Friday, April 18, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, November 1 1936, courtesy of Cole Johnson. Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, April 17, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Art Helfant

Arthur “Art” Helfant was born in New York, New York, on August 4, 1898, according to “New York City Births, 1891–1902” at, and his World War I draft card.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Helfant was the only child of Leo, and Katy. His father was a manufacturing tailor. They resided in Brooklyn at 2982 Fulton.

Ten years later the family of seven resided in Manhattan at 467 Canal Street; the same address was recorded in the 1915 New York State Census. Helfant had six siblings. Specific information about his education and art training has not been found; the 1940 census said he completed two years of high school. His name was listed in the 1916 New York City directory at the Canal Street address and his occupation was artist.

So far, the earliest samples of his newspaper work were found in the 1917 Otsego Tidings (Milford, New York), a weekly newspaper. Helfant’s first series might have been What He Didn’t Want…and…What He Got (at this time, only three samples found).




Otsego Tidings 8/9/1917

Alfred Sun 1917

The Schoharie Republican and County Democrat 1917

On September 11, 1918, Helfant signed his World War I draft card. He lived in Manhattan at 46 West 116 Street and was a cartoonist for A.P. Oakes, 620 Bedell Building, San Antonio, Texas. His description was tall, slender with brown eyes and brunette hair.

According to the 1920 census, the Helfants resided at 35 West 116 Street in Manhattan. Helfant was a cartoonist at a publishing house. Advertising and Selling, November 27, 1920, published this notice:

Art Helfant Locates
Art Helfant, comic advertising cartoonist, on December 1 will move his office from 37 East 28th street to 1133 Broadway, New York.
Helfant contributed to Judge; the March 15, 1924 cartoon is here.

The 1925 New York State Census recorded Helfant in the Bronx at 2474 Davidson Avenue. The cartoonist was married to Jean and had two children. In Advertising Arts and Crafts (1926) was this listing:
Helfant, Art, 110 West 40th, Pen 5675 New York City. Nat’l Adv. Ill., Fiction Story Ill., Cartoons, Figure, Heads, Lettering, Black and White, Line Drawings, Pen and Ink.
The 1927 edition had the same information.

image courtesy of Ron Goulart

American Newspaper Comics said Helfant, in the mid-1920s, had four comics series. The first was Educatin’ Ollie which ran from April 14 to July 12, 1924. Next was Crossword Word Charlie, which debuted December 29, 1924. Number three was Policy Pete with a May 14, 1925 start date. Rounding out the quartet was Fables in Slang, which was written by George Ade. It began October 3, 1927. Letters of George Ade (1973) had correspondence between Ade and publisher John N. Wheeler. A letter, dated September 10, 1927, was about Helfant and Fables.
I think we should remind Mr. [Art] Helfant that we are not going after the kid trade and that he should avoid making his people too low comedy. Make them good comedy characters but don't make them look too much like monkeys or we will fail to please the people who have been interested in the fables.
Ade wrote to Wheeler October 5, 1927.
I am sending you two more strips. I shall be keenly interested to know how Mr. [Art] Helfant feels about this stuff I am sending on. I don't wish to insult his imaginative intelligence by giving him too many directions and in the future I will not indicate anything about the pictures unless he wants some tips. As it is, I have made the suggestions very brief.
It might be a good idea to let the prospective customers know that a good deal of the material contained in the new series will be entirely new. You might get up a sample sheet including new stuff sent in and ask the editors to look at it and note that we are giving a new kind of treatment to the fable material.
Helfant has not been found in the 1930 census. During this decade, he produced Odd-But-True Inventions which ran from December 5, 1932 to April 24, 1933. Rumpus was picked up by the Van Tine Features Syndicate, who held the copyright, and began in 1935.

The Van Tine Features comics were announced, with much fanfare, in the West Seattle Herald, (Washington), June 18, 1936, June 18, 1936, and the Hastings News (New York), January 10, 1936 (below). According to American Newspaper ComicsRumpus ended in 1937.

Printers’ Ink, November 1, 1934, had this to say about Helfant’s business card:
As a rule, the designing of a calling card is about as formal a job as an undertaker’s. Custom dictates the inclusion of certain definite elements and the exclusion of certain others.
For instance, among those elements that are patently taboo, one would ordinarily include any phrase that falls into the category of “wisecracks.” Looking into the original purpose of calling cards, we can see that it would never do to be smart or facetious. Unless, of course, one happens to be in the business of selling humor, as is Art Helfant, cartoonist.
Mr. Helfant’s card has four words at the upper right-hand corner, which act not only as a warning to the recipient who might be inclined to tell his secretary, “Give him the gate,” but also as a droll sample of their author’s stock in trade. The four words are:
A Helfant Never Forgets
Of course, this idea has strict limitations. That it would not work very well for the average salesman is quite apparent. But it is interesting, none the less.
The American Legion Monthly, June 1936, printed this story about Helfant, who was a regular contributor.
It Took A Stroke of Lightning to Make This Man an Artist 
Texas, 1917–18. Regiments of khaki tents.
In one of them, Art Helfant, doughboy.
An electric storm brews—breaks. Lightning picks out Art’s tent.
One flash—and Art Helfant, doughboy, became Art Helfant, disabled veteran.
Hospitalization—enforced leisure—and pretty pretty soon art editors began talking about Helfant the artist. “He’s a find!” they said. “His stuff packs a laugh.”
This magazine takes pride in its early recognition of Art Helfant’s genius. You have every right to share that pride because this is your magazine.
Among Helfant’s advertising projects were, locally, the Tippo series for Jost Laundry Service, from March 19 to October 15, 1937, and, nationally, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum here and here.

Suffolk County News 6/18/1937

The 1940 census said his address, since 1935, was Sunnyside, Queens, New York on Washington Place. He had re-married to Margaret, a Scottish emigrant. Helfant was a freelance cartoonist.

American Newspaper Comics said Helfant’s last strip was Ambrose which ran from October 20, 1952 to 1954. Some of Helfant’s Humorama cartoons are here. Lists of his comic book credits are here and here. One of his comic book stories can be read here.

Helfant passed away July 2, 1971, in New York, according to the U.S. Veterans Gravesites at His final resting place was Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Policy Pete

Hearst's New York Mirror, a tabloid newspaper created in response to the incredible success of the New York Daily News, never really caught on to the extent of the original. But Hearst certainly did know how to play the tabloid game, at least in theory. Lots of pictures, sensational headlines, and constant appeal to the baser instincts.

One of those baser instincts that Hearst stroked was gambling. Following on the example of A. Mutt way back in 1907, journeyman cartoonist Art Helfant created a strip for the Mirror called Policy Pete in which readers could follow the ups and downs of a race track addict. Readers could accept his bets as 'hot tips' at their peril. The strip also offered 'lucky numbers' in the panel backgrounds, for use in illegal but highly popular numbers games, also known as the policy racket -- hence Pete's nickname. 

I only have a few isolated examples of the strip because Mirrors, as most tabloids, are quite scarce on the collectors' market. Luckily Jeffrey Lindenblatt was able to offer me some vital statistics on the strip based on Mirror microfilm held at the New York Public Library. The strip actually began under the title of George Takes a Chance on May 14 1925, less than a year after the Mirror debuted on New York newsstands. I presume the original protagonist was someone else, but Policy Pete proved to be the reader favorite, and the strip was renamed in his honor on August 16 of that year.

Sometime in 1928 Art Helfant left the strip. Although Pete's adventuring days were now over, his betting habit would live on. The Mirror changed the strip into a panel (see sample two), and invited readers to submit the jokes -- paid for with the princely sum of a buck if yours was chosen. As you can see, the race track and numbers game aspects were intact. What was gone was a credit. The art was definitely no longer by the delightful Helfant, but the new ink-slinger was anonymous. Looks like one of the guys from the Hearst bullpen, but I'm not going to stick my neck out with a specific guess.

My next (and last) sample, number three above, is from 1932. Poor Pete has now been relegated to a purely honorary role in a boxed vignette. As you can see, there is now once again a credit, to a fellow named Weatherly. The art looks eerily like that of Harry J. Tuthill (of Bungle Family fame) but it turns out that a Mirror sportswriter named Fred Weatherly was indeed at the helm.

Although I have no samples later than 1932, I did a little digging, and then Alex Jay dug far deeper, and it turns out that the panel was definitely still running in 1949 (having been renamed just Pete sometime in the intervening years), and almost certainly ran until right around Weatherly's death in January 1958.

Quite a nice run for an obscure little panel -- over thirty years! Tune in tomorrow as Alex Jay has Ink-Slinger Profiles of both Art Helfant, the originator, and Fred Weatherly, in the pipeline.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lee Stanley

Lee Wright Stanley was born in Topeka, Kansas, on May 2, 1885. His birthplace was found on his marriage certificate, and his World War I draft card had his full name and birth date. In the 1885 Kansas State Census, Stanley was the youngest of three sons born to T.C. and Olive, whose maiden name was Wright. They resided in Wamego Kansas.

An article in the Aberdeen Daily News (South Dakota), February 29, 1932, told about Stanley’s early days and career:

…As a boy Stanley lived in several Kansas villages. He sold his first pictures to a Peoria, Ill., paper when he was 14 years old. Later he went to Pittsburgh as a commercial artist and chalk plate cartoonist. From Pittsburgh Stanley went to Cleveland where for 13 years he drew political cartoons on a local paper.
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Stanley, his parents and siblings in McKeesport, Pennsylvania at 304 Fifth Avenue. His father was a “restaurant keep”.

The Evening Times, (Trenton, New Jersey), February 13, 1970, told about Stanley’s time on the Cleveland Press:
Stanley began his newspaper career on the Cleveland Press in 1903. He left the Press in 1914 for a one-year tour of the New York Journal, then returned to Cleveland to draw political cartoons and other illustrations for the old Central Press.
The 1905 Cleveland City Directory listed Stanley, a Cleveland Press artist, at 1350 Walnut N.E. In 1906, Stanley produced A Half Minute with the Fan and Gussie and Gladys at the Ball Game. Six more strips and panels, such as Freddy Flip, the Summer Pest and Ye Old-Fashioned Girl, followed in 1907. Why Not? appeared in late 1908. Dixie Bits and It’s Bad Luck were drawn in 1909.

On August 24, 1907, Stanley married Constance Louise Hamilton. His address was 1640 East 85th Street, Cleveland.

According to the 1910 Ohio State Census, Stanley’s household included his wife and mother-in-law. A 1910 Cleveland city directory listed him as a Cleveland Press artist at 1425 East 112th Street. The directories for 1911 and 1912 had 1316 East 112th NE as his address.

In 1914, Stanley moved to New York City where he produced the short-lived Curly. After a year he returned to Cleveland. In 1916 Stanley resided at 613 Prospect Avenue SE.

The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, November 15, 1917, praised a book illustrated by Stanley.

A unique and pleasing Christmas gift book is “Mary and Her Kitchen Garden,” by Alice Crew, illustrated with the funniest full page color pictures and the most diverting kind of black and white sketches by Lee Wright Stanley. A gold lettered color picture bound octavo within its inviting lining leaves devoted to a picture and rhyme of “Mary” at work among her plants.

On September 12, 1918, Stanley signed his World War I draft card which had his home address as 1291 Lakeland in Lakewood, Ohio. As a cartoonist he operated the Stanley Service Company in Cleveland, and named his wife as his nearest relative. His description was short and slender with brown eyes and light colored hair.

On November 11, 1919, Stanley’s divorce was finalized. He married Harriet H. Fisher on December 7, 1920, according to the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Index at

Stanley has not been found in the 1920 census, but he was listed in a number of Cleveland city directories. In 1921 he resided at 1311 Nicholson Avenue and was a Newspaper Enterprise Association artist. The next year he had a new address at 1549 Warren Road. His residence in 1925 was 1230 Summit Avenue. Stanley and his wife visited Europe in 1928 and the passenger list said their address was 19437 Frazier Drive, Rocky River, Ohio.

The Aberdeen News said: “…he turned to illustrating children’s books. It was while doing this work that “The Old Home Town” idea struck. He has been doing it ever since and his characters have become known from coast to coast.” American Newspaper Comics (2012) said The Old Home Town debuted January 3, 1923. In 1924, Stanley and his wife toured some of the southern states, as told in the Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), March 10, 1924.

American Newspaper Comics said Old Home Town was preceded, in 1922, by Gassaway Miles and Gassaway Miles-Motorist.

The 1930 census recorded Stanley in Rocky River at the same address. The newspaper cartoonist had a 15-year-old daughter.

Stanley was one of several artists who contributed to the Central Press’s 1930 cartoon contest. Each artist did a drawing lesson. Stanley’s panels are herehere (page 7) and here (page 12).

Rocky River was Stanley’s home town in the 1940 census; he lived at 20860 Avalon Drive. The cartoonist had an eighth grade education. His house was valued at $30,000. In 1939 he worked 52 weeks.

The Berkeley Gazette (California) January 3, 1941, reported the death of Stanley’s cat, Blackie.

In 1966 he retired and Old Home Town came to an end. Stanley passed away at home on February 11, 1970, according to the Evening Times.

More comics, articles and photos are here.

—Alex Jay


Lee Stanley HAS to be a top contender for 'most-widely-distributed-cartoonist-that-nobody-has-ever-heard-of'
He only gets one entry at Michigan State University's Reading Room Index!

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Monday, April 14, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Curly

As far as I know, the prolific Lee Stanley worked exclusively for the NEA Service syndicate until the mid-1920s. That is, except for one short foray into the big leagues of New York City.

In 1914, Stanley had a strip accepted by the biggest of the big -- Hearst. Despite a somewhat weak and already overused premise, Curly was syndicated by Hearst's International Feature Service imprint. The strip concerned the romance between our hero, Curly, and the gal of his dreams, Elsie. The main obstacle to bliss is a rival named Baldy. Baldy is unattractive, but a healthy bank account and a willingness to spend it keep him in the running for Elsie's heart. The strip offers few surprises, recycling the same sort of gags that have been related in most tales of young romance.

The one (slightly) interesting facet of the strip is that Stanley offered a 'Krazy Kat-esque' strip-within-a-strip that ran along the bottom of the feature. Informally titled Mr. Batch vs. The Well Known Mr. Cupid, it chronicled cupid's attempts to spear Batch with his arrows of love. Frankly, Stanley just wasn't much good at pantomime, and some of the little dramas are a bit hard to follow, at least for this reader. 

Stanley's shot at New York fame was ill-fated, as you might guess. Curly ran less than a month, from September 14 to October 10 1914 in the New York Journal


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Sunday, April 13, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Saturday, April 12, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Wednesday, June 10 1908 -- Los Angeles is still buzzing over the recent visit by world-renowned 'pedestrian', Edward Payson Watson.


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Friday, April 11, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, October 25 1936, courtesy of Cole Johnson. Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, April 10, 2014


News of Yore: McKee Barclay, Cartoonist

The Inland Printer
May 1906
By Strickland W. Gillian

Every citizen of Baltimore who in the afternoon rides on a street-car or stands on a corner waiting for one, who has an idle moment in his shop, or in some one else’s shop, waiting to be waited on — every mother's son and daughter and every aunt’s nephew and niece of them — is possessed of a copy of the Baltimore News, or is rubbering over the shoulder of some one who has a copy of that sheet. And the first thing any of those proud possessors or humble rubberers does is to see “what’s Barclay got to-day?”

The last page of the Baltimore News contains every day a cartoon, with the signature of that gentleman, and in nine cases out of nine the cartoon contains an idea portrayed with the odd combination of subtlety and clearness — subtlety to please the keenest and clearness to strike the most obtuse between the eyes. The idea is usually unique in its conception, yet so palpable when once it is exploited in Barclay's bold, yet artistic lines, that the beholder involuntarily exclaims to himself: “Well, I’ll be dogged! Why couldn’t I have thought of that?” And the paragraph, poem or picture that so impresses humanity is the ideal in its specific line. It has hit the universal, and that means success.

The peculiar geographical position of Baltimore makes her newspaper men labor under such restriction as no other city of Baltimore's size anywhere has known. The men who work in this field must do so with a constant knowledge that their work is for the local field primarily and that only extraordinary brilliancy or a particularly universal hit can ever hope to reach the garish day of wider publicity. Under this handicap, Mr. Barclay works with zeal, filling his niche to overflowing and giving to the people of Baltimore a service second to none in the entire country. His cartoons do, in the most satisfactory manner, everything a cartoon was ever intended to do. His pictures are editorials with the weight of the leader and the pungency of the paragraph. They speak for themselves, and so great is their merit that they are copied far and wide throughout the country.

Like all good cartoonists, Barclay, has a personality that has even the best of his published work beaten many many city blocks. And to know the best and most delightful of him one has to know him, with his quaintness and his keenness. Every sentence is a cartoon visible as well as audible. He is a humorist of the finest, truest type, and can write as cleverly as he draws.

Here is a Bordenized ante-mortem obituary of him: He was bred in old Kentucky. First endowed with his services the Princeton (Ky.) Weekly Banner, in whose office he up-ended the elusive types occasionally making a woodcut on white pine. None of these first cuts is in the Congressional Library collection, so it's no use to look there for them. Being entirely impartial, he amputated himself gently but firmly from the Banner and tackled his first daily job on the Paducah Standard, as solicitor, making free-hand drawings of the names of people who wanted to subscribe or advertise. Occasionally when some one hadn't treated him right he would have revenge by making alleged likenesses of the offender — he having then fallen upon the Hoke chalk-plate method. After the publication of one of these the offender either suicided or reformed.

Went to the Louisville Times and Courier-Journal in ’87 and in ’88 to the Montgomery Dispatch, where he made chalk-plate pictures again—couldn’t stop him—and stereotyped them himself in a casting-box of a special pattern, made for himself by himself. Sawing them out with a cross-cut saw without the aid of a vise (Mr. Barclay is even yet free from vices), he guessed the width and sometimes came within an em or so of a column or two-column size when he was lucky or “had his eye with him.”

The paper got into financial difficulties and Barclay, though the paper could stand for the cuts he had made, couldn’t stand for the ones they made in his salary. The paper failed to square up any better than the engraver's eye-measured cuts. Then the artist borrowed enough money to take him for a visit to his nearest relatives, at Bowling Green, Kentucky, with whom he stood a good prospect of making an extended visit. To his surprise an enterprising man with a daily paper—Col. John B. Gaines, of the Park City Times—gave him a place the very next day after he had landed, and before he had had a chance to spend even half of the $1.75 with which he had lit. Later he ran an illustrated weekly with Euclid C. Cooksey, at Bowling Green. The weekly caricatured and roasted with all the zeal of the tyro proprietor everywhere, until it became distinctly visible that the sheet could support but one person. Then Barclay sold out his interest to Cooksey, having a balance of $19.75 after paying all debts—“the record for all time for all men who ever ran a weekly,” says Barclay seriously.

Next he went to North Carolina, where he was draftsman in an architect's office, running an engraving plant at his nooning hour, making all chalk-plate work and farming out the rest of it to a Philadelphia firm. In April, 1891, he went to Baltimore and worked one year for the World as an artist, reporter and telegraph editor. Tiring of this life of leisure, he went to the Herald of the same city, as reporter, until a self-illustrated Sunday story attracted the attention of the then managing editor, A. B. Cunningham, when he was put on Sunday specials. Then like Mr. Finney’s turnip, he grew and he grew. The Baltimore News made him an offer to do general illustrating, but that paper was in the midst of its Gorman-Rasin fight, so nothing was more natural than that Barclay’s cleverness should enlist itself in the form of effective, straight-from-the-shoulder cartoons. And didn’t he enjoy it—the work for which he was made! He calls it drifting, as we all do when the inevitable current of our life sweeps us into something. Since that time most of his work has been for the News. Once he went to New York, with his News job held open for him. He soon decided that distance lent enchantment to the Gotham field, and put himself a whole lot more than “forty-five minutes from Broadway.” In 1900 he went to St. Louis and stayed a busy year as editor of the comic supplement and manager of art and engraving departments for the Star. He persuaded this paper to syndicate its supplement on a large scale and made it possible profitably to do so, by means of a labor-saving color device of Barclays’s own. In 1901 he came back to the Baltimore News, in response to an offer, and, as he says, “I am on the third floor with a good north light, still.”

He does a great deal of book illustrating, etc., outside of his regular cartoon work, for he is an indefatigable plugger, never hurrying, but turning out an incredible amount of excellent work. Cartoonists can not be compared, but there are no better than McKee Barclay.

Like most of the other really successful fellows, he has a wife and family that any sane man would be proud of, and Barclay is sane to the thirty-third degree. His brother Tom 9art signature, “Tom Bee”) does excellent cartoon work and comics in a decidedly individual line, also doing legitimate illustrating and caricatures of high standard.

McKee is struggling beneath the advanced age of thirty-six years, and his best work is yet in his rosy-hued future.


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Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: The Culludville Alphabet

McKee Barclay was a highly respected editorial cartoonist whose cartooning career spanned thirty years or more (1890s-1920s+), most notably with the Baltimore Sun.

What possessed him in 1901 to branch out into comic strips I don't know, but we can only wish he'd resisted the urge. Barclay's only known continuing comic series is The Culludville Alphabet (or sometimes Coloredville Alphabet), a thoroughly racist bit of illustrated doggerel for which no apologies can be made. The series ran from February 10 to March 17 1901, in the St. Louis Star's comic section.

Looking for something, anything, positive to say about this, I will point out the use of a piece of interesting period slang. I had no idea that a snipe was a partially smoked cigarette.

Speaking of terminology, does anyone know what the term is, or if there is a term, for a poem in which the letters of the alphabet begin each line? We see this often in early comic strips, and of course in children's elementary spelling books, and I imagine there's a term for it, but I can't come up with it.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample strips!


"Guttersnipe" shares the same root I believe: it used to describe someone who would scan gutters by the curb for partially consumed cigars and cigarettes to get a free smoke from what was left.
I Googled the words "Alphabet Poem" to see if I could find what they're called; apparently they're called "Alphabet Poems." Makes sense.

I also find it interesting that his entry for "N" acknowledges that Blacks don't like to be called that word any more. My father told me that when he was rowing up in 1920s Connecticut, he heard adults use that word all the time--not in anger, but in a matter-of-fact way, as though that were the correct term. He said, "No one ever told us that it was a bad word or that we shouldn't say it." I wonder when it became a widespread taboo?
"Growing up" not "rowing up." I always spot these goofs AFTER I post.
The large initial letter, in this case, is a drop cap because it drops down from the first line. A stick-up cap would start on the first line and be larger than any capital letter. And there is the hybrid which can do both.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Charles H. Wellington

Charles Hewitt “Duke” Wellington was born at Edore Central Township, St. Louis County, Missouri on January 13, 1884, according to the Missouri Birth Records and his World War I draft card at His parents were James, a commercial traveler, and Josephine, whose maiden name was Hewitt.

Wellington’s father died before the enumeration of the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, which said his mother operated a boarding house in St. Louis at 3863 Washington Boulevard. She also cared for her parents, Charly and Carrie Hewitt. Wellington was not recorded there, but, according to Edan Hughes’ Artists in California, 1786-1940, “Wellington was educated at Smith Academy in his native city and at Washington University.” The 1901 St. Louis City Directory listed Wellington as a student who resided at 3863 Washington Boulevard.

Without citing any sources, the World Encyclopedia of Comics said: ”Wellington’s first published work appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and St. Louis Republic. He accepted, in 1908, an offer to draw for the Memphis News-Scimitar and later moved to Nashville for a six-month stint on the Tennessean.”

The 1903 St. Louis City Directory listed Wellington and his mother at 522 North Newstead Avenue. He was an artist for the Post Dispatch. The 1907 Memphis City Directory had listings for Wellington and his mother at 908 East McLemore Avenue. His occupation was artist, News Scimitar. The New York Times, April 2, 1942, said he was a cartoonist on the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

A photograph of Wellington and other cartoonists appeared in the comic section of the St. Louis Star-Chronicle, June 18, 1905 (below).

The exact date of Wellington’s move to New York City is not known. His first New York comic was Up-to-Date Fairy Tales for the the New York Evening World. It ran twice, on September 11 and 14, 1908. Hearst’s Evening Journal took him into their fold. Some of the Hearst strips include: The Gimlet Club (1909–1910), There’s a Reason (1909–1910), Why All Men Are Not Married (1909), and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow (1910).

The Bookman, April 1910, said Wellington got his idea for There’s a Reason after reading an advertisement for Grape Nuts.

Wellington has not been found in the 1910 census. For Heart’s Newspaper Feature Service, Wellington produced the long-running, Pa’s Son-in-Law (1913–1915). His listing in the 1916 New York City Directory was: “artist Newspaper Feature Service 35 W 39th.” In the artists category his business address was: “41 Park row 507.”

He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was the Friar's Club, West 48th Street, and occupation was cartooning for the Newspaper Feature Service. His description was medium height, slender build, and brown eyes.

Wellington has not been found in the 1920 census. Artists in California said he moved to California around 1925. The 1928 San Fernando City Directory listing said the cartoonist lived with his wife, Emily, at 9920 Toluca Lake Avenue.

In the 1930 census, the couple lived in Los Angeles, California at 9920 Toluca Lake Avenue. They had married in 1919. His occupation was cartoonist for the New York Tribune.

Wellington’s address and occupation remained the same in the 1940 census, which said he completed four years of college.

Wellington passed away April 1, 1942 at home. The Newport Mercury and Weekly News (Rhode Island) reported his death two days later.

Charles H. Wellington, 56, creator of the comic strip, “Pa’s Son-In-Law, ” which ran in the Daily News for years until recently, died at his home, North Hollywood, Cal., Wednesday. He created the strip, which was one of the most popular of the cartoons, in 1914. The daily strip, which ran in the Daily News from the New York Herald Tribune, was discontinued because of Mr. Wellington’s recent illness, although he continued his Sunday feature. Surviving are his wife and his mother.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, April 07, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Why Is It

Charles Wellington, one of the great cartoonists of the 1900-10s in my opinion, was so delightful with these small panel features that I wish he had never found his lasting success with a strip, Pa's Son-In-Law. His strips just don't seem to allow for the same sort of keen observational humor I enjoy so much in Why Is It, There's A Reason, And The Worst Is Yet To Come, and others.Why Is It was sometimes a strip, but of course I like the panels better, hence our sample.

Why Is It is one of Wellington's earlier efforts -- in my very limited batch of samples it seems to have begun and ended in late 1906. The syndicate was uncredited, but it seems a reasonable assumption that it was World Color Printing. In fact, World Color Printing reprinted Why Is It on their weekly black and white pages of 1919.

This sample panel is timely if you happen to live in my area. The city of Leesburg, in an attempt to support the self-reliant type of folks, has just passed an ordinance than you can keep up to fifteen chickens in the yard of your in-town home. I presume roosters are strictly verboten, but even hens can make a bit of a ruckus when they get in a dither. I applaud the idea of residents keeping chickens for the free eggs, though. I'd keep them myself if it didn't tie you down to being around every day to feed and water them.

And speaking of chickens, I wonder when the sound they make was standardized as 'cluck, cluck'? Wellington's 'cut-cut' take on their sound is probably more true to life, though. 


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Sunday, April 06, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Saturday, April 05, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, June 9 1908 -- Herriman adds a little liveliness to this front page photo portrait of a political triumvirate. These are the men who will shepherd William Howard Taft, ally and groomed successor of Teddy Roosevelt, to the nomination of the Republican party.


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Friday, April 04, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, October 18 1936, courtesy of Cole Johnson. Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, April 03, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Al Zere

Al Zere was the professional name of Alfred George Ablitzer, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 4, 1889. His full name and birth information is from his World War II draft card. I came across two cases in which his surname was spelled with a second “e”, Ablitzere.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Zere was the seventh of eight children born to Pierre, a tailor, and Stephanie, both French emigrants. The family resided in Brooklyn at 463 Carlton Avenue.

According to the school’s yearbook, The Oracle, Zere attended Adelphi College, in Brooklyn, during the years 1906 and 1907. “Ablitzere” was the spelling in the 1907 Oracle.

By 1910, just Zere and a younger sister were living with their parents in Brooklyn at 241 Wyckoff Street. Zere was a newspaper artist.

The Fourth Estate, January 9, 1926, profiled Zere, who provided a self-portrait, and said:

Alfred G. Ablitzere is the real name of the talented young gentleman who draws So This Is Married Life! for King Features Syndicate under the signature “Zere.” “Zere” has had a varied life. He has always managed, too, to burn his bridges behind him—or, more literally, to break his dishes behind him! If that sounds funny, listen:
After studying art seriously, he got a job painting china dishes. He didn’t like the work and didn’t want to quit, either. So he got himself fired in a week by breaking so many dishes the firm couldn’t afford to keep him.
“Zere” was born in Brooklyn and studied art at Adelphi College, under the tutorship of J. B. Whitaker, the noted landscape painter. He won several medals for drawing and painting and was considered one of the most promising students.
Soon he got a job on the Brooklyn Eagle. His pay was nothing a week. His work was to experiment on comics.
When he finally got up Buttons & Fatty, a strip about two bell boys, his pay was raised. Buttons & Fatty, begun twelve years ago, is still a Brooklyn Eagle feature, drawn now by another artist.
Brooklyn Eagle 12/26/1909

Brooklyn Eagle 5/19/1917

In June 1917, Zere signed his World War I draft card which said his address was 82 71st Street in Brooklyn. He was a Brooklyn Daily Eagle cartoonist whose description was medium height and build with blue eyes and blonde hair.

(Fourth Estate continued)

He joined the army as a private when the World War began. He was yanked from drill to teach wounded soldiers how to draw. He was offered a commission but refused to remain at this work, feeling the lust for adventure, and went overseas. But there too he was yanked from the force and sent to Navarre, France, to run a newspaper called the Martian in the big hospital center at Mars.

Brooklyn Eagle 3/16/1919
caption text below:

This is the first page of The Martian, a little newspaper, published by the organizations at Hospital Centre. A.P.O., No. 780, American Expeditionary Forces, Mars-sur-Allier, France. If there is something about the drawing that forms most of the cover design that seems familiar to you it is because the drawing is by Zere, who drew so many pictures for the Junior Eagle and who introduced Buttons. Fatty and Sonia, to you. Zere’s full title and name is Sgt. Alfred G. Ablitzer. He is business manager and cartoonist of The Martian. Cor. Edward A. Ruhfel, who was editor of theca Junior Eagle until be enlisted, is associate, editor of tho paper. Neither Sgt. Ablitzer nor Cor. Ruhfel expects to be home soon, both having elected to stay for study in France for a few months more. If you want to write to them you can address your letter to them in care of The Martian, copying the address as given above. They will be glad to hear from readers of The Junior Eagle.

(Fourth Estate continued)
Associated with him on this newspaper was Edward A. Ruhfel, now financial editor of the Brooklyn Eagle.
After the war be continued Buttons & Fatty for the Brooklyn Eagle and also started a new feature section for that paper. He was soon called to work on the New York Evening Post, where he did a general cartoon and later Man the Master, his first married life strip.

Brooklyn Eagle 2/13/1920

When the Post changed hands he was sent for by King Features Syndicate and started So This Is Married Life! In this strip he details the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Waffle. He does not go in for “gags” as much as for simple human interest stuff and a certain continuity from day to day in the adventures of the pair.
Once in a while “Zere” hops over to Europe. He can speak French fluently, in fact served as an interpreter during part of the war time. “Zere” is active in sports, particularly tennis.
According to the 1920 census, Zere, his sister and mother resided in Brooklyn at 82 71 Street. On June 2, 1920, Zere applied for a passport to visit France, Switzerland and Italy for “pleasure and professional representative.” At the time he was an illustrator and cartoonist, residing at 78 72nd Street, Brooklyn. Attached to the application was a letter by his brother Pierre who certified that Zere was his brother. The letter was notarized by another brother, Edward. Also attached was a letter, below, from the managing editor of the Eagle. In addition to his 1920 trip, he sailed to Mexico in 1922; to Bermuda in 1925; and to Europe in 1926.

(Fourth Estate continued)
I naturally assumed that “Zere” was married, else how could he picture wedded life with such fidelity? But when I asked him, I found that I had been mistaken.
“Maybe the fact that I’m not married,” he laughed, “makes it easy for me to poke fun at those who are. Anyway, I might eventually marry. But first I must catch up with my work.”

Buffalo Courier 7/9/1924
panel text below:
A friend of mine got married not so long ago and at the feast he was called upon to respond to the customary toast to the bridegroom.

Naturally shy and having mouthing prepared, he begged to be excused. But the rest of the company insisted, so, blushing furiously, he rose. Placing one hand on his bride’s shoulder, he stammered out his opening and concluding words:

“This–er–thing has been forced upon me–”

Brooklyn Eagle 11/17/1927
caption text below:

Miss Biedermann is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Biedermann of Hollis, L. I., who have announced her engagement to Alfred G. Ablitzer of Bay Ridge. Mr. Ablitzer is the artist whose pen name is “Zere.” The wedding will take place in the near future.

The New York, New York, Marriage Indexes, at, said they married on March 17, 1928 in Manhattan. Later that day they went on a cruise. The passenger list said they lived at 6820 Ridge Blvd., Brooklyn.

Louis Biedermann was an illustrator who had worked at The World. One of his notable illustrations was “New York City as It Will Be in 1999”. The Long Island Daily Press, July 20, 1935, said Zere’s father-in-law was “…in charge of comic strips and other art for the Hearst syndicates.”

In 1930, Zere and his wife lived in Forest Hills, New York at the Tennis Place Apartments. His occupation was newspaper artist. The Brooklyn Eagle, July 22, 1934, published this item:

Weekend guests of Mr. and Mrs. Al Zere, Hollis, at their Summer home, “Woodland Echoes,” included Jack Shuttleworth, editor of “Judge” magazine, his wife and son, Jack Shuttleworth Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Forbell.
The Long Island Daily Press, July 20, 1935, said:
...Right now, Ablitzer and the Mrs., who was Henrietta Biedermann of Jamaica before her marriage, are at their summer home on Shelter Island. Mr. Ablitzer spends all of his spare time fishing for weaks and blues in Peconic Bay and raising wire-haired terriers. In the winter months, the Ablitzers live at 193-02 100th avenue, Hollis. They have no children.
The 1940 census recorded them in Forest Hills at 98-120 Queens Boulevard. He continued as a cartoonist. On April 26, 1942, he signed his World War II draft card. United Features Syndicate was his employer.

Long Island Daily Press 10/5/1940;
caption text below:
Platter lips make Miss Ubangi the belle of her tribe, but she doesn’t suffer any more than the American girl who insists on wearing high heeled shoes a size too small for her, according to Al Zere, Forest Hills artist. Zere, a resident of Africa for two years, is attempting to recreate in clay the “beauties” of various African tribes. Cartoonist and artist, Zere quietly assumed the role of sculptor because he believed that was the best medium in which to portray his subjects.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Zere produced over a dozen comic series including Susie Sunshine and FlossieMan, the Master began January 27, 1920 in the Brooklyn Eagle, where it appeared once or twice a month on the front page. In November that year, Zere moved to the New York Post where Man, the Master debuted on the 16th and may have ended September 1 1922. A photograph of Zere at his drawing board is here. 

Brooklyn Eagle 11/16/1920

Zere passed away November 1968, according to the Social Security Death Index.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, April 02, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: So This is Married Life

When Al Zere (the working name of Alfred Alblitzer) came back from service in World War I, he was welcomed back with open arms to the Brooklyn Eagle, and his long-running comic strip Buttons & Fatty. However, I get the feeling that Zere wanted to make a bigger splash than he could there, and he left the strip to other hands at the end of 1920.

I lose track of him for a few years, but in 1923 he pops up in the Hearst camp at their King Features Syndicate label (not their most prestigious at the time). Zere couldn't hit much more of the big-time than with Hearst. Unfortunately, the feature that was to pave his road to fame and riches was a rather dreary me-too strip about the tribulations of married life called, with no hint of originality, So This is Married Life. Why King Features wanted yet another of these 'marriage is hell' strips is beyond me, because there were plenty on the market already. But so be it. Zere dutifully produced a strip that read pretty much like all the others, with very little that I've seen to recommend it. The cartooning was good, but that's about all it had going for it.

So This is Married Life debuted on January 15 1923 as a daily strip*. The Sunday version, which was added two years later on January 25 1925, is a real rarity which hardly seemed to make it into Hearst's own papers, let along paying clients outside of the Hearst system. I suspect it may have been produced on spec by Zere and King ran the strips just to fill a temporary hole. The Sunday didn't last long (I've never seen any past March 1925), but the daily persevered. It seems to have finally gotten its final divorce decree from newsprint on March 24 1928.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be Zere's one serious shot at the big time. Although he would continue in newspaper cartooning into the 1940s, he never had a feature that was much more than a minor blip on the radar.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!

* Note: Ohio State University's online catalog indicates that they have dailies as early as December 27 1922. So the strip may have started earlier. But without a newspaper title in the OSU reference I have no way to cross-check their data.  My start date is based on the Chicago Evening American.


Love Zere's drawing style and the coloring too, which was probably the syndicate doing that.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Marvin Bradley

Marvin Poole “Brad” Bradley was born in Streator, Illinois on January 16, 1913, according to Who’s Who in the Midwest (1960). The 1910 U.S. Federal Census said his parents were Edwin and Edith (Poole). Edwin's World War II draft card said he was a salesman for the Johnson Refining Oil Company. He passed away October 3, 1918.

The 1920 census recorded Bradley in Bruce, Illinois, where his maternal grandfather, Charles Poole, a fruit farmer, was head of the household. Bradley was the second of three brothers. Their mother was a nurse. Who’s Who said he was a scholarship student at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, from 1929 to 1930.

In the 1930 census, he lived in Chicago at 8753 Honore Street. His mother had remarried to Roderic Wyse, and his maternal grandmother, Alma, was head of the household. 

According to Who’s Who, Bradley attended the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Art School, from 1931 to 1932, then the John Herron Art School, in Indianapolis, from 1933 to 1934. He was a portrait artist for the next four years. In 1938 he collaborated with Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie on Speed Spaulding until 1940. He divided his time between Ramblin' Bill and Mary Worth.

The final Ramblin’ Bill, 8/28/1943

The 1940 census recorded him in Chicago at 210 East Erie Street; he was a syndicated cartoonist. Who’s Who said he married Dorothy M. Jones on February 21, 1942. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, at, said he enlisted September 9, 1942. Editor & Publisher, February 8, 1986, said he was a World War II Air Force pilot. One of his portrait drawings, while stationed in China, is here.

Perhaps his most enduring work was on the strip, Rex Morgan, M.D., which began May 10, 1948. Bradley retired from the strip in 1984. The writer, Dr. Nick Dallis was profiled in Popular Science, September 1956. The profile said Allen Saunders (Mary Worth and Steve Roper) introduced Dallis to Publishers Syndicate, Bradley and artist Frank Edgington.

Bradley passed away January 10, 1986 at his home in Tower Lake Estates near Barrington, Illinois, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, January 12. Editor & Publisher said the cause was lung cancer. The U.S. Public Records Index, at, has two Illinois addresses for him: 2 Berkshire Court, South Barrington, and 233 West Lake Shore Drive, Tower Lakes.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, March 31, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Bad Bill, the Western Wildcat

Vic Forsythe was always fascinated by the Wild West, and it often showed up in his comic strips. Early in his career, long before his big success with Joe Jinks, he was one of the hired hands in the bullpen of the New York Evening World. He cranked out a lot of material in those early days, and was already trying out Western themes on occasion. His first actual Western strip is this one -- Bad Bill, the Western Wildcat. Here Vic turns the stereotypes on their heads. There's a runty little milquetoast of a sheriff, a fellow who looks like he'd be more at home in a CPA office than keeping the peace in a lawless Western outpost, and a rootin'-tootin' outlaw named Bad Bill. But Bad Bill doesn't run roughshod over the pipsqeak sheriff. Turns out the lawman has a backbone of iron and a shootin' iron that always hits its mark. Every time Bad Bill gets up a good head of hell-raising steam, the sheriff calmly and quickly puts it out.

Bad Bill, the Western Wildcat ran in the Evening World for just a short time -- November 10 to 29 1911. Vic already had a well-received strip that was running regularly there -- Flooey and Axel -- and though he would often try out new ideas like Bad Bill, they always seemed to peter out pretty quickly.

By the way, did you notice that Vic's artwork at this time bears a very distinct resemblance to George Herriman's of the same period? Well, considering that Vic came to New York from Los Angeles, where he would have seen Herriman's work on the Los Angeles Examiner, and possibly even worked there with him for a while, I guess that stands to reason ... 

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


Thanks for posting this obscure Forsythe piece. I have been fascinated by him for years. Do you have any scans of Flooey and Axel? I've never seen it ror even know what it was about. On the IMDb website there is a fragmentary listing for a Short Comedy 1915 silent film Flooey and Axel

Forsythe is listed in the cast as playing himself. Other players had fairly long silent, and in some cases talkie careers. Of note Margery Wilson who was an actress and film director in the silent film era and Max Davidson, a character actor from Germany, who played comical Jewish roles in many films including at least one Hal Roach Our Gang episode. He also starred in a series of short silent films.

The movie appears to be among the many lost silent films, with no synopsis listed.

Here is the IMDb link:

Again thanks for the post.
Hi Mark --
I'll cover Flooey and Axel here one of these days, but for now if you want to see the series, you can read it to your heart's content over on the Library of Congress website, in their run of New York Evening Worlds.

Best, Allan
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