Saturday, June 16, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 6 1909 -- Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson both tendered $5000 so-called 'forfeit deposits' against their planned upcoming bout. Johnson required as part of his tender that Jeffries and he get together to determine the details of the match. However, Jeffries was due to take a steamer to Europe, and there was a worry that the two fighters would not be able to meet before the sailing.

As it turns out, the two did miss each other. Jeffries reportedly waited until the last possible minute in New York, expecting Johnson to arrive at the last minute. What he didn't know (and neither did Herriman) was that Johnson had landed in a jail cell in London Ontario, charged with reckless driving after a car accident.


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Friday, June 15, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton

Grace Drayton did a series of postcards for the firm of Reinthal & Newman, apparently in 1908 though this card is undated. It is a divided back card, and she used her married name of Weiderseim so that year certainly qualifies. This particular card is #177.

These cards by Drayton show a surprisingly pungent sense of humor (this one being my favorite of those I've seen). She is sometimes derided for the cloying sweetness of the Campbell Kids, forgetting that she was very much capable of less cutesy work.


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Thursday, June 14, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Marvelous Fun and Games

Although Marvelous Fun and Games doesn't technically fall within the purview of Stripper's Guide (our bylaws, written by yours truly, exempt me from tracking activity features), two things make me give this one admittance onto our exclusive premises.

First, it is a Marvel Comics production, and so therefore of presumed interest to many collectors, and second, because this feature was created by Owen McCarron, a native and favorite son of Nova Scotia Canada, my newly adopted home. McCarron produced puzzles for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and also did quite a bit of comic book work, often for Marvel Comics. McCarron was pals with Stan Lee, and talked him into the idea of combining his puzzle mania with Marvel's characters. The results would become the syndicated Sunday series Marvelous Fun and Games and the comic book series Marvel Fun and Games.

Not being a Marvel comics expert, I don't know if McCarron drew all the material for these features or if a lot of it came from model sheets. If McCarron produced it all, I have to say he was astoundingly good at staying 'on-model' for everyone in Marvel's cast of thousands. The puzzles and games in the feature were somewhat pedestrian, but they were obviously intended for a pretty young audience and were simplified to fit that demographic.

Marvelous Fun and Games was syndicated by Register & Tribune Syndicate to a fairly modest number of client newspapers. It debuted on September 10 1978*, and ended on November 16 1980* -- an end date that is pretty well certain because it literally has "FINAL WEEK" lettered on it!

* American Comic Book Chronicles:The 1970s by Jason Sacks and Keith Dallas
* from my files; tearsheet from an unknown newspaper


Man, I loved Owen McCarron's stuff. It was obvious he was an artist who really knew puzzles and Marvel history in equal measure, and as a big fan of both I was very impressed with his work. There were also a number of activity books of his Marvel puzzles which are a terrific find if you can locate them. It's a shame Owen's no longer with us.
Yeah, this looks like all Owen's work.
He was very good at what he did.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Claude Shafer

Winfred Claude Shafer was born in Little Hocking, Ohio, on January 7, 1878, according to a passport application, World War II draft card and Who Was Who in American Art 1564–1975 (1999). However, the Ohio Birth and Christening Index, at, said Shafer was born in Belpre, Ohio, which is 8 miles/12.9 kilometers west of Little Hocking. The index also had Shafer’s full name. An family tree said his parents were Henry W. Shaffer and Susan Lovisa Davis.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Shafer, his parents and younger brother Francis in Parkersburg, West Virginia on Labrobe Street. The Cincinnati Post (Ohio), March 16, 1914, revealed some details about Shafer’s childhood, education and art training.

…At a very tender age Claude displayed signs of the drawing talent that has since won him recognition.

That boy was always a drawer. He took his parents by the hand and drew them from the family homestead, in Washington-co., near Little Hocking, O., Cincinnati.

He was then 4.

He has been drawing, here and there, ever since—salaries, and raises, and attention. And, of course, cartoons.

Well, to get back—one of the early achievements of young Claude in Cincinnati was to become a newspaper seller. You may recall him, darting about Peebles Corner, crying his wares—The Post.

At the age of 9, he entered art school. He was the youngest pupil. The teachers in the public schools paid his tuition because they recognized his ability, and wanted yto see it developed.

He attended the art school four years. After that he had to go to work. It was then he got the job as messenger boy. Then he entered the brick yard. Finally he was employed in a jewelry store, in the Arcade. he remained nine years.

…He has been a wage-earner since he was 13. And we forgot to mention that for five years, during which he grubbed during the day, he went to art school at night.
Cincinnati Curiosities said Shafer attended the Cincinnati Art Academy and his father died of cholera in 1892. Shafer’s passport application said his father died August 28, 1893.

The 1900 census said jewelry clerk Shafer was a Cincinnati resident. He and brothers Walter, Cleveland, Harry were in their mother’s household at 4120 Eastern Avenue.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Shafer produced the strip Old Man Grump, for the Cincinnati Enquirer, starting July 14, 1908.

Newspaper cartoonist Shafer, wife Kitty and mother-in-law Kate Wiederecht resided at 3626 Columbia Avenue in Cincinnati according to the 1910 census. The 1930 census said Shafer was 25 when he married.

Shafer illustrated a number of books including Dorothy (1906), Bill Johnston’s Joy-Book (1922) and the cover of Humor Among the Minors: True Tales from the Baseball Bush (1911).

Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists, including Shafer. 

During World War I Shafer traveled to England and France. Attached to the passport application was a brief letter, dated July 17, 1918, from the War Department’s Office of the Chief of Staff, that said: “The War Department has no objection to Shafer, Claude of 1129 Delta Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio being sent for duty with the A. E. F., in connection with YMCA.”

Pennsylvania in the World War: An Illustrated History of the Twenty-eighth Division, Volume 2 (1921) published a photograph of Shafer entertaining the troops.

Shafer signed his draft card October 20, 1918. The Cincinnati Post cartoonist was described as short and stout with brown eyes and hair. One of Shafer’s war cartoons appeared in Association Men, January 1919. Two Shafer cartoons were included in the book, The War in Cartoons, A History of the War in 100 Cartoons by 27 of the Most Prominent American Cartoonists (1919), here and here.

Shafer’s address and household was unchanged in the 1920 census. According to American Newspaper Comics, Shafer drew The Doodlebugs for the George Matthews Adams Service, from 1923 to 1928.

Shafer and his wife returned from Europe on August 25, 1929. Aboard the S.S. Carmania, they departed from Havre, France on August 17. The couple’s address on the passenger list was 1232 Paxton Road, Cincinnati. The same address was in the 1930 and 1940 censuses and Shafer’s World War II draft card.

Claude Shafer’s Cartoon Guide of Ohio was published in 1939. Included with the book was a cartoon map of Ohio which can be viewed here.

Shafer passed away May 24, 1962, in Cincinnati. Several newspapers, including the New York Times, published the Associated Press report the following day.

Claude Shafer, cartoonist for Cincinnati newspapers for fifty-five years, died today at his home in the Hyde Park section. He was 84 years old.

Mr. Shafer went to work for The Cincinnati Times-Star in 1901. He moved to The Post the same year and worked briefly for The Enquirer twenty-five years later before returning to The Times-Star in 1926. He retired in 1956.

One of his most widely known cartoon characters was Old Man Crump [sic].

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: The Doodlebugs

Claude Shafer was a longtime sports cartoonist for various Cincinnati papers, serving for over fifty years in total from the early 1900s to well into the 1950s. He created a mascot character for his sports cartoons called Old Man Grump, and tried to take that character into syndication as a comic strip in the late 1910s with no success. He later tried again with The Doodlebugs, and that was modestly popular enough to last for quite awhile.

The Doodlebugs was one of those 'panorama' cartoons that seemed to find an appreciative audience back in the day. Shafer's page-wide panoramas featured a cast of bugs and woodland creatures. Some of the bugs were of identifiable types, but most were Play-Doh blobs. The weekly cartoons typically had a seasonal or holiday theme, and the whole large cast would show up to toss off one-liners.

The feature was syndicated by the George Matthew Adams Service starting on July 29 1923* with an episode in which the bugs 'hatch out', and it was marketed as the main graphic attraction on a boys-and-girls page meant for a paper's black-and-white Sunday feature section. As far as I know The Doodlebugs was never offered or used in color comics sections. Although I offer the 1923 date as the start, I found a piece of original art at Heritage Auctions that had a note on it to appear on a Sunday date in 1918 (the note seems just slightly suspicious as a possible later addition), so it could be that Shafer produced the feature for a Cincinnati paper for a long time before it comes onto my radar.

The feature is hard to track because it did not merit its own listing in the E&P yearbooks; only the whole kids' page was listed. It seems like the Boys and Girls Page may have moved from George Matthew Adams to Associated Editors in 1927, but that is unclear. What is clear is that about this time the page started rerunning old episodes of the feature. Whether Shafer was personally involved with the feature after this, or if GMA sold off their inventory and someone in the Associated Editors offices chose the episodes to re-use I do not know. All I can say is that I have examples of the feature running as late as 1931*.

* Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette
* New Orleans Times-Picayune


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Monday, June 11, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Johnny Devlin

John Daniel “Johnny” Devlin was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 10, 1906, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at His full name was published in a newspaper.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census said Devlin was the youngest of four children born to James, an English emigrant and baker, and Sarah, a Scottish emigrant. The family lived in Brooklyn at 8 Hicks Street.

In the 1915 New York state census, the Devlins resided at 6 Poplar in Brooklyn. Devlin’s father was a shipping clerk.

According to the 1920 census, the Devlin family were residents of Richmond Hill, Queens, New York, at 115 Mills Street.

Newspaper artist Devlin and his parents, in the 1930 census, made their home in Freeport, Nassau County, New York at 68 West Seaman Avenue. The same address was recorded on a May 1931 passenger list when Devlin visited Bermuda.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Devlin ghosted Milt Gross’s Looy Dot Dope early in its run which began in 1925. Devlin created the Looy Dot Dope topper Colonel Wowser for United Features Syndicate. For the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate, Devlin drew Honey Dear that ran from December 6, 1937 to August 27, 1938. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Devlin assisted Rube Goldberg.

The Quality Companion: Celebrating the Forgotten Publisher of Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters (2012) explained Devlin’s role with Goldberg.

[Publisher] Busy Arnold had arranged for his book to be filled, printed and distributed, but he still needed an editor to run the outfit and to maintain its…quality. Arnold had become good friends with the popular cartoonist Rube Goldberg and Busy credited the artist with helping him put together the first issues of Feature Funnies. Rube’s assistant, Johnny Devlin, edited the first few issues, but Rube had just begun “Lala Palooza” and he couldn’t spare Johnny for more that a few days each month….
Devlin’s comic book credits are at the Grand Comics Database.

