First Mosquito. "Come, Bill, an' bring yer scythe. We'll have to cut these weeds before we kin do any borin' here."
Puck, 7 September 1904 (LoC)

Baker's career was strictly connected to Peter Newell's and later in life he specialised in imitations of Newell's books; here is what the "Overview" in the Peter Newell Family Papers at Beinecke has to say about him:

ALFRED ZANTZINGER BAKER SR. (1870-1940)

Baker was the son of a Baltimore industrialist. He was educated at the local schools and received art training at the Baltimore Charcoal Club, with continuing study in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. A tall and eccentric man with a keen interest in primitive cultures, Baker worked from Paris as a humorist-illustrator, publishing comics in magazines such as Life, Judge, Puck and Scribner's. After marrying Mary Simmons in 1897, he collaborated with her and A. Crawford on a children's book, Animal Jokes, which was published in 1899. Peter Newell made the acquaintance of the Bakers in 1900 when he came to Paris to draw the International Exposition for Harper's Weekly. Their friendship continued when the Bakers returned to America, with Newell visiting at their home in Baltimore in 1901. Alfred Baker brought his wife to live in Leonia, New Jersey, by 1905, sharing quarters in a barn there with fellow illustrator Art Young. Soon after his arrival, he fell in love with the Newells's teenage daughter, Helen, and the community was startled when the two eloped to Paris in the spring of 1905.

Baker's work found an audience in France; he regularly published comics featuring his distinctive animal characters, and signed with his double-B monogram, in periodicals such as Rire, Bon Vivant, and Pele-Mele. The Bakers returned to the United States in 1908. After residing for a time in New York, they purchased a home in Nutley, New Jersey, and lived there with their two children, Tony (Alfred, Jr.) and Betty (Helen Louise). Problems in the marriage propelled Helen Baker's flight, with her children, to her parents' Leonia home in 1912; divorce proceedings followed, but the marriage was not legally ended until 1924.

Alfred Baker Sr., wrote and illustrated three children's books: The Moving-Picture Book (1911), The Moving-Picture Glue Book (1912), and The Torn Book (1913). Later he developed other animal-theme books, patented several toys and wrote music and stories, but his career never regained momentum after his estrangement from the Newell family. He died on Christmas Day 1940, in Newark, New Jersey.

Here is a full facsimile of Baker's The Torn Book.

In the 1920s, he seems to have produced a series of newspaper comics, Adventures of Slim and Spud, an original being available from the Library of Congress. The half page above looks very different from the cover art in a 1924 comic book of the same title, only an unnumbered issue of which appears to have been published by Prairie Farmer Publishing Co.

The following are a series of illustrations / stories Baker published in the French children's magazine La jeunesse illustrée in 1906 and 1907. They were clearly influenced by Peter Newell's Topsys and Turvys and Gustave Verbeek's Upside-Downs (some are actually copies)

Baker's Images à renversement >>


Online edition by Marco Graziosi, December 2015.
Rotation script by Riccardo Graziosi.
[nonsenselit.org] [Peter Newell's Books][Baker's Images renversement]