Vintage Sleaze of Jeff Keate Cracked Canadian Cartoonist from Connecticut
Canadian Jeff Keate was certainly not the most sleazy of the gag cartoonists selling work to Humorama, nor was he the funniest. Almost NOT sleazy enough...note how he resisted making anything here, um...huge other than the computer "Titanic" as most of his cohorts would have done by rote... but then he was a better craftsman as well. There is an almost obsessive detail and decoration on this piece. That the big mainframe computer, still a novelty at the time, was being decorated is the whole point of the cartoon, but it still seems like the artist could have said as much with a simple flower pot or two. Good for Jeff, as he wasn't being paid by the line but the panel.. the kind of detail which is appreciated.
Keate Studied right down the road from here in Grand Rapids, Michigan and later the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. At the time "Hal" above was done, he was living in Westport, CT in one of the highest per-capita income zip codes in the United States, so he must have sold lots of fifty dollar drawings. Keate had several successful strips in addition to an unknown number of pieces published by Humorama. "Time Out" ran for ten years in the 1950s, and one called "Rufus" ran on Sundays in the Chicago Tribune even earlier. He also wrote, get this..."Squeans, Plewds and Briffits, or How to be a Cartoonist" in 1954. This drawing ran in a late issue of "Gaze" but a notation on the reverse indicates he was paid for at least one reprint as well, so it certainly ran again.
Keate's work was frequently anthologized. He was included in "1000 Jokes" "Best Cartoons of the Year" "Cartoons of the Month" and Cracked Magazine. (remember Cracked?) I am sure there are many others.
He was also a Jazz fan! In an astounding bit of archival artistry, Elizabeth Hull at the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives Library (part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) was researching magnificent Jazz photographs taken by Hugh MacRae Morton. The renowned photographer had a long and distinguished career. His work was generously donated by his widow to the archive. It is being meticulously documented in a digital collection and discussed on the beautiful site "A View to Hugh". While attempting identification of the performers in a set of photos, Ms. Hull enlarged this drum kit and lo & behold! A jazzy drawing and inscription to "The Bobcats" from Jeff Keate. A good find and testimony to the archivist's tenacity! On the basis of this finding alone, I am going to go out on a limb and speculate that Jeff fancied himself a beatnik. At the least, the Canadian cartoonist from Connecticut was cool enough to have some cool friends. I also suspect he would love knowing his drum was photographed, archived and preserved in one of the very machines he satirizes here.
Photograph by Hugh Morton, courtesy North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives Library UNC and Chapel Hill
Original Cartoon by Jeff Keate for Humorama, 1966, reprinted 1972? 10" x 13" Collection Jim Linderman