'Adam and Steve' (24 July 1912).

Tom Schroeder was a staff cartoonist with the Detroit Free Press during at least the first half of the 1910s. He notably made the daily strip 'Adam and Steve' for the paper in the 1912-1914 period. He later became an advertising artist, while gaining local fame as a woodcarver of duck and fish decoys.

Early life
Thomas Schroeder was born in East Detroit, Michigan in 1885. He spent much of his youth outdoors, working himself up to an accomplished hunter and fisherman, and connaisseur of the local fauna. His association with the art department of the Detroit Free Press began somewhere in the late 1900s.


'Adam and Steve' (5 March 1913).

Adam and Steve
On 7 April 1912 his strip 'Adam and Steve' debuted in the same paper. The two "Detroiters" Adam Souse and Steve Odore starred in several offbeat and weird strips until 26 October 1914. In some episodes, they appear to be friends and living together, in other episodes they play tricks on each other, resulting in one of the two, usually Steve, getting knocked down by the other. Much of the humor presumably referred to local news or customs, making the strips hard to understand nowadays. The characters seem to be aware that they are in a comic strip, though. In one of the early episodes (14 April 1912), Adam calls the cartoonist with the request to make Steve smaller. The artist then summons his character and saws him shorter. From then on, Steve indeed remains the shorter of the two. The 3 January 1913 strip features reproductions of letters from readers to the cartoonist, requesting to known how an unresolved storyline continued, during which Adam returned home to his family and found another man in the house. The final panel has Adam pondering next to a fireplace, mumbling "Search me... I dunno!".


Steve is shorened in the 'Adam and Steve' episode of 14 April 1912.

Boxing
It is unknown how long Tom Schroeder's association with the paper's art department lasted. In the Detroit Free Press of 25 February 1910, he was mentioned in an article covering an amateur boxing match at the Detroit Athletic Club. The writer joked that most of the contests looked more like comedy sketches than actual battling. About Schroeder's match with a certain Murphy he wrote: "The cartoonist enhanced the realistic effect by stopping a punch his nose, causing that organ to bleed freely for a good part of the battle". Years later, Schroeder was the manager of the local boxer Mickey Goldberg who was active between 1925 and 1931.

Woodcarver
By the 1920s, Schroeder was a well-known figure in Detroit's journalistic, artistic and shooting fraternities. He was active as an advertising artist, and one of the original members of the local cultural center, the Scarab Club (established in 1928). He however gained most fame in the Midwest fishing community. He was well-known for his realistic woodcarvings of duck, goose and fish decoys, winning many first place awards at the International Sportsman's Shows in New York between 1949 and 1956. He also painted the murals at the Detroit Zoological Park. He continued to make woodcarvings well into his eighties, and passed away in 1976.

Series and books by Tom Schroeder in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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