Monday, December 11, 2017

Comics: Elmer “Tom” Tomasch, a Timely Artist

Elmer John “Tom” Tomasch was born on November 16, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio, according to his Social Security application at His parents were John Tomasch and Julia Kosman, both Hungarian (1920 census) or Czechoslovakian (1930 census) emigrants.

1920 United States Federal Census
Home: 3477 West 126 Street, West Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Name / Age / Occupation
John Tomasch, 36, “cooper”
Julia Tomasch, 28, none
Elmer Tomasch, 5, none
Helen Tomasch, 7, none
(spelled “Thomash” by census enumerator)

1930 United States Federal Census
Home: 3477 West 126 Street, West Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Name / Age / Occupation
John Tomasch, 44, automobile blacksmith
Julia Tomasch, 38, none
Helen Tomasch, 16, none
Elmer Tomasch, 15, newsboy route
Jack Tomasch, 4, none
Olma Taub, 21, exchange operator

Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) said Tomasch graduated from the Cleveland School of Art and Western Reserve University. He received his master’s degree from Kansas State College. Tomasch was a Cleveland public school teacher.

Cleveland Plain Dealer
June 4, 1933
May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Class of Illustration.
…Other strong exhibitors are Elmer Tomasch…

Cleveland Plain Dealer
June 2, 1935
May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art
…Entrants from the teacher training classes were…Elmer J. Tomasch.

Missouri, Marriage Records
Name: Elmer J Tomasch
Spouse: Sadie M Pelkey
Marriage: November 22, 1939, Jackson, Missouri

The Lake Placid News

(New York)
December 8, 1939
Placid Figure Skater Weds Art Teacher
A shower and reception for Mr. and Mrs. Thomas [sic] Tomaseh was given recently by friends at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey upon the arrival of the bridal couple from Cleveland. The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pelkey and was the former Miss Sadie Pelkey.

Both bride and groom took part at the New York’s World’s Fair. They plan to spend some time here before returning to Cleveland. Mrs. Tomaseh will continue her figure skating and her husband will also take up skating and skiing during his stay here. Among those attending the shower at which the couple received many attractive and useful gifts were: Mr. and Mrs. Frank LaBare, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Pratt, Louis Perry and Richard Charland of Standish, Miss Katharine Pelkey, sister of the bride, and Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey.
1940 United States Federal Census
Home: 4012 Franklin Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio
Name / Age / Occupation
Elmer J Tomasch, 25, public school art teacher
Sadie M Tomasch, 20, New York World’s Fair figure skater

Soon after the census enumeration in April, Tomasch moved to Lake Placid, New York, where Tomasch’s first son, Lyndon, was born on June 10, 1940. Also born in Lake Placid was Kim on July 14, 1947. Tomasch had a third son, Bret. The Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists said Tomasch taught at Lake Placid.

An obituary for Sadie said:

As a young woman, Mrs. Tomasch was a professional ice skater and skated with the Ice Capades. While skating at the 1939 World’s Fair, held in New York City, she met and later married Elmer J. Tomasch, a caricature artist also working at the World’s Fair….The Tomasch’s lived in New York City for several years before moving to Manhattan [Kansas] in 1947….
The Lake Placid News
July 12, 1940
Three Lake Placid students are enrolled in the summer school at Syracuse University, Miss Stella McKeown, Charles F. Lehman, Jr., and Elmer J. Tomasch.
The Lake Placid News
August 16, 1940
Among the house guests this week at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey are: Mrs. John Tomasch and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Becker, all of Cleveland, O. They are visiting Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Tomasch who live at the Pelkey home.
The Lake Placid News
June 27, 1941
Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Tomasch left Monday for New York City where Mr. Tomasch will remain to attend summer school. Mrs. Tomasch will return later in the week.
The Lake Placid News
March 13, 1942
Junior Class Presents Play Tonight, ‘The Late Christopher’
…The set and stage background were designed by James Mulvey and the art director Elmer Tomasch….
The Lake Placid News
September 11, 1942
Miss Kate Pelkey returned Tuesday after spending a week at the home of her sister, Mrs. E.J. Tomasch in Astoria, L.I. [New York City’s Queens Borough] Returning with her was Mrs. Tomasch’s infant son, Lyndon, who will spend some time at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey.
an excerpt from “Allen Bellman: The Interview”
Michael J. Vassallo: Who were some of your biggest artistic influences at Timely?
Allen Bellman: At Timely there was a guy named Tom Tomasch. He taught me a lot when I arrived. He was a short guy, very sophisticated and very nice. A real classy person. He even wrote a book on anatomy. [The ABC’s of Anatomy (1947)] He knew anatomy so well. He originally lived up in Lake Placid. His real name was, I think Elmer Tomasch but he was known as Tom. He would look over my work and correct me early on. Syd Shores was also a great help.

