Monday, April 24, 2017

Beautiful little things: Ben-Day Dots (updated with new images)

I've been scanning in color and black and white cartoon images from old newspapers (1940s, 1950s) and when seen up close, they have their own kind of raw beauty. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

An off-registration panel from the early 1950s:

Lichty's Grin and Bear It:

Two panels from a color cartoon published in 1952:

Iconic comic strip heroine, Nancy, created by Ernie Bushmiller in 1933. Nancy actually had a last name, Ritz.

This is what a small image from a magazine - perhaps 1"x1" - looks like when it's blown up:

A forgotten advertisement for something:

Here's a couple of panels from the venerable 'Mary Worth' started in 1938, was created by Allen Saunders, who created a number of venerable strips, including 'Steve Roper and Mike Nomad.' It's hard to say exactly when this specific strip was published, but on the back of the scrap of paper is an impending birth announcement of what will be Judy Garland's second child.

Here's the Judy Garland notice on the back of that cartoon:

God knows what this comic or comic book was all about. The only Wendy I could find was a friend to Caspar the Friendly Ghost. Not any kind of record of a Wendy Dayton comic strip or comic book, but maybe somebody out there has some intel.

From a now-obscure cartoon called Abbie 'N Slats. The imperfections of the Ben-Day process are on glorious display. Click on the images to enlarge:

A new scan from a cartoon published in 1952:

I've become fascinated with the color printing process known as Ben-Day Dots.

Ben-Day Dots (developed in 1879 by a newspaper publisher by the name of Benjamin Henry Day, Jr.) is the technique artist Roy Lichtenstein became so famous for in his paintings from the early 1960s.

But if you look at Lichtenstein's paintings, he made everything nice and tidy. The paintings are crisp and neat; he colored inside the lines. His "Oh, Jeff, I love you, but..." is seen here:

I think the messiness of the original newspaper and magazine technique is even more beautiful, in its own unsophisticated way. You can see the technical aspect of the work, which becomes more pronounced the closer-up you look. When seen on the printed page, you don't notice how askew the coloring is. — Lars Trodson