Saturday, November 8, 2008

Now this is cool!

Some of you may remember the image from Keaton's date book that I posted in this blog's earliest entry. It showed a smiling character "JOY" deboarding a train. Written on the page are the words,




In a post on the BusterKeatonFans discussion group hosted by Yahoo, Steven Rowe points out that the character "JOY" featured in the drawing comes from a popular comic strip titled "Joys and Glooms".

It was produced by T.E. Powers, and "was popular enough to get some animated films in 1912 -1923 time frame."

Vergil Noble then responds:

Thanks so much for pointing out the cartooning of T. E. Powers, Steven. After a quick search I found his 1939 obituary which includes the statements: Mr. Powers' political cartoons had a wide following and two elflike characters, "Joy" and "Gloom," with which he enlivened his drawings-always signed "T. E. Powers"- became one of the trademarks of his work during a career which made him one of the country's best known and most successful cartoonists.....

The characters "Joy" and "Gloom" which he used so often, cavorted in the corners of his cartoon. If optimism was in order, "Joy" chased "Gloom," and vice versa. "Gloom" was a mournful imp with a black beard, and "Joy" wore an eternal grin.

A note to the obit also states that Powers is reputed to be the first cartoonist to produce a newspaper comic strip in color (he drew several strips over the years in addition to his more famous editorial cartooning for the Hearst papers).

Found a couple of his cartoons posted at an on-line auction house, but none with the marginal figures. I then discovered that, in addition to two 1916 animated films, the Joy and Gloom Toy Co. was founded in 1926. An antique toy seller posts one actual item and ads for all four known toys they sold. The second ad leaves no doubt that Keaton knew the Powers cartoons and copied his style. Keaton's "Joy" is almost identical to the one depicted in that ad, particularly the half-circle skirt of the figure.
How cool is that!

The image I show is from a copy of date book page that hangs in the Muskegon Convention and Visitors Bureau in the old Union Station in downtown Muskegon. The train station was restored several years ago.

How I love this research stuff!!!

No comments: