Monday, March 02, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Adventures of the Red Mask

By far the most interesting strip in the Syndicated Features line-up was Adventures of the Red Mask. The Red Mask was a heroic figure pretty obviously inspired by The Phantom, which had debuted in newspapers less than six months earlier.

The strip was frenetically paced, and I haven't seen quite all the episodes, so there may be some holes in my understanding of the plot. It seems that the Red Mask is a deposed ruler over an island jungle kingdom. He's a wanted man by the new rulers, so he dons the mask while he tries to marshal his forces to regain power. While plotting to take back his kingdom, he gets involved with a bunch of silly rich folk who come to the island looking for a fellow who was marooned there some time before. In the process they wreck their boat and then manage to get separated into several groups. Much of the action involves the Red Mask saving them, collectively or individually, from various fates worse than death. One of the party, Robert Fear, turns out to be a black-hearted villain, a real Snidely Whiplash sort. The Red Mask and he fall in hate at first sight, and the real fun begins. It's all great fun, with just the lightest sprinkling of logic and plotting.

I have read on the interwebs that the Red Mask is heralded as the first black hero in comics. Well, you sure would think he is since he's the former ruler of a jungle kingdom, and all his subjects are black. Only problem is, the guy has wavy hair that constantly falls in his eyes. So unless his jungle has a real high-class hairstyling salon, I just can't see him being black. His skin is often colored darkly, but not consistently -- note the Caucasion and bluish (!) flesh tones above. However, he is always a different shade than his subjects. I'd say the guy is lily-white with a nice rich jungle tan.I can see why folks would assume he's black, though. Here are the first two episodes and they give that impression. Sorry, I don't have tearsheets of these:

These strips certainly give the impression that Maui, a black native, is the Red Mask. I think this has got to be a red herring though. I believe the lost man, Jason Armitage, is going to turn out to be the Red Mask -- it seems like a classic plot contrivance. Seemingly reveal the identity of the mystery man at the start, but pull a switch later on. I could be wrong (despite the wavy hair) and I can't prove it one way or the other. Y'see, we've got a bit of a problem. Adventures of the Red Mask ended with the 26th episode (the only Syndicated Features strip not to run for the whole life of the comic section), and it stops in mid-story. Here is the final strip, which is courtesy of Cole Johnson.  Prepare to be disappointed:

Yup, the final episode is still in mid-story! We are left hanging never knowing the true identity of the Red Mask.

The feature is credited to George West, who neither I or Alex Jay can track down. Is it a pseudonym?  The art is serviceable, but it's not a style that reminds me of someone else who'd want to hide behind a pen-name.

West is the only creator who didn't stick around for the entire run of the Syndicated Features tabloid section. Adventures of the Red Mask ended after episode #26, and was replaced the next week by Adventures of Nervy Nerts. The new strip was credited to George Scott, but I think it is possible, even probable that the new credit is just another pseudonym of the same guy. 


George Storm?
Hmm. Interesting thought. He was ending his run on Bobby Thatcher shortly after this; maybe he was trying this out as a new gig, because he pretty much drops off my radar after Bobby Thatcher, until he pops back up doing comic book work in the 40s.

The style doesn't exactly scream George Storm to me (he's a bit more cartoony than this typically).

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Saturday, February 28, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Friday, September 18 1908 --The "Solid Three", still defiant, are digging their hole ever deeper as the courts get involved in the bond sale.

The situation in a nutshell: County commissioners Patterson, Eldridge and Wilson, dubbed the "Solid Three", put together a bond issue for the county and sold it off, probably to favored friends, at a high interest rate. They did this without proper public meetings and without going through the normal channels to determine a fair interest rate. On discovering this breach of the public trust, Angelenos were, not too surprisingly, up in arms.


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Friday, February 27, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, July 31 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.

This is the final sci-fi Connie story we have available from Cole Johnson. If anyone out there can contribute scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you! Note that we elitists do not generally use digital microfilm material here on Stripper's Guide, so we would need sharp 300-600 dpi scans from newspaper tearsheets or syndicate proofs. 


I know you are not a fan of microfiche scans and the quality of the representation here is fine, but the Sedalia Democrat at has Conny Sundays in sharp black and greyish white. I pulled one I can send you.
Hi Ger --
Another person offered me good quality b&w scans from microfilm, and I admit the quality is pretty darn good. But I need to know if Connie continues as a sci-fi strip or not. If not, it wouldn't be a good candidate of course. Do you know if the 1939-40 stories are sci-fi?

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Thursday, February 26, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dick Dorgan

Richard William “Dick” Dorgan was born in San Francisco, California, on September 24, 1892, according to his World War I draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Dorgan was the eighth of ten children born to Thomas and Anna. They resided in San Francisco at 25 12th Street. At the time, Dorgan’s oldest brother, Thomas, was a newspaper artist who would be known as “Tad.”

Half of the Dorgan children lived in Brooklyn, New York, at 8646 20th Avenue, as recorded in the 1905 New York state census. Dorgan was the youngest, at age 12, and cartoonist Thomas was the head of the household.

By 1910, most of the Dorgan family was in Manhattan, New York City at 746 St. Nicholas Avenue.

Five years later, the family was in Bayside, Queens, New York on Wright Avenue, as listed in the state census. The same address was found on Dorgan’s World War I draft card which he signed on June 5, 1917. He was a cartoonist with the Matthew Adams Syndicate. The description of him was tall and slender with brown eyes and hair. Dorgan’s New York service card said he served at the naval training camp in Pelham Bay Park, New York, and was a seaman, second class, then a boatswain mate, second class.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Dorgan produce Not Now which debuted in the Philadelphia Bulletin on April 18, 1916.

