Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Perry J. Carter and his "Passing Scene” of the 1890s

Front page comic from the August 10, 1899 Elyria Reporter
Anyone who reads this blog for even a little while knows that I’m a big fan of Gene Patrick’s "Passing Scene" comic from the 1960s and 70s.

Regular blog contributor Rick Kurish is certainly aware of it. He wrote, "Since you are a fan of the old "Passing Scene" feature of the Lorain Journal, I thought I would share what I guess would be a sort of forerunner of that feature.

"I ran across the concept years ago in an old Elyria Newspaper named the Elyria Reporter, which was published in the 1890s and early 1900s. The paper would periodically publish the happenings in the County in a semi-comic series of drawings. They would always appear just below the mast head on the front page of the paper.

"I have attached a few samples from the 1899 period. Since times have changed, some images that were published would not be politically correct today. Some of the subjects are everyday happenings which we can appreciate today --- but some refer to goings on that you would have to be a student of Elyria history to understand.

"The paper did manage to take some shots at its rival at the time, the Elyria Republican newspaper. The question of building a water treatment plant on Lake Erie was also a frequent topic. The city spent several years debating lake water vs. river water, before they finally built the current plant on West Erie Avenue. Kind of reminds you of a Flint, Michigan decision. Yikes!”

Special thanks to Rick for sending me these samples. They are extremely well-drawn and quite clever.

So who was the talented artist who created the comic?

According to the Elyria Reporter of August 31, 1899, it was Mr. Perry J. Carter. The paper noted, "Our Artist – Mr. Perry J. Carter, of Cleveland, whose cartoons in the Reporter have attracted so much favorable comment, has accepted a position on the Reporter Staff and will hereafter devote his entire time to the interest of our readers.

“A special department will be fitted up especially for Mr. Carter's use, and all the facilities necessary will be placed at his disposal. Our readers can expect some very clever illustrations from his pen, not only in the cartoon line, but in the way of illustrating current happenings. For more than, two years, Mr. Carter was on the St. Paul Daily Globe, but the paper being democratic in politics, Mr. Carter resigned his position rather than draw cartoons of President McKinley. Since leaving St. Paul he has been connected with a large illustrating house in Cleveland. We bespeak for Mr. Carter and his pictures a cordial reception by the people of Elyria.”

Here’s a link to Allan Holtz’s blog, which focuses on the history of the American newspaper comic strip. His December 1, 2015 post includes a 1913 biography and photo of Perry Carter, along with some hilarious samples of Carter's work.

As for the Carter samples on this post, the August 10, 1899 strip at the top of this post includes references to an injunction case against the Linseed Oil company and the “offensive odors" arising from its works; a Grange picnic at Pittsfield; the launch of the Malietoa in the Lorain shipyards; a reference to English highwayman Dick Turpin; and mudslinging by the Medina Gazette aimed at the Sheriff over his handling of a case.

And here are three more sample strips (below). They’re a lot of fun to look at, with their references to Lorain, etc. But they can be cruel as well, like the cartoon depicting the circulation of rival newspaper the Republican as a chicken with limberneck disease.
Front page comic from the August 24, 1899 Elyria Reporter
Front page comic from the September 21, 1899 Elyria Reporter
Front page comic from the November 29, 1899 Elyria Reporter
Special thanks to Rick for his suggestion and help with this post!


Judy Heikkila said...

I stumbled upon your blog while looking up Bob's Donuts. I was not raised in Lorain, but my kids were. I have enjoyed your blog immensely. I have linked it on my facebook wall because I just think more people should read you. Well done.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Judy! Thanks for the nice comment and I appreciate the plug! Bob’s Donuts was one of my earliest blog topics (the first week) – I still miss those donuts and the nice people there.