Saturday, October 07, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Daddy Dusk, The Sandman
Daddy Dusk, The Sandman was thus doomed from the start. Few copies of the Graphic would ever fall into the hands of children. This paper was bought by single men, and by commuters looking for a stimulating read on their way home from work. A paper to be deposited in the trashcan at the train station.
Though the strip had an awkward name, the art and story were surprisingly well done. Jack Smith, perhaps a pseudonym, did an excellent job on the strip, obviously inspired by the fantasy world of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo. Hard to say, though, whether Smith was creating a minor classic, because his stewardship on the strip lasted only a little over a month. The strip began on November 15 1926 and Smith last signed it on Christmas day of the same year.
Frank Hopkins, creator of the long-running Scoop The Cub Reporter, may have been falling on hard times, because he took over the orphan strip on December 27. He kept it going until May 14 1927. The veteran Hopkins was not inspired by the concept and the strip, true to its name, sleepwalked through the remainder of the run.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Buckley
Going back to the AP beat today, we have Buckley by Joe Cunningham. The daily version of the feature, a panel cartoon, began on January 6 1947 as Hit 'n Run. The Sunday followed, starting on January 26. Sometime around 1951, at least according to the E&P listings, the strip was renamed Slice 'o Ham, a reference to Cunningham's signature on the feature, which was 'ham'. The Sunday was, however, named Buckley by 1950 (my earliest example), and my guess is that the Sunday was probably so titled from its inception.
Again going from the E&P listings, the strip was renamed to Buckley on both the Sunday and daily in 1953, and the title hopscotch was now put to rest. The Sunday ended on 3/6/1955, but the daily continued on to 1961, probably surviving until the end of comic syndication by the AP on 12/30/1961.
My files on this feature are awfully spotty, so if anyone has any dailies or Sundays in their collection that would help to pin down the titles I'd love to hear from you.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Graphic Gems Revisited
Recently purchased a 1926 issue of the New York Evening Graphic, so time to share a few more Graphic gems. Here we have a May and June strip (first blogged here), but this one is by the original creator Harold MacGill. As a bonus, MacGill treats us to an appearance by his old stalwart characters the Hallroom Boys.
And here's another Antics of Arabella strip, previously blogged here. No particular reason to show this one except I sense that our visitors are fans (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Sport Slants
With the possible exception of Oaky Doaks, I think it's fair to say that all the Associated Press Sunday comics qualify as obscurities. The AP inaugurated their new Sunday comics line-up in either 1941 or 1942 (no one has come up with proof of a definite start date), and the client list never rang up healthy numbers. Yet the AP, for reasons unknown, doggedly continued to offer them to the bitter end when they finally gave up and dropped their comic strip business completely 1961.
Sport Slants, a sports editorial cartoon masquerading as a comic feature, started along with the new Sunday offerings, and ran until March 6 1955. Tom Paprocki, who signed himself Pap, was the AP sports cartoonist for so long that this almost decade and a half run probably seemed like a blip on the map to him. The art, as always with Pap, was inspired, the commentary on the untimely side since the lead time for Sunday pages is so long.
Do you, or anyone, know what was the last day AP strips appeared and what were the strips that appeared that day?
Jeffrey Lindenblatt's research indicates that the last AP dailies appeared on 12/30/61. The end date of the Sundays is a bit of a mystery - they were listed as available in E&P until the bitter end, but no one I know of has managed to find any samples later than 1956.
As to which AP strips lasted until the end, we believe they are:
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Mamie
While no work by Russell Patterson is really all that obscure, his last hurrah in newspaper work certainly comes closest to meriting the distinction. Mamie was a Sunday only strip distributed by United Feature Syndicate, and ran in very few papers. The strip began on 7/23/1950 and ended 3/6/1955. About the only paper of consequence that ran it was the New York Post (from which these dates were determined).
Patterson was primarily an illustrator of pretty girls, and some credit him as the originator of the archetypical flapper girl of the 1920s. His fame was primarily in magazine illustration and cartooning, but he also did newspaper work. For newspapers his specialty was Sunday magazine section covers, mostly for the Hearst American Weekly, and these were often done as serialized comic strip stories. The stories invariably involved the exploits of pretty girls, fully exploiting Patterson's specialty.
Mamie, Patterson's first 'conventional' newspaper comic strip, returns to the standard pretty girl theme, but by the 1950s the Patterson style had gotten so highly stylized that the intended titillation of pretty girls in spicy togs was utterly lacking (at least in my opinion). Apparently a lot of newspaper editors agreed with my assessment because the strip is rarely seen.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Willie Dee
Today's obscurity proves that most every strip has its fans. The first time I met noted comics historian R.C. Harvey, in the midst of chatting about classic comic strips, he asked if I had any Willie Dee strips - he described it as a long-lost favorite of his childhood.
Willie Dee by Vic Green ran from May 10 1948 until sometime in 1952 (anyone have an end date?). Don't know much anything about the cartoonist other than that he produced a booklet of GI cartoons during World War II. But based on the style, which was a favorite of comic book artists during the 40s, I'd be willing to bet that he had some credits under his belt from that business.
The strip is pretty innocuous except for Willie's lisping parrot. Strips featuring that character are unfortunately plentiful, and in my opinion, headache-inducing.
Thanks for the info. That's later than anything I have. Could you provide that link you referred to in your msg?
Thanks for the info about your uncle! Be sure to see the Willie Green Sundays I posted as well, at:
Anyway thanks for putting that up. My family was shocked to find out people other than us knew about Willie Dee. You made my day.
Do you by any chance know anything about the Willie Dee radio show? I could find nothing about it on the web.
and I are so excited that you were named after Willie Dee! That is too cool. We love his work and I was so excited to find this post of others talking about him.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Illustrated History of Union County
Illustrated History of Union County, Fantagraphics Books, 2005, $19.95; ISBN 1-56097-721-3
Why would Fantagraphics issue a complete reprinting of an obscure local history comic strip? Apparently, when the art is by a very young Frank Thorne.
Thorne produced this strip for the Elizabeth Daily Journal in 1950. According to the book's introduction, the strip was printed on a daily basis. This is astounding, if true. Thorne was attending art school at the time, so researching the history of this New Jersey county plus drawing a daily strip of this size (three tiers of multiple panels) seems to me a herculean task. I wonder a bit, though, since the cited start date is a Sunday. Has anyone first-hand knowledge of the strip's frequency?
Frankly my interest in New Jersey history was not up to the task of reading the entire book (the strip ran for 173 text-heavy installments), but what I did read was impressive. Thorne was just a callow youth, yet the prose is smooth and well-paced. The research, by all appearances, is impeccable.
The artwork, though not as lively in style as Thorne would later produce, shows amazing polish. Faces tend to be a bit wooden, but this is hard to avoid when working from period portraits and photos, as I assume he was. No one looking at this work would ever guess that it was produced by a teenage art student.
Is it worth a spot on your shelves? Certainly if you're a Thorne fan it will be a thrill to see this early work. The reproduction, retouched by Thorne himself from tearsheets of the Elizabeth Journal, is excellent. It would have been a wonderful bonus if Thorne had also written an introduction, but no such luck. If you're not a Thorne fan or a New Jersey history buff the work is esoterica, but as I often say, if you are into newspaper comics and want to see more obscure material reprinted then vote with your dollars.