Saturday, December 03, 2005
Don Sherwood's Dan Flagg
We covered the Tales Of The Green Beret strip a few days ago; here's another comic strip casualty of the Vietnam War. Dan Flagg, a strip about a Marine troubleshooter, was created by Don Sherwood and syndicated through McNaught Syndicate starting 4/22/1963. According to an article in Menomonee Falls Gazette #103 Al McWilliams began ghosting the art "almost from the start" of the strip.
The strip was real hardboiled adventure stuff, the sort of thing that would have been right at home appearing in Soldier Of Fortune magazine. For this reason it didn't find a huge number of newspapers interested in it, but it did get a semi-respectable list at the start. The client list, though, seemed to bleed off pretty fast. The strip is already getting really hard to find by 1964. The strip changed syndicates from McNaught to Bell-McClure sometime in late 1965 or early 1966, presumably a matter of Sherwood looking for a syndicator that could breathe new life into the client list. If anything the opposite happened, because until I stumbled upon the samples above a few days ago, which are from May 1966, I'd never found a single strip printed later than early 1965.
The strip was last advertised in the Editor & Publisher Syndicate Directory in 1967. Presumably the strip lost the remaining client list as public dismay over the Vietnam War increased. Has anyone seen an example from 1967? Can anyone supply an end date?
Donald Sherwood died Saturday, March 6, 2010 while in the compassionate
care of the staff at Levine and Dickson Hospice House in Huntersville, NC.
A funeral service and burial is being scheduled at Arlington Cemetery.
Famous Cartoonist Goes To ‘Great Drawing Board’
Friday, March 19, 2010
Don spent much of the last few years here in Boston amoung friends.
Friday, December 02, 2005
George Herriman's Stumble Inn
Oh, what a great strip. Herriman's Stumble Inn ran 10/30/1922-1/9/1926. For those of you who love Herriman's artwork but consider Krazy Kat a little high-falutin' for your tastes, this one you'll really love.
Not much to say on this post, just thought it was about time to throw some of the master's work out there... Enjoy!
my first comment, from old Europe.
First of all, thanks so much for such great amount of very good information on comics strips. I enjoy your blog a lot.
About Herriman, I would like to know whether somebody has listed his works (title, runs, popolarity, and so on).
Thanks, and congratulations.
sorry for the late reply.
Yes, McDonnell's book is good, and I have a copy I got years ago (I had forgot).
I let you know what I learn.
Also, I am in the process to buy some old newspaper comics pages which include a Krazy Kat strip (from 1913-1916). If you have any advise on how to start a little collection, please let us know.
My best wishes
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Obscurity of the Day: Richie Rich
Found at last! I've known that this feature existed for years, but only from hearsay. I finally found documentary evidence - it ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer for just a couple months in 1979.
Richie Rich was a comic book put out by Harvey Comics starting in 1960. The comic book was very successful, but this strip certainly wasn't. The concept seems like a natural for the comic page, but there must have been some monkeywrench in the works because it took me ten or so years of looking just to find a single paper that ran it.
Maybe those of you who know comic books can help me with the credits on the strip. It is signed "Warren Kremer/L. Herman". Can someone tell me which one is the artist and which is the writer? Does anyone know the specific running dates of the strip? Can anyone verify the existence of a daily version (both daily and Sunday were advertised, but I've only seen the Sunday)?
Warren Kremer (penciller)
ive seen examples of the daily in fanzines (maybe Edwin Murray's Trefoil), but I have no idea if it was samples or from a paper --
(if it was in ELM's fanzine, it should be in the Murray Bros collection at duke U)
If you have other samples, I'd love to see them. I publish a fanzine on Harvey Comics called "The Harveyville Fun Times!" and my website is at http://thft.home.att.net.
You might check with Randy Scott at MSU to see if his library has a Trefoil with Richie Rich ....
(if my files were organized, I could check myself - but I know where the needle in the haystack metaphor comes from)
though his is understandable having
moved a while back. I don't have that
As with the Green Beret note, I can't find my records for Richie Rich.
Will continue to try dig it up.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Albert Carmichael: McManus Impersonator, Pupil, Muse
What can I tell you about Albert Carmichael? Of his life, essentially nothing. I know that he is rumored to have died in 1917, a victim of the great influenza epidemic. That is the breadth of my knowledge of his life.
Of his art I can tell you more, and it is, I think, an intriguing story, tantalizing in the possible answers to the mysteries involved. The bare facts are these; Albert Carmichael's first known published work is a strip titled Why Be Discontented? that ran just a handful of times in August 1907 in the New York Evening World. The strip was nothing memorable, and Carmichael's art was rough.
Carmichael may have been freelancing, because he continued to appear in the World on occasion but not nearly often enough to indicate that he had a steady job. Perhaps he did, though; often newspaper artists were kept busy with photo retouching, drawing maps, and the many other less glamorous art jobs that a newspaper affords. The interesting thing about Carmichael's cartooning work at the World was that it began to look more and more like the style of George McManus. And since McManus was one of the star cartoonists at the World, that may very well mean that McManus had taken young Carmichael under his wing and was tutoring him.
As time went on, Carmichael's art becomes almost indistinguishable from McManus'. By 1910 or so something amazing was happening - Carmichael, though still closely mirroring McManus' style, began to surpass the master. McManus' work at this time, though excellent in its own right, was still hampered by minor stylistic flaws, occasional questionable draftsmanship, and a certain cookie-cutter approach. Meanwhile Carmichael was honing the style, making his line more fluid, his characters move better, his draftsmanship becoming impeccable. McManus' art, meanwhile, does not likewise progress.
In 1912 McManus finally responds to the siren call and wide open coffers of Hearst. Hearst, since the 1890's, had made a habit of not nurturing talent from within his organization, but instead simply wooing away the best people from other papers. On McManus' departure his flagship World strips The Newlyweds And Their Baby and Spareribs And Gravy are reassigned to the obvious choice - who else but Carmichael to be his successor? Carmichael takes over the strips, now a valued newspaper cartoonist of the first rank. However, he is not allowed a byline on these new strips, and rarely does his signature on them survive to be printed in the paper (but we do know he signed them from the original art that pops up from time to time). Laboring in virtual anonymity, Carmichael continues to enhance his cartooning skills, now producing a version of McManus' style that clearly overshadows the originator.
Over at the Hearst camp, McManus gets off to a slow start but finally hits the bullseye in January 1913 when he creates Bringing Up Father. McManus continues trying out other strips for several years, but by 1918 Jiggs and company are firmly entrenched as his claim to fame.
In December 1916 Carmichael's version of The Newlyweds And Their Baby comes to an abrupt halt at the World. Whether for lack of interest or because of the rumored impending death of Carmichael I simply don't know. In any case, Carmichael's work for the World ends, and he does not go anywhere else that anyone has been able to find.
The eerie conclusion to the story is that starting around 1918, a year after Carmichael's presumed death, we start to see a change in McManus' art style. It begins, ever so slowly, to take on the qualities of Carmichael's art. Over the next half a decade or so, McManus hones his own skills in the same direction taken by his former impersonator. By 1925 or so McManus has shaken off all the rough edges and bloomed into his elegant yet superbly comedic mature style - a style that looks very much like Carmichael's.
Is this simply the natural progression of a cartoonist? Or is it some sort of tribute to the fallen student who surpassed his master? Or, if we prefer a supernatural explanation, could Carmichael have been reaching beyond the grave to guide the hand of his mentor?
Any biographical information you can share about Albert Carmichael would be most enthusiastically and gratefully received.
Oops - almost forgot. The sample strip above was published in 1912, not long before Carmichael took over McManus' strips.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Joe Kubert's Tales of the Green Beret
As the Vietnam War began to heat up, author Robin Moore's war novel Tales Of The Green Beret became a bestseller. In 1966 the book was used as a springboard for a comic strip of the same name. The strip, supposedly written by Moore (but actually written by yeoman comic strip ghost-writer Elliott Caplin) was introduced to newspaper readers on April 4, 1966. Sporting art by the master of hard-bitten war comic books, Joe Kubert, the strip was an instant success. Kubert's art style was perfect for the strip - every bit as gritty, bloody and terrifying as the real thing being broadcast on the evening news.
As casualties quickly mounted in Vietnam and the anti-war movement gained traction, newspaper editors started to think twice about running a comic strip about the Vietnam war. Presumably it was lagging strip sales that caused Joe Kubert to jump ship after a little more than a year and a half (his last Sunday was 1/7/68, his last daily in mid-week on 1/10/68). John Celardo took over the art, and as good as he might be, he just couldn't maintain the intense flavor of Kubert's version. The strip limped along, losing papers fast, and was finally put out to pasture on July 21, 1968.
Supposedly as a sort of tryout.
of where I got those dates.
Went googling and found that Leiffer and
Ware's Comics Project says that it ran
in 1965 and gives an August 1965 issue
of E&P as a source.
Scroll down to Robert Moore.
Also found a site that sold a Kubert
Green Beret strip that claims to be from 1965.
But where I originally found the dates, I don't know at the moment.
One, according to Kubert, the ghostwriter on the series was Jerry Capp, Al and Elliot's brother.
Two, though you speculate lagging sales were the reason he left, Kubert claims to have left due to creative differences with Capp.
Information gleaned from this interview at The Comics Journal: http://www.tcj.com/the-joe-kubert-interview/3/
Apologies, Allan, if you've already learned this information in the interim. :)
Monday, November 28, 2005
George Gately's Hapless Harry
George Gately is well-known for his tremendously successful cat feature Heathcliff. Far more obscure is his first syndicated strip, Hapless Harry.
Hapless Harry ran 1/11/1965 through sometime in 1971 (my latest is 6/6/71 - can anyone verify a later date?). It was a strip about an everyman nebbish; the hook for the feature is that it was done mostly in pantomime. Pantomime is a hard form for the cartoonist, and Gately's strip was always serviceable but seldom great. Newspaper editors tend to like pantomime strips because they can easily be dropped in favor of ads when necessary. Story strips, of course, can't be dropped or the readers will miss a day's action in the story. Gag-a-day strips are easier to drop, but the easiest are pantomimes. Why? Because they are such a quick 'read' that people tend not to miss them when they disappear for a day.
Anyway, Hapless Harry did not take off at all in syndication. The New York News ran it, and they are such a high paying venue that it kept the strip alive practically all by itself. If not for that paper I doubt that the strip would have lasted more than a year.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Mal Hancock's Polly
Mal Hancock created quite a few syndicated comic strips, the first we know of being Nibbles that ran 1960-63. All of Hancock's series from the 1960s were done for the George Matthew Adams Service (Washington Star Syndicate after they bought out GMA). This syndicate was always limping along, rarely getting any of their features in a lot of papers. So it must have been exciting for Mal when he sold Polly to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate in 1972. Finally a chance at making some serious syndication money!
Unfortunately it was not to be. Polly ran from sometime in 1972 (anyone have a specific start date?) until 5/25/1974, never having caught on with newspaper editors. Perhaps Hancock's naive style, which he used on all his features, just wasn't what a lot of newspapers were looking for.
Hancock's longest running, and presumably at least modestly successful, strip was The Fantastic Foster Fenwick, which ran 1968-1982.
Mal Hancock is often confused with Mal Eaton, the two of whom shared a signature of "Mal" and had styles that were a bit similar. Not immune, in researching this little essay I discovered a mistake in my Stripper's Guide listing where I assigned one of Hancock's features to Eaton. Oops!