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From Art to Page, a Quick Look

You can read and view a far more in-depth look at how cartoons went from an artist’s drawing to a newsprint page from the 1910s to the 1980s, but is a quick visual summary!


The Original

The artist draws a comic.

Walter Berndt draws “Smitty.” (The Chicago Tribune film, From Trees To Tribunes, 1931)

The Negative

A negative is made from the original comic, also reducing its size down to the final dimensions that will be reproduced in a newspaper.

A camera operator shoots a negative of a page of comics. (“Making of a Funny,” Popular Science, June 1940, p. 85.)

A worker peels the negative off the underlying glass. (“Making of a Funny,” p. 85.)

The Zinc Plate

The negative is exposed to a zinc plate covered in photosensitive emulsion, which is then etched in acid to produce this production zinc plate for the next step.

A zinc plate created for “The Wizard of Id,” 27 April 1966. (Glenn’s collection)

The Flong

Under pressure, a special kind of heavy paper takes an impression of the zinc plate, producing a mold called a flong, which is sent to newspapers for reproduction.

A single daily Doonesbury comic in flong form from 8 May 1973 (Glenn’s collection)

The Stereotype Plate

Newspapers cast the flong as a flat plate of lead alloy, called a stereotype, which is used in laying out a page.

A Doonesbury stereotype cast at a newspaper for a May 1978 paper. (Glenn’s collection)

The Laid-Out Page

A make-up person puts all the materials together that form a page of a newspaper.

A page-makeup person fits the last pieces into a text-heavy daily newspaper page. (U.S. FSA/OWI, 1942, call number LC-USW3-009095-E [P&P] LOT 242)

The Full Newspaper Page Flong

The entire newspaper page is then made under heavy pressure into another flong, used as a mold for the next step.

The comics page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9 May 1935 in flong form. (Glenn’s collection)

The Full Newspaper Hemispherical Stereotype

In a special casting device, an entire hemispherical metal stereotype plate is cast to go on press.

Curved stereotype plate (parts missing) from an unknown newspaper, 1970s era. (Glenn’s collection)

The Stereotype on Press

The plate is locked onto a rotary newspaper press.

A press operator loads a plate onto the rotary press. (U.S. FSA/OWI, 1942, call number LC-USW3-009067-E [P&P] LOT 242)

Reading the Comics

The printed page goes out to readers, who particularly enjoy the comics pages.

Jazz drummer and bandleader Theodore Dudley “Red” Saunders and his wife Ella read the comics pages with their children (and dog). (U.S. FSA/OWI, 1942, call number LC-USW3-001482-D [P&P] LOT 192)


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