The Only Woman Caricaturist
August 31, 2013 6:56 AM   Subscribe

"Mary Williams adopted the name “Kate Carew” and wrote candid, witty interviews with luminaries of the day, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and the Wright Brothers. She adorned her interviews with her unique “Carewatures,” and often drew herself into the scene. Imagine Oprah Winfrey as a liberated woman caricaturist-interviewer in 1900 and you have an idea of who Kate Carew was. -- The Comics Journal's Paul Tumey rediscovers a cartooning pioneer in the course of a review of a new book about early US comics.

Kate Carew hasn't been entirely forgotten. Aviation buffs know her for her interview with the Wright Brothers (previously), Mark Twain fans for her interview with the author, an interview he had to be tricked into. She interviewed Picasso to get "her ecstatic fill on a post-cubist" and the boxer Jack Johnson to ask the question whether he was "anxious to undermine the supremacy of the Caucasian race". For each of these interviews she'd also draw a caricature of her subject, often showing herself asking some impertinent question or another.

In a feature for Pearson's Magazine in 1904 Carew talked about how she got started:
I was a comparatively harmless painter person who had set up a studio in New York with a single eye to serious work-art with a capital "A," you know--and in a mischievous moment I inked over some grotesque sketches of an actor which I had made on the margin of a theatre programme, and sent them to a newspaper, hardly expecting ever to hear of them again.

But lo! I did, and the sequel throws a light on the hunger for novelty which is the ruling passion of the bright young editors trained up by Mr. Joseph Pulitzer, proprietor of the New York World. It was to the World that I had sent my sketches. They fell into the hands of an editor whose hunger for novelty was especially poignant, and within two days I was engaged at what to a lowly painter of portraits seemed a ridiculously handsome figure, to supply the paper twice a week with two columns of theatrical caricature seasoned with frivolous comment. I awoke to find myself pseudonymously famous. The alias with which I had signed the sketches--I had selected it a random--shouted at me from advertisements and posters, and "The Only Woman Caricaturist" was flaunted before the public with a persistence which made me thank my stars I had not signed my real name.
Currently a New York based independent movie company, Jaffa Films is making a documentary about her, Rediscovering Kate Carew, with a twelve minute extract up on Youtube.

Apart from her interview work, she also wrote and drew two comic strips Angel Child and Handy Andy. Some examples of her work are available in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum's image database.
posted by MartinWisse (4 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
this is great!! between this post and the one about Mary MacLane, Metafilter is really serving up the badass, genius weirdos for the holiday weekend. i'm definitely heading to the Strand later today to look for the Society is Nix book.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2013

Love this, thanks!
“Our sister has been up two or three times and she’s crazy about it,” said Orville, encouragingly.

“We’ve taken other women passengers, too,” said Wilbur.

“Have you found them hard to manage?”

“They’re much better than men,” said Wilbur warmly. “They don’t fidget and jump around at the start, as men always do.”

And yet they deny us the suffrage, dears.
She wasn't the only female cartoonist of the 1880s-- Marie Duval comes to mind.
posted by Erasmouse at 9:44 AM on August 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this-- fantastic.
posted by jokeefe at 7:21 PM on August 31, 2013

It’s the first time in over 100 years that Carew’s comics have seen the light of day.

Hmm, I have no idea where, but I've definitely seen samples of her work. But probably never so much in one place.
posted by dhartung at 1:28 AM on September 1, 2013

« Older Enhance 224 to 176   |   Heroes and Villains Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments