Monday, February 5, 2024

Comics: Gene Barnett, Illustrator, Painter, Sculptor, Etcher, Writer and Letterer

Eugene Asheton “Gene” Barnett was born on March 18, 1894, in Atlanta, Georgia, according to his World War I draft card and passport application which had his full name. 

In the 1900 United States Census, Barnett (line 90) was the oldest of three children born to Eugene and Ida. They family were Nashville, Tennessee residents at 703 Shirley Street. His father was a clothing salesman.

The 1910 census counted Barnett (line 70), his parents and five siblings in Atlanta, Georgia at 4 Rosalia Street. Sixteen-year-old Barnett was a hardware salesman.

Every now and then, Barnett was mentioned in the society pages of The Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia). The September 27, 1914 edition said

On June 5, 1917, Barnett signed his World War I draft card. His address was 34 Rosalia Street. His description was short with blue eyes and brown hair. Barnett was a display man at Jacob Pharmacy in Marietta, Georgia. 

Barnett’s registration was listed in The Constitution, July 13, 1917. 

Barnett’s Georgia World War I service card said he enlisted on April 16, 1918 at the Navy Recruiting Station in Atlanta. He trained for radio electrician beginning at Newport, Rhode Island, then Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New York City. His rating was Electrician 2nd Class Radio. Barnett was discharged on March 10, 1919.

According to the 1920 census, Barnett (line 7) stayed at the YMCA, 215 West 23rd Street, in Manhattan. His was employed as an artist in the film industry. The American Art Annual, Volume 26, (1930; “Who’s Who in Art” section reprinted in Dictionary of American Artists: 19th & 20th Century (1982)), said Barnett was a student of Edward Penfield whose studio was at 163 West 23rd Street

Barnett’s passport application was filed on June 23, 1922. The passport was issued four days later. In July he planned to visit several countries in Europe. 

On September 14, 1922, Barnett (line 12) departed Le Havre, France. He arrived in the port of New York on September 23. 

The American Art Annual said Barnett was an illustrator, painter (undated oil painting here), sculptor, etcher and writer, who worked at 522 Fifth Avenue, near 43rd Street, which was the address of the advertising agency, Robert M. McMullen Company. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators. 

The 1930 census said Barnett was an advertising art director (line 30). His Manhattan address was 1 West 67th Street. 

Two months after the census enumeration, Printers’ Ink, June 5, 1930, said 
Eugene Barnett with Caples Company
Eugene Barnett, formerly with the Robert M. McMullen Company, New York, has joined the Caples Company, advertising agency, also of that city, as art director.
The Caples Company was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois with branches in New York City and Tampa, Florida. 

On October 2, 1930, Barnett and Florence M. Johns obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 24031. They married two days later. 

News of the marriage was reported in the Spokane Chronicle (Washington), October 7, 1930. 
Miss Florence Johns Will Wed in East 
From New York comes the announcement that Miss Florence M. Johns, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Johns of this city, and Eugene A. Barrett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Barrett of Atlanta, will be married in New York this month. Miss Johns is an artist and has resided in New York city for several years. Mr. Barrett is in the advertising business. The couple procured their marriage license in New York October 2, announcing at that time they would be married later in the month. 
In the 1940 census, the couple (lines 44 and 45) resided in Manhattan at 74 West 69th Street. Barnett was a freelance artist. It’s not clear when he left the Caples Company. His highest level of education was the fourth year of college. In 1939 Barnett earned $1,000. 

At some point Barnett was a letterer at Harry “A” Chesler’s comic book shop which opened in 1936 at 276 Fifth Avenue at 30th Street and, by 1941, had moved to 163 West 23rd Street (Edward Penfield’s old studio address). 

On April 26, 1942 Barnett signed his World War II draft card. His address and occupation were unchanged. He was described as five feet five inches, 150 pounds, with gray eyes and hair.

The Agency List #96, January 1949, said Barnett was art director at John A. Finneran, Inc., 1475 Broadway, New York. 

40. Eugene Barnett
74 W. 69 St. TR 7-5149 
New York 23, N. Y.  
Advertising & Magazine 
Illustration, Book Design 
Rep. A. Gatterman
In 1950 Barnett (line 7) was a freelance artist at 74 West 69th Street. His wife was an accountant. He earned $3,200 in 1949. 

Barnett passed away on December 21, 1954, in Manhattan according to the New York, New York Death Index at He was laid to rest at the Long Island National Cemetery

(There was another person named Eugene Barnett who was a cartoonist. His daughter wrote a book about him.) 

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