The Nassau Daily Review (New York), December 18, 1934, published marriage license notices including Devlin’s: “John Daniel Devlin, 28, of 68 West Seaman avenue, Freeport, and Miss Margaret Mary Bice, 38, of the Nautilus beach club, Atlantic Beach.”

The 1940 census recorded newspaper cartoonist Devlin, his wife and daughter, Diane, in Brooklyn at 850 Lincoln Place. Devlin had four years of high school.

Devlin passed away April 1, 1942. An obituary appeared two days later in the Brooklyn Eagle

The funeral of John D. Devlin, 36, artist and cartoonist, of 62-14 18th St., Elmhurst, who died Wednesday after a brief illness, will be held at 9:30 am. tomorrow from the chapel at 38 Lafayette Ave.; thence to the R.C. Church of the Ascension in Elmhurst, for a final blessing.

Mr. Devlin formerly was a cartoonist on the old New York World and later drew the comic strip “Looy Dot Dope” for United Features Syndicate. Lately he had been associated with Rube Goldberg. He also drew for comic magazines.

Mr. Devlin is survived by his widow, Margaret Rice Devlin; two daughters. Diane and Mary Jane; his parents, James and Sarah Devlln; a brother, James, and two sisters, Mrs. George Thorne and Mrs. Frank Goonan.

—Alex Jay


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Saturday, June 09, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 3 1909 -- Jim Jeffries has posted a 'forfeit deposit' of $5000 to basically guarantee that he is willing to fight Jack Johnson, and Jack Johnson has just replied with the same deposit. His, however, adds a stipulation that Jeffries must meet Johnson outside of the ring in the very near future to make specific plans for the location and details of the match. Both fighters have hectic schedules already and there is talk that they can't possibly meet within the specified period.


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Friday, June 08, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

This Dwig postcard is from Tuck's Series #165, "Knocks Witty and Wise". There is lovely gold embossing on the frame of the card, which doesn't scan at all well unfortunately. I guess the fellow is meant to be a doctor, but his operating tools certainly don't inspire my confidence in his 'trimming' abilities.


The Tuck cards were considered the Cadillac of post card publishers, or as they were British, the Rolls-Royce. They were always on a better grade of stock, printed in high quality colors and had a lithograph look to them. The embossed frame is a typical extra touch.
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Thursday, June 07, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Pink Panther

The heyday of making comic strip spin-offs of licensed characters was long gone by the 2000s, but a trickle of them continued. One that tested the waters was the Pink Panther. The character originated in an unusual way, as the animated intro to the 1963 movie The Pink Panther, starring Peter Sellers as the hilariously inept police detective, Inspector Clouseau. The Pink Panther was actually the name of the diamond that figured in the plot of the movie, but was visualized as an actual pink panther in the animated title sequence.

The movie was a big hit, and the animated character migrated to a series of theatrical shorts, and then to a successful Saturday morning cartoon series. The Saturday morning cartoons were very popular ion the 1970s, but by the end of the decade interest had pretty much run its course. A few attempts were made to revive the franchise with lukewarm success. The character remained alive in the popular imagination primarily as a series of TV ads for an insulation company.

Eric and Bill Teitelbaum, creators of the long-running business cartoon Bottom-Liners, were fans of the Pink Panther animated cartoons, and helped spearhead a drive to bring the character to the newspaper comics page. The owners of the franchise worked with the Teitelbaum's syndicate, Tribune Media Services, to come up with a version that was a Sunday-only strip format (though it was generally a single-panel).

The feature debuted on May 29 2005* (as Pink Panther, not 'The') in a very small number of client papers. My guess is that this modest rollout had a couple reasons: first, the character was really only iconic to the 40-and-over crowd, and second, the feature frankly didn't recapture the surreal comedy magic of the old cartoons. The muddy computerized color looked terribly out of place, and the gags were often based on subjects totally foreign to the 'classic' character -- online dating, for example. I also wonder if younger feature editors might have seen the promo material and were mystified why a character that hawks Owens-Corning Fiberglass insulation would merit his own comic strip. Buy an ad if you want in the paper, Owens-Corning!

Eric and Bill gamely kept with the feature, but it never gained any traction. Finally after four years of a completely cold reception the strip was cancelled, last appearing on May 10 2009**.

* Source:
** Source:


Did they license the character? Or were they hired by whatever company now owns it? If the latter, conceivably the owners paid to keep it alive as part of a bigger revival plan.

I always wondered about "Robotman", which existed as a line of toys and what looked like the pilot for a TV series as well as the comic strip, which was totally unrelated to the toys and show. In time the strip evolved into "Monty", and the former title character made his exit in a "Star Trek" parody.
That's an interesting question, Donald, and I don't know the answer. I read and listened to several interviews with the Teitelbaums, and they did not discuss that point.

There were attempts to bring "Pink Panther" to newspapers back when the cartoons were still being made. I've seen a few samples they did as part of the pitch, and I think I still have a copy of one of them somewhere. For whatever reason, those didn't take off.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Frank Walter

Harold Frank “Jerry” Walter was born on November 25, 1915, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, according to his Social Security application which was transcribed at The same birth information was reported in the Post-Star, November 9, 2007. However, the Social Security Death Index has Walter’s birth month as October which may have been a clerical or typographical error.

Walter has not been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. A search at has links to travel records in Brazil for Walter and his parents who may have been out of the country during the census enumeration.

