Monday, October 20, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Buford Tune

Buford Malcolm Tune was born in Eastland County, Texas on August 26, 1906. His birthplace was named in the Dallas Morning News (Texas), July 10, 1949, and Social Security Death Index had his birth date.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Tune and his parents, Martin and Allie, in Abilene, Texas at 1410 Mesquite Street. His father did odd jobs.

Sylvester, Texas was Tune’s home in the 1920 census. His mother, a widow, was a telephone operator with three children to care for.

The Morning News said “Tune attended Abilene Christian College and took a course in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.” In Boody Rogers’ autobiography, Homeless Bound, Rogers attended the academy and wrote:

I paid my tuition for the summer course and asked the lady if she knew anyone I might split the rent with. She introduced me to another student from Texas, Buford Tune, who later was to draw the feature, “Dottie Dripple.” Tune and I found a room on the near north side, and each moved in his one suitcase.
At some point, Tune moved to Dallas. A 1923 city directory listed him at 3221 Forest Avenue as a Western Union messenger. He was a “Dallas News” artist in the 1925 directory. According to the Morning News, Tune also worked at the Philadelphia Public Ledger.

In the late 1920s Tune moved to New York City. For United Feature Syndicate, he produced Doings of the Duffs from June 23, 1928 to August 15, 1931.

Tune resided in New York City at 51 Leroy Street, as recorded the 1930 census. He was a syndicated cartoonist. Roots Web has information about the Tune family. On December 15, 1930, Tune married Sylvia “Tibby” Newman. The Seattle Times (Washington), November 1, 1949, said, for ten years, Tune produced one-line gag cartoons while Tibby handled the sales. Also, Tune had a job in the advertising department of Paramount Pictures in New York.

This Week 5/12/1935

In 1940, Tune resided in Great Neck, New York, at 22 Hicks Lane. He had two sons, Donald and Bruce. Tune’s occupation was artist in the motion picture industry. A few years later Tune returned to comic strips.

Publishers Syndicate distributed Dotty Dripple which Buford took over from Jim McMenamy on October 16, 1944. The strip began June 26, 1944 and ended June 9, 1974. According to the Morning News, Tune’s family worked on the strip: Sunday page coloring by his wife, and lettering by oldest son, Donald.

Dallas Morning News 7/10/1949

Dotty Dripple also appeared in comics books and in its own title.

Some time in the 1940s, the Tunes moved to California. The Seattle Times said: “The Tune home is a sprawling seven-room Monterey bungalow in Los Angeles….”

Tune passed away May 21, 1989, in Santa Ana, California. An obituary appeared in the Orange County Register (Santa Ana, California), May 25.

—Alex Jay


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Sunday, October 19, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Excellent points. You forgot to list manure. People pay top dollar!
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Saturday, October 18, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Wednesday, August 26 1908 -- Apparently the mayor has commented that LA is not a New England town; Herriman illustrates some of the ways in which they differ.


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Friday, October 17, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Oh, cool! I've always wondered how they put ski attachments onto a plane. So, uh, that's, um, how they do it. I see. Hmm.

Connie, May 2 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, October 16, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ben Batsford

Benjamin Theodore “Ben” Batsford was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 5, 1892, according to the Minnesota, Births and Christenings Index at, and the Certificate of Registration of American Citizen, Form No. 210—Consular, dated September 19, 1916. The certificate said Batsford’s parents provided a notarized affidavit affirming his birth information. Many sources have 1893 as Batsford’s birth year. That year can be attributed to articles on the debut of the Mortimer and Charlie strip in July 1939. The articles had profiles of Edgar Bergen, the writer of the strip, and Batsford which included their birth dates.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Batsford was the second of five children born to Clifton and Jennie. His father was a house painter. The family resided in Duluth, Minnesota on Raleigh Street. According to the consular certificate, Batsford arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in March 1901.

The Vancouver Sun, July 7, 1939, profiled Batsford and said:

…While Mr. Batsford was born in Minnesota in 1893 [sic] and first entered the newspaper business in Minneapolis [unlikely since he moved in 1901], he moved when quite a young man [8 years old] to Winnipeg and it was there he laid the foundations of his artistic success. He sold his first drawing to the Winnipeg Free Press in 1908…
The Manitoba Marriage Index, at, said he married Estelle Mae Carruthers on October 2, 1915, in Winnipeg.

An early theater work by Batsford was entered in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2: Pamphlets, leaflets etc, 1917, New Series, Volume 14, Number 1:

Two of a Kind: play in 1 act, B.F. [sic] Batsford. 15 p. fol. Typewritten. [1140© 1 c. Dec. 13, 1916: D 45824; Benjamin Theodore Batsford, Winnipeg, Canada.
The Vancouver Sun noted Batsford’s military service: “When the World War broke out Mr. Batsford enlisted with a Canadian unit and saw service in France until the end of the war, when he returned to Winnipeg.”

Batsford was recorded in the 1916 and 1921 Canadian censuses. He was listed in the 1922 Henderson’s Winnipeg Directory as a cartoonist. Editor & Publisher, July 9, 1921, reported Batsford’s entry into comic strips.

Starts Own Comic Strip
The Winnipeg Free Press has commenced the publication of a new comic strip by its own artist, Ben Batsford. “Unk and Billy” is the caption and the strip, eight columns wide, is appearing daily. The two characters in the strip are a man and boy of no fixed abode, who try their hand at anything that turns up. The strip is being well received locally. The Free Press is the first Canadian daily to have a comic strip of its own.
Samples of Unk and Billy, also known as Billy’s Uncle, can be seen here.

At some point, Batsford moved to New York City where he continued producing Billy’s Uncle, as it was known in the U.S. The strip ended August 2, 1924, according to American Newspaper Comics (2012). Ten months later, Batsford was drawing Doings of the Duffs, from June 8, 1925 to July 21, 1928. He was the second of three cartoonists to continue Walter R. Allman’s creation.

Reno Evening Gazette 6/8//1925

The Vancouver Sun named other strips he worked on:
…Later he drew for a time “Little Annie Rooney” [1929–1930] and after that “Room and Board” [1930; signed Benbee] which in turn was followed by “The Doodle Family” [1934–1938; also known as Frankie Doodle]. Now he enters the biggest job of his career as artist selected by Mr. Bergen to draw Mortimer and Charlie.

Batsford was also profiled in the Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan), July 8, 1939.

The 1930 census recorded Batsford, his wife and two daughters in Brooklyn at 6826 Narrows Avenue. He was a newspaper cartoonist. Hempstead, New York, at 10 Adams Avenue, was Batsford’s home in the 1940 census.

Batsford’s Frankie Doodle was reprinted in comic books. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Helpful Herbert was created by him.

Batsford passed away February 11, 1977, in East Northport, New York according to the Manitoba Historical Society. A death notice was published in the New York Times, February 13:

Batsford—Benjamin T., of East Northport, formerly of Floral Park, beloved husband of the late Stella, loving father of Fay Keaton and Ramona Bendin, dear brother of Sidney Batsford and Florence Hagan, also survived by five grandchildren. Service, 8 P.M., Sunday, Jacobsen Funeral Home, Huntington Station. Visiting hours 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 P.M., Sunday. Interment Pinelawn Memorial Cemetery.
—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: W.O. FitzGerald

William Ogg FitzGerald was born in Michigan on October 10, 1884. His birthplace was recorded in the censuses, and the birth date and full name was found on his World War I draft card.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, FitzGerald was the second of two children born to Lucius, a physician, and Elizabeth, both emigrants; his father was Canadian and his mother Scottish. They resided in Oliver, Michigan.

Information regarding FitzGerald’s education and art training has not been found.

FitzGerald and his mother, a divorcee, lived in Detroit, Michigan at 105 Stanley Avenue. His occupation was cartoonist. A single sentence in Cartoons Magazine, March 1916, noted FitzGerald’s whereabouts: “W.O. Fitzgerald has been engaged as staff cartoonist on Dome Echoes, a San Francisco publication.” A 1917 San Francisco city directory listed FitzGerald as an artist at 1144 Market Street.

On September 12, 1918, FitzGerald signed his World War I draft card. He and his wife, Grace, lived at 37 Ridge Road, in Royal Oak, Michigan. His occupation was “Artist Manager Art Department, Detroit News.”

According to the 1920 census, FitzGerald remained in Royal Oak with his wife and daughter. He continued his job as a manager at a newspaper.

American Newspaper Comics (2012), said he was the first of three artists to continue Doings of the Duffs which was created by Walter R. Allman. FitzGerald produced the strip from January 26 to June 6, 1925. The Lone Tree Reporter (Iowa), January 29, 1925, reported the revival of the strip:

Readers of various daily papers which for several years contained the comic strip, “Doings of the Duffs” will learn with pleasure that although Mr. W.R. Allman, the originator, will never again draw a line, Mr. W.O. Fitzgerald of Detroit has made an intense study study of it for the past many weeks and has taken it up right where Allman left it. And now the Duffs are appearing in the Muscatine Journal and in other daily papers and thousands of readers are again reading their humorous lines.

Riverside Daily Press 1/23/1925

 Riverside Daily Press 1/23/1926

 Riverside Daily Press 1/24/1925

Riverside Daily Press 1/26/1925

FitzGerald produced drawings for a number of local periodicals, including the Detroit Motor News, whose May 1926 issue mentioned his art exhibit:

Our Artist ExhibitsBeginning April 12 William Ogg FitzGerald, with whose illustrations all our readers are familiar, will place an exhibition of his drawings on display for one month in the art gallery on the mezzanine floor of the Bonstelle Playhouse.
In the mid-1920s, the Dearborn Independent published FitzGerald’s work.

Historical Detroit (1926) was the story of early Detroit as told by twenty bronze tablets. FitzGerald’s artwork was acknowledged.

FitzGerald was the father of four children in the 1930 census. The family still lived in Royal Oak but at a different address, 1074 Harwood Avenue. He was a commercial artist. One of his projects was illustrating a set of plates about Detroit and Michigan. They were manufactured in England.

The New York Times, December 10, 1933, covered the Automobile show, “Ford Exposition of Progress”. The article highlighted the Briggs Body Company booth:

In this company’s booth is a series of poster murals depicting the uses of steel, and a large painting giving a conception of the future of transportation, the work of William Ogg FitzGerald, Detroit artist.
FitzGerald illustrated the 1934  book, The Way Out: A Common Sense Solution to Our Economic Problems.

The May 1936 issue of the Magazine of the Women’s City Club of Detroit noted that FitzGerald had moved to New York City:

Spring seems to draw Detroiters to New York. Mrs. William Ogg Fitzgerald has been flitting about the city recently, visiting her husband who is now on the staff of the Wall Street Journal and Barron's Weekly….
Old Banking Landmarks of New York was illustrated by FitzGerald and published by Barron’s in 1936.

In 1940, FitzGerald resided in Mamaroneck, New York at 24 Barnum Road. He was a newspaper artist.

The Union Sun & Journal (Lockport New York), October 2, 1948, reported the wedding of FitzGerald’s oldest son. At the time, FitzGerald lived in Larchmont, New York.

FitzGerald passed away July 1967, in New York, according to the Social Security Death Index. His last residence was in Larchmont. An obituary has not been found.

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Walter R. Allman

circa 1910

Walter Reese Allman was born in Toledo, Ohio. His obituary said he was 42 years old at the time of his death in 1924, which made his birth year 1882. However, his World War I draft card has the birth date February 27, 1884.

At some point during his childhood, Allman’s mother, Mary, remarried. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census listed him as “Allman Krumling” and his birth as “Feb 1884.” He resided in Toledo at 2439 Vermont. His step-father, Frederick, was a telegrapher. In the 1910 census his name was recorded as “Walter Krumling”. His family remained in Toledo but at a different address, 115 Columbia Street.

The Muskegon Chronicle (Michigan), September 8, 1917, published the story of Allman’s start in cartooning.

Sketch on Box Starts Art Career of Duff Originator
Boys were setting up quotations in grain and other produce on the board in a Toledo grain broker’s office back in 1902, when a man named Clark strolled in.
Clark had come from Chicago and being editor of the Grain Dealers’ Journal, had business in this office. He noticed a box at the side of the board on which was a sketch of a man’s head an artistic clerk, in his leisure moments, had penciled. 
Struck by the originality of the drawing, Clark immediately “drafted” the perpetrator, and that is how Walter R. Allman, originator of the Duffs for the Chronicle, started on his career toward fame in the comic art world.
Allman was 18 years of age at the time and all the drawing he had then had been born with him. He worked one month for Clark in Chicago, after which he shifted about from place to place, working at anything in the art line until in 1905, he went to the Toledo News-Bee as local cartoonist….

The Toledo News-Bee, July 8, 1924, published its account of Allman’s early career:

Mr. Allman was cartoonist and artist on The News-Bee for 10 years. Shortly after leaving high school he took a job with a Toledo grain company. While there he practiced for his future work by drawing on the sides of boxes and crates. Later he went to the Franklin Printing and Engraving Co. and then came to The News-Bee. 
His work received special recognition and he was appointed to the NEA Service staff of artists on May 16, 1914. Mr. and Mrs. Allman had resided in Cleveland since that time. They lived at 11843 Lake av.
A number of city directories at tracked Allman’s whereabouts and occupations. The 1903 Toledo city directory listing said: “Allman, Walter R, clk [clerk] Reynolds Bros, bds [boards] 2439 Vermont av.” The 1905 directory said he had moved to Chicago. In 1906 Allman was in Toledo at 115 Columbia Street, and an artist at the Franklin Printing & Engraving Company. He remained at the same address in the 1911 directory which had his occupation as cartoonist at the Toledo Newspaper Company. The 1916 Cleveland city directory listed Allman as a cartoonist residing at 8012 Carnegie Avenue.

On September 12, 1918, Allman signed his World War I draft card. His address was the same as the Cleveland directory listing and he was a cartoonist for Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).

Pep 3/1917

Allman is best known for his strip, Doings of the Duffs, which debuted July 30, 1914. In the Muskegon Chronicle, Allman said: “I wanted a short name to fit the character and size of the man I chose to be the ‘lead.’ I picked ‘Duff’ out of the air and I think it fits Tom to a T. ‘The other characters and their names came to me as I went along.” According to American Newspaper Comics (2012) there were two interruptions, in 1922 and 1923, during Allman’s tenure which ended in 1924. Regarding the interruptions, the News-Bee explained:
For years the Duff family cartoon appearing on the comic page of The News-Bee had endeared itself to thousands of readers in Toledo alone. This cartoon also appeared daily in hundreds of other newspapers thruout the country.
The Duff family as portrayed by Mr. Allman was “regular” family life. 
Hundreds of Duff fans have called The News-Bee to inquire why the strip had been discontinued. They were told of Mr. Allman’s illness.
Pep 4/1917

Pep 5/1917

Allman’s other comics were “Dreamsticks”, “The Great American Home”, “Honest, This Is How it Happened”, and “They All Fall for It”.

Wilke-Barre Times-Leader 12/12/1911

 Wilke-Barre Times-Leader 10/9/1915

Syracuse Journal 8/20/1921

In the 1920 census Allman and his wife, Theresa, lived in Cleveland at 2959 Coleridge Road. 
The News-Bee said he married Theresa Reardon in Toledo shortly before they moved. Allman was an artist who worked at an office. His neighbor, at 2933, was 25 year-old cartoonist, Roy Grove, who lived with his parents. 

A 1923 Cleveland directory said Allman resided at 2970 East 83rd Street and worked for NEA.

Allman passed away July 8, 1924, in Cleveland. The News-Bee reported his death the same day:

Walter R. Allman, 42, noted News-Bee cartoonist, creator of the Duff family, died on Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. in St. John’s Hospital, Cleveland. Death followed a nervous breakdown. Mr. Allman had been ill for more than a year. 
The body will be brought to Toledo on Thursday morning for burial. Services will be held in the Couldwell Funeral Parlors. His mother, Mrs. Mary A Crumling [sic] of Toledo, and his widow, Mrs. Theresa Reardon Allman, former Toledo girl, survive….
...Last winter the cartoonist suffered a nervous breakdown. Accompanied by Mrs. Allman, he went to Miami, Fla., to regain his health. In February he returned to Cleveland. Shortly after he was taken to the hospital where he died Tuesday.
American Newspaper Comics said Doings of the Duffs resumed with W.O. Fitzgerald on January 30, 1925. He was followed by Ben Batsford, June 8, 1925, and Buford Tune, July 23, 1928.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, October 13, 2014


Whining, Mostly, plus a Preview of Things to Come

Here's a second look at Fish's The Diary of a Lady's Maid, which we previously covered in this post. Why are we revisiting it? Well, I could tell you that it is such a great series that I decided to restore another example. While it is in fact a darn fine series, the truth is that I restored a second example this morning because I was hurriedly casting about for a post to do, and didn't realize that I'd already covered this series.

I made that mistake because, despite what I hope looks like a smoothly running blog from your perspective, all hell has broken loose behind the scenes. You see, I just returned from a three week trip out of the country. Before leaving, I prepared a month's worth of posts. Three weeks worth for when I would be out of touch, and an extra week's worth to give me time to settle back in on my return.

It seemed like a foolproof plan (me being the fool in question). Unfortunately, when I returned to Casa Holtz, it was to find that my computer had decided that, having been unplugged and on vacation for three weeks, that the rest was insufficient. So the hard drive crashed. Then to add insult to injury, my meticulously careful backups did not work quite as expected, leaving me after several days of swapping drives and backups, with an incomplete restoration with which I am still wrestling*.

Add to that a head cold courtesy of my fellow airplane passengers, and a variety of other non-comics related emergencies around the homestead, and the week of posts that I arranged for ran out entirely too quickly.

Now that you understand that the Stripper's Guide universe is in a temporary shambles, and are no doubt shedding warm empathetic tears on my behalf (you are, aren't you?), here's what I'm gonna do to try and get this train back on the track. Alex Jay has had a group of fine posts in the queue for a long while now, all waiting for me to write complementary posts. Well, those complementary posts ain't gonna happen any time soon, so we're going to unleash Jay's work on you without the questionable benefit of my own blather to go along with them. First we'll have profiles of the cartoonists that worked on one of the first 'family sitcom' strips, Doings of the Duffs. After that we may continue with a group of posts about Dr. Guy Bennett, which has been sitting in the queue because I could not come up with even a short run of strips to run in an accompanying Obscurity of the Day.

Hopefully by then I'll be able to patch my world back together. Enjoy!

* By the way, I lost the last month's worth of emails in the process. So if I haven't responded to a query that you sent in September-October, try sending it again please.

Wonderful stuff! I note a title The First Book of Eve by Fish (on ABEbooks) ... humor from 1916/comic strips it says.... I have not seen it.... and a couple other titles she did decorations for.

(most of these are print-on-demand or ebooks)

On Amazon there is a Third Eve Book, so this was perhaps a strip of hers.
Hi Joe: you can view the entire first Eve book here:;view=1up;seq=23

As the book intro says, these 'strips' originally appeared in the British publication The Tatler.

Thanks Allan!

Too bad the color sundays of 'all' of the comics aren't available.....preferably in hard copy.
Thankyou for presenting them like this!
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Sunday, October 12, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Saturday, October 11, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, August 25 1908 -- Who would have thought that L.A.'s famed traffic troubles began as early as 1908!


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Friday, October 10, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, April 25 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


Hey! I want my money back! This is the same page you posted last week!
Oops! See your Paypal account for the refund, Katherine.
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Thursday, October 09, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: 'Scuse Me, Mr. Johnson

In the more than capable comedic hands of Fred Opper, even racial stereotyping can offer some sheepish grins. Though the strips are embarrassing, the gags and characters are, I have to admit, undeniably funny. So if the visual depictions are too much for you, just pretend the characters are dumb white crackers with deep tans.

In the short-lived series 'Scuse Me Mr. Johnson we meet a community of gentlemen who fight incessantly, steal each other blind, have mile-wide egos,  and lovingly mangle the English language. In short, a delightful bunch who reliably offer up funny situations and the lively patter to go along with it. Why Opper put this series to rest so quickly (it ran January 3 - April 18 1909 in Hearst funnies sections) I don't understand -- I very much doubt that it was because he had second thoughts about his depictions of African-Americans.

Regarding the title, I have always been under the impression that the phrase "Excuse me Mr. Johnson" is the gag line to a popular joke of the day. Something like this -- a white guy is sitting in a bar making bold statements about the inferiority of the black man, and claiming that they are weak in mind and body, etc etc. When confronted by a listener about the great boxer Jack Johnson, the guy redoubles his derision, saying that Johnson is way over-rated, that he could never hope to beat a white man, he's really a sissy, etc. So it turns out that the boxer is actually sitting at the next table in the bar. Overhearing the white guy, he turns around and says, "Excuse me, sir. I'm Jack Johnson." The white guy turns around, sees who it is, and says, dripping with sweetness and deference, "Oh no, excuse ME Mr. Johnson!" Rimshot.

So that's where I think the phrase started. But I'll be darned if I can find any independent confirmation of that on the web. Anyone?


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Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Can You Beat That, Sadie?

Remember a few months ago when we covered a strip titled Ain't It Awful, Mabel by Roy Taylor? You don't? Oh. Well, here's the link; go read it and come back.

{The Stripper gets a cup of java, reads some emails...}

Okay, so you can see the obvious relationship between that strip and these samples of Can You Beat That, Sadie right? Well, of course you can. It's the same darn strip, with the punchline fiddled with just slightly. Can You Beat That Sadie ran from March 23 to April 24 1908 in the New York Evening World, right on the heels of Ain't It Awful Mabel.

So if you guess that Roy Taylor must have gotten a cease and desist letter, shrugged, and changed the title of his strip but not the subject, well, we're on the same page.


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Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Pretending Percy

In the considerable legions of comic strip li'l bastards, C.W. Kahles' Pretending Percy doesn't really stick out as an overwhelmingly interesting entry. His schtick of dressing like and pretending to be a good little boy reminds us of Buster Brown, except that Percy never does resolve at the end of his escapades to do better -- Percy is plain and simple rotten, and happy to be that way.

Kahles' art style, as always in this period, is stiff and formal. That works well for this particular strip, as it makes the rather extreme activities seem that much more shocking. Our top sample is particularly stomach-turning, leaving me with the desperate wish to thrash Percy myself. But I guess that's the idea, isn't it?

Kahles contributed Pretending Percy to the Philadelphia North American Sunday comics section from May 1 1904 to July 8 1906. Kahles got a bit confused and called the kid Willie in the second installment, but with as many strips as he did, I guess we can forgive such a slight bookkeeping error.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


Kahles' HAIRBREADTH HARRY floors me for the writing alone. NEMO reprinted a Sunday page wherein Rudolph uses atomic energy and destroys the world--"Sweet Cookies! This is a FIX!" And that's from one panel, never mind the remaining 11!
"leaping from one plane to another over an erupting volcano became second nature to me"
From the same Nemo.

Too bad Kahles didn't live long enough to write scripts for TV's TJ Hooker. He was a natural
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Monday, October 06, 2014


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Popeye by Bobby London

Thimble Theatre presents Popeye: Volume 1 1986-1989 
by Bobby London
ISBN 978-1-61377-874-6
IDW Publishing, hardcover, $39.99

There are some bits of comic strip history to which we fans all bow, but few of us have ever been lucky enough to actually experience firsthand. For instance, the near-legendary science fiction Connie stories from the late 1930s; scarce as all get out in the original tearsheets, and reprint books have barely scratched the surface. Yet we speak of those sequences in hushed tones.

To me, one of the most important of those 'white whale' classics is the stint by Bobby London on Thimble Theatre. Popeye is, of course, a comic strip legend initially set on his course by the genius of E.C. Segar. So strong was the strip and the cast of characters that decades of other cartoonists at the helm did not do irreparable damage to the franchise. What did happen, though, was that Thimble Theatre, at least since the 1970s, was little more than a legal requirement for a set of licensed characters to maintain their copyrights.

Enter Bobby London, underground cartoonist, member of the infamous Air Pirates, National Lampoon and Playboy contributor. His work was not only raunchy and anti-establishment, as one would expect from those credentials, but also clearly lovingly devoted to classic comic strips from the early decades of the century.

When London, amazingly enough, snagged the gig of drawing the daily Popeye strips in 1986, the comics world was simultaneously flabbergasted, intrigued, scared, and skeptical. It seemed like King Features was going out on a very thin limb indeed. Would London behave himself, or would we find Popeye and Olive bumping uglies in our Monday morning paper (those rare few of us who actually still had Thimble Theatre appearing there, I should say).

It turned out that London not only behaved himself (for the most part), but that his love of classic comics made him take this gig seriously. After a short stint of daily gags, London did the seemingly impossible -- he began writing long continuities that played out in increments of two tiny panels per day.

Since very few of us actually got to see these strips when they originally ran, we who were interested mostly got the news of London's Popeye work through the fan network. We knew that he resurrected the daily stories, but very few of us actually got to see them. We heard that they were good, but that was all second-hand.

Therefore, I'm thrilled that IDW has seen fit to finally let us judge firsthand. Having just finished volume 1, I can say that I am amazed and impressed. While it is of course impossible to tell Segar-quality stories at the rate of two panels per day, London did give 100% of his considerable genius in adapting the microscopic format to telling surprisingly intriguing, funny stories.

Because it is London, they're not just silly stories, either. They weave in messages about pollution, junk food, war in the Middle East, and other modern issues. Thankfully, Popeye is not stuck in some weirdly behind-the-times world that many comic strip characters are, like Jiggs running around in a top hat in the 1980s.

Do yourself a favor and check out Bobby London's Popeye, if only to be amazed at what London could accomplish in such a tiny space (did I forget to mention that the art is superb, too?). I'm certainly looking forward to Volume 2 of this series, in which we'll presumably get to 1992, and see London meet his unfortunate Waterloo.


