J. R. Williams
Cartoonist, Comic Strip Creator
1887 – 1957
Who was J. R. Williams?
James Robert Williams was a cartoonist who signed his work J. R. Williams. He was best known for his long-run daily syndicated panel, Out Our Way. As noted by Coulton Waugh in his 1947 book, The Comics, anecdotal evidence indicated that more Williams' cartoons were clipped and saved than were other newspaper comics. A newspaper promotion of 1930 compared him to poets Eugene Field and James Whitcomb Riley.
When he was young, Williams' family moved to Detroit, and he was 15 when he dropped out of school to work as an apprentice machinist in Ohio, soon relocating to Arkansas and Oklahoma, where he drifted about, sometimes working on ranches during a six-year period. He spent three years in the U.S. Cavalry.
Returning to Ohio, he married Lida Keith and settled into a steady job with a crane manufacturing firm where he drew covers for the company's catalog. During his spare time, he created cartoons depicting ranch life and machine shop workers. He started submitting his work to newspaper syndicates, eventually receiving an offer from NEA.
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