Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RIGHT AROUND HOME by Dudley Fisher

If you had a dictionary of cartoonists by state, then Ohio would be the thickest chapter. So many great cartoonists came from the Buckeye State. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has compiled a list of names with strong ties to Ohio that includes James Thurber, Milton Caniff, Bill Watterson, John "Derf" Backderf, Matt Bors, Jim Borgman, Edwina Dumm, Billy DeBeck, Cathy Guisewite, Richard Outcault, one of the co-creators of Superman, and more here. 

The Washington Post's Michael Cavna asks "Wait — just how did Ohio become the cradle of great cartoonists?"

From the article:
"'As a cartoonist, your job is basically to sit alone in your room, drawing on a never-ending deadline,' [Bill] Watterson, who grew up in Chagrin Falls, tells Comic Riffs. 'For that kind of work, it helps to grow up with sober Midwestern values and to live someplace without a lot of exciting diversions.'

"'Cleveland is especially good,' the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator notes, 'because it has eight months of cloud cover and snow.'"

Well, who am I to argue with Bill Watterson?

Today I want to talk about another great Ohio cartoonist: Dudley Fisher. Born in Columbus, OH in 1890 and schooled in the same town at OSU. It was in his sophomore year, during the mid-year break, that he visited some friends who were working at The Columbus Dispatch. There was a job opening, and so he began doing layout for the newspaper. This was a lot better than his previous job of working in a pool hall during the evenings. It would change his mind about his architect career. He worked at the paper and enjoyed it.

He participated in The Great War, and upon returning to Columbus in 1919, continued at The Dispatch. Mentored by renowned Dispatch editorial cartoonist Billy Ireland, he became known for a feature titled Jolly Jingles. He also drew an occasional Sunday, Skylarks, that incorporated an aerial view. In early 1938, he began Right Around Home and it was an immediate hit.

The feature took advantage of the size of the page, and it was a sweet look into an innocent, small town America. King Features took notice, and quickly syndicated it nationally. 

From Hogan's Alley's The View from On High: Dudley Fisher’s “Right Around Home” by Jonathan Barli:

"The drawing style of Right Around Home evolved from a variation of Ireland’s into one that would influence future generations of cartoonists. The compositions of the strip were concerned with surveying the ground, not with breaking ground. Large, single-panel cartoons went back to the early days of newspaper comics: the Yellow Kid, Jimmy Swinnerton’s Mount Ararat and crowded genre scenes by Walt McDougall, to name a few ....

"Just as Gasoline Alley, week after week, depicted the passage of time, so too did Right Around Home, making note of seasonal changes throughout each year, announcing 'Signs of Spring' and 'Autumn Leaves,' and marking Halloween, 'Thanksgiving at Grandma’s' and 'Christmas shopping.' Right Around Home’s thematic concerns are rarely concerning: whether it’s neighborhood picnics, screening home movies, going sledding, waffle parties, gathering around a radio mystery or automobile problems like tire blowouts and fender-benders, everyone in the neighborhood is there; even if they are dragged out by a spouse.

The feature diminished in size as all newspaper strips did beginning during WWII. This reduced its impact. Fisher died in 1951. His assistant, Bob Vittur, continued the strip, along with the assist of Stan Randal, until the end of its run in 1965.

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