original full name: Thomas Aloysius McNamara
later name: Thomas Joseph McNamara (by September 1918)
born May 7, 1886, in San Francisco, CA
died May 19, 1964, in San Francisco, CA
This filmography is sketchy to say the least, especially when it comes to McNamara's involvement in the world of comics. Hopefully, I'll be able to draw a more complete picture of his career before long. If any comics experts out there have additional information to add to this page, feel welcome to email me.
After studying at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute, McNamara worked for the San Francisco Chronicle as an illustrator. This was at about the turn of the century.
McNamara described himself as "rustling all sorts of jobs in a boom mining camp somewhere in Nevada" before working for the Salt Lake Herald. This was followed by a move to Denver, which was followed by a vaudeville act with Myer Marcus, called Mack and Marcus.
The Salt Lake Herald of Feb. 17th of this year reported that Mack and Marcus had toured the Orpheum circuit with a cartoon sketch called Evolution. Most of this year saw the duo performing in the UK and Europe for forty weeks.
The Salt Lake City Evening Telegram of Mar. 10th of this year reported that Mack and Marcus had headlined on the Orpheum circuit, describing their act as involving "lightning sketches," which involved rapidly sketching funny illustrations. The act returned to the US at some later point in the year and broke up, with McNamara moving to New York. In October, he performed in an act with Bud Fisher at Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre. McNamara originated the Us Boys comic strip during this year, and worked for The New York Evening Journal. He also did a strip called The Sandlot League. He was also known to have done artwork for humorous pins, which were included in cigarette packs. Examples of his work of this type date from the teens through the thirties.
A second McNamara strip appeared briefly during this year entitled Tom McNamara Illustrated Stories.
McNamara entered films as a title writer during this year, apparently beginning his career with the Edison company, for which we know of at least one acting job.
By the end of this year, we find McNamara writing titles for Paramount.
McNamara's tenure with Paramount ended by the early part of this year. He moved to Hollywood during this year, and wound up at Hal E. Roach Studios, where he was hired as a writer. In this capacity, he was involved with Hal Roach's Rascals by the end of the year, and was probably involved in the very first episode, "Our Gang."
Starting with the second Our Gang film, McNamara shared directorial credits with Robert F. McGowan. In addition to this, he served as a writer and illustrated the title cards. Once in a while, he shared the titles credit with H. M. Walker, but it isn't clear whether this was because of the illustrations, or if McNamara was contributing words to the titles as well. According to the official credits, McGowan and McNamara began to alternate directorial duties during the late summer and early fall, with McNamara getting solo credit for "The Cobbler" and "Boys To Board." The studio payroll summaries indicate that McNamara was the official writer of the series by the beginning of August (earlier summaries don't name names). This credit continued until the week ending November 4th, after which McNamara is not listed again until 1923. However, Camera magazine reveals that he was still directing and writing for the series during the weeks starting Jan. 8 and 15, 1923.
For the week ending March 17th, McNamara's name reappears on the payroll summaries, but this time as an assistant director. Nevertheless, he managed to co-direct "Stage Fright," "July Days" and "Sunday Calm." After the week ending June 2nd, his name disappears from the summaries for good. The distinctive illustrations on the title cards came to an end with "Lodge Night," which was released at the end of July. This film had wrapped at the beginning of March, so the title cards were probably finished by the beginning of June. It seems likely, too, that McNamara had been doing these illustrations even while his name was missing from the summaries between November 1922 and March 1923. Assuming he was still contributing gags at this point, the last film he was probably involved in was "No Noise," which started shooting on June 1st. What's ironic is that Roach extended McNamara's contract early in the year, but obviously this didn't amount to much.
Presumably, McNamara was involved in other films besides the few listed here. In 1925, he wound up working with Mary Pickford, both writing and directing.
Early in the year, McNamara's association with Pickford came to an end.
McNamara signed with R-C Pictures Corporation early in the year and wrote for the short-lived "Secrets Of The Beauty Parlor" series of two-reelers. It appears that the first two episodes were unnumbered, and the Copyright Catalog omits the 'adaptation' credit for the second one, "The Permanent Rave." It's likely that McNamara worked on this one (released Aug. 10th), since he's credited with all of the remaining shorts.
The Us Boys strip lasted until December of this year.
McNamara worked on a Sunday comic strip entitled Teddy Jack And Mary, which debuted on May 19th of this year. He also worked on a second Sunday strip entitled On Our Block, but it isn't clear whether they were concurrent or consecutive.
The Teddy Jack And Mary strip ended on Aug. 24th of this year, which may have been the point when McNamara started the On Our Block strip.
During this year, McNamara began working as a writer for RKO, which yielded at least two films.
Presumably, McNamara's association with RKO ended early this year.
By the end of this year, McNamara was involved in the comic book industry, specifically a comic book entitled New Fun which went into release in early 1935. The company he worked for was called National Allied Publications. He moved back to New York City in the mid-30's, and this switch in career paths may have had something to do with it.
The first issue of New Fun (The Big Comic Magazine) had a cover date of February 1935. This was the first comic book to contain original material, that is, material that wasn't simply a reproduction of newspaper comics. Included was a piece by McNamara entitled "After School." This became a series of 1 or 2 page fillers which was included in New Fun up to issue no. 6 from October 1935. McNamara was the editor as well as a contributor, but it isn't clear whether this was from the very beginning, or whether he was promoted at some point. In December, New Fun became More Fun at the time when a second comic book by National appeared entitled New Comics. Around 1938, National Allied Publications was purchased by Detective Comics Inc., better known as DC Comics. This merger was eventually known as National Comics.
By the end of this year, McNamara was working for Centaur Comics, doing features that typically numbered seven pages in length.
