Monday, June 26, 2023

Creator: William Powell Schoonmaker, Illustrator, Designer and Lettering Artist

William Powell Schoonmaker was born on November 14, 1890, in New York, New York, according to his birth certificate. His parents were William Schoonmaker and Rachel Kortright who resided in Manhattan at 57 Leroy Street.

The 1900 United States Census said Schoonmaker was the fourth of six siblings. The family lived in Manhattan at 550 Hudson Street. Schoonmaker’s father was a porter. 

The Schoonmakers were at the same address in the 1905 New York state census. 

According to the 1910 census, Schoonmaker was studying art at the YMCA. He lived with his parents in Manhattan at 703 Greenwich Street. His father was an elevator operator. 

Who’s Who in New Jersey (1939) said Schoonmaker studied at the Art Students League of New York City from 1909 to 1913. He freelanced in New York from 1913 to 1918, then in Philadelphia from 1918 onward. 

Schoonmaker’s illustration for John Martin appeared in Good Housekeeping, October 1913.

Signed in lower right-hand corner

At some point, the Schoonmakers moved to New Jersey. In the 1915 New Jersey state census, they were counted as residents of Richfield Township in Bergen County. Their address was 362 Grand Avenue. Schoonmaker was an artist. 

Schoonmaker did the illustrations and decorations for “St. Francis and the Wolf” in John Martin’s Annual 1916.

The Printing Art, May 1917, featured Schoonmaker’s work. 

On June 5, 1917, Schoonmaker signed his World War I draft card. His address was the same. His birth was recorded as 1891 instead of 1890. The description of the self-employed artist was stout build, medium height, with brown eyes and hair. 

Some Examples of the Work of American Designers (1918) featured the work of several designers including Schoonmaker. 

A listing in a 1918 New York City directory said Schoonmaker lived in Leonia, New Jersey and had a studio at 7 West 14th Street. 

The Inland Printer, February 1919

On August 9, 1919, Schoonmaker and Corinne Turner, an illustrator, obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 22917. It’s not clear how Schoonmaker met Turner who illustrated Blanche Weitbrec’s 1911 book, The Men on Horseback. Did Schoonmaker meet Turner through Weitbrec or vice versa? Whatever the case, Schoonmaker made bookplates for both. 

The Printing Art, May 1917

The marriage was short-lived. A death notice appeared in The New York Times, March 21, 1920.
Schoonmaker—March 19, 1920, Corinne Turner, beloved wife of William P. Schoonmaker and daughter of Mary Reeve and the late Richard W. Turner. Funeral services Stephen Merritt Chapel, 223 8th Av., near 21st St., Sunday afternoon, 2 o’clock. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery. 

Schoonmaker has not yet been found in the 1920 census. 

The Inland Printer, November 1921, featured Schoonmaker’s work. 

The Inland Printer, June 1923, showcased the work of William Kittredge who hired Schoonmaker on two projects. 

Schoonmaker and Weitbrec were issued a marriage license on December 19, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They married the following day. 


The Art of Lettering (1924) included three pieces by Schoonmaker. 

The American Printer, August 5, 1924, printed Schoonmaker’s lettering and design. 

In the 1930 census, Schoonmaker and his wife resided at the Gladstone Hotel, 1100 Pine Street, Philadelphia. He was a self-employed commercial artist and she an author of poetry and fiction.

The Canyon News (Texas), January 12, 1933, published a photograph of Schoonmaker and others. 

The 1940 census counted the couple at the same location. 

Schoonmaker passed away on January 31, 1942 in Philadelphia. The death certificate, at, said the cause was cerebral hemorrhage due to arteriosclerosis. A death notice appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 1, 1942.
Schoonmaker—Jan. 31, Wm. P., husband of Blanche W. Schoonmaker. Funeral services on Tues., at 2 o’clock. Parlors of Mrs. J.L. Snodgrass, 1644 N. 29th st. Cremation West Laurel Cemetery. Friends may call Monday evening, 8 to 10.

One of Schoonmaker’s last works was On Wings of Healing: Prayers and Readings for the Sick and Shut-In (1942). Two Schoonmaker illustrations were published in The Modern Wonder Book of Knowledge (1949). 

Related Posts

(Next post on Monday: Ralph Komisarow, Letterer)

Monday, June 19, 2023

Comics: A Few Details About John Romita Sr., Artist and Art Director

John Victor Romita Sr. was born on January 24, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, according to the New York, New York Birth Index at

The 1930 United States Census was enumerated in April. Romita was three-months-old and the first child of Vito, an Italian immigrant, and Minnie. They were Brooklyn residents at 1414 East 13th Street. 

Lines 40–42

The 1940 Census said Romita was the oldest of five siblings. The family lived at 242 Ellery Street in Brooklyn. 

Lines 30–36

Romita attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan and graduated in 1947. His classmates included Jon D’Agostino, Hal Fromm, Herbert Tauss and Les Zakarin. In a 2003 interview, Romita mentioned two instructors, Howard Simon and Ben Clemons. 

The Palette yearbook

The Romita family resided in Brooklyn at 229 Ellery Street, apartment 1. Romita was an “artist helper”. 

Lines 10–16

In Comic Book Marketplace, #84, August 2001, Romita said he served during the Korean War starting in 1951. After basic training, he was assigned to Fort Dix where he produced artwork and posters.

In 1952, Romita and Virginia G. Bruno obtained marriage license number 25662 in Manhattan. 

In The Comics Journal #252, May 2003, Romita said he was discharged from the Army in July 1953. 

The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 9, Part 1, Number 1, Books and Pamphlets, January–June 1955 had the following entry. 
Cooley, Donald G.
What is a friend? 15 p. Appl. author: John Victor Romita, © Ticonderoga Publishers, division of Christmas Club, a Corp.; 13Apr55; A189633.

Further Reading
Cartoonist PROfiles, #39, September 1978, Interview, Part 1
Cartoonist PROfiles, #40, December 1978, Interview, Part 2
Comic Book Artist #6, Fall 1999, John Romita Sr.: Spidey’s Man (excerpt) 
Alter Ego #9, July 2001, A Candid Conversation With Marvel Artist/Art Director Supreme John Romita
Comic Book Marketplace, #84, August 2001, John Romita Sr. the Versatile Virtuoso
Editor & Publisher, November 11, 1976, Spider-Man debuts
Comic Book, June 13, 2023
Comic Book Resources, June 13, 2023
Hollywood Reporter, June 13, 2023
News from ME, June 13, 2023
The New York Times, June 14, 2023

Monday, June 12, 2023

Lettering: Toni Bonagura, Lettering Artist and Painter

Anthony “Toni” Bonagura was born on December 10, 1897, in Naples, Italy, according to his naturalization documents and World War II draft card. (The birth date, January 10, 1898, was on his World War I draft card.) Aboard the steamship Marsaila, Bonagura sailed from Genoa on March 10, 1898 and arrived in the port of New York on March 20. 

In the 1900 United States Census, Bonagura was the second of three children born to Louis, a tailor, and Carmella. They lived in Manhattan at 339 Eleventh Street. The 1905 New York state census said the family of six resided at 202–204 First Avenue in Manhattan. 

The Bonaguras have not yet been found in the 1910 census. According to the 1915 state census, the Bonagura family numbered nine members. They were Brooklyn residents at 8651 Bay 12th Street. 

On September 12, 1918, Bonagura signed his World War I draft card. His Brooklyn address was 8651 16th Avenue. He was a commercial artist at Welanetz Company, 2 East 23rd Street in Manhattan. 

The Independent and Times (New Paltz, New York), August 9, 1956, said Bonagura “studied Art at Cooper Union in New York, the Art Students League of New York and the Chicago Art Institute.” The Anthony Bonagura website said 
… he moved to Chicago where he attended night school at the Chicago Art Institute and by day worked in an artists’ studio as a paste-up boy. Eight years later he had done well enough to land a job as an Art Director for Lord & Thomas Agency, one of Chicago’s leading advertising firms. He later became Art Director for J.M. Bundscho Agency of Chicago, the largest typographic plant in the country. 
Bonagura has not been found in the 1920 census. On May 15, 1922, Bonagura and Velma Crystal Gibbs married in Richmond, Indiana. 

In Chicago, “Antony Bonagura” began the naturalization process. He filed a Declaration of Intention  on June 5, 1922. His address was 2176 Ontario Street. 

