Monday, September 20, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: Marty the Marine / Marty Muggins

 




Alvin* "Hap" Hadley joined the Marines in World War I, and his cartooning ability kept him safely behind a drawing board during the conflict, where he did publicity material for the Corps. While still in the service Hadley developed a valuable fan, an editor at the New York Herald. In early 1918 he began submitting cartoons about military life that were run occasionally in the Sunday feature section of the paper. 

While still in uniform Hadley graduated to penning a regular Sunday comics series for the Herald and a separate daily strip for their evening paper, the Telegram. To please his primary employers, both strips were about Marines and showed the service in a generally favourable light.

The Sunday series was Marty the Marine, and it began on November 10 1918. It originally began appearing in a special Sunday war section of the Herald. Recruit Marty was constantly in trouble with his superiors, but Hadley made sure to lay the blame squarely on him and not the service. On February 16 1919 the feature was moved into the regular comics section, upgrading it from a tabloid feature to full page. In July Marty was discharged (probably at the same time as Hadley was) and the strip was retitled Marty Muggins. The strip didn't miss a beat, showing that Marty could make just as much of a mess of things in civilian life. 

Hadley's style may not have been technically all that great, but the energy, panache and joie de vivre of his work practically leapt off the page. Hadley could no doubt have made a fine career as a newspaper cartoonist, but it was not to be. On May 16 1920 Marty Muggins took his final bow, a casualty of Hadley wanting to pursue other interests. He had found himself mesmerized by the stage and screen. He married an actress, and after a brief stint in acting himself, Hadley found his ideal niche in producing art for shows and movies. Eventually he became a noted movie poster artist, producing among many others some iconic images for Buster Keaton and Chaplin movies. Information about his movie poster career can be found here

* Apparently sometimes spelled 'Alvan.'


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Sunday, September 19, 2021

 

Wish You Were Here, from Fontaine Fox?

 

This card is the exact size and paper type as a postcard, but blank on the back. This product of the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago is actually what is known as an arcade card. The arcade machines (here's a list of the many machines that were produced) would, on deposit of a coin, allow you to play a little game, or watch a mechanism do something, and in the end you'd get an arcade card or a piece of candy or whatever. 

This card is unsigned, but the style of those babies seem to be the work of Fontaine Fox. The widow is less 'Foxy', so I'm not going to claim to be sure. 

The card is undated, but I can't imagine Fox would have been looking for extra work like this much past the 1910s.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

 

Herriman Saturday: February 15 1910

 

An old neighbourhood speed ordinance, long ignored, has now been revived. Trolley cars in certain Los Angeles neighbourhoods are now limited to speeds no greater than eight miles per hour. Commuters in good shape can keep up with the trolleys now if they keep a jaunty pace.

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Carl Zeisberg


1912

Carl Francis Ludwig Zeisberg was born on September 25, 1891, in Lexington, Missouri, according to his World War II draft card and death certificate, which named his parents: Francis J. Zeisberg and Catherine Binder. 

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Zeisberg, his parents, older brother and younger sister in Bristol, Tennessee, at 1131 Windson Avenue. His father was a German emigrant and music teacher. His mother’s name listed as Clara. 

In the 1910 census the Zeiberg family resided on Valley Street in Abingdon, Virginia. 

Zeriberg attended Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He contributed art to the school’s yearbook, The Kaleidoscope 1909 and 1911. He continued his education at the University of Virginia. Zeisberg drew around fifty illustrations for the 1912 yearbook, Corks and Curls. The Phi Gamma Delta, 1913, said he was a member of the Omicron Chapter

Soon after graduation, Zeisberg got a job at the Baltimore Sun. About a year later he was a reporter at the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. For the Evening Ledger, Zeisberg drew The Geometric Kids from May 31 to June 12, 1915. The writer was Collins. For about two month in 1916, Zeisberg filed reports on the First Brigade of Philadelphia (composed of the First, Second and Third Regiments) as it traveled south to Texas. 

Evening Ledger 7/14/1916

On June 5, 1917, Zeisberg signed his World War I draft card. An Army Transport Service List, at Ancestry.com, said he was a private in Company “F”, 316th Infantry, which departed from Hoboken, New Jersey on July 9, 1918. In late May 1919, Zeisberg was headed home. The Evening Ledger published excerpts from Zeisberg’s diary on May 30, 1919; May 31; June 2; June 3; and June 4

Editor & Publisher, August 21, 1919, said Zeisberg joined the editorial staff of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

The 1920 census said newspaper writer Zeisberg was a Philadelphia resident at 119 South 52nd Street. After the census enumeration, Zeisberg married Frances C. Mitchell in Philadelphia. 

Zeisberg did the cover of The Virginia Reel, May 15, 1920. He also contributed articles to magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly

According to the 1930 census , the Zeisbergs lived in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania at 305 Paxson Avenue. Zeisberg’s occupation was newspaper cartoonist. 

An entry in the Directory of the Living Alumni of the University of Virginia, 1931, Volume 423, said Zeisberg was the class of 1913. 
Zeisberg, Carl F. L., 09-13, B.S. 305 Paxson Ave., Glenside, Pa. Feature Editor & Cartoonist, The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, Pa.
Zeisberg was a table tennis enthusiast who became president to the United States Table Tennis Association in the 1934–1935 season. His remarkable and controversial role in table tennis is explored in great detail at Team USA, USA Table Tennis

The 1940 census said Zeisberg was an assistant city editor. He and his wife lived at 430 Sylvania Avenue in Abington, Pennsylvania. 

Zeisberg passed away on June 7, 1950, in Philadelphia. An obituary appeared in the Baltimore Evening Sun, June 8, 1950. 
Carl F. L. Zeisberg, 58, former Baltimore newspaper man and an editorial staff member of the Evening Bulletin, died of a heart attack late yesterday in Pennsylvania Hospital. A native of Missouri, Mr. Zeisburg attended the University of Virginia, where he contributed to undergraduate and alumni publications then and later have become a university tradition. 

On Sun Staff in 1913 

He began his newspaper career with the Baltimore Sun in 1913 and a year later worked for the Evening Ledger here before serving with the Army in World War I. He joined the Bulletin staff in 1919. Mr. Zeisberg served on the Bulletin at various times as a rewriteman, copy reader, picture and city editor. An authority on table tennis, he contributed an article on the subject to the Encyclopedia Britannica. He made his home at Ambler. His wife, Mrs. Frances M, Zeisberg, survives. 
Zeisberg was laid to rest at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Geometric Kids

 

If Flatland had comic strips in their newspapers, The Geometric Kids might have been quite popular. Unfortunately for artist Carl Zeisberg and writer "Collins", their strip ran in the Philadelphia Evening Ledger, with an audience firmly entrenched in the third dimension. The novelty of a comic strip about characters made up only of circles, rectangles and lines wore out pretty darn quickly, and sputtered out after a mere two weeks. Birth, May 31 1915, unmourned death, June 12. 

Zeisberg had one other series published in the Evening Ledger which lasted a bit longer, but otherwise he never made any impact I know of as a cartoonist. "Collins", the one-named writer, is unknown to me.

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Comments:
Hello Allan-
Would this be considered a local, one paper series? The Ledger Syndicate would appear to begin about 1919 with Somebody's Stenog finding it's way into several papers, but the Evening Public Ledger had cartoons like this one before that.
 
As far as I know these early Ledger strips never appeared anywhere else. --Allan
 
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Monday, September 13, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: Dear Dad and his Daughter

 


When Winsor McCay defected to Hearst, his new duties included penning weekday strips in addition to his Sunday In the Land of Wonderful Dreams and editorial cartoons (not to mention moonlighting with animation). Perhaps due to overwork, the weekday strips tended to be, for McCay at least, relatively simple productions graphically. 

Dear Dad and His Daughter, also known as He Meant Well and (as can be seen above) episode-specific titles, ran from November 28 to December 27 1912, making it one of McCay's shorter-lived weekday strips. It concerns a father who constantly puts his foot in his mouth around daughter's beaus. Does he do it intentionally to chase them off, or is he just clueless? You be the judge.

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

 

Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton

 

A Reinthal & Newman card (coded #174) drawn by Grace Drayton under her married name of Weiderseim. Okay, so the cherub is supposed to be German, based on the cap and the beer stein. "Gesundheit" is German. But what does that have to do with the kid in the stein? What's the gag here?

Maybe I need to start a new blog: Postcards I Don't Understand. Hmmm, catchy!

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A toast, as well as a blessing for a sneeze.
 
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Saturday, September 11, 2021

 

Herriman Saturday: February 14 1910

 

One of California's premier authors of her time, Gertrude Atherton is pretty well forgotten today outside History of American Literature courses. In February 1910 she made a pronouncement that men in the U.S. are so uninteresting from a psychological viewpoint that she would no longer use them as characters in her novels. Whether she actually stood by that resolution I leave as an exercise for readers. She wrote quite a few more novels after 1910, but the titles don't give them away as featuring American males, and that's as far as my research shall go.

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: August 6 1899

 

Kelly's Kids comes to an end with no particular fanfare, just a scattering of kids running away from a mad dog. Outcault would take a long semi-vacation after this, penning only a miscellany of minor panels and strips for the section for months on end. The only other series for 1899 (and it may be stretching the definition to call it that) was Persimonville, a little panel series of considerably less ambition than Kelly's Kids starring black characters. Then almost a year after Kelly's Kids ended the short-lived Gallus Coon would be his World swan song. Outcault was moving again, this time to the Herald.


Comments:
What a cacophony!
 
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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: May 21 1899

 

A delightful episode of Kelly's Kids has them learning about the wonders of electricity. How novel was it in 1899? Broadway was first lit up experimentally in 1880, and Edison opened up a power plant in 1882 that could power a whopping 5000 electric lights. By the 1890s some homes were electrified, but probably none in the Kelly's tenement district.


Comments:
Hello Allan-
In the nineteenth century, Electricity was not generally understood by the greater public, it's possibilities were mystifying, and possibly terrifying. In an 1889 PUCK magazine, a cover cartoon showed Electricity as a marauding monster, coming down a street, shooting out lightning bolts, killing people right and left.

Full electrification of our country took a bit longer than people think. My Great-grandfather lived in a large city in New England, but he didn't have electricity installed until 1934.
 
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Tuesday, September 07, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: May 7 1899

 

Kelly's Kids have a May Day party in Central Park. Miraculously, the park survived.


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Monday, September 06, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: April 30 1899

 

An almost full page extravaganza for the Kelly Kids, and now Li Kellie, who has been featured a few times, is paired with the Green Kid.


Comments:
Hello Allan-
In this sample page we see a McDougall editorial cartoon mocking Boss Croker of Tammany Hall, whom I will assume meant little to St. Louis readers. But the Post-Dispatch got their section was from the parent paper, the New York World, unaltered save for the Masthead and the name cut from the pageheads.
As Pulitzer didn't have a newspaper chain, I've always wondered what their first client paper might've been, or, where the third Pulitzer comic section might've been.
 
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Sunday, September 05, 2021

 

Wish You Were Here, from Jim Davis

 

Another Garfield card published by Argus Communications, this one coded P3020.

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Saturday, September 04, 2021

 

Herriman Saturday: February 10 1910

 

Eagle-eyed readers will note that as of last Saturday, we were covering March 1910 on Herriman Saturday, and yet today we've receded by a month. Well, it turns out that my computer has been playing a practical joke on me, throwing some (but not all!) of my final batch of Herriman scan files into a sub-folder for no particular reason at all. I just now happened to notice its existence, and found the rest of the February 1910 scans there. So it turns out that Herriman was not on hiatus at all, it was just my computer playing hide-and-seek. 

So today we return to the auto show, on which Herriman reported and drew quite a bit. Today's contribution is a set of caricatures of the more colourful auto trade reps.

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Friday, September 03, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: April 16 1899

 

Kelly's Kid is now officially the Green Kid; we are missing the April 9 installment, so that may have been the first in which the kid got that name. The Green Kid doesn't seem to be consciously self-referential, so is Outcault making fun of his old character or is he making an ill-advised attempt to create a knock-off of his own creation?



Comments:
Hello Allan-
In those really early years, the Yellow Kid was the first superstar, and though he was tossed to and fro betwixt Hearst and Pulitzer, I think the Pulitzer guys just couldn't let it go. Recall that while Outcault was over at Hearst in 1897, they did the Yellow Kid one better; Two Yellow Kids, in the form of twin terrors George and Alek. Or was it Mike and Alek? Forget right now. They would go through various adventures,like heading out for the Klondike gold rush, all drawn by our friend George B. Luks.You could tell it was not a labor of love, they were so badly mis-shapen they had to have been created by committee.
At this point, I'd guess the YK was cooling down, or now tangled in publishing rights with Hearst or something. Maybe Outcault thought he could make lightning strike twice with his own "Green New Deal." ouch.
 
Is that someone else's signature just below the kid who's being tossed from the horse?
 
Hi Jon -- Looking at the higher resolution version, it seems like Outcault might have re-inked a few of those rocks and grass blades with a heavier line. Maybe the idea was to indicate the shadow of the kid on his way to the ground?

--Allan
 
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Thursday, September 02, 2021

 

Kelly's Kids: April 2 1899

 

By April 1899 we've had some changes. First, the (unofficial) title of the feature is no longer Kelly's Kindergarten; it is now The Kelly Kids, or in some instances, Kelly's Kid. The Kelly Kid is the infant on stilts in the center of the panel; he is the first-born son of Michael Kelly, a big man in the neighbourhood. He'll gain a new name in the next installment...

Note also the addition of the 'name face kids', a really bizarre set of characters. When all together, they number four -- Anna, Ada,Otto and Bob. Maybe they should be called the Palindrome Kids.


Comments:
Hello Allan-
Isn't the stilted kid aka "The Green Kid?"
 
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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten: December 18 1898

 

The teacher has been banished! What a lovely Christmas present for the kindergartners. From now on in the series, school is no more than a cozy spot to rest in between outings.

The telegram delivering kid will become a new regular addition to the cast. Cole's samples take a long hiatus now, see you tomorrow four months later!


Comments:
Pity he died about twenty years before, Charles Dickens would love this series.
 
Is the "4 11 44" on the clock an intentional joke? (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Eleven_Forty_Four)
 
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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten: December 11 1898

 

 

Outcault gets the jump on Christmas, and the kindergartners selflessly sacrifice their Sunday to visiting the teacher at home.


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Monday, August 30, 2021

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: August Hutaf



August William Hutaf was born on February 25, 1879, in Hoboken, New Jersey, according to his World War I and II draft cards and Social Security application. His parents were Herman A. Hutaf, a German emigrant, and Wilhelmina Poppe, a New York native. 

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Hutaf and his parents in Hoboken at 116 Bloomfield Street. His father was a porter.

According to the 1900 census, Hutaf, his parents and maternal grandmother resided in Jersey City, New Jersey at 213 Handcock Avenue. Hutaf was a letter painter or sign writer. Information about his art training has not been found. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Hutaf drew four series for the New York World. Superstitious Smith ran from November 22, 1903 to April 14, 1904. Hutaf drew Fun in the Zoo from November 13 to December 25, 1904. The series was continued by Charles W. Kahles, from February 26 to July 23, 1905. In 1908 Just Truck had a short run from August 14 to 29. For the New York World’s Press Publishing, Hutaf produced the panel Wild Life Limericks, in 1917. Also in the 1900s, Hutaf produced a large number of postcards here, here, here and here

The New Jersey Marriage Index, at Ancestry.com, said Hutaf married Jennie Barnes in 1904. At some point they moved. 

Hutaf was a Mason

The 1910 census said the couple resided in Norwood, Ohio at 2219 Hudson Avenue. He was an artist at a lithography company. 

Printers’ Ink, December 10, 1914, said Hutaf was the art director at the A. M. Briggs Company, official poster solicitors. 

The 1915 New Jersey state census listed artist Hutaf and his wife in Weehawken, New Jersey at 785 Boulevard East. 

Hutaf was a member of the Society of Illustrators and the Dutch Treat Club


Hutaf was included in Judge’s Artistic Alphabet, September 1, 1917. 

Art by Hutaf

Hutaf signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was 1 31st Street in North Bergen, New Jersey. He was a self-employed commercial and poster artist. Hutaf was described as tall, stout build, with blue eyes and light hair. 

The same address was in the 1920 census and advertising artist Hutaf owned the house. The 1930 census said it was valued at $20,000. 

Printers’ Ink, June 23, 1921, said 
August W. Hutaf is now associated with the Ivan B. Nordhem Company, of New York, outdoor advertising . Mr. Hutaf has bee vice-president of Einson Litho., Inc., and was formerly art director of the United States printing and Lithograph Company of the William H. Rankin Co.
The 1940 census said Hutaf had been a resident of Weehawken, New Jersey in 1935. Hutaf suffered some kind of breakdown and was a patient at the Hospital for Mental Diseases in Secaucus, New Jersey. The census said his highest level of education was the eighth grade. It’s not known when he was released. 

On April 27, 1942, Hutaf signed his World War II draft card. He was with his wife at 225 78th Street in North Bergen, New Jersey. His description was six feet one-and-a-half inches tall, 230 pounds, blue eyes and gray hair. 

Hutaf passed away on October 28, 1942, in Hoboken. 


Further Reading
The National Magazine, December 1916 
Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

 

Wish You Were Here, from August Hutaf

 

Here's another entry in August Hutaf's "Apples" series, done for A.B. Woodward Company in 1907. I've never heard of a drunk being referred to as a ripe apple, but okay Mr. Hutaf, I'll play along. Were you running out of apple ideas? Getting to the bottom of the barrel, shall we say?

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Comments:
At the risk of being "Captain Obvious," the term "ripe" was a synonym for being drunk, so that's why the word is in quotes, here.
 
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Saturday, August 28, 2021

 

Herriman Saturday: March 30 1910

 

March 30 1910 -- A bizarre non-story with at best a tiny grain of truth behind it brings Herriman out of his semi-vacation period, in which his contributions to the paper disappear for days and weeks at a time. 

Lewis S. Stone, appearing in a local play, owns a bulldog. Said bulldog is accused of having killed a goat. Maybe that much is actually true, though I wouldn't lay odds. But the story then goes on to discuss a supposed oral deformity of the bulldog, a death wish on the part of the goat, and a major court battle in the offing. This story is obviously playing for laughs, and that's fine, but the whole thing seems to be a shaggy dog (and goat) story from the git-go, which is generally frowned upon in the journalistic profession. But then again, we're talking about Hearst...

Just to be fair, I searched the other LA papers that are available online, and none of them reported on this story. 


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Friday, August 27, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten: December 4 1898

 

Teacher #3 looks like a real pushover to me. I predict a trip the emergency room is in his near future. 

By the way, surely yesterday someone identified the masthead cartoons as the work of George B. Luks?



Comments:
Hello Allan-
The chilly reception the kids give their latest temporary teacher is characterized as a "Klondike greeting", because this was also the time of the Yukon gold rush. Klondike was a hot new word, or even a concept, and would be referenced constantly in popular media, quite a lot in comic sections, for instance.
 
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Thursday, August 26, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten: November 27 1898

 

Notice those great little cartoons in the masthead, signed GBL? First person to identify the cartoonist gets 100 internet points.


Comments:
George B. Luks?
 
100 points to "Right on the Mark" Johnson.
 
I notice this is a few months after the Spanish-American War. That explains shooting the ink at Spain, and the question on the blackboard.
 
Active fighting with Spain had pretty much stopped with the complete crushing of the Spanish fleet and the capture of Cuba in July, but when this comic section was published,the war technically was still on, actually ending with the Treaty of Paris on 10 December.
During the spring and summer, there had been some amazing anti-Spain cartoons in this same space, like a raging monster matador surrounded by "bubbles" that had various Spanish atrocities depicted within, or a MacDougal cartoon of 13 year-old King Alphonso kicking Admiral Segasta down the cobbled streets of Madrid!
 
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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten: November 13, 1898

 

The new teacher has arrived, and he has smartly outfitted himself with a pistol and shotgun. Perhaps he will succeed in taming these wild animals.


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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

 

Kelly's Kindergarten, October 30 1898

 

Teacher certainly didn't age well since last week, and who could blame her?

Kelly's Kindergarten was essentially a rehash of a series that Outcault had created for the Philadelphia Inquirer, called The Country School. Even a few of the characters are re-used, like the kid with the bandages on his head.


Comments:
This is pretty timeless. Just add some cell phones, laptops and a TV on the wall and you've got a 21st c.entury classroom (Maybe minus the coal fired stove)
 
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Monday, August 23, 2021

 

Obscurity of a Fortnight or So: Kelly's Kindergarten

 


Pretty much anything R.F. Outcault produced is worth an extended look, even one of his more obscure series. With dozens of gags and bits of funny business shoehorned into each installment, Kelly's Kindergarten is definitely a series that rewards long and leisurely study. Luckily, Cole Johnson sent me a treasure trove of examples of this series, so we will depart in this case from our usual custom of running just a few samples. Over the next couple weeks we'll run Kelly's Kindergarten as a weekday feature of the blog. 

Outcault's stardom began in the Sunday funnies of the New York World in 1895 with the Hogan's Alley pages, but as most any comics fan knows, not much more than a year later he was was lured away by Hearst. What is less well known is that Outcault continued bouncing around from paper to paper, ending up back at the New York World in the period 1898-1900. Kelly's Kindergarten was produced during this second act at the World

The series brings Outcault back to the subject that brought him fame -- depicting the raucous lives of New York City tenement kids. The series began on October 16 1898 and was initially set in the classroom though that would eventually become too confining for Outcault. The first installment (above) introduces us to some of Outcault's new characters. He would add to the cast throughout the series, coming up with some truly bizarre ones along the way, like the kids whose faces spell out their names. There will also be a character who refers back to Outcault's original superstar.

Kelly's Kindergarten, later Kelly's Kids, would run until August 6 1899, and Cole has supplied us with the first and last episodes, and lots in between. So keep reading, and enjoy!


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Comments:
Hello,
Thanks for the wonderful strips you have been publishing.
I read somewhere, I think Alfredo Castelli's Here We Are Again, that Oucault also had a strip entitled "Nonsense", do you know anything about it, any samples?
Marco
 
Marco --
Was not aware of this, but I checked Here We Are Again. Castelli mentions a panel called "A Nonsense Rhyme" running in September - December 1901 in the NY Herald by Outcault. He credits Bill Blackbeard's collection as his source for the info.

According to OSU's index of the Blackbeard NY Heralds, a panel by this name ran from September 15 to December 15 1901.

If anyone has a good quality scan of one of these, I'd love to see it.

--Allan
 
Also a not-so-good run would be appreciated. I'd be happy to post it here: https://www.nonsenselit.org/comics/
Marco
 
Neat strip but just how old were kids in kindergarten in 1898?!
 
Thanks for sharing. Always a pleasure to read.
 
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Sunday, August 22, 2021

 

Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

 

Here's another Rene Magritte Dwig postcard from the Raphael Tuck "Knocks Witty and Wise" series, aka series 165. 

I'm guessing there is a saying about building castles out of ashes (or smoke?), but it's not a saying I'm familiar with, and a few attempts at prying it out of Mr. Google came back empty. Anyone?

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Comments:
He's referring to pipe dreams, I think.
 
Ah, I was thinking too hard, focusing on the castle. That makes perfect sense. Thanx, Allan
 
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Saturday, August 21, 2021

 

Herriman Saturday: March 24 1910

 

March 24 1910 -- Less said about this one the better.

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It's hard to imagine Herriman being comfortable creating this, although he does seem to have put his back into it.
 
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Friday, August 20, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: A Chip Of The Old Block ... or Little Will ... or Artie ... or Little Harry ... or The Joker ...

Back in June I covered Little Will, a strip penned by Carl Anderson for World Color Printing. Well, "covered" is the wrong term ... "obfuscated" might do the post more justice. I'm rather ashamed of that post, because I clean forgot the long discussions I had about the strip with Cole Johnson back about ten or so years ago. When he sent me those sample strips he also provided proof that the series was run twice and under different titles. This strip perfectly illustrates how perplexing it is to document the output of World Color Printing in 1904, which gives me a springboard to talk about that problem. So enough mea culpas now, let's delve into one episode in World Color Printing's strange history.


A Chip Off The Old Block (from microfilm), 5/1 and 5/15/1904

 

From March 20 to May 15 1904*, Anderson's strip was  run under the consistent title of either A Chip Of The Old Block or, on two occasions, Artie: A Chip Of The Old Block. Anderson seemed to have trouble settling on the name for his little prank-puller. In the first episode he is Willie; in the next several he is unnamed. Then he is named Chip (which I rather like, following from the strip name) on April 10, Artie on April 24, Chip on May 1 and Artie on May 15. That seems to be the end of the original series. 

Then all hell breaks loose at World Color Printing. For the period June through October 1904 it becomes impossible for me to find any paper running a complete four page section of their material. Was there even four pages available? If so, I've not been able to find anyone running it, even their theoretical home paper, the St. Louis Star. To add to the confusion, the one and two-page versions that I do find often feature very slightly changed re-runs of strips from the first half of the year.

The likely reason that WCP underwent a sea change during that period, perhaps even dropping to two pages, is this: At the beginning of 1904, they signed a contract with the New York Daily News (an earlier version, not the tabloid that debuted in 1919), run by Frank Munsey. Munsey wanted to make the paper a serious player in the intensely competitive New York City market, and he figured he needed a color comics section for Sundays. He commissioned WCP to provide him with a complete four page comics section starting in January 1904. WCP took the contract, added more artists to their portfolio, and produced a pretty decent section. They sold it to Munsey as well as a few additional clients. However, Munsey, as always, was mercurial in his business decisions, and after only five months decided that the expense of the 4-color comics section was not paying for itself. World Color Printing's contract was terminated. That left WCP with a handful of smaller market clients that presumably just didn't pay enough to keep the four-pager afloat.

Little Harry, aka A Chip Off The Old Block, 7/16/1904
 

Keeping in mind that I have no way of knowing if the two page partial sections from this period that I can find represent the entire output of WCP or if there are extra pages lurking out there somewhere, let's go back to Anderson's strip.We next find it appearing in a full page version on July 16 (above). Only now the kid is named Little Harry. This is not a re-run from the first series, though WCP is already dipping into their early 1904 stuff to re-run other strips. My thinking is that this strip was probably kept in reserve during the original run. Two reasons for that: first, Anderson had returned to McClure in May 1905 so he probably stopped producing material for WCP in May at the latest. Second, since A Chip Of The Old Block usually ran as a half, this full pager might not have had a slot to fill back in the heady days of the first half of 1904, when the material was rolling in. 

The strip (by whatever name you wish to call it) now disappears again. On September 18, WCP decides to recycle the Chip of the Old Block material, starting with this strip:

This is a re-run of the May 15 strip (shown above) with the title changed to call the kid Little Will. The next week they reprinted the May 1 strip. Once again the title has been changed, but in the final panel the kid is called Chip.

I now lose track of the strip until November. But at the beginning of that month World Color Printing seemed to have been revitalized. I have two papers -- the San Francisco Call and St. Paul Globe -- starting a four page WCP section within a few weeks of each other. Unfortunately, the two papers don't quite match up for material, so it's still a head-scratcher. With a lot of cross-checking I figured out that the Call is running the section two weeks late compared to the Globe. Therefore, the new WCP 4-page section that begins there on October 30 I believe is actually the October 16 section. (It was not terribly unusual for west coast papers to run syndicated material late in those days.) The Globe doesn't run the section from its inception date, so I'll use the Call to document the final run of the strip.

So, back to our strip. On November 13 in the Call, we get "The Tables Are Turned on The Joker", a third running of the fake turkey gag, once again with a new title. On November 20, they run "Little Will Gets the Laugh on Big Brother", a third go-around for the exercise gag. In this case the title was unchanged from the second run. On November 27, it's "Pop Fails to Appreciate a Good Joke", which is not a strip I have been able to document from the original run. Either it was another strip held in reserve, or if it did run and my imperfect microfilms let me down and it was missed. That is the final appearance of the series. 

Of course, since those strips are running in the Call, their 'official' release dates are actually October 30 through November 13, which meshes properly with the St. Paul Globe. All is right with the world...

So for the vast audience of none who have bothered to read this far, that would seem to put the saga of the 1904 World Color Printing section pretty much to bed. Except that for Cole Johnson it didn't. Cole and I talked endlessly about these St. Louis-based syndicates, and there was a difference of opinion that I should put out there in public, finally, after all these years. 

Cole had an encyclopedic knowledge of this sort of thing, of course, but he also had a keen sniffer for What Makes Sense That We Will Probably Never Know For Sure. That keen nose of his smelled something funky about the whole St. Louis Star - World Color Printing - New York Daily News situation. In his opinion, as best I can convey it, the company or entity that supplied the St. Louis Star with material before 1904 was not necessarily World Color Printing. He believed that it was either produced in-house or by another company. He also believed that the 1904 output that I also call World Color Printing was some other and possibly distinct entity, perhaps one that was based out of New York, perhaps even in the bullpen of the Daily News. In Cole's version of events, World Color Printing came on the scene in October 1904, picking up the pieces of these other endeavors, and ran with things from there. 

My version of all this is a lot simpler, but Cole's may very well be right. Cole would point out two things; first and most simply, World Color Printing was never credited on any of these sections. In fact there was no syndicate credited on the supposed WCP sections until a long while later. Secondly, the creators who were involved in these various portions of the history seem to change substantially at every one of these breaks. Why wasn't there more carryover? I don't have a great answer for that very good question, except that when a business hits the skids like that over and over, employee/contributor turnover seems bound to happen. 

Anyway, I've gone on way too long about something I think only a few people in this world care about. But considering the hours we spent wagging our chins about it, I thought it was high time Cole got his ideas out there on (virtual) paper, even though I have certainly not conveyed them in as convincing a manner as he could. 


* Sources: Washington Times, Jeffrey Lindenblatt based on New York Daily News.

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Hello Allan-
Cole's spirit appreciates your efforts. I've also tried to fathom the situation, but the questions still rage. One is that I believe the material in the St.Louis Star starts waning down to one page in late 1903, (usually an Eddie Eksergian page intended to be a cover, which sometimes is used on the back page, with the "Comic Section of the...." hanging there next to blank space. Why is that? If they were creating their own section, wouldn't a cover alaways BE the cover? And note the St.Louis material, even at one page, overlaps in time with the totally different, positively identified WCP stuff in New York, yet none of it appears there.
So are they actually connected? Could it be the full page Anderson gag the Star ran on 10 July (NOT 16 July)was in fact a one shot that he sold to them, not intended to be part of a series.
I'm sure I've seen him do other expose-old-maid's-wig gag in other sydicates. The other strips you show today were made for WCP, who could alter the size and names of the componants, and recycle to their heart's desire, though I don't think that happened much, especially after only a few months. That's strange, isn't it?
Don't know if Cole ever brought up the pre 1902 section the Star was fielding, with all kinds of cartoonists that Never became anying save the notorious Ryan Walker, who twenty years later was doing eds for the New York communist papers.I know this was syndicated, It was seen in a Grand Rapids paper too, in 1901. This and the fact the Star could dump what we have assumed was their own material gives cause to doubt it.
In early 1897, the Star was running a cartoon color section with cartoons that were expertly printed by lithograph, beautiful inks and fine details. It was obviously not printed in St.Louis, and references to New York were seen.I can't recall much about it, it's buried like Herculanium in among the stacks here, but suffice to say the Star was syndicating a section even before the section we assign to them, AND it's precoursor in 1899-1901. They really were interested in comics.
 
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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: Little Reggie

 



By the 1940s Western Newspaper Union, one of the premier providers of material for weekly newspapers, was offering a mix of new and previously syndicated strips. Along with Mutt and Jeff, Reg'lar Fellers and other repeats bought from other syndicates, they still offered up some new material like Little Reggie

Little Reggie was offered from December 20 1945 to May 26 1949*. A fairly innocuous kid strip, Reggie is a bit bratty and not above playing a prank, but his blonde locks and winning smile help him to avoid any serious retribution for his misdeeds. Just like Buster Brown, whose wardrobe he echoes in a slightly updated fashion, his co-conspirator and constant companion is a dog, this one named Rumpus.

The strip was credited to 'Margarita', and the art was unsigned. It wasn't until I did a little Googling that I discovered the creator of the strip was Margaret Ahern (nee McCrohan). After Little Reggie folded, she got involved with the National Catholic News Service, a syndicate specializing in news and feature material of interest to Catholics, primarily run in Catholic papers, which were a thing back then. (The syndicate still exists, though I guess now they offer their material primarily to websites.)

Ahern took over their (sole?) comic, An Altar Boy Named Speck, and penned that feature for almost a quarter of a century. It must have been a popular feature as there were a number of reprint books issued of the cartoons. The feature was offered to any newspaper that wanted it (not just Catholic ones), but I've never encountered a mainstream paper that ran it, and therefore that long-running feature doesn't get a listing in my book. If you've encountered An Altar Boy Named Speck running in a general readership newspaper I'd like to hear about it.


* Source: Big Piney Examiner; note that weekly papers can be published on various days of the week. The dates cited here are Thursdays, but other papers would have run the material on whatever day of the week they published.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

 

Obscurity of the Day: Wisdom of Wiseheimer

 

Why are the funnies so well-populated with fools, idiots and numskulls? Well, they can be funny of course, but they're also easier for the cartoonist to write. It's perfectly within a writer's intellectual capacity to write for characters that are dumber than the writer, but how does a writer create a believeable character who is smarter than they are? There's always the stock wacky scientist, I suppose, and the head-in-the-clouds intellectual, but in those cases the writer doesn't prove the characters are smart, they're just assumed to be. 

Munson Paddock set himself a harder task in Wisdom of Wiseheimer, a weekday strip syndicated by the New York Evening Telegram from November 9 1907 to January 8 1909. His character, Wiseheimer, is presented with a sticky situation of some kind in each episode, and comes up with a brainy way to solve the problem each time. His favorite tool is reverse psychology, which probably didn't even exist as a term in 1907, but doesn't use it as a crutch -- Wiseheimer truly is wise, and comes up with smart and witty solutions to fit the problem. 

Congratulations, then, to Munson Paddock, who was either a smart fellow who could write characters on his level, or a fellow of average intelligence who could actually write above his IQ.

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The more I see of Munson Paddock the more I appreciate his work. However...that business of having an arrow from the boss passing behind Wiseheimer to show that the boss speaks first!! It would have been so easy simply to flop the compositions to begin with, putting the boss on the left and W on the right.
 
Allan - I can't find a contact for you. I am writing a book about my uncle who was a famous sketch artist and cartoonist and would like to connect to get your expertise. Also, I was told by the museum in Columbus you have a post about the American Association of Cartoonists and Caricaturists which he was the president of at one point. Can you direct me to your email please? - Anita
 
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