Reamer Keller, case in point number 12 in this ongoing feature, was a gag cartoonist who, frankly, I never really appreciated. His cartooning style absolutely rankled me and his gags usually left me cold. But he was a very popular and successful magazine gag cartoonist, with a huge fan base. Fellow cartoonist Mike Lynch, for instance, has often rhapsodized about Keller on his blog.
I couldn’t find much biographical data on Reamer Keller, and what I did find may or may not be accurate. I believe he was born in 1912 and died in 1988. Also he attended the University of Cincinnati and earned a degree from Ohio State University. He cartooned actively from about 1935 to about 1975 and his work appeared in all the major outlets, but, as far as I could tell, never in The New Yorker.
Now the point of this feature is that we all have to start somewhere. The old Keller cartoons that I’ve posted below are all from “The Good Humor Book”, an anthology published in 1944 by Harvest House. The book, which I’ve mentioned before, appears to be a low-paying catch-all collection. My thought is that the editor probably asked for and accepted stuff that had been rejected everywhere else. So there’s no telling when Keller actually drew these cartoons, except that it was before 1944.
His style at that time, in my opinion, runs a complete gamut and there’s very little resemblance to the Reamer Keller style of his prime years.
The last cartoon posted, in his familiar drawing style, is from The Wall Street Journal and dates from the 1960’s.
And finally, I’m posting a photo of Reamer Keller lifted from the September 30, 1955 issue of Collier’s magazine. It accompanied a brief article written by Jerome Beatty, Jr., Collier’s famed cartoon editor.
(The Wall Street Journal, 1960’s)