Saturday, January 7, 2017

The International Day of the Cartoonist 2017

I would like to observe the International Day of the Cartoonist 2017 by remembering the international cartoonist Joe Szabo, who died last year at the age of sixty-five. I'm happy to say that Joe was also a Hoosier, if only for a while.

Joseph George Szabo was born on February 4, 1950, in Budapest, Hungary, just six months after his country fell under communist rule. According to items on the Internet, Joe graduated from the Academy of Journalism in 1974. I believe that to mean what was then or is now called Bálint György Academy of Journalism in Budapest. On July 19, 1975, Joe Szabo married Flora Toth, also of Budapest.

In a remembrance of his friend, Len Lear wrote that Joe "wanted to be a real journalist because he had a passion for justice, but that was impossible in Communist Hungary, where any deviation from the party line could mean unemployment, exile, prison, torture or even death." (1) Although he worked in the late 1970s as assisting managing editor for Hungarian Nation (Magyar Nemzet), the largest daily newspaper in Hungary, Joe was dissatisfied with his comfortable position and his relatively prosperous life in his native country. "Journalists in a Communist country are considered a part of the political apparatus," Joe told Mr. Lear. "You're not a watchdog, just the opposite. You are a lapdog. You are not there to print the news or to be objective. You are there to make the authorities in government look good and not to deviate from the party line. You are basically a public relations person for the rulers and oppressors." In 1980, Joe and his wife fled from Hungary to the United States by way of Austria and West Germany (where he sought political asylum at the U.S. embassy). In December 1981, Joe arrived in a small town in Indiana, possibly Warsaw, Indiana.

Not knowing English, Joe struggled and was unemployed for a couple of years. He found work as a freelance cartoonist for a time. With a drawing printed on May 13, 1985, his political cartoons began appearing in the Philadelphia Daily News. They were also syndicated by Rothco and were chosen by Charles Brooks for his annual collection, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, in 1986, 1987, 1988, and possibly other years. (My collection is incomplete.) In 1987, under the byline Joseph George Szabo, Joe began publishing WittyWorld International Cartoon Magazine. The first issue was dated Summer 1987.

I have just three issues of WittyWorld (Nos. 2-4). As a cartoonist, I can say that is everything a cartoonist might want in a magazine. It is well designed and well made, and though there are only forty-eight pages in each issue, those pages are packed full of information. The regular departments are especially fine. They include a letters page; "Witty Wire," a compilation of cartoon news from all over the world; reviews of comic books and animation books by Frederick Patten, of cartoon books by Hongying Liu-Lengyel, and of journals by John A. Lent; "Cartoon Laboratory" on innovations in cartooning; a column on syndicates; a calendar of events; and classified advertisements. There are of course many articles and pictorial features as well. WittyWorld ran for several years. The last number I have found is Number 18, from Autumn/Winter 1994.

Joe Szabo published WittyWorld from North Wales, Pennsylvania, a borough north of Philadelphia. He seems to have moved to Pennsylvania from Indiana and to have lived there for the rest of his life. Even though he escaped to the United States, he still had reason to fear political oppression and political violence. "Remember," he said, "Joseph Stalin had Leon Trotsky murdered in 1940, although Trotsky was many thousands of miles away in Mexico. In the U.S. and western Europe, where there is freedom of movement, dictators like Vladimir Putin have had journalistic critics murdered. They could do it here, too. You are never really safe." The targets of the cartoons he drew and those he published by other cartoonists were not just communist rulers or rulers in formerly communist countries. They were and are oppressors and tyrants of every color and stripe.

In 1990, Joe convened a meeting of cartoonists in Budapest as the Iron Curtain was coming down. He traveled to other parts of the world, too, to meet with cartoonists, to speak at and attend exhibits and conferences, and to lecture on cartoons and cartooning. He spent the last decade of his life conducting research and interviews for a planned book, The Image of America, showing how people the world over see his adopted home country. With visits to nearly seventy countries, he had enough material for a lecture series, one that he conducted in the United States and abroad. (He found that people in other countries have ambivalent views, though tending to the negative, of the United States. Some of those views are delusional at best. For example, some Spaniards--like one of our recent presidential candidates--are 9/11 truthers.) Joe Szabo was also author and compiler of The Finest International Political Cartoons of Our Time, published in 1992 by his own WittyWorld imprint.

