The Iron of the “Iron Gate” Order (Fifth in a Series)

Here’s what was planned to be the penultimate installment of our look at the rare artwork found in The Iron Gate, a hardcover book celebrating the silver anniversary of the “21” Club in Manhattan. Previous pieces in the series can be viewed here: # 4, # 3, # 2, # 1. As promised in our last teaser tag-out, two talents who are very familiar to LOAC readers are represented in this batch of images!

Here’s the first of them — the wonderful Cliff Sterrett, whose Polly and Her Pals has been the subject of two oversized “Champagne EditionSunday page collections and one LOAC Essentials volume, collecting a full year of daily strips. Here he gives us Paw Perkins and the irrepressible Kitty, bringing a well-lit cake to the “21” party.
Painter Charles Baskerville interrupted his pursuit of art to serve in both World War I and World War II. He was also something of a man of letters, for a time producing a well-received nightclub column under the pen name “Top Hat” for the prestigious New Yorker magazine. Working that beat must have allowed Mr. Baskerville to witness a scene like this on more than one occasion!
Also a New Yorker alum, artist Mischa Richter produced a single-panel series for King Features titled Strictly Richter and also illustrated humorist Bugs Baer’s regular column for the same syndicate. Additionally, the artist’s work appeared in Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and (during the latter part of the 1930s) New Masses, a Communist Party periodical. Having been born in Russia around the year 1911, Richter was part of the American Communist movement as a young man, but became disillusioned by the effects of Stalisnism on the Soviet Union. Equally well known as a painter, Richter’s work in oils and acrylics were displayed in a number of gallery and museum showings.
Rudolf Carl Mueller was born in 1867 in what was once part of Germany, but now is part of Poland. Known as a painter and muralist, he created ceiling are for Schrafft’s Restaurant in New York. His work could also be seen in the city’s toney Plaza Hotel. The caption accompanying this piece indicates how well he captured part of the ambience that made “21” special to its many patrons.
Because his boyhood friends thought his first name, Dudley, was too dandified, cartoonist Fisher was given the nickname “Ting,” which stayed with him throughout his life. Ting Fisher was another Ohio-artist-made-good — he spent two years studying at The Ohio State University before leaving for a position on the Columbus Dispatch, where he apprenticed under political cartoonist Ray Evans and The Passing Show‘s Billy Ireland. At the Dispatch he was also a peer of the young Milton Caniff. Eventually shifting from his first series assignment, Jolly Jingles, to a new single-panel feature called Right Around Home, Fisher achieved a new level of success. Young Myrtle became the star of that show, and five years after Right Around Home debuted, King Features hired Fisher to produce a Myrtle comic strip. Fisher claimed Myrtle’s character was based on his observations of his own daughter, Marion. Let’s hope her activities didn’t include trying to sneak into “21” for some underage imbibing!
Finally, an artist and two creations who truly need no introduction to LOAC readers: George McManus places Maggie and Jiggs right in the middle of “21,” where they each seem at home for entirely different reasons. McManus’s long-running Bringing Up Father was the subject of two large-sized LOAC collections: From Sea to Shining Sea and Of Cabbages and Kings. Researching the cartoonist and his series at UCLA was one of the highlights of my work at LOAC, and I proudly display a Bringing Up Father original and an unfinished penciled-and-lettered daily strip from the series on my walls.

I said at the outset that this was planned to be the penultimate installment of this series, which implies something has changed. Indeed it has! While I’ll have a sixth and final set of Iron Gate pieces to share with you in this space in coming weeks, something unusual happened recently which will allow me to write an additional “coda” post related to these works. How’s that for a hook to keep you interested? Please keep watching this space in the weeks to come …

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