Friday, November 04, 2005
Ed Strops and a Poll Question
I have several purposes to posting this big batch of Ozark Ike Sundays from 1955. Regarding the strips themselves I wanted to point out that poor Ozark Ike had been banished from his own Sunday strip by this time (he would reappear occasionally), and this storyline is about a female baseball team called the Glamazons, led by Ozark's ladyfriend Dinah Mite. Second, you'll note that the strip is credited to one Ed Strops. If that last name seems a bit on the odd side, try reading it backwards. Ever so clever... Strops is actually writer Bill Lignante and artist George Olesen (this info from Bill Lignante in an unpublished interview conducted by Paul Leiffer).
The weird part is that it is painfully obvious that Lignante did not have any interest in sports. With the notable exception of this sequence, you'd be amazed at how little sports comes into the strip. Lignante is much more interested in doing soap opera and light adventure that would be more appropriate to Rex Morgan MD than a strip purportedly about baseball.
Okay, now onto the poll question. I'd like for you good folks to look over all the above strips and tell me which you prefer in terms of the reproduction quality. What I did was to give you an array of different techniques, varying from raw scans to a variety of automated and manual retouching techniques, and I'd like to know which you find most readable, most in tune with the original look of the strip, most complementary to the art, most aesthetically pleasing. What I'm trying to find out is how you'd prefer that I deal with color strips here on the blog, so that I present strips in a way that you folks like best. I'd prefer that you leave comments here on the board, but you're also welcome to email me at email@example.com. I'll not be posting for a few days in hopes that keeping this poll at the top of the blog will get more of you good folks to weigh in with your opinions.
To make it easiest to refer to the strips, use the dates. They are:
4/24 5/1 5/8 5/15
5/22 5/29 6/5 6/12
And finally, just a comment that I have now been doing the blog for a full month!
5/1, 5/8, 5/15 and 5/29 strips for
reproduction. The 4/24 strip seems just a bit out of focus, and the 6/5 strip is...uh, I don't know, just somehow not right.
For color I'd go with the 4/24, 5/1, and 5/29 strips, though the 5/1 strip is out of registration
(a raw scan?).
Not mentioning the 5/22, 6/12, or 6/19 strips as a fog seems to have rolled into the ballpark on those days.
If I had to settle I guess I'd go the opposite of Steve and go for the 5/29 over the 5/1 as my first and second choices. Though the 5/29
may seem a bit garish to others.
It's possible I'm being swayed by that extreme close-up of Dinah:
"See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. Oh that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek."
The consensus of two seems to be that while you feel the 5/29 might be a tad garish, the vibrance of the image makes up for it. On the other hand, strips that had a much lighter touch-up were okay too. The raw scans were panned.
I pretty much agree with your findings. I like the 5/29, too, but it is also a pretty unrealistic impression of what the strip looked like in the paper. It's sort of a "if I had a color proof this might be sorta what it looks like." The ones with lighter touch-up still look like images taken from a real newspaper. The problem with these is that as soon as you start touching up you can quickly get into trouble (like the yellow cast seen on some of the images). So I think I'm going to go with the somewhat garish 5/29 look if I don't hear anyone making an argument against them.
Since my beautiful $1500 Microtek Scanmaker died on me I switched to the super-cheap but serviceable Mustek ScanExpress A3.
Easy choice for me, 5/1 is it. But the stuff by Gotto tops this no matter what system you use. Dinah just ain't as sexy.
I like the scans of 5-29 and 4-24 best. Good color and solid blacks --lush. Most of the others are washed out or too green. On the other hand, I love washed out, discolored old strips!
Enjoy the blog! Keep up the great work.
Obscurity of the Day : Sleepy Willie
The great Sidney Smith, creator of the Gumps and Old Doc Yak, got his start in the bigtime at the Philadelphia Inquirer way, way back in 1902. He reportedly had earlier cartooning jobs, but this is the earliest comic strip work I can document (can anyone supply a sample of his earlier work?). Sleepy Willie was his premier strip at the Inquirer, though he did quite a few others.
Sleepy Willie And Johnny Brighteyes, the full title during parts of the run, started on 3/23/1902 and finally breathed its last on 9/9/1906. As was typical of the strips of the day, Smith did not produce it every week, but just when he had a bright idea for the character.
The example shown here is from the tail end of the run in 1906. For a bonus I'm also including a neat (though terribly blurry) newspaper photo of Smith from 1925. Sorry about the quality, folks - I don't print the newspaper, I just scan it!
thanks for posting this stuff-- don't know WHERE i'd ever see this stuff otherwise...
Thanks for the question!
better that you have them and post/research them than I have them and let 'em sit!
thanks again for posting this stuff--
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Robert L. Dickey and his Dogs
Robert Dickey was famous for his illustrations and cartoons of dogs. Frankly, though, I find his dogs a bit unsettling; they all seem to have a gleam in their eyes that says, "the second you turn your back I'm gonna take a piece out of your heinie."
Anyway, Dickey's dogs had a long life in comic strips. The first series ran 7/14/1919 to March 1931 - it was either a daily or a weekly strip. I say either because the frequency of the strip seemed to vary from year to year. It was always formatted as a daily, but it was commonly run only in Sunday childrens' sections. To make things more confusing the strip went by at least three different names, including Buddie And His Friends, Dickey's Dogs and Just Dogs.
In May 1931 Dickey's dogs graduated to the Sunday section with a strip titled Mister And Mrs. Beans. In 1933 the strip became a half-page, was retitled Buster Beans, and gained a companion, or topper, strip, called Bucky And His Pals. The pair of features ran until 7/21/1940.
Dickey is famous also to many generations of kids for his illustrations in the books of Albert Payson Terhume.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Obscurity of the Day : Dolly The Drummer
This strip, a Sunday only by Fred R. Morgan for McClure Syndicate, ran 9/6/1925 - 3/14/1926. This is NOT the Fred Morgan who drew incredible editorial cartoons for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1900s and 10s, sorry for my earlier erroneous report
The Dolly The Drummer Sundays were later reprinted in World Color Printing sections in 1928.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Perennial Reprint Comic Strips
Here's a group of features that are memorable for their longevity. No, not like Blondie or Henry. Actually these features had very short runs originally. However, when the features were cancelled by the syndicates that originally ran them, the material was then sold off to companies that sold the features in reprints for many years. These 'reprint syndicates' could afford to sell the material very cheaply, so they were favorites with small rural newspapers. These particular strips were resold at various times by Columbia Feature Service and International Cartoon Company.
The original runs of all these features were in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Believe it or not, some of them continued to appear in some small newspapers as late as the 1970s! To give you a feel for how bad the printing usually was on these, I've refrained from cleaning them up. Those big blotches of grey mud you see are the result of cheap printing plates and dirty presses.
If anyone can supply any information on these reprint syndicates (like original sales literature or other background material) I'd love to hear from you. I know very little about them or how they operated.
For the record, our samples here are:
Bringing Up Bill by Jack Farr (though credited to A. Task), original syndicate was US Feature Service. Earliest samples found from 1922.
Billy's Uncle by Ben Batsford, originally syndicated by George Matthew Adams Service, original run seems to have been 10/9/1922 - 8/2/1924.
In Our Office by Wood Cowan, originally syndicated by George Matthew Adams Service, originally ran in the early 20s but I've never found a paper that ran the originals, only the reprints.
Famous Fans by Ray Hoppmann (also part of the run by Haile Hendrix), originally syndicated by US Feature Service as early as 1919. This was a special favorite of the reprinters and I have seen this one appearing in the early 70s.
Things That Never Happen by Gene Byrnes, originally a part of the larger feature It's A Great Life If You Don't Weaken that was syndicated by the New York Evening Telegram in 1915-1919.
Just wanted to say, as well, that I really love your blog. Your comments on these strips are endlessly informative and fun. Great stuff!
Monday, October 31, 2005
Halloween Special : Cartoonist Death, Dismemberment and Insanity
Fourth Estate 6/6/1914
Robert Bruce McClure, formerly head of the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. New York, was found dead in his Yonkers home Saturday of a gunshot wound. His family believes he was shot accidentally while cleaning a gun. Mr. McClure was a brother of S.S. McClure, publisher of McClure's Magazine, and the two founded the McClure Newspaper Syndicate which they disposed of a short time ago. [actually they were tricked into giving up control of the company by a group of sharp investors, which might explain that 'accident' - ed.]
Fourth Estate 4/4/1914
S. Frank Yeager, who has been connected as a cartoonist with the New York World, Boston Globe and St. Louis Republic, has been committed to the Western Washington Asylum for the Insane of Steilacoom by Court Commissioner Westover in Chehalis. Mr. Yeager was found on the streets acting queerly and with a bundle of pencil sketches under his arm of scenes in California.
Washington Post 11/26/1905
Louis Dalrymple, the cartoonist, whose wife is a Baltimore woman, was removed from his home at 138 East 29th Street this afternoon, to a Long Island sanitarium. He is said to be violently insane, and small hope is given for his recovery. His condition had given much anxiety to his friends for several weeks. He brooded, they say, over the troubles caused by his divorce from his first wife, formerly Miss Letitia Carpenter, of Brooklyn. He became violent to-day, and was found wandering in the street near his home.
Dalrymple was married to Miss Carpenter about fifteen years ago, at the time when his work was making him well known to the public. Shortly after the marriage Mrs. Dalrymple obtained a divorce. The court denied Dalrymple the right to marry again in this state and awarded $75 a week alimony to his wife.
Seven years later Dalrymple married Miss Ann Good of Baltimore. The wedding took place in New Jersey. He moved to Greenwich Connecticut. In the years that followed he worked at different times for papers in Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Then he drifted back to New York. He had become a prey to all kinds of hallucinations, and was so changed that his friends hardly knew him. [Dalrymple was one of the best artists working for Puck and Life in the 1890s-ed.]
Washington Post 8/18/1900
Ernest Wilkinson, cartoonist for the Atlanta Constitution, died suddenly of heart disease this morning at Afton, where he was spending the summer. He was about 25 years of age.
Washington Post 9/12/1910
John E. Scanlon, aged 47 years, a cartoonist, was found dead in his studio in the business section of the city today. He had evidently been dead for several days. Two bottles of laudanum, one filled and the other partially empty, were found in the room. It is not known whether Scanlon committed suicide or died from natural causes.
Fourth Estate 3/10/1917
Albert Beck Wenzell, painter and magazine artist, died on March 4 in Englewood N.J. in his fifty-third year. His work was well-known to readers of Life, Heart's, Truth, Scribner's, Ladies Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post.
Fourth Estate 11/25/1916
DeVoss Woodward Driscoll, well-known cartoonist, died in a Dayton hospital on November 22, aged 43 years. He had been ill about a month. He originated the mule Maud cartoons. [no, he didn't, but he did have a very colorful career otherwise-ed]
Fourth Estate 7/15/1916
"Bud" Fisher, the creator of the Mutt And Jeff comic strip, escaped with a broken rib when his automobile overturned near Saratoga, N.Y., pinning him under the steering gear.
Washington Post 10/2/1904
George Kerr, famous a few years ago as a cartoonist and illustrator, is dead at the Soldiers Home in Dayton Ohio. He served in the Northern Army throughout the war, and at its conclusion became an illustrator for an eastern magazine, going later to a New York comic paper. He was a friend of Thomas Nast.
