Category: Found in the Collection (page 1 of 45)

Student Post: The Milwaukee Journal “Green Sheet”

Cheesehead Comic Culture: Green Sheets of The Milwaukee Journal

 By BICLM Student Assistant Dani Wolf

As iconic and cherished as Lambeau Field or the Pabst Theater, for the people of Milwaukee, Wisconsin the Green Sheet wasn’t just another four page section in The Milwaukee Journal, but a beloved part of the culture in this working-class city. I was only an infant when the green sheet was discontinued, so when my family began reminiscing about their childhood memories surrounding the Green Sheet I felt envious that I was missing out on a large part of my Wisconsin upbringing. From my father’s family from Waukesha to my mother’s from Beaver Dam, everyone seemed to have a story or at the very least a smile from the thought of their childhood Green Sheet. I had to interrupt their passionate (and loud) conversation to ask “What is a Green Sheet?” They stopped only to say that it had comics, short stories and things like that.

They told me stories about stealing the newspaper before someone else got it to read it first and how it helped many of them learn to read with the help of comic strips like “Nancy” or “Li’I Abner”. My millennial self couldn’t wrap my head around the frenzy surrounding this allegedly unique comic section, but with this new curiosity about my home state I decided to research this unknown comic gem when I returned to work at the Billy Ireland the following week.

Not knowing what to expect when I opened this giant, flat box on one of the reading room tables, I was surprised to discover the Green Sheets were not so green anymore! The barely noticeable green tint in the center of the large newssheet slowly faded to a colorless beige on the old, worn out edges of the page. But as I flipped through the stack of delicate papers, I realized that there was something unique about them, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. So I began my dive into the Green Sheet’s long history in The Milwaukee Journal.

The Milwaukee Journal, 17 Feb. 1945

The Milwaukee Journal, 19 Feb. 1944

The first Green Sheet was published around 1913 starting as a sports section in The Milwaukee Journal during WWI until it was revived in the 1920s with more sensationalized stories. These tabloid news stories were seen to be inappropriate for women and children so it was sold on the street instead of being delivered directly to the homes of Wisconsin residents. But around 1927 the Green Sheet’s new editor Larry Lawrence began reconstructing it into its recognizable form that it would retain for the next 60 years. It contained not only comics but puzzles, serials, human interest stories, pop culture, articles on outrageous crimes, and political commentary.

Advertisement for Gro-Pup Dog Food by Kellogg’s. The Milwaukee Journal, 9 Feb. 1943, p. 3.

”Gas rationing eye-openers.” Advertisement for Standard Oil Company. The Milwaukee Journal, 24 Feb. 1943, pp. 3.

The Green Sheet created the platform for iconic writers such as Ione Quinby Griggs, whose popular advice column “Dear Mrs. Griggs” empowered women in working-class Milwaukee in gendered issues pertaining to marriage, dating, and adolescence. Before advice columns like “Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby”, this “girl reporter” of the roaring 20’s in Chicago found her way to Milwaukee where she wrote for the Green Sheet from the 1930s to the 1980s.

In this edition of “Dear Mrs. Griggs,” she offers advice for a teenage girl, “The girl who never learns to say “No,” who hasn’t the courage to refuse anything that is asked of her is handicapped and weaponless as she moves through life.”
“Girls Learn Value of Important Word No” The Milwaukee Journal, 14 Apr. 1943, p. 3.

Griggs offers advice emphasizing the need for men to demonstrate and express their love, “There are men who think it spoils a woman to let her be sure of love and admiration. This is all poppycock! The average woman is encouraged to do and be her best if her husband sincerely loves her and tells her so. The man who adheres to this philosophy that it spoils a woman is apt to spoil his own chances for happiness.”
”Formula for Men Who Want to Live Happily.” The Milwaukee Journal, 9 Feb. 1943, p. 4.

Comic strips such as “Our Boarding House”, “Dixie Dugan”, “Mark Trail”, and “Apple Mary” (the earlier version of “Mary Worth”) filled many pages in the early editions of the Green Sheet. Later Green Sheets would include comics like “Bloom County”, “Dilbert!”, “Herman”, and “The Far Side”.

Notice Superman fighting the Nazi submarine in this 1942 strip by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. “Superman” The Milwaukee Journal, 15 Aug. 1942, p. 4.

Published in the middle of World War II, cartoonist J. R. Williams depicts children’s patriotism in this “Out Our Way” comic. The Milwaukee Journal, 14 Jan. 1943, pp. 4.

Before television and even radio, the Green Sheet was a constant source of humor and distraction for Wisconsinites throughout the 20th century. Its presence was felt especially during the hardest moments in American history such as World War II, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War. The light-hearted nature of the Green Sheet offered comfort to people looking for a relief from the serious and painful stories in the more traditional news coverage.

