Sunday, January 07, 2007

 

Obscurity of the Day: Odd Folks With Odd Ways

I hope you've all been very good this week, because you're getting a very special treat. This is one of my very favorite obscurities, delightfully odd and beautifully drawn.

A.L. Jansson worked at the Boston Herald in the early years of the century and contributed a lot of his visionary work to their homegrown comics section. He really didn't seem to have a clue about the comic strip form, so his strips are pretty uniformly static designs like this page. But what designs! He loved geometric forms, bold and simple with a bizarre, otherwordly edge to them.

They remind me of face card designs for playing cards, or maybe nutcrackers. Whatever the inspiration, they fairly leap off the page and grab the viewer by the throat, especially in comparison with the badly drawn junk that filled most of the Herald's comic section in its various incarnations.

Jansson did a lot of one-shots, but also three short series, of which Odd Folks With Odd Ways lasted the longest, from April 17 to July 3, 1904. His others, Moon Rhymes and In Plaiddie Land in 1901, are similar in design. The tearsheet reproduced today I just scored recently, the first of Jansson's work that I've gotten to see in full size and in glorious color. Even on microfilm, though, these 'strips' are stunningly weird and beautiful.

Who was A.L. Jansson and what became of him? I have no clue. I checked Davenport's to see if he made it into their purview, but no luck. Can anyone dig up information on this obscure master?

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Comments:
Augustus L. Jansson, it seems.
Not much on the www about him.
The few birth/death dates I see are suspiciously close to Chicago artist Alfred Jansson.
 
Dear Mr Holtz,

I need to ask you to let us to publish the picture here attached Odd Folks Baseball Team in a catalogue about some Italian illustrators of infancy
publications.
So, please, could you be so kind to send us by e-mail a high resolution of
this picture? It would be good to have 300 dpi 18x24 cm.

Thanking you so much to your attention and waiting for your kind reply, I
give you my best regards.

Valentina Romano
vromano@skira.net
 
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