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 Clyde (Victor Clyde) Forsythe  (1885 - 1962)

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Lived/Active: California/New York      Known for: desert landscape and genre painting, cartoons

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BIOGRAPHY for Clyde Forsythe
Facts/Data
Birth
1885 (Orange, California)
 
Death
1962 (Pasadena, California)

Lived/Active
California/New York




Often Known For
desert landscape and genre painting, cartoons

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The California Art Club
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Clyde (Vic) Forsythe entered the comic strip world prior to World War I.  His most successful feature was the long-running Joe Jinks, which dealt successively with automobiles, aviation, and boxing.  He drew a number of other strips, and for a time, shared a studio with Norman Rockwell.

Victor Clyde Forsythe was born in Southern California in 1885.  Writing, drawing, and sports were among his early interests, and he combined all three when he got a job doing sports cartooning and reporting for a local paper.  In the second decade of the century, he headed for New York City to work for The World.  Among his earliest creations were a daily gag strip about boxing titled The Great White Dope and a Sunday Western titled Tenderfoot Tim.  Briefly in 1916 and 1917, he did a daily called Flicker Films.  This kidded the movies in week long continuities and was laid out in the two-tier formal later used by Ed Wheelan on Minute Movies.

Joe's Car started in 1918.  It was a daily humor strip dealing with Joe Jinks, his domestic life and his obsession with the increasingly popular automobile. Joe was a typical cartoon every man vain, petty, argumentative, sentimental, and possessed the required prominent nose and wispy moustache.  In the 1920s, Joe took up flying, and then met a boxing champ by the name of Dynamite Dunn and became his manager. In 1928, a Sunday page was added and the feature's name was changed to Joe Jinks. In the daily, Forsythe concentrated on the gritty world of professional boxing while the Sunday page was a day of rest, covering Joe's home life and his problems.

In 1933, Forsythe left Joe Jinks, where United Features syndicated it.  The following year, he signed with King Features and initially began a cowboy strip called Way Out West.  He then switched to a domestic feature, The Little Woman, while keeping his Western alive as a Sunday topper.  Neither of these efforts was successful.  He returned to Joe Jinks, drawing it daily on Sunday from May 1937 into 1938.  He soon quit comics for good, suffering a nervous breakdown.

Forsythe returned to Southern California, settling in San Marino.  He devoted most of his remaining time to painting.  Years earlier, while living in New Rochelle, New York, he had met Norman Rockwell.  The younger, still struggling Rockwell became a close friend and turned to him frequently for advice.  He mentions the cartoonist in his autobiographical writings, saying, "Vic was about the only person I knew who would give me any real criticism."  For a time, the two shared a studio that had once belonged to Western painter Frederic Remington.


Source:
Ron Goulart, editor, The Encyclopedia of American Comics


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Orange, California to parents who had just moved to California from Tombstone, Arizona, Clyde Forsythe was among the first American artists known as the Desert Painters.

He had heard stories throughout his youth of his parents' life running a store next to the OK Corral where Marshal Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday fought the Clanton-McLowery gang in 1881.  Later Forsythe made good use of this subject matter.

As a boy he had plenty of space to explore in canyons and mountains, and this free life style continued even when his family moved to Los Angeles in the 1890s because there was plenty of wide open space.  He and his family also did a lot of camping in the California desert, which stirred in him a life-long fascination for that subject matter.

Showing early art talent, he was encouraged by his family who sent him in 1904 to New York to the Art Students League.  In New York, he worked at the New York Journal as a cartoonist with Jimmy Swinnerton, worked briefly in St. Louis, and then took a job at the Examiner in Los Angeles.  He returned to New York to replace George Harriman, cartoonist for the New York American.  During World War I, he did many war posters, and was a mentor to Norman Rockwell whom he introduced to Saturday Evening Post personnel.

In 1920, at the peak of his New York career, where he and his wife Cotta lived high and socialized with prominent illustrators such as Dean Cornwell, Charles Dana Gibson, and Howard Chandler Christy, Clyde decided to give it up to indulge his urge to paint the desert.

He headed West and not only painted the desert but those who populated it including prospectors with whom he would stay at their campsites.  One of his paintings dated 1952 is The Fight at OK Corral and shows his parents' store, Chandler and Forsythe, in the background.

He shared a studio with Frank Tenney Johnson and was friends with western characters such as Will Rogers, Charles Russell, and Ed Borein.  He and Jimmy Swinnerton, and Maynard Dixon, the other "Desert Painters," shared many painting trips.