The 1920 census, enumerated in January, had Dorgan in his mother’s household in Flushing, New York at 483 Sanford Avenue.

Ten months later the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York), October 11, 1920, noted Dorgan’s October 9th marriage.
Richard W. Dorgan, son of Mrs. Anna Dorgan, and brother of T. A. “Tad” Dorgan, well known cartoonist, of 483 Sanford ave., Flushing, was married Saturday evening to Miss Amelia J. Murray, daughter of Joseph Murray, of Fordham, N.Y., at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, 34th st., Manhattan, the Rev. J.A. White officiating. Mrs. John O’Keefe, of Manhattan, was matron-of-honor, and Joseph V. Dorgan was best man.
The couple visited Bermuda in April 1921. The passenger list said their address was Fifth Street in Bayside. Four months later, The Daily Star (Long Island City, New York), August 24, 1921, noted the birth of their son at the Hahnman Hospital in Manhattan.

Photoplay, July 1922, published Dorgan’s “A Song of Hate” which expressed his hatred of Rudolph Valentino.

American Newspaper Comics said Dorgan took over the art chores on Ring Lardner’s You Know Me Al, from Will B. Johnstone, from February 26, 1923 to May 8, 1926. The strip was retitled Kid Dugan beginning May 10, 1926 and ending May 1, 1930. Dorgan also produced Puzzle Picture in 1923.

Like his brother, Tad, Dorgan was a sports cartoonist whose subjects included Walter Hagen, Ty Cobb and Dave Danforth.

The Daily Review (Freeport, New York), 1/14/1924

According to the 1925 New York state census, cartoonist Dorgan, his wife, son and a servant resided in Bayside on 222 Street.

Tad Dorgan passed away May 2, 1929. A photograph of Dorgan with Tad and Ike is here.

In 1930, Dorgan remained in Bayside at 3928 222 Street. American Newspaper Comics said Colonel Gilfeather was Dorgan’s longest-running series from March 17, 1930 to December 30, 1939. For Syndicated Features, Dorgan created Pop’s Night Out which lasted eight months from July 13, 1936 to March 8, 1937. Pop’s Night Out was reprinted in Best Comics 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Dorgan’s address in the 1940 census was 214-32 43rd Avenue in Bayside. The same address was on his World War II draft card, which he signed on April 26, 1942. The description said he was five feet eleven inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. He had brown eyes and hair.

The New York Times, March 20, 1950, said his mother passed away March 17.

Dorgan passed away May 5, 1953, in Bayside. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Pop's Night Out

Dick Dorgan, less famous brother of the great cartoonist Tad Dorgan, somehow managed to have a long career in newspaper comics, despite the rather glaring handicap that his drawing was pretty awful, and his writing wasn't much better. Of course, he never had the sort of success his brother enjoyed, and one wonders how many of his gigs were offered simply because the name Dorgan would appear on them.

Syndicated Features evidently valued that name, because there wasn't much else to recommend Pop's Night Out. Dick Dorgan's last known syndicated feature is about the off-hours activities of an unnamed schlub. He goes to poker parties, movies, golf courses, etc., and hilarity (doesn't) ensue.

Pop's Night Out ran for the entire life of the Syndicated Features tabloid, from July 13 1936 to March 8 1937.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gus Jud

Gustav H. “Gus” Jud was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 29, 1904, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at in the 1905 New York state census, Jud and his parents, Gustav and Annie (a German emigrant), resided in Brooklyn at 543 Marcy Avenue. His father worked in a delicatessen.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Jud, his parents and brother, Henry, in Brooklyn at 397 Himrod Street. On October 1, 1913, Jud, Henry and their mother departed from Hamburg, Germany. They returned to New York by way of Cuxhaven, Germany to Southampton, England then Cherbourg, France.

Jud attended Public School Number 49 in Jamaica, Queens Borough, New York. He was in the fourth grade when the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published his name in the honor roll lists on February 13 and June 12, 1914.

The Jud family resided on Carroll Street, Jamaica, New York in the 1920 census. Information about Jud’s art training has not been found. His cartooning career appeared to have started in the mid-1920s. Jud provided illustrations and cartoons for the children’s page in the Sunday newspaper supplement. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Jud’s strip, Little Dave, debuted September 23, 1929 and ran until August 6, 1932.




Jud was a newspaper cartoonist in the 1930 census. He lived with his parents and brother in Hollis, Queens Borough, New York, at 182-17 91 Avenue. For Syndicated Features, Jud produced Jigger, which ran from July 13 into December 1936. Jigger continued in Best Comics numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Jud’s address remained the same in the 1940 census and he lived with his parents. In place of his brother was fellow cartoonist, Loy Byrnes. who also produced a 
Syndicated Features strip called Silly Willie. Jud produced many one and two-page fillers for several comic book publishers.

According to the Long Island Daily Press (Jamaica, New York), September 24, 1943, Jud was among several neighbors in the vicinity of 182nd Street, in Jamaica, who bought war bonds.

Jud passed away August 1987 according to the Social Security Death Index. His last residence was Mount Morris, New York.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, February 23, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Jigger

The Syndicated Features weekly tabloid sections are quite rare, since they only ran in a handful of papers, most of them smaller weeklies. But if they're rare, then the feature Jigger is the comics equivalent of hens' teeth.

The Syndicated Features sections were four page tabloids, and on the back 'cover' of each issue there was normally a half page ad. The ad space was reserved for the subscribing newspaper. They could put a house ad there, or sell the space to an advertiser. Since the ads are always black lettering on a one-color background, I'm guessing that Syndicated Features sent the tab sections out with a big blot of color there, and the newspaper ran the sections through their press once to add a black ink ad.

