New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Cartoonist

Robert Ripley

Robert Ripley (Cartoonist.  Born, Santa Rosa, CA, Dec. 25, 1893; died, New York, NY, May 27, 1949.)  The man who created the internationally-known “Believe It or Not,” Robert LeRoy Ripley came to New York as a sports cartoonist.  Ripley started his career in San Francisco as the Bulletin’s sports cartoonist in 1909.  In 1913, he moved to New York to join The Globe.  The first “Believe It or Not” appeared in that paper in 1918, but Ripley continued his sports work until 1923, when The Globe was sold to Frank Munsey.  Ripley moved to the Evening Post, but Munsey tied up his work through a contract with his Associated Newspapers that Ripley had signed.  That led Ripley to leave sports cartooning and concentrate on the “Believe It or Not” concept, which first appeared in book form in 1929.  Eventually, “Believe It or Not” became a feature syndicated in 300 newspapers worldwide, spawning a television series and a museum.

Burris Jenkins

Burris Jenkins (Cartoonist.  Born, Indianapolis, IN, Oct. 8, 1896; died, Hollywood, FL, Feb. 26, 1966.)  Although he came to be regarded as one of the top sports cartoonists in America during his 35-year career with the New York Journal and Journal-American, Burris Atkins Jenkins, Jr. came to that station in life by a circuitous route. While a student at the University of Missouri, he held a part-time job as a reporter for the Kansas City Star in 1916 but, before his journalist career could flower further, he served three years in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France during World War I (1917-18). Having completed that difficult educational process, Jenkins returned to the U.S. and enrolled at Harvard. Following his graduation in 1920, he began working his way into the New York newspaper scene, becoming a cartoonist for the New York Evening World in 1921, focusing mainly on politics. He had worked briefly as a reporter and cartoonist for the Kansas City Post in 1920-21, before joining the World. He also did some reporting for the World.  When the World folded in 1931, Jenkins was hired by the Evening Journal. After the morning American was merged into the Journal to form the Journal-American in 1937, Jenkins remained as the primary sports cartoonist for the combined paper.  His only break in service from the artist board came in 1940 when he volunteered to serve as a war correspondent in Europe, a job he held for four years.  As a cartoonist, Jenkins had a heavy line style that produced stark and humorous images. One of the sidelights to his background was that his father was a fiery Protestant minister in the middle west in the early years of the 20th century. The father was the model for a Sinclair Lewis book and was later portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the film Elmer Gantry.

Willard Mullin

Willard Mullin (Cartoonist. Born, Franklin, OH, Sept, 14, 1902; died, Corpus Christi, TX, Dec. 21, 1978.) Rarely has the combination of erudition and artistic skill that was Willard Mullin been brought to bear on the comic possibilities of sports. Although he certainly had his serious side and created some deeply poignant drawings, the bulk of Mullin’s work was humorous. With a knack for fractured Latin and/or English syntax that made his characters both unique and amusing, Mullin poured out oversized drawings six days a week from 1934-67 for the New York World-Telegram. During his fabulous career, Mullin produced more than 10,000 daily drawings, usually based on local happenings from the previous day’s events. Mullin also drew hundreds of illustrations for The Sporting News (and its associated publications), Life magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek. In 1969, when the Mets won the National League pennant, Time commissioned Mullin to draw a special cover. He created many characters, including the Brooklyn “Bum” and the “Baby Met” cover for the 1962 Mets yearbook.

Charlie McGill

Charlie McGill (Cartoonist. Born, Englewood, NJ, Dec. 25, 1923.) A skilled artist with an impish sense of humor, Charles LeRoy McGill produced sports cartoons for The Record of Hackensack, N.J., for more than four decades. McGill joined the Bergen Evening Record part-time in 1954, spent two years in the U.S. Army (1957-58), and returned to the paper full-tine in 1959. For the next 15 years, he drew daily sports cartoons on subjects ranging from major league baseball to high school sports. McGill then became The Record’s general illustrator, doing such varied tasks as covers for the paper’s weekly television magazine, “hometown hero” drawings about college athletes and “athlete of the week” cartoons about local high school athletes, male and female. His output of daily sports cartoons was some 3,900 and his total drawings reached more than 5,600 when he retired Dec. 31, 1992.  After his official retirement, he continued to draw the two weekly high school athlete panels.