The 1930 census recorded Walter and his parents, Pliney and Clara, in Westfield, New Jersey at 307 Hazel Avenue. His father was a planning engineer of telephone equipment.

The Post-Star said Walter “graduated from Colgate University in 1937, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He also studied at the New School and at the Art Students League in New York City.”

According to the 1940 census, Walter was an advertising writer. He lived with his parents in Westfield, New Jersey at 731 Coleman Place. The Post-Star said Walter was “a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, at McCann-Erickson and at BBDO.”

The New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, at, includes a “Harold F. Walter” who married “Ethelynde Stimpson” on October 2, 1940 in New York City.

The Evening News (North Tonawanda, New York), July 3, 1953, said “…Married shortly before Pearl Harbor, the Walters worked for an advertising agency before Mr. Walters [sic] became a navigator for the Atlantic Transport Command….”

The Post-Star said Walter “served for three years in World War II, as a 1st lieutenant, where he was a navigator in the Army Air Transport Command, stationed in Washington, D.C.”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Walter and his wife produced Susie Q. Smith, which started as a panel in 1945 with the King Features Syndicate. The McNaught Syndicate continued the series as a strip on February 9, 1953. It ended November 28, 1959. The series was bylined “Jerry and Linda Walter”. The couple created Jellybean Jones for King Features which syndicated it from March 4, 1946 to 1949. The panel was credited to “Frank Walter”. For Newsday Specials, the Walters did The Lively Ones which debuted May 17, 1965 and ran into 1966.

Evening News 7/3/1953; Jerry and Linda working on Susie Q. Smith

In 1950 Walter illustrated an educational workbook.

The Post-Star said Walter wrote gags for stand-up comedians, and exhibited his abstract paintings at the Chase Gallery in New York City. Walter’s memberships include the “Cartoonist Society, Glens Falls Country Club, Hyde Collection, the Lake George Art Project, Southern Vermont Art Association in Manchester, Vt., the Society of Chambers in Woodstock, N.Y., Woodstock Art Museum and Woodstock Golf Club.”

At some point Walter and Linda divorced. Walter remarried to Clarice O’Hara.

Walter passed away November 7, 2007, in Glens Falls, New York. Walter was laid to rest at Pine View Cemetery

Further Reading
Post-Star, May 9, 2011
Cartoonist who left millions to charity moved to Queensbury from Woodstock

Daily Gazette, July 29, 2011
Queensbury cartoonist’s paintings to be auctioned

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, June 05, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Linda Walter

Information about Linda Walter is scarce. What is known about her comes from several newspaper and magazine mentions.

Two 1942 issues of New Horizons named her. 

Page 42: Most appropriate reference was a cartoon drawn for The Saturday Evening Post by Linda Walter, whose caption pointed up the air-mindedness of the younger generation (see cut).

Page 70: Last month on page 10, New Horizons proudly displayed Linda Walter’s becoming cartoon reprinted from one of the Saturday Evening Post's April, ’42 issues. The cartoon depicted three youthful figures, one of whom is saying to the others: “Mayflower—Phooey…our uncle came over on the Clipper!”
Linda and her husband Jerry were Woodstock, New York residents. Linda was mentioned and pictured in the Kingston Daily Freeman (New York), July 16, 1947, “…Linda Walter, Woodstock, who, with her husband, Jerry Walter produces the widely-distributed cartoon series, Susie Q. Smith…”

Kingston Daily Freeman, June 23, 1948, reported the opening at the Woodstock Playhouse and said “The group exhibition by Woodstock’s cartoonists created much interest. Those represented in the in the lobby of the Playhouse are John H. Streibel, creator of the Dixie Dugan strip. Carl Hubbell, Jerry and Linda Walter; Jay Allan. David B. Huffine, and Edmund Good. Good formerly did Scorchy Smith, the Associated Press strip, but is now known for Breeze Lawson in the Sky Sheriff.”

Kingston Daily Freeman, June 11, 1951, noted “Expressions of appreciation were given to Mrs. Linda Walter, who has been teaching dancing and ballroom deportment at the school…”

Kingston Daily Freeman, September 26, 1951, said “At the recent annual meeting of the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen the following officers for the coming year were elected: …Anita Stallforth and Linda Walter, house committee…”

The Kingston Daily Freeman, December 20, 1951, publicized the upcoming exhibit.

Illustrators’ Exhibit Is Scheduled Friday
Woodstock, Dec. 20—An Illustrators’ Exhibit will open Friday, Dec. 21, at the S S Sea Horse, with a reception from 6 to 8 p. m. Hot hors d’oeuvres will be served by C. J. McCarthy. The paintings, drawings and sketches of the following illustrators will be shown: Ethel Adams, Jay Allen, Charles W. Chambers, Heine Drucklieb, Harvey Emerich, Anton Otto Fischer, George Green, Gerald Green, Karl Hubbell. Dave Huffine, William H. MacReady, C. J. McCarthy, John McClellan, Joseph Morgan, John Pike, Pamela Ravenel, John Striebel, Dudley G. Summers, Harry Temple, Mark Von Arenberg and Jerry and Linda Walter.
The Kingston Daily Freeman, August 18, 1954, reported the benefit for the Woodstock Recreation Field. One paragraph included the following.
Silk Screen Tags
A colorful feature of the carnival will be the silk screened admission tags, designed by 18 famous artists, autographed and available for 25 cents apiece. Each one a collector’s item, entire sets may be purchased. The artists who are now working on the tags are as follows: James Turnbull, Howard Mandel, John Pike, Edmond Good, Karl [sic] Hubbell, Anton Refregier, Linda Walter, Dave Hufflne, Ethel Magafan, Edward Chavez, Miska Petersham, Lucil Blanch, Phoebe Towbin, Marianne Appel Mecklem, Reginald Wilson, Jay Allen, Edward L. Chase and John Striebel.
The Evening News (North Tonawanda, New York), July 3, 1953, announced the addition of Susie Q. Smith to its comics page and said about the creators:
Jerry and Linda Walter are an attractive young couple who can pinch-hit for each other in turning out the feature. Jerry normally dreams up the gags and Linda does the art work, but they can switch about when the occasion demands.

