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Thomas Fitzpatrick (1860-1912)

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1893-05-06 Fitzpatrick Frankenstein of Hatfield
"The Frankenstein of Hatfield", Weekly Freeman, 1893
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Thomas Fitzpatrick, cartoonist, illuminator and magazine publisher, was born in Cork on 27 March 1860. He started out as an apprentice for the Cork colour printing and publishing firm Messrs. Guy, before moving to Dublin where he became a lithographic artist for the City Printing Co. and Messrs. Woods. He drew cartoons for Pat, under the tutelage of John Fergus O'Hea, from 1881 to 1883, when the magazine folded. He briefly moved to London, but having failed to make his fortune, returned to Dublin a few years later, where he turned to design and photoengraving.

He drew cartoons for the early issues of the unionist paper The Union in 1887, before the paper found a cartoonist, Richard Moynan, with genuine unionist sympathies. Fitzpatrick went on to be one of the most prominent cartoonists for nationalist papers. In 1891 he became chief cartoonist for the anti-Parnellite National Press, drawing a weekly colour cartoon as a supplement to the weekend edition, printed by chomolithography. The National Press merged into the Freeman's Journal in 1892, after which Fitzpatrick continued to draw the weekly cartoon supplement for the Weekly Freeman, taking over from O'Hea, until about 1898. He also joined O'Hea on The Irish Figaro, a weekly magazine edited by Sydney Brooks, and drew cartoons for the Irish Emerald, The Nation (as "Spot") and Punch.

There were strips signed "Fitzpatrick" in British comics of the first decade of the 20th century, including "Samuel Simons" in The Big Budget (1901), "Cholly and Gawge" in The Jester and Wonder (1902-03), "Jolly Jack Robinson" in Comic Home Journal (1904) and Butterfly (1904-06), and "The Newly-Weds" in Puck (c. 1905). Thomas's grandson Jim Fitzpatrick (private communication) confirms that his grandfather did work in the UK for a period of time, but sample scanned signatures provided by Alan Clark (private communication) don't appear to match, so I'm not prepared to say this is him. Thomas was living with his wife and children at 10 Cabra Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, in the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

He was a master illuminator and with his daughter, Mary Fitzpatrick O'Brien, he produced many illuminated and richly decorated scrolls and paintings, many reflecting the influence of the early Celtic Revival. He also did some book and magazine illustration work, as well as miniature and oil painting.

In 1905 he launched his own satirical magazine, The Lepracaun, which he edited and drew most of the cartoons and illustrations for. James Joyce contributed short pieces and cartoon ideas. When Fitzpatrick's health began to fail in 1911, he handed over the editorship to his daughter Mary, and she and Fitzpatrick's former mentor, O'Hea, drew the cartoons until the magazine folded in 1919. Fitzpatrick died at home in Dublin on 16 July 1912.

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