Fan Magazine Fun: “Film Titles Travestied” And Other Cartoon Odds And Ends

Today let’s take a gander at Pictures and The Picturegoer, a British movie magazine that first came off the presses in 1911 and had a lengthy run until 1960 (it was eventually called just Picturegoer). The following cartoons, which filled in space at the editors’ whims, are all from October and November 1915 issues. They serve as fine opportunities for “humor archaeology”–in other words, trying to figure out what the heck they meant.

Here, for example, is “Film Titles Travestied.” Can you decipher it?

cartoon percy darling picgoer nov 20 '15

I guess the joke is taking the title of a film, and then creating a mildly funny cartoon out of it that has nothing to do with the film. Hence, a man’s trousers gets shredded to rags, and Rags was a recently-released Mary Pickford feature. Haw!

Now that you’ve got your breath back after laughing so hard, here’s a neat little cartoon: Charlie Chaplin, at the height of Chaplinmania, trying to find a little peace and quiet somewhere:

cartoon chaplin england pic picgoer oct 16 '15

Even stereotypes in the middle of Africa and at the North Pole recognize him (actually, I don’t know what that fuzzy Arctic guy is supposed to be). Even famous dead guys arise from their graves to (presumably) get an autograph. The price of fame…!

Here’s some silent film-specific jokes that were popular at the time, but probably went out of date when the talkie era started. Below, the tribulations of film accompanists:

cartoon pic pianists pic picgoer oct 16 '15

Only ’20s Kids will remember this. (This is bad, but when I first glanced at the bottom right panel my brain assumed she was checking Facebook. Just for half a second. I need to detox.)

A number of jokes just like this abounded in magazines throughout the era:

cartoon lunch studio picgoer nov 27 '15

Different types of characters eating lunch together! That is indeed surreal, you guys.

I got a kick out of this Ford Sterling rendition:

cartoon ford picpicgoer oct 30 '15

That is one stern Sterling.

Here’s another little filler cartoon. Oh Pa, the old scalawag–won’t be long till the fellow’s out on the nut, eh? Haw!

cartoon pa pets picgoer oct 9 '15

Aside from laughing at jolly cartoons, if you read Pictures and The Picturegoer you could also participate in contests like this, where you solved a series of word puzzles and sent them in for prizes. Someone who owned this particular issue a hundred years ago filled it out, but never sent it in–poor chap didn’t even get a consolation prize:

cartoon contest picpicgoer oct 23 '15

October 23

OK, so panel one is Tom Mix, panel two is ummm I don’t know, then we have King Baggot, Alice Joyce? I’m guessing? Whoever That Is, and Max Linder.

Alright, I did some digging–I’m pretty sure the mystery names are William Garwood and Romaine Fielding.

Hmm, whatever is this?

cartoon mary ritchie picgoer nov20 '15

But why, Mary? Okey doke, then.

Cartoonists came up with just about anything to give readers a bit of amusement:

cartoon musical illustrated picgoer nov 27 '15

And of course, certain jokes still ring true:

cartoon programme sir picgoer oct 23 '15

I’m guessing the young guy’s supposed to be a “sport,” having a purely decorative cane and some sort of monocle. Love the attendant’s uniform, by the way.

Well, I hope you got a kick out of these 100+ year old cartoons–you never know what you’re going to find in those old movie magazines. Have a lovely week, everyone!

2 thoughts on “Fan Magazine Fun: “Film Titles Travestied” And Other Cartoon Odds And Ends

  1. Last first: 1915 — WW I — the man is a soldier at the movies with his girl (note his Sam Brown belt at shoulder and puttees around his legs. 2) Mary Pickford: she is dressed like British comedian Billie Ritchie, who claimed Chaplin had stolen his “tramp” character costume (and vice versa.) No joke (and no stunt-men): Ritchie died as a result of bring attacked by ostriches while filming! 3) First cartoon: Although they were going out of style by 1915, the “hobble skirt” worn by the woman means that she can only walk very slowly. The clothing/fashion industry is still called “the rag trade.” I love the way cartoons shed light on vintage fashions! “The Way to Wear’em” by Christina Walkley is a wonderful collection of fashion cartoons from Punch.

    • A soldier! Of course! Here I’ve been following the WWI centennial commemorations pretty closely the last four years, and still didn’t pick up on that (maybe it was his cap).

      The Billie Ritchie story is an interesting one (I for one never really bought his claim that he came up with the Tramp first!). There’s some reason to doubt the story that he died solely due to an ostrich attack; apparently, he got bad internal injuries around 1918 when a stunt went wrong, and after months of recovering he was attacked by the ostriches on a film set, which seems to have retriggered things. However, he actually passed away a couple years after the ostrich attack, and his death was officially labelled stomach cancer. So in any case, he was in bad shape before those birds came at him.

      I totally agree that you can learn a lot about vintage fashion in these old cartoons–one of many reasons they’re fun to clip and share!

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