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Black Horse Cartoonists

Several different cartoonists helped make the Black Horse ads lively. Their biographical notes appear below, in descending order of importance in the Musée’s Dawes Black Horse collection.

Arthur George Racey (1870, Quebec City, Quebec – 1941, Montréal, Quebec)

Arthur Racey developed a talent for caricature while attending McGill University. His first cartoons appeared in the Montreal Witness, Le Canard and Grip newspapers. In 1899, he joined the Montreal Star, where he succeeded Henri Julien as senior cartoonist in 1908. He remained at the Montreal Star until his death in 1941. During that time, he published a book of cartoons titled The Englishman in Canada. In 1912-1913, he drew “What Happened Next?,” a comic strip with the last of the (usually six) panels left blank. Young readers won a prize if the drawing they submitted was chosen for the last panel. He also did a series of ads for Irving Cigar Company, in Montréal, during those years. In 1927, Racey began a long-running series of ads called D’j’ever? for Dawes Black Horse Ale. These short ads in the form of humorous comic strips appeared in the periodicals La Patrie, Le Petit Journal, Le Samedi, Le Canard, Le Passe-Temps, La Revue Moderne and Mon Magazine. The brewery published collections of the popular strips. The third, 50-page volume, from 1930, reproduces 24 of the ads with the English version and the French version, T’as pas ?, in separate inverted sections. Several of Racey’s cartoons appeared in international publications, notably Life and Le Monde.

Lou Skuce (1886, Ottawa, Ontario – 1951, Toronto, Ontario)

Lou Skuce worked as a cartoonist for several newspapers and was art editor of the Toronto Sunday World for 14 years. His cartoons, illustrations and comic strips appeared in publications ranging from The Goblin to Maclean’s. During stints in the United States in 1927 and 1928, he created the strips Cash and Carrie, for Bell Syndicate, and Mary Ann Gay, for United Press Features, which were syndicated to newspapers and magazines. He then worked in Toronto until 1931, when he set up shop on Bleury Street in Montréal. By then his comic strips and cartoons had appeared in 121 Canadian and American newspapers and a Japanese newspaper. An ad for the business reads “The Lou Skuce Studios are specialists in advertising … illustrated with cartoons.” Skuce was one of Canada’s most famous cartoonists, known, among other things, for his sports drawings. He also made public appearances, often at children’s shows, using his Cartoonograph to project his drawing board onto a screen for audiences to watch him draw in real time. A few cardboard coasters in the Musée’s collection are illustrated in Skuce’s dynamic style, with the Black Horse Percherons prominently pictured.

John Collins (1917, Washington, D.C. – 2007, Lachine, Quebec)

John Collins was an infant when his family immigrated to Canada. He studied at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University). In 1937, while still a student, he sold his first cartoon to the Montréal newspaper The Gazette. Two years later, in 1939, he became the paper’s first official cartoonist. He retired from The Gazette more than four decades later, in 1982. His cartoons dealt with important political, economic and social events of his day, including World War II, and reflected the conservative English-Canadian view that he shared with the paper’s editorial board. His “Uno Who” character, wearing a barrel and a too-big bowler to personify the average taxpayer, appeared frequently in his cartoons from 1940 until his retirement. Collins twice won the National Newspaper Award for Editorial Cartooning, in 1954 and 1973. One D’j’ever? comic-strip ad, in colour, carries his signature.

Creig Flessel (1912, Huntington, New York – 2008, Mill Valley, California)

American illustrator and cartoonist Creig Flessel attended Grand Central Art School, in Manhattan, and graduated from Alfred University in 1936. He worked initially in advertising at the Johnstone and Cushing agency, drawing ads for such major companies and brands as General Foods, Raisin Bran and Eveready batteries. He is best known for the covers he did for Detective Comics and other comic books in the late 1930s. During his long career in ads and comics, he also contributed cartoons to Playboy magazine, including the 1960s series “The Adventures of Baron Furstinbed.” In the United States he was honoured with the Comic-Con International Inkpot Award in 1991, the National Cartoonists Society Silver T-Square Award in 1992 and the Cartoon Art Museum’s Sparky Award in 1997. It is not clear whether Flessel was specifically commissioned to draw a D’j’ever? strip for Dawes Black Horse Brewery or whether an agency arranged for one his comic strips to be used by the brewery.