"I'd rather be poor in America than rich in Hungary," Joe Szabo once said. (2) Although he was not materially wealthy--he and his wife reared their five children in a small apartment stocked with used furniture and books--Joe Szabo enjoyed the benefits of freedom with his family in a new country. Sadly, he died at his desk on February 2, 2016, in North Wales, Pennsylvania, just two days short of his sixty-sixth birthday. His obituary observed that "[h]e was a passionate risk taker, boundless world traveler, and world-class debater. He never once lost an argument. Joe's friends described him as having an infectious personality with a continuous thirst for knowledge." (3) I think it fair to say that he also had a thirst for freedom and a very keen interest--as cartoonists tend to have--in fellow cartoonists and in the craft and profession of cartooning, which is, if I might say, a fine and noble profession.

In memory of Joseph George Szabo (1950-2016) and of:

George David Wolinski (1934-2015)
Jean Cabut (1938-2015)
Philippe Honoré (1941-2015)
Bernard Verlhac (1957-2015)
and Stéphane Charbonnier (1967-2015)


(1) From "Joe Szabo, Local Voice for Courage and Justice, Has Been Silenced" by Len Lear on the website Chestnut Hill Local, January 6, 2017, here.
(2) Ditto.
(3) "Joseph George Szabo," from the Landsdale Reporter, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, posted on the website, February 9, 2016, here.

A cartoon by Joe Szabo from 1987 showing the magnetic pull the United States has for people who wish to express themselves freely and, by extension, to live freely. From Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 1987 Edition, edited by Charles Brooks.

Completed at a later date and backdated to January 7, 2016, in observance of the International Day of the Cartoonist.
Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Last of 2016

I had plans to continue with my series on firsts in Indiana art, but as plans do, this one went awry. This past year has not been a bad year. I can't really complain. But it has been a tiring and frustrating year. I hope that you have had better, and I hope that we will all have better in 2017. I have to admit that my writing on line will be far less in 2017 than in 2016. I will continue to write, but not on such a schedule as before. In any case, thanks for reading, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Terence Hanley

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Firsts in Indiana Art-Part Two

The First Known Artist in Indiana--According to author Fred D. Cavinder in his compilation The Indiana Book of Records, Firsts, and Fascinating Facts (1985), "the earliest art on record in Indiana" is a wash drawing made by Governor Henry Hamilton of a rock formation along the Wabash River near what is now Logansport. Mr. Cavinder gives the year of composition as 1777. What must surely be the same work is shown in Mirages of Memory: 200 Years of Indiana Art, Volume I (1977), a catalogue of an exhibition from 1976-1977. That catalogue states that Hamilton composed his picture in 1778 rather than 1777. Here are some details:
     In October of 1778, Hamilton led an expedition of about 230 men southwest from Detroit to Fort Sackville [located in Vincennes in what is now Indiana], then in the hands of colonist sympathizers. The troops travelled by canoe, carrying a heavy load of provisions and arms. The journey was a backbreaking two-and-one-half month struggle with swampy portages, rapids, rain, snow, and accidents. During this time, Hamilton kept an extensive journal documenting the campaign and made a number of sketches directly from the landscape.
     The work included in the exhibition, Shiprock, Wabash River (no. 21), does not appear to be far removed from the military tradition of factual representation. The military man's eye for details is also revealed in Hamilton's journal entry concerning this location. His careful descriptions, in text and sketch, allowed later generations to recognize the exact location of the scene which is near present-day Logansport.
     The sketch of the shiprock reveals that Hamilton understood pictorial representation. The work was done by a man who obviously grasped the principles of design and space, and who was familiar with landscape traditions. This suggests that Hamilton's work was more than a military record. [p. 20]
In other words, Governor Hamilton's drawing may have been more than a mere tool; it may also have been a work of art, and because it no longer has any military or topographic utility, Shiprock, Wabash River may exist now only as a work of art, or at the very least as a historical document. I should add this unequivocal sentence from later in Mirages of Memory: "[Shiprock, Wabash River, 1778] is the earliest known drawing produced in the area now known as Indiana," very likely the source of Fred Cavinder's information. (p. 55) The original source for both accounts may have been Wilbur D. Peat's seminal Pioneer Painters of Indiana (Art Association of Indianapolis, 1954).

There were Europeans in Indiana before Henry Hamilton. The earliest visitors were explorers, traders, and military men, but by the early eighteenth century, there were trading posts or small settlements as well. Again, it seems likely to me that there were artists among the earliest European visitors to Indiana, even if all they drew were maps. We'll have to go with what we have, though, and call Henry Hamilton the first known artist in Indiana, meaning, more precisely, the first artist to create a work of art in what is now Indiana. We can also call him the first watercolorist and the first creator of a landscape in the state. The irony is that Hamilton was a villain in Indiana, a man known as the "Hair-buyer General" for his alleged policy of buying the scalps of white settlers from the Indians who took them. Luckily for us, George Rogers Clark put Hamilton in his place by capturing Fort Sackville and Hamilton himself in 1779.

Shiprock, Wabash River, 1778, by Henry Hamilton, a drawing of 8-3/8 x 10-3/4 inches, drawn in pencil, wash, and ink, and the first known work of art created in what is now Indiana, from Mirages of Memory: 200 Years of Indiana Art, Volume I (University of Notre Dame, 1977).
The Fall of Fort Sackville by Frederick Coffay Yohn of Indianapolis, a canvas completed in 1923 and later adapted to a commemorative U.S. postage stamp on the sesquicentennial of the event. There are counties in Indiana named Clark and Hamilton. Clark County is named of course for George Rogers Clark, shown here on the left. Hamilton County is not named for Henry Hamilton, however, the figure on the right. Note that Clark and his men are rough, informal, and common, while Hamilton and his men are upright and dressed in finery. This image encapsulates, I think, the idea of America, of the people fighting for and securing their rights against arbitrary--and elitist--power.
Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Firsts in Indiana Art-Part One

Today, December 11, 2016, is the two-hundredth birthday of the great State of Indiana. In observance of the Indiana Bicentennial, I would like to begin a series on firsts in Indiana art, a series to carry through to the end of the birth month and birth year of the Hoosier State. My sources will include those listed on a new page called "Bibliography," accessible by clicking on tabs on the right and at the top of this page. I invite additions, corrections, and speculations to and on this list of Firsts in Indiana Art.

The First Artist in What Is Now Indiana--No one knows who was the first artist in what is now the State of Indiana, for that person's name or identity is lost in prehistory. (From here on out, I'll shorten "What is now Indiana" to just "Indiana.") According to various sources, the first people in Indiana were of the Paleo-Indian Period (or Tradition) of 8000 to 6000 B.C. These are believed to have been wandering hunters in pursuit of big game. They left behind them expertly made fluted points of chert and chalcedony, artifacts of an obviously utilitarian purpose but of an equally obvious aesthetic quality. These were tools, however, and not specifically works of art.

The Paleo-Indian Period was followed by the Archaic or Meso-Indian Period (or Tradition) of 4000 to 2000, 1000, or 400 BC, depending on which source you consult. Indians of the Archaic Period are also supposed to have been wanderers. They made points of stone, too, but the artifacts most closely associated with them are shell mounds or middens, the castoff remains of freshwater mussels hunted or harvested for their meat. I should point out that the harvesting of mussels for mother-of-pearl buttons and other items, as well as for freshwater pearls, was a craze in Indiana during the early twentieth century. I think it extremely likely that American Indians of the Archaic Period would have recognized the potential for making decorative items from mussel shells and pearls, too. In fact, archaeologists have found shell (and copper) beads in graves dating from the Archaic Period in Indiana. Whether these were the earliest decorative or artistic rather than simply utilitarian artifacts in Indiana is, by my sources, an unanswered question.

The Woodland Indian Period (or Tradition), which ended with European contact, was marked by the development of agriculture and permanent and semi-permanent settlements, among other advances. In his booklet An Introduction to the Prehistory of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society, 1983), James H. Kellar was more explicit: "The Woodland Tradition is basically defined by the presence of pottery containers with surfaces distinguished by cord impressions or other decorations applied using a flat paddle-like tool." (p. 35) Note the word decorations. A roughened surface makes a pot or container easier to handle. (My supposition.) It's a short step from a roughened surface--a utilitarian development--to a decorated roughened surface--an aesthetic or artistic development. In any event, with pottery-making came a surface upon which decorations--art--could be made and which might survive into the historical period, including to the present day.

It's safe, then, to say by the archaeological record that the first artist in Indiana was probably from the Archaic Period, certainly by the time of pottery-making in the Woodland Indian Period, in which case that artist may very well have been a woman. Being an artist, I would go further than that. The people of the Paleo-Indian Period were people--they were human beings. One defining characteristic of us as human beings is our creativity, not just for solving problems in everyday life but also for expressing ourselves and for communicating what we apprehend about the world and about ourselves and our existence. With that in mind, I feel confident in saying that the first artist in Indiana was among the first people in Indiana, setting foot here 10,000 or more years ago.

