Grace Gebbie Drayton (Wiederseim)
(1877-1936) American Illustrator.
Grace Drayton was first known by her maiden name, Grace Gebbie, then as Grace Wiederseim. After divorcing her first husband she married a second time, to Mr. Drayton, whom she also divorced. For the sake of simplicity she seems to have kept the second husband’s surname. She is referred to as Drayton most often, regardless of the period in question. For the record, Drayton was not her name until 1912.
Another prominent illustrator/cartoonist associated with the city of Philadelphia, she created several comic series early in her career for the Philadelphia Press. Bobby Blake and Dolly Drake debuted in the early 1900s. Working with her sister Margaret G. Hays, she launched The Terrible Tales of Captain Kiddo in 1909.
Drayton will be forever be associated with the “Campbell Soup Kids," a national sensation ad campaign (beginning 1905) which featured short, chubby, and rosy-cheeked children. As is often true in advertising, her name was never published on the drawings. Her then-husband Wiederseim, who worked at a lithographic printing house, helped her get the gig with Campbell's. The Campbell kids spawned a licensing bonanza, especially in dolls.
Grace Drayton developer her own cut-out paper dolls for Pictorial Review, called Dolly Dingles. (The ambiguity of the relationship between the Campbell's Kids stuff and the style she used in her other work–they were basically the same [see the Leslie's cover at top]–would never be tolerated today.)
She improvised a seemingly endless set of highly similar characters from a small set of syllables. From the late 1920s Dolly Dimples and Bobby Bounce would prove her most lasting property in comics, and one she held the rights to.
Drayton also became involved in the Plastic Club, a historic women-organized and -led art organization in Philadelphia, founded by Jessie Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley in 1899. (See entries for them in the ILLO History index.)
Note: it is not entirely clear if and when Drayton ever quit working on the Campbell's campaign. It is quite possible that many of the later ads were ghosted in her style. The ads shown here were filed by Walt Reed in his Grace Weiderseim tear sheet folder, which is good enough for me.