Sources include:
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Orange, CA on Aug. 24, 1885.  Forsythe spent his youth on a ranch in the Coachella Valley.  He was a pupil of Louise Garden MacLeod at the Los Angeles School of Art & Design, and in 1904 painted his first western landscape while on a train from California to New York.  He further studied with Frank V. DuMond at the ASL while working as a staff artist for the New York World.  While in New York, he became nationally famous as the creator of cartoons and comic strips such as Way Out West  and Vic.  During WWI he painted many war posters including the And They Thought We Couldn't Fight.  Forsythe introduced an unknown artist named Norman Rockwell to Saturday Evening Post and was a close friend of Frank Tenney Johnson.  Having gained financial success, in 1920 he and Johnson moved to Alhambra, CA where they shared a studio.  With their paintings in demand, they established the Biltmore Art Gallery in Los Angeles.  After returning to California, Forsythe immersed himself in the lore of the West and often lived in ghost towns while on painting forays.  His subjects included desert scenes with prospectors and their burros as well as cowboy genre.  His unique style of painting the sky and cloud formations became the identifying feature of his landscapes.  Forsythe died in Pasadena on May 24, 1962. 

Member:  Salmagundi Club; Allied AA.  Exh: Calif. Art Club, 1921-58; Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1924-27; Biltmore Salon (LA), 1924-54; Painters of the West, 1924-31; Friday Morning Club (LA), 1925, 1928; Cartoonist Club (LA), 1928; Pasadena Art Inst., 1928; Foundation of Western Art
(LA), 1933-37; Vose Gallery (LA), 1933; San Gabriel Artists Guild, 1935; LA AA, 1936-37; UCLA, 1936; USC, 1937; Desert Inn (Palm Springs), 1939; GGIE, 1939; Pasadena Arts & Crafts, 1941; Whittier AA, 1943; Laguna Beach AA, 1946; City Hall (LA), 1949; Allied AA (Palm Springs), 1949; Cowle Gallery (LA), 1954.  In: Municipal Art Gallery (Phoenix).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
The Arrowhead, Nov. 1923; LA Times, 11-11-1923; AAA 1929-33; WWAA 1936-41; AAW; Fld; Sam; Har; SCA; Ben; The West as Art.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Forsythe was a nationally famous comic strip artist who abandoned his career to paint California desert landscapes.

Forsythe was born in Orange, California and grew up in the deserts of the Coachella Valley and Los Angeles Basin. His parents had owned a store in Tombstone, Arizona next door to the OK Corral, and Forsythe had grown up with the stories of that rough, desert mining town. His family also took camping trips in the California desert, and all these experiences instilled a life-long fascination with the desert landscape and its inhabitants.

Having shown artistic promise as a boy, Forsythe studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. In 1904 he took the train to New York to study at the Art Students League under Frank DuMond. He worked as a staff artist for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World while attending classes, and later switched to W.R. Hearst's New York Journal. He went on to work for a succession of Hearst papers, drawing briefly for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and then the Los Angeles Examiner, before returning to New York in the nineteen-teens to work at the American.

Living in New Rochelle, New York, Forsythe met a young artist named Norman Rockwell, and the two shared a studio that had once been owned by Frederick Remington. Forsythe introduced the younger artist to the staff of Saturday Evening Post and Rockwell sold them his first cover in 1916. Forsythe also became close friends with Frank Tenney Johnson, a fellow illustrator and lover of the West who painted for Field & Stream.

While at the New York American, Forsythe began to develop comic strips. Among his earliest were a gag strip about boxing called The Great White Dope, and a western series, Tenderfoot Tim. In 1918 he began his most successful strip, Joe's Car about an automobile-obsessed young man. In 1928 he renamed the strip Joe Jinks, as its protagonist had gone on to fly airplanes and then became a professional boxing manager. Forsythe quit Joe Jinks in 1933 and began a cowboy strip titled Way Out West. He then added a home life strip, The Little Woman. Neither of these was very successful, and he returned to drawing Joe Jinks in 1937, but quit cartooning for good the next year.

In 1920, Forsythe and his wife, Cotta, had given up New York and returned to southern California. Frank Johnson and his wife followed shortly, and the two artists built a studio in Alhambra which they shared until Johnson's death in 1939. The studio became a gathering place for their artist friends including Maynard Dixon, Charlie Russell, Ed Borein, Nicolai Fechin, Dean Cornwell, and Jimmy Swinnterton who was a comic strip pioneer also working for Hearst newspapers. In 1923, Forsythe and Johnson founded the Biltmore Gallery at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles to sell their work and that of their friends.

Forsythe painted desert landscapes from the time he settled in California and, after giving up comics in 1938, devoted himself to easel painting full time. Dixon clearly was a major influence on his painting style, but his Palm Springs area scenes bear an affinity for Swinnerton's work. Unlike his friends' landscapes, however, Forsythe's frequently included human figures and animals. He was most fond of the archetypal desert prospector with a pick-axe over one shoulder and the reins of a burro in his hand. He was fascinated with mining history, sometimes living in ghost towns on extended painting trips. He relished sitting at prospectors' camp fires, listening to their stories. He was proud to be one of the early desert painters, observing that he and his friends helped make people aware of the desert as a place of great beauty.

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