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 Segar Cartoon of Chester IL's Opera House Bill

In 1915, Elzie Segar drew this cartoon of Chester IL opera house owner and his first boss J. William "Bill" Schuchert. Many Chester residents swore that Bill was the model for J. Wellington Wimpy. Schuchert is reported to have physically resembled the lovable hamburger moocher, and natives of Segar's hometown say he was known to consume his fair share of the greasy ground beef sandwiches in his time. Like Bill, Elzie loved to fish year-round. The boss and his young employee likely shared an ice fishing hole on more than one occasion. Bill also reportedly paid the $20 young Segar needed to take the W.L. Evans cartooning correspondence course.

A debt of gratitude goes out to my fellow Popeye historian Chuck Anders for furnishing this scan. Chuck is a regular contributor to the Official Popeye Fanclub Newsletter. For only 8 bucks a year, you too can become a member and read Chuck's enlightening monthly column along with many more articles in the newsletter. To subscribe CLICK HERE.

 
1915 Segar Self SketchAd for Segar Cartooning Criticism
In November 1915, sometime after completing the W.L. Evans cartooning course, a young E.C. sent off an inquiry to the Western School of Cartooning and Illustrating in Los Angeles which was operated by Billy Hon. Lyman Young, brother of Chic and creator of Tim Tyler's Luck, was one of Hon's later graduates. Whether Segar went through with enrolling in the course is not known. The letter itself surfaced on eBay a while back along with other items from the Hon estate and included a self portrait the artist sketched on the bottom of the letter (left). In April 1918 near the end of his first paying art job at the
Chicago Herald, the Segar sketch on the right appeared in an ad promoting his own professional cartooning criticism for aspiring artists for a buck.
 

The story goes that Segar's older brother who lived and worked in Chicago got Elzie an audience with Yellow Kid and Buster Brown's creator Richard F. Outcault. Outcault whose advertising agency was located at 334 Dearborn Street in Chicago introduced the novice cartoonist to someone at James Keeley's Chicago Herald which led to the budding artist being hired to produce the Charlie Chaplin Comic Capers strip. His first daily was published on February 28, 1916. The strip ran across the bottom of the paper's second section -- spanning the entire width -- making it quite a bit larger than most of the incredible shrinking Sunday comic strips in today's puny color comic sections.

1916 First Charlie Chaplin Strip by Segar

Cover to Charlie Chaplin in the Movies BookThe incredibly rare Chicago Herald Comic Picture Club 1.25 inch pinback pictured in the banner at the top of this webpage featured a drawing of Charlie Chaplin from Keeley's licensed Comic Capers strip. The art could be by either Stuart Carothers or Segar or another of the paper's cartoonists, it's difficult to determine. The celluloid button was manufactured for the Herald by the AM Badge Company of Chicago. Keeley also published five platinum age reprint books featuring the strip: Charlie Chaplin's Comic Capers, In the Movies, Up in the Air, In the Army and Funny Stunts. All the books reprint dailies except Funny Stunts which reprints full color Sundays by Segar and other artists. All the books feature Segar art to one extent or another except Charlie Chaplin Up in the Air. The most common editions of the books are 20 pages including covers, but there were some alternate editions that had more pages. These unusual editions must have had very small print runs because they're much harder to find.

 

Looping the Loop Original Segar ArtClose up of Segar Original
When the Herald folded, Segar quickly found work at Hearst's
Chicago Evening American and began a daily cartoon that ran on the entertainment pages with movie and theatre ads. "Looping the Loop" featured humorous synopsis of current films, vignettes of dining out at Chicago restaurants, occasion jabs at dating or married life, and publicity for events being held in the city. The feature always ran in a long vertical format. The original art shown from the strip promotes the War Exposition at Grant Park. As you can see from the original art to the left and right, the characters in the strip are more than vaguely reminiscent of Olive Oyl and Harold Hamgravy who would soon become the first stars of Thimble Theatre.

Panels from Segar's "Looping the Loop" strip also graced a promotional booklet for the musical comedy "Take It From Me" as shown below.

 

The Chicago American sent their ace cartoonist to cover the October 1919 Chicago White Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds World Series which resulted in the infamous Black Sox Scandal. Segar covered both home and away games and did eight different compilation cartoons which ran under the banner on the sports page of the paper.

Game 6 of the 1919 World Series

 

1921 WL Evans Flyer
In 1921 when
Thimble Theatre was still in diapers at barely two years old and the new Sappo daily was called The Five Fifteen, Segar penned this drawing for his art teacher W.L. Evans to use as a flyer in his cartooning school promotional mailouts.

 

 Examples of Thimble Theatre in Segar's first month with King Features Syndicate in December 1919.

December 1919 Thimble Theatre DailyDecember 1919 Thimble Theatre DailyDecember 1919 Thimble Theatre Daily

 
 

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Digital Images/Text Copyright 2009-10 by Bruce C. Shults / Popeye and All Other Characters are Properties of and Copyright King Features Syndicate and the Hearst Corp - World Rights Reserved