their home (he was more than a cartoonist). After their deaths, my brothers snatched up that work, and it hangs in their homes now. Alan's grandson has done extensive research on our family tree, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him post a comment with loads of info on Alan. I'll always remember my Uncle for his omnipresent pipe...