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?
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:
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Here’s some silent film-specific jokes that were popular at the time, but probably went out of date when the talkie era started.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:
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:
Different types of characters eating lunch together! That is indeed surreal, you guys.
I got a kick out of this Ford Sterling rendition:
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!
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:
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?
But why, Mary? Okey doke, then.
Cartoonists came up with just about anything to give readers a bit of amusement:
And of course, certain jokes still ring true:
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!