Centaur's Detective Picture Stories no. 2 from January of this year contained a McNamara piece called "The Amateur Murderer." McNamara used the pseudonym of G.G. Lewis for this. It was reprinted in Funny Picture Stories vol. 3 no. 1 from January 1939. Centaur's Western Picture Stories no. 1 from February 1937 included McNamara's "A Killer's Conscience." Western Picture Stories no. 3 from April 1937 included McNamara's "The Innocent Horse Thief."
During this year, we find McNamara working for Fawcett Comics, specifically a series of 1 to 2 page fillers called "Chubby." These made it into Bulletman no. 2 from the fall of 1941, Spy Smasher no. 2 from the winter of 1941, America's Greatest Comics no. 1, also from 1941, Whiz Comics no. 23 from October 1941, and Whiz Comics no. 24 from November 1941.
Around the beginning of this year, McNamara started to contribute a series of 2-page fillers for DC Comics called "Grandpa Peters." The "Chubby" series for Fawcett continued, making it into America's Greatest Comics no. 2 from Feb. 11th of this year, Spy Smasher no. 3 from Feb. 25th, Bulletman no. 6 from July 15th, Whiz Comics no. 34 from September, America's Greatest Comics no. 4 from this year, Master Comics no. 32 from Nov. 4th, and Master Comics no. 33 from Dec. 2nd. The "Grandpa Peter" series made it into Detective Comics no. 62 from April, Superman no. 16 from May/June, Batman no. 11 from June/July, and All Funny Comics no. 1 from the winter of 1942/43. McNamara also may have used the pseudonym Armstrong for a 6-page Harvey Comics feature called "Slim Jim And The Force" in the May 1942 issue of Champ Comics. By the end of the year, McNamara had begun a new series for Fawcett called "Demlins," which typically ran 2 to 6 pages.
In addition to the "Demlins" series, McNamara also began a series for Fawcett called "Oofty Goofty" around the beginning of this year, which ran anywhere from 1 to 6 pages. The "Demlins" series made it into Spy Smasher no. 10 from Jan. 27th of this year, Spy Smasher no. 11 from Feb. 26th, Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 10 from Aug. 1st, Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 11 from Sep. 1st, and Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 12 from Oct. 1st. The "Oofty Goofty" series made it into Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 4 from Feb. 19th and Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 12 from Oct. 1st. McNamara also did a 6-page feature called "Eaglebeak Spruder" for Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 5 from Mar. 19th. He also did a 6 to 7 page series called "Cousin Egbert" which turned up in Whiz Comics no. 41 from Apr. and Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 9 from July. The "Grandpa Peter" series for DC continued, making it into All Funny Comics no. 2 from the spring of 1943, and All Funny Comics no. 3 from the summer.
The "Demlins" series made it into Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 15 from Jan. 1st of this year. The "Grandpa Peter" series made it into Superman no. 29 from July/Aug., All Funny Comics no. 5 from the winter, and Boy Commandos no. 9 from the winter of 1944/45. He also illustrated a story entitled "Alix In Follyland" for a National comic book entitled Buzzy, which came out in the winter of 1944. There is some indication that this was the first issue of this comic.
The "Oofty Goofty" series made it into Captain Marvel, Jr. no. 30 from May 1st of this year. The "Grandpa Peter" series made it into Action Comics no. 80 from January, Superman no. 32 from Jan./Feb., Leading Comics no. 14 from the spring, and All Funny Comics no. 7 from the summer. McNamara also began a series of 4 to 5 page stories called "Alix In Folly-Land" for DC. This series made it into Buzzy no. 5 from the winter of 1945.
McNamara began a new series of 5-page features for DC early this year called "Willy Nilly," which was also variably known as "Silly Willy" and "Sillie Willie." This series made it into All Funny Comics no. 10 from Mar./Apr., All Funny Comics no. 12 from July/Aug., All Funny Comics no. 13 from Sep./Oct., and All Funny Comics no. 14 from Nov./Dec. He also began a series of 4 to 6 page features for DC called "Gas House Gang," which made it into More Fun Comics no. 108 from March, More Fun Comics no. 109 from April, More Fun Comics no. 110 from May. More Fun Comics no. 111 from June, More Fun Comics no. 112 from July, More Fun Comics no. 113 from Aug., More Fun Comics no. 114 from Sep., More Fun Comics no. 115 from Oct., More Fun Comics no. 116 from Nov., and More Fun Comics no. 117 from Dec. The "Alix In Folly-Land" series made it into Buzzy no. 9 from Sep./Oct. He also began a 5-page series for DC called "Delicate David," which made it into Boy Commandos no. 15 from May/June, and Boy Commandos no. 18 from Nov./Dec.
The "Willy Nilly" series made it into All Funny Comics no. 15 from Jan./Feb., All Funny Comics no. 16 from Mar./Apr., All Funny Comics no. 17 from May/June, All Funny Comics no. 18 from July/Aug., All Funny Comics no. 19 from Sep./Oct., and All Funny Comics no. 20 from Nov./Dec. The "Gas House Gang" series made it into More Fun Comics no. 118 from Jan., More Fun Comics no. 119 from Feb., More Fun Comics no. 120 from Mar., More Fun Comics no. 121 from Apr., More Fun Comics no. 122 from May, More Fun Comics no. 123 from June, More Fun Comics no. 124 from July, More Fun Comics no. 125 from Aug., and More Fun Comics no. 126 from Sep.
The "Alix In Folly-Land" series made it into Buzzy no. 17 from Jan./Feb. of this year. The "Willy Nilly" series made it into All Funny Comics no. 21 from Jan./Feb.
By the middle of this decade, McNamara had moved to San Francisco. His eyesight was failing him and he was having financial trouble. During this year, he moved in at Laguna Honda Hospital, where he lived the final ten years of his life.
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© Robert Demoss.