Leo O’Mealia

Leo O’Mealia (Cartoonist.  Born, LeRoy, NY, Mar. 31, 1884; died, Brooklyn, NY, May 7, 1960.)  On the day after the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first (and only) World Series in October 1955, the front page of the New York Daily News was adorned for the first time in its history with a cartoon, entitled “Who’s A Bum?”  That drawing was the work of Leo Edward O’Mealia, the regular sports cartoonist for the tabloid.   Then known as “New York’s Picture Newspaper,” the Daily News prided itself on its photographic coverage of events in the city and the world but no photo captured the mood of delirious  Dodgers fans like Leo’s drawings.  All of his work was signed with a little lion figure that made the connection between his name and the name’s zodiac sign.  O’Mealia had a long and varied career as an artist and cartoonist for newspapers throughout New York State starting in 1907 when he joined the Rochester Herald near his hometown. From 1909 to 1912, O’Mealia was a cartoonist doing both sports and politics for The Rochester Times. In 1912, he came to New York to join Hearst’s Evening Journal where he drew a comic strip entitled “Wedlocked,” which was distributed for 17 years by the Associated Newspapers Syndicate. In 1929, he joined the Daily News and several years later became the principal daily sports cartoonist, a position he held until his death when he was succeeded by his understudy, a young man named Bill Gallo.

Bill Gallo

Bill Gallo (Cartoonist.  Born, New York, NY, Dec. 28, 1922; died, White Plains, NY, May 10, 2011.)  Starting in 1960 as career that lasted over 50 years, William V. Gallo was one of the most popular sports cartoonists ever to work in New York and the proud torch-bearer of a long newspaper tradition.  With his marvelously earthy characters “Basement Bertha,” her cousin “Penthouse Polly,” “Yuchie,” “Bernie the Bulgarian,” and “Two Kids Talkin’ Sports,” Gallo has warmed the hearts of New York sports fans.  His father was a New York newspaperman and Gallo wanted to follow his dad.  He studied art in high school and in 1941 applied for jobs at all of the city’s much-more-numerous papers before landing a job at the Daily News.  He ended up being with the News for 70 years, with military service in the Second World War interrupting his career.  In 1946 he returned to the News as a picture clerk.  He pursued his college education days while working full-time nights.  Then he was transferred in 1960 into the sports department, where he began his cartoon career.  Gallo is also a boxing columnist and has won awards, including the James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association, 10 “Reuben” awards and 22 Page One Awards for cartoons.

Tad Dorgan

Tad Dorgan  (Cartoonist.  Born, San Francisco, CA, Apr. 28, 1877; died, Great Neck, NY, May 2, 1929.)  Thomas Aloysius Dorgan was known universally as “TAD” for his signature on his sports cartoons. But more than a cartoonist, Dorgan was a sportswriter of some note and a phrasemaker who contributed much of the language and slang of the nation for three decades of this century.  Dorgan began his career as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Bulletin, where he attracted the attention of William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the rival Examiner. Dorgan declined to switch papers in San Francisco but, in 1902, accepted Hearst’s lucrative offer to come to New York with Hearst’s morning (American) and evening (Journal) combination.  He then created such characters as “Judge Rumhauser” and “Silk Hat Harry,” who entertained generations of New York readers. He is also credited with creating such slang expressions as “23 skidoo” and “yes, we have no bananas” that have now largely faded from use.  But perhaps his most enduring contribution to sports and Americana came when concessionaire Harry M. Stevens introduced a hot sausage on a roll for baseball patrons of Giants games at the Polo Grounds. Dorgan drew a dachshund (a so-called “sausage dog”) wrapped in a frankfurter roll and entitled the whole works a “hot dog,” which is what the snack is still universally called in ballparks, arenas, picnic areas and kitchens around the country.  Dorgan was also a leader in the effort to organize several professional writers and cartoonists organizations.

Bil Canfield

Bil Canfield (Cartoonist.  Born, East Orange, NJ, Oct. 8, 1920.)  A brief turn in the art department of the Daily Racing Form and The Morning Telegraph started William Canfield on the road to sports cartooning.  Canfield had his career interrupted by three years’ service (1942-45) in World War II, during which he saw action in the South Pacific.  Canfield returned to the drawing board in 1945 with the Newark Evening News.  After five years (1945-50) in the art department, he became the paper’s sports cartoonist, a role he filled until the Evening News closed Aug. 30, 1972.  For 14 years, starting in 1958, Canfield doubled as the paper’s editorial cartoonist.  That was a role he filled at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., starting in late 1972 for more than two decades.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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