When I was doing research for this series of posts, though, I came across a couple newspapers that apparently had no interest in selling ad space. They opted to have the syndicate include an additional comic strip on that half-page. That makes Jigger by Gus Jud one seriously rare puppy. In order to show you samples, I had to resort to the blurry microfilm versions above. Sorry about that.

Gus Jud has only one other newspaper strip credit, for Little Dave. Both Little Dave and Jigger are strips about kids, sort of like watered-down Skippy and with workmanlike but unexceptional art. Oddly enough, in the 1940s Jud moved over into comic books but continued to do (as far as I can tell from the GCD) exclusively short features about little boys. Of the samples I've seen, you could substitute the Jigger or Little Dave logo on any of them and no one would be able to tell the difference.

Now that's what I call over-specialization!

Jigger, for the few clients that used it, began with the section on July 13 1936, and most likely continued to the end of the section, though the latest I've been able to verify from online sources is from December.


Don't show this strip to Kristi Capel from FoxNews. She'd go gag-ga over the title. Sorry Allan...I just had to.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Thursday, September 17 1908 -- Usually when government swindles are unearthed, the rats go scurrying away. Not so with the "Solid Three", who are holding their heads high regarding the sweetheart bond sale thus far.

The situation in a nutshell: County commissioners Patterson, Eldridge and Wilson, dubbed the "Solid Three", put together a bond issue for the county and sold it off, probably to favored friends, at a high interest rate. They did this without proper public meetings and without going through the normal channels to determine a fair interest rate. On discovering this breach of the public trust, Angelenos were, not too surprisingly, up in arms.


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Friday, February 20, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, July 24 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.

This is the final sci-fi Connie story we have available from Cole Johnson. If anyone out there can contribute scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you! Note that we elitists do not generally use digital microfilm material here on Stripper's Guide, so we would need sharp 300-600 dpi scans from newspaper tearsheets or syndicate proofs. 


The faces are a bit more expresive in this installment than was the norm.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Loy Byrnes/Roy B. Nyles

According to the Grand Comics Database, “Roy B. Nyles” was the anagram pseudonym of Loy Byrnes. Who’s Who of American Comic Strip Producers said Byrnes was born 1906 in Jersey City, New Jersey. The 1940 U.S. Federal Census, which recorded Byrnes’ name as “Lloyd Burns”, said he was 34 years old and a New York-born cartoonist. At the time, Byrnes resided with fellow cartoonist Gus Jud (Little Dave) and Jud’s parents at 182-17 91 Avenue in Queens, New York. Byrnes’ highest level of education was the eighth grade. Maybe the name Loy was short for Aloysius or Loyal.

Byrnes has not yet been found in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses. A World War II draft card or other military record for him has not been found.

The New York Post, June 2, 1945, said a young Byrnes worked in the art department of the New York World, and “He was just 14 when he hit the Sunday section with a children’s feature that ran for almost three years.”

The New Yorker, September 14, 1929, published Byrnes only cartoon for that magazine.

In 1930, Byrnes illustrated the book, The Adventures of a Brownie.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Byrnes took over Gus Edson’s Streaky, from 1937 to May 21, 1939, and its topper, Dopey Dildock, from November 1935 to 1939.

As Roy B. Nyles, Byrnes produced the strip Silly Willie for Syndicated Features. The strip ran from July 13, 1936 to March 8, 1937. It later saw print in the comic book, Best Comics, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, from November 1939 to February 1940.

Byrnes’ comic strip Spunkie ran from December 16, 1940 to March 21, 1942. Also in the 1940s, he assisted on Nancy.

The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc. 1940 New Series, Volume 35, Number 8, had this entry:

Byrnes, Loy.* 7287-7289 Buzz Sawyer: Accepts an assignment, 2.— One chosen, 1. — Receives his secret code card, 3. © 1 c. each July 26, 1940 ; G 36210-36212.
According to the New York Times, January 26, 1942, Byrnes was one of a hundred cartoonists who contributed posters to United China Relief’s exhibition at the Grand Central Art Galleries in the Hotel Gotham.

Byrnes’ pantomime strip, Tootsie, appeared in Good Housekeeping magazine; it can viewed in the following issues: July 1945, October 1945, November 1945, and January 1946.

The Post, June 2, 1945, touted Byrnes’ new comic strip.
Meet Punchy and Judy, a Comic ‘Comic’ Strip
For 10 years Loy Byrnes collected notes and ideas and drew sketches for a comic strip. He had already found the appropriate title, “Punchy and Judy.” At last he decided he had hammered out enough work of the pay-dirt variety.
The result is a comic “comic” strip, minus blood, thunder and gunfire, destined for laughs instead of sobs.
Punchy is a sparring partner in a gymnasium; Judy is a chocolate-dipper who excels at applying curlycues to the iced tops of bon-bons. Together they form a romantic comedy team whose adventures start in The Post Monday June 4.
A little man with a sardonic wit, Loy Byrnes at 39 has had almost 20 years of cartoon experience. There was no preliminary period of hesitation when he chose a career. Decorating school blackboards led with unswerving logic to a job in the art department of the old New York World. He was just 14 when he hit the Sunday section with a children’s feature that ran for almost three years.
Under pressure Byrnes admits that he once studied briefly at the Art Students League, has turned out a number of successful features, is a bachelor, belongs to the Society of Illustrators and is a member of the Museum of Modern Art. 
Probe him on the origin of his idea and he shudders. “Ask me something simple,” he begs, “like maybe explaining the Theory of Relativity. All I can tell you is that a guy takes a piece of paper and pencil and then beats his brains out until he gets ideas—that’s all.”
His characters were not patterned after any one in particular but are a composite drawn from the “strata of humanity that editorial writers fondly refer to as ‘the backbone of the nation.’”
When at work Byrnes whistles softly to himself. The harder the thinking, the more intricate the tune. In the groove he can, he boasts, rip off hot licks that are the everlasting envy of his less musically gifted contemporaries.
He is deliberately vague when questioned about his past activities and accomplishments. “Everything I’ve done until now,” he insists, “was strictly warming up for ‘Punchy and Judy.’”
The Post, November 7, 1945, noted a recent gathering of cartoonists.
At the Shor shindig a book of beautiful woodland scenes contributed by the assembled artists was presented to Bugs after some salty speeches by E. Sims Campbell, Stan McGovern, Loy Byrnes, Milt Caniff and Cas Adams.
Thirteen days later, Byrnes passed away November 20, 1945, in New York City. His death was reported the same day in the Post.
Loy Byrnes, Post Cartoonist, Dies—Drew Punchy and Judy 
Loy Byrnes, cartoonist of the Punch and Judy strip in The Post, died today in Mt. Sinai Hospital at the age of 40.
Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Joseph McAllister Funeral Parlor, 202 E. 39th St., followed by a mass of requiem at St. Agnes Church, 141 E. 43d St. Burial will be in Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City.
Byrnes is survived by an aunt, Mrs. Nellie Mitchell, of Teaneck.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Silly Willie