In the mid-1920s, Bonagura moved to New York. He and his wife were listed in the 1926 White Plains, New York city directory at 26 East Parkway. His occupation was artist. 

On April 8, 1929, Bonagura became a naturalized citizen. His address was Bay 16th Street in Brooklyn. 

The 1930 census counted Bonagura, his wife, son and daughter in Greenburgh, New York at 11 Chedwick Road (in the 1940 census it was Chedworth Road). Bonagura was a self-employed commercial artist. 

Four days after the census enumeration, the New York Sun, April 16, 1930, noted Bonagura’s Manhattan office.

Modern Packaging, March 1933, said Bonagura’s design for Columbia Liquid Wax, number 87, was one of the hundred outstanding packages of 1932. 

Printers’ Ink, April 27, 1933 reported the following. 
Appoint J. M. Perkins
James M. Perkins, formerly of Byron Musser, Inc., has established his business at 118 East 40th Street, New York as a representative of advertising artists. He will represent John Atherton, Toni Bonagura, Robert Fawcett, Arthur Palmer, Raymond Prohaska and Howard Scott.
Bonagura signed his World War II draft card on February 16, 1942. His office was at 143 East 45th in Manhattan. Bonagura was described as five feet seven inches, 195 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. 

Lettering and Calligraphy in Current Advertising and Publishing exhibition, at the A-D Gallery in New York City., presented the work of 25 letterers and calligraphers including Bonagura (below). The catalog was reprinted in Print, Fall 1945

Bonagura’s chart was published in Print, 1949. 

The 1950 census said Bonagura and his wife resided in Gardiner, New York on Phillies Bridge Road. He was a self-employed commercial artist. 

The Independent and Times, January 18, 1951, published Bonagura’s advertorial.

Art Direction, October 1953, printed a Photo-Lettering advertisement announcing the transfer of photographic alphabets by Bartuska and Tony Bonagura. Art Direction,  November 1953, reported the transfer of photographic alphabets. 
Photo-Lettering adds alphabets
Ed Rondthaler has been abroad securing European alphabets for Photo-Lettering Inc. and one-man calligraphic and lettering shows for the Alphabet Gallery. 

Toni Bonagura and Frank Bartuska have transferred their entire “Custom Lettering” line of nearly 100 photographic alphabets to the Company’s library. This line includes many versions of both contemporary and classic designs. A brochure displaying these designs is available from Photo-Lettering, Inc., 216 East 45th Street, New York City.
A trove of Bonagura’s lettering is hereLettering Art in Modern Use, Student Edition (1965) included three samples by Bonagura: Never let him know; Custom Built by Buick; and My Brother Bob Taft.

The Independent and Times said 
Mr. Bonagura was forced to retire from business in 1953, due to a cardiac condition, and has since focused his entire time on painting. He likes to call his retirement from the business scene his “raison d’ etre.” 
His paintings can be viewed here and here

Bonagura passed away on May 30, 1963, in Gardiner, New York. An obituary appeared in the Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York), May 31, 1963
Anthony Bonagura, 65, died suddenly Thursday at his home, Phillies Bridge Road, Town of Gardiner. Born in Naples, Italy, Dec. 10, 1897, he was the son of the late Louis and Carmella Leioy Bonagura. His wife is the former Crystal Gibbs. Prior to his retirement 12 years ago he was a prominent advertising design artist in New York City. Since his retirement he has been a creative artist and was well known through his exhibits locally. Surviving in addition to his wife are a son John L. Bonagura of Town of Gardiner; a daughter, Mrs. Lorraine Zinsmeister of Long Island; a brother, Fred Bonagura of Flushing; six sisters, Bridgeta Bonagura of Seaford, Helen Crane of Brooklyn, Enis Biederbeck of Bayside, Valia Gustafson of Flushing and Dora Walter of Glen Cove and Gilda Lubash of Poughkeepsie; seven grandchildren. Funeral services will be held Monday 2 p. m. at the Pine Funeral Home Inc., New Paltz. Burial will be in the Modena Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. The Rev. George Van Emburg, pastor of Gardiner Reformed Church, will officiate.
Bonagura was laid to rest at Modena Rural Cemetery. Photographs of Bonagura are here