Category: We All Have To Start Somewhere

“We All Have To Start Somewhere Department”. Case in Point No. 19

Case in point Number 19 in this very irregular feature is . . . me.

In 1946, at the age of 14, I sent a letter to cartoonist Stan MacGovern at the New York Post. The Post in the 1940’s was New York City’s politically-liberal newspaper, owned and published by Dorothy Schiff, and it had a huge circulation all over town. That’s just the opposite of what the Post is today, under the ownership of Australian Rupert Murdoch.

Anyway, one of the Post’s exclusive comics at that time was Stan MacGovern’s daily and weekend strip “Silly Milly”, which ran the humor gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime. MacGovern had many “Departments”, and in my note to him I suggested an idea for one of his running gags. In my exhuberance, I even sent him a drawing of the gag so he could see how it could work. 

The next thing I knew, the letter, the drawing and my gag appeared in a Silly Milly weekend strip and MacGovern built the rest of that day’s strip around it. Here it is, and I guess I should mention at this point that Eli is my middle name and Isidore is my first name!  

Of course, I was delighted to see the strip and, as they say, the rest is history. So thank you, Stan MacGovern, wherever you are.

I usually finish my “We All Have To Start Somewhere Department” with a photo of the cartoonist, so here’s one of me at age 14, give or take a year or two.

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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No.18

The New Yorker had two great cartoonists with the last name of Day. One was Chon Day (who has already been featured here, as Case in Point No. 2), and the other was today’s case in point, Robert Day.

I found very little biographical information on him, but here it is: Robert James Day was born in California in 1900. He lived and worked from his home in Rockville Centre, Long Island, NY for many years, and he died in Arkansas in 1985. He studied at the Otis Art Institute, in California, while working in the art department of the Los Angeles Times, from 1919 to 1927. In the early 1930’s, he was on the staff of the New York Herald Tribune. Physically, he was an imposing figure, standing 6 feet, 6 inches tall.

He published a hardcover album of his cartoons in 1945, “All Out for the Sack Race!”.  Over the years, he also illustrated many books, including Arthur Godfrey’s “Stories I Like to Tell” and Leo Rosten’s “Rome Wasn’t Burned in a Day”.

The New Yorker published more than 1,800 Robert Day cartoons. The first one appeared in September, 1931 and the last one in May, 1976. The magazine also published eight covers drawn by him.

In addition to being featured in The New Yorker, Robert Day’s cartoons also appeared in other prestigious publications. Since the premise of this series is “we all have to start somewhere” (to indicate how a cartoonist’s style develops and changes over the years), I’ve tried to uncover some of his early drawings. But I have to confess that even in the oldest drawings that I found, such as the first one posted, from an old Life Magazine, the distinctive Robert Day style is still evident. With that in mind, I’ve gathered together some other early and some not-so-early cartoons. The second cartoon posted below, from The New Yorker in the early 1930’s, is certainly unique in that it is signed “R.J.D.”, rather than the familiar “Robt Day”. You can see many more of Robert Day’s New Yorker cartoons online, at The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank site.

Following the R.J.D. cartoon are cartoons from This Week, a former Sunday newspaper supplement. These were taken from the hardcover collection, “What’s Funny About That?”, published by E. P. Dutton in New York in 1954. So all of the cartoons from This Week date from before 1954. The Cartoon Editor of This Week, by the way, was cartoonist Ralph Stein (no relation).

Following This Week are some cartoons from True Magazine. These were taken from the hardcover collection, “The True Album of Cartoons”, published by Crown in New York in 1960. So all of the True cartoons are pre-1960. I’m also very proud to have a couple of my own cartoons in that True collection.

And finally, I’m posting a seldom-seen photograph of Robert Day. It was also taken from the This Week book, and I assume it dates from 1953 or 1954.

Early, undated cartoon from old Life Magazine:

Cartoon from The New Yorker, early 1930’s:

Cartoons from This Week Magazine:

Cartoons from True Magazine:

Robert Day:



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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Dapartment. Case in Point No. 17

Case in point No. 17 in this ongoing feature is legendary gag cartoonist Jack Markow, who was born in London, England in 1905 and died in New Jersey, U.S.A. in 1983. Brought to this country as an infant, he was educated here and studied at the Art Students League for six years.

An extremely prolific artist, Jack Markow’s work did appear sporadically in The New Yorker starting in 1928, though he is not generally thought of as a New Yorker cartoonist per se. For many decades, he was a mainstay of all the other traditional cartoon outlets — Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, The Wall Street Journal, Look, True, etc., etc.

Jack Markow was known as the “Dean of Magazine Cartooning”, because of his extensive role as an educator and writer during his more than fifty years in the field. He taught for many years at The Cartoonists and Illustrators School in Manhattan. The name of the school was later changed to become the highfalutin’ School of Visual Arts — still a thriving institution in the city.

I was actually one of Markow’s students in those days (in the mid-1950’s). I attended C & I for a few terms under the G.I. Bill (along with many other like-minded veterans). I don’t think I absorbed too much from him, though. I was kind of an independent and stubborn student — I really think I learned more from my fellow students than I did from Jack Markow or the other teachers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good and beneficial time for me, but looking back over it I now I wish I had paid more attention to the instructors.

Besides teaching, Jack Markow wrote a monthly cartoon column for Writer’s Digest for many years, contributed frequently to Cartoonists PROfiles magazine, published several “How-To” books on freelance magazine cartooning and marketing and for three years was the Cartoon Editor of Argosy magazine. Moreover, his lithographs can be found in a number of museum collections around the country.

But the point of this feature is “we all have to start somewhere”, so I’m posting below some of Jack Markow’s earlier work, from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

There really isn’t much of a change in drawing style from those days to his later work — I guess you could always identify the distinctive Markow cartoon.

The first five cartoons below are from a hardcover book I’ve cited before: “The Good Humor Book”, published in 1944 by Harvest House, NY. I said that Jack Markow was very prolific, and looking through this book proves that point. He is by far the most visible cartoonist in the collection — I counted over 90 signed cartoons of his, and dozens more that I assumed were his, but the signature was either obliterated or cropped out completely. As I also said many times about this anthology, I always assumed it was a low-paying “dumping ground” collection, wherein many well-known cartoonists were encouraged to submit their bottom-of-the-barrel cartoons — cartoons that they had given up any hope of selling anywhere else.

The next four early cartoons are from Liberty magazine, a Lawrence Lariar hardcover cartoon anthology and True magazine.

And lastly, an interesting photo which I discovered on a Jack Markow Facebook page — a page that is maintained by his daughter, Janet.

From “The Good Humor Book”:





From Liberty magazine, 1950’s:


Two cartoons from a hardcover anthology, “You’ve Got Me — And How!”, edited by Lawrence Lariar and published in 1955 by Dodd, Mead & Company:

From True magazine, 1950’s:

And here’s the photo, probably also dating from the 1940’s or 1950’s. It shows Jack Markow having lunch with other gag cartoonists (and an agent) on Wednesday “Look Day”. That was the day each week that Manhattan magazine cartoon editors reserved for face-to-face meetings with cartoonists, to see their latest output and perhaps hold a few “roughs” for consideration or purchase. Cartoonists typically made the rounds of the editorial offices all day, and informal lunches together were part of the ritual.

From left to right in the photo: Dick Cavalli, Jeff Keate, Ted Key, (agent) Pat Fulford, Jack Markow and Kate Osann.

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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No. 16

New Yorker cartoonist Al Ross celebrated his 100th birthday on October 19, 2011. I thought it would be fitting to honor him on this occasion by making him the latest “Case in Point” in this ongoing feature, in which I post some of the early work of famous cartoonists.

Much has been written about Al Ross, including stuff I’ve written about him in the past on this blog. So I’ll just summarize by saying that Al Ross is probably the most famous of four celebrated cartooning brothers. Their last name was Roth, but only Al’s brother Ben Roth cartooned under that name. The other three signed their cartoons either Al Ross, Irv Roir or Salo. Ben, Irv and Salo Roth are deceased, but each of them was very prolific and made his mark in the golden age of gag cartooning, when publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and Look dominated the market.

The eight early Ross cartoons posted below are all from a sourcebook I’ve mentioned before, “The Good Humor Book”, a hardcover compilation of cartoons and jokes published by Harvest House in 1944. As I said before, my instincts tell me that the publishers weren’t offering much in the way of compensation for the cartoons. I feel that the cartoonists were glad to dump their old, unsellable rejections there, probably for pin money. So these cartoons date from the early 1940’s or before — and you can see a remarkable difference in Ross’s drawing style, as compared to the style which he developed in his later years.

The next three Ross cartoons posted below are from another hardcover anthology, “The American Cartoon Album”, published in 1974 by Dodd, Mead and Company. The three cartoons are reprints from either Medical Economics, Saturday Review or Dugent Publishing Corp. (the anthology doesn’t supply specific copyright attributions). These cartoons are very typical of Ross’s later free-flowing style, which you can also see in many of his New Yorker cartoons.

Below the cartoons I have posted a photo of Al Ross from 1947. And below that, a photo of him at his 100th birthday party. Happy birthday, Al Ross! alross2.jpg alross4.jpg alross1.jpg alross6.jpg alross8.jpg alross7.jpg alross3.jpg alross5.jpg alross10.jpg alross11.jpg alross9.jpg alrossphoto2.jpg Al Ross, 1947 alross100birthday.jpg Al Ross, 2011

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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No. 15

Case in point No. 15 in this ongoing feature is Elmer Simms Campbell, who signed his cartoons E. Simms Campbell.

Campbell was born in St. Louis, MO in 1906 and died in White Plains, NY in 1971. He was the first openly known African-American cartoonist to draw for big-name national publications in the U.S. — and he accomplished this from the early 1930’s to the late 1960’s, when segregation, both subtle and flagrant, was a fact of American life.

Here’s what Esquire Magazine had to say about Campbell in 1957: “E. Simms Campbell has been Esquire’s most prolific creator of cartoons, and has never missed an issue [since Esquire’s debut in 1933]. He attended the University of Chicago and Chicago Art Institute, holds honorary degrees from two other universities, is a charter member of the National Cartoonists Society, has illustrated a dozen books and written numerous articles on jazz.” (Quoted from the Esquire Cartoon Album — 25th Anniversary Volume, published in 1957 by Esquire, Inc. and distributed by Doubleday & Co., NY).

In addition to appearing in all those issues of Esquire, Campbell’s cartoons could be seen in Playboy, Cosmopolitan, The Saturday Evening Post and Redbook, just to name a few other publications. He even did a New Yorker cover, dated February 3, 1936 — however, I can’t find any evidence that any of his cartoons ever appeared within The New Yorker.

Other Campbell accomplishments: he created Esky, the mustachioed, bulging-eyed mascot of Esquire Magazine; he drew a newspaper gag panel, “Cuties”, distributed to hundreds of papers by King Features; and last, but not least, his cartoons appeared in many national advertising campaigns.

But the point of this feature is that “we all have to start somewhere”. All of Campbell’s early cartoons posted below are taken from a source book I’ve mentioned before, “The Good Humor Book”, published in 1944 by Harvest House, NY. It’s a hard-cover compilation of cartoons and jokes, but my instincts tell me that the publishers were offering very little compensation and that most cartoonists were just “dumping” their old, unsellable rejections there.

The final cartoon is from the Esquire Cartoon Album I mentioned. The photo of E. Simms Campbell is also from the same book. campbell6.jpg campbell2.jpg campbell1.jpg campbell4.jpg campbell3.jpg campbell8.jpg campbell7.jpg campbell5.jpg campbellesquire.jpg campbellphoto.jpg E. Simms Campbell

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“We All Have to Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No. 14

I was saddened to learn of the May 7th death of cartoonist Bernard Schoenbaum. He had always been one of my favorites and I looked forward to seeing his cartoons in The New Yorker.

Cartoonist Michael Maslin, in his very informative blog, supplies some additional biographical details on Schoenbaum.

Actually, I had always intended to include Bernard Schoenbaum in my ongoing “We All Have to Start Somewhere” feature. Only two things stopped me: 1) I couldn’t find any really old “Schoenbaum” cartoons that had a drastically different cartooning style than the one he was famous for, and 2) I couldn’t locate a photo of him anywhere.

The three cartoons I’m posting here all date from the 1970’s, but I don’t know the exact publication dates. Two are from The Wall Street Journal and the other one is from True Magazine. Though they are about forty years old, the familiar “Schoenbaum” style is very evident in each of them. His first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1974.

Bernard Schoenbaum left an enduring legacy in his gag cartoons. Rest in peace.


(From The Wall Street Journal, 1970’s)


(From The Wall Street Journal, 1970’s)


(From True Magazine, 1970’s)

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“We All Have to Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No. 13

Case in point number 13 in this ongoing feature is Brooklyn-born cartoonist Jerry Marcus (1924-2005). His magazine gag cartoons could be seen everywhere for about 50 years — and he even had a few in The New Yorker. He also drew a newspaper panel “Trudy”, syndicated by King Features, until his death.

Jerry Marcus lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut for about 40 years, and later in Danbury and Waterbury. He would travel into Manhattan by train on Wednesday “Look Day”, often in the company of fellow Connecticut-based cartoonists, such as Orlando Busino, Joseph Farris and Dana Fradon. His path often crossed mine in the waiting rooms of various Cartoon Editors.

But the point of this feature is that “we all have to start somewhere”. All of the cartoons posted below are from a paperback anthology “Juvenile Delinquency”, published by Dell in 1956. They probably date from that year or 1955. The editor of the anthology? None other than Charles Preston (Editor of The Wall Street Journal’s cartoon panel for over 50 years, and still going strong).

The photo of Jerry Marcus is one very rarely seen — it dates from 1963 and I lifted it from Don Ulsh’s newsletter, “New York Cartoon News”.







Jmarcusphoto.jpgJerry Marcus

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“We All Have to Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No. 12

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)

kellerphoto.jpgReamer Keller

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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No.11

It’s time I got back to this ongoing feature. Here are some early cartoons by Rowland B. Wilson, who died in 2005 at the age of 74. He was actively cartooning to the end, and the story goes that there were sketches for a new “Playboy” cartoon on his drawing table when he passed away. Besides all those colorful full-page drawings he did for Playboy, Mr. Wilson’s cartoons appeared in The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Esquire and similar publications.

But . . . we all have to start somewhere. The cartoons I’m posting below are from “1000 Jokes” magazine and they date from the 1950’s. 1000 Jokes was a low-paying publication issued quarterly by Dell and edited by cartoonists Bill Yates and John Norment (both deceased). After making the rounds of New York City cartoon editors on Wednesday “Look Day”, many cartoonists submitted their rejections to 1000 Jokes. It was sort of a “last resort” market, but it had the advantage of being edited by fellow cartoonists. I’m not intending to disparage 1000 Jokes here — it contained loads of great cartoons — but it was low-paying, and that’s just the way it worked out. I don’t think many gag cartoonists had 1000 Jokes in mind as their market of choice when they were creating cartoons.

1000 Jokes regularly ran a feature called “Varsity Varieties”, which reprinted cartoons from college humor publications. Two of the Rowland Wilson cartoons posted below appeared in that feature, credited as reprinted from “Texas Ranger”. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Texas in Austin.

I think you’ll agree that there is a stark evolution in style from Wilson’s early cartoons as compared to the wry, colorful work he did in his prime.

1000 Jokes, Spring 1953


1000 Jokes, Summer 1953


“You should have seen him doing the pole vault.”

1000 Jokes, Summer 1953


1000 Jokes, Summer 1953


1000 Jokes, September 1957 (Texas Ranger)


1000 Jokes, December 1958 (Texas Ranger)


I don’t have a photo of Rowland Bragg Wilson to show you, so I’m finishing up my report with a typical “Playboy” cartoon of his, from the May 1971 issue.rwilsonplayboy.jpg

“Could you put the rest in a bowser bag?”

A couple of years ago, cartoonist Roy Delgado posted an old photo of Rowland Wilson on his blog. It was from the 1980’s and you can see it here.

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“We All Have To Start Somewhere” Department. Case in Point No.10

Case in point No 10 in this ongoing feature is the late Johnny Hart (1931-2007). Everyone knows by now that, before he created his popular “B.C.” comic strip in 1958, Johnny Hart produced gag cartoons for most of the big national cartoon-using publications, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s.

The first early cartoon of his that I’ve posted below is from True magazine. It’s in the hardcover anthology “The True Album of Cartoons”, published in 1960, so it’s safe to say that it appeared in True sometime in the 1950’s. The other three early cartoons are from “Cartoon Annual No. 2”, a paperback, pocket-sized anthology published in 1955 by Ace Books, Inc.

I can’t see any visible connection to Hart’s “B.C.” drawing style in any of these cartoons. Yes, “we all have to start somewhere”.

I’m also including a photo of Johnny Hart, lifted from “The Cartoonist Cookbook”, published in 1966. hart1.jpg hart3.jpg hart2.jpg hart4.jpg hartphoto.jpgJohnny Hart

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Welcome to the Eli Stein Cartoon archive. To begin, read my introduction and personal notes, and then please look at the cartoons, which are categorized by either decade, publication name or topic. I’ve included some personal comments, memories and photos below many of the cartoons. I’ll be adding cartoons, memories and photos ad infinitum. Remember, your comments are appreciated (just click on the “comment” link at the bottom of each post).