Thursday, February 28, 2019

John Gallagher Gag Cartoons 1951 - 1970

INTRO: John Gallagher gets a great write up about his life and his cartooning career by Dick Buchanan. Dick did a lot of research into this, and I'm grateful that the Gallagher family was happy to help. The rest of this is written by Dick, who will show and tell you the story of the amazing cartoonist John Gallagher:


Occasionally the Cartoon Clip File spotlights an important cartoonist from the Golden Age of Gag Cartooning. This time we take a look at the work of cartoonist John Gallagher, one of the most prolific and funniest gag cartoonists of the era—or any era, for that matter. Our thanks go to John Gallagher’s son, Michael and his nephew, Peter Gallagher for providing a huge amount of biographical material

(Gag cartoons 1951-1970)

John Gallagher was born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1926. He received the National Cartoonist Society’s Gag Cartoonist Award for 1957 and 1971. His brother George Gately created the comic strips Hapless Harry and the incomparable Heathcliff.

Gallagher’s father, renowned for his sense of humor, was a longshoreman who had always wished to be a cartoonist. He and his wife encouraged John’s and George’s artwork. John Gallagher began drawing Mickey Mouse and Popeye at the age of three. After John and George became professional cartoonists, their father clipped hundreds of cartoons from magazines and glued them in spiral bound notebooks for their reference. He also took over the bookkeeping aspects of his sons’ cartooning activities.

During World War II, Gallagher served as a Navy Signalman. After the war he attended Syracuse University School of Art on the G.I. Bill. It was there he met cartoonist Brad (Marmaduke) Anderson, who became his lifelong friend. Anderson showed him how to put together cartoons for submission to magazines. After two years, John transferred to Pratt Institute, majoring in Illustration.

In 1951, his senior year at Pratt, John Gallagher sold his first cartoon to The Saturday Evening Post—submitted by mail. He married Dorothy “Dot” Lotter and moved to New York City where he became a staff artist for the Howell-Rojin Agency, which helped pioneer TV “green screen” technology still used today by TV news weathermen. At this time, he began submitting cartoons on a regular basis. When his freelance career began to take off, he and Dot moved to Bergenfield, New Jersey.

For the next 20 years, Gallagher enjoyed an immensely successful gag cartoon freelancing career. He was one of the greatest “Big Foot” style cartoonists and a superlative gagman. Readers and editors alike found his cartoons to be just plain funny. They appeared in magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Look, American Legion, Sport, Military Life, True, Golf, Argosy, Parade, Saga and Boys’ Life. In the late 1960’s he penned “The Cartoon Bug,” an advice column for aspiring cartoonists which was later syndicated to newspapers in the United States and Canada.

In the 1960’s, Gallagher attempted to crack the syndicated comic strip market with projects which never sold but nonetheless remain memorable to many in the industry. One was Joe Bucket, a tiny robot who lived with the wacky scientist who accidently created him, a stereotypical hobo, a dog and his flea, etc. (the ‘joe bucket” was Navy slang a ship’s coffee pot) When cartoonist Johnny Hart was making the rounds attempting to sell his comic strip B.C., one editor was discussing with him how he needed to make it better. As Hart was asking for guidance, the editor opened his drawer and pulled out Gallagher’s Joe Bucket strip and said “Take a look at this. This is funny.” Johnny Hart was already a huge Gallagher fan. He corresponded with Gallagher in the 1980’s asking about “the little robot strip.”

The magazine cartoon market began to dry up in the late 1960’s, prompting John to leave freelancing to become Art Director for American Kitchen Foods. He designed packaging and promotional material for their new frozen French fry products, including “Tasti Fries.” During this period, he also began a long association with fellow cartoonist Bob Weber, supplying gags for his syndicated comic strip, Moose.

When his brother, George Gately, launched his syndicated panel, Heathcliff (McNaught/Creator’s Syndicate) in 1973 John became Heathcliff’s primary gagwriter and layout penciler until shortly before his death in 2005. Today Heathcliff is drawn by their nephew, Peter Gallagher.

Here is a selection of gag cartoons by John Gallagher . . .

1. The Saturday Evening Post December 6, 1951.

2. Here! March, 1952.

3. Collier’s August, 1952.

4. Collier’s February 7, 1953.

5. American Legion Magazine June, 1954.

6. American Magazine April, 1954.

7. Collier’s January 21, 1955.

8. Sport Magazine May, 1955.

9. The Saturday Evening Post July 20, 1957.

10. American Legion Magazine August, 1958.

11. The Saturday Evening Post February 8, 1958.

12. Sport Magazine February, 1959.

13. American Legion Magazine November, 1960.

14. The Saturday Evening Post October 22, 1960.

15. True Magazine August, 1961.

16. The Saturday Evening Post October 6, 1962.

17. True Magazine March, 1962.

18. Boys’ Life July, 1965.

19. True Magazine January, 1967

20. True Magazine February, 1970.


top_cat_james said...

"Heathcliff" launched in 1973, not '71.

Mike Lynch said...

Thank you, Top Cat! It's been corrected.

docnad said...

This post is a valuable addition to cartoon scholarship. I can't think of anyone else who could do all this background research and put something so comprehensive together.

Scott G said...

I love his work, what an amazing artist. I recall a book of his that I misplaced that
had a priceless cartoon in a french restaurant. The waiters were bringing out a elephant on 4 carts and the wife was chastising her husband for trying to order in french. Hilarious. Never saw it again but remember it well. Great blog.