Silly Willie is about as generic a strip as you can imagine about a not-too-bright little nebbish. That sort of character was all over the comics in the 1930s (not to mention most other eras), and Silly Willie certainly didn't bring anything original to the table, unless you count the flowerpot hat he sported.

The name Roy B. Nyles sounds very familiar to me, but I looked through my files and checked online, and I can't find a peep about him. Not even sure now that's he's a real person. (Tomorrow his identity will be revealed, courtesy of Alex Jay).

Silly Willie ran for the whole run of the Syndicated Features tabloid section, July 13 1936 to March 8 1937.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ray McGill

Julian Ray McGill was born in Dawson, Georgia, based on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census which recorded his birth as “May 1889”. On his World War I and II draft cards, the birth date was November 24, 1891. In the census he was the oldest of two children born to John, a grocer, and Eddie [Edna]. The family resided in Dawson on Stonewall South.

In the 1910 census, the family remained in Dawson at 343 Lee Street. McGill was the oldest of three. Information regarding McGill’s education and art training has not been found.

McGill signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His address was 5104 Sheridan Road in Chicago, Illinois. He was an artist at International Harvester Company. His description was medium height and build with brown eyes and ark brown hair.

The Harvester World, January 1918, published McGill’s cartoon and photograph. The February issue also had a McGill cartoon.

 Harvester World 1/1918

Harvester World 2/1918

During 1918, Cartoons Magazine published several of McGill’s cartoons about Camp Grant here, here and here, and noted his prize.

Editor & Publisher, August 21, 1919, reported McGill’s new job.

Ray McGill, of Dawson, Ga., has been appointed local Cartoonist on The Atlanta Georgian. He has just returned from service overseas. Mr. McGill was formerly with the International Harvester Co., Chicago; also free lanced in Chicago.
The February 5, 1920 issue of E&P noted McGill’s new feature.
Atlanta, Feb. 4.—Ray McGill, cartoonist of the Georgian, has started a feature in the Sunday American that bids fair to become popular. Every Sunday one sees most of the good things there are to see in Atlanta, in McGill’s “Atlanta Over the Top” car.
McGill’s home, in the 1920 census, was in Atlanta, Georgia at 164 Ivy Street. He was a cartoonist for a daily paper. At some point he moved to New York City where he produced the strip, Brodie Betts, which ran from August 21, 1924 to June 13, 1924.

McGill was pictured in the 1928 book, What’s in the New York Evening Journal.

Creator of “Journalisms”
A comic artist with a keen sense of news! He draws a daily strip for Evening Journal readers giving them a humorous view of current happenings. McGill has created something NEW in cartoons—no comic strip in American newspapers is comparable to it. Evening Journal readers get a “big kick” out of McGill’s “Journalisms” because each drawing is up to the last minute in news interest.
According to the 1930 census, McGill took up residence at 119 West 55th Street in Manhattan, New York City. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said he was an assistant on Lank Leonard’s Mickey Finn. In the late 1940s, McGill assisted on Chic Young’s Blondie.

McGill produced Polly Wow, for Syndicated Features, which ran from July 13, 1936 to March 8 1937. The strip saw print in the comic book, Best Comics, issues 1, 2, 3 and 4, from November 1939 to February 1940.

In 1940, freelance cartoonist McGill resided at 101 West 55th Street in Manhattan. The census said his highest level of education was the eighth grade.

On April 26, 1942, McGill signed his World War II draft card. His address did not change. He was employed at Johnstone & Cushing, the studio specializing in advertising 

McGill passed away September 20, 1963 in Boynton Beach, Florida. His death was reported in the Palm Beach Post (Florida) two days later.

Mr. McGill, 71, of 22 NE 7th Ave., Delray Beach, who was associated with Chic Young, creator of the comic strip “Blondie,” of King Features Syndicate, died Friday night [September 20] at Bethesda Memorial Hospital following a short illness.
He was the cartoonist of two [sic; it was one strip] other comic strips carried by the syndicate, “Colonel Potterby” and “The Duchess.”
He was the editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal many years ago and also current events cartoonist for the New York Journal American.
He is survived by his 97-year-old mother, Mrs. Edna McGill, of Dawson, Ga.; one brother Edward McGill, former society photographer with the Chicago Tribune, at Morton Grove, Ill.; one nephew, Fulford McGill, Fort Lauderdale; two cousins, Miss Bess Fouche, McDonough, Ga., and Alfred Fouche, of Atlanta.
Funeral services will be held at the Scobee Funeral Home at 11 am Monday, with Rev. J. Marvin Sweat officiating.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, February 16, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Peggy Wow

Ray McGill flitted around the cartooning world for many decades. He did editorial cartoons and a very minor syndicated strip for Hearst, comic book work in the 40s, and assisted on major strips Mickey Finn and Blondie (regarding the latter, his obit claims that he produced the topper Colonel Potterby and the Duchess, which I thought was handled by Jim Raymond).

His contribution to the Syndicated Features tabloid section was Peggy Wow, a strip about a cute blonde Hollywood secretary cum agent whose star client also happens to be her boyfriend. Although the setup sounds like a good one, Ray McGill seemed to have trouble constructing gags. Read the samples above and tell me that both those strips don't suffer from a weird sort of subject drift on the third tier of panels. McGill racks up the pins well enough, but when he throws the ball, it bounces into the next lane. Later in the run Peggy gets involved in a continuity about a missing judge, and that seemed to help McGill focus his work better. Unfortunately, McGill's growth as a cartoonist did not help to save Syndicated Features.

Peggy Wow appeared throughout the entire publishing history of the Syndicated Features tabloid section, from July 13 1936 to March 8 1937.


You're right about the lame third row...I didn't get the joke in the second comic.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, September 15 1908 -- This evening Frank Carsey will take on Freddie Welsh at McCarey's boxing pavilion. Neither fighter is all that distinguished, and the boxing bugs are in a tither trying to decide who should be considered the favorite and underdog.

Since Herriman will not cartoon about the outcome, I'll tell you that Welsh knocked out Carsey in the fourth round.


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Friday, February 13, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, July 17 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.

This is the final sci-fi Connie story we have available from Cole Johnson. If anyone out there can contribute scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you! Note that we elitists do not generally use digital microfilm material here on Stripper's Guide, so we would need sharp 300-600 dpi scans from newspaper tearsheets or syndicate proofs.


I suppose this one is from August 22, 1937
Sorry, this is indeed the Sunday from July 17, 1938. You skipped almost a year to give us another complete story, thank you.
I wonder if you can get access to the late Cole Johnson's collection, to find more great stuff to reprint. I'm sure that the spirit of Cole would smile upon you! While on the subject, let me say how sorry I am that Mr. Johnson died. I know he was a good friend of yours. I have become very used to seeing his name on your blog. Comics people ought to live forever, or at least twice as long as mere "regular" people.
Thank you for that sentiment. It isn't easy to find an adventure/sci fi continuity that isn't common or already reprinted many times.
One of Cole's special interests was the Philadelphia syndicates, of which Connie belonged to the last of them, the Ledger Syndicate.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Crawford Young

William Crawford Young was born in Cannonsburg, Michigan, on March 26, 1886, according to his World War II draft card and New Hampshire death certificate. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Young’s first name as Willie, who was in his paternal grandmother’s household; she was a widow. Young’s father, Gaylord, was a widower and a painter; Henrietta was the name of Young’s mother. Also in the household were his older brother and two younger ones, as well as an uncle and servant. They all resided in Cannonsburg.

Many newspapers, including the New-Dispatch (Endicott, New York), April 26, 1923, published the syndicate profile of Young to promote his strip Clarence, which debuted July 10, 1921 and syndicated by the New York Herald.

Crawford Young, creator of “Clarence,” which appears every Thursday in this paper, and whose shining morning face appears above, was, like many other men who have made their name in cities, born on a farm. The particular farm, in Mr. Young’s case, is situated near Grand Rapids, Mich., and up to the time that little Crawford was 15 he never saw a railroad train, although he followed the parental plow he used to hear the whistle. This youngster worked as a farmhand until he was 19 years old.
But in all this time, his dreams were of art school and the drawing board and pencils which would follow.
So for four years he hoboed through the West, working in the summer, as a milker on a dairy farm in Wisconsin or a “rider” on a cattle ranch in Texas, and saving his money to spend the winter at the Art Institute in Chicago, where he had learned the rudiments of drawing.
Then came his first job. It was with Montgomery Ward and Company. The young artist was put to drawing illustrations of socks which were to appear in the catalogue of that vast mail order house. After unceasing labor making socks look attractive, Mr. Young went by rapid degrees up the dizzying ladder of promotion until he was set up to drawing baby-buggies. For this, the hardest job of illustrating in the catalogue he was paid the regal sum of seven dollars a week.
When Crawford had drawn his 342d baby-buggy, he looked for another job, and got one on the Chicago Dally News, drawing comics for the back page. Mr. C.D. Dennis, the managing editor of that great paper, thought Young was a keen, ambitious young man, and he decided that Young should draw political cartoons for the front page.
Just about this time, young Young bought a copy of Life, on the title page of which appears the legend, “While There’s Life There’s Hope.”
So our hero packed his kit. and bought a ticket for New York. He worked as a staff artist on Life for the next ten years. And in the meantime, bought himself a farm out in Connecticut, so that he could come into town when he needed to go to the bank and get some money to buy seeds with.
Now he is drawing “Clarence.” How he came to do this, Mr. Young says:
“I thought that a comic in which there is portrayed the little tragicomedies of real family life is the kind of a comic American people like best. “Clarence,” unlike most of comic husbands, is a big man. Most of them are little men with a big wife. However, everybody recognizes that a big man henpecked by a little woman is a lot funnier than a little man henpecked by a big woman. Hence “Clarence” is a big man. and his Better Half is diminutive.
According to the 1910 census, cartoonist Young and his brothers lived in Chicago, Illinois at 6333 Throop Street.

Young contributed to a number of magazines including Puck (here and here), Everybody’s (here and here) and Judge.

The New York Sun, December 2, 1916, mentioned Young’s book.

The colored pictures by Crawford Young in The Story of the String (Artemas Ward), for which Sam Plank has provided the text, are extremely good and are adapted to their purpose cleverly. It is a trick book perforated for a piece of string which is supposed to prow gradually into a cable, and the unexpected ways in which it is employed are funny. ($1.25)
A family tree at said Young married Effie Beach in 1918. On September 12, 1918, Young signed his World War I draft card. The self-employed artist resided in Norwalk, Connecticut at RFD 43. His description was medium height, slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair. Norwalk would be Young’s home into the 1930s.

The 1920 census said Young was a freelance magazine illustrator. He had a 13-year-old step-daughter. City directories from the 1920s said he lived on Comstock Avenue North. Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress (2012) said Young was on the staff contributor to Life and the New York Herald (see column five). For the Herald, Young produced The Finkles, from October 31 to December 26, 1920, and the aforementioned Clarence.

In 1929, Young took his family to Europe.

According to American Newspaper Comics, Young created Mortimer and its topper, Pearl Button, in 1929, and The Tutts in 1933. Both were for the King Features Syndicate.

Young’s address in 1930 was 180 East Division Street in Norwalk. In 1936, Young was granted a divorce in Florida. The New Hampshire Marriage Records, at, said Young wed Charlotte Crockett Whittier on August 22, 1936 in Northwood, New Hampshire.

The Telegraph (Nashua, New Hampshire), April 26, 1938, reported the fire on Young’s property.

For Syndicated Features, Young produce The Jamms strip which ran from July 13, 1936 to March 8, 1937. It appeared in the comic book Best Comics numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4, from November 1939 to February 1940.

Young has not been found in the 1940 census. He signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived on Cross Highway in Westport, Connecticut.

Young passed away April 1, 1947 in Strafford, New Hampshire, as recorded on the New Hampshire death certificate.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: The Jamms

Though the prolific Crawford Young rarely signed his Syndicated Features strip, The Jamms, it resembles his Central Press feature The Tutts enough that it almost seems like the Sunday strip version of that daily panel.  It's not a carbon copy, though, as the Tutt family included a gaggle of children, and the Jamms appear to be lacking in that department.

The Jamms was a half-pager throughout the run of the Syndicated Features tabloid run. It debuted on July 13 1936, and ended with the section on March 8 1937.


More then THE TUTTS, it remember me of CLARENCE.
I know these two strips cover the same territory as a thousand other strips, but i found these two samples quite funny. Is it his craft, was I just in the mood or both. Regardless, once you've completed the tour de Syndicate Features, can you spotlight the Tutts?
You have quoted the Syndicated Features section beginning on July 13,1936, two times, but wouldn't the debut issue actually read, "WEEK OF JULY 12"?
Hi Grizedo --
The Syndicated Features section, which I used to think was preprinted with a "Week Of" date that was consistent, turned out to be anything but as more newspapers were found that ran the section. At this point I don't really know how to date the sections properly. Some of the cartoonists did, early on, date their strips, but even those dates aren't entirely consistent. Thursday and Friday dates are prevalent, but Saturdays are seen as well.

I'm up for anyone who'd like to make a case for a consistent dating system that makes sense for these.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Kin Platt

Kin Platt was born Milton Platkin in New York City on December 8, 1911. His birth name was revealed in Dave Kiersh’s profile of Platt. The birth date is from the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Platt was the second of four children born to Daniel and Yetta, both emigrants. His father was a sample maker of ladies handbags. The family resided in the Bronx, New York at 1358–60 Brook Avenue. Something About the Author (1996), Volume 86, said:

…he had a difficult youth, running away from home at age seven, and he was always pushing the bounds of the acceptable. By ten, he was drawing all the time, copying cartoons and dreaming of having his own syndicated comic strip one day. He was also involved in sports, both running and baseball. And to fill any empty hours, he read voraciously and indiscriminately, up to five books per day….
In 1929 Platt graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York. The school yearbook, The Log, said Platt lived at 2294 East 23rd Street, and was a member of the track team, sketch club and art squad. He also was a cartoonist on the Newark Evening News.

According to Something About the Author, Platt had no thought or money for college. “To my mind it was a waste of time and I had to make my living by drawing.” He made caricatures of theater and screen stars, and then added political cartoons.

In 1930, Platt’s family was in Brooklyn at 2331 Kenmore Place. Platt is credited for the color comic strip, Happy and His Pappy, which was signed Kin. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said it debuted July 13, 1936 and ended March 8, 1937. The strips were reprinted in Best Comics #1, 2, 3, and 4; and Startling Comics.

Something About the Author said Platt ventured in radio where some of his “scripts were adapted for use by both Jack Benny and the comedy team of Stoopnagle and Budd”. Then in 1936, Platt went to Hollywood to pursue radio full-time. Leaving radio, Platt found work in the story departments of MGM and Disney. His experience in animation would pay off years later with scripts for Top Cat, the Flintstones, Jonny Quest, and the Jetsons.

Platt has not yet been found in the 1940 census, which recorded his divorced mother and three sisters in Los Angeles, California.

At some point, Platt married and returned to New York City. He enlisted in the army on July 12, 1943. At the time he resided in the borough of Queens and was a commercial artist who also wrote and drew for comic books. Some of his comic book credits are here. Something About the Author said:

Platt spent most of the war in the Far East working on a newspaper, Hump Express, and writing and drawing a weekly cartoon strip depicting scantily clad women—the GI’s favorite visual art. He also wrote a musical and had a traveling troupe that entertained GIs in China and Burma. He did not take to the regimented life of a soldier any better than he did to writing teams in Hollywood, writing his own orders when he felt like it, but by the end of the war he had been awarded the Bronze Star….Back in New York, he [took] over the well-established syndicated cartoon strip “Mr. and Mrs.”…His own strip, “The Duke and the Duchess,” which stayed in syndication for five years and got him into a bit of hot water with his editor when he decided to take on the communist-baiting senator Joe McCarthy.
His work on Mr. & Mrs. ran. from August 9, 1948 to September 22, 1963. The Duke and the Duchess started April 20, 1952 and ended April 18, 1954.

