Monday, January 09, 2012


Above: November 26. 1945: H.T. Webster was the Time Magazine cover subject.On the upper right: his "Timid Soul" character, Caspar Milquetoast.

H.T. Webster (1885-1952) was a nobody from West Virginia who took up two hobbies when he was seven years old: cartooning and smoking (according to his Editor & Publisher obituary, September 27, 1952 as reprinted in Stripper's Guide).

He took a cartooning correspondence course when he was a teenager. By 1905, he was drawing sports cartoon for the Denver Post. Stints at the Chicago News, the Chicago Inter-Ocean and the Cincinnati Post followed. By 1812, he landed a position at the New York Tribune. Despite a brief period at the New York World, Webster (or "Webby" as his friends called him) returned to the Tribune where he would stay for the rest of his professional life.

He was a prolific newspaper mainstay. He created many popular features (now forgotten). They had great names, like:
  • Poker Portraits
  • Life's Darkest Moment
  • The Thrill of a Lifetime
  • How to Torture Your Wife
  • The Man in the Brown Derby
  • The Timid Soul
  • Bridge
  • Nothing Can Be Done About It

When he died on the commuter train the day after his 67th birthday, he left 7 months worth of cartoons for the paper to run.

Here are a few cartoons and other items from WEBSTER'S POKER BOOK by H.T. Webster, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1925.

They, like all of Webster's cartoons, concentrate on human nature that still read true now. 

I believe the book belonged at one time to Bil Dwyer, a cartoonist (he took over Dumb Dora) and a friend of Milton Caniff's. This is the signature on an interior page:

And Bil had put a couple of other cartoons in the book. Here's a wonderfully drawn Gaar Williams panel clipped from the September 25, 1927 Chicago Tribune:

Also inserted in the book from the same year: a page from a Jimmy Hatlo They'll Do It Every Time 1927 page-a-day calendar:

And here's the back of that same calendar page, with some math in pencil. Figuring out the winnings from a poker game? I don't know.


Yesterday's Papers
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