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Library of Congress
Library of Congress

The Man Who Filled Newspapers With Monsters

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Somebody has to terrify America’s children. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that person was Walter McDougall. As part of a series of stories for children, McDougall filled American newspapers with clever but alarming visions of child-eating monsters. 

McDougall began his newspaper career in the 1870s, working as a political cartoonist at the New York Graphic. From there he began selling cartoons to Harper’s Weekly and Puck magazine. His career really took off on May 21, 1893, when one of his drawings became the first color cartoon printed in an American newspaper. One year later, his cheerful story “The Unfortunate Fate of a Well-Intended Dog” became the country’s first color comic strip. His illustrations for a weekly American Press Association editorial column also made him the nation’s first syndicated newspaper artist.

As his career progressed, his fame grew. In his heyday, McDougall was producing dozens of cartoons every week for regional and national newspapers and magazines.

McDougall’s monsters found a regular home in the humbly named cartoon series “McDougall’s Good Stories for Children.” His stories married obscure vocabulary, bizarre creatures, and child endangerment. Needless to say, they were a big success. 

By 1904, word of his weird drawings had reached L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum was about to release a second book and wanted to promote it with a weekly comic strip. The two put their rather strange heads together and came up with “Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz,” which ran from 1904 to 1905.

McDougall worked into his sixties, amassing a portfolio of hundreds and hundreds of comics. There would be no happy ending for his story, however; after retirement, he withdrew into seclusion for years, then committed suicide at the age of 80. You can remember him by seeing more of his monster images on the Monster Brains blog, or viewing his political cartoons at the Ohio State University Libraries.

All images are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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