Tuesday, March 28, 2023

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Cartoon Clip File Odds and Ends


It's all ready spring cleaning time, and Dick Buchanan has, in the process of sorting through his massive Cartoon Clip File, come across some favorite odds and ends including some vintage cartoon contests, organ grinder cartoons, and some maybe too-popular gag cartoon captions!

Thanks and take it away, Dick:



The Cartoon Clip File contains more than magazine gag cartoons clipped from the 20th century magazines. It also contains other stuff, which we toss in a box labeled Odds & Ends. What better time than now to share this and that from that boxful of Odds & Ends . . .

Over the years, many magazines from have published Cartoon Caption contests. Here’s one from the American Magazine. Sit back, light up a Lucky Strike and try your hand at gag writing 1950’s style . . .

Can you write a better gag? Cartoon by Ned Hilton. American Magazine April, 1950.

Here are two cartoons, generations apart, which cleverly illustrate that some things never change.

FRIEDRICH GRAETZ. Puck circa 1885.

MEL CASSON. The Saturday Evening Post December 7, 1946.

Sometimes, when gag writing, a cartoonist starts with the caption. Here’s a popular caption, “You know too much!”

AL KAUFMAN. Collier’s October 21, 1950.

ERNEST MARQUEZ. 1000 Jokes Magazine Summer, 1951.

VIRGIL PARTCH. Collier’s September 20, 1947.

Partch’s cartoon sparked a quick response from America’s teaching fraternity. Letters Column Collier’s November, 1947.

Sometimes a cartoonist comes up with two cartoons with the same caption. Can you spot the difference?

STANLEY AND JANICE BERENSTAIN. The Saturday Evening Post January 9, 1949.

STANLEY AND JANICE BERENSTAIN. Collier’s August 12, 1950.

BILL RUBLE. Collier’s July 17, 1943.

BILL RUBLE. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1949.

On November 14, 1949, Clyde Lamb launched his pantomime newspaper daily comic strip, Herman. Herman was carried during in 55 newspapers in the United States, India and Africa, lasting until 1966. It was distributed by Iowa’s Register and Tribune Syndicate, which also later distributed Lamb’s panel cartoon Open Season.

The Cartoon Clip File was happy when these comic strips, crudely clipped by someone long ago, landed in the Cartoon Clip File via a process too dubious to recount.

CLYDE LAMB. Herman October 1, 1952.

 CLYDE LAMB. Herman October 2, 1952.

 CLYDE LAMB. Herman October 4, 1952.

Many visitors to the Old Joke Cemetery visit the section devoted to gag cartoons about professions which no longer exist. One is the Organ Grinder, the subject of cartoons for ages. Organ Grinders were novelty street performers who operated in the 18th century and early 19th century. In 1935 New York’s mayor La Guardia banned the instruments from the street, citing traffic congestion, the "begging" inherent in the profession, and organized crime’s role in renting out the machines. But that didn’t stop cartoonists. They continued to churn out Organ Grinder gags for years. Plucked from the far corner of the Old Joke Cemetery are Organ Grinder gags.

JOHN DEMPSEY. 1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1959.

TON SMITS. Look Magazine March 1, 1960.

JOE ZEIS. The Saturday Evening Post November 22, 1960.

VIRGIL PARTCH. Collier’s October 29, 1954.

REAMER KELLER. 1000 Jokes Magazine Summer, 1952.

In the 1960’s John Gallagher was a frequent contributor to Boys’ Life, a magazine published for the Boy Scouts. One of his best creations was The Cartoon Bug, a monthly feature offering tips on cartooning for young artists. After it’s run in Boys’ Life, The Cartoon Bug was syndicated in the USA and Canada. The result was a deluge of mail the Gallagher family never forgot. Here are examples of this great series . . .

JOHN GALLAGHER. The Cartoon Bug. Boys’ Life January, 1968.

JOHN GALLAGHER. The Cartoon Bug. Boys’ Life May, 1968.

JOHN GALLAGHER. The Cartoon Bug. Boys’ Life June, 1968.

Well, did you come up with a better gag? If not, don’t give up. Better luck next time. Here are the winning entries.

Did You Write a Better Gag? Cartoon by Ned Hilton American Magazine June, 1950.  


- Edited from an original May 21, 2020 blog entry.

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