Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A Carl Ed Treasure

Courtesy of Rob Stolzer today we have a Carl Ed presentation piece (at least I think it's a presentation piece). Ed, which is pronounced "eed" by the way, was the creator of the long-running Harold Teen strip. At some point he did this delightful piece, now in Stolzer's collection, showing the various strips he'd done.

At far left we have the strip Ben, which Ed calls here Big Ben for reasons unknown. It was a
strip for which I could not, until seeing this piece, determine the syndicate. Thanks to this art
I now know that it was another of those forays that World Color Printing made into the daily arena. It ran from 1911-1914, and Ed was only one of three cartoonists to sign it at various times. Ed was not the first to work on the strip; that minor distinction is held by a fellow who signed his work Herrmann. I've never been able to determine his first name.

Luke McGlook is another WCP daily, one that I have only seen in reprint runs in the 20s and 30s (WCP was always trying to resell old material). When not signed by Carl Ed, the sig on this one was "Budsee".

The Tener Alley Gang is a new one on me, not surprising considering that I have yet to be able to get my hands on microfilm for the Chicago Evening American. I wonder if these were characters from a strip or might they have been the icons from sports cartoons? Anybody know more about these kids?

Best of all in my eyes is the caricature of this R.S. Grable fellow. He was apparently the syndicate manager at World Color Printing. If anyone knows more about him, or if there are relatives lurking about, I would be absolutely thrilled to hear from them.

Many thanks to Rob Stolzer for allowing me to share this delightful and informative piece!

Robert S. Grable.
Haven't found what the S stands for.

From a friend's account comes these census records.
1880: Robert - 9 years old
1890: no Missouri records for this year; but there is a St. Louis Directory 1889-1890 which lists Robert S. Grable as a collector with the business name of The Sayings Co.
1900: Robert S. Grable - assistant manager/newspaper; wife is Leelah
1910: publisher/newspaper; wife is Lulah
1920: printer/syndicate; wife is Leelah R.
1930: ?publisher? (illegible)/newspaper publishing; wife is Leilah
Never any children listed.

It also shows a passenger list of a ship from Naples to New York. This 1929 list gives Robert S. Grable's birthday as August 8, 1871.

A google news search (archive) shows R. S. Grable giving himself a 50th Birthday party and inviting 75 kids. Maybe Ed and others were also there for that 1922 event?
You are a wonder, DD!

They may be reprintings, but "Ben" by Carl Ed still ran in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on May 22, 1915 (with the caption "Drawn for this paper by Carl Ed", for what it's worth).

"Luke McGlook" by Budsee can be found in the same newspaper from about May 24, 1915 until Aug. 14, 1915. They started on the 16th with McGill's "The second Mrs. Mac", which is according to another Stripper's blog post indeed the first date for that series.
Hi Fram --
I looked over the Berkeley material you referenced. At first I thought for sure that they were all reprints from the truly awful printing quality, but then I looked at MacGill's strip, which we know to be current, and they were in the same state of disrepair. So now I'm leaning toward the idea that Berkeley was printing current material.

As usual, the syndicate stamps have all been removed (I looked at dozens just hoping) but we're pretty sure that Ben and Luke McGlook are both World Color Printing. The really interesting part is that reading the tail end of Ben and the start of Luke McGlook you can sort of see how they dovetail together.

The earliest I'd found Luke McGlook before was starting 6/12/16 (Fort Wayne Sentinel). Your find obviously pushes the start date well back, and shuffles the creator list. In 1916 Carl Ed was doing the strip and I assumed he was the original creator (made sense with Budsee taking over Ben). But now we have Budsee starting the strip.

It tails together well, too, since Ben was on a baseball team in his strip when it ended. I had hoped that when Luke took over there would be some connection (team name or guest appearance) but I saw no evidence of that.

Budsee had obviously taken over Ben by the time it was ending despite the Carl Ed byline. By the way, I've always wondered if "Budsee" could be E.C. Segar. He did go by Bud sometimes early on in his career, but I don't recall any mentions of the possibility that he did anything before the awful Charlie Chaplin strip. Budsee's work, as basic as it is, still rates a bit higher than Segar's early stuff, too.

Great find Fram!
Part 1
Robert S. Grable was the fifth of eight children born to Joseph and Maria; all the children were born in Missouri. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census the Grables lived in St. Louis.

Robert found employment in the newspaper industry. In Gould's St. Louis City Directory 1891, he was employed as a clerk at the St. Louis Star-Sayings; he continued in that position in 1893. In 1895 he had moved up to superintendent of circulation. Robert was the manager of circulation at the St. Louis Star in the 1897 directory. Bold capital letters highlighted his rise to Assistant Business Manager in 1899.

The 1900 census revealed Robert's birth as September 1871; he and his wife Leelah lived with his parents and five siblings. His occupation was "assistant manager, newspaper." In 1902 and 1904 Robert was elected a director to the Newspaper Circulation Managers Association. A brief news item in the April 14, 1906 Anaconda Standard mentioned him as the "general manager of the World Color Printing company of St. Louis."

In the 1910 census Robert was publisher of the newspaper; he and his wife had their own home in St. Louis. The 1919 Where and How to Sell Manuscripts: A Directory for Writers had this listing:

The World Color Printing Co., 714 Lucas Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. Manager, R.S.
Grable. Publishes daily and Sunday mat features, including colored comic
supplements. Some of its printed comics are "Slim Jim" and "Dem Boys." Also
puts out the Bingville Bugle. Prints four pages of magazine features complete,
fiction page, clever stories, fashion page, crochet lesson, sketches from life,
and features for children, such as "Bedtime Pencil Pictures," "Three Little Pigs,"
"Uncle Joe," "Grandma's Yarns," etc. Payment by arrangement.
Part 2
Robert's profession was a printer in the syndicate industry in the 1920 census; he lived in Carondelet. His fiftieth birthday party was reported in the January 6, 1922 Boyden Reporter (Iowa). Artist Cobb Shinn* drew pictures on the large paper hats given to the 75 children at the party. 1922 was a pivotal year for Grable.

World Color Press was founded in 1903 when the owners of the St. Louis
Star formed a company to handle the color printing for the Louisiana Purchase
Exposition, the World's Fair to be held in their city the following year. They
named their wholly owned subsidiary World's Fair Color Printing, expecting to
disband operations at the conclusion of the event. After the fair closed, however,
they shortened the company name to World Color Printing and continued to do
business as a commercial printer, focusing on a new and unique product, the
color "funnies" section of the Sunday newspaper. Under the leadership of Robert
Grable and Roswell Messing Sr., two senior employees from the Star who
purchased the company in 1922, the fledgling organization grew steadily over the
next two decades as the popularity of the Sunday color comic section increased.
By the early 1930s, the company's profitable niche business had grown to
include printing contracts with papers from Florida to Hawaii.

In 1930 Robert was the proprietor of a newspaper publishing company; he lived in Central, Missouri. Gould's St. Louis City Directory 1937 listed him as president of World Color Printing. Subsequent directories sometimes listed him as president of Commercial Color Press. The paper shortage during World War II affected World Color Printing. An excerpt from Robert's letter to the Sioux County Capital newspaper in Iowa.

Due to manpower shortage and other conditions over which we have no control,
we are forced to discontinue 7-STAR COMIC as of July 15th. We regret the
necessity of discontinuing the service but it just can't be helped.

The latest available directory with Robert's name is from 1953. His name was not found in the Social Security Death Index; presumably he died in Missouri.

* Cobb Shinn,
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