Comics: difficult to write since 1902!

"Evolution of the "Original" Comic Supplement", by Morgan. From the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (click to enlarge)

We love this one-shot by cartoonist Ike Morgan, from the June 8th, 1902 Chicago Record-Herald, illustrating the age old tradition of cartoonists borrowing jokes, as totally bizarre as this one might be. We don’t have a lot of information on Morgan, and he appears to have mostly done one-shots other than his short running daily “The Kids of Many Colors”. As early as 1897, Morgan was also contributing political cartoons to The Times-Herald in Chicago.

Morgan would go on to illustrate a number of books, most notable of which were American Fairy Tales and The Woggle-Bug Book, written by the one and only L. Frank Baum — author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. What is additionally fascinating about Morgan, despite the lack of information on him, is the key role he may have played as a catalyst in bringing together the stage production of The Wizard of Oz. During the time that he knew L. Frank Baum through their book collaborations, he also happened to be roommates with composer Paul Tietjens. The two were introduced at Morgan’s wedding reception, and the writer and composer then began their talks for adapting Baum’s illustrated novel for the stage.

While this kind of marginal insight on Ike Morgan can be gleaned from the biographies of Baum and W.W. Denslow (illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), substantial biographical information on the cartoonist seems to be lost to obscurity in the early 20th century. We know that Morgan also illustrated books for Grace Duffie Boylan, including Young Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Boylan’s adaptation for children of the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel), but if any of our readers know more, we hope you’ll share!