Saturday, November 26, 2005
Obscurity of the Day: Scary William
First of all I have to explain (in case you haven't read the sample yet) that Scary William is not a kid who scares people. He's a scaredy-cat of the nth magnitude - he's scared of everything. So we have a bad title for starters. The stories - well, in pretty much every strip William gets scared of something all out of proportion. Good for a few laughs? You bet. Problem is the strip ran for 13 years. So on the story front we also come up empty. Ah, but the art!
Harold Knerr's Scary William debuted on 11/26/1905 and ran until 6/2/1918. He did this strip in addition to his (incrementally) more well-known Philadelphia Inquirer strips, The Fineheimer Twins and Mister George And Wifey. Of course, Knerr left all his Inquirer strips behind when in 1914 he got the call from New York that Hearst wanted him to take over Katzenjammer Kids, replacing the now out of favor Rudolph Dirks. Little must Knerr have known that he'd been audtioning for the job for the last decade with his Katzies ripoff, the Fineheimers!
The Inquirer ran reprints of Scary William and Knerr's other strips for awhile after he left, then apparently assigned a new cartoonist to the job. Or did they? While it is true that Knerr's signature disappears from all three of his strips, the art style hardly fluctuates. Perhaps it looks a little bit more rough ... or could it be rushed? I've wondered for years whether Knerr kept this as a moonlighting job even after being promoted to the bigtime. Suppose I'll never know...
Thanks very much for the comments. I looked over my old indexing notes from the Inquirer and I did note that a few of the strips in that timeframe were actually signed by Payne (as you well know, a lot of the Inky strips were, maddeningly, unsigned). Somehow that bit of info never made it into my final listing for the strip. D'oh!
One odd bit gleaned from a look-see through that index is that I noted the 5/27/06 installment appeared to be signed "G--". Did I misinterpret the microfilm?
Regarding the Joe Doyle credit, did you actually find something signed by him, or is this art-spotting. I for one really can't tell much difference before and after Knerr left.
Again, thanks for the great info!
Were you aware that Bear Creek ran in the NY World's "Fun" magazine in 1913-14? Always struck me as supremely odd that the World paid for that item in spite of having their own in-house staff supplying practically all other cartoon content.
Regarding the Fun magazine, I was able to find just one buried not-too-deep in the mounds of mouldering newsprint. It is the July 27 1913 edition, and the title is "Two Summer Showers, All In One Day". The art is signed by Payne so that becomes a little less mysterious since he was doing S'Matter Pop for the World by that time, so he must have been on staff.
That, however, makes me realize that he wouldn't, then, have been doing Little Possum Gang for the Inky until 1915, as I had him down for. Had that been taken over by someone else?
--Allan, who threatens never to run out of questions