Monday, May 20, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Petey, the Growler, the Old One and the Goat


The Detroit News had some really interesting homegrown material in the 1900s and 1910s. Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to take a long leisurely indexing run through the microfilm, and as far as I know, the paper does not yet exist on the web. So for now all I can offer is based on the samples from my personal files. 

Burt Thomas had pretty much just arrived at the Detroit News in 1906 when he penned the series Petey, The Growler, The Old One and The Goat. My few samples are from September of that year, and though a daily-style strip, seemed to have run only in the Sunday editions. If the present samples are a fair indicator, Thomas's black kids use the near-required mushmouth dialect and the typical moon-faces, but otherwise they are just a group of kids having some fun and inevitably getting into trouble. 

I don't know if Detroit had a large black population in the early 1900s (the major influx of blacks apparently happened in the 1910s and later) but by comparison with how blacks were represented in many other black strips this was practically an outreach to Detroit's black community.


Where did the idea come from, that goats always eat tin cans?
As of 1900, the black population of Detroit was a little over 4,000, representing about 1.4% of the city's population. Later figures are 5700/1.2% (1910), 40,800/4.1% (1920), 140,000/9/1% (1930), 300,000/16.1% (1950). Source:
By the way, as of 5/20/24, this interesting Thomas-related item, a "Mr. Straphanger" cartoon, is up on eBay:
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Sunday, May 19, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Carmichael produced a whole series of cards (Taylor Pratt & Company Series 668 of 1910) based on the 1908 hit song "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?".In this case we only need but look up.


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Saturday, May 18, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: H.T. Webster Gag Cartoons, 1903


At about age 17, H.T. Webster moved to Chicago to attend an art school. Unfortunately the art school shut down shortly after he arrived. Faced with needing to earn a living, he found that the Chicago Daily News was a ready market for cartoons. The News carried a half page or more of cartoons and strips, crammed in and printed very small, for their back covers. It was a great page if you had real sharp eyesight. The list of neat stuff that appeared there goes on and on. 

Webster failed to make any big impression at the Daily News, but they bought plenty of his cartoons, and he even started a few short-lived series. Here we have a few cartoons from 1903 that show that early Webster cartoons are almost impossible to identify without the signatures. 


The umbrella title for the Chi'News syndicated pages of tiny cartoons was "WHERE THE LAUGH COMES IN."
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Friday, May 17, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Exploits of Mamma's Angel Pet


Norman Ritchie, who signed himself "Norman", even to the quotation marks, was the yeoman cartoonist of the Boston Post. His main duty at the paper was editorial cartoons, but when comics came into fashion his job description was broadened to include them as well. 

Ritchie would eventually become quite adept at producing funnies, but in the early days of his new job he was still feeling his way. Exploits of Mamma's Angel Pet was in this early period, and you'll find in the sample above a gag that perhaps had some possibilities, but Ritchie couldn't zero in well enough on the important facts of the case and the gag ends up falling flat. 

Exploits of Mamma's Angel Child ran in the Boston Post Sunday comics section from October 16 1904 to April 9 1905.


I'm puzzled by the term "song sheet." This usually means "sheet music," but to the kids it seems to mean something else. Did the theater put a group of singers behind a panel with holes in it and have them stick their heads through the holes to sing? I googled extensively but only came up with sheet-music related results.

Maybe the girl saw some sheet music with head shots of performers on the cover. Cutting up the screen makes it resemble the cover montage. Seems far-fetched.

Does anyone out there know what she's talking about?
Smurfswacker, my take was the same as yours -- that the reference was to the head shots of the performers on sheet music, a not unusual design. But if so, Norman Ritchie really botches the gag by the mention of the matinee in panel three. Ritchie might have seen a vaudeville number that 'brought a song sheet to life'in that way, but unless it was a celebrated thing at the timne, he should have confined himself to the original source material. --Allan
From The Monroe Journal of May 24, 1900 describing an "illustrated song sheet" on the stage:
"The 'song sheet' is a white drop on which is painted the musical staff of five lines, and is punctured with holes representing notes which give the music of the chorus. The drop serves as a background for the performer who is to sing the song. Through the holes in the canvas the heads of colored men with melodious voices protrude, and they sing the chorus in harmony."
Here are photos from The National Magazine, vol. 9, no. 2, Nov. 1898, pp. 148, 149, and 151, of the front and the back of a song sheet in action:

The article is "The Vogue of the Vaudeville", by B. F. Keith.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: William Paul Pim

(An earlier profile was posted in 2016.) 

William Paul Pim was born in Freeport, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1885. The birth date was on his World War I draft card. Who Was Who Among English and European Authors, 1931–1949, Volume 3 N–Z said he was born in Freeport. Who’s Who in America, Volume 22, 1942–1943, said he was born near Freeport. Pim’s parents were Ira Lester Pim and Mary Ella Dougherty. 

The 1900 United States Census recorded Pim as the oldest of two children. The family lived in Buffalo, Pennsylvania, where his father was a farmer.

Who’s Who said Pim graduated from Cabot Institute (Carbonblack, Pennsylvania) in 1903, and studied photo-engraving at Bissell College in Effingham, Illinois in 1906.

Pim’s residence in the 1910 census was Cleveland, Ohio at 1854 East 18th Street. His occupation was commercial artist. Who’s Who said Pim had a studio in Cleveland until 1914.

From 1915 to 1917, Pim resided in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was a cartoonist for the Birmingham News. He married Lenna E. Hales on July 16, 1917. Cartoons Magazine, October 1917 reported their skyscraper wedding. 
The top floor of the highest building in the South was selected by W. Paul Pim as the stage for his wedding ceremony recently. Mr. Pim, who is the staff artist of the Birmingham (Ala.) News, was married to Miss Lenna Hales of the News’ advertising staff. The ceremony took place on the twenty-fourth floor of the Jefferson County Bank building, the headquarters of the Newspaper Club. The groom is well known throughout the South for his cartoon work. He has been on the staff of the News for two years, having come to Birmingham from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Immediately after the ceremony the young couple embarked on a honeymoon tour through the East.

Who’s Who said Pim was with the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 1917 to 1918. While in Cleveland, he took the life class at John Huntington Polytechnic Institute

On September 12, 1918, Pim signed his World War I draft card which had his address as 130 North 73rd Street in Birmingham, Alabama. He was an artist with the Birmingham News and described as medium height and build with gray eyes and brown hair. 

Cartoons Magazine, July 1918, said
Pim Boosts Tank Recruiting
If you see a tank recruiting poster that is particularly impelling and gives you an impulse to go run a tank, the chances are that Pim did it—W. Paul Pim of the Birmingham, Alabama, News.

The poster shows a large tank, with a soldier on top of it, and a large United States flag in the background, over which is written the legend “We’re Berlin Bound,” while the caption extends a cordial, Primesque invitation to “get in a tank and treat them rough.”
Pim moved from the News to the Birmingham Ledger where he worked from 1919 to 1920.

In the 1920 census, cartoonist Pim and his wife made their home at 4303 Avenue E in Birmingham. 

Pim’s art training included the Federal Schools’ courses as explained in The Federal Illustrator, Summer 1926.
Federal Course Helped Paul Pim “Put His Ideas Across”
There is a reason for this which is well voiced by no less an authority than W. Paul Pim, of the George Matthew Adams Service.

Mr. Pim has for years been a favorite with the readers of the Birmingham newspapers and acquired fame outside his city through his work on the old Cartoons Magazine, but he himself says that he never really began to advance in a big way until he became acquainted with the Federal Course.

A few years ago he was instructing a class of war veterans, and as the government furnished them with Federal School textbooks, he became interested in the course, and soon became vocational director for the school in the Birmingham district.

Shortly afterward he placed his first national syndicate feature, “Baby Mine,” with the George Matthew Adams Service. In addition to this he now has a very successful five column comic strip, “Telling Tommy,” with the Cosmos Newspaper Syndicate, Inc. All of this progress was made since his association with the Federal Schools. 

Let Pim tell it in his own words: “I have had a good many years in newspaper art work,” he writes, but when it came to putting across something really worth while, the suggestions and advice of men like Herbert Johnson, John T. McCutcheon, Sidney Smith, Fontaine Fox, Frank Wing, Clare Briggs, Frank King and others which I found in the Federal Course proved an invaluable aid.”

Mr. Pim five years ago had reached a point in his career that would be regarded by many as a very safe and substantial one, but he was not satisfied. If he could find the material in the Federal Course an aid to him, how much more beneficial it is to you students who are just beginning. There is a wealth of information for you here.
Who’s Who said Pim started, in 1921, an advertising art studio. He was a commercial art instructor at Birmingham-Southern College from 1922 to 1931. The school’s newspaper, Gold and Black, November 9, 1922, reported Pim’s appointment to the faculty. 
Noted Artist Is Added to Faculty
Paul Pim Will Conduct Course On “Hill”
Official announcement was made from the president’s office of Birmingham-Southern College Thursday morning of the addition to the college faculty of W. Paul Pim, local artist, nationally known for his art work and the now famous “Baby Mine,” which is running in The Birmingham News and 60 other daily publications of the United States. The announcement made by President Guy Snavely, is but another step in Birmingham-Southern’s policy of affording an opportunity to the student body of the college to come in contact with masters in the various lines of artistic endeavor.

The course to be offered by Mr. Pim will be conducted Saturday morning for three hours, in the form of a one-hour lecture period and two hours of work in the art laboratory. The course will emphasize commercial art, cartooning in all its forms and illustration work. It was stated by the college authorities that two hours of regular college credit would be given those successfully completing the work. The course will begin with the opening of the second semester of the college year.

Mr. Pim, who did his art study at two of the well-known art institutes of the country, the John Huntington Institute, Cleveland, and the Bissell College of Pohtographic [sic] Engraving of Illinois, worked for a number of years as an artict [sic] on various Cleveland daily papers and was art editor of The Birmingham Ledger and other Southern newspapers. Since suspension of The Ledger, he has conducted a commercial art business in Birmingham and recently became nationally famous by the creation of “Baby Mine,” which first ran in the Birmingham News.

The art course at Birmingham-Southern, which will be conducted by Mr. Pim, will be open to anyone wishing to take the work, but is planned primarily for those wishing to enter the commercial art game, regular college students and the school teachers of the district. Especially is the course planned to fit the needs of the school teachers of the city and county, and it will give numbers of them an opportunity to become more familiar with the art work, which is a part of their duty in the regular grade teaching. The course will be part of the regular extension school work.

In speaking of the course Dr. Snavely said: “Birmingham-Southern is delighted to have the creator of ‘Baby Mine’ on the college faculty. We feel that in Mr. Pim we have a talented artist, competent in every way to conduct the course that we have planned. Birmingham-Southern is following in the wake of the larger institutions of learning of the country in adding nationally known men to its faculty. This is done to give to the students of the college an opportunity to come in contact with men who stand out in the life of the nation. We feel that the education of no student is complete until he has had some opportunity to come In contact with artists of the first rank, whether it be in the field of art, music or literature. We congratulate ourselves on securing the services of Mr. Pim.”
1925 La Revue yearbook

During the 1920s and 1930s, American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Pim produced Baby Mine, Masterpieces of Great Literature, Telling Tommy, and Next

The Fourth Estate, July 15, 1922, said 
“Baby Mine” Contest Pulls Great Response in Birmingham.
“Baby Mine,” by Paul Pim of the George Matthew Adams Service, is being featured by the Birmingham, Ala., News. Recently the News offered a prize of one dollar for letters on “What your baby says” to be printed daily with the Paul Pim cartoon.

Eight hundred answers were received the first week, which nearly swamped the contest department. The answers were so surprisingly good that the News decided to make a feature page on Sundays of those that were not prize winners. The first of these pages appeared Sunday, July 2, with a large lay-out showing Paul Pim at work in his studio.

At a recent dinner of the Birmingham Rotary Club Pim made a hit with a chalk talk, his subject being “Baby Mine.”
Printers’ Ink, May 17, 1923, said
New Advertising Business Formed at Birmingham, Ala.
B. A. Davey and Associates is the name of a new advertising business which has been formed at Birmingham, Ala. The officers of the new company are: B. Davey, president; Baxter Eastburn, vice-president; and Morton Simpson, secretary-treasurer.

Mr. Davey formerly had been advertising manager of the Birmingham News. Mr. Simpson recently had been advertising manager of Loveman, Joseph & Loeb, Birmingham department store. Mr. Eastburn had been with the J. Bloch & Sons Clothing Company, also of Birmingham.

W. Paul Pim is art director of the new company.
The 1930 census recorded Pim in Birmingham at 4300 9th Court. 

In 1939, Pim wrote Telling Tommy About Mother Nature’s Curious Children, the first of seven Telling Tommy books. Telling Tommy About Famous People in Their Youth (1940); Telling Tommy About Days We Celebrate (1941); Telling Tommy About Famous Inventors (1942); Telling Tommy About Our Good Neighbors (1943); Telling Tommy About Things We Use (1946); and Telling Tommy About Pilgrims Progress (1957). 

According to the 1940 census, self-employed artist and writer Pim was a Birmingham homeowner at 4300 10th Avenue. 

The 1950 census, enumerated in April, said Pim was at the same address and “unable to work”. 

Pim passed away July 26, 1950, in Birmingham. Many newspapers published the Associated Press obituary. 
William Paul Pim, Author, Cartoonist
Birmingham, Ala., July 26 (AP)—William Paul Pim, whose sketches for children became nationally known, died at midnight after a long illness. He was 65 years old.

The artist drew the “Baby Mine” and “Telling Tommy,” syndicated features. He was author of a series of illustrated stories about Tommy.

Born in Freeport, Pa., he came here in 1915 and worked as a newspaper cartoonist. During the first World War he was with The Cleveland Plain Dealer and then returned here.

Mr. Pim began the “Baby Mine” series in 1921 after opening an advertising studio. The “Telling Tommy” features followed.

Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Lenna Hales Pim, and a sister, Mrs. Roy Van Dyke of Freeport.
Pim was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery

Further Reading and Viewing
Stripper’s Guide, The Newspaper Feature Service Romantic Cartoon Series, Part 9 (1927–1928)
The Kiwanis Magazine, July 1923
The Kiwanis Magazine, August 1924


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Monday, May 13, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Telling Tommy


Cartoonist W. Paul Pim is quite the enigma, at least to me. I have seen artwork of his that is very good. and yet his biggest successes looked like the above, which I consider quite awful. He seemed to like drawing little kids, and yet could not draw a cute kid any more than Elmer Fudd could catch a wabbit. 

It's just weird. Pim seemed to be able to draw realistic stuff okay, yet when he switched over to cartoony mode he was a car wreck. And yet his longest-running features were cartoony, or partially cartoony like this feature, Telling Tommy.

This strip was meant to be instructional; Tommy asks wise ol' Dad a question, and Dad proceeds to feed him some 'facts' on the subject. I put the word facts in quotes, because if you were to get all your information from Tommy's dad, you'd fail a lot of tests in school. Both our samples above offer incorrect information. The one about rabbits is just misleading -- rabbits are actually much more common than hares in the U.S., and most all rabbits and hares molt twice a year, not just the show shoe hare. 

The second strip is more egregious; the Canadian national anthem at the time, and for many years to come, was God Save The King. The Maple Leaf Forever was a patriotic song of some popularity, but never an official national anthem. 

The most amazing thing about Telling Tommy, after its loose grip on the facts and feeble art, is its longevity. This is the sort of strip that you figure might have lasted a year or two before lack of clients shut it down. But Telling Tommy, believe it or not, was actively syndicated for almost a decade and a half! It was a comparative rarity the whole time, but it just kept chugging along.

The strip debuted with the Cosmos Newspaper Syndicate on June 1 1925*. Cosmos was a small syndicate that was active in the mid-20s. I know little about them, but they had an interesting habit of introducing new features only to have them defect to other syndicates. Telling Tommy followed that plotline. The amazing thing is that none other than King Features Syndicate took it over. It's hard to imagine Telling Tommy rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bringing Up Father, Barney Google and Happy Hooligan, but it really did. King took over with the release of August 23 1926**.

The strip just could not be stopped. Although very few newspapers ever ran the darn thing, King offered it until 1939***. I can't offer a specific end date, because the last samples I've seen are from 1937. 

And yet, amazingly enough, this was STILL not the end of Telling Tommy. In the same year that the strip finally went belly-up, Pim got the Cupples & Leon publishing company to rework some of his strips with some additional text matter under the title Telling Tommy About Mother Nature's Curious Children. This eventually led to a six book series, the last of which was not published until seven years after Pim's death.

And there's yet another footnote. In 1943, General Features syndicate was barely out of their diapers when they decided to see what they could do with Telling Tommy. What they came up with was to offer the strip as a three-times-per-week advertising strip for department stores****. New and revamped material was created so as to make their subjects tangentially related to department stores and their value in the war effort. The idea seems a little hare-brained, but I'v actually seen the strips used as ads by a few department stores. 

Okay, I think I've finally covered all the bases on Telling Tommy. If there's more to the story I'm not entirely sure I want to know about it. (Okay, fine, yes I do. I'm a glutton for punishment.)

* Source: Editor & Publisher, July 25 1925.

** Source: Editor & Publisher, August 21 1926. 

*** Source: Editor & Publisher Syndicate Directories.

**** Source: Editor & Publisher, November 27 1943.


There is a little bit more. There was also a "Telling Tommy" card game, from 1934. I have a copy somewhere in one of my boxes. It was a quiz game, with questions and answers, and artwork from the strip. It has some period charm, but was probably not much fun.
As of this comment (5/14/24) you can find a copy of that card game here:
Not exactly giving it away, are they! I wonder how many of the card games 'facts' are as suspect as those in the strip?
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Sunday, May 12, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman


This is card #1022 in Walter Wellman's probably self-published series of cards from 1907. What young fellow, separated from his gal who is probably away with her family, wouldn't be thrilled to receive such a card. Nicely done Walter, who was not generally all that adept at drawing pretty girls. You nailed it! Sadly, this card was never posted -- an opportunity forever lost.


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Saturday, May 11, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Finishing Touches by Art Young, 1893


Art Young shows workmen putting together a massive sculpture for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A desire to do something special for this exposition was responsible for the Chicago Inter-Ocean pushing high-speed printing technology to the limit, so that they could print colour supplements for their newspapers once or more per week. Previous to this, colour printing was done on comparatively slow speed presses. If a newspaper wanted to print a colour supplement of some sort it would be worked on far in advance on slow presses. 

The opening of the Exposition was less than a month away when Art Young contributed this interesting illustration for the supplement's cover. Just for the heck of it I did a little poking around to find a photo of the finished sculpture. Oddly enough, I can find no reference to a sculpture with this subject, much less a photo of it. Anyone care to pick up the gauntlet and find us a pic of this sculpture?


I think this may represent pieces of Philip Martiny's decorations for the fair's Agricultural Building. The assembled sculpture had a man standing between the two horses and the guys holding the horses sported flying drapery. Here's a picture of the completed group:

Click on the magnify button to get a huge image.
Allen, are you sure the sculpture in the drawing was a real one?
If you look closely, it's a little too ridiculous to be an actual one: two naked men riding on the animal's legs? Seriously?
These horses clearly have riders, so I don't think Smurfswacker has the right one. Manqueman, the riders are in normal rider position, these horse statues are just misssing their legs at this point in the preparation process. Take another look, you'll see what I mean.

Somthing to keep in mind is that these two horse and rider figures might have been separated later in the making of the final statue(s).

Allan, I did a Google search (yes, I know) for Chicago Exposition and came up with nothing remotely like what Young illustrated.
Are you sure that what he drew was an actual one ant something made up for the illustration?
Yes, I probably missed something, probably a lot. The synapses are firing too well these days…
No guarantees of course, but the Inter Ocean's covers were all about showing people views of the exhibition. Of course Young might have taken liberties, but I can't imagine why. This would have been pretty hard to draw, given how the figures are incomplete and bear unwanted casting sections still on them. If he was going to work from imagination, why not make it easier and more appealing? Just my guess...
In here:

If you click on the Electricity building (#8). I think I can see these guys at the right edge of the photo. If you click on #6 (Manufacturers and Liberal Arts), the background matches, and this sculpture is probably on the left edge behind the elk, but you can't tell.
Definitely, Whygh, you've got it. Amazing how sculptures this large can disappear amongst all the rest.
With Whygh's guidance, I uncovered a good pic. The horses don't have legs because they are 'sea horses', a tail would be added. Here's a great pic, which can be made full screen with excellent resolution:
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Friday, May 10, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Nixie


Although R.F. Outcault was the unquestioned king of series comics in the 1800s, by the turn of the century he didn't have any really popular series in his current kit bag. Gallus Coon thankfully didn't take hold at the New York World, and today's obscurity, Nixie, done for the Herald, showed some promise but ultimately fell by the wayside. 

Nixie is a moon-faced little kid who always wears an odd form-fitting cap (perhaps a baby bonnet?) topped with a pom-pom. A genteel version of the Yellow Kid, perhaps? The strip was sometimes pantomime, but when talking was the order of the day, it was done through captions below the panels. As was sometimes the case, animals get special dispensation to use word balloons. Nixie doesn't have a strong personality in the samples I've seen, so his odd face and garb are about the sum total of his appeal.

The Herald tried to get the public excited about Nixie, but evidently the reviews were not enthusiastisc enough. The strip started on March 18 1900 and last appeared on September 23* of the same year. Very soon Pore Little Mose would come on the scene, and he would function as Outcault's bread-and-butter strip for the next two years. 

Here are a few additional Nixie examples from OSU's Bill Blackbeard archives. 

* Source: Ken Barker's New York Herald index in StripScene #20.


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Wednesday, May 08, 2024


Toppers: Jungle Bedtime Stories


January 10 1926 was an important date for Sunday comics. This was the Sunday that the first wave of Hearst Sunday features added toppers. Some lagged behind, but it was on this date that Boob McNutt, Toots and Casper, Tillie the Toiler, Bringing Up Father, Happy Hooligan and Katzenjammer Kids led the charge to a new era of Sunday comics. (Well, actually there is one much earlier outlier, but we'll save that special case for some other day.)

The Katzies first topper was Jungle Bed-Time Stories, which, like all the original Hearst toppers that started in early 1926, was soon replaced. But this one was fine while it lasted, offering up gags starring jungle animals. Harold Knerr pulled this one out of a very old bag of tricks. Way back in 1911, for the very obscure Publishers Press/C.J. Mar syndicate, he'd contributed one of their best-looking features, Zoo-Illogical Snapshots, which covered the same territory. 

Jungle Bed-Time Stories ran until May 2 1926, which happens to be the sample above. And speaking of the sample above, if anyone can decode the gag on this one I'm officially in Comics I Don't Understand territory. The next week Knerr produced a one-shot topper called Naughty! Naughty!, and then settled into the very long run of Dinglehoofer Und His Dog Adolph.


An old phrase meaning (to use an old word) gumption.
Hello Allan-
In the first Episode of "Dinglehoofer and his dog" his name was "Dinglegoofer", thereafter, it changed to the regular spelling until it ended in 1952. So I guess that could be technically a "one-shot" too.
Usage here in a 1918 Western:
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Monday, May 06, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Yenevieve Yonson's Cat


I really like Yenevieve Yonson's Cat. I know it's dopey and repetitive, I know the strip just rips off the popular song The Cat Came Back, I know it animates cruelty to animals, and I know the Yonson character is an unkind stereotype of Scandinavians. But despite all that the strip still finds its way to my funnybone just about every time I get to read one. Which isn't exactly an everyday occurrence because the strip ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer from February 10 1907 to October 31 1909.

Yenevieve Yonson's Cat is also intriguing from another perspective. In its very respectable two and a half year run, the feature was NEVER ONCE signed. Some syndicates didn't like their creators to sign a whole bunch of strips because it made them look like a penny ante outfit. And some creators didn't sign because they were on salary at another syndicate and did uncredited work to bring in some extra scratch. But for a titled feature to run that long with the creator so consistently not signing is a feat of some note. 

Is it a record? Mmm, maybe not. Some of the McClure Sunday strips from the latter half of the 1900s weren't signed for years, too. The difference there is that almost always in some part of their run they WERE signed, even if only once or twice. 

So the big question, then, is who wrote and drew Yenevieve Yonson's Cat? And I have a pretty strong belief that the culprit is Charlie Payne. First, it looks like his work, Secondly, he had two other features running in the Inquirer Sunday sections -- Scary William and Bear Creek Folks -- so the powers that be at the Inky might have told him to anonymize himself on this one. 

Luckily, I happen to know that there is an expert on all things comic and Philadelphia lurking out there, and I will be waiting to hear him weigh in on my art ID. Oh Mark...?


Hello Allan-
Sure, it's Payne! The shading crosshatching, the tiny squeezed letters in the ragged square word balloons, the water splats, and nobody else did the starry faceplants like his.
I note here that a more advanced detective of interpreting styles than I, Cole, had unhesitatingly named Payne as the artist for Yenevive in all his Inquirer notes.
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Sunday, May 05, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Nate Collier


Here is a Nate Collier card from Taylor Pratt's Series 892 (aka Red Border Series), published in 1912. It seems to me this card is a brilliant bit of marketing magic -- those who shun religion will buy it, knowing their recipient will understand they are being sarcastic. Those of a religious bent will also buy it for the opposite reason. Nice one Nate!


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Saturday, May 04, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Lord Dedbroke by Fred Brisley, 1897


Sorry for the nausea-inducing colours on this strip, but blame the New York Journal, not me. Inside pages of the comics sections of the 90s were almost always two-colour affairs, and the choices for those two colours sometimes make you wonder what colour-blind numskull was making the decisions. 

Today we have a one-shot by Fred Brisley, who most likely would not have his newspaper cartooning career recognized on this blog without this category of post. Supposedly Brisley, who sometimes signed himself just 'Bris', or even just 'B', was a cartoonist with the St. Paul Dispatch in the 1880s-90s. Brisley came on the scene at the New York Journal in 1897, contributed lots of work to the Sunday comics section until early 1898, and then disappeared with amazing thoroughness. 

Was he any great shakes as a cartoonist? Well, no. But today's one-shot, featuring a cleless British fop named Lord Dedbroke exploring the New World was certainly good enough that Brisley could have done just one more gag with him. How close you came, Fred, to being immortalized in my book.


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Friday, May 03, 2024


Firsts and Lasts: The Final Flapping of Fanny


Flapper Fanny, an unassuming little one-column panel feature when it debuted in 1925, launched the careers of not one but two amazing cartoonists (I see no reason to put in the qualifier female cartoonists, because that would unfairly minimize their brilliance). 

The first was Ethel Hays, whose jaw-droppingly elegant artwork was wasted on the tiny feature. Luckily NEA, the syndicate that distributed Flapper Fanny, recognized her genius and assigned a larger panel titled simply Ethel, and also had her regularly contributing colour covers for their Everyweek magazine section. 

Hays passed the Flapper Fanny panel onto its second standout artist in 1930. Gladys Parker had already been published by Graphic Syndicate and United Feature, but both of those outfits were barely above the fly-by-night level in the 1920s. Parker put her own inimitable stamp on Flapper Fanny, and eventually also started her own NEA fashion panel, called Femininities. Her work was evidently received with some enthusiasm, and in 1932 Flapper Fanny added a Sunday strip version. 

Parker worked on the Flapper Fanny daily and Sunday until December 1935 before calling it quits. Faced with bringing on a new artist, NEA decided to cut the Flapper Fanny Sunday. The third and final artist on the Flapper Fanny daily panel was Sylvia Sneidman, whose work was very fine, too, but was enough of a copy of Parker's style that I can't honestly offer her the same accolades as Hays and Parker. 

Sylvia apparently did some lobbying and the Flapper Fanny panel was promoted to a 2-column affair, giving her a little more room to show off her artistic chops. But by 1936 the term 'flapper' was so far out of date that Sneidman might as well have been drawing the panel in a cell, patiently waiting for the firing squad. Why it didn't occur to NEA that a retitling of the series might be in order I cannot imagine. 

Flapper Fanny gamely continued four and a half years under Sneidman's control, but finally the inevitable happened. With no fanfare, the last Flapper Fanny panel, seen above, ran on June 29 1940. 


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Wednesday, May 01, 2024


News of Yore 1924: Syndicates Evil, Says Syndicate Head

 (from Editor & Publisher, June 28 1924)

What's What in the Feature Field

"So long as a newspaper syndicate creates and develops new and worthwhile talent, just so long it is useful and helpful to the newspaper world. But its reason for being surely stops there."

This is the opinion of H.H. McClure, general manager of the Associated Newspapers, New York, who in a recent statement to clients takes up the discussion of syndicate methods by the American Society of Newspaper Editors as contained in Editor & Publisher. 

McClure in this statement expresses himself in accord with the A.S.N.E. findings that "the present day newspaper syndicates, while being of much service, are to be blamed for many evils."

"Everyone knows," he declares, "that the original idea and purpose of the newspaper syndicate was to furnish reading and picture material to newspapers in non-conflicting territory at a lower cost than such material would be for one paper alone, or even for a small group of papers. 

 "And everyone in the newspaper business knows that this is no longer done.

"Worthwhile features now cost the newspapers in such cities as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, etc., more than they should cost the entire syndicate list. Proportionately the evil extends to every newspaper buying features," he maintains.

McClure blames the newspapers mainly for this condition for "permitting the syndicate Frankensteins to create their monsters."

"There is no doubt but that the feature business would be much improved if some of the 'oriental price-jackers' were eliminated, " he says.

"When a syndicate operates only on the plan of taking established talent away from another organization and making the publisher pay steadily increasing prices for this talent, then it becomes a menace. 

"There are now several syndicates which have not discovered or created a single feature which they are placing -- everyone has been 'bid' away from some one else, and the newspaper publishers have held the bag. I am not saying that a feature may not be better placed and handled by one organization than another, but I do claim that the so-called better organization ought to do some creative work, in order to acquire merit in the eyes of the publishers."

[To explain this sour grapes tirade you must understand that Associated Newspapers was not really a syndicate in the traditional sense -- it was a cooperative of various newspapers. Due to the structure of their business, Associated was very prone to losing creators to the 'real' syndicates. They had little say in how much their features' creators' were paid -- that was up to individual member papers. So when a feature gained any great popularity it was up to the individual newspaper to outbid a syndicate, which was rarely going to work out in the newspaper's favour. 

In 1930 Associated Newspapers' flawed business model finally spelled their doom as a co-op -- they were sold off to become an imprint of Bell Syndicate -- Allan]


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Monday, April 29, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Friends and Romans


Johnny Hart  didn't invent the comic strip genre in which people of other eras comment upon modern life, but the success of  B.C. and The Wizard of Id certainly made it an immensely popular device in the 1960s and beyond. 

Tom Isbell was among the multitudes of acolytes who would offer up variations on the theme. In 1974 he created a strip called Friends and Romans, using the Roman Empire as the setting for gags about the present day. Because government was on everyone's mind in 1974, the lion's share of Isbell's gags are about Roman Senators, but there's plenty of general gag fodder as well. 

Isbell came up with an extensive troupe of characters, and for reasons known only to him, decided not to name any of them. They were known only as the Emperor, the Senator, the Tribune, the Soothsayer, the Philosopher, etc. The decision to leave them nameless was unfortunate especially because some of his characters look quite similar (togas will do that). The Senator and the Emperor, for instance, seem to be differentiated only by the latter having grey hair. 

If the concept was hobbled just a bit by this one bad choice, the art and gags certainly made up for it. Artwise, Isbell seemed to be influenced more by European cartooning than the domestic brand, especially by Albert Uderzo's Asterix. It stood out on the comics page, a little island of unique art in amongst the then-current crop of minimalists.

The gags are skillfully formulated, and there aren't many misses among the hits. Isbell especially enjoyed skewering politics and government, but carefully walked a line so as not to get one side or the other of the political spectrum mad at him. 

Isbell shopped Friends and Romans to the major syndicates but found no takers. Feeling that he had something worthwhile, though, he took the strip to his local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller. They agreed  and offered him a spot. The strip debuted on September 2 1974, accompanied by lots of 'local stripper makes good' coverage. 

Isbell wasn't interested in making a career out of being a local cartoonist, though. Once his strip was in the Caller he once again made the syndicate rounds, this time no doubt boasting that he was already being published. Still no syndicate produced a contract, but a fellow named Jay Poyntor, who was leaving the post of national sales manager for NEA, really liked what he saw. And since his exit from NEA was prompted by him wanting to start his own syndicate, he asked Isbell to make Friends and Romans one of his initial offerings. 

Friends and Romans was pulled from the Corpus Christi Caller, ending November 9 1974*, while Poyntor geared up his new syndicate, which he would call Continental Features**. Isbell's strip re-debuted, now sporting a syndicate stamp, on March 30 1975. Poyntor even offered the strip as a Sunday, a bold step for a new syndicate. 

While Friends and Romans didn't set sales records by any means, Poyntor showed that he did know how to sell a feature. Newspaper editors very reasonably look at small-start-up syndicates with a jaundiced eye, but Friends and Romans did very well considering this impediment. Supposedly the strip began in thirty papers, a not unrespectable showing at all.

Despite his wealth of syndicate and selling experience, Jay Poyntor's Continental Features failed to take off, and when United Feature Syndicate offered him a job in 1976, Poyntor decided that regular paychecks are a good thing and called it quits. The good news for Friends and Romans was that UFS either wanted, or merely consented, to taking over its syndication. The strip began flying its new syndicate colours on October 3 1976. 

Whether UFS took on Friends and Romans willingly or not, they sure didn't find it much in the way of new clients. Isbell gamely kept on producing the strip for another year and a half, but with no big second act in the offing, he or the syndicate decided to cross the Rubicon and cancelled the strip on June 25 1978 (daily) and July 17 1978 (Sunday).

It would have been great if Isbell had a second shot at syndication, he was such a promising talent, but as far as I know this was his only syndicated feature. I do wonder where he went with his career after Friends and Romans, but I can't track his activities after this, perhaps mostly because some actor with the same name has infected all the neurons in Google's brain. 


 * Source: All dates from Corpus Christi Caller and Corpus Christi Times, except Sunday end date from Newport News Press.

** An ominous name for a syndicate if there ever was one -- there have been several syndicates by that name over the years, and not one has ever become a major player. 


Glad you like Friends and Romans, it was a favorite of mine back in the day.
A couple decades ago I got in contact with some Isbell family members and learned that Tom Isbell before, during, and after F & R was employed by major Texas grocery chain HEB in their art department. His work can be seen on occasion in their advertising.
Tom died young: August 7, 1943 - January 1, 1996.
This is a pretty fun strip! Thanks for highlighting this. If I had to describe the art style, I'd say it's a mix of "Asterix" and "Tumbleweeds".

Jay Poynor was credited as executive producer on the early "Garfield" specials, no doubt repping for United Feature.
Isbell's very brief obituary is in, appropriately enough, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, page 2, January 4, 1996. His work for HEB is referenced, as is the comic strip and service in the Air Force in the 1960s.
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Sunday, April 28, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Zim


Here's a postcard from Taylor Platt & Co.'s series 680. All the cards in this series had the same gagline, making poor Zim have to come up with cartoons to sorta fit. I'd say the fit leaves something to be desired on this example. 

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


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Saturday, April 27, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Why Herr Schnitzel Failed in Business by Daniel McCarthy, 1898


Daniel McCarthy was a well-regarded cartoonist in the 1890s, but you'll not have seen much of him on Stripper's Guide because he penned very few series. Luckily we have a one-shot wonder we can show, this full pager that ran in the New York World on April 3 1898. As you can gather from this quite funny (though a bit repetitve) strip, men's social clubs were once all the rage. Only a few are left these days, like the Lions, the Rotarians, the Elks and so on, and I imagine they are holding on by a very slender thread. I for one always thought it would be great to be a member of these clubs, but McCarthy shows us that there was one big downside to them; the constantly outstretched palm that always seemed to be pointed in your direction.


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Friday, April 26, 2024


Toppers: Boots and her Buddies


I really like how the NEA syndicate came up with interesting and original ways to add toppers to their Sundays in the 1920s. Unlike everyone else scrambling to follow in the Hearst footsteps, NEA thought outside the box and didn't slavishly follow the pack. Today's topper is a great example of that.

Boots and her Buddies by Edgar Martin had debuted as a daily strip in February 1924 and NEA clients seemed to really take to it. It was essentially a flapper strip, which could have been strictly a me-too affair, but Martin put his own stamp on it by making Boots an interesting and multi-faceted character and populating the strip with an interesting troupe of second bananas, too. 

By 1926 Boots and her Buddies was firmly ensconced as an NEA A-lister and it could easily have merited a Sunday strip. But NEA at the time was uninterested in supplying more than a 4-page Sunday comic section*, considering that the majority of their clients didn't even publish Sunday editions. But there was a simple solution to that problem when toppers became the latest fashion; make Boots and her Buddies into a topper. For presumably no reason other than a roll of the dice, the Boots topper was paired with Our Boarding House, and the two were wed on September 12 1926**. 

The pairing lasted for five years until NEA finally started relenting on the four-page Sunday strip limit and expanded their Sunday offerings. The final Boots and her Buddies topper ran on October 18 1931. The new topper to Our Boarding House was The Nut Brothers, which was produced by Gene Ahern himself.

An interesting footnote is that the new Boots full page Sunday had already debuted over a month earlier, on September 6, so there were actually two Boots strips running simultaneously for that short period. And that explains the mystery of why the new Sunday page was initially titled Girls rather than Boots and her Buddies. It was to avoid confusion about the duplicate strips.

* The four Sundays were Out Our Way, Freckles and his Friends, Our Boarding House and Salesman Sam.

** All dates from NEA archives at Ohio State University.


Hello Allan-
When Hearst launched the "Puck" section in September 1931, it really caused a big shake up in the comics world.
It would seem NEA's reaction to Puck was to stay competitive and attractive to clients, they'd counter with more strips, which would be new and familiar at the same time.
Also in the fall of 1931, Chicago Tribune and the Ledger syndicate then started to add the equivalent of top strips, though they were at the bottom of the page. "Hairbreadth Harry" cartoonist F. O. Alexander told me the Ledger followed the ChiTrib directly, (and you'll notice they rather revamped their offerings in a near perfect duplication of the Trib's new format) because the Trib now could say they had twice as many titles, counting stuff like "Kitty Higgins" and "That Phoney Nickle" etc; now at no extra cost. The Ledger came up with their own new dazzlers nobody asked for like "The Back Seat Driver", "The Wet Blanket" and Alex's own "High-Gear Homer", which he said he never liked doing, he just had to, because the syndicate wanted to boast that they too had extra titles in their line up.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Louis Wain's Cat Comic Strip (1st Series)


Starting his artistic career in the 1880s, Louis Wain quickly became a popular and incredibly prolific artist in British publications, where he specialized in humorous cartoons of cats. By his constant appearances in publications like the Illustrated London News, which enjoyed worldwide circulation, his fame spread to the U.S., where William Randolph Hearst saw his material as being a good fit for the New York Journal's new colour comic section.

Wain's densely populated cat cartoon panels, which had no regular recurring title, debuted in the New York Journal on October 17 1897 and ran there for a little over half a year, apparently disappearing after the installment of June 5 1898*. These dates are based on the documentation of the SFACA collection at Ohio State University. However, Dave Strickler's indexing of the early Journal claims an end date of December 11 1898. Perhaps both are right and the Wain cartoons in the latter half of 1898 appeared outside the comics section. Not having seen late examples myself, I cannot say who is right.

Wondering if the Journal cartoons were original material or just reruns from the British press, I tried searching for a few of the individual titles, like Tabby Social Club, on the web. I found no other references to them other than in the Journal, so I assume that these cartoons were original material created for the paper, not reprints. 

Wain's initial series of cat cartoons didn't seem to set New York on fire, and his work was not seen in newspapers here for the next decade. However, on a trip to New York in 1907 Wain succeeded in selling his wares to the Hearst organization once again, eventually leading to a number of series spanning the next decade.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for supplying the scans of this series.


Hello Allan-
Nice to see my brother is still contributing, posthumously.
I don't think these are reprints from some British source, It would seem that Wain, who was a rather prolific penman, submitted material for Hearst over in America because it would be a paying venue, and so he put in several months' worth of his peculiar specialty. I think by the time of the later Wain series, like Toby Maltese, etc., Hearst materials were printed in British publications as well.
Though Wain was a very popular cartoonist, especially famous across the pond, he is more famous today for his ever more deranged artwork, still often feline-centric, done while he slowly lost his mind while in a mental hospital for his last twenty-five or so years of his life. His story is literally textbook stuff in psychological studies. Sad but true.

Not many early strippers have a bio-pic dedicated to them!

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

1h 51m
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Monday, April 22, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Frank Tashlin

Frank Tashlin was born Francis Fredrick Tashlein on February 19, 1913, in Hudson, New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Birth Index, at, and his World War II draft card. His parents were Charles F. Tashlein and Augustine Deloy Maury who married in 1912. The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), August 24, 1912, said 
Virginia Man Gets Marriage License Here
A marriage license was issued here yesterday to Charles F. Tashlein, of 620 West Grace street, Richmond, to wed Augustine Deloy Maury, age 30, dressmaker, of West Forty-eighth street, New York city. Tashlein’s first wife died in New York city May 13, 1911. Mrs. Maury’s first husband died in New York six years ago.
Tashlin and his parents have not yet been found in the 1920 United States Census. The 1925 New York state census counted the trio in Long Island City, Queens, New York at 465 Third Avenue. Tashlin’s father was a chauffeur. 

Tashlin has not yet been found in the 1930 census. 

According to Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-winning and Legendary Animators (2006), Jeff Lenburg said Tashlin was “an errand boy and cel washer at New York’s fabled Fleischer Studios”. At age seventeen, he was an animation inker on Paul Terry’s Aesop’s Film Fables. Tashlin’s art training included correspondence courses of the Federal School of Applied Cartooning. The school’s quarterly publication, The Federal Illustrator, Summer 1932, said
Frank Tashlin has been connected with the Aesop Fables Studio in New York for two years. He reports nice, fat pay envelopes and extra checks for magazine illustrations which he is turning out under the name of “Tish Tash.”
Later Tashlin “moved” to the studio of producer Amedee J. Van Beuren who bought out Fables Pictures. In 1932, Tashlin began work on the Tom and Jerry series. 

The Federal Illustrator, Spring 1933, published Tashlin’s “Behind the Scenes in a Motion Picture Cartoon Studio”.

In 1933, Tashlin accepted Leon Schlesinger’s offer to work on Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series in California. 

A possible clue to Tashlin’s location was found on a passenger list at On August 5, 1933, his mother sailed on the steamship Virginia from New York. She arrived in the port of Los Angeles on August 19. The passenger list had her address as 2202 Holly Drive, Hollywood, California. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Tashlin created Van Boring which ran from January 6, 1934 to June 20, 1936. It was distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. From 1936 to 1938, Canada's Dominion News Bureau handled the series, presumably in reprints.



The Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1936, reported Tashlin’s upcoming wedding. 
Miss Dorothy Hill, fiancee of Frank Tashlin, whose wedding will take place next Saturday in Westwood Community Church, was guest of honor at a tea and linen shower given last Sunday by Mrs. Manly Nelson at her home at 10121 Tabor street.

Mrs. Jennings Brown will assist her sister as matron of honor and other attendants will include Misses Dorothy McCarthy, Mary Mahoney, Dorothy Melaby and Mrs. Nelson. George Manuel will serve as best man and ushers include Frank Hee, J. W. Jenkins, Nelson Demorest and Manly Nelson.
The Film Daily, October 26, 1936, said 
Leon Schlesinger, producer of “Looney Tunes,” and “Merrie Melodies,” entertained at his Beverly Hills home in honor of Frank Tashlin (“Tish Tash”) and his bride, Dorothy Marguerite Hill. Miss Hill, who sings on the Shell Chateau program, met Tashlin when she applied for an audition.
According to 1936 and 1938 California voter registrations, Tashlin was a Democrat who lived at 1833 1/4 Grace Avenue in Los Angeles. His mother was at 1833 1/2. 

The 1940 census counted Tashlin, his wife and two-year-old daughter, Patricia, in Los Angeles at 2013 North Highland Avenue. He was a story director whose highest level of education was three years of high school. In 1939 Tashlin earned $3,400. Almost five months later, Tashlin signed his World War Draft card on October 16, 1940. His address was 11605 Dilling Street. Walt Disney was his employer. Tashlin was described as six feet four inches, 220 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair.

In 1941 Tashlin was working on Fox and the Crow cartoons at Columbia Pictures. The following year he was back at Warner Bros. In the second half of the 1940s, Tashlin pursued work in feature films by creating gags, screenwriting and directing. Tashlin’s screen credits include The Paleface (1948), The First Time (1952), Son of Paleface (1952), Artists and Models (1955), The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), Hollywood or Bust (1956), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957); The Geisha Boy (1958), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell (1968).

The 1950 census had the same address. Tashlin was a television director. 

Tashlin’s The Bear That Wasn’t was published by E.P. Dutton in 1946. It was reprinted by Dover Publications in 1995. In 1950 Farrar, Straus published his The ’Possum That Didn’t. The World That Isn’t saw print in 1951 from Simon and Schuster. Pageant, June 1952, published 16 pages of The World That Isn’t. Tashlin self-published How to Create Cartoons (1952). 

The Knoxville Journal (Tennessee), October 26, 1952, reported Tashlin’s engagement to Mary Costa who was the voice of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Their wedding plans were noted in the Knoxville Journal, June 27, 1953. 

Advertising Age, February 9, 1953, said 
Frank Tashlin Co. Formed
Frank Tashlin Co., Hollywood, has been incorporated to produce television films. Frank Tashlin, director-writer, is president. Other officers are Lester Linsk, v.p., and Charles E. Trezona, secretary-treasurer.
The 1955 Beverly Hills city directory listed the company at 29 Benedict Canyon Drive. 

Tashlin passed away on May 5, 1972, in Los Angeles. He was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. An obituary was published in The New York Times, May 9, 1972. 

Further Reading
The New York Times, August 20, 2006, “Unmanly Men Meet Womanly Women: Frank Tashlin’s Satires Still Ring True”
Michael Barrier, Frank Tashlin Interview 
Amateur Cine World, January 11, 1962, “Is Frank Tashlin an Underrated Director?”
The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, 1980 

Mary Costa
Coronet, June 1956
Who’s Who of American Women (1959) 


Once again, this is why this is my favorite blog. I learn so much every day.
Thank you for this, and especially for the Federal Illustrator article, which I'd been looking for. (My great-grandmother's younger half-brother founded the Federal Schools.) It seems to end in mid-sentence--is there another page?
While I'm sure that many people reading this original post know this already, I want to get it on the record for people who might read it long afterward. The "Tom and Jerry" cartoons that Tashlin started working on in 1932 are not the famous cat and mouse duo -- Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera introduced the cat-and-mouse Tom and Jerry in 1940, for MGM.

The Tom and Jerry at the Van Beuren studio were human characters, and their cartoons were only made from 1931 to 1933. By the time their cartoons were sold to television, the cat and mouse had become so famous that the human Tom and Jerry were renamed Dick and Larry for television airings.
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