Married shortly before Pearl Harbor, the Walters worked for an advertising agency before Mr. Walters [sic] became a navigator for the Atlantic Transport Command. After the war, they dreamed up Susie and have had a highly popular gal on their hands ever since.

Jerry and Linda working on Susie Q. Smith

At the New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes recorded the issuance of a license to “Ethelynde Stimpson” and “Harold F. Walter” on October 2, 1940. (Jerry’s birth name was Harold Frank Walter.) Ethelynde could be Linda. Looking at census records, Ethelynde was born around 1918 in New Jersey and her parents were William and Ethelynde. They lived in New Castle, Westchester County, New York in 1920. The 1930 and 1940 censuses said Ethelynde resided in Cranford, Union County, New Jersey. According to the 1940 census, Ethelynde was a secretary at a welding and metal company.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Linda and Jerry 
(under the name Frank Walter) also created Jellybean Jones for King Features Syndicate and The Lively Ones for Newsday Specials.

The Times-Union, (Albany, New York), December 8, 2017, published the article “Woodstock Artists Cemetery good place to ponder art's power” which said in part, “…Look over there—the gravestone for Ethel Magafan Currie, American landscape painter. And there—actor Joseph Leon, Dr. Blackstock from "Sophie's Choice." And another—poet and cartoonist Linda Walter, who created “Susie Q. Smith” with her husband, Jerry….”

The Social Security Death has a “Linda Walter” who was born January 18, 1918 and died March 28, 2009. Her last known residence was Lake Hill, Ulster County, New York, which is about fives miles/8 kilometers west of Woodstock.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, June 04, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Susie Q. Smith

We've discussed the Walters, the dynamic married cartooning duo, before here on Stripper's Guide. Both Jellybean Jones and The Lively Ones failed to make any impression at all on newspaper readers, but Susie Q. Smith, their most successful outing, actually did pretty well -- it is only an obscurity in that it has fallen off the cultural radar completely since its demise.

The Linda and Jerry Walter trilogy of syndicated features forms a neat triptych -- one about a little kid, one about a teenager, and one about senior citizens. Somehow the Walters failed only to hit on that middle part of life, adulthood.  The other interesting commonality is that all three features were daily panels (to which a glance immediately upward on this page would seem to disagree, but bear with me).

Susie Q. Smith, whose title was often abbreviated by lazy typesetters as just Susie Q, debuted with King Features on the first day of 1945, and garnered enough clients to be considered at least a modest success. The panel about a teenage girl hit all the familiar hot buttons -- dating, school, dealing with parents and siblings. What set it apart, at least slightly, was that it was unusually frank about Susie's romantic life. Susie and her pals are often depicted in the midst of communal make-out sessions, something you'd rarely if ever see in the typically modest teenage features like Harold Teen, Aggie Mack and the like. For some reason the newspaper comics page could not rise to the level of frankness of popular movies and radio shows, and teens in the newspaper were, other than Susie, almost embarrassingly unsexual.

In a very odd turn of events, in 1953 the Walters chose to leave King Features behind and hitch their wagon at the McNaught Syndicate. (King is notoriously lax about cancelling underperforming features, so I'd be surprised if the axe came down -- I'm convinced it was the Walters who made the move.) Rejecting the sales powerhouse of Hearst for the comparatively sleepy environs of McNaught seems strange, but the Walters shook things up in an even more unusual way by changing their daily panel into a comic strip at the same time. The combination of a new syndicate and a new format actually seemed to click with newspaper editors. The feature added clients and became more visible  in the next few years than at any other time in its history. Unfortunately for the Walters the honeymoon didn't last and clients began to fall away. Perhaps the juggernaut of the Archie strip, which tread the same ground but with considerably more pizazz, was too much competition. Susie Q. Smith was cancelled on November 28 1959


How common is it for a comic to switch from a panel format to strip format?

The only other example I can think of is "Andy Capp", although by the time the comic made it to the US papers it switched to strip format.
It's a pretty darn rare event, Charles. I have no simple way of looking that information up in my database, but I'd lay odds that if we limit our data set to normal syndicated features, the number would be in single digits.

Just checked "Walt before Skeezix" and noted that "Gasoline Alley" started as a panel and quickly began flip-flopping between panel and strip.

Also, it seems the majority of panels turn to strips on Sundays (a handful would do a few unrelated gags to offer a flexible format).
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Saturday, June 02, 2018


Herriman Saturday

July 16 1909 -- In Herriman's latest "Guess Who?", the roastee is Battling Nelson. He lost a bout against Ad Wolgast a few days back, and there are unfounded rumors that he's to be married. Apparently this future wedded bliss will include a decidely "krazy" looking kat in the household.