Late Paleo Indian-Early Archaic Blades, presumably from the period 8000 BC and after, from An Introduction to the Prehistory of Indiana by James H. Kellar (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1983), p. 28. Fluted points are among the earliest surviving artifacts of people in Indiana. Although strictly utilitarian in nature, they have an undeniable aesthetic quality. Their production would have required a combination of technological innovation, manual dexterity, and visualization of an ideal, all requisite for the creation of art. Is there any reason to believe that Paleo Indians would not also have created works of art?

Middle Woodland Pottery, presumably from the period 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D., from the same booklet (p. 45). Here are obvious works of art, a clay figurine that does not appear to have had a utilitarian purpose, and the decorative surfaces of clay pots. Having done only a cursory search for cave painting in Indiana, I can't say that there is any known art of that type in the state. Nonetheless, pottery, though not two-dimensional, offered early Indians a surface upon which they could create decorations. It's no surprise that their decorations would take the form of patterns imposed upon, if not recognized in, nature.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eugene Chase Cassady (1891 or 1892-1966)

Eugene Chase Cassady was born on November 21, 1891 or 1892, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Ulysses G. and Minnie B. Cassady. Ulysses G. Cassady, also known as U.G. Cassady, was a self-taught artist, an inventor, and a manufacturer of art glass and automobile headlight glass. He worked at the Primolite Company, the Indianapolis Art Glass Company, and U.G. Cassady and Sons, "Designers and Manufacturers of Art Glass for Church, Residence and Public Buildings," all in Indianapolis. His son Eugene C. Cassady attended Manual Training High School in Indianapolis, known for its art program, under the direction of Otto Stark. Cassady entered Butler University in 1911 but left before completing his education to take up studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis (1910-1913). His teachers included William Forsyth, Otto Stark, and Clifton Wheeler. As an artist he called himself Chase Cassady, also E. Chase Cassady.

When war came, Cassady answered his nation's call, joining the 1st Battalion Engineers of the Indiana National Guard. He later enlisted in the U.S. Army aviation corps. On June 10, 1919, he married Edna Novella Gliem in Washington, D.C. The enumerator of the census of 1920 found Cassady and his wife living with his parents and his brother on Woodruff Place in Indianapolis. Both Ulysses and Eugene were employed as manufacturers of art glass. Both were also listed in Mary Q. Burnet's Art and Artists of Indiana (1921). And both exhibited their work in their home city. In 1922, E. Chase Cassady painted "Conference on the Limitation of Armament" for the Daughters of the American Revolution, a canvas to be hung in Memorial Hall in Washington, D.C. By 1930, Cassady was in Highland Park, New Jersey, and working as a self-employed illustrator. In his draft card of 1942, he called himself an illustrator and industrial designer. I know very little about Cassady's career as an illustrator except that he contributed to Liberty (Sept. 16, 1939) and Scribner's (as of 1925). Eugene Chase Cassady died in July 1966, presumably in or near Highland Park, New Jersey.

A poor reproduction of an illustration by Eugene Chase Cassady from Scribner's, circa 1925.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 21, 2016

George A. Shealy (1910-1988)

George Allyn Shealy was born on March 4, 1910, in Chicago, Illinois, to Otto C. Shealy, a grocer, and Katherine C. Shealy, a music teacher. By the time he was just seven weeks old, Shealy was already a Hoosier, for his family lived in the Whitley County town of Churubusco when the enumerator of the Federal census came around in April 1910.

George Shealy went to Churubusco High School, where he was in the Boys Glee Club and the school orchestra. After graduation, he matriculated at Indiana University under a scholarship (1927-1928) and was a member of the class of 1931 (although I'm not sure that he graduated from that institution). His art education consisted of three years at the Art Institute of Chicago; five summers at the Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan; and studies under the muralist John Warner Nolton (1876-1934) of Illinois.

A summary of Shealy's career, from The U.S Air Force: A Pictorial History by James J. Haggerty and Warren Reiland Smith (New York: Spartan Books, 1966):
[George A. Shealy] taught art at Todd School for Boys, Woodstock, Illinois; designed and built sets for summer theater with Orson Welles and Hilton Edwards of the Gate Theatre, Dublin; and taught at St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa. He was in the Army Combat Engineers in World War II and at the request of the Office of War Information he was sent to London to be art director on publications. Shealy set up his own studio in 1950 as a free lance art director and illustrator and later became head of the Department of Art, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina. (p. 260)
Shealy served two years in the U.S. Army during and after the war, from January 21, 1944, to February 19, 1946. He was married to Dr. Joyce H. Shealy, a psychologist. George A. Shealy died on August 27, 1988, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was seventy-eight years old.

"K-14 at Kimpo, Korea" by George A. Shealy.

