Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fanny Y. Cory

Today's blog features a short article about Baum-illustrator and pioneering woman cartoonist Fanny Y. Cory. This is taken from a newspaper clipping from the mid-1930s in a scrapbook I own of Cory material. Cory, of course, was the illustrator of Baum's The Master Key (1901) and The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903).  She illustrated much else besides - including a number of comic strips such as Little Miss Muffet and Sonny Sayings. Here is the article as it appears in the clipping.

On a Ranch 27 miles from Helena, Montana, and "three miles from anything," lives Mrs. Fred Cooney. To readers of The Evening Star she is Fanny Y. Cory, illustrator and writer of "Sonny Sayings."

Just now she is in Washington, a guest, with her son Ted, at the home of Mrs. C. R. Thompson, 1334 Farragut Street.

She is on her way to New York, but the reason for her stop-over visit is Joan Thompson, the sixteen-year-old daughter of that household.

Five years ago, when Joan was still in the seventh grade at Macfarland Junior High School, she had the same visitor at her house.

"Sonny Sayings," even then a two-year-old feature syndicated in half a hundred papers over the country, came regularly into Joan's home. In February 1928, she wrote to Mrs. Cooney, in care of The Star, and the letter was forwarded to the Montana ranch. Mrs. Cooney was caught by the enthusiasm of her then eleven-year-old correspondent, and promised that she would visit Joan on her next trip East. Six months later that promise was fulfilled.

The feature is now almost ten years old, and appears in so many newspapers that Mrs. Cooney has lost track of the number.

Mrs. Cooney was well known as a magazine and book illustrator - for St. Nicholas, Youth's Companion, Scribner's, Harper's and others. Back in Montana, after several moves here and there from her original home in Illinois, she became Mrs. Fred Cooney and, in time, the mother of three children.

A brother, J. Campbell Cory, political cartoonist, first suggested the feature idea to her, a cartoon in which a different infant was featured every day.

"It did not take at all," said Mrs. Cooney. "I decided that people had rather see the same child from day to day - one they could identify with their own. So - 'Sonny Sayings' was born."

Mrs. Cooney is at a loss to explain altogether the success of her feature.

"The little fellow I draw is not grotesque in any way," she says. "Perhaps that's part of the reason for his success. I suppose my own children were the inspiration for the feature. Neighbors' children helped some, but I have never gone out of my way to visit homes of people with children or tried to take notes on what they were saying. I guess it's mostly just my own good Scotch imagination that counts after all."

You can read and see more on F. Y. Cory in our previous blog posts:


Vincent Desjardins said...

In that photo, she looks a little like Beulah Bondi. Thanks for posting this David. I love reading about the early days of comic strips and illustrators from the early 20th century.

David Maxine said...

Interestingly a lot of the female Oz and Baum illustrators have a connection to comics, too! said...

I just came across a letter someone wrote to my grandmother in 1927. Enclosed in that letter were 27 clippings from a New York paper from the SONNYSAYINGS strip.
I would love to find someone who has a genuine interest in her work and would preserve and pass on these clippings.

David Maxine said...

Thanks so much for your comment and glad the blog helped you find out what you had. As I e-mailed you, I'd be happy to give the clippings a good home.