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Friday, June 01, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman

Walter Wellman did a whole series of "Need a Doctor? Try Dan Cupid, M.D." postcards in 1908. This one is #1059. In each one little Dan Cupid prescribes a solution for romantic troubles of various sorts.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Richardson

Detail of Walter Marshall Clute’s drawing of Richardson
which was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago

Frederick “Fred” Richardson was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1862. His birth information was found in several books: American Statesman (1907), Herringshaw’s National Library of American Biography, Volume V (1914), Who Was Who in American History, Arts and Letters, Volume 3 (1975), and Who’s Who in America 1908–1909.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Richardson was the youngest of two sons born to William and Belinda. His father was a “pork & beef packer”. Richardson has not yet been found in the 1880 census.

Who’s Who in America said Richardson’s education was in St. Louis, Missouri, and his art training at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, and the Academie Julian, in Paris, France. The American Art Annual, Volume III (1900) said he was a pupil of Henri Lucien Doucet and Jules Joseph Lefebvre, in Paris. His painted work was exhibited in the Paris Salon, 1889.

The 1885 Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago listed Richardson at 174 West Jackson. Around 1885 Richardson resided in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Philadelphia Times, July 10, 1887. 

“I have been in Kansas City about two years, and the arts have made tremendous strides in that time. When I went there the people hardly knew the difference between a water color and a grease spot, but now they can tell a Mysonyay from a Raphael or a modern school from an old master with their eyes shut. There are in Kansas City about fifteen artists and all are doing a rattling business. One of the queer things about the town is that the people will not patronize a studio. An artist must have an atalyay [atelier] if he wants to do business. A studio may be all right enough for [?] Joseph and Leavenworth and liberty, but nothing short of an atalyay [atelier] will catch on in Kansas City.”
Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808–1908, Volume 1, also mentioned Richardson’s presence:
About 1885, a group of artists who had rooms in the Deardorf building on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Main streets, at that time the studio quarters for the city, furnished the impulse which led to the earliest art organization. Mr. Fred Richardson, long connected with the Fine Arts Institute of Chicago, suggested the formation of a sketch club to consist of laymen and artists, meeting from house to house, to talk over art matters in general, and to judge pictures made by the members, in illustration of a subject previously given out….
The Kansas City Times (Missouri), November 21, 1886, noted the Sketch Club meeting, “The first regular meeting of the second year of the sketch club was held last Thursday evening. Mr. Fred Richardson was host and the subject ‘Bohemian Life.’”
The Midland Monthly Magazine, 11/1895; drawing
of Fred Richardson and William Schmedtgen

According to Who’s Who in America, Richardson was on staff of the Chicago Daily News for 15 years, and was an instructor at the Art Institute for seven years. 

Richardson’s drawings appeared in the March, April and May 1896 issues of The Chap-Book. Richardson was praised in the Inland Printer, November 1897.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Richardson produced two series for the Chicago Daily News. First was a full-page of comics, on various subjects, that ran from January 2, 1897–November 2, 1901. Next was Captain John Smith and Pocahontas Come to Life that ran from August 5 to September 17, 1907.
On January 2, 1897 Richardson married Josephine Welles in Chicago, according to the Cook County, Illinois Marriages Index at

Richardson was profiled in Brush and Pencil, March 1898. The Book of Drawings by Fred Richardson, published in 1899, was a selection of his work for the Chicago Daily News.

Artist Richardson, his wife, two sons, mother and a servant lived in Park Ridge, Illinois, as recorded in the 1900 census.

The Inland Printer, May 1901, said the composition classes at the Art Institute of Chicago were under Richardson’s direction.

In 1903 Richardson moved to New York City according to the New York Times, January 16, 1937. The 1905 New York state census said Richardson was a resident of Eastchester in Westchester County.

Richardson illustrated L. Frank Baum’s Queen Zixi of Ix which was serialized in St. Nicholas magazine beginning November 1904.

In 1906 Richardson’s illustrated column “Easy Lessons in Drawing” appeared in newspapers including the Willmar Tribune (Minnesota). Some of Richardson’s drawings were showcased in The Studio, January 15, 1906.

Who’s Who in America said he resided, in 1908, in Tuckahoe, New York.

Richardson was on the faculty of the W. Martin Johnson School of Art in New York City.

According to the 1910 census, Richardson was a widower in Illinois, Maine Township, Village of Park Ridge, on Grant Place.

The Inland Printer, January 1910, featured Richardson’s art in the article “The Art of Fable-Making”. Richardson illustrated the Volland Edition of Mother Goose

American Art Annual, Volume XIV (1918) had this entry for Richardson.

Richardson, Frederick, Century Assoc., 7 West 43d St., New York, N.Y.; Cliff Dwellers, Chicago.
I., P., T.—Born Chicago, Ill., Oct. 26, 1862. Pupil of St. Louis School of Fine Arts; Doucet and Lefebvre in Paris. Member: Century Assoc.; SI 1905.
Richardson has not yet been found in the 1920 census. Richardson was recorded in the 1925 New York state census. He resided in Bedford, Westchester County on Cherry Street.

The 1930 census said Richardson, his son, David, and housekeeper were in Lewisboro, Westchester County, New York on Spring Street.

The New York Times, July 17, 1936, said David died of a heart attack, at home in Bedford, on the 16th.

Richardson passed away January 15, 1937, in New York City. The following day his death was reported in the New York Times which said he had suffered from pneumonia and died at the Regent Nursing Home. He lived at 7 West 43rd Street. Richardson was a member of the American Federation of Arts and the Society of Illustrators, the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago, and the Century and MacDowell Clubs of New York. He was survived by his son, Alan Barbour Richardson, of 108 West 43rd Street. Richardson was laid to rest at Graceland Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, May 28, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Our Fascinating Earth

Robert Ripley sure did start something with Believe It or Not, and a favorite Ripley-style panel variant was to concentrate on interesting tidbits about the natural world. William Ferguson's This Curious World is the undisputed king of the sub-genre, but long after he retired, Philip Seff decided to take a whack at it with Our Fascinating Earth.

Seff did not really start out well by placing his new panel cartoon with Copley News Service, which  had near-zero success in selling their comics and panels to newspaper clients. Our Fascinating Earth was further hobbled by starting out as a thrice weekly feature (editors hate having to figure what plugs that spot in the other three issues each week).

The panel seems to have first appeared in October 1977. The art was initially supplied by John Petri Brownfield, a friend of Seff's, who chose to go by just 'John Petri' in the panel's credits. Brownfield didn't stick around for very long, and was replaced by David Baer II in July 1978. Baer seems to have been up for more work, because it was about this time that the panel frequency was increased to five times per week.

Seff and Baer were undoubtedly chafing at Copley's ineffective marketing of their feature, and in August 1979 they were able to sign a contract with a true big-time syndicate, Field Enterprises. At this time the panel graduated to a 6-times per week daily. Field also advertised a new Sunday version of the panel, but the offering doesn't seem to have been successful, as I've never seen a Sunday from the Field Enterprises stint.

Our Fascinating Earth only lasted for about two years with Field, and its next stop was a giant step down, to Syndicated Newspaper Service. This transition seems to have occurred around July 1981.Surprisingly, the panel actually seemed to gain clients with this new hole-in-the-wall syndicate. In fact, at the beginning of 1983, the panel actually gained a Sunday version that ran in several high-profile papers. Strangely, though, it only lasted a few months (at least that I can track). I can only find it running from January 10 to February 21. In a weird timeline, Our Fascinating Earth changed to a self-syndicated daily feature on February 1 1982, almost a year before the feature's former syndicate marketed that Sunday strip version. 

In May 1983, David Baer II left the strip and was replaced by Mel Chadwick, who was a principal in the design firm of Smith, Chadwick and Wellons. Three years later his partner, Chuck Wellons, would begin sharing credit for the art. It is unknown what the division of duties was, but they were definitely not above getting anonymous help. In a 1983 interview, Pam Densmore said that she contributed eight panels per month of the workload at that time.

With Seff, Chadwick and Wellons at the helm, Our Fascinating Earth proceeded smoothly year after year with a small client list until 2005. A few reprint books were published in the 1990s, and a website for the feature seemed to promise live-action educational videos and other products to come. Those plans probably dissolved in 2005 when Seff's wife Nancy passed away. She had shared credit on the reprint books, but not on the panels themselves. Philip Seff died in 2016 at age 92, having succeeded admirably in one of the toughest gigs around -- successfully self-syndicating a newspaper feature.


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Saturday, May 26, 2018


Herriman Saturday

July 15 1909 -- Another Herriman cartoon about the Elks convention, happening in and around L.A. The microfilm was pretty messed up on this page, and given that the cartoon is of minimal interest 119 years later, I elected not to take a few hours of my life to try to clean it up beyond the basics.


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Friday, May 25, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from a William F. Marriner Wannabe

Here's another card from that Marriner copycat we saw back in March. Just like the other one, there is no publisher credited, and the postmark (once again really faint) seems to be 1910.


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Thursday, May 24, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Boss

When World Color Printing began sharing many of  the Philadelphia Press Sunday comics (Hairbreadth Harry, Mrs. Timekiller, Clumsy Claude, etc.) in 1911, they were able to produce a complete four page Sunday section with very little additional content. Along with their flagship feature, Slim Jim, the only other comic strip they kept producing was Mr. Boss by an excellent cartoonist who signed himself 'Rutledge'.

Thanks to Alex Jay, we've already identified the mysterious Rutledge -- he is Frank Rutledge Leet, one of the mainstays in the NEA cartooning bullpen at this time, and obviously moonlighting at WCP for a few extra bucks.

Mr. Boss was a pretty good strip, with highly animated barnyard animals the characters, and a typically egotistical rooster getting star billing. Lots of raucous physical humor with a minimum of gabbing makes this one a winner.

Mr. Boss began in the WCP section on November 14 1909, and survived the great content purge of 1911. The strip kept running until May 18 1913, when Leet decided to try something different. His new strip was called Duke -- a real stinker of a strip about a pony.

In my book you'll see this strip listed as Mr. Boss and Mr. Reynard, and a note there says that the Mr. Reynard character began to get co-billing in late 1911 or early 1912. Okay, so I don't know what sort of wacky weed I was smoking that day, but I can no longer find any evidence that a Mr. Reynard was a character in the strip except once on February 19 1911. So it's time to get the ol' Marks-a-Lot out, and do some surgery on that listing. Everything else is okay, but drop Mr. Reynard from the title and black out my completely errant comment.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lauren Stout

Judge 10/20/1917

Lauren O. Stout was born on June 4, 1887, in Winston, Missouri, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Stout was the youngest of two sons born to S.H. and Barbara. His father was a stone mason. They resided in Kansas City, Missouri at 1918 East 14th Street.

Kansas City Star 10/2/1910

Information about Stout’s art training has not been found. The Kansas city directories from 1902 to 1909 listed Stout as an artist living at 1624 Jackson Avenue. The same address was recorded in the 1910 census and city directory. Stout was a newspaper illustrator who lived with his widow mother. The 1911 directory said Stout’s occupation was printer.

At some point, Stout moved to New York City. On November 3, 1914, Stout was issued a passport. His address was 136 West 65th Street, the same as illustrator Ralph Barton, a Missouri native, who was issued a passport the same day. A profile of Barton in The New Yorker said he was in Paris in 1915; presumably, Stout was with him.

During 1914, Stout’s illustrated the serialized story, “The Valiants of Virginia”, which ran in many newspapers.

On June 5, 1917, Stout signed his World War draft card. His address was 137 West 70 Street in Manhattan. His description was tall, slight build with brown eyes and black hair. Stout’s service began September 6 with the New York National Guard, Company E, 107th Infantry. Stout was overseas from May 10, 1918 to March 6, 1919. He was discharged April 2, 1919.

Stout was profiled in The Seventh Regiment Gazette, May 1918 (below) and mentioned in the July 1918 issue.

Stout has not yet been found in the 1920 census. In 1922, Stout was a contributor to the New York Tribune.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Stout drew Dulcy the Beautiful Dumb-Bell, which was “written” by Constance Talmadge and ran in 1923. Time, July 30, 1923, quoted Constance Talmadge’s press agent who said “She is ‘collaborating’ with Lauren Stout, cartoonist. ‘That is,’ continued her press agent, ‘Constance develops the ideas and lines, then gives them to Mr. Stout, who in turn, transfers them to paper.’”

Dulcy the Beautiful Dumb-Bell appeared in the Eaton Rapids Journal (Michigan) which said in its August 3, 1923 edition:

An added feature which we feel certain will win the favor of our readers has been contracted for by this newspaper. The feature is a comic cartoon strip, by a screen star. Yes, you would guess it, anyway by Constance Talmage [sic], for what screen star indeed is more ebullient?

The scintillant comedienne of the screen has been known to possess a highly developed funny-bone for these many years, else how would she have arrived at her eminence as leading comedienne of the of the silversheet?

And those who know her best know that her sense of humor persists when she is totally outside the atmosphere of the studio. In other words, it is genuine, a part of her and her life, and it is superabundant, her wit and repartee have made her “the life of the party” oh those occasions when Hollywood seeks social relation. And it is not ususual [sic] for the other guests on these occasions to lend a keen ear to Miss Talmadge’s witticisms so as to have something to “spring” on their friends and acquaintances the next day.

Because we know so many of our readers are numbered among the admirers of this whimsical young lady, it gives as pleasure to announce that she has decided to try to bring a smile or two to her hosts of friends a bit more often than she can possibly do it on the screen, by giving expression to her ebulliency in a series of comic cartoons. Each week we will publish one of these. The caption of the series is “Dulcy, the Beautiful Dumb-bell.” The series will treat of the experiences of a hair-brained damsel named Dulcy.

Miss Talmadge is supplying the ideas for the cartoons and the speech for their characters, though the drawings wi;l be by Lauren Stout, a well-known metropolitan artist and contributor to Life, Judge and New York Tribune.
Stout also spelled his first name Loren. The New York Evening Post, November 10, 1928, published a Sunday New York Herald Tribune advertisement that mentioned “Aren’t We All” by Edward Hope and illustrated by Loren Stout. A 1929 issue of New Outlook Magazine reviewed the book, Travel Trails, and said “We like the illustrations by Loren Stout.” Aren’t Men Rascals, by T. Swann Harding, was published in 1930 by the Dial Press. It was illustrated by Loren Stout. The 1933 New York City directory listed a Loren Stout at 123 East 10th Street. Dining, Wining, and Dancing in New York (1938) had decorations by Loren Stout. 

Stout was a member of the Dutch Treat Club.

According to the 1940 census, Stout resided at “240-2 34th Street” in Manhattan. He was an artist working with the Federal Art Project. Stout completed four years of high school and had been unemployed for 80 weeks.

Stout signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His address was 21 East 87th Street in Manhattan. Stout, who was unemployed, named Dr. Walter Dunckel as the person who would always know his address. Dunckel also had the same address. Stout and were Dunckel were friends for many years. The Fort Plain Standard (New York), November 17, 1932, reported this incident.

Dr. W. A. Dunckel writes from West Kingston, R. I., that he and his family were recently in an automobile accident. The party consisted of Dr. and Mrs. Dunckel and son. Jack, and Loren [sic] Stout, well known artist of New York city. All were injured except Mrs. Dunckel. Jack Dunckel suffered a broken leg. Dr. Dunckel and Mr. Stout are improving. Dr. Dunckel is a native of Fort Plain and his family lived here for many years in the former Bleecker house, which is now the D. A R. Chapter House. Dr. and Mrs. Dunckel were frequent visitors in Fort Plain last year during the transactions connected with the closing of the estate of Miss Lulue A. Bleecker and the sale of the Bleecker house. Fort Plain’s oldest and most historic building.
Stout passed away July 9, 1942. The following day the New York Times said Stour died at the United States Veterans Hospital in the Bronx. He was laid to rest at the Long Island National Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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