Monday, April 15, 2024


Toppers: Snookums Has a Growth Spurt

George McManus' juggernaut comic strip Bringing Up Father featured the topper strip Rosie's Beau for many years. But in 1944 after a run of nearly twenty years sitting above Jiggs and Maggie, I guess McManus decided it was time to try something fresh. 

The new strip, Snookums, might have been new as a topper, but it was anything but actually fresh. Snookums the spoiled baby had come onto the comic strip landscape nearly forty years earlier in 1906. 

One of McManus' earliest successes was a strip called The Newlyweds, which was about a pair of lovebirds who are so heady with romance that nothing else matters to them. After a few years of playing with that subject, McManus decided it was time for Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed to take their next step in life. He dropped the strip for a little over nine months, and then brought it back in late 1906 as The Newlyweds and their Baby

What had been a popular strip all of a sudden became a hit on the level of the biggest titles of the day. The Newlywed's new baby, Snookums, despite being butt-ugly, was of course the apple of his parents' eyes. Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed took adoration of their baby to off-the-chart levels, producing hilarious strips that made the baby into a pop culture phenomenon. 

This strip ran until 1916 and had the rare honour of running with two syndicates at the same time from 1912 to 1916. McManus had created the strip for the Pulitzer organization, but when he jumped ship for Hearst in 1912 the strip was considered too valuable to lose. Albert Carmichael continued the original version for Pulitzer, while McManus renamed it Their Only Child for the Hearst version. 

In 1944 you would have had to be about forty years old or more to remember the original series, and I have no doubt that the newly minted Snookums topper was a great hit of nostalgia for middle-aged and better newspaper readers. The new topper strip featured a modernized Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed and baby, but otherwise the gags pretty much followed the same pattern. 

Okay, so I told you all that so I could tell you this. In 1951 either McManus, his superb assistant Zeke Zekley (who probably did 90% of the work on the topper), or the syndicate decided that the strip needed a shake-up. It was decided that baby Snookums, who was about 45 years old in reality years, needed to grow up a bit. But how do you do that? You can't very well just have Snookums as a baby one week, and then next week advance his age until he's in elementary school, now can you? Well, I suppose you could, but McManus and Zekley took a sneakier approach. Here is the Snookums topper for May 6 1951 featuring the familiar baby version:

And here is the next Sunday, May 13, and all of a sudden baby Snoiokums is a toddler, looking pretty comfortable in the upright position:

Another week passes, and on May 20 the toddler has advanced to growing a mop of hair:

Things now slow down a bit, letting Snookums settle in a bit at what I guess would be the terrible twos. But he continues to age and by September 16 (below) he's now reading, placing him I guess at the age of six at the least?

By October 21 Snookums miraculous growth spurt finally ends, placing him in elementary school, where he will stay for the rest of the strip's life:

So now that we've had this fun little jaunt through the remaking of a comic strip character, we end with a mystery. According to King Features' internal records, the Snookums topper was dropped at the end of 1956. But that's wrong, because I have found samples as late as 1961. My wild guess based on no evidence is that the King Features date might reflect the end of Snookums being distributed as a topper to Bringing Up Father, and after that perhaps the strip was sold on its own merits as a standalone feature?

But no matter how the marketing went on, the important question is this: When did this important strip end? Can anyone help?


A great post, with great art.
Good afternoon, M. Holtz,
My name in Don Merkle, son of George Merkle, creator of Mighty O’Malley.
Reference your Strippers Guide on October 10, 2016.
I can shed some light on the confusion between George Merkle and Dean Miller. My father created the strip. However, sometime in 1948 and during an alcoholic drinking binge, my father failed to send in the weekly strip on time. The Chicago Tribune, canceled their contract with my dad and must have hired Dean Miller to fill in. I have a number of original prints of the Tribunes pages prior to the switch.
Also, I have a number of original prints of “Under Cover” George Merkle, my father drew with collaboration with Arther Derounian, author of the book, Under Cover.
Don Merkle

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Sunday, April 14, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig


The A. Blue "Help Wanted Series 500" was quite extensive and popular, but this is only our second card from the series to show up on Wish You Were Here. Many more to come should we be granted decades of blog publishing in out future. 

Thanks to Mark Johnson, who scanned this card from his collection.


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Saturday, April 13, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Weekday Gag Array, 1904


An array of single panel gag cartoons was a familiar sight in 1900s papers, especially evening editions. Here's one such grouping from a 1904 edition of the New York Evening Journal, featuring four cartoons by William F. Marriner (first and third columns) and two by Harry B. Martin in the middle. 

A few explanatory notes:

* "Beautiful Snow" was a poem written in 1869 by John Whittaker Watson. It seems to be the only poem of his that really outlived him in the public consciousness. 

* I can find no evidence that there was a revolutionary named Bustaments in South America in 1904, but there are a few by the name Bustamente in decades long past by then. I imagine Martin is using it as a sort of generic Latino name.


Hello Allan-
At Hearst, we would syndicate even these one panel straight line/payoff type gags, mixed in with some weekday strips like "E.Z. Mark", fill a page or half page, all under the heading, "With The Twentieth Century Fun Makers" with slight variations like "Laughs With the Twentieth Century Humorists". I've seen these as a sunday feature in papers in Indianapolis and Baltimore in 1903-4. The "Bustamante' referred to might be Francisco Eugenio Bustamante, a radical politician and exiled opposition leader to presidente Palacio of Venezuela, overthrown in 1892.
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Friday, April 12, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ramona Fradon

Ramona Fradon was born Ramona Dom on October 2, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois, according to the Cook County, Illinois Birth Index at Her parents were Peter Domboorajian (not Dombrezian*) and Irma Haefeli who married on July 12, 1923 in Chicago. Articles and photographs of her paternal grandparents are at the Ann Arbor District Library

The 1930 United States Census counted Ramona, her parents and older brother, Jay, in Chicago at 431 Oakdale Avenue. Her father was an artist working in advertising.

In 1932 Ramona’s father moved to New York City. The New York Sun, October 5, 1932, said 
... E. R. Munn & Co., Inc., leased apartments in the Gilford, 140 East Forty-sixth street, to ... Peter Dom ...
The next year, the Doms moved to Larchmont, New York, where Ramona attended Murray Avenue School. The New York Evening Post, September 15, 1933, said
The Houghton Company leased for Clement J. Todd his house at 39 Valley Road, in the Larchmont Woods section of Larchmont, to Peter Dom.
The Larchmont Times, June 27, 1935, reported on the school’s assembly where third-grader Ramona received a track award. The Times, June 17, 1937, covered the honor assembly at Murray Avenue­ School. Fifth-grader Ramona was presented the Humane Society poster award. She was also elected to the National Honor Society. According to the Times, June 30, 1938, Ramona, in the sixth grade, made the honor roll. Track meet honors were awarded to her and teammates in the Junior girls relay. Again, the Humane Society first prize was given to Ramona for her poster.

In the 1940 census, Ramona’s mother was divorced. Ramona, her mother and brother were residents of Bronxville, New York at 1 Cedar Street. The whereabouts of her father is not known. 

Ramona graduated from Bronxville High School in 1944.

Ramona was interviewed by Jim Amash in Alter Ego #69, June 2007. She said
I didn’t take high school seriously, and by the time I graduated, I doubt if I could have gotten into a college. I started at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I went there for a year, but I found it to be superficial in terms of learning how to draw. We had life drawing once or twice a week, and the rest was all about technique and an overview of the different commercial fields. I felt I wasn’t learning anything that I needed to learn, so I switched to the New York Art Students League. I could never have been an interior decorator or a fashion artist anyway. I was drawn to the League because it was totally unstructured. You had to provide your own motivation. There were no tests, no grades, no diploma, no nothing. You just went there, and if you wanted to learn, you could learn, and that appealed to me. And we drew from a model every single day. …

… I studied Fine Art at the Art Students League and wasn’t very good at it. I had absolutely no ambition, but I found myself doing it anyway. And then I met Dana Fradon there [around 1946], who was an aspiring cartoonist. His goal was to get into The New Yorker, and he encouraged me to try cartooning, which I thought was a total fall into degradation. People are very snotty in art school, so it just seemed like the most degrading thing in the world. But I had a talent for it. We were broke when we got married, so Dana and a friend of ours encouraged me to make some comic book samples. I did and that’s how it started. …
On September 16, 1948, Ramona and Arthur D. Fradon obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 29830. They married on September 20. 

In the interview, Ramona answered a question about her father.
He … was a freelance lettering man. He designed among other things, the Elizabeth Arden, Camel, and Lord and Taylor logos—ones you still see around. And what else did he do? He designed type faces: the Dom Casual font, among others.
In Comic Book Creator #13, Fall 2016, Ramona said
My father was a commercial lettering man. He designed the Elizabeth Arden and Camel logos—some of the things that you still see around. I think Elizabeth Arden has a new one now, but they used my father’s version for years. He also lettered the Lord & Taylor logo ... lettering men like my father began to design fonts that were made into typefaces. So, instead of hiring a lettering man, they’d use these fonts, as they do today. My father designed the Dom Casual and other typefaces and everybody told him not to do it because it would put them all out of business. And it did.
According to the 1950 census, the cartoonist couple lived in Manhattan at 324 East 14th Street, third floor rear. 

The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York), July 1, 1952, said
Mrs. Irma H. Dom, of 51 Parkway Road, Bronxville, died today in Lawrence Hospital after a short illness at the age of fifty-three.

Born in Chicago, daughter of Louise Tute Haefeli and the late John Haefeli, Mrs. Dom had resided in Bronxville for 14 years.

In addition to her mother, she leaves a son, Jay R. Dom of Bronxville and a daughter, Mrs. Ramona Fradon of New York City.
In her interview, Ramona said artist and letterer, George Ward, encouraged her to try comic books. Many of her credits are at the Grand Comics Database and Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999

Ramona’s father passed away on April 19, 1962 in Los Angeles. 

Newtown, Connecticut city directories, for 1963 and 1978, listed Ramona and her husband on Brushy Hill Road. Who’s Who in American Art (1976) said their mailing address was RFD 2 Brushy Hill Road, Newton, Connecticut 06470.

10/15/1980, courtesy of Heritage Auctions

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Dale Messick’s comic strip, Brenda Starr, debuted on June 30, 1940. Ramona drew the strip from October 6, 1980 to November 5, 1995. In her interview, Ramona explained how she got the assignment.
Yes, he [Gill Fox] called me up one day out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to draw it. He told me what they were offering, which was more than I was making in comics, but I didn’t tell him right away that I wanted to do it. I wanted to think about it, because I never liked Brenda Starr very much, and yet it seemed like an opportunity to me.

Friends of mine who did strips warned me prophetically, that I would be on a treadmill, and I’d never get off of it, and that it was a grind. But I decided I’d give it a try. By the way, Gill had been looking—they’d been beating the bushes, trying to find somebody for about a year, because they wanted a woman to do it, and they finally bumped into me ...
In 1986 Ramona’s husband divorced her in Newtown according to the Connecticut Divorce Index at Later they lived together in their daughter’s house. He died on October 3, 2019. Ramona’s brother died on October 4, 1997. 

Ramona passed away on February 24, 2024.

