Friday, February 23, 2018

E. Simms Campbell and Abner Dean in Esquire, January 1936

The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934 in Canada. Their birth and development became an ongoing news story. E. Simms Campbell's color cartoon for Esquire's January 1936 issue is a rare instance of the African-American artist depicting members of a black family. The cartoon features the mother, surrounded by her own numerous children, commenting on the news item with what is supposed to be  a clever quip. The caption is written in some unfortunately-chosen dialect.

E. Simms Campbell
"All dat fuss ovah jes five babies[.]"
January 1936, page 79


E. Simms Campbell's signature and the printed caption

On the other side of the page is a beautiful but cryptic winter cartoon by Abner Dean. A man standing on a Manhattan balcony during a snowstorm wears a top hat and carries what seems to be a bag. He is saying, "Oh well—I might as well go in and take it!" Take what?
Abner Dean
"Oh well—I might as well go in and take it!"
January 1936, page 80

If you have any idea what's going on in the Abner Dean gag, please explain it to me. I just don't get it.

February 28, 2018 Update:  Twitter user Richard Serkey, @aufrichtig40, identifies the activity engaged in by the young man in the Abner Dean cartoon as a panty raid.
Let the record state that this is the first time I've heard the phrase Knicker Nabber. What do readers think of this interpretation?

Note:  Meanwhile Attempted Bloggery will continue to look at the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek scans or photographs of original art or obscure published works that will help to shed light on this artist.

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