Ethel Hays (March 13, 1892 – March 19, 1989) was an American syndicated cartoonist specializing in flapper-themed comic strips in the 1920s and 1930s. She drew in Art Deco style. In the later part of her career, during the 1940s and 1950s, she became one of the country’s most accomplished children’s book illustrators.
Newspaper comics and illustrations
This experience with comic art changed the course of her career. Hays was subsequently offered work as a staff illustrator for the Cleveland Press, a job procured for her by the designer of the correspondence course himself, Charles N. Landon. Soon after, Landon would be touting Ethel Hays as among the "former students who are now successful comic strip artists" in his magazine ads of the 1920s.
Hays’ first work at the Cleveland Press was for a trendy feature called Vic and Ethel, which consisted of flapper-themed satire and social commentary—including stories of "steeple-climbing and swimming in ice-filled lakes" and interviews with visiting celebrities — accompanied by Hays’s cartoons. Her first comic strip for Newspaper Enterprise Association was derived from that feature and was called simply Ethel. Here Hays continued to chronicle the era when women "bobbed their hair and took up active sports." Even at the beginning of her career, Hays’ style was "already polished and breathtakingly lovely."
Hays also drew the noted one-panel cartoon series Flapper Fanny Says, also for NEA and starting in about 1924, with a Sunday page following in 1928. In this panel, which featured a flapper illustration and a witticism, Hays "moved away from the fancy style of Nell Brinkley, drawing sleeker women with short hair—some even wearing pants." Her panel inspired competition for a time from Faith Burrows‘ similarly-themed Flapper Filosofy from the rival King Features Syndicate.
Ethel Hays was married in 1925 to W.C. Simms of Kansas City, Missouri (she continued to use her maiden name in signing her art throughout her career). By 1928 she was a mother. After she had her second child, she found the daily workload becoming too heavy, and she turned Flapper Fanny Says over to promising newcomer Gladys Parker around 1931. Between 1931 and 1936, however, Hays did find time to illustrate at least 17 stories by noted and prolific author Ellis Parker Butler that were distributed to newspapers. Hays continued to produce a variety of other work for NEA, including full-page illustrations and montages for Every Week magazine, a Sunday newspaper supplement. Her final comic strip for NEA wasMarianne, beginning around February 1936, which ran weekly. Comic strip historian Allan Holtz wrote, "While the art was vintage Hays, the gags were strictly jokebook material. You could tell her heart was no longer in it." Her final installment ran on December 26, 1937, though the strip continued without her for another year or two.
Text from Wikipedia