Saturday, November 17, 2012

Art Collection: "Indoor Sports" Drawing By "Tad" Dorgan, 1917

(Click for bigger)

This wonderful drawing by Thomas "Tad" Dorgan is the same size as all the other Indoor/Outdoor Sports originals in my collection, but at some point in the past the board was cut down a little on all sides, probably to fit it into a frame. Some dummy also, once again, tore the dated engraving order off the verso, and I haven't been able to find this one in the various online newspaper archives, so I'm unsure of the date.

[UPDATE, 2013: I recently located a clipping of this cartoon, and it was originally published in early July, 1917.]

Once again we've got a prohibition gag, and the reference to a "prohibition town" means that this cartoon certainly predates 1920, when the entire country went dry. This one really cracks me up: a group of gents in a soda fountain acting like they're in a bar, and absolutely packed with gags, from the drink orders to the humorous signs on the wall. I especially love the "searching for the foot rail" posture of the central character and the "No, ma'am, your husband isn't here" joke.  Where there's a will, however, there's a way: witness the guys apparently sharing nips out of a flask behind the swinging doors (leading to the restroom?) on the right.

And like the last Tad I posted, this one is a "non-lazy" drawing, with no half-tone shortcuts by the artist, and Tad has employed every technique in his arsenal, beautifully evoking a sense of depth, texture, and atmosphere with his use of hatching, stippling, shadow and occasional touches of broad brushwork. Although the scene takes place in a typically shallow, stage-like space, there is an almost sculptural effect, like bas relief, resulting from Tad's strategic delineation of lights, darks, and mid-tones. This is Dorgan at the top of his game.

Tad dedicated this cartoon to a Richard Maxwell, but Google doesn't provide any likely candidates. Like many cartoonists, Dorgan may have sent him this drawing in response to fan mail.

The city mentioned, Meredith, may refer to Meredith, New Hampshire. New Hampshire had a rather convulsive history of prohibition, sometimes attempting to ban alcohol statewide, and eventually kicking the issue to individual municipalities. Perhaps a citizen of Meredith sent Tad this gag idea? Perhaps even Mr. Maxwell himself?

UPDATE: Note, also, that this cartoon contains the catchphrase "See what the boys in the back room will have," a phrase generally acknowledged as Tad's creation, and much later immortalized by Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (1939).

5 comments:

Left-wingLiturgist said...

We (White River Junction, VT) have the only independent cartoon school in the country.. offers an MFA. You ought to come up to do a guest lecture.

Peteykins said...

I've been tempted to give a "works in progress" talk at my work, but it's daunting. Plus, would I talk about Tad Dorgan or Ernie Bushmiller? Tough choice.

Comrade Physioprof said...

The texturing of the suit fabrics is mindblowing. One question: The lettering looks crude to me, almost like it was a rough draft. Am I missing something?

Peteykins said...

Tad was never that great at lettering, and the lettering here looks like his work to me. Some of the best cartoonists were terrible at this; the most striking example is Winsor McCay, whose Little Nemo comics are so sumptuous, sophisticated and beautiful, but then feature terrible, cramped word balloons with awful lettering.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Petey, you have such a huge archive of art and doodads, I'm starting to wonder if the producers of the show "Hoarders" has contacted you yet. :)