Thursday, November 23, 2006

SUNDAY COMICS PAGES FROM 1895!

This comics page from Pulitzer's "World" is almost 110 years old! Click to enlarge. That means the Sunday comics page (at least the title page) was better a century ago than it is now! I don't know about you but that hurts my pride. Where are our artists? We should compete with these old guys!The subject matter of these pages is interesting. One is about fires in high rises and the is other about train wrecks. These were serious problems in those days and I'm suprised to hear them treated with such levity here. I'll write more about this paper soon. Thanks to Jenny for recommending the book I got these pictures from: "The World on Sunday" by Baker & Brentano.

27 comments:

katzenjammer studios said...

http://www.pbfcomics.com

This is one of my favorite comic strips of my generation. Check it out Eddie. He's published in lots of papers and he's actually funny. Art is rather mediocre tho.

Comic strips suck these days. Anybody know about the business? Is it like animation industry (bureaucratic)? I wouldn't mind doing comic strips for papers, but I dunno if there's any money in it.

Shawn said...

I love those comic strips from the 1890's. Hogan's Alley and The Yellow Kid are beautifully drawn! Some of them illustrated news events, and some told stories. Today's comics do neither.

I submitted my own strips to syndicates several times. After my final attempt submitting to Universal Press, they rejected me again...then picked up The Boondocks that same summer. AAAAARRRRGGHHH!

ncross said...

Hi Eddie,

One of the reasons comics were so great back then was that the newspapers were actively competing with each other, trying to have the best and most exciting paper so that more people would buy it. Comics were seen as key to this, that's why they were drawn really well, funny and in color! Back then in the newspaper biz, comic artists were stars! If they were good they commanded top dollar. Everybody knew their names when they walked down the street. They lived high on the hog.
Now of course every newspaper has the exact same lame comic strips that no one reads. Where did it all go wrong!!??

Anonymous said...

Those are great. Like that's news to anyone here!

I'm really into the mechanics of creating comics and what I love about these- beyond the sweet drawing style- is the ability to tell an entire chronological narrative in one big image.

Sure you could read the first one as all happening simultaneously, but I think it's actually not. It's one big giant chunk of continuity... you might not be able to put it in temporal order but this was in the days before panel-to-panel storytelling.

No one really does this stuff anymore, at least no one I've been exposed to.

Charles Brubaker said...

There are still well-drawn comics, like "Get Fuzzy", "Prickly City" (even having a politically incorrect character in here), and "Lio".

I admit, though, you know the industry is in trouble when Dave Kellett's "Sheldon" (www.sheldoncomics.com) doesn't get picked up for newspaper syndication, but strips like "The Meaning of Lila" gets picked up. AUGH!

Anonymous said...

john k sure is coming off like a bitter old dinosaur in his latest posts lol.

comics do suck but its the terrible writing not the art thats the problem, theres plenty of amazing artists that get turned down by comics syndicates because the writing sucks

"good art cant save bad writing but good writing can save bad art"

Charlie J. said...

the problem is that all the talented artists are drawing for fantagraphics or whatever. No one wants to work for the comic pages because of bonehead executives, but kids need good comics too, so they can grow up and make good comics.

Anonymous said...

comics should be appealing to kids but they shouldnt be written "for kids" otherwise youll get garbage about sharing and the meaning of friendship.

Im not a huge fantagraphics fan, too much of the whole hipster postmodern subculture indy "artist" vibe there.

Anonymous said...

and its good writing that makes a good comic strip more than art, not that the art shouldnt be appealing and well drawn but its the writing that makes or breaks a strip.

Ive seen way too many talented artists websites that whine about how "the syndicates dont care about good art" and their strip is a bunch of dumbass animals standing around making bad puns

Spizzerinktum said...

How gorgeous. How utterly gorgeous.


Hey, "anonymous", you're completely wrong. On all counts. Where do you get this crapfo, anyway?

comics do suck but its the terrible writing not the art thats the problem

It's the terrible everything. Good writing and good art co-exist. They're just not in newspapers.

Just because people read the horrible comic strips we have today doesn't mean they wouldn't read--or care about-- great comic strips. People read newspaper comics for the same reason kids watch Saturday morning cartoons: It's there.

Anonymous said...

Im not defending todays comic strips I think theyre all terrible. I agree that good writing and art coexist but if the writing isnt there it doesnt matter how beautiful your drawings are, people wont care.

Mike Kunkel has a beautifully drawn comic strip called "ham and eggs" that I think proves my point

As far as traditional 4 panel strips go the only good ones are Peanuts, Pogo, Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Dilbert before Scott Addams got lazy

As for Single Panel Comics "The Far Side" is the only syndicated comic worth reading, and Kliban Shel Silverstein Gahan Wilson and Charles Addams are also geniuses.

