Friday, October 25, 2013

Ralph Snider (1917-1986)

Franz Nabl was a mystery. So now is Ralph Snider, the artist who illustrated his story. But I have a speculation to make:

Clarence Ralph Snider was born on July 5, 1917, in Dallas County, Texas. His father was Clarence Bon Snider (1874-1922), a painter and decorator. Ralph's mother was Mabelle Laura Kuechmann Snider (1873-1964). Both were born in Indiana, as were their oldest children, Bon Mable or Mabelle, Lynn (a boy), and Elmira.

Clarence Bon Snider's work carried the family to Texas and Oklahoma. Sadly, he died in 1922 in Bigheart (now Barnsdell), Oklahoma. Mabelle Snider returned to Indiana and in 1923 lived in Muncie with an artist named Bon Snider, who worked for the Delaware Engraving Company. Unfortunately I don't know what relationship the two had, whether Bon was Mabelle's own daughter Bon, or another relative. In any case, by 1930, Mabelle L. Snider and her family were in Los Angeles, California, living with Bon and her husband, Joseph Dana Staigers. Lynn, aged twenty-four, was working as a designer. Clarence, then going by the name Ralph, was just twelve years old. Joseph Dana Staigers, by the way, was the older brother of the cornet and trumpet virtuoso Charles Delaware "Del" Staigers (1899-1950). I suppose Bon and Joseph Staigers had met in Muncie, the Staigers' hometown.

A very young-looking Ralph Snider attended Heald College in San Francisco in the mid-1930s. The prediction in his yearbook of 1935 read:

RALPH SNIDER will draw all
Those beautiful queens
That are seen on the front
Of the best magazines.

I take that as pretty good evidence that he was an artist. Was he the artist for Weird Tales? It seems to me that Farnsworth Wright scouted California colleges and universities during the 1930s. Maybe Ralph Snider was one of his finds. In any case, in successive San Francisco city directories from the 1930s to the 1950s, Ralph Snider was a clerk, a lampshade maker, and an artist. At about the same time, Bon Snider was also listed as a student and an artist in Oakland. Clarence Ralph Snider died on October 28, 1986, in San Francisco. I can't say that he was the artist who drew that one illustration for Weird Tales, but the evidence seems pretty good to me. I hope someone can offer some more information.

Ralph Snider's Illustration in Weird Tales
"The Long Arm" by Franz Nabl, misidentified as Franz Habl (Oct. 1937)

Ralph Snider's illustration for "The Long Arm" by Franz Nabl, October 1937. If this was the work of the artist I have written about here, then he would have been twenty years old when he drew this very Virgil Finlay-like illustration. 
A photograph of Ralph Snider from his college yearbook, Heald College, 1935.
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

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