The cover of Print: The Magazine of the Graphic Arts, June 1952 (Vol. 7, No. 3) with a cover design by Shealy, who was also credited as art director.

George Allyn Shealy and his wife, Dr. Joyce H. Shealy, circa 1962. Photo courtesy of Everett Library Special Collections, Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Original text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, November 18, 2016

George C. "Bob" Bales (b. 1920)

George Carson Bales, nicknamed Bob, was born on April 5, 1920, in Terre Haute, Indiana. His parents were William F. Bales (1891-1960), a farmer, and Beatrice Myer Bales (1896-1977), a farmer's wife and a postmistress at the Dana, Indiana, post office for thirty-seven years. Bob had an older brother, Jack Truitt Bales (1918-2011), an aviator, engineer, and real estate developer. You can read more about him on the website Find A Grave, here.

In addition to their many accomplishments on their own, the Bales brothers had connections to fame and accomplishment through their family. They are descended from Mordecai Beall (1739-?), who served in a Maryland military unit during the Revolutionary War. (Beall's son William changed the spelling of the family name.) They are also descended from Thomas White, a member of the Boston Tea Party. Hoosiers will recognize Dana, where Beatrice Bales worked as postmistress, as the hometown of war correspondent and author Ernie Pyle (1900-1945). According to Pyle's biographer, Jack and Bob Bales are the step-grandsons of Pyle's Aunt Mary Bales. (1) Pyle visited his relative Jack Bales, who called him "Uncle Shag," in the South Pacific during World War II and wrote about eating fried chicken from Indiana, canned by Aunt Mary and sent halfway around the world.

The Bales family lived in Vermillion County, the skinniest county in Indiana, when the boys were young. Both Jack and Bob matriculated at the University of Illinois, Jack to study law and Bob to study art under the visiting portraitist Robert Philipp (1895-1981). (2) Bob went on to study portraiture under Will Foster (1882-1953) in Los Angeles, and under Robert Brackman (1898-1980) in New York City. (3)

Bob Bales graduated from the University of Illinois in 1941 and went into the United States Army. During World War II, he flew C-46s in the European Theatre. He was also qualified as a pilot and observer on B-24s. (Jack Bales was also an aviator during the war and served in the South Pacific.) Separating in December 1945, Bob studied art in Los Angeles and went to work for the Walt Disney studios on the strength of just one drawing he carried to his job interview. He worked as an illustrator on Song of the South (1946), the Little Toot and Pecos Bill segments in Melody Time (1948), and The Wind in the Willows (1949).

Bob returned to active duty in 1947 and served as a pilot in the southeast and east Asia region, deploying to the Philippines in 1950 with the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing. In July 1950, at the start of the Korean War, he volunteered to go to the peninsula, where he helped establish a forward airfield, only to tear it down again as North Korean and Chinese forces advanced on the position. He was the only professional artist on the peninsula during that first hard winter. Using Jeep gas as paint thinner, he executed eight rapid-fire canvases, reducing his brushes to mere nubs in the process. Bob's Korean paintings were later part of a group of canvases he donated to the United States Air Force.

From 1952 to 1963, Bob was instrumental in the development of the U.S. Air Force art program, eventually serving as chief and retiring in 1963 as a lieutenant colonel. He joined the staff of Pepperdine University, earning a doctorate in business administration in 1971 and rising to the level of a vice-presidency within the university. He retired to Birmingham, Alabama, his wife's hometown, in 1980.

In addition to being an artist, aviator, and university administrator, Bob Bales is the author of Jet Aces of the Korean Conflict (1957), Ernie Pyle: A Hoosier Childhood (2002), and Ernie Pyle's Southwest (2003). Among the other accomplishments of his long life and career: Eagle Scout, varsity wrestler, member of the Society of Illustrators, skin diver, and hunter.

(1) See The Story of Ernie Pyle by Lee G. Miller (New York: The Viking Press, 1950), p. 394.
(2) Born Moses Solomon Philipp, the artist was known as Robert in his youth. He later changed his name legally. George Carson Bales--with no Robert in sight--is nicknamed Bob. Could he have followed the example of his famous teacher?
(3) Philipp and Brackman both painted portraits of movie stars. I wonder if those connections helped Bob Bales break into moviemaking as an artist at the Walt Disney studios.

"USAF Friends Near K-9, Korea" by George C. Bales. K-9 was near the coast in far southern South Korea. I was stationed in the central part of the peninsula, south of Seoul, more than forty years later. Nevertheless, I can say that this doesn't look very much different from the place where I served.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley