Saturday, September 22, 2018


Herriman Saturday

September 23 1909 -- Herriman celebrates the virtue of learning in a well-drawn editorial cartoon. This cartoon accompanied a newspaper crusade to buy a newly issued LA school bond.


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Friday, September 21, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

Here's an oddball card. This is a card from the Tuck 'Smiles' line, Series 169. But the back of the card has an ad for Butter Crust Bread rather than the standard Tuck reverse. I guess this bread company contracted with Tuck to offer their cards, maybe in a giveaway, with their logo on the back.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jim Christiansen

James “Jim” Orman Christiansen was born in Baldwin, New York, September 18, 1927, according to Who’s Who of Comic Strip Producers. The same birth date was found in the Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875–1940, at, which had Christiansen’s full name and baptism on December 13, 1927 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York.

Christiansen and his parents, Ivar and Marie, were recorded in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census in Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, at 51 Harte Street. Christiansen’s father was a Norwegian emigrant and bricklayer.

The Nassau Review-Star (Freeport, New York), December 21, 1935, published an “In Memoriam” list that said Christiansen’s mother died December 21, 1930. It’s not known when his father remarried to Charlotte Jensen.

The 1940 census recorded Christiansen, his father, sister, step-mother and step-grandmother in Roosevelt, Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, at 133 East Lincoln Avenue. Christiansen’s father was an insurance agent.

Christiansen’s father’s New York Guard service card said he served two years, from 1940 to 1942. The card listed two addresses: the home address was 133 Lincoln Avenue, Roosevelt, New York; and the change of address was 37 Grand Terrace, Baldwin, New York.

Christiansen graduated from Baldwin High School. At the baccalaureate services, the Nassau Review-Star, June 25, 1945, reported that “Christiansen, a senior, acted as chairman and read the Scriptures.”

Who’s Who of Comic Strip Producers said Christiansen studied at the School of Visual Arts. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Christiansen was an assistant to Tom Gill who drew the strip, Flower Potts, from May 20, 1946 to July 3, 1948.

Christiansen served in the Korean War. He was an army engineer according to Who’s Who of Comic Strip Producers. The Nassau Review-Star, September 18, 1952, noted the return of several local veterans including Christiansen.

16 Vets of Korea Reach Coast on Way Home
Troop transports brought 16 Nassau veterans of Korea combat to the U. S. West Coast yesterday.

Arriving at Seattle and San Francisco were: …Rockville Centre—Private First Class James O. Christiansen of 22 Cambridge Street
Christiansen was the third artist on Davy Crockett, Frontiersman, which began with Jim McArdle on June 20, 1955. In mid-January 1957, Jack Kirby ghosted the strip for about two-and-a-half weeks. Christiansen took over the Columbia Features strip on March 10, 1957.

Christiansen was the fourth artist on Nero Wolfe. Mike Roy started the strip November 26, 1956. He was followed by Pete Hoffman Fran Matera, and Christiansen, who produced the daily and Sunday from August 26, 1957 to March 1, 1958. Columbia Features was the syndicator.

Christiansen worked briefly in the comic book industry. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he drew the Lone Ranger in 1955, and produced material for Treasure Chest from 1956 to 1958.

Both Who’s Who said Christiansen was an assistant art director at the Robinson Tog [sic: Tag] and Label Co. The dates of his employment were not stated.

Christiansen’s father passed away November 19, 1991 in Florida.

Christiansen’s present status and whereabouts are not known.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jim McArdle

James “Jim” Nivison McArdle was born in New York, New York, on November 22, 1899, according to the New York City birth record at, his World War I draft card (which also had his full name), and Who’s Who in American Art (1959).

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded McArdle as the only child of James and Lillian. His father was an Irish emigrant and liquor dealer. The family resided at 425 West 52nd Street in Manhattan.

According to the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, McArlde’s father died when he was five months old. The New York, New York, Marriage Index at said McArdle’s mother remarried to William Smoot on April 20, 1904.

According to the 1905 New York state census, McArdle and his parents lived in Manhattan at 816 Tenth Avenue. His step-father was a stevedore.

The 1910 census and and 1915 state census recorded McArdle, his parents and two step-sisters at 771 Washington Street in Manhattan. In 1915, McArdle was an office boy.

On September 12, 1918, McArdle signed his World War I draft card. His address was 52 Jane Street in Manhattan. McArdle was a clerk with the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal in its office at 129 Front Street in Manhattan. His description was medium height, slender build with blue eyes and dark brown hair.

In the 1920 census, McArdle was counted in the Smoot household which numbered seven. The family resided in Manhattan at 159 Ninth Avenue. McArdle was a clerk at a men’s furnishing store.

The New York, New York, Marriage Index recorded McArdle’s marriage to Lillian D. Larkin in Manhattan on June 14, 1924.

Who’s Who in American Art said McArdle studied at Fordham University. According to Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, McArdle studied art at the Academy of Design and Art Students League.

McArdle was a self-employed commercial artist according to the 1930 census. He and his wife made their home in Brooklyn at 36 Crooke Avenue.

The New York Times, February 10, 1960, said McArdle was a magazine and fashion illustrator, and a member of the Society of Illustrators. McArdle signed his name as “Jay McArdle”.

From New York City, the couple went on a cruise from February 25 to March 13, 1931 on the steamship Britannic. The passenger list had the same address as the census.

In the 1940 census, the couple lived in Manhattan at 35 East 30th Street. McArdle was a freelance commercial artist and his wife was an artist. The census said McArdle had completed three years of high school.

The Nassau Daily Review-Star (New York), October 3, 1942, reported McArdle’s divorce.
Mrs. Lillian L. McArdle of South Oyster Bay road, Hicksville, won a divorce from James N. McArdle who now lives at 225 East 79th street, Manhattan. They were married in 1924. There were no children and she asked no alimony. She alleged that McArdle was living with another woman at the Manhattan address.
A family tree at said McArdle’s second wife was Gladys May Brown, an Irish emigrant. 

Dansville Breeze 4/16/1946

Putnam Country Republican 4/19/1946

McArdle worked for several comic book publishers in the 1940s and 1950s. An overview of this work is at Who’s Who of American Comic Books.

Four Color #212

Dale Evans Comics #23

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said McArdle (as “Jim McArdle) drew and Elliot Caplin wrote Dr. Bobbs from June 30, 1941 to February 18, 1950. The strip was syndicated by King Features. McArdle drew Davy Crockett, Frontiersman starting June 20, 1955. Ed Herron did the scripting starting  July 18, 1955. The strip was listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, July–December 1955.

McArdle’s run ended in January 1957. Jean Depelley, with Bernard Joubert, wrote about Jack Kirby ghosting the Davy Crockett strip at The Kirby Effect

”…[Kirby] started on a single strip on Thursday, 10 January [note from Allan -- sorry, this is not Kirby] —probably as a try-out—and went back to it for a 18 day tenure, from Monday, 14 January up to Saturday, 2 February. No evidence points to Kirby working on the larger Sunday strips….”
American Newspaper Comics said Kirby did two Sundays, February 24 and March 3, 1957. After Kirby’s brief stint, Jim Christiansen continued drawing the daily and Sunday for Columbia Features.

Who’s Who in American Art said McArdle was a member of the National Cartoonists Society.

McArdle passed away February 7, 1960, at his home, 1356 Madison Avenue, in New York City. His death reported in the Times which said he was survived by his wife, two sons, three half-sisters and a half-brother.

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Davy Crockett, Frontiersman

When Walt Disney decided to tag along with the boom in TV westerns with a mini-series about Davy Crockett for his Disneyland show in 1954, he unleashed an unexpected mania among the pre-teen boy set. Coonskin caps, fringed jackets and leather moccasins became a full-fledged marketing bonanza, and the theme song of the program became a #1 hit.

Columbia Features recognized a golden opportunity. Disney had made the mistake of making a pop culture phenomenon out of an historical figure. You can't copyright and trademark a real person, so Columbia was within its rights to offer a comic strip about Crockett, piggy-backing on the craze.

The Columbia Features strip, titled Davy Crockett, Frontiersman, debuted as a daily on June 20 1955* to a lukewarm reception from newspaper editors, a victim of the fact that there were already so many western strips already on the market. Editors were doubtlessly saying that sure, Crockett is a hot property, but am I supposed to turn over the whole blamed comics page to cowboys and their ilk? There was also the factor that papers running Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales series (and there were a lot of them) had been put on notice that they were going to do the 'real' Disney version of Davy Crockett in a six month Sunday strip series starting in July.

Columbia's new strip was created by Jim McArdle, a journeyman artist who spent nearly the whole decade of the 1940s drawing the adventures of Dr. Bobbs (an obscurity that we'll discuss here one of these days). McArdle's art was nothing to write home about, but it got the job done. Never known as a writer, McArdle was soon joined on the strip by Ed Herron, who took over scripting duties on July 18 1955**.

Despite the appearance of the Disney version in Sunday papers, Columbia decided to go head to head with their own color version, which debuted on October 16 1955***. Although it never appeared in many papers, the Sunday got a few plum sign-ups, from the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News, which alone can keep a strip afloat.

The Columbia strip told the sort of non-historical but semi-plausible baloney that you would expect, expanding even more on Disney's truth-in-advertising Legend of Davy Crockett -- accent on the Legend part.

What could have been just another ho-hum 'me-too' strip becomes a minor celebrity and cause celebre for comics fans when Jim McArdle was in the process of bowing out from the art duties. In late 1956 the Sundays start to look like the product of various hands, although generally not in a positive manner. Then in December someone fabulous shows up. Here is the December 30 1956 Sunday, sporting some superb art that I cannot identify (though Al Williamson sorta comes to mind):

Then in January the King weighs in. And by the King, of course I mean Jack Kirby. Working under McArdle's signature, Kirby drew the dailies for January 14 to February 2****, and the Sundays of February 24 and March 3, before giving way to the new regular artist, Jim Christiansen. If you'd like to see the Kirby Sundays, you'll find them here on Michael Vassallo's blog.

I think Christiansen's art is a real breath of fresh air, but it was too little too late for the strip. As far as I know by the time he came on board there might well have been only a single client left -- the New York Daily News. And when they told the syndicate that they were dropping the strip in favor of The Heart of Juliet Jones, Columbia knew they were sunk. The final Sunday appeared on August 25 1957, followed by a week of dailies to finish off the last story, ending on the 31st****.

Columbia continued advertising all of their strips for many years in Editor & Publisher, but there was no new material created, nor were there any takers that I know of for reprinting the existing material.

* Sources: Chronology of American Comic Strips, Cleveland News.
** Source: Orlando Sentinel.
*** Source: Chicago Tribune.
**** Source: New York Daily News.


#3 is Nick Cardy
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Monday, September 17, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Benji

Animal lover and television director/producer Joe Camp decided in the early 1970s to combine his two passions. He tried to sell Hollywood on the idea of a family-friendly movie about a scruffy little dog and had every door slammed on him. Not to be denied, Camp rounded up his own financing and shot the film Benji on a shoestring. The movie became a monster hit, grossing $45 million, and that scruffy mutt became a star.

More successful movies and TV appearances ensued, and in 1981 Camp was approached about the possibility of a Benji newspaper comic strip.  The realization of the strip took three companies -- Camp's own Mulberry Square Productions, the Dallas Morning News (the publisher lived next door to Camp), and New York Times Special Features. The Times had recently dipped a toe into the comic strip syndication world with very modest success, and Benji was destined to be the final feature introduced by them.

Harland Wright, art director at Mulberry Square Productions, was chosen to handle the art on the strip, with Camp writing the gags himself. Wright was a capable cartoonist, but his sense of character design was a bit bizarre. Benji himself looks okay, but his co-stars are straight out of a freak show. Dustin the dog is drawn as a collection of random squiggles, and Clawd is a cat with a monstrous growth on his face (is it a nose? a fat lip? elephantitis? who knows).

The daily-only strip debuted on October 5 1981 in a very small number of papers (perhaps less than fifteen), but Camp was no stranger to swimming against the tide, so the strip soldiered forth.

Harland Wright was apparently never intended to be the permanant artist on the strip, and he bowed out not long after the debut. A new artist was found, an art student at North Texas State University named Casey Shaw, and he was groomed to take over the art. He began drawing the strip on November 2 1981. Wright continued to oversee and sign the art until December 19. Thereafter the strip was unsigned for the rest of its year-and-a-half run.

At the end of the first year of the strip's life, New York Times Special Features called it quits from the comic strip business. Despite a tiny client list that could not have made the balance sheet look too attractive, Benji found a new home at Field Enterprises. At this time Dustin and Clawd were banished from the strip, Benji began walking on all fours, and real life trainer Frank Inn was introduced as Benji's main foil. The changes were all positive, but it was a case of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Field offered the strip for just about seven months, until May 28 1983. Here are some samples from year two, courtesy of Casey Shaw:

I was able to track down Casey Shaw, second and basically main artist on the strip, and he offered me a lot of the information for this essay. I asked Shaw how he felt about not getting to sign his work on Benji, and he had this to say:

That's a tricky one. I was a college kid just happy to be working on a syndicated comic strip and Benji was such a creation of Joe Camp that I was kind of surprised that Harland ever got to sign it. I equated it to working on a strip for Disney, which the artists never seemed to sign. If they had offered, I'm sure I would have accepted just for the opportunity to have my name become more a part of the comics community, but I never pushed or lobbied for it.
One of my most treasured possessions is a letter from Berke Breathed excoriating me for not signing the Benji work. This was during the time period after Breathed had graduated from the Univ. of Texas, but right before the launch of Bloom County. Breathed had been drawing Academia Waltz at UT while I was a high school student in San Antonio and the paperback collections of his college work had inspired me to start a daily strip at North Texas State when I went there (which is what eventually led to the Benji gig). I had sent Breathed some samples of my college work and corresponded a couple of times and then sent him a few of the Benji clips. His response to my working part-time illustrating someone else's strip with no credit was written in that exquisite exuberant exasperated style that we all came to know from Breathed.

Noting the varied and wonderful art on his website, I asked for an update on his career:

After Benji ended, I went on to full-time graphic design and computer graphics work, but I always continued to also spend at least part of my time doing cartooning work. While in Dallas, I freelanced humorous illustration for numerous companies and contributed regularly to the Dallas Observer alternative weekly newspaper.

I later moved on to USA Today and became Creative Director for their USA Weekend Magazine Sunday newspaper supplement. During that time, I was also the magazine's cartoon and puzzle editor and I drew weekly gag cartoons for the magazine's Wit & Wisdom column.

These days, I'm doing less cartooning and more gallery fine art work, though I also still work full-time as a designer for the local newspaper, which is owned by Berkshire-Hathaway Media Group, and one of my jobs is building the newspaper's comics pages.

When I was a kid, the thing I dreamed of most was becoming a syndicated newspaper comic strip cartoonist ... and now I fear, with the direction newspapers are taking, that it may actually be possible that a generation from now, kids will have no idea what newspaper comic strips were! My dad instilled a real love of the art form in me and I used to spend hours in the library pouring through old newspaper archives and micro-fiche in amazement at the work created in the early 20th century.

Thanks very much to Casey Shaw for his invaluable help with this mini-history of the Benji strip.


There it is! Casey Shaw's name seemed familiar, and then the mention of USA Weekend brought it back. His cartoons appeared there regularly for at least the last ten years of the insert's existence. "Casey's Cartoon Corner" had a very short run, but I remember enjoying Casey's cartoons every weekend for quite awhile.
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Saturday, September 15, 2018


Herriman Saturday

September 23 1909 -- After a two week layoff Herriman is back, and his first large cartoon is on a topic that he rarely covers -- football. That season is just getting started, and George takes a few broad swipes at it.


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Friday, September 14, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Gene Carr

Here's a St. Patrick's Day card from Gene Carr. It was published by the Rotograph Company, and numbered 'F.L. 189'. It is undated, but was postally used in 1908.

The message on the reverse is rather interesting. A friend who signs himself only as "Authority" is warning Mr. Delmer Homer of Cortland NY that a mutual friend of theirs,  of the female persuasion, has targeted him for matrimony. He is warned by "Authority" to beware of her 'bear trap.'


It is dated- note the copyright in the lower right corner. the type font the title is set in seems to be one Rotograph had made for them.
Oops! Time to check that eyeglass prescription...
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Thursday, September 13, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bertram Elliott

Bertram Robinson Elliott was born on September 8, 1889 in Tokyo, Japan, according to his United States Petition for Naturalization, at, which he filed July 15, 1918. His parents were Canadian. It’s not known when he returned to Canada. Elliot was counted in the 1901 Canada census. He resided in Brandon, Manitoba.

Elliott’s artistic achievement was reported in The Victoria Daily Colonist (British Columbia, Canada), April 27, 1906, on page five, column five.

Won Royal Prize.—Bertram Elliott, who is studying with Miss L.M. Mills, of this city, has been successful in gaining the highest award from the Royal Drawing society. Miss Mills was so pleased with the boy’s work that she sent samples to the exhibition of the Royal Drawing Society, Caxton Hall, London, England. Two thousand seven hundred sheets of drawings were sent from various parts of the British Empire and out of this competition Bertram Elliott’s worked gained the highest prize, viz., H.R.H. Princess Louise prize. Had this boy been in England he would have had the honor of receiving his reward from the hands of H.R.H. herself.
Elliott’s award was also reported in The Journal of Education, May 1906.

The Victoria Daily Colonist, November 2, 1907, covered the graduation at Victoria High School. Elliott graduated in the Arts with an average percent of “73 2-3”.

According to Elliott’s petition, he sailed on September 1, 1910 from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington. Elliott attended the University of Washington and was in the class of 1914. He was on The Tyee yearbook art staff in 1912 and 1914; the 1913 yearbook was not available for viewing but he was probably on the art staff, too. Elliott was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Biological Club.

After graduating, Elliott returned to Canada for a brief time. A border crossing manifest, dated June 1914, said Elliott was an Irish Canadian commercial artist. His father was W.E. Elliott who lived in Cumberland, B.C. Elliott returned to the United States through Blaine, Washington on his way to the Seattle-based Electric Engraving Company.

Elliott signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He was a self-employed commercial artist residing in Chicago, Illinois at 109 West Huron Street. His description was medium height and build with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

When Elliott filed his petition he was in the army at Camp Walter R. Taliaferro, San Diego, California. The date of his discharge is not known. Elliott returned to Chicago.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census said Elliott lived at 245 North Avenue in Chicago and operated a commercial art studio. Elliott also pursued fine art.

The Arts, January 1922, reviewed the Arts Club annual exhibition in January and said “…There was a crayon sketch of Ben Hecht by Bert R. Elliott, a lively cartoon with strong linear balance, conveying an impression of Chicago’s latest literary limelight in a character of sardonic humor that undoubtedly was satisfactory to the sitter….” The same issue reviewed the “Twenty-sixth Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity” and opined, “There is good drawing in Bert Elliott's ‘River, Road, and Tower’ though one feels that his interest in the sky has made him neglect the tower a bit.” The Chicago American, February 4, 1922, mentioned the same drawing and identified the tower as the Wrigley Building.

The Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, December 1923, said Elliott joined its school faculty.

Writer Ben Hecht included Elliott in A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago (1922).

In the mid-1920s Elliott moved to New York City.

The New York Times, December 29, 1925, published an advertisement for the Master Institute of United Arts which included Elliott’s class in illustration and poster design.

Editor & Publisher and The Fourth Estate, January 28, 1928, published a McClure Syndicate advertisement that included Elliott’s Animal Ways and Wonders, a “daily strip telling drama of animals; authentic, fascinating, curious”. It’s not known if any newspaper published the strip. 

No evidence has yet been found that "Animal Ways and Wonders" was successfully syndicated.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Elliott and John Hix were the artists on the series, O. Henry’s Short Stories, which was distributed by McClure. The series ran from June 11 to July 29, 1928. Elliott drew these adaptations: “Iky’s Love Philtre”; “Springtime a la Carte”; “The Ransom of Mack”; “Sisters of the Golden Circle”; “Service of Love”; “Lost on Dress Parade”; “Buried Treasure”; and “Makes the Whole World Kin”.

The 1930 census recorded self-employed artist Elliott and his Japanese English wife, Sumi, in Manhattan at 202 East 43 Street. They married around 1926 and were naturalized citizens.

Elliott passed away in 1931 according to his grandniece, Dianne MacLeod. Elliot’s life was noted in an issue of AB Bookman’s Weekly which published an article about the My Book House series.

Bertram Elliott, who contributed by far the most drawings to volumes I and II was born in 1889 in Tokyo, the son of a minister. He attended commercial art schools in Victoria, B.C., Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago’s evening division sporadically from 1917 to 1920. A 1931 issue of an art publication noted: “Bert Elliott, well-known member of the liberal group of Chicago artists ten years ago, died recently in New York.”

The American Art Annual (1931) had this obituary: “Elliott, Bert.—A painter, died in New York in the summer of 1931. His early life was spent in Japan, but for many years he was affiliated with the No Jury group of artists in Chicago. One of his works is in the Art institute of Chicago.”

Further Viewing
Art Institute of Chicago
Two drawings: “Portrait of a Man” and “An Eminent Journalist”

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: O. Henry's Short Stories

O. Henry's stories are some of the most beloved and popular American literature this side of Mark Twain, so it's no surprise that they eventually found their way into the kingdom of comic strips. Interestingly enough, the same syndicate, McClure, offered comic strips based on Twain and O. Henry.

Unlike the much better received Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which had a successful run of a decade and a half, O. Henry's Short Stories was not embraced by newspaper editors or readers. No wonder, though, when the series distilled most of the stories down to two or three daily strips in length. Granted, Porter's stories are short, but to boil down a beautiful story like The Love Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein into two daily strips is a criminal offense. What's next -- the complete Shakespeare plays in three weeks? Considering that I see no copyrights on the strip to the estate of O. Henry, I have a sneaking suspicion that these adaptations were unlicensed. Maybe McClure thought they could get away with thievery if they were quick about it?

I have yet to find a newspaper that ran the strip with perfect consistency, but the Brooklyn Eagle came close enough that I offer this index as my best guess. The scripts are uncredited (as well they ought to be), but the two cartoonists who double-teamed the series did take credit:

TitleArtistStart DateEnd Date # of Strips
The Cop and the AnthemJohn Hix6/11/286/13/283
Jimmy Hays and MurielJohn Hix6/14/286/16/283
A Double Dyed DeceiverJohn Hix6/18/286/23/286
Tobin's PalmJohn Hix6/25/286/28/284
Iky's Love PhiltreBertram Elliott6/29/286/30/282
Springtime a la CarteBertram Elliott7/2/287/3/282
The Ransom of MackBertram Elliott7/4/287/7/284
The Skylight RoomJohn Hix7/9/287/11/283
Sisters of the Golden CircleBertram Elliott7/12/287/14/283
Service of LoveBertram Elliott7/16/287/19/284
Lost on Dress ParadeBertram Elliott7/20/287/20/282
Buried TreasureBertram Elliott7/23/287/26/284
Makes the Whole World KinBertram Elliott7/27/287/28/282

Here's a quick comic strip quiz for you: what other comic strip is based on a character created by O. Henry?

Tomorrow, Alex Jay weighs in with a profile of Bertram Elliott. You'll find his profile of John Hix here.

Didn't Joe Kubert (and School) feature Jim and Della in an adaptation of The Gift of the Magi for an NEA Christmas strip?
But I'm sure you're thinking of a different character.
A hero portrayed by Warner Baxter and Jimmy Smits, among others?

Incidentally, said hero owes little more than his catchy name to O. Henry. In the single story the author wrote, he's not a nice person.
The final panel of "Lost on Dress Parade" on July 21 1928 in the EAGLE says "Next story: Buried Treasure" so I don't believe there's a missing strip
Said another way, "Lost on Dress Parade" has 2 episodes
And though the EAGLE does indeed credit Elliott on "Lost on Dress Parade", a later printing in the SAN BERNADINO COUNTY SUN credits Hix. Bit the comic strip editors aren't known for their accuracy :)
Thanks to Jeffrey Lindenblatt and Art Lortie, who both separately cleared up the mystery of the missing strip. Post has been updated.
Donald Benson takes the prize for IDing (in a coy way) the strip I was thinking of. DD, you get a double bonus for coming up with one I wasn't thinking of. --Allan
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Early Comics of the International Syndicate Part VI: The Toles Show, with a Side of 'Midget'

From 1901 and stretching back to the 1896 inauguration of the International Syndicate weekly page, only C.E. Toles seemed to have any interest in producing a cartoon series. Mr. Toles was also by far the most prolific contributor, but I don't sense that series cartoons were disallowed of the other contributors.

Above we have a sample of the Toles series Reverend O. Shaw Fiddle D.D. I previously thought he had produced this series for the Philadelphia Press, but it turns out they were simply using bits and pieces of the International material in their paper. This series is a revival of the series Reverend Fiddle D.D. that Toles produced for the New York Journal in 1898.

This is the first real series, in the sense of using a continuing character, that ran on the International page. It is also the first series that ran on a regular basis. It ran each week from June 9 to July 14 1901.

The cartoonist who signed himself "Midget" produced many cartoons about bugs, and his style strongly resembles that of Gus Dirks. I thought for awhile that it might be Dirks using a pen name, but much later on, the same 'bug cartoonist' started signing himself as Joe Hanover on the International page.

Although I suppose you could make a case that all the bug cartoons are a sort of series, I didn't count them as such. "Midget" did manage to produce two episodes of Buggum and Snailey's Sideshow (2nd installment titled Buggum and Snailey's 20th Century Show). The first episode ran on June 23 1901, the second not until August 11. Committed to the series concept Mr. Midget certainly was not.

C.E. Toles produced six episodes of Tales of the Orient (later retitled Tales of the East) but it took him the better part of a year. The first episode appeared on November 12 1899, the last on October 14 1900. Each installment was rather text-heavy, just like the first one shown above.

The first continuing series on the International weekly page appeared so infrequently that I nearly didn't recognize it as such. Koon Tracks, a strip about stereotypical blacks with a hunting theme appeared on October 29 1899, December 17 1899, March 4 and March 25 1900.

Our last sample from the International Syndicate weekly page is its first installment in the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle, April 26 1896, and the earliest found in which it is a full page with masthead. Jeffrey Lindenblatt finds good evidence that a page existed as early as July 1895 in the Cincinnati Enquirer, but they chopped it up just enough so as to be uncertain as to the complete contents that were being distributed.

As you can see in the sample above , the early version was a little more text-heavy than it would be later, but right from the first it offered both panels and comic strips. The prolific C.E. Toles was its most frequent contributor right from the start.


Do you have any updates on Toles since you last reviewed his biography? I found this blog entry about a private collection of Toles' art: . I wonder if it has been sold to any public institution. Is Toles related to the political cartoonist Tom Toles?
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Monday, September 10, 2018


Early Comics of the International Syndicate Part V: Goodes, McK and Toles

Working our way backward now, we find W.M. Goodes making some contributions to the International weekly page. His only series, which managed just two installments quite far apart, was Illustrated Interviews. Above is the first installment on October 12 1902, and the other was on December 7 of that year.

On this page we also see cartoons by F.L. Fithian and William F. Marriner. Lillian Steinert and Jean Du Bois are both unknown to me, but pretty good cartoonists.

A longer series was Mr. Henry Peck, also known as The Henpecks, and Mr. Peck. As with other series that went by this same name, it is the tale of a henpecked husband. This series couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to be a panel or strip, appearing three times in each guise. The series ran from July 6 to September 7 1902. The series was signed only "McK", which I suppose is most likely to be McKee Barclay. He was active in Baltimore at this time.

This page has a contribution from C.A. David, about the latest he'll be found on International's page.  He was a major contributor to the page in the 1890s, though he never once deigned to pen a series.

Going back to 1901, we finally get to see a series by the great C.E. Toles. This one is a panel series titled The Summering of Miss Frivolity, and each pretty girl picture is accompanied by some verses by Toles. This series ran for ten episodes from July 7 to September 15.


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Saturday, September 08, 2018


Herriman Saturday

September 7 1909 -- A packed fight card at Naud Junction tonight, with some up-and-comers and local favorites. According to Boxrec, the marquee fight between Frank Picato and Phil Brock was won by Picato, and Young Solomon lost his bout.

Apparently Herriman went on vacation for a few weeks after this, as his next large cartoon won't appear until the 23rd.


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Friday, September 07, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton

Here's a Grace Drayton (signing Weiderseim at this time) card from Reinthal & Newman, this one marked #120 on the reverse. The maker hasn't dated it, but Grace hand-lettered a copyright notice under her name, and dated it 1909.

This one is a play on the then-current fad saying, "I love my wife, but oh you kid.", immortalized in many postcards by Albert Carmichael.


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Thursday, September 06, 2018


Early Comics of the International Syndicate Part IV: Marriner, Fenderson and a Mystery Cartoonist

Mr. Absent Minde (or Mr. Absen T. Minde) by William F. Marriner is one of those many strips about an absent-minded man. These things sprouted like weeds in a garden back in the day. It ran from September 4 to October 9 1904*.

In the upper lefthand corner of the sample above you'll see one of the earliest contributions of Ryan Walker to the International Syndicate page.

On the page above we have samples of two series. Mr. B.Z. Boddy by William F. Marriner appeared only twice, on October 30 and November 20 1904*. The interesting thing about this series is that Marriner had already done a short-lived series of this title for the New York Evening Journal in 1902. Not having access to those strips outside a microfilm room, I can't say if Marriner was reselling the same strips to International, or if he came up with new installments of the same series.

Also on this page is a series by a mystery cartoonist. Adventures of the Merry Dingbat, a panel and rhyme series featuring fanciful animals, 'officially' ran from October 30 to December 12 1904*, but the same creators contributed panels about bizarre animals on many additional pages. This is some really weird and wacky stuff, both art and poetry, and its a shame that the creators saw fit only to sign themselves as H & L,when they bothered to sign at all.

Here we come to the latest of the series that I found in the International Syndicate page. For some reason (change of editor?), series material pretty much stopped dead in 1905. I tracked the page through most of 1906 and never saw another series.

This last series, Mr. City Man Tries the Country, is appropriately half-hearted, running a grand total of two times, on June 11 and 18 1905*. Mark Fenderson was the cartoonist.

Next week we'll continue this series on the International Syndicate, now working backward from where I started my search in early 1903.

* Source: Rochester Democrat-Chronicle


Any idea who "Midget" on one of these pages is? Like their style.
I'll address that issue next week, E.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2018


The Early Comics Series of the International Syndicate Part III: 1904 Series by Fenderson, Marriner and Hambleton

Mr. Lookin was by Mark Fenderson, who started contributing to the page with this series. This strip about a fellow who dives into situations without thinking, ran from April 24 to June 12 1904*. It was always a two-panel strip -- set-up and denouement with no extra frills.

Grouchy Gregory, a strip about a kid with anger issues, was contributed by William F. Marriner. It ran from June 5 to July 31 1904*. Also noteworthy on this page is the top central cartoon, by Florence Pearl England Nosworthy. She made a name for herself in magazine cover and children's book illustration.

Unfortunately there are many contributors to these pages whose signatures I cannot decipher. Anyone who can ID these folks is very much welcome to chime in. Even some whose signature is plain elude me -- who was Fayette, or the colorfully named Foe Feroux?

Oddly enough, this is the only International series by A.Y. Hambleton, who was a major and constant contributor to the page for a long while. Sports of the Summer Girl, a pretty girl panel series, ran from July 24 to September 4 1904*. Hambleton is a real bright spot on these pages whose bold line really makes an impression.

Note in the bottom right is a panel by Carl Anderson, who was an infrequent contributor to the page.

* Source: Rochester Democrat-Chronicle


Hi! This might seem as an odd question, but I am writing my Master's thesis on feminism in American comic strips in the 1960s. I would like to use examples of strips from a fairly controversial cartoonist(s), dealing with the subject of women and/or abortion, contraceptive pill, etc. Any suggestions? I really like your blog.

Seline Eskedal Amundsen (Norway).
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Tuesday, September 04, 2018


The Early Comics Series of the International Syndicate Part II: Three More by William F. Marriner

We'll quickly cover three more William F. Marriner International Syndicate series today.

First up,  Rollo and his Tutor (above), which ran each week from April 19 to June 28 1903*. This one offers a daffy teacher who gets his facts mixed up.

Above we have Stunts of Strenuous Sammie, a satire based on President Theodore Roosevelt's flamboyant calls for men and women to engage in physically strenuous outdoor pursuits. Most kids were crazy for Teddy and many took his example and philosophy to heart. This series ran from July 12* to September 27** 1903.

Note on the page above that Dwig is now contributing to the page (upper right), and a fellow named Hugh Morris is doing a passable imitation of F.M. Howarth. I'm told that this is one of the many  pseudonyms of C.E. Toles,  but he was dead by this time. Were these 'Hugh Morris' cartoons material from the slush pile, previously printed, or is Mr. Morris actually a living breathing person?

Above is the first installment of Holdup Harold, about a light-fingered hobo. This series changed titles to Holdup Herbert with the second episode through November 8, then returned on December 27 with the fellow's name changed back to Harold. The series then ran through April 17 1904*. In 1905 he popped up again for two episodes, on February 26 and March 5***.

* Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
** Source: Oakland Tribune
*** Source: Rochester Democrat-Chronicle


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Monday, September 03, 2018


The Early Comics Series of the International Syndicate Part 1: The Hunt Begins, with Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the Other Triplet

Baltimore's International Syndicate was one of the earliest distributors of newspaper cartoon content, starting in 1899*. Unfortunately their output is hard to track because the syndicate very rarely displayed a copyright on their material. The earliest features I was able to include in my book were Zimmie (a weather cartoon) and the long-running Scoop the Cub Reporter, both of which debuted in 1912 (Zimmie had been distributed earlier but not by International).

That leaves at least a decade of the International Syndicate unaccounted for before the advent of their first known series. That was in no way alarming to me, because it was my belief that the syndicate specialized in non-series gag panels.

International Syndicate did in fact specialize  in gag panels and text jokes. In that I still seem to be correct. However, what I didn't know until very recently is that they offered this material not only as a collection of bits and pieces for newspapers to use willy-nilly, dropping in a panel here, typesetting a joke there, but also as a cohesive page. This page went under the consistent title The Funny Side of Life for many years.

The above page is among a small selection I purchased recently. All from the Detroit Free Press of early 1903, the pages have a recurring series by William F. Marriner on many, plus a selection of gag cartoons and text jokes. The text jokes are all credited as originally appearing in various publications.

A question you may be asking is why I believe that these pages came from International Syndicate. After all, there are no copyright stamps on them. The thought came to me based on this page and several others having cartoons by 'Hamb' -- that's A.Y. Hambleton, a Baltimore cartoonist.

That wasn't nearly enough to pin the blame for those pages on International, but it piqued my curiosity enough that I selected some nice clear text from one of the cartoons and started searching online. To my surprise, I found a few newspapers that ran the complete page on a regular weekly basis, some for long periods. Many others cut the material apart, but these papers offered the material as I imagine it was supplied by the syndicate, masthead and all.

I began tracing the page backward and forward in time, and I had to get back all the way to 1901 for the real "ah-ha" moment. In that year The Funny Side of Life was replete with cartoons by the fabulous C.E. Toles, who we know from John Adcock was the editor of the International Syndicate. As far as I'm concerned, that sewed up the case.

The fun part was that although the vast majority of the cartoons on these pages are one-shot gags, the syndicate did actually offer some half-hearted series. In the coming days I'm going to feature these series on the blog. All of our samples from here on will come from digital microfilm, so bask in the quality of today's sample, which comes from real live pulp paper. Today we'll start with the first series I found ...

Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the Other Triplet

This series by William F. Marriner has been featured on the blog before, way back in 2006. That previous appearance, unfortunately, turns out to have offered only misinformation. At the time I believed that this series originated with the Chicago Chronicle. The Chronicle called their 1903 comic section a production "by Chicagoans for Chicagoans", so you can see where I could have been misled.

Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the Other Triplet offered the typical Marriner big-headed urchins. In this case it's a trio of little terrors who send their victims into a neurotic fit thinking that they've been drinking too much and are seeing triple. This series first appears in the January 3 1903 page, and is last seen on April 5 of that year**.


* This date and lots of other info provided in John Adcock's biography of C.E. Toles. My spidey sense says that the real start of the syndicate is 1892, though, when it was known as the Comic Sketch Club of Baltimore.  Adcock doesn't say that the two companies are related, but the similarity of their business models and personnel make the connection seem very likely. I prepare to stand corrected. In my favor, though, I'll let the cat out of the bag now and say that I was able to trace the International page back to 1896, so no matter what company name it went by then, it was active in distributing this page. Jeffrey Lindenblatt has traced it even further, to July 1895 in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

** Source: Louisville Courier-Journal.


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Saturday, September 01, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 29 1909 -- Jim Jeffries continues to get the royal treatment while Jack Johnson is shunned by most of the world. The big fight is now less than a year away, although no date was set as of this time.


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Friday, August 31, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

For such a popular collectible, postcards seem to have a lot of unexplored history -- at least if that history is known it has avoided being reported on the 'net. This very nice Dwig postcard is from what I'll call the "Want Ad" series, all of which were copyrighted to "A. Blue" and indicated as being in series #500. I can find no info on A. Blue, but they published a very high-end card here, with nice embossing. The cards in this series are quite common, so they were evidently well-received by postcard buyers in 1909.


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