Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Ain't it the Truth!

I see that the great Tad Dorgan has just been inducted into the boxing Hall of Fame. (heads up via Tom Spurgeon). The reporting on it is minimal. There was a time when if you wanted to find examples of Tad's work you'd have to look in the Boxing histories, but he's not even in those any more. The comics historians don't give him a lot of space as Tad's main interest was sports and we know that sports are anathema to most comics collectors. And the arty crowd like Spiegelman would have no interest as Tad was never inclined to play around with formal trickery.

Tad is one of my favourite all time cartoonists. You may recall that he appears in my The Fate of the Artist, where I show one of my two Tad originals, which incidentally was given to me by my pal John Anderson when he saw how I was gushing over the other one. Above is the other one, which I picked up for somewhere over a couple hundred bucks at the end of a San Diego con. The seller wanted more and I would have too, but this was before Campbell made his bundle. It's a big half-page cartoon that appeared under Tad's "CITY LIFE" heading on may 20 1917 , a sunday I think, but I deduce it would not have been in colour, and in the sports section rather than the colour comics supplement of Hearst's New York Journal. The date is scribbled on blue on the back and an order sheet pasted thereon requests the printer to engrave it "12¾ deep". In fact I wish there was more of this order slip remaining. It tells so much about how things were done back then, like the pencilled instruction on the front at lower right which reads, 50% benday.
This original is huge, much too big for my scanner, so I've just used the camera. You can fit a cd in each of the 12 panels. I've put one at the front of the photo for scale. The scenario shows a guy minding his own business in a pool room and then he gets called in to decide a dispute.

He decides the wrong way and gets thumped. We see him next having dinner with a middle-aged married couple, where he is asked to "decide a little matter for us".

He gets it wrong again and on his way home a crowd of baseball-playing boys needs an impromptu umpire. Again he gets it wrong. Lying in a heap on the ground, he is asked by a passing cop if he needs help and he responds "I refuse to decide".
I only ever met one guy who likes Tad as much as I do and that's Bob Callahan. Bob was doing a book about Tad way back when. I don't know if it ever got published. However, on both of the occasions when I've gotten involved in Bob's anthologies (most recently the Smithsonian book of comic books), I never got paid, so I'm not going to send you looking.



Blogger James Robert Smith said...

I wasn't familiar with that guy's work. Nice stuff.

12 June 2007 at 05:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Steve said...

Another fascinating tip to add to Dakin's; just draw round cd cases for panels in old style strips. They're coming thick and fast.

12 June 2007 at 15:37:00 GMT-5  

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