|Archive Screen for harrisoncady.tumblr.com|
I was hoping to find information that would flesh out his bibliography. Here the book is a mixed success. On the one hand, Cady provides very useful details about the ways he ended up at certain publications. On the other hand, there are serious factual problems with the information he provides, particularly around dates. My concern is that Cady's inclination to just make stuff up--which is an explicit theme later in the book--makes this memoir less than reliable.
With that disclaimer in mind, here is the early career chronology I was able to distill from his account.
During the autumn of 1895, at the age of 18, Cady moved to New York City. (He states 1897 in the book, which is completely inconsistent with his bibliography).
He sold fifteen decorative initial letters to the humor magazine, Truth. These ran in 1896.
He starved for a little while.
He then got a 3-month position at the New York Journal drawing decorative frames for the comics page. He notes that Hearst had just bought the publication--the first Hearst issue was November 1895, so this would be late 1895/early 1896.
The position ended and he starved some more.
He then got a stable job with an advertising firm, W.H. Wagstaff and Co., that specialized in transit cards. He had a relatively peripheral position but contributed at least one illustration to a widely displayed ad--for a brand of beef extract. According to Cady's account, he was still at Wagstaff when the U.S.S. Maine exploded (Feb. 1898).
|Cady's first published piece in St. Nicholas|
After the job at Wagstaff ended (the company was a casualty of restricted ad spending during the Spanish-American War), he "conserved his funds" and picked up a few "odd jobs" but was soon contacted by the advertising manager of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, who offered him a salaried staff position. Eventually, Cady moved to the news department, doubled his salary, and never struggled again. This would appear to have been mid to late 1898.
He describes himself as a pictorial reporter for the Eagle, offering drawings to accompany a wide variety of stories, from fires and murders to special events such as America's Cup and horse shows. He recounts some specific events he covered:
With my pencil I reported the funeral of Henry George, the noted advocate for a single tax....I also recorded the reception given to Angelina Asnoras [sic--a transcription error of "Cisneros"] after her rescue from Morro Castle by Karl Decker, a big story of the day. (p. 41)Here's the problem: both events happened during the fall of 1897, before the sinking of the Maine that supposedly precipitated the end of Cady's work for Wagstaff. Moreover, a review of these stories as covered in the Eagle reveals that none of them were accompanied by illustrations. I have to assume that Cady is just making stuff up here. Cady's primary responsibility--well documented--for the Eagle was similar to his work for the New York Journal: the design of decorative frames for photo layouts.
|An example of Cady's decorative frame work, 1901.|
|The Heights Girl, 1902.|
|The Horse Show as seen by Harrison Cady|
|Cady's first cartoon for Life, May 21, 1903.|
"Have you saved any money?" he asked, with a trace of a smile.Cady would remain on the Life staff for over two decades (this overlaps with the beginning of his partnership with Thornton Burgess). Eventually he would move beyond the "beetlebug" material he began with and would begin to reflect Mitchell's editorial vision. This included both a strong sense of social justice and an unfortunate tendency toward antisemitism.
"Yes," I told him. "I have saved a little. I live with my mother and she, a good Yankee, has managed on what I earn."
"Well," said Mr. Mitchell, "I suggest you go back to the Eagle and quit. Life will pay you much better. We can use your talent."(p. 49)
Those interested in the earliest stages of Cady's career are invited to check out my Harrison Cady TumBlog, where I have collected the majority of Cady's efforts, in roughly chronological order, up