* The surname Domboorajian was found on passenger lists, census and death records at Ramona’s paternal grandfather was Rev. Mihran Domboorajian who was a bible worker in Persia. The misspelled surname, Dombrezian, appeared as early as 1990 in The LaserJet Font Book

Further Reading and Viewing
Alter Ego #69, June 2007
Comic Book Creator #13, Fall 2016
The Beat, The Greatness of Ramona Fradon and Pioneering comic artist Ramona Fradon passes away at 97
Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Creator Ramona Fradon Has Died, Aged 97
Comic Book Resources, Ramona Fradon, Iconic Comic Artist and Metamorpho Co-Creator, Passes Away at 97
The Comics Journal, Ramona Fradon, 1926–2024
Daily Cartoonist, Ramona Fradon – RIP
ICv2, RIP Ramona Fradon
Multiversity Comics, Ramona Fradon, Classic Aquaman Artist and Co-Creator of Metamorpho, Dead at 97
The New York Times, Ramona Fradon, Longtime Force in the World of Comic Books, Dies at 97
News from ME, Ramona Fradon, R.I.P. and Two Ramona Fradon Stories…
Sequential Tart, The Real Ramona
Heritage Auctions, Brenda Starr by Ramona Fradon


I met Ramona in Baltimore years back at a convention. She had a stack of "Brenda Starr" originals with her and let me browse through it. Had lots of fun stories!
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Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Magazine Cover Comics: Sally's So Sentimental


Sally's So Sentimental ran as the Newspaper Feature Service magazine cover series from March 22 to June 6 1931. The art is credited to Philip Loring, who I believe is in actuality Paul Robinson, and it is a lovely art deco gem. The story, on the other hand, is even more gossamer-thin than usual. In fact in this case there is really no continuing story at all, despite the "To Be Continued" tagline at the end of each installment. Each week Sally gets dressed up in her best duds, attends some event and bewitches the most attractive man in attendance. End of installment, reload and repeat next week.

This series does the almost unthinkable when in the final installment Sally stands by as her sister gets wed. Did Loring not read the magazine cover writer's manual? The heroine ALWAYS gets married in the final installment. Sheesh.

Oh, and why is the word 'sentimental' used in the title? I have no idea. Sally exhibits no particular sentimentality all through the series. I get the funny feeling that Loring/Robinson didn't quite have a grasp of the word's meaning, and the editors at NFS couldn't be bothered to educate him.


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Monday, April 08, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: The Vidiots


As we've discussed many times before, TV listing pages, with their acres of boring tables, were ripe targets for a cartoon series to brighten things up. By the 1980s, though, the TV-centric gag panels (they were almost all panels) were very much on the wane. Why that is I cannot figure, because this was the decade in which cable TV blossomed, making those listings take up far more room than in the old days of three networks and a local station or two. Apparently the equation that more boring type implies more need for brighteners does not actually compute, though. 

Into this bear market came Ken Bowser, who was at the time working on staff at the Orlando Sentinel-Star. He created The Vidiots for his paper, debuting there as a daily on August 13 1981*.  Bowser's work was familiar to Orlandoans and he was already well-known for his repulsive toad-like characters, now institutionalized in The Vidiots

Because the Sentinel-Star was owned by the Chicago Tribune, Bowser had a well-oiled pipeline for submitting to their syndicate. About a year and a half after the feature started as a local feature it was picked up for syndication, first appearing with a syndicate stamp on January 3 1983. 

The Vidiots never had more than a modest list of clients, and I think most of them were probably likewise Chicago Tribune owned papers. It was a pretty funny panel, but newspapers generally just didn't seem interested in TV page brighteners anymore. Bowser stuck with the feature for four years, finally giving it up on February 14 1987.

*Source: All dates from Orlando Sentinel-Star.


At some point the text columns gave way to charts, faintly similar to what you now see when scanning onscreen listings. Some TV-related editorial usually remained -- highlights, etc. -- but there was less flexibility and space. Can't put a date on it, so not sure whether little gag panels were already extinct.
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Sunday, April 07, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault


Outcault produced many of these calendar advertising postcards, some for specific advertisers, like this one, some more generic. 

The Rockford Watch Company was not a particularly major player in the pocket watch market, and the factory was shuttered just six years after this marketing campaign. Perhaps a victim of the newfangled wristwatches, I wonder? 

These cards seem to have been produced with the idea that Rockford dealers would do the posting, but then you would think they would not be preprinted with "Dealers Name and Address Here" on them, but rather just an open space for the dealer's stamp. Bad planning, that. 

Thanks to Mark Johnson, who provided the scans of this card.


Guessing it was meant for a pre-printed label; perhaps something a retailer would have on hand to add to the manufacturer's packaging. I occasionally come across old books that have a discreet sticker for the bookstore that sold it.
It's a rare salesman's sample, given to dealers of the Rockford watch, who'd use this and the other eleven months of designs, throughout the year. The dealer would pay for x number of each, with his name on them, and sent them out to potential customers. In other words, it's vintage junk mail.
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Saturday, April 06, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Bertie's New Duck Suit by Ed Carey, 1902


In the heyday of Yellow Journalism, when Sunday circulation figures were more important to newspaper publishers even than the company's profit or loss, all sorts of freebies were given away with Sunday issues to stimulate those figures. One of those freebies were pictures that could be watercoloured by the buyer's children, using "special" inks printed directly on the pages. Add a little water and you could paint with the resulting concoctions. 

My educated guess is that those special inks were actually ink formulations that were found not to be colourfast and therefore poor choices for newspaper printing. This was, after all, in the days when publishers were still experimenting with ink formulas, looking for the quickest drying, most vibrant hues possible. The story of the Yellow Kid's origination, after all, was supposedly due to one of these experiments that required a nice big spot of yellow ink for testing. While I find the exact circumstances of the famous tale hard to swallow (there was already a workable yellow ink in use at this time), there is no doubt that colour ink experiments did take place. 

Anyway, back to today's One-Shot Wonder. Ed Carey neglected to sign this strip, but there's no doubt this is his work. It ran in the McClure colour comic section of August 17 1902 and the gag depends on the reader's knowledge of the watercolour stunts in use with some newspapers at the time, proof that they were quite common and well-known.


Hello Allan-
The dehydrated pant/vegetable dye gimmick seemed to be a short-lived phenomena, I have only seen it in the Boston Post and Philadelphia Press in 1902, both with art from staffers. So was this stunt ever offered by a syndicate?

No I don't recall any syndicated 'watercolor' efforts, unless you count the Hearst or Pulitzer papers as syndication. I seem to recall seeing advertising for the gimmick in one of the two, but I can't tease any details out of the pot of mush that is my brain.

Closest I can think of in true syndication are the World Color Printing "Invisible Color" sections of the 1920s, but in those you added water to bring out pre-existing colors that were somehow hidden -- a neat trick. --Allan
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Friday, April 05, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Tumble Tom


In their heyday New York's evening newspapers were designed with the evening commuter in mind. The stories tended to be short and punchy, the headlines lurid, and the comics catered to grown-up humour tastes. And yet sometimes decidedly different material snuck in, like Eleanor Schorer's Tumble Tom, which appeared in the Evening World daily from July 12 to September 18 1915. Tumble Tom was basically a rehash of Little Nemo, but with simpler stories and no apparent intent to entertain the grown-ups as well as the young 'uns.

In Tumble Tom a young boy divides his time between the waking world (Ope-Eye-World) and his version of Slumberland, called Bye-Low-Land. In Tom's dreamland there reside all the characters from the familiar fairy tales. In the confines of each daily strip he has a little adventure with the fairy tale characters and then wakes up, often to tell his mother of his experiences. It's a perfectly sweet strip, and no doubt was gobbled up by the children of Mr. Commuter when he arrived home and let them have the paper. 

But why did this strip, obviously geared for children, appear in the Evening World? The telltale answer comes in the running dates. In high summer New Yorkers, even cartoonists, took their vacations to get out of the blast furnace of NYC. The Evening World offered its A-list cartoonists leaves at this time of year, and that was an opportunity for cartoonists lower on the totem pole to get some of their wares accepted by the paper. Schorer took this opportunity to try out a kid's strip, as opposed to her more usual fodder of romantic material. Perhaps she was seeking to create a strip that would gain her a permanent berth with a regular title. If so it didn't work, and Tumble Tom took the long beddy-bye as the A-listers reappeared along with the cooler weather at their drawing boards.


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Wednesday, April 03, 2024


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1999 -- Overall Results

 This year’s survey lost 3 papers, the News-Pilot (San Pedro, CA), San Bernardino County Sun (CA) and Pottsville Republican (PA). So the total for this survey is down to  254 papers. The loss of these three papers has caused an interesting situation at the top of the chart. Since two of these papers ran Garfield and not Peanuts, we now have a tie at the number one position.

In other Top 30 movements, Fox Trot added 7 papers and joined the 100 paper club and moved up 2 spots from 15 to 13. Zits being the big gainer this year it moved up 5 spots from #22 to 17. Rose is Rose enters the Top 30 while Arlo and Janis falls off.

Title (total 254 Papers)


Rank Change

Papers +/-

Total Papers








Up 1








For Better or For Worse





Beetle Bailey










Family Circus


Up 1



Hagar The Horrible







Down 1








Hi and Lois










Fox Trot


Up 2



Frank and Ernest





Wizard of Id


Down 1



Born Loser





Dennis The Menace







Up 5





Down 1



Sally Forth







Down 2



Mother Goose and Grimm


Down 1



Baby Blues


Up 2



Close To Home


Up 1



Non Sequitur


Down 1





Down 3



Mallard Fillmore


Down 2



Jump Start


Up 2



Mary Worth


Down 1



Rose Is Rose





 Not much movement on the universal comic section this year. The Top 6 and 7 had an increase and like last year the Arizona Republic won the most universal comic section running the Top 26 strips.

Top 2 – 209 (Up 5)
Top 3 – 182 (Up 6)
Top 4 – 157 (Up 5)
Top 5 – 124 (Same)
Top 6 – 88 (Down 3)
Top 7 – 71 (Down 4)
Top 8 – 63 (Up 4)
Top 9 – 56 (Up 9)
Top 10 – 48 (Up 12)
Top 11 – 33 (Up 11)
Top 12 – 23 (Up 8)
Top 13 – 7 (Down 2)
Top 14 – 6 (Up 3)
Top 15 – 4 (Up 1)
Top 16 – 3 (Up 1)
Top 17 – 2 (Same)
Top 18 – 1 (Same)
Top 19 – 1 (Same)
Top 20 – 1 (Same)
Top 21 – 1 (Same)
Top 22 -  1 (Same)
Top 23 -  1 (Same)
Top 24 – 1 (Same)
Top 25 – 1 (Same)
Top 26 – 1 (Same)

The Avenge Number of daily comics run by our papers went up just a tad. It is now 18.18 strips per paper, up from 18.03.

Here are the rest of the features that made this year's survey, along with the number of papers, and their increase or decrease from last year:

41 – Arlo & Janis (-1)

37 – Crankshaft (0), Rex Morgan (0)

36 – Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (-1)

35 – Herman (+8)

33 – Mutts (+4)

32 – Funky Winkerbean (-1), Lockhorns (0), Luann (+2)

28 – Alley Oop (-2), Curtis (0)

25 – Andy Capp (-4), Grizzwells (-1), Kit N Carlyle (+4), Pickles (+3), Rubes (+3)

24 – In The Bleachers (-2), Marvin (-4)

23 - Real Life Adventures (-2)

21 – Geech (0)

19 – Eek and Meek (-1), Judge Parker (+1), Rugrats (R)

18 – One Big Happy (-1), Robotman (0)

17 – Bizarro (-3), Gasoline Alley (-2), Overboard (+1)

16 – Crabby Road (+2), Tank McNamara (-1)

14 – Big Nate (+1), Piranha Club (-1), Stone Soup (+2)

13 – Adam (-2), Drabble (0), Pluggers (0)

12 – Betty (+1), Fred Basset (-2), Mark Trail (0), Sherman Lagoon’s (+4)

11 – Buckles (0), Heathcliff (-5), Hocus-Focus (+3), Phantom (-2), Tiger (-2)

10 – Berry’s World (-3), Dave (+1), Dunigan’s People (+1), Mr. Boffo (0), Nancy (-2), Speed Bump (0), Sylvia (-1)

9 – Amazing Spider-Man (-2), Bound & Gagged (0), Middletons (-1)

8 – Apartment 3-G (-1), Dick Tracy (0), Gil Thorp (0), Zippy (0)

7 – Against The Grain (0), Brenda Starr (0), Duplex (0), I Need Help (-2), Rhymes With Orange (-2), They’ll Do It Every Time (+1)

6 – Buckets (-1), Citizen Dog (0), Herb & Jamaal (-1), Kuduz (0), Mixed Media (-4), Momma (0), Ralph (0)

5 – Archie (-2), Ben (R), Committed (+1), Free For All (+5), Fusco Brothers (0), Grin and Bear It (0), Horrorscope (0), Over The Hedge (-2), Safe Havens (0), Tumbleweeds (0)

4 – Crock, Dr. Katz, Liberty Meadows, 9 Chickweed Lane. Our Fascinating Earth, Strange Brew, That’s Jake, Twins

3 – Bliss, Bottom Liners, Broom Hilda, Comic For Kids, Dinette Set, Donald Duck, Love Is, Motley’s Crew, Murray’s Law, On The Fastrack, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Us & Them, Willy N Ethel

2 – Animal Crackers, Ballard Street, Better Half, Between Friends, Chubb & Chauncey, Claire & Weber, Cornered, Fair Game, Mandrake The Magician, Heart of The City, Meg!, Mickey Mouse, Nest Heads, New Breed, Norm, Quigmans, Redeye, Reality Check, Rip Kirby, Second Chances, Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, Tuttle, Warped

1 – Belvedere, Charlie, Farcus, Good Life, Graffiti, Laffbreak, Littlebuck, Little Orphan Annie, Loose Parts, Meet Mr. Lucky, Modesty Blaise, No Huddle, Offline, Outcasts, Pellets, Raw Material, Rural Rootz, Small Society, Tarzan, Top of The World, Trudy, Tundra, Two Toes, Walnut Cove, Word for Word


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Tuesday, April 02, 2024


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1999 -- Biggest Winners and Losers

 After its big debut last year with 60 papers, Zits continued its growth by adding another 21, which is the biggest gainer of the year. Dilbert continues its growth adding another 13 papers. Baby Blues added 8 papers from last year, perhaps piggybacking on the success of Zits. Here is the list of the strips that gained 5 or more papers.

Zits - 21
Dilbert – 13
Baby Blues – 8
Herman – 8
Fox Trot – 7
Rose is Rose – 5

Only one strip lost 5 or more papers this year and that was Heathcliff with 5.

Adventure and Soap strips continue their slow downfall. Adventure lost 6 spots falling from 92 to 86 spots. Soaps lost 2 spots going from 114 to 112.

Spiderman dropped 2 papers this year. It falls below the 10-paper mark and has gone a long way down since it debuted in the 1978 survey with 50 papers.

Adventure (-6)

Alley Oop – 28 (-2)
Mark Trail – 12 (0)
Phantom – 11 (-2)
Amazing Spider-Man – 9 (-2)
Dick Tracy – 8 (0)
Brenda Starr – 7 (0)
Mandrake The Magician – 2 (+1)
Mickey Mouse – 2 (0)
Rip Kirby – 2 (0)
Steve Roper and Mike Nomad – 2 (-1)
Little Orphan Annie – 1 (0)
Modesty Blaise – 1 (0)
Tarzan – 1 (0)

Soap (-2)

Mary Worth – 42 (-2)
Rex Morgan – 37 (0)
Judge Parker – 19 (+1)
Apartment 3-G – 8 (-1)
Gil Thorp – 8 (0)


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Monday, April 01, 2024


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1999 -- Top Rookies of 1998

In 1998 newspaper editors again went to the entertainment medium (movie and television) for the biggest rookie, trying again to get the kids to read newspapers. Of course this did not work in the long run. The rookie winner was Rugrats; the kid’s show that was airing on Nickelodeon debuted in 19 papers. The remaining rookies did not make a significant impact in 1998. Only one other strip got 5 or more papers and that was Ben by Daniel Shelton which also got 5 papers, 4 of them being in Canada. Here is the complete but very short list of 1998 rookies:

 Rugrats – 19

Ben – 5

Murray’s Law – 3

Clarie & Weber, Heart of The City, Nest Heads – 2

Littlebuck, No Huddle, Offline (remarketing of old Smart Chart feature), Raw Material, Top of The World – 1


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Sunday, March 31, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Cobb Shinn


It apparently took a team effort of the Scofield-Pierson Company and Import Post Card Company to publish a series of postcards in 1907 that visualized some of James Whitcomb Riley's beloved poems. This card reproduces one stanza of "The Little Town of Tailholt," originally published in Riley's 1887 book, Afterwhiles
Cobb Shinn was tasked with the art chores. No doubt his Indiana pedigree helped to get him the job of illustrating the work of the Hoosier Poet.


Interesting choices for perspectives and shadow-fall.
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Saturday, March 30, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Every Day is April Fools' Day by Archie Gunn, 1897


This is a public service announcement: on Monday beware offers of tinned nuts, requests for you to fetch implausible seeming items, notices of lottery winnings, and check mirrors often for "Kick Me" signs on your back. 

Here we have Archie Gunn's take on April Fools Day, seen through his bread-and-butter lens of the pretty girl cartoon. And he certainly did a nice job on this New York Journal funnies section cover. I also love these early Journal covers for their contributor lists (see upper left), giving pride of place to the Journal's impressive bullpen of writers and cartoonists.


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Friday, March 29, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Digby


To Golden age comic book fans the name Harry Lampert is well-known. Although he did not spend a great deal of time toiling in the comic book bullpens, he happened to be paired up with Gardner Fox to create a new superhero, The Flash, in 1940 for DC Comics. Of course, as was typical of those times, Lampert received no financial bonanza for a creation that would make DC Comics untold millions of dollars, and he went on with his life unchanged.

Lampert preferred doing humor work, and so he then gravitated toward magazine gag cartooning, and also got into instruction and had an ad agency during his later career. What many of us fans remember, though, was how Lampert spent his retirement years. Harry and his wife started appearing at comic book conventions in the 1970s and he was a big hit with the fans because for a certified legend  he was very gosh-darn friendly and approachable. We fans eagerly paid him back for his friendliness; he sold a LOT of badly drawn sketches of The Flash at those conventions, including to me. I don't know if Jim Ivey's OrlandoCons were his first experience of being a convention guest, but I very well remember that he absolutely revelled in them. 

As far as I know Lampert never let on that he had a newspaper strip series, but if he did it would have made for a pretty funny story (or sad, but Lampert was too positive a fellow to see it that way). Lampert created the strip Digby, a strip about a teenage boy, in 1949. It was basically just a me-too affair, with no obvious originality over Archie, Harold Teen and their ilk. Well, I say it didn't exhibit any originality in concept, but in fairness the strip didn't last long enough for Lampert to do much with it. 

How long? Well, Digby debuted in the New York Star on January 23 1949*. And that was a really bad time to be hitching your wagon to  that particular Star, because the paper went belly up on January 28. So Lampert's strip came and went in exactly six days. As far as I know, Lampert did not succeed in selling it anywhere else. The New York Compass, debuting a few months later, was considered essentially the resurrection of the Star, but alas, Harry's strip was not revived therein.

* The New York Star bucked normal newspaper practice by publishing their 'daily' paper Sunday through Friday, issuing no paper on Saturdays.


I'm surprised you didn't just post all six strips then!

Try to imagine the luck I had in finding one.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jay V. Jay, Part 3: Jeannette Kiekintveld

“Modish Mitzi,” the clever fashion strip ... is the work of three New York girls—two fashion writers and an artist. They are Laura Johnson, who is the artist; and Virginia Vincent and Jeannette Kiekintveld who divide the task of gathering information, working out ideas and writing the stories. “Jay V. Jay” is their triple signature. 
Jeannette Maud Kiekintveld was born on July 3, 1895, in Holland, Michigan. Her parents were  Henry William Kiekintveld and Maude Powers. Kiekintveld was baptized on December 8, 1895 at the Hope Church in Holland.

The 1900 United States Census recorded Kiekintveld, her parents and younger brother, Chester, at 11 West 14th Street in Holland. Her father was a bookstore merchant.

According to the 1910 census, Kiekintveld’s father was a widower. She, her father and younger sister, Gertrude, resided in Lansing, Michigan at 109 Jones Street. 

Kiekintveld attended the University of Michigan. In 1917 and 1918, Kiekintveld was mentioned in The Michigan Alumnus, April 1917, and contributed to The Gargoyle, October 1917; The Inlander, November 1917 and February 1918. 

Kiekintveld graduated in 1918. 

Jeanette Kiekintwelt” [sic], 
1918 Michiganensian yearbook

The 1920 census counted Kiekintveld in Detroit, Michigan at 164 Charlotte Avenue. She was an advertising writer at a department store. 

Kiekintveld’s translations were published in Poet Lore, Autumn 1920.

The Michigan Chimes, January 1921, published Kiekintveld’s article, “Advertising—A Field for Women”. 

The Michigan Alumnus, January 12, 1922, said
Jeannette Kiekintveld, ’18, has left the Advertising office of the J. L. Hudson Co., of Detroit, and is Advertising Manager for the D. J. Healy Shops of Detroit. 
The University of Michigan Catalogue of Graduates, Non-Graduates, Officers, and Members of the Faculties, 1837–1921 (1923) had an entry for Kiekintveld.
College of Literature, Science and the Arts 1918 Graduates
Jeannette Maud Kiekintveld, A.B. Advertising writer and newspaper writer. In Publicity Dept., McCall Co. 236 W. 37th St., New York, N.Y.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Modish Mitzi began on November 19, 1923 from the George Matthew Adams Service. Writers Kiekintveld and Virginia Vincent, and artist Laura Johnson were profiled in many newspapers including the Paris Morning News (Texas), March 2, 1924, and the Oakland Tribune (California), August 13, 1926. The trio were included in their syndicate’s advertisement published in Editor & Publisher, August 25, 1928. 

Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK) 10/23/1923

Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK) 10/26/1923

In the 1925 New York State Census, Kiekintveld lived in Manhattan at 141 East 44th Street. She worked in advertising. 

The Michigan Alumnus, January 9, 1926, said 
Jeannette Kiekintveld, ’18, is living at 141 West [sic] 44th Street, New York City. She is well known as one of the three creators of “Modish Mitzi,” a newspaper fashion strip.
Kiekintveldt was aboard the steamship Transylvania when it arrived in New York on August 16, 1926. The ship had departed Glasgow, Scotland. 

On July 21, 1927, “Kiekintveldt” and Leo Moser obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 20260. They married on July 30, 1927. Both of them resided at 15 West 9th Street where Virginia Vincent, a witness, had lived. 

Kiekintveld has not yet been found in the 1930 census. 

Kiekintveld was mentioned in the column “Lights of New York” as seen in the Evening Recorder (Amsterdam, New York), February 17, 1937.
... Jeannette Moser, who used to be a newspaper woman once herself ... But who is now advertising director of one of Fifth Avenue’s largest stores ...
The Evening Star (Washington DC), March 24, 1937, published the column “Answers to Questions” which said
Q. Please name some women who are prominent in the advertising business.—E.R.M.

A. Such a list would include Katherine Fisher, director of Good Housekeeping Institute; Mary Lewis of Best & Company; Bernice Fitzgibbon, Wanamaker’s; Margaret Fishback, R. H. Macy; Hildegarde Dolson, Franklin Simon; Jeanette Moser, Stern’s; Pegeen Fitzgerald, McCreery; Mary Moore, Namm’s; Wilma Libman, Gimbel’s, and Virginia Shook, Lord & Taylor.
Kiekintveld’s address in the 1940 census was 353 East 53rd Street in Manhattan. She was a manager who earned $5,000 in 1939.

On April 27, 1942, Kiekintveld’s husband signed his World War II draft card. He lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 5861 Willows Avenue. She  was in New York City at 156 East 55th Street.

The New York Evening Post, January 10, 1945 said
Mrs. Moser Gets New Post
Mrs. Jeanette Moser, advertising manager of Bloomingdale’s for the last six years, has been appointed sales-promotion director of the store, effective Feb. 1. It was announced today by James S. Schoff, president. She will assume her new duties when Ira Hirschmann, a vice president, transfers his activities to the radio and television operations of Federated Department Stores, Inc.
The New York Sun, January 10, 1945 said 
Mrs. Jeannette Moser, advertising manager of Bloomingdale’s for the last six years, has been appointed to the newly created post of sales promotion director. She will assume her new duties on February 1, when Ira Hirschman, a vice-president, transfers his activities to FM radio and television for Federated Department Stores, Inc.
An article about advertising and department stores, in the Daily Sentinel (Rome, New York), September 5, 1947, said
... Bloomingdale’s sales promotion director, gray-eyed Mrs. Jeanette Moser, is known as “a diplomat, a good listener, a wonderful person to carry your troubles to.” Co-workers say the day she took her present job, she propped her officer door open and has not closed it since, except during crises. Mrs. Moeser [sic] is a former Detroit reporter who turned to department store advertising. …
The Evening Leader, (Corning, New York), October 10, 1947, published Alice Hughes’ column “A Woman’s New York” that said 
Bustles Barge In snd Out of Style Every 50 Years

I don’t like to say “I told you so,” but—I have before me a column I wrote for the N. Y. World Telegram, August 21, 1933, an interview with Mrs. Jeanette Moser, then and still advertising director of a big N. Y. department store. Mrs. Moser sends me this column which reads: “Maybe we are approaching mid-century madness,” suggests Mrs. Jeanette Moser, seeking to explain why the fashion world, though believing itself in an era of practical people, vertical buildings and simpler styles suddenly finds Itself in the midst of billowing skirts, padded bosoms and rounded hips.

“It’s not the Mae West influence; it’s the turn of the half-century,” continued Mrs. Moser. For several centuries, as French and English women approached the 50’s of their century, they draped themselves in hippy hoops and bustles. Our own pre-Civil War belles extended in every direction as far as whalebone could carry them. Other women who minced toward the middle of their century gripped by a wasp waistline and waddling in bell-shaped skirts were Queen Elizabeth, Empress Eugenie and Marquise de Pomadour. Centennially, bulges barge into fashion and barge out again.”

Those 14-year-old words might easily be describing today. It’s certainly true that the clothes in style today have little relation to the times in which we live. And the turn-of-the-mid-century theory is borne out by history. We’re nearing the 1950 mark. The century is tiered [sic] of thinking up new styles. Why not pull the old ones out again? There are certain hazards that come with long skirts, but they’re not serious. Not so trifling is the wasp waist. Loyal Wolfe, manager of a national corset firm, says that wasp-waist corseting is detrimental to the health of women and nullifies the progress of the corset industry. A smallish waist, yes. But a waspish waist, one that your husband has to help you lace—no! Who wants to be a waist pincher?
The Chicago Sun-Times, October 10, 1948, said
Jeanette Moser has been appointed promotion director of Mandel Brothers, Chicago, it is announced by Col. Leon Mandel, president.

From 1939 to 1948 Mrs. Moser was with Bloomingdale’s, New York City, first as advertising manager, later as sales promotion director.
Kiekintveld passed away on October 18, 1949, in Willcox, Arizona. Her death certificate, at, said the cause was hypernephroma. At the time, her home was in Chicago at 1439 North State Parkway. Information about her was provided by her brother Chester. 

Obituaries were published on October 21, 1949. The New York Daily News said 
Mrs. Jeanette Moser
Advertising leader 
Wilcox [sic], Ariz., Oct. 20.—Mrs. Jeanette Moser, 53, for many years a leader in retail advertising circles, died here yesterday. From 1932 to 1939 she was advertising manager of Saks Fifth Ave., in New York City. She then became advertising manager of Bloomingdale’s and from 1946 to 1948 was promotion director of that store.
The New York Times said 
Mrs. Jeanette Moser
Mrs. J. Moser, Known in Advertising Field.
Mrs. Jeanette Kiekenfeldt [sic] Moser, who was well known in retail advertising circles, died Wednesday in Wilcox [sic], Ariz., at the home of her brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Hicks, according to word received here yesterday. 

Mrs. Moser was advertising manager of Saks Fifth Avenue from 1932 to 1939, when she took a similar post at Bloomingdale’s, where she was promotion director from 1946 to 1948. For the last year she was sales promotion director and a member of the executive board of Mandel Brothers in Chicago.

Mrs. Moser, who was graduated from the University of Michigan, had been a feature writer for The Detroit Free press. Afterward she came to New York to work on the editorial staff of McCall’s magazine and write a syndicated newspaper feature.

Surviving are a son, Alan, a student at the University of Kansas, and a brother, Chester Kiekenfeldt of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Kiekintveld was laid to rest at Sunset Cemetery


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Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jay V. Jay, Part 2: Virginia Vincent

“Modish Mitzi,” the clever fashion strip ... is the work of three New York girls—two fashion writers and an artist. They are Laura Johnson, who is the artist; and Virginia Vincent and Jeannette Kiekintveld who divide the task of gathering information, working out ideas and writing the stories. “Jay V. Jay” is their triple signature. 

Virginia Vincent was born on July 22, 1897 in Newark, New Jersey, according to passenger lists at

In the 1900 United States Census, Vincent was the youngest of five children born to Gibson and Albina who was born in England. The family were residents of Boonton, New Jersey on Reserve Street.  

The 1905 New York state census said the Vincent family was in Manhattan, New York City, at 356 West 145th Street. Her father was a clothier.

The 1910 census counted Vincent and her family in Manhattan at 413 West 147th Street. Her father was a clothing merchant. 

According to the 1920 census, newspaper writer Vincent and her older sister, Emily, made their home at 15 West 4th Street in Manhattan. 

In 1922, Vincent visited Europe. Aboard the steamship Berengaria, she sailed from Cherbourg, France and arrived at the port of New York on September 20, 1922. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Modish Mitzi began on November 19, 1923 from the George Matthew Adams Service. Writers Jeannette Kiekintveld and Vincent, and artist Laura Johnson were profiled in many newspapers including the Paris Morning News (Texas), March 2, 1924, and the Oakland Tribune (California), August 13, 1926. The trio were included in their syndicate’s advertisement published in Editor & Publisher, August 25, 1928. 

Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK) 10/23/1923

Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK) 10/25/1923

The 1925 New York state census counted Vincent twice; she lived at 15 West 9th Street, in Manhattan, and was a fashion editor on one sheet and an advertising copywriter on another. 

Vincent visited Europe again. From Le Havre, France, she sailed on the steamship Paris and arrived in New York on June 1, 1927.

On July 30, 1927, Vincent witnessed the marriage of Jeannette Kiekintveld to Leo de Courie Moser.

Printers’ Ink, July 1, 1929, said
Biow Agency Increases Staff

... Miss Virginia Vincent, formerly with the advertising department of Best Co., and recently with R. H. Macy & Co., has joined the copy department of this agency. ...
Vincent has not yet been found in the 1930 census.

Vincent was mentioned in Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1930. 
... A strange deviation from the usual is the comic fashion cartoon Modish Mitzi, edited by Virginia Vincent. It is one of the few humorous cartoon features in which a woman has achieved success. ...
Vincent contributed to Screenland magazine: “Famous Figures”, “Our Cosmetic Urge” and “Hair-Raising Hollywood”. 

The New York Evening Post, April 22, 1931, mentioned, I believe erroneously, Vincent as an artist. 
Dorothy Dix Guest of Honor at Tea

Editors, Publishers, News Writers Invited to Hotel Pennsylvania Fete Today

Mrs. Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, who is Dorothy Dix to newspaper readers all over the country, will be the guest of honor this afternoon at a tea given for her by the Ledger Syndicate in the Hotel Pennsylvania at 5 o’clock. ...

... On the receiving line will be several of Mrs. Gilmer’s fellow contributors to the syndicate, including Ruth Stuyvesant, fashion writer for the Evening Post and other newspapers. Dr. Jane Leslie Kist, garden expert; Lois Leeds, beauty expert; Nancy Carey, homemaking expert; Vivian Shirley, special news writer; Charlotte Brewster Jordan, authority on correct English; Helen Docie writer on etiquette, and Virginia Vincent, fashion artist. ...
Beginning in 1932, Vincent produced the column, Minute Make-Ups, for the Ledger Syndicate. In 1934, Vincent added the beauty column, You Can Be Beautiful

In the 1940 census, Vincent’s address was 15 West 9th Street in Manhattan. Her occupation was publicity in the advertising field. She had one year of college and, in 1939, earned $4,500.

In early 1945 Vincent was appointed beauty editor of the Ideal Women’s Group. Announcements appeared in The American Perfumer and Essential Oil Review, January 1945; Printer’s Ink, January 12, 1945; and Sales Management, February 1, 1945. 

Printer’s Ink, June 1, 1945, printed a photograph of Vincent with actress Virginia Mayo

Writer’s Digest, March 1946, said Vincent joined the staff of Deb magazine. 

Additional information about Vincent has not been found. She should not be confused with actress Virginia Vincent


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