Monday, March 1, 2021

Golf in Art by Indiana Artists

This entry on golf in art made by Indiana artists began when I found this slim paperback, Play It Pro: Golf from Beginner to Winner (1960), at a flea market in southeastern Ohio. The cover illustration is by Bob Abbett (1926-2015) of Hammond, Indiana, whose art is always worth a look.

John H. Striebel (1891-1962) of South Bend is best known for having drawn the comic strip Dixie Dugan, but in the 1910s and '20s, he kept busy with illustrations for magazines and newspapers, mostly for the Chicago Tribune. Here is a cover illustration by him for that newspaper's Sunday "Coloroto Magazine" section of June 17, 1923.

John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) of South Raub, Indiana, and Purdue University also worked for the Chicago Tribune. Here is an illustration for "New Fables in Slang" by McCutcheon's old Indiana friend, George Ade (1866-1944), published in The Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1912.

Fontaine Fox (1884-1964) was born in Kentucky but attended Indiana University (which now holds a large collection of his cartoons). While working for a Chicago newspaper in the early twentieth century, he began drawing cartoons about the people and events of a place called Toonerville. His Toonerville Folks became a very popular daily comic and Sunday strip, and it stayed that way for decades, until Fox's retirement in 1955. Toonerville is peopled with a large, colorful, and very memorable cast of characters, including the Powerful Katrinka, shown here playing the role of both golf cart and caddie. Fontaine Fox, by the way, was a great fan of golf, and the sport was a recurring subject in his cartoons.

Sidney Smith (1877-1935) was another cartoonist from a state bordering Indiana. His native state was Illinois, but around the turn of the twentieth century, he cartooned for the Indianapolis News. In 1912, he settled in with the Chicago Tribune, where he created first Old Doc Yak, which gave way to a vastly popular story strip called The Gumps. Here are the first few panels of an Old Doc Yak Sunday from May 26, 1912. The slapstick humor is typical for the day and for the strip.

Born in Indianapolis, Chick Evans (1890-1979) wasn't an artist, but he was a golfer. He was also an editor and philanthropist and the author of a short-lived comic feature called Fore, drawn by Dick Calkins, later of Buck Rogers fame. Here is the cover illustration for Golfers Magazine, September 1915, edited by Evans and Crafts W. Higgins. The cover art is by--I believe it says--Bessie Bethey (dates unknown).

Allen Saunders (1899-1986) of Lebanon and Crawfordsville, Indiana, started out as a cartoonist and French teacher but found his true calling by writing comic strip continuities. In 1936, he began as the scriptwriter for The Great Gusto, soon to be retitled Big Chief Wahoo, drawn by Elmer Woggon. Big Chief Wahoo went through more name changes as the years went by. In 1962, when this golf-themed strip appeared in newspapers, it was known as Steve Roper, and the artist was William Overgard.

Dave Gerard (1909-2003) was also from Crawfordsville. In fact he was mayor of that city from 1972 to 1976. Although he drew the syndicated comic strip Will-Yum and the comic panel Citizen Smith, Gerard created hundreds of magazine gag cartoons published from the 1930s onward. Here is one from Golf Digest, from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Captions copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, February 12, 2021

Tom Floyd (1928-2001)

Cartoonist and commercial artist Thomas Wesley Floyd, Sr., was born on July 13, 1928,* in Gary, Indiana, to William Webster Floyd (1894-1936), a laborer in a steel mill, and Alice James Floyd (dates unknown), a housewife. Tom Floyd's parents came from the South, William from Wetumpka, Alabama, Alice from Mississippi. They were married on March 1, 1923, in Crown Point, Indiana.

Tom Floyd was their fourth child, but only three of those four showed up in the census of 1930, Tom, his older sister (Mary) Juanita, and his older brother James Frederick. All three were born in Indiana, and the family lived in Gary, the largest American city founded in the twentieth century and one known for its steel mills. In the census of 1940, Tom and his siblings were living in the household of their maternal grandparents, Walter and Ollie James. Walter James died in 1945.

Tom Floyd graduated from the University of Illinois in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in commercial art. He ran his own advertising business in Gary and worked as a designer of visual aids in the training department of Inland Steel Company, also in Gary. By 1971, he was vice president of W.V. Rouse & Associates of Chicago, a management consulting firm engaged in minority relations. Over the course of his career, Floyd also worked as an editorial cartoonist, single-panel cartoonist, comic strip artist, and comic book scriptwriter.

Race and minority relations were a continuing theme and interest in his life and work. He is best known for his cartoon collection Integration Is a Bitch! (1969), subtitled "An Assessment by a Black-White Collar Worker," but he also wrote and drew the cartoons for a second book, The Hook Book . . . The ABC's of Drug Abuse . . ., which he self-published in 1973 under his own firm, Tom Floyd Visuals of Gary, Indiana. It's a cute book on a serious and deadly subject. I stand with the late Mr. Floyd in his opposition to drugs and drug abuse, which has helped to ruin not just black people but all kinds of people in America and the world over. Integration Is  Bitch! won the Book of the Year Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1971.