The 1948 and 1949 Manhattan telephone directories had two listings for Platt:
Platt Kin artst 1 Hewlet Rd Great Neck-2-0788Platt Kin b 2 W 15 WAtkns 4-0125
From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, Platt turned to writing for children, young adults and adults.

Platt passed away December 1, 2003, in Los Angeles, California, according to the Social Security Death Index. Other sources say he passed away November 30.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, February 09, 2015


The Comics of Syndicated Features: Introduction and Happy and his Pappy

Happy and his Pappy ran in the short-lived Sunday pre-print section offered by an outfit called Syndicated Features. However, if you come from the comic-book world, you might be thinking, "Naw, ya can't fool me. That strip ran in Best Comics and Startling Comics in the early 1940s". Well, you're right, but I have to play the trump card and tell you that my Happy and his Pappy beats you by four years or more, and the strips you find in those comic books are merely reprints of an honest to goodness newspaper strip. And that's true not just of Happy and his Pappy, but all the Syndicated Features strips, which found their way en masse into comic books well after their newspaper careers fizzled.

Syndicated Features is a mystery itself. If you run it around the interweb search engines, you'll see any number of folks claiming that it was a newspaper syndication arm of the Eisner and Iger shop. To that I have to say, in my most conciliatory voice, sorry but no. Definitely not. The creators featured in the Syndicated Features comic section were not in the same (lowly) league as those fresh out of art school kids to whom Eisner & Iger were paying a pittance. In fact, not one of the creators at Syndicated Features has any tenuous connection to Eisner and Iger.

But what, then, is the deal with Syndicated Features? They came out of nowhere to produce and market a nice little quality tabloid section of weekly color comics in 1936. They managed to attract some creators of note (granted, C-level cartooning celebrities), so they were not completely averse to spending money for professional material. And yet they made the same simple mistake that others did. They marketed a color comic section to small weekly papers. As is the standard result of such marketing, they got some clients to sign up at first, on a free, trial or print-now-pay-later basis, and when it came time to pay the piper, the newspapers bailed. It really is amazing how many companies tried the same fatally flawed approach.

So Syndicated Features' comic section, of which Happy and his Pappy was usually the front page feature, crashed and burned after a mere eight months.

Now that we have the big picture out of the way, let's talk about Happy and his Pappy. The feature about a wacky father and some team was original titled just Happy when it debuted in the first issue of the tabloid on July 13 1936. Dad got co-billing starting with the October 26 issue. The strip is a little reminiscent of Milt Gross' That's My Pop, all except that the creator Kin, while not a bad writer, was no Milt Gross.

Some comics historians have the opinion that 'Kin' of Happy and his Pappy is Kin Platt, who took over Mr. and Mrs. in 1948. I'm a little skeptical of that, as the art style of this Kin doesn't seem to me to bear much resemblance to that Kin. Dissenting opinions are welcomed in the comments!

 In the next couple weeks we will cover each of the Syndicated Features strips, along with Ink-Slinger Profiles for many of the creators. Alex Jay will weigh in at the end of this series with some information he has uncovered about Syndicated Features.


Ooh, I love this kind of stuff!
Looking forward to this coming week's posts.
(Didn't Goulart mention that these Best Comics features were from earlier syndicated strips in one of his comic book histories?)
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Saturday, February 07, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, September 15 1908 -- Surprisingly, the "Solid Three", though caught red-handed in an obviously unethical sweetheart bond sale, are sticking to their guns. They claim that the sale is official and will not withdraw it. The newspaper and Herriman continue to rage against them.


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Friday, February 06, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, August 15 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.

So, there's the second story in a row that ends with our heroes not really having done anything important at all to stop the bad guys. Interesting plot device Mr. Godwin seems to favor lately.

In the time-travelling sci-fi tradition, next week we are teleporting into the distant future age
of July 17 1938 for the start of our next (and probably last) Connie story. Hopefully our stars will actually have an active role in the proceedings! If anyone out there wishes to contribute good sharp scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you!


These last few strips point up something that always puzzled me about Godwin's Connie artwork. The airplanes here are recognizable aircraft. Connie was full of airplanes, but throughout most its run Godwin faked them outrageously. In fact, even in some of his magazine illustrations the aircraft are embarrassingly phony. His cars were no great shakes either.

Plenty of artists faked planes and cars. The difference is that Godwin was a modeller and a technology fan. There's a photo showing him with a remarkable scale model locomotive he built from scratch. I'd have thought that just by inclination Godwin would have drawn more realistic machinery.
How about
Late Bungle Family storylines
Beyond Mars (in color even though that lithping robot needs to die)
Twin Earths Sundays
More Speed Spaulding
Hairbreath Harry
Any favorite of the late great King Cole would be fine!

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Thursday, February 05, 2015


News of Yore 1973: William Hamilton Profiled


by Lenora Williamson
Editor & Publisher, April 7 1973

How and why did William Hamilton, whose magazine cartoons have been appearing regularly for almost a decade in that repository of clean, sophisticated wit, the New Yorker Magazine (and in others too) also become a syndicated newspaper cartoonist with an impressive list of major papers signed up in his first few weeks?

Asked that question, Hamilton can't suppress a gleam in his eyes. "I don't know if I should tell," he answers. The tall, rangy cartoonist who resembles a post-graduate about to end a teaching fellowship, leans forward and smiles. It all started, he explains, after he told a Washington Post writer doing a story on cartoonists that he, Hamilton, took his drawings rejected by various editors, thought up "something dirty" as captions and sent them off to Playboy—and Playboy bought them.

But after that remark appeared in print, no more "Wm. Hamilton" signatures in Playboy.
So, continues Hamilton, needing another cartoon market to take up the income slack, he tried a couple of New York syndicates which couldn't make up their minds. When Hamilton and his wife went back to his parent's home in the Napa Valley of California so that their first child would be born in that state, the cartoonist went to see Stanleigh Arnold, general manager of Chronicle Features and Sunday editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Arnold had followed Hamilton cartoons for some time, but wondered whether they might be too sophisticated for general newspaper readership. Leaving some drawings on Arnold's desk, Hamilton went home.

By the time he got there—about an hour and a half—the phone was ringing and Arnold was saying yes. The cartoons lying on the editor's desk attracted several staffers who reacted with laughter. That was last August and after a couple of months working on the feature titled "The Now Society", it was introduced early in the year.

Drawing Since Childhood
Hamilton, born in Palo Alto, went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts before entering Yale University in 1958 as an English major. His drawing dates back to childhood and didn't cease in college—although he was leaning toward being a movie director. Hamilton also had a year at the University of Veracruz in Mexico and then was drafted. He spent Army time in Port Richardson, Alaska— was there for the big earthquake, wrote press releases, shined shoes, cleaned bathrooms and washed a lot of dishes. He has told his wife, the former Candida Darci Vargas of Rio de Janeiro, that he has already washed a lifetime quota of dishes, and now it's up to her.

While in Alaska, Hamilton had begun submitting work to national magazines and once out of the Army came to New York where magazine credits soon began appearing. He met film director John Huston and went off to Rome as Huston's assistant in 1966 on the film "Reflections in a Golden Eye."
The cartoonist has written a couple of novels and a screenplay along the way and doesn't intend to give up writing. He finds fiction writing and cartooning compatible with "one a relief from the other." However, writing in his opinion is taxing —"more like work." It's not the fun that cartooning is, but he's determined to keep at it.

Drawing, he says, is genuine fun when going well. "You do not involve yourself as much when drawing. Some distance is required from drawing," meaning that any self-consciousness ' can interfere. "Cartoons demand relaxation and ease; you can't dredge them out or they won't come."

Well into the newspaper syndication routine, the artist has discovered he likes to work for newspapers. He explains that he can do what he wants and have the cartoons used, but with magazines, editors may not take the ones Wm. Hamilton likes best.

Another nice thing about drawing cartoons, "The Now Society" creator adds is that he can pretty much get up when he wants to and go to bed when he wants to, although granted a routine is settling over his schedule since arrival of his baby daughter. "She's gorgeous," father summarizes and writes out her name in full: Alexandra Manuela Vargas Hamilton. "The Now Society" is available five times a week in 2-column and one cartoon in a weekend panel in 3 or 4 column width.


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Wednesday, February 04, 2015


Magazine Cover Comics: Social Snapshots

My attempts at restoration are only good enough to give you the barest suggestion of how attractive these C.D. Mitchell American Weekly covers are. They are examples from a series titled Social Snapshots, and Mitchell really hit the ball out of the park with these. Perhaps the artist was so thrilled to have a larger audience for a change -- the full line of Hearst-owned papers as versus the small client list of his Ledger Syndicate feature Follies of the Passing Show -- that he really wanted to wow 'em.

Social Snapshots started sometime on or before November 25 1923, and lasted until January 1924 (my last sample on hand is January 13). If anyone knows of an online newspaper archive that includes a long run of the American Weekly Sunday magazines, I'd appreciate you letting me know about it. I've been trying to put together a definitive list of American Weekly cover features for the past few years, and I've still got many, many holes in my index.

Labels: ,

have a look at this website if you have not already visited there.
Unfortunately, the images are too small for me to reliably determine the dates of the issues shown. But yes, that's a neat site!

Thanks, Allan
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015


News of Yore 1973: Checking in with Ziggy's Creator

Consistency is Key for New Cartoon Hero
Editor & Publisher, May 5 1973

"Ziggy", the bungling brainchild of a corporation executive, is not quite two years old but is already a familiar hero of misadventures in cartoon panels in some 100 newspapers. "Ziggy" is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.

The hero is a merry bungler created by Tom Wilson, a vice president in the creative area of American Greetings Cor­poration, Cleveland, who made his way up the corporate ladder by developing the Hi Brow and Soft Touch contemporary cards that were revolutionary in the greeting card industry.

Wilson insists that he is, in fact, Ziggy. "Ziggy stumbles through life with indomi­table spirit, hoping not to trip when a bright moment finally arrives. He runs along in the human race wearing galoshes. But don't we all?

"Ziggy is a lot of things we don't talk about," Wilson philosophizes. "There's a kind of loneliness about him none of us can ever really shake, even in a room full of friends."

The character is already a popular figure in a new line of American Greet­ings cards and in addition, appears in figurines, stationery, gift wrappings and wall posters.

Wilson thinks Ziggy's ego can handle his rapid rise to stardom. The key, he feels, is in keeping the character consis­tent. There are cartoon ideas Wilson won't use, because they're not something Ziggy would say or do.

"Like an actor, a cartoonist has to be­come the character," Wilson says. "It has to be a convincing role. It's kind of freaky, but after awhile, the character becomes a sort of personality in himself. He's someone you know. And really, Ziggy is the source of his own cartoon materi­al."


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