Tag Archives: illustration

He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay



What if you could make paper out of something cheap, that’s not cloth? Cloth rags are expensive. Cloth rags have fiber that can be made into a pulp. What else has fiber? I mean besides broccoli. Imagine living in North America—in Canada—and you’re surrounded by literal millions of big humongous huge growths that are nothing but fiber. I’m talking about trees. Pine wood is soft enough to break down into a pulp.

Paper from wood fiber is called newsprint—can you guess why? It was invented by Charles Fenerty, a 17-year-old lumberjack and poet. He figured that wood fibers would make decent paper. He was right. It was good enough to print newspapers on. Charlie lived in Canada, where they have tons of wood and lumberjacks to harvest it. The Fenerty family business was farming and lumber. They grew trees, cut them down, milled them and sold the lumber.

Newsprint is the name of the paper that newspapers are printed on nowadays. It’s ridiculously inexpensive. Newsprint is made out of wood pulp instead of rags. Newsprint turns yellow quickly because wood has a lot of acid in it. But that’s okay—nobody minds. Newspapers are only meant to be read once and then thrown away or recycled. Because newsprint is cheaper than cloth-fiber paper, printers can sell newspapers at a much lower cost. What’s that mean? That means more people can afford the newspaper.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fenerty
https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/newsprint/m0122b5?hl=en
https://www.paperindex.com/academy/paper-grades/newsprint-primer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FshU58nI0Ts
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/lumberjacks

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Worth the paper it’s printed on

Those newspaper printers wanted to make a buck. They needed to pay close attention to that ol’ bottom line. ‘Bottom line’ is a jokey way of saying what you get when you subtract how much you spent from how much you made. You get a bigger bottom line (more profit) by reducing what you spend.

Take paper, for instance. Paper is one of the expenses of printing a newspaper. Making paper hadn’t changed much since its invention. It was good stuff. Fiber from linen, wool and cotton rags was broken down into a watery slurry that got pressed into a gorgeous piece of paper.*

Paper must have been a big overhead expense for a newspaper operation in those days. Think about it—what happens to a newspaper the day after it’s published? It lines bird cage floors. Kids make hats out of it. British people use it like a cone to hold their fish ‘n’ chips. Nobody needs a newspaper once it becomes yesterday’s news. Seems a waste of top-quality paper, doesn’t it?

* I know all about it. I shell out extra samolians for rag content paper because it’s such a treat to draw on (I like Borden & Riley #37 Boris Layout Bond. I draw on it with a 2B lead pencil).

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You gotta be authorized!

Newspapers provided news, information and opinion at a reasonable cost. As we saw in past cultures, the big-shots in charge like to exercise tight control on news, information and opinion. The early newspapers of the 1600s & 1700s had to be ‘authorized.’ Authorized newspaper printers were given permission to publish by the government. Maybe the government covered some of the costs of running an authorized newspaper. Running an unauthorized newspaper had some downsides. In England and her colonies, unauthorized newspaper printers were shut down by government officials, all copies destroyed and everybody who worked there arrested.

This happened to America’s very first newspaper publisher in Boston on September 25, 1690. Today, only one copy of that first newspaper—Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick—exists.

http://blog.rarenewspapers.com/?p=7294
https://prabook.com/web/benjamin.harris/3760332
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Harris
https://localhistories.org/a-history-of-newspapers/
https://newspaperlinks.com/facts/history-of-the-newspaper/
https://patrickmurfin.blogspot.com/2019/09/first-colonial-newspaper-quashed-as.html

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Newspapers and coffee

Around the same time that newspapers first appeared, coffee houses were becoming a thing in London, England. Coffee is a hot beverage that was first imported from Turkey. People (okay, men) gathered at coffee houses to meet, talk, exchange ideas and gather news. It was natural that newspapers were sold there.

For the cartoon up top, I redrew part of this wonderful drawing pretty much as is. It’s the interior of Lloyd’s coffee house in the late 1600s. Right away you can see everybody has a newspaper—newspapers were much smaller then than what we’re used to, and just one sheet of paper. Business was conducted here. Lloyd’s insured ship’s cargoes so they depended on being up-to-the-minute on world events. Coffee was served in saucers. Look at the serving-boy on the left—he knows how to pour coffee, from a height. That way you get some froth into the drink.

Lloyd’s still exists as a big insurance company today. They insure everything.
https://www.lloyds.com/
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/oddities-insured-by-lloyd-s-462503

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And now, the news



We talked about pamphleteers and pamphlets. The mechanized printing press made it feasible (you wouldn’t go broke doing it) to write up an essay or an article and get copies of it printed, distributed and sold. There were enough literate (they could read) customers to support a pamphlet business. Some of those pamphleteers got rich and famous. It must have become clear after awhile that news could be reported, printed and published in a larger format and on a regular schedule—weekly or even daily—at an affordable cost. A newspaper! A newspaper could tell you what was going on and also offer opinions about current events. If you can make money from a pamphlet, why not make money from a newspaper?

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Okay, where were we?

Oh, yeah—we’d started to talk about newspapers.


What is a newspaper?

: a paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newspaper

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Early newspapers



First newspaper printed in Europe—1605, Belgium
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/when-and-where-was-the-first-newspaper-published/articleshow/2477418.cms
First newspaper in America
https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2014/today-in-media-history-first-colonial-newspaper-published-in-1690/ (I think there may have been a South American colony with a newspaper earlier than that)
Okay, okay—I’m not sure this counts but it is true that in 59 bc there was a newspaper in Rome. No printing press yet, of course, so every copy of every edition was chiseled in stone.* No, really. I’m not kidding you—check the link. Newspapers were stone slabs, you guys. The cartoons practically draw themselves: Roman newspaper boys riding their bicycles in the early morning and flinging copies onto people’s front stoops, shattering potted plants and braining pets. The Sunday paper weighed about 700 pounds. You had to bust up the Sunday circular with a sledgehammer to clip a coupon (alright, yes, now I’m kidding you).



https://www.psprint.com/resources/history-of-the-printed-newspaper/
*The late President Ronald Reagan (who was famous for his one-liners) beat me to this gag: https://apnews.com/article/838395d21680de45ca7d4657bc3ee3a3

https://www.quintype.com/blog/business/a-brief-history-of-newspapers

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Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

We were just talking about pamphlets—click here for a picture from a 1617 pamphlet of Guy Fawkes’ head on a pike.:
https://www.alamy.com/gunpowder-plot-the-head-of-guy-fawkes-from-a-1617-pamphlet-image221751638.html

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Satire

Jonathan Swift. One of the perks of being a pamphleteer was you got to wear big wigs.

Satire : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.

Many pamphleteers commented on social conditions or criticized the government. Jonathan Swift used satire to make his points—‘Swiftian’ is still an adjective for a particularly dark sense of humor. In 1729 Swift published  A Modest Proposal to transform poor Irish children from a burden to society instead to being a benefit. His pamphlet caused a howling, righteous uproar (click on the link to read it)—just as it would today on Instagram or Twitter. Daniel Defoe’s satirical The Shortest Way with the Dissenters got him arrested for sedition.

Then, as now, the ruling class had no sense of humor and wouldn’t tolerate criticism. The British government censored and arrested pamphleteers for expressing politically incorrect opinions. The idea that writers should have the liberty to write about whatever they choose and have their work printed and distributed is called freedom of the press. This was a new concept. John Milton defended freedom of the press in a pamphlet that he had to publish anonymously. He was revealed as its true author only a couple of years ago.

https://www.britannica.com/art/pamphlet
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pamphleteer
https://collections.libraries.indiana.edu/lilly/exhibitions_legacy/defoe/pamphlets.html
https://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-Swift-As-Tory-Pamphleteer/dp/0295978708
https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/milton-9781608193783/
https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/satire

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The pamphleteers

Daniel Defoe

If you were a young writer just starting out during Brit lit’s Augustan Age (late 1600s – early 1700s), pamphlets were the way to build an audience. Pamphlets can be as short as 4 pages. Lots of them don’t even have covers. They’re cheap and easy to produce—and plenty of people could read by then—so you could sell bunches of ‘em. They were the social media of those days. If you had something on your mind, a topic to rant about, you wrote an essay and printed it up as a pamphlet. You became a pamphleteer.

You may recognize the names of some pamphleteers—Daniel Defoe (he wrote Robinson Crusoe), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Tom Paine (his pamphlets were made into a collection titled Common Sense), John Milton (Paradise Lost).

https://www.britannica.com/art/pamphlet
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pamphleteer
https://poemanalysis.com/movement/augustan-age/

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