Washington Post 10/23/1914
Roy W. Taylor, a cartoonist, who has made thousands laugh and think, died at the home of his mother, Mrs. A.L. Marshall, on Tuesday. He was 36 years old. The funeral was held at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon at the home, and the body was taken to Richmond Indiana, the old home of the family, for internment.
Mr. Taylor was on the staff of the Philadelphia North American. He had been suffering for some time from Bright's Disease, and a few weeks ago, when it was seen that he could not survive long, he came here. Mr. Taylor also had been attached to the staff of the Chicago Tribune and the New York World. His most popular work was done for the Sunday comic sections. [a descendant of Taylor tells me that he in fact died of alcoholism - ed.]
Washington Post 3/1/1918
Robert Carter, cartoonist of the Philadelphia Press, died suddenly in a hospital to which he was taken last night when he became suddenly ill from an arterial ailment. Mr. Carter was 44 years old.
Washington Post 10/10/1915
Stewart W. Carothers, a cartoonist for the Chicago Herald, fell to his death from a fifth story window of a downtown hotel early Monday. Two of his companions said he was sitting in the window seeking relief from a headache when they retired. It is believed he lost his balance. He was unmarried.
Washington Post 7/2/1922
Thomas Cyril Long, widely known among newspaper men of the South and East as "Cy" Long, creator of a new comic cartoon strip in which Southern negroes are the figures, was killed by lightning late today at Newton South Carolina, his home town, while participating in an amateur baseball game.
Washington Post 1/29/1919
Leon A. Searl, a newspaper and motion picture film cartoonist, who had been employed on the Kansas City Star, the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Press and the Evening World and Evening Telegram of New York, died yesterday of acute indigestion at his home. Mr. Searl was 27 years old. He specialized in comics, and was the originator of "Bugs In Movieland" and "Mr. And Mrs. Homebreaker." [actually the features referred to are Bugville Closeups and Mrs. Timekiller; and as pointed out by a correspondent it is much more likely that he was 37 years old, not 27 - ed.]
Fourth Estate 2/7/1914
Henry Richard Boehm, an illustrator, shot himself through the heart Sunday in his home in Briarcliff Manor N.Y. Boehm was engaged in newspaper illustrating until about three years ago. He worked for the New York Herald, did some work for the Evening World and was employed on the New York American for several years.
Fourth Estate 12/27/1913
D. C. Bartholomew, better known as "Bart," a cartoonist for the New York Globe, died last Friday at his home in White Plains.
Washington Post 11/13/1890
Mr. James S. Goodwin, aged forty-five, employed as a cartoonist on Puck, and who lived with his wife and family in Mamaroneck New York, while walking along the track of the New Haven and Hartford road, last night, was struck and instantly killed by a train. His body was found this morning by one of the trackmen.
Fourth Estate 1/13/1917
Luther D. Bradley, for many years a cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News, died in Chicago on January 9, aged 64 years. [he was a perennial front page editorial cartoonist-ed]
Labels: News of Yore
I just typed the article in as it appeared in the WashPost, but on checking my atlas I guess they made a little boo-boo since there is no city of Newton in SC. Can you share any info on Cy Long? I've not heard of him or this strip he supposedly did.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Obscurity of the Day : Good Scout Andy
This strip ran 1925 - 1926 and was created by Edward McCullough for the Cosmos Newspaper Syndicate. McCullough jumped ship very quickly after creating this strip and took his scouting strip concept to the New York World where he started a similar strip titled Good Scout Today. Cosmos continued the original version, substituting S. A. Booth as replacement cartoonist.
The sample strip is believed to be the final installment, from 11/20/1926. Booth seems like he might be saying goodbye here, though the possibility of continuation is left open. Having the main character head off into the sunset this way was a good way to hedge your bets on the possibility that the strip might be revived. Guess the public never clamored for more of Andy, 'cause he was gone for good.
By the way, karma didn't let McCullough get away with his syndicate jumping ways. Good Scout Today was cancelled after just two months. Good Scout Andy outlived it by over a year. Take that, Ed!