Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ken Ernst, Walt Kelly and John T. McCutcheon Photos

Above: Central High School (Madison, WI) girls watch in awe as the one and only Walt Kelly draws. The individual in the off-model Pogo outfit is unidentified. Don't you wish you had one of those great sketches? Wouldn't you wrestle a sweet Wisconsin school girl to the ground until she cried "Uncle! Uncle!" for one? Yeah, well, me too.

Found online almost by accident: Some photographs of cartoonists from the Wisconsin Historical Society:

From 1947: Cartoonist Ken Ernst sketches Ruth Schmitt whom he selected to represent a new character in his MARY WORTH comic strip. Ms. Schmitt was one of the eight "Badger Beauties" at the University of Wisconsin.

According to fellow BB Marilyn Moevs Helminiak:

“When I was Badger Beauty in 1947, I thought that was going to be my ‘fifteen minutes of fame,' and after fifty-six years, it has proven to be just that."


Indiana-born cartoonist John T. McCutcheon with his Wright Model B airplane, probably photographed at Cicero Field, probably around 1911. His front page Chicago Tribune editorial cartoons covered three wars: Spanish-American, World Wars I and II.

Pogo impersonator (always unidentified), Mr. Walt Kelly, and, in the middle of the Pogo sandwich: Jo Ingelfield, slated to be the First Lady in Pogo's administration upon his winning the presidency. The fellow on the far right is Carl Reich. These photos all date from 1952.

"The one and only Walt Kelly draws one of his famous cartoon characters for an audience of veterans at the Veterans Hospital." All of the photographs (except for the one of McCutcheon) are credited to Arthur M. Vinje.

Even when the poor sot takes off the hot, sweaty Pogo mask, we are not told who he was. Mr. Kelly has drawn the evolution of Pogo for him. I would wrestle that Pogo impersonator to the ground for that drawing ....

POGO ran in the Star, but then it folded. Here he is in his own words talking about taking the strip around, trying to find a new home for POGO:

"One lady editor insisted that she did not want to buy a duck. Kelly pointed out that it was a possum [s]he had by the tail. The lady said you can't even tell one animal from another, let alone draw one. Another editor offered Kelly a job taking care of his comic book division. A third editor laughed, which only encouraged Kelly. Then he said nobody would understand the strip. 'Try it out on ordinary people,' he roared. 'You'll see.'"

More photos at the historical society site.

And, ordinarily I'd hit the SAVE button and post this thing ....

But ... a few of the photos are not categorized correctly. These photos are not tagged under the "cartoonist" category and deserve to be looked at -- particularly since I'm a sucker for anything having to do with Walt Kelly:

Walt Kelly on stage (and out of view) at West High School (Madison, WI). This was all to do with his I GO POGO book tour.

"Students in the Rathskeller on the University of Wisconsin campus listening to a presentation by cartoonist Walt Kelly on his book tour."

Above: one of my favorite photos by Mr. Vinje, despite the fact that the cartoonist does not appear in it: Veterans Hospital patients peeking out of their rooms, waiting to meet Mr. Kelly.


Tom McMahon said...

McCutcheon's "Injun Summer" used to hang in many Midwestern homes.

richardcthompson said...

It's great seeing Kelly in action like this, he must've been a fireball. I know he did lots of personal appearances and chalk-talks, and wouldn't you wrestle just about anybody to the ground to've attended one?

But the Pogo costume is the stuff of nightmares. It looks like a macrocephalic Harpo Marx in Day at the Races.

And McCutcheon had his own Wright flyer? Jeez, haven't cartoonists come down in the world?

Mike Lynch said...

Mac, you're right about Injun Summer! How could I forget?

Richard, I can only imagine what it was like for these kids to meet Kelly. I am envious of every one of them. Wouldn't be great if we had cartoonists doing these multi-city tours when their books come out? Hello? Washington Post? Andrews McMeel? Yoo hoo!!!