Friday, December 11, 2015

Editorial Cartoonist W.K. Starrett on the Cartooning Life in 1913

William Kemp Starrett, who was editorial cartoonist Albany Knickerbocker Press, wrote about the cartooning life in February 1913 issue of Cartoons Magazine. He was just 25 years old when he wrote this, but had already drawn cartoons for newspapers in New York City. His first sale was at the age of seventeen to the Brooklyn Eagle.

After a couple of years of freelancing, he signed on upstate, as sports cartoonist at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY. At the time he wrote this article for Cartoons magazine, he had switched to drawing editorial cartoons, and had been at the Knickerbocker Press full-time for about two years. Allan Holtz has transcribed the article at his Stripper's Guide blog.

"After you get the job you hie yourself to the office at 7 a. m., grab all of the morning papers, and proceed to dig up an idea. Possibly the boss has requested something very funny for that day, and after scanning the columns telling of murders, suicides, divorces, hold-ups, accidents, and tales of woe, you wonder if there is really anything funny to draw about."

Just three months later, Cartoons Magazine, in its May 1913 issue, reported that Starrett had left the Knickerbocker Press. As the magazine put it he "has cut loose from his salary and returned to New York where he purposes drawing cartoons on a 'free-lance' basis. For the time being Abe Lipschutz is doing the cartoons for the Knickerbocker Press."

By 1915, he succeeded C.R. Weed, and was doing cartoons full-time at the New York Tribune. He was also "house-hunting in the suburbs."

But by the spring of 1917, he had left the Tribune and was doing magazine and book illustration, something he would continue doing for years. He would build up an "A" list of clients including the old Life Magazine and Harper's.

"W.K. Starrett's cartoons will hereafter reach the public through the medium of the Providence, Rhode Island News to which he goes from the New York Tribune," states a news item in a 1918 copy of Cartoons Magazine.

Photo of W.K. Starrett from a 1913 Editor and Publisher profile of the cartoonist.

After that, not much else I can find out about him. Did he go to war? I don't know. Did he continue on, from paper to paper, year to year? I know he was doing cartoons for magazines through the 1920s. There is a fellow, a Vincent Starrett, who wrote the introduction to editorial cartoonist's John McCutcheon's book titled (of course) JOHN McCUTCHEON'S BOOK, which was published in 1948. And there are a few other Starretts around who drew cartoons.

There is a "Kemp Starrett" who drew cartoons for The New Yorker magazine  Kemp was also an active comic strip artist who lived from 1890 to 1952, so he seems like he may be the same fellow. The list of papers he worked on corresponds with his early editorial cartooning career.

So, if that's the man -- if he dropped the "W" permanently -- then he did go on to do a lot of comic strip work in the business?

EDIT: Here's something that's related:
Kemp Starrett and Henrietta McCaig Starrett are "Artists Who Wed Upset Popular Ideas" in this 1930 interview via Allan Holtz. My thanks to Jim Powell for finding this! Wow!

No comments: