Sunday, September 25, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from a Grace Drayton Copyist
Here's card #3 from the 1910 Campbell's Kids series, inspired but not drawn by Grace Drayton. These cards came in two varieties, this version adds the text "10 cents a can".
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Herriman Saturday: April 27 1910
April 27 1910 -- You know it's a slow news day when a story about a stray cow gets two columns and a cartoon by Herriman. And that's all this story boils down to. Mr. P.A. Lord of Pasadena owns a dairy cow. The cow busted out of its pasture, so he and some friends searched around for the cow. When found, the Lords brought the cow home in their Studebaker because they don't own a wagon. End of story.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 23, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Pokémon
Sometimes pop culture phenomena can make the transition to the newspaper comcs page, sometimes they can't ... but mostly they can't. The problem is that the fan bases for Teemage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, Masters of the Universe, and so on, though large, are not really so very large to form a substantial bloc of potential newspaper readers. While some newspaper feature editors inevitably get snookered into the hokum that if they run strip X they'll suddenly experience a measurable bump in subscriptions, that rarely if ever actually happens.
Problem two is that in the midst of a pop culture phenomenon, the creative personnel involved in driving that engine tend to be stretched so thin that a newspaper strip gets the dregs of that creative juice. There is just not so much money to be made with a newspaper strip that a corporate property like Pokémon can expend limited resources on it. They are way too busy catering to their fan base in ways that are the real cash cows -- toys, books, movies, etc.
Problem three is that the creative team on these newspaper features is faced with a practically unsolvable dilemma -- you can please the fan base, or you can try to appeal to the general newspaper readership. 99% of newspaper readers know exactly nothing about Pokémon, but if you try to pull them in by explaining the concept over and over, or ignore the mechanics of Pokémon and just do gags about weird little creatures, you will catch holy hell from the fans. There are few things that fans hate more than having the object of their affection diluted and made palatable to the non-fans.
So where does the Pokémon newspaper strip fall into the pitfalls described above? Well, not knowing anything about Pokémon, I wouldn't presume to guess (your opinions are more than welcome). But what I do know is that the Sunday and daily strip came and went so fast it practically left skid marks in the few newspapers that tried carrying it. The strip debuted on September 10 2000, and bowed out on March 30 2001*, just a little over six months. The feature was credited to Gerard Jones (writer) and Ashura Benimaru (art).
* Sources: Viz Communications press release, reprint book "Pikachu Meets The Press". A Pokémon fan site claims the strip ran for a year, but have found no evidence of a longer existence.
It's still in reruns in very few papers, believe it or not. I was surprised when I saw it back in 2018 or 2019 while on a trip.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
News of Yore 1925: J.R. Williams Will Spend More Time Out Our Way
J.R. Williams burst from obscurity onto hundreds, maybe even thousands, of newspapers in 1922 with his daily Out Our Way panel, syndicated by the ubiquitous blanket service syndicate, NEA. It's hard to believe that the creator of a three year old feature could make headline news simply by signing his next contract, but such was the instant popularity of Out Our Way. Of course it didn't hurt that NEA supplied the promo piece with the rest of their service, but still, editors had to make the decision to actually run it, and quite a few did.
This piece ran in the October 23 1925 edition of the Dubuque Times-Journal, but a digital search finds it running in lots of other venues, from New Jersey to Alabama, Louisiana to Washington state.
Labels: News of Yore
Monday, September 19, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Mrs. Worry
When C.A. Voight moved to the New York Evening Globe in 1910, he brought along his best strip from the Boston Traveler, Gink and Dink, and created additional new strips to run in tandem with it. One of them was Mrs. Worry, about a ... well, you can guess the subject matter I suppose.
Mrs. Worry started on December 12 1910*, but didn't last long there because Voight promptly jumped ship to the New York Evening Mail mere months later. His last Mrs. Worry appeared in the Globe on January 3 1911, and appeared in the Mail starting on March 27.
It continued running in tandem with Gink and Dink and Voight's other strips until early 1914, when Voight changed gears and decided to put all his eggs in one basket, with the quasi-new strip, Petey Dink. The last Mrs. Worry installment appeared on June 27 1914. But by then he'd tried playing around with the formula a bit, and the title had been Ishood Worry since May 16 1914.
* Source: All dates from Jeffrey Lindenblatt's index of the New York Mail and New York Globe.
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael
Here is a card from one of Carmichael's lesser seen series, titled "Why", or series 310, issued in 1910. No cards from this series that I've seen indicate the manufacturer. If I had to guess, though, I'd put my money (but not much of it) on Samson Brothers, only because Carmichael's cards for them are styled a bit similarly.
I can't decide if this fellow is wearing a monocle, or if he has a bargain basement glass eye (75% off because it's way too big and we forgot to draw on a pupil and iris!).
Labels: Wish You Were Here
He might be aping George McManus's signature, but his technique is pure Charles McManus.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Herriman Saturday: April 24 1910
April 24 1910 -- Herriman continues to flog the upcoming Fight of the Century, as does every other sports page cartoonist. Today's entry imagines a world in which the heavyweight chapionship title is a pair of shoes.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 16, 2022
A One Shot Wonder: The Queer Life of Dipsy Beans
About six years ago we covered an obscurity titled In The Good Old Days, a Sunday strip produced by Jimmy Swinnerton in 1918-19 as a temporary replacement for his bread and butter strip, Little Jimmy. What I failed to mention at the time is that the week before that strip began, Swinnerton did a one-shot called The Queer Life of Dipsy Beans. Oddly this one-shot has a lot in common with In the Good Old Days; both were about a sailor (Noah in the latter case) and his animal friends. And, in fact, the one-shot really reads like the beginning of a series. Why Swinnerton did the sudden about-face I have no idea.
The other thing you need to know about this one-shot is that it is documented in my book as running for two weeks, which it didn't. I got messed up by trying to triangulate between two papers which ran the one-shot a week apart, giving the illusion, if you don't have the strips in front of you at the same time, that the 'series' ran two weeks. So mea culpa, and take a Sharpie to listing #5223 in my book.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.
This might be another time that a "Pilot" was used long after anyone considered its possibility as a series, which seemed to happen several times with Swinnerton art around 1910. Notice he didn't include the year "18" in his signature, as he usually did. It could be a few years old. The format here starts about 1914. The title type font however, started closer to 1916 or 17.
Why would there be such a thing? Might be a ready to use piece of art to use as an emergency if regular art wasn't ready in time.
I wish I could recall, but I don't know what paper my brother pulled this from. It would seem like the colours seen in an inside Hearst section, but could be in a big city client paper as well. I say this because most clients would often still run inside pages in one colour. Also, as he had a volume of June 1918 Los Angles Examiner, a top paper in the Hearst chain, and Queer Bean Dip didn't appear there.
Good note about the lack of year in Swin's signature. He was generally pretty good about that, so it may be a K-Mart blue light special end of season clearance item.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gladys Parker
Pneumonia Claims Mrs. Caroline ParkerTonawanda, April 11— Mrs. Caroline Parker, 35 years old, wife of Wilbert Parker, died last evening at her home, No. 196 Young Street, after an illness of a week with pneumonia. The deceased was born in Tonawanda and had lived here all her life. Besides her husband, a daughter and a son, Mrs. Parker is survived, by her mother, one brother and three sisters, all of the Tonawandas. Mrs. Parker was a member of Twin City Council, Daughters of America. The funeral will be held Monday afternoon.
CarnivalOdd Fellows’ Temple Tuesday March 7th at 8:15 sharp. 75 children of the Tonawandas in fancy, group, ballet, and solo dancing. The grand march will be led by Miss Elizabeth Preston and Master Allan Ives, Miss Laura Bejtz and Master Edmund Comstock. A group cake walkers led by Reta Cole and Gladys Parker. A group of hoop dancers led-by Miss Gertrude Blacklask and Miss Alice Shinskey. Solo by Miss Grace Hlckey. A group of Spanish dancers. Solo by Miss Adel Kane. A group of Dutch clog dancers. Solo by Miss Agnes Lapp. …
... Born and raised in Tonawanda, Miss Parker attended the Delaware school, and then Tonawanda high school. She first gained public attention, where, at the age of two, she was announced the winner of a baby beauty contest, and was acclaimed “the cutest kid in the Tonawandas”.Grandmother an Early InstructorAt the age of four, she went to live with her grandmother. Day after day, at the knee of her grandparent, she absorbed the technique of dress making, and it was here that she learned the fundamentals of this art, which today make her one of the outstanding dress makers in the country.
Largest Class Is GraduatedTonawanda Grammar School Awards Diplomas to 124 StudentsThe largest number of grammar students in the history of Tonawanda graduated last night at the Tonawanda high school building and became eligible for entry next year into the high school course. There were 124 grammar school students to receive diplomas. ...... A recitation “The Enchanted Skirt” by William Smith was then given, followed by the reading of the class Will by Miss Gladys Parker. ...
Presbyterians Will Give EntertainmentThe Men's Class of the First Presbyterian church will give a theatrical performance at Tonawanda high school auditorium tomorrow evening.The program will be given entirely by local talent. Solos will be sung by Miss Ingham Nutley and Miss Bessie Perrigo. Miss Gladys Parker will present a number of Scottish dances, including the Highland fling and sword dances. ...
Chas. B. Parker Dies SuddenlyOne of the City’s Oldest and Best Known Citizens Succumbs to Paralytic StrokeVeteran of Civil WarResident of Tonawandas Since Age of 19—Commander of Scott Post, G. A. R.—Rank and File Members to Be Pallbearers at Military Funeral.Charles B. Parker, 79 years old, died yesterday afternoon at his home, 15 Fremont street, after an illness of little more than two days. He was stricken with paralysis of his brain and throat Sunday evening. Prior to the stroke Mr. Parker had been in excellent health.Mr. Parker was one of Tonawanda’s oldest and best known citizens. He was a veteran of the Civil War and had been commander of the W. B. Scott Post, G. A. R. For the past 15 years. He was born at Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y. He came to the Tonawandas to live when 18 years old and had maintained his residence here since.During the Civil War he joined the Federal forces and fought for two years for the preservation of the Union.Military FuneralA military funeral will be held. Arrangements have been made to have a firing squad and pallbearers from the rank and file. The funeral will be held Friday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock from the late residence. Rev. H. A. Berlin of the First Presbyterian church will conduct the services and burial will be at Elmlawn. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/106312546/charles-b.-parkerSurviving are a wife, and son, Wilbur Parker; two grandchildren, all of Tonawanda; a brother, Albert Parker and two sisters, Miss Helen Parker and Mrs. Rebecca Warren, Sackett’s Harbor.
Tonawanda, May 24.—Mrs. Elizabeth Parker, 78 years old, wife of the late Charles Parker, Civil War veteran, died yesterday morning at her home, No. 15 Fremont Street, after a brief illness with pneumonia. She was born in North Tonawanda and had lived in the Tonawandas practically all her life. She was a member of Twin City Council, Daughters of America, and the Women’s Relief Corps. A son, William Parker; a granddaughter, Miss Gladys Parker; and a grandson, Charles J. Parker, residents of Tonawanda, survive. The funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock from the residence, Rev. H. A. Berlis of the First Presbyterian Church officiating. Interment will be at Elmlawn.
The Junior Class entertained the Seniors at a very pretty little dance Thursday evening, May 29th, in the high school auditorium. Music was furnished by the Twentieth Century Orchestra and dancing was the feature of the evening although interesting events were part of the evening’s amusement.… The last thing on the program was a novelty. Miss Gladys Parker attired in a Japanese costume have a solo dance. With the lights of the auditorium out and with stage lights only it made a very pleasing effect.
After graduating from Tonawanda high school in 1925, Miss Parker obtained a position with the Meyers lumber company. This job was far from fulfilling the desires of this girl who was reported as being “not exceptionally clever at drawing, but a whiz at dressmaking.” It is said by people who knew her as a plain working-girl, that whenever a special event arose, she would make herself a new dress, and always turn up one of the best dressed women in attendance.Being extremely ambitious and reluctant to remain a stenographer for the rest of her life, Miss Parker with the help of her family, attended the Albright Art school, working during the day, and going to school nights. Here, she studied design and figure drawing under Frank Foot McQuary [The Buffalo Evening News and Buffalo Courier-Express, June 9, 1927, said Parker was awarded honorable mention in Mrs. Franc Root McCreery’s costume design class].Sponsored Riviera ShowOn the side, dress making assumed the aspect of a small business. Little by little her small circle of customers grew, until finally, she devoted her full time to this trade, as she found she could make more at this than working for the lumber company. It was at this time that the style show was presented at the Riviera. [The Evening News, September 12, 1934, said “A modest advertisement, designed also by herself, in the Evening News, announced the first fashion revue which she sponsored. It was held in the newly opened Rivera theater on the evenings of April 19th, 20th and 21st of 1927. The models were six of her personal friends, all local girls.”]Completing her course of study at the Albright Art school, Miss Parker left for New York City to continue her work at the Traphagen art school there. Here, she gave full play to her artistic talents, and as a student, won several prizes for work submitted in various contests. [The New York Times, October 30, 1927, said Parker was one of fourteen student winners in the costume-designing and poster contests conducted by the Arnold, Constable & Co.] Graduating from this school, after the fashion of all newcomers with something to sell, she began peddling her wares and looking for the break would get her “in”.Hers is the same old story of the steps to success, experienced by all who would make good in a big way, with one refusal following another. At last a sale, another, and still another, and the Tonawanda girl found herself able to eke out a living unaided by the folk at home. Finally she was offered a job, designing costumes for chorus girls. A steadier existence was this, but the same ambition that caused her to quit her lumber company job, soon forced her into other fields and finally into cartooning.
U. P. Adds Two Strips to Blanket ServiceSix Comics Now Issued Daily to 158 Clients, Bourjaily Announces—Other Features Added to ServiceUnited Press Features has added two strips to its blanket service, making a total of six now issued daily to 158 clients, Monte F. Bourjaily, manager, announced this week.The two strips are “Gay and Her Gang,” by Gladys Parker, and “Malaria Muggs,” by Ben Dave Allen. Mr. Allen was graduated from the University of Texas where he was a football star and “three letter man.” After college he attended art school in Chicago and spent time drawing animated cartoons for the movies.Miss Parker is the 19-year-old daughter of Wilbur C. Parker, boat builder of Tonawanda, N. Y. Last year she opened a costume shop in Tonawanda, but subsequently left there for New York to continue her art studies. In October, 1927, she won first prize in a costume contest open to all art school students in New York. She was working as a costume designer when engaged by United Press to develop her comic strip.
Tonawanda Girl Drawing Comic for News ServiceMiss Gladys Parker, 19, Daughter of W. C. Parker, Fremont Street, Producing “Gay and Her Gang” for United Press—Has Lucrative ContractMiss Gladys Parker, 19 years old, daughter of Wilbert C. Parker, 15 Fremont street, has been signed by the United Press association as one of its comic strip producers. Announcement of Miss Parker’s success in this connection was made recently by the magazine, Editor and Publisher.Well Known HereMiss Parker is well known in Tonawanda. Several years ago she won a prize in an art designing contest in Buffalo. She later opened a costume shop in Tonawanda, which she gave up about a year ago to continue her art studies in New York.After going to the metropolis Miss Parker showed her ability as an art student by winning first prize in a costume contest open to all art students in New York city. In the meantime she developed a talent for producing a comic strip, entitled “Gay and Her Gang,” showing [illegible] ability that the United Press signed her to a contract at a [illegible] salary.“Gay and Her Gang” is now being produced by the United Press as one of its leading [illegible]. …
Flapper Fanny was born at this time. She gained a great amount of popularity with her cracks tuned to the temperament of the day, and was soon syndicated throughout the United States by the NEA feature service. Back to dress designing again, although continuing with her newspaper work, and another fashion show.Not much success at first, but then a buyer. One by one they came, until at last, the ambitious Miss Parker was officially “in”.
Ben Dave Allen to Wed New York City Girl Early DateNew York, May 9,—(SFL).—Ben Dave Allen, 26, sports writer and cartoonist, formerly of CorsIcana, Texas, where he was born, and Miss Gladys Parker, 21 [sic], artist of 32 West Forty-seventh street, this city, obtained a marriage license at the municipal bureau today and announced they would be married here later by the city clerk.Mr. Allen is the son of Guy and Rena Shirley ALLen and lives at 42 West Fiftieth street, this city. Miss Parker is a native of Tonawanada, N. Y., and the daughter of Wilbur and Caroline Phillips Parker.
W.C. Parker of 15 Fremont street announces the marriage of his daughter, Gladys M., to Ben Dave Allen, which was solemnized on May 10 [sic], in New York City.Gladys Parker recently left the United Press where her comic strip "Gay and Her Gang" achieved wide spread popularity. She is now drawing a comic and also a fashion strip for N.E.A., one of the largest feature syndicates in the country. She is a graduate of Tonawanda high school and is one of the few women to make good in producing strip illustrating for newspapers. She is 20 years old and made her descent on New York only three years ago.
She was more enthusiastic about Richmond. “It’s like a grand city,” she said. “I’ve never gotten better Coca-Colas.” And Glady is a “coke” authority. She drinks a case a day and has it in her contract that the house for whom she fashions clothes must provide her with her daily supply. Sixty cigarettes daily are her quota and she only eats once a day. Most of the time it’s chili, she says. “I never eat but one thing at a meal and usually it’s the same thing for month or more. I ate only chili daily for two years,” she explained. “But then I got sort of tired of it!” ...Miss Parker’s career has been varied. She’s 28 now, she says so, but, as we said before, looks like an infant. At 15 she owned her own dress ship in her home town of Tonawanda, N. Y. Later she went to New York, where she designed costumes, and did gag drawings and comic strips. “Flapper Fanny,” her most popular character, went on and on for seven [sic] years.
Today she remains one of the cleverest of America’s younger artists. Mopsy, her latest cartoon character, daily spreads her modern philosophy from the pages of America’s newspapers, while in New York, smart women dressers trade at the shop of Gladys Parker.The other day Mopsy, in characteristic fashion, turned to one of her boyfriends and flippantly remarked, “Well, at least I’ve got a mind to make up.”This is typical of the little lady, and the truth, when referred to her creator. For indeed, Miss Parker has a mind which coupled with her strong ambition was responsible for her march, straight to the top of the heap.
Tona Designer Wins AcclaimMiss Gladys Parker Featured in MagazineIn the June issue of the Spot magazine are two full length pictures of Miss Gladys Parker, a native of Tonawanda, who gained prominence as a designer of women’s wear. Miss Parker is shown displaying two of her creations for summer evening wear and for dining or lounging.In an accompanying article Miss Parker describes the creations appearing on the fashion page of the magazine.Miss Parker, the daughter of Wilbur Parker of 15 Benton street, went to New York after completing her education in the Tonawanda public schools and took up designing. She has since attained national prominence in her line of work.She has appeared in Buffalo’s leading department stores in connection with fashion displays.For a number of years she was located in New York city. Her family today announced that she is now a resident of California.
Twin Cities’ Gladys Parker Draws Nationally Famous Cartoon StripsWhen Gladys Parker was just a ‘teen-age Tonawanda high school girl a few years ago, she hurt her leg in an accident and had to spend several dull months in bed. She began to project the fancies of her alert creative mind into little cartoons and drawings using her image in the looking glass as a model.During those months of bed-confinement were born the characters, “Mopsy” and “Flapper Fanny, which bring smiles and chuckles to thousands of readers six days a week in 75 newspapers throughout the United States. Gladys, the daughter of Wilbur Parker of 15 Fremont street, Tonawanda, has been drawing “Flapper Fanny” for seven years, and “Mopsy” for eight. The two comic strip characters resemble Gladys herself right down to the rumpled hair and sprightly activity.While she was ill and doing her first drawing, Gladys was mainly interested in pretty-young-things-in-fancy-dress, because she couldn’t be one herself. Once recovered, she perfected her drawing at the Triphagen [sic] School of Design in New York City and found innumerable humorous ascapades [sic] in her life to illustrate. When the cartoons began to find their way into publications, they were almost instantaneously popular with readers. Gladys sold her first carteen [sic] to the American Humor Magazine.Two examples of the type of adventure Gladys’ comic characters experienced are shown here. They are two of a series of her drawings which are being reproduced in tomorrow’s issue of Look Magazine on page 16. The drawings will be seen from coast to coast.Although Gladys’ characters are constantly searching for ”the one and only man,” Gladys has found and married him in the person of Stookie Allen, a N. Y. Journal-American artist now overseas with the Armed Forces.
Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 20. (U.P.)—Cartoonist Gladys Parker plans to file suit today for divorce from Ben (Stookie) Allen, one-time University of Texas heavy-weight champion and ex-St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.Miss Parker, creator of the cartoon “Mopsy,” will charge mental cruelty, her attorneys said. The New York couple has no children, and she will ask no property settlement, they said.Allen also is a cartoonist and produces the “Keen Teens” feature.
In addition to drawing for the G.I.’s, Miss Parker still had to keep her daily and Sunday deadlines for the American newspapers publishing Mopsy. Her letters contained some mighty fascinating items, such as the constant demand for Mopsy drawings, how her 40-hour plane trip “had me walking on my knees,” the medal she received, the many photographs taken by candlelight and how she had to bathe out of tin cans and helmets.During her Korea sojourn, Gladys Parker lugged her drawing board and equipment to a different base or hospital each day, traveling with armed guards on account of guerrilla warfare.She said, “It certainly was a thrill to know the G.I.’s recognized Mopsy, and they called me Mops.”
Wilburt C. Parker, 79, of 15 Fremont St., died yesterday, Nov. 25, 1954, at his home. Born in Tonawanda, Mr. Parker was a lifelong resident of the city and spent his working years as a boat builder. He is survived by a son, Charles J., of Tonawanda; by a daughter, Miss Gladys Parker, of Hollywood, Calif., and by a grandson, Charles J. Jr., of Tonawanda. Friends may call at the Hamp Funeral Home, 37 Adam St. where services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday with the Rev. Howard J. Davies officiating. Burial will be in Elmlawn Cemetery.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, September 12, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Femininities
Well, this doesn't happen too often, thankfully. I'm running an Obscurity of the Day today in order to tell you that it does not qualify to be in my book (feature #1955) and should never have been included there.
In the early 1930s NEA's fabulous woman cartoonist, Ethel Hays, must have been feeling the need to cut back on her duties. Coming into that decade she was responsible for the daily Flapper Fanny panel, the 3-4 times per week Ethel panel, and she was also more and more often on tap to provide Sunday magazine covers. Something had to give. In 1930 she handed off the Flapper Fanny panel to a new artist, and then in that same year she cut her Ethel panels back to 1-2 times per week.
Gladys Parker came to the rescue in both cases; first she took over Flapper Fanny; then she took up the slack on the women's pages when Ethel was reduced in frequency. In the latter case, she created a feature called Femininities which, as you can see in the samples above, is not in any way a comic panel. It is instead more in the nature of a graphic showing fashion trends. There's nothing wrong with that, and Gladys Parker's delightful art is always worth a long and joyful gander, but it ain't comics.
Apparently when I was working through the NEA archives at OSU at beakneck speed, I saw the title, I saw the byline, and into my index it went withlout a second thought. So mea culpa, he said, in the internet-based confessional.
As long as we're here, I'll throw out some data: the feature began on April 10 1930 and generally ran 2-3 times per week.When Ethel Hays ended her Ethel panel in 1934, Femininities ran a bit more often after that, and ended sometime in 1935. I say sometime, because the feature often ran untitled and I lost track of it in the NEA archives during that period. I've had no better luck retracing those steps in digital newspapers, as they seem unable to find Hays' feature mst of the time.
Alex Jay will be weighing in on Wednesday with an Ink-Slinger Profile about Gladys Hays, and if you find yourself a fan of her impressive work, I highly recommend Trina Robbins' book Gladys Parker: A Life in Comics, A Passion for Fashion.
Sunday, September 11, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from Rube Goldberg
Here's another wonderful Rube Goldberg postcard, this one from the Ancient Order of the Glass House series, issued by Samson Brothers as series 212.
This card was trimmed by someone; the cards normally had white gutters running around the edges. If our trimmer was trying to enhance the condition of this card, I'd say they failed miserably.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
Saturday, September 10, 2022
Herriman Saturday: April 23 1910
April 23 1910 -- In February, Frankie Conley won the batamweight title against Monte Attell, a better fighter who evidently had a bad night. Conley's first defense of his title on April 28 will be against Danny Webster, who had fought Attell the year before but lost on a narrow newspaper decision. The LA Examiner rates the odds as dead even between the two for this upcoming fight, but Herriman seems to side with Conley keeping his crown.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, September 09, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Double Trouble
Artist Bill MaLean got the brilliant idea to create a comic strip about the travails of raising twins from his wife. When she brought twins Jeannie and Johnnie home from the hospital his noggin got to calculating, and the rest is (obscure) history. MacLean spent awhile shopping around his brainchild, Double Trouble, but didn't find any takers until he got a priceless piece of publicity from Parade magazine, which ran a three page story about his strip (well, actually, it was mostly a picture story about the cute twins, but still...):
With coverage like that to include in his promo mailings, it wasn't long before he garnered interest in the strip, and from no less than King Features.
The strip debuted on November 2 1944* as a daily-only strip, and despite the very cute shenanigans of Jeannie and Johnnie, the list of clients comig on board was rather small. I can only surmise that the problem was the art style, which is workmanlike enough, but the kids really fail the cute test. Johnnie, especially, with that block head and bizarre premature balding, is a little creepy. On the other hand, the gags are kind of wonderful, in that they usually stay out of the trap of making the kids appear to be outright hellions. Like the later Dennis the Menace, there's rarely any real malice involved, the exuberant kids are just having trouble navigating diplomatic detente with the adults in their lives.
As is often the case with King Features, once they take on a strip, they let it run even when the client numbers are pretty sorrowful. Double Trouble never really found much interest from newspaper editors, but it ran until October 3 1953*, a more than respectable nine year run.
* Source: Bergen Evening Record.
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
Toppers: Otto Honk
While NEA offered some very fine comic strips among their blanket service offerings, one real stinker was the Sunday version of J.R. Williams' fine daily panel, Out Our Way. The Sunday version took one occasional aspect of the daily, a typical suburban family named the Willets, and made them the star of the Sunday show. Despite the Sunday debuting a mere eight months after the daily in 1922, Williams evidently fely secure enough in his position that he probably never touched the Sunday strip. Instead it was handed off to Neg Cochran, who worked on it anonymously until after the death of Williams in 1957 -- surely some sort of record for longevity in ghosting a strip?
But why did the Out Our Way Sunday last so long, you ask, if it was such a stinker? Well, I'll tell you that Neg Cochran was the son of NEA editor Hal Cochran, and you can draw your own conclusion. But nepotism can't be the whole reason, because the Sunday Out Our Way, as hard as it for me to believe it, was a popular inclusion to Sunday sections for NEA subscribers even though there were other and better Sunday strip options distributed by the syndicate. Perhaps it was simply that newspaper editors didn't really catch on that their very popular daily series was, in its Sunday version, a deathly pale imitation. I dunno.
Anyhow, this post is supposed to be about the topper, not Out Our Way, so excuse my digression. As with most NEA full page Sundays in the 1920s and 30s, Out Our Way's toppers were produced mostly by different creators than the main strip. This interesting innovation allowed other bullpen cartoonists to share the Sunday color section limelight, and meant that the presumably hard-working cartoonist of the main feature was given a bit of slack.
Out Our Way went through several toppers that were Sunday versions of NEA daily strips; the first was Mom 'n' Pop, and that was followed by Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs. After that there was a strange long foray into activity and puzzle features, often wasting the talent of Crane. On August 19 1934* the puzzles were finally dropped and a new topper debuted. This was Otto Honk, featuring a goofball title character who walks into the same sorts of gags that readers older then six have already seen a million times. Penning this was Bela Zaboly, a young NEA bullpenner at this time. It was an inauspicious debut for Zaboly, but you might say that the quality of Otto Honk meshed perfectly with the Sunday Out Our Way.
Zaboly got lucky in 1936 when Gene Ahern, creator of the popular NEA feature Our Boarding House, decided to jump ship. Zaboly got yanked off the Otto Honk assignment to help continue Ahern's orphaned feature; his last Otto Honk ran on March 15 1936**. Left with no creator to handle the topper, NEA opted to assign it to Neg Cochran himself, which finally gave Neg the opportunity to see his name on the Sunday page, albeit only on the topper. Evidently this didn't strike him as that much of an honor, because he dropped Otto Honk as soon as a replacement could be found. The last Otto Honk appeared on June 21 1936**, and on the next Sunday there debuted the best thing there ever was about the Out Our Way Sunday -- George Scarbo's fabulously drawn Comic Zoo topper.
* Source: Brooklyn Eagle
** Source: NEA archives at Ohio State University
Labels: Topper Features
To this day I find myself blurring Out Our Way with Clare Briggs, perhaps because they both used recurring subheads ("The Worry Wart", "Why Mothers Get Gray", and "Heroes Are Made, Not Born" in OOW), had a repertory of recurring characters in different settings, and featured nostalgia, usually involving small town kids.
Monday, September 05, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: The Genius
Magazine cartoonist Dick Oldden took his whack at newspaper comics with The Genius, a delightful strip about a professor and his lab assistants. Oldden's stylized art was a perfect fit for the small 4-column daily strips of the 1970s, and his Sundays fairly leapt off the page with their bold graphics, unusual limited colour palettes, and modern sensibility. So what went wrong? I'm not quite sure, but my bet is that the gags, which sometimes offer disappointly conventional punchlines, fail to follow through on the avant garde look of the strip.
Oldden's cartoons were often seen in The New Yorker and other top flight magzines of the day, and those tended to be more surreal gags, so readers familiar with Oldden might have felt he was phoning it in for the strip. However Oldden was a purchaser of gag material and Sam Gross has claimed that he did much of the gag-writing*. Gross' sense of humour would have been a perfect fit for Oldden's style, but maybe he just couldn't write quality material fast enough for the rigours of a 7-day a week strip.
The King Features daily strip debuted on May 14 1973, with the Sunday following on May 20**. After four years of tepid sales, Oldden and King chalked this one up as a failed experiment on May 8 1977***.
*Source: Cartoonist Profiles #135
** Source: Syndicate brochure, also Editor & Publisher, April 14 1973.
*** Source: Hayward Review.