In 2012, comics historian Allan Holtz published a monumental work, American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. In the index of authors and cartoonists, there is a single-name credit, "Floyd," for a person who created three comic features for the Chicago Defender during the 1960s. I don't think there can be any doubt that the artist in question was Tom Floyd. The three features credited to "Floyd" are:

  • At the Brink with J.J., which ran from December 11, 1965, to February 3, 1968 (It was renamed King Freedom. I don't have dates for that title.)
  • Color Cuties, which ran from December 11, 1965, to March 30, 1968
  • Integration Chuckles, which ran from December 11, 1965, to March 23, 1968
I have a sample only of the first title (shown below). Comparing a sample of Integration Chuckles with the cartoons in Integration Is a Bitch! might be all the evidence we need to show that "Floyd" and Tom Floyd were the same person. (A comparison of signatures, also shown below, makes pretty good evidence, too.)

Beginning in the 1960s, Floyd was involved in a project for which every comic book fan, especially every Hoosier comic book fan, can shout Yay! The project was a comic book about a black superhero called Blackman, who flies by pulling on his own bootstraps and who likes to eat peanuts. (We should remember that Floyd's parents were both southerners.) Blackman finally made it into print in 1981 as a one-shot comic book pencilled by Eric O'Kelley and inked by Danny Loggins working from Floyd's script. It was published by Leader Comics Group, which is supposed to have been based in Indiana. I would like to think that that makes Eric O'Kelley and Danny Loggins Hoosier cartoonists, as well. By the way, Tom Floyd developed a supergroup that included Blackwoman, The Brotherhood, and The Big Dunker. 

In the 1980s, Floyd drew editorial cartoons for the Gary Post-Tribune. One of his drawings was included in the 1984 edition of Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, edited by Charles Brooks. (See below.) Tom Floyd married Wynona Marie Gibson, a native Illinoisan, on February 25, 1956, in Cook County, Illinois, presumably in Chicago. They had three children. Thomas W. Floyd, Sr., died on September 22, 2011, in Gary, Indiana. He was eighty-three years old.

*Although his year of birth is everywhere given as 1929, Tom Floyd's birth certificate states clearly that he was born in 1928.

A cartoon from Integration Is a Bitch! by Tom Floyd. Floyd's book was published more than half a century ago, yet many--if not all--of his cartoons are still pertinent. This is one of my favorites--". . . And this is our Negro!"--an outright acknowledgment of a kind of tokenism that is never supposed to be spoken of or noticed. Note that one of the people applauding is a clergyman. I take that to be a poke at the virtue-signaling liberalism of mainstream religion in America.

At the Brink with J.J. by "Floyd" from the comics page of the Tri-State Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, July 9, 1966.

The cover of Blackman #1, a one-shot comic book written by Tom Floyd, penciled by Eric O'Kelley, and inked by Danny Loggins.

An editorial cartoon by Tom Floyd from the Gary Post-Tribune from 1984. Note the signature on the upper right and its resemblance to the signature in the comic strip At the Brink with J.J. from 1966. The same signature is on the cartoons for Integration Is a Bitch!

A photograph of Tom Floyd with his comic-book superhero, Blackman, in an article from 1995.

Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The International Day of the Cartoonist 2021

Since 2015, I have here observed the International Day of the Cartoonist in honor and memory of five French cartoonists murdered for their art. They were Wolinski, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous, and Charb, respectively, George David Wolinski (1934-2015), Jean Cabut (1938-2015), Philippe Honoré (1941-2015), Bernard Verlhac (1957-2015), and Stéphane Charbonnier (1967-2015). They were killed on this day in 2015 by Islamist terrorists in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The same kind of terrorist infamously killed another Frenchman in 2020 because he showed some cartoons to his students. He was Samuel Paty (1973-2020), and he was a middle school teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. Every year since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, M. Paty showed his students cartoons drawn by its cartoonists depicting a person revered by Muslims. When he did the same thing in October 2020, a young Muslim man took offense, and on October 16, 2020, he killed and beheaded Samuel Paty in the street near his school. A few minutes later, police tried to arrest the killer. When he resisted, they shot him dead. The French government was strong in its response to the murder. Some Western media, including in the United States, were characteristically weak. The French showed strength and resolve. Some Americans, Canadians, and Europeans showed their bellies.

The French president awarded M. Paty the Légion d'honneur posthumously. I think we can honor him, too, for his courage and for his devotion to the principles of freedom of thought and expression and of resistance to tyranny and oppression. There are cartoonists all over the world currently engaged in the same kinds of things. We should honor and remember them, too.

Postdated to January 7, 2021.

Copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley