Thursday, December 15, 2011

Art Collection: More Fun With "TAD" Dorgan, Ca. 1918 - 1925

(Click for bigger. Highly, highly recommended)

Here are three more pieces of Hearst newspaper art from my collection of works by Thomas Aloysius "TAD" Dorgan. Once again, these pen, brush, ink, and blue pencil drawings are on TAD's typically rough-hewn, irregular 9"-ish by 12"-ish illustration boards. The above example shows, unfortunately, rubber cement staining left over from some foolish engraving assistant's bright idea to apply the Benday/Zip-a-Tone dot screens (which have since fallen off) directly to the original drawing rather than the photostat. Tsk.

Workaholic TAD's two daily features throughout the late Teens and Twenties were "Indoor Sports," his single-panel slice-of-urban-life, and "Judge Rummy/Old Judge Rumhauser", his multi-panel anthropomorphic philandering dogs strip. Usually they would run side-by-side at the top of the front page of the sports section in Hearst papers and King Features client papers, and this primo real estate is a good indication of just how popular Dorgan's work was. You can download a characteristic example of a TAD-dominated front page from 1919 (the Washington Times, of all things!) here.

Every once in a while, TAD's slice-of-urban-life panel took place outside, and so "Indoor Sports" became "Outdoor Sports" for the day. The one above (probably mid-1920s; I can't track down the exact date of this one or the next one) is one of my favorites, a classic city scene showing a meter reader under siege by the neighborhood dogs while onlookers, none-too-fond of the victim's occupation, do nothing to help him. Here are some details:

I love this dog gleefully making off with the meter reader's notebook:

TAD doesn't have to waste a lot of lines to create action and expression:

Next up is everybody's favorite monocled canine jurist, Judge Rummy, and his lisping wife in a pretty simple wise-cracky gag strip from 1918-20:

(Click for bigger)

This is a very typical Judge Rummy for this period. These strips were minimalistic and usually the drawings varied little from frame to frame, a real contrast to the more laborious and sophisticated Indoor/Outdoor Sports panels. I always imagined that Dorgan spent the majority of his time working on Indoor Sports and then dashed off the Judge Rummys, which at this point he could probably do in his sleep, quickly. As the 20s progressed, the cartoonist phased out ol' Rummy, by then an old-fashioned relic of the previous decade.

But speaking of Indoor Sports, here's today's last selection, another great speakeasy scene from 1922*:

(Click for bigger)

The speakeasy shown here doesn't seem quite as swanky as this one (note the spittoon on the floor and the cheap lighting fixture). I like how he shows a moment leading up to mayhem, rather than the mayhem itself. The cat appears to be using a variation of Cockney rhyming slang: "That's the anteater's trunk" = "That's the bunk." Seems like a mean and painful prank! I love the drawing of the sleeping guy:

You can see four more works from my TAD collection here and here. Next up: A rare book illustration by Dorgan, the fascinating woman who inspired it, and a horrible, fatal irony for TAD.

*Note how yellow the paper is? When I bought this, it was in a garbagey frame and I'm betting it was hung on a wall for years like that (the high-quality India Ink, unlike the board, is unaffected). Let this be a lesson to you about putting cheap glass on your drawings! If you can't frame a work on paper properly, don't display it.


samael7 said...

Hee hee! It's funny because he's going to fall to his death and dogs are going to eat him! /curmudgeon

No, seriouly, that's awesome.

The penny thing, though . . . did people actually do that for a laugh? Wow.

Peteykins said...

Burning pennies were, oddly enough, a mainstay in early 20th century pranking. One scenario involves children giving burning coins to organ grinders' monkeys, and this was common enough that I was able to find several references to the practice.

Lulu Maude said...

Kind of a relief after the thought of Doing Callista...