Since you like volume 1 so much, volume 2 will be even greater when it's come out next month-November 18, to be excat!!!
I recently finished the first volume of Popeye by Segar from 1928-1930 and it is wonderful! I have the other 5 Segar books to look forward to. The daily strips are very good....the Sunday strips are even Better!

I have wondered what the hullabaloo was all about re: London's Popeye from many years later.....What happened to the years inbetween? etc. THANKS for shedding light on this.... I will keep an eye out for the London books.

(Of course, I would also like to see the pre-Popeye Thimble Theatre now. Maybe I'll have to get back to my old newspaper microfilm reading. )
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Sunday, October 05, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Wow! Another unflattering anecdote about Bob Kane! This guy was a true winner!
Sometimes we're lucky by what we don't get.
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Saturday, October 04, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, August 23 1908 -- Fight manager Bill Delaney believes he has the next heavyweight champion of the world with this boxer Al Kaufman. Kaufman certainly does seem nearly unbeatable, and just as Herriman shows above, has beaten Dave Barry, Sam Berger, George Gardner, Mike Schreck and Battling Johnson, among others, in what sure seems to be the road to a crown.

Will his record remain unblemished when he faces Fireman Jim Flynn on Tuesday? According to the betting, Flynn hasn't a ghost of a chance. Bookies can't even stimulate betting by offering odds on Flynn merely making it to the 8th round.

Since Herriman won't be revisiting this fight for a cartoon, I'll not leave you hanging -- not only did Flynn last until the 8th, he looked like he had Kaufman on the run. In the ninth round, though, Kaufman finally tamed Flynn and knocked him out.


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Friday, October 03, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, April 18 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, October 02, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: George Storm

George Kennan Storm was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas on July 7, 1893, according to his World War I and II draft cards at In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of Oliver and Flora, who lived in Thayer, Missouri. His father was a trainmaster.

In 1910, they lived in Enid, Oklahoma at “401 West OK St”. His father was a train dispatcher. Information about his education and art training has not been found. The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920, at, said he married Rose Mary Vennink on May 15, 1916. He signed his World War I draft card on June 12, 1917. He lived with his wife and child at 1807 Warren Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. He was a designer at the “Savine World Pub Co 608 S. Dearborn St”. He was described as tall and slender with dark brown eyes and black hair. According to a profile at the Action Figure Museum, Storm “…worked for an Oklahoma weekly, migrating to Chicago, working for the Herald. In 1919, he moved on to the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle and later to the San Francisco Daily News….”

Storm has not been found in the 1920 census. He was listed in the Index to Great Register, Volume 2, Districts 25, 26, 27, 1920 for San Francisco County; he was a reporter and Democrat who lived at 1086 Fulton. In the Supplemental Index 1923, he was a cartoonist and Socialist at the same address. His cartoons were widely distributed.

Greensboro Record 6/10/1924

State Times Advocate 6/24/1924

The Action Figure Museum said, “…After five years of drawing local cartoons in San Francisco, he won a job on the New York Mirror, drawing a panel cartoon series, ‘Little Old New York in Pictures.’ In 1925, he met newspaperman-author Jay Jerome Williams and this resulted in the creation of a newspaper strip for the Bell Syndicate, ‘Phil Hardy’…” The strip was titled Bound to Win in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), which published the entire run from November 23, 1925 to October 25, 1926.

Richmond Times Dispatch 11/23/1925

Richmond Times Dispatch 10/25/1926

Next, the duo did Ben Websters’ Career from 1925 to 1926. On March 24, 1927, Storm’s strip, Bobby Thatcher, made its debut.

Ads in the Oakland Tribune 3/18 and 3/19/1927

He has not been found in the 1940 census. He signed his World War II draft card in April 1942. His address was 712 Lexington Avenue, New York City. He named his mother as his closest relative, who resided in Enid, Oklahoma. The description of him was 5 feet 10 inches, 185 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. According to a family tree, at, his wife passed away in 1947.

Storm passed away in June 1976, according to the Social Security Death Index, which said his last residence was Enid, Oklahoma.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Don't Let the Camera Fool You

If you are a big fan of Polly and her Pals, Cliff Sterrett's family strip that sports wildly stylish art, you may know that there is a problem with collecting the Sunday strips. Starting with the Sunday of April 12 1936, the topper strips to Polly (Sweethearts and Wives/And So They Were Never Married) were only included with the broadsheet full version of the strip. The tabs, which until then had included both Polly and topper, dropped the topper in order to print the main strip's panels at a larger size.

That unfortunate decision means that a serious Polly collector has only one format that affords them a complete version of Sterrett's strips: the broadsheet full. To make matters much worse, by 1936 full page versions of strips were getting scarcer and scarcer, as most broadsheet newpapers switched to using half-page format Sunday strips. A few major strips would still rate a full page in the late 1930s, but frankly Polly (as much as we appreciate the strip now) was not really an A-lister back then. In a nutshell, finding Pollys from the late 30s and 1940s with toppers intact is as tough as finding a Dilbert t-shirt at the King Features Syndicate's Christmas party. 

To give you an idea of the scarcity -- while I am by no means a Sunday Polly collector, I do know to snatch up late Polly fulls when I happen to chance upon them. Yet I have just two fulls from 1938 and later in my collection.

Okay, so now the preamble is finally out of the way. Why I am telling you all this is to make sure you can properly appreciate the rarity of what you see above. Collector Greg Matthews sent me this image, asking why this topper titled Don't Let The Camera Kid You (or Reel Life / Real Life) wasn't included in my book. I was, of course, very  surprised to see that Sterrett, seemingly out of the blue, decided to run a different topper in 1939 for awhile, and asked Greg for any information he could offer. Greg told me, based on his own collection of Indianapolis Star fulls, plus Sandusky Register material he found online, that this topper ran off and on in 1939, on these dates: 7/16, 7/23, 7/30, 8/13, 8/20, 9/24 and 10/1/39.

So there you have it. Just goes to prove that even a relatively popular strip from a major syndicate can be the source of an obscurity of the day, and an especailly rare one at that. I don't doubt that there are other rare late Sunday toppers out there that have so far escaped my detection. Have you seen one?

Big thanks to Greg Matthews for the information and the scan!


When cartoonists drew these color full pages....what size did they draw them?

Hi Joe --
Newspaper cartoonists generally draw originals about 1.5 to 2 times printed size, but there's plenty of exceptions. Colors are applied later in the process, generally cartoonists do not color originals, except sometimes a color guide. You can see thousands and thousands of examples of comic strip original art at the Heritage Auction website, and on

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Alex Raymond Wants to Help You Gain Weight, Part 2

Another Alex Raymond-inspired iodine weight gain ad from 1937. This one looks to be a lot more 'swipey' than the ad I showed yesterday. That one seemed like it could be Raymond in a hurry. This one looks more like a Raymond copier in a hurry. Whatcha think?

Looks like the same letterer as Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim

I don't think this is Raymond. Both pages look like they were made up with swipes from Secret Agent X-9 strips. Lettering is *not* by Laurence Crossley (Raymond's uncle), who did a wonderful job on Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, and X-9. It might be Austin Briggs ghosting for Raymond, but lettering doesn't look like Briggs' either.

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Monday, September 29, 2014


Alex Raymond Wants to Help You Gain Weight, Part I

Poor Cinderella Sally, she's cursed with a fashion model's body. Plus she's not the smartest cookie -- she's heard of the wonder tablet Kelpamalt, knows many people who have benefited from it, but for some reason could not apply that vast amount of data to solving her own problem.

Once Sally puts on those va-va-voom pounds, she consents to wed Doctor Blake, who so kindly drew a logical line from A to B for her. But Sally's not just logic impaired. She's also unclear on the idea of engagement, as apparently Doc's having a tough time "keeping Sally to himself". For shame Sally!

Anyhow, the effectiveness of iodine-enhanced weight gain (which apparently is a real thing) is not our question today. No. The question regards the art on this Sunday comics advertisement from 1937. Is it by Alex Raymond, or Raymond-inspired (swiped, to be blunt about it). My question: which is it?

Tomorrow we'll have another ad from this series, also highly Raymond-inspired in the execution.


I say Raymond-inspired.
The girl in panel two (first panel of story proper) hardly looks Raymondesque.
The artist seems to have trouble with hands/fingers. Certainly hid them in this sample.
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Sunday, September 28, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Man, I love OrlandoCon. You put on the best shows ever. The con that comes closest to that feel is HeroesCon. Please share more OrlandoCon stories.
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Saturday, September 27, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, August 23 1908 -- Long Beach is hosting a spiritualist convention, over a thousand 'spook charmers' (the Examiner's term) in attendance. A further thousand curious onlookers came to view the proceedings at an entrance fee of fifteen cents apiece.


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Friday, September 26, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, April 11 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


Will we be seeing the March 7 page?

It was posted August 22nd.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Otho Cushing

Otho Williams McD. Cushing was born in Fort McHenry, Maryland, on October 22, 1870 or 1871. A family tree at said “Williams” was the first part of his middle name; the second part, “McD.” was found on two passport applications from 1892 and 1901. The 1892 application said he was born in Baltimore on October 22, 1871; while the 1901 application said his birth was at Fort McHenry on October 22, 1870. Fort McHenry is located in Baltimore. In Life magazine, June 29, 1911, Cushing said he was born “…at an army post.” The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded his birth date as “Oct. 1870.”

In the 1875 Rhode Island State Census, Cushing’s paternal grandfather, George W. Cushing, was the head of the household. Cushing was the second of three sons born to Harry and Martha. His father was in the U.S. Army. They resided in the town of Warren on Washington Street.

The Cushing household was recorded, in the 1880 census, in Providence, Rhode Island at 5 George Street. Information regarding his childhood schooling has not been found; in Life magazine, he said: “…In my boyhood I was hurried from post to post, from North Carolina to Alaska.” He graduated from the Bulkeley School in New London, Connecticut in 1887, according to a listing on page 19 of the 1888–89 school catalogue.

Cushing said his art studies began “…in Boston at the Art Museum and later at the Academie Julien, under Constant and Laurens.” On December 16, 1891 he applied for a passport while in Paris. Earlier he had departed from the U.S. on October 7, 1891. He intended to return within three years while he took time to travel. His description was five feet eight-and-a-half inches with hazel eyes and brown hair. A passenger list at said he arrived in New York, from France, on May 16, 1892. Painter was his profession. At some point he went back to Europe and returned, as a student, to Boston in September 1893.

Sometime after his return, he was an assistant in freehand drawing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT Annual Report of the President and Treasurer, December 12, 1894, said Cushing and others “…have terminated their connection with the Institute.” The school’s yearbook, Technique 1895, listed him as an instructor.

The Boston Herald (Massachusetts), May 12, 1895, noted his flair for dancing:

Mr. Otho Cushing, so well known here, and Miss Augusta Hunter gave a Spanish dance at the big society entertainment in Newport on Tuesday night for charity which brought down the fashionable house.
And the December 17, 1899 edition said:
Mr. Otho Cushing, formerly of Boston, brought down the house at every performance of “The Lady from Chicago,” given by the “Stroller” in the Astoria ballroom last week, by his dancing with Miss Emily Hoffman. It could not have been excelled on any professional stage. Mr. Cushing made almost as much of sensation as he did by his appearance in the historically correct, but rather realistic and airy, costume of a 14th century court falconer at the famous Bradley-Martin ball.
The Herald reported Cushing’s first exhibition on July 31, 1895:
Boston figured prominently at an art reception given yesterday at the Deblois cottage by Maj. H.C. Cushing, U.S.A., formerly of Boston, and now one of the assistants to Col. Warring in the street cleaning department in New York, and Mrs. Cushing, in honor of their son, Otho Cushing, a rising young artist, who exhibited his pictures for the first time. Mr. Cushing showed portraits of his father and mother, Miss Mary L Barnard and Miss Gretchen Welch of Boston, Miss Bradhurst and H. Archie Pell of New York, Count Longay of Buda Pesth, Baroness Danckelman of Vienna, Miss Jessie Hunter and Mrs. George H. Norman of this city, Mrs. T. Owen Berry of Asheville, N.C., and O.W. Budd, U.S.A. The portraits were universally admired by those who viewed them, including many of the summer residents and army and navy officers and their wives.
Cushing’s signature was one of over 100 on the “Belfield Table Scarf.” His signature is at “nine o’clock.”

Six drawings by Cushing were published in Life’s Comedy (1898). He contributed a drawing to Corks & Curls (University of Virginia, 1899) which appeared on page 34.

The 1900 census recorded artist Cushing, his parents and two servants in New Rochelle, New York on Wild Cliff street. A March 8, 1901 passport application in Athens, Greece, showed that Cushing departed the U.S. on February 14, 1901. He intended to do further traveling for two months.

Brush and Pencil, February 1903, devoted five pages on Cushing’s drawings. For the New York Herald he produced several panels: Marriage a la Mode a Century or Two After Hogarth, November 8, 1903 to January 24, 1904; A Week End Party, January 24 to February 26, 1905; When Diana Came to New York, April 23 to July 2, 1905; and The Evolution of Mrs. Newgold, August 27 to October 8, 1905.

The New York Times, October 15, 1942, said Cushing went to Paris and was art editor of the European edition of the New York Herald. His panel, The Owl, the Maid, and the Boy, for the European edition was reprinted in the February 21, 1904 stateside edition.

After his work for the New York Herald, Cushing joined the staff of Life magazine. His cartoons of President Theodore Roosevelt, parodying the adventures of Ulysses, were collected and published as The Teddyssey in 1907.

The 1910 census recorded Cushing, a magazine illustrator, his widow mother and younger brother, Nicholas, in New Rochelle at 18 Neptune Place. Cushing’s father had passed away July 2, 1902, according to the New York Herald. The 1915 New York State Census recorded the Cushings at the same address. About a quarter mile away, on Mt. Tom Road, were the illustrators Frank and J.C. Leyendecker. In the 1918 New Rochelle City Directory, Cushing’s address was 4 Harbor Lane.

During World War I, the Times said Cushing served “…overseas as an Army Air Corps captain, supervising the camouflaging of American airfields on the Western Front.” HIs name was listed in Aerial Age Weekly, March 24, 1919, and Air Service Information Circular, June 5, 1920.

Cushing has not yet been found in the 1920 census. His residence remained unchanged according to the 1929 directory. The 1930 census recorded Cushing, his mother and brother in Manhattan, New York City at 117 West 58th Street, where they rented an apartment. Sometime before 1940, his mother passed away. Cushing and his brother had returned to their New Rochelle home according to the 1940 census.

Cushing passed away October 13, 1942 according to the Times. The obituary in the New York Sun, October 15, 1942 said:

Funeral services for Otho Cushing, artist and cartoonist, will be conducted at 2:15 P.M. tomorrow at the George T. Davis Memorial, 14 Le Count Place, New Rochelle. Mr. Cushing died on Tuesday [October 13] in New Rochelle Hospital. He lived at 4 Harbor Lane in New Rochelle and was 71 years old.
Mr. Cushing was best known for his work in the old Life magazine. He drew humorous drawings of persons in ancient Greek costume and did a series of cartoons on the activities of President Theodore Roosevelt. In recent years he devoted his time principally to water colors, many of them on historical subjects.
He was born at Fort McHenry, Md., a son of the late Major Harry Cooke Cushing and Mrs. Martha Wetherill Budd Cushing.
He studied at the Boston School of Fine Arts and the Julian Academy in Paris, and served for many years as a professor of drawing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the staff of Life. In the world war he was made a captain in the Army Air Corps.
Surviving is a brother, Nicholas Cooke Cushing of New Rochelle, a naval architect in New York.
—Alex Jay


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