Anonymous said...

You got it!! I'm tickled you remembered to seek it out--Mike must have this book too, yes?

Gosh, it's just such a beautiful volume. Thanks for posting these.
And Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

a comic doesnt necessarily need to have any dialogue to be "well written" either.

My favorite comic is a Far Side panel showing a penguin lying flat on his back next to a banana peel in the middle of a vast plain of ice.

virtually anyone could draw that scene and it would still be a hilarious comic. Id much rather see a comic like that than a "check out this funky penguin I drew!" blog post, even if its extremely well drawn which is basicaly what the syndicates are getting and rejecting

Anonymous said...

Check out this funky penguin I drew!

www.eatshit.org

Drew said...

I don't even read the sunday comics anymore. Usually because when I read it it takes me two minutes to understand the joke, and then when I do it's not funny.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EDDIE!

Jorge Garrido said...

Holy shit they really gave these guy alot of space, didn't they!!!! Thanks for this psot, Eddie!

Billy Watterson did a great write up in the Calvin & Hobbes 10th anniversary comparing the comics then and now. He showed a Sunday page from 1990 and one from 1995 and the difference was tremendous. The funny thing is, that page from 1995 is way bigger than they print them now! They don't give them any space anymore. That's why Dilbert is allowed to exist!

cableclair said...

Oh man, I love this stuff. I can oogle at it for hours! I think Chris Ware is the only guy doing justice to these, nowadays. Just eye candy. Dammit, now you make me crave for not only this book, but also Chris Ware books and the Nemo in slumberland stuff. I want it all.Why did this near dissapear? WHY?

Anonymous said...

The same reason animation quality has declined, the people who make the decisions are bean counters who dont appreciate the artform.

it would be amazing if this type of art could make it back in the papers but id settle for funny writing.

Anonymous said...

whats really sad is the panel cartoons trying to pass themselves as "the far side" today. It was in around 2400 papers(pretty much the limit) when Larson retired and now theres about a dozen panel comics in about 200 papers each and they all suck.

Brevity, speedbump, flightdeck, bizarro, cornered, loose parts, strange brew, all godawful

They mercilessly rip off The Far side, even when they arent directly plagiarising him theyre using his cartoons as templates for their own hackneyed efforts.

I.e. The Far side has a cartoon with a gopher saying "oh yeah you dont know which way is up!" with the caption "ultimate gopher insult" and strange brew does a cartoon with a bat insulting another bats ability to see in the dark with the caption "ultimate bat insult" pathetic

Anonymous said...

id say my rage at how much comics suck today is double what John K's is at animation

Spizzerinktum said...

Let's not forget that Gary Larson shamelessly plaigiarized the work of the incomparable B. Kliban. He stole from Kliban's humor and practically traced Kliban's characters, watering it all down just enough so that some paper would publish it. The watering-down being of the innate variety, of course. I'm pretty sure Larson stuck a kelly green golf shirt, a copy of Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head and Erma Bombeck's tombstone lint into a Cuisinart and out came his first "idea".

I'd be lying if I claimed I never laughed at Larson's cartoons, and he does have talent, but it infuriated me that at the height of his popularity NO ONE, least of all him, acknowledged the enormous debt he owed to Kliban, who was conveniently dead.

I wonder if a supernatural lime popsicle drips onto his forehead while he sleeps...

Anonymous said...

Im pretty sure he said "B Kliban is god" in his interview with playboy (in the 80's while Kliban was still with us) and refers to him as "a master of the artform" in the introduction to his complete far side collection.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Katz: Thanks! I checked out pbfcomics and the best of it was really funny!

Annonymous: Your description of the penguin that slipped on the banana peel is hilarious!

Shitbitch said...

The writing in "Get Fuzzy" embarrasses me to no end.

P.S.- Since Larson is one of my many influences, I wouldn't be so harsh on him, Spizz.

Anonymous said...

yeah, Larson may have been influenced by Kliban but his ideas and sense of humor were completely original, saying Larson is a Kliban ripoff is like John K calling south park a ren and stimpy ripoff.


Frazz gets my vote for worst comic

Pbfcomics.com is the only 4 panel strip worth reading

Anonymous said...

Sheldon didnt get picked up because hes an unfunny precocious little shit

Anonymous said...

I was watching "For a Few Dollars More" on AMC the other day. Two things struck me. The Wanted Poster was terrible.. no draughtmanship. The other thing was, Lee Van Cleef figures out who Clint Eastwood was by looking in the archives of the local newspaper, where he sees a halftone photo of some bounty hunting Clint (TMWNN) did. They didn't have halftones figured out yet... perhaps some sort of ortho process leading to line work was around.

Anyway, the point is, the funnies were better back then, because all the newspapers needed artists, not photographers. If photo reference was used, it was engraved by hand first.