M: Was Tom Tomasch an artist or production person?
B: Tom was an artist and a darned good one at that. He knew his anatomy extremely well. He would make suggestions to me that helped me in my drawing.
The interview has Tomasch’s illustration for “Make Up Your Mind!” which was published in Miss America, Volume 1, Number 4, January 1945. Tomasch also illustrated “It’s Fun to Act” which was in the second issue of Miss America.

In Alter Ego #11, November 2001, Jim Amash interviewed Vince Fago, artist, writer and third editor-in-chief of Timely Comics. Amash asked, “Who else sticks out in your mind from Timely?” After naming several artists, Fago said, “There was a man named Thomas who did a lot of the Human Torch stories; he later became a teacher. I don’t remember anything else about him except he was German.” Fago described Tomasch whose name sounded like Thomas.

Alter Ego #33, February 2004, published “Viva Valerie! An Interview with ‘Glamorous Girl Inker’ Valerie (a.k.a.) Violet) Barclay”. The interview was conducted by Jim Amash who asked, “What do you remember about Syd Shores?” Barclay answered
“He was a very talented artist who did Captain America. He had another artist who worked with him who was a short, blond, Irish or English type of guy. I can’t think of his name now, but he used to take Syd Shores’ work and ink it. He had a tremendous knowledge of anatomy and would sharpen up muscles. Syd would pencil very roughly, and this man was a strong inker who’d tighten it all up.”
[Note: Vince Alascia isn’t the man Valerie Barclay was trying to recall. Anybody know who it might be?—Jim.]
I believe Barclay described Tomasch.

Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists said Tomasch joined the faculty at Kansas State University, Manhattan in 1947. Tomasch’s work was exhibited in Prairie Water Color Painters, Derby, England, 1948, and Kansas State University, 1978.

The Lake Placid News

April 30, 1948
Infant Death
Word has been received here of the death of the infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer J. Tomasch of Manhattan, Kansas, and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson of Lake Placid and Mr. and Mrs. John Tomasch of Cleveland, Ohio. Also a niece of Mrs. C.J. Martin, lake Placid, and Helen Becker of Cleveland. Burial was in the Catholic cemetery in Manhattan.
The Lake Placid News
July 27, 1951
Tomasch Home Ruined in Flood
Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey gave received word by radiogram and letter from their daughter, Mrs. Elmer Tomasch, telling of her family’s safety after being caught in the flood at Manhattan, Kan. It was the first news received from the family in three weeks. The flood ruined their home where seven feet of water still remained and the family was taken for refuge to the Kansas State College where Mr. Tomasch is professor of art.
Kansas State Collegian
November 14, 1951
page 8: Kansas Magazine Features Articles, Art by K-Staters

Kansas State Collegian
November 19, 1951
page 7: Ability to Sleep on the Job Pays Off for Models in Tomasch’s Art Classes

Kansas State Collegian
December 13, 1951
page 15: Catalogs, Bulletins Win First Prizes

Kansas State Collegian
February 4, 1952
page 3: Tomasch Is Brain Behind Artistry of Publications

The Lake Placid News
August 15, 1952
Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Tomasch and children of Manhattan, Kan., are visiting Mrs. Tomasch’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Pelkey. Mrs. Tomasch and children will remain here during the winter while Mr. Tomasch studies for a master’s degree at New York University. During the week they made a brief trip to Cleveland to visit the mother of Mr. Tomasch, accompanying Mr. and Mrs. Robert Pfieffer of Manhattan, who drove east with them last Friday.
1952 Royal Purple
Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas
Tomasch contributed over 20 cartoons
page 140: “E.J. Tomasch, whose sketches appear throughout the book, handled all cartoon artwork in the 1952 Royal Purple and gave invaluable assistance in working out page layouts for the book.”

1954 Royal Purple
Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas

1955 Royal Purple
Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State Collegian
May 9, 1957
page 1: German Arts to Highlight Weekend Festival Program
...Saturday’s schedule includes a gallery lecture at 2:30 p.m. on drawings and graphic arts being exhibited in the art lounge by E.J. Tomasch, assistant professor in the Architecture and Allied Arts department.
Kansas State Collegian
November 6, 1957
page 3: SU Displays Kansas Art
The Kansas Federation of Art is sponsoring a display of 16 paintings in the Union lounge. The paintings will remain there until November 10.