“Red Cross Worker Begs for Green Sheets, Tools” on cover of Green Sheet in The Milwaukee Journal, 6 Mar. 1945.

When the Journal merged with the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1994, the Green Sheet was discontinued citing the expense and difficulty acquiring green paper. It remained discontinued for 21 years until the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel brought the section back in 2015 for new generations of Cheeseheads to enjoy and partake in this beloved part of Wisconsin history.

Link to the online version of the Green Sheet: https://www.jsonline.com/green-sheet/

Library record for the Milwaukee Journal in the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection: https://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b5756480~S7

Collection Spotlight: The B.N. Duncan Collection

We recently finished processing the collection of underground cartoonist B.N. Duncan, and to celebrate we are featuring him on the blog today!

B.N. Duncan was born in Rochester New York in 1943. He grew up in Berkeley and Pasadena. As a child he had an avid interest in anthropology, paleontology and primates. In junior high school he acted in plays and drew for his school yearbooks. After graduation he attended Pasadena Community College but he suffered several mental breakdowns there. He returned to Berkeley in 1966 diagnosed with schizophrenia. Encouraged by his art teacher, Dick Warner at Vista Community College, he began cartooning in the early 1970s. He lived most of his life on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue working as a cartoonist, editor and publisher. His full name was Bruce Nicholson Duncan but he preferred to be known as B. N. Duncan or just Duncan.

His first comic strip, ‘Hank and Hannah’, about a couple and their relationship, was published in porn newspapers and new wave zines. Another strip ‘Berserkeley Blues’ was published by the Berkeley Daily Gazette in the late 1970s and it was through it he met Telegraph Avenue street person Wild Billy Wolf. Wolf was working on a zine called ‘The Tele Times’. Duncan collaborated with Wolf on early issues and provided art for its first cover in 1978. Duncan eventually took over the publication, making it his own vehicle to share his passions and interests and a way to celebrate the outsider art and writing he enjoyed. Duncan produced over 30 issues of ‘The Tele Times’ until it ceased publication in 1982.

Duncan drew for the underground comics ‘Weirdo’ and ‘Mineshaft’ and he corresponded with a wide range of other underground cartoonists and writers including Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb and Kim Deitch. Duncan drew heavily on this correspondence for the final issue of The Tele Times ‘Here we go’ #30.

He had a strong interest in sadomasochism and drew cartoons for ‘Growing Pains’ the publication of the San Francisco ‘Society of Janus’ as well as other S/M publications. He self-published the cartoon compilation titles ‘Top Comedy and Bottom Burlesque’, ‘So be it’ and ‘Buttock’s Blasting’ and in 1995 he published a collection of S/M cartoons through Greenery Press called ‘Mercy??’’No!!’

In the early 1990s with the encouragement of the Berkley Friends Church he published two collections of spiritual cartoons called ‘Nature and Spirit’ and ‘Seeking Vision’. His lifelong interests in anthropology, paleontology and zoology are evident in both these and in his experiments with clay sculpture. He was a frequent visitor to the San Francisco Zoo.

From 1990-2004 Duncan collaborated with cartoonist Ace Backwords to create an annual calendar called the ‘Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar’. It featured Berkeley street people and the stories of the socially marginalized in and around Telegraph Avenue. Duncan took thousands of photographs of street people for the calendar and taped many interviews with the homeless, work he considered ‘street anthropology’. Through both ‘The Tele Times’ and the ‘Telegraph Avenue Calendar’ he made enormous efforts to promote the art of outsider and street artists living in and around Berkeley. He believed that ‘even people on a society’s margin have something to contribute to its sensibility and spirituality’.

The B. N. Duncan collection represents a lifetime of work not only in underground comics and self-publishing but it also offers a snapshot of life on the street for the homeless and marginalized in and around Berkeley at the end of the 20th century. It includes Berkeley memorabilia, examples of street publications and eighteen boxes of Duncan’s photographs of street people, some of which featured in the ‘Telegraph Street Calendar’. The collection also contains Duncan’s audio recordings which offer additional documentation of life on the sidelines of society in Berkeley at this time.  There are many examples of work by Berkeley homeless artists who Duncan helped and encouraged including ‘Sparky’, ‘Cliff Mason’ and ‘Narayana’ and the blown up photocopies he used for an exhibition he collaborated on with Ace Backwords called ‘Artists on the fringe’.

      

The calendar ceased publication in 2004 and Duncan’s suffered ill health in his final years. He died in 2009 aged 65. We would like to thank Duncan’s sister Elaine and his friend and fellow cartoonist, Ace Backwords for their donation of Duncan’s work to us and for their advice and help in processing the collection.

-Ann Lennon, Archives Associate, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

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