...Six of the paintings are by members of the K-State faculty.
The faculty members are Oscar V. Larmer, assistant professor of art; E.J. Tomasch, assistant professor of architecture; …
Kansas State College Bulletin
Volume 42, Number 11, 1958
Kansas Engineering Experiment Station
Bulletin 87, 1958
Creative Drawing
E. J. Tomasch

Kansas State Collegian
October 28, 1958
page 3: SU Kansas Mag Ready Soon for Stands
Kansas Magazine will soon make its yearly appearance on the newsstands. It contains 104 pages of literature and art produced mainly by Kansans and former Kansans. All of the works are appearing in ring for the first times.…Of the eight contributors of art, one is a K-State staff member—E.J. Tomasch of the Art Department.
Kansas State Collegian
November 20, 1958
page 1: SU Contemporary Italian Music Discussed by Prof Stratton
,,,E.J. Tomasch will give a demonstration of portraiture in the art lounge at 3:15 p.m….
1959 Royal Purple
Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State Collegian
February 4, 1959
page 1: Art Not Appreciated, Claims Professor
…When he came here in 1947, this was his first college position. He had previously worked in New York City for the Martin-Goodman [sic] Publications….
The Salina Journal
November 19, 1965
Sandzen Gallery Plans Reception 
Lindsborg—The Sandzen Memorial gallery at Bethany college will ”…also have a new show Sunday, a one-man show by E. J. Tomasch, Kansas State university. Prof. Tomasch is recognized for his work in figures and painting….”

The Manhattan Mercury
February 23, 1966
K-State Art Professor Shows Negro Paintings
Paintings of the life of Negroes is being featured in a one-man show by Elmer J. Tomasch at The Barn Gallery, 8200 Mission Road, Prairie Village, that began Sunday through March 13. Tomasch, an associate professor of art at Kansas State University, is a pioneer in the emerging period of great art of today’s America.

Explains Tomasch: “The changing status of the Negro and his role in today’s society is one of our nation’s most pressing and challenging problems. Our newspapers, radios, and television networks keep us well informed with daily reports on the latest developments in civil rights. We are permitted to see Uie Negro in his marches, as he is engaged in sit-ins, as he boycotts stores and even as he riots.

“Yet there is another side to the Negro we barely know. The side which shows him as a man devoted to his family and as one who is capable of experiencing all emotions. It is this side of the life of Negroes I depict in the series of paintings currently being displayed.”

Tomasch studied at the Cleveland School of Art. He has exhibited at the Gallery Anjoy, New York City; The Ankrum Gallery and the Paul Rival Gallery in Los Angeles; and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He has had one-man shows in Manhattan, Lindsborg and Wichita. 
The Yellow Brick Road Trip
Johnny Kaw Statute – Manhattan, KS
“In 1966, Kaw was memorialized in a 30-foot, statue that cost $7,000 to build. He was designed by Elmer Tomasch, a member of the Kansas State University’s Art Department.”

Tomasch wrote A Foundation for Expressive Drawing which was published in 1969.

The Wichita Eagle (Kansas), October 19, 1969, reported the exhibition at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Art Gallery on the campus of Bethany College at Lindsborg, Kansas. The show included a painting or paintings by Tomasch.

The Manhattan Mercury

May 21, 1974
Earns Award
Bret Tomasch, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Tomasch, 809 Juniper Dr., was presented the John Philip Sousa Band award at Manhattan High School recently. A flutist, Tomasch has been selected for both the band and orchestra the past three years by the Kansas Music Education Association. He is also the holder of six gold medals in state music competition.
Tomasch passed away May 12, 1977 according to the Manhattan Mercury.
Well-known KSU artist Elmer Tomasch is dead
Popular and prolific artist Elmer Tomasch, a member of the Kansas State University faculty for 30 years, died this morning at age 62 in Memorial Hospital. Death was attributed to natural causes. Final rites for one of the most versatile K-State Art Department members where he held the rank of associate professor will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Seven Dolors Roman Catholic Church with Fr. Carl Kramer as celebrant. Interment will be in Sunrise Cemetery. The Rosary will be recited for Mr. Tomasch at 7.30 p.m. Friday at the Parkview Funeral Home. Friends wishing to contribute to a memorial 'and for an art scholarship in Mr. Tomasch's name may leave donations at the funeral home.

Mr. Tomasch is survived by his widow Sadie, of the home on Route 5; three sons, Kim and Bret of the home, and Lyndon of Olathe; one sister, Mrs. Helen Becker of Charlotte, N.C.; and two grandchildren.

The artist whose works besides his paintings included numerous illustrations, caricatures and designs for such things as the Johnny Kaw statue in City Park had been a KSU artist member of the K-State art faculty since 1947. He gained reputation as an artist concerned with the use of the human figure. Man, through his eyes, was both idea and form, and he put his thoughts into his teaching and into [missing text]

(Next post on Monday: Herb Lubalin, Air Mail Stamps)

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