Thursday, September 20, 2007
News of Yore: Marketing Blitz of a Self-Syndicator
Barnstorming Cartoonist Marsh Takes to the Road
By Erwin Knoll, 1952
"Would that more cartoonists might go barnstorming," writes Charles B. DePuy, managing editor of the Centerville (Iowa) Daily lowegian and Citizen, and reports that a visit from Norman Marsh, creator of "Dan'l Hale," "gave zip to local as well as area circulation."
Centerville was one of over 30 cities scheduled to be visited this fall by the cartoonist, who syndicates his own comic strip from 1234 W. Lake St., Chicago. A personal visit to towns where "Dan'l Hale" appears is now a regular biennial feature of Mr. Marsh's service. Last year, on his first coast-to-coast tour, the cartoonist covered 21 cities and visited students and teachers at 167 schools.
Schools are an important part of Mr. Marsh's barnstorming tours, for "Dan'l Hale" is used in many history classrooms. Dan'l is a frontier scout in the early years of America's development, and his adventures bring him into contact with many historical personages and events. Details of history are carefully checked for accuracy, and authenticity has never been questioned in the strip's five-year life, the cartoonist proudly reports.
"Kids don't read nowadays, what with radio and television," Mr. Marsh recently told one of his subscribing newspapers, "but they will read comics. And I can give them American history in the way they like it."
Mr. Marsh started "Dannie Hale"—the first name was changed to "Dan'l" earlier this year—for King Features Syndicate in 1947. In January, 1951, he took over his own syndication, and is doing "very well, thank you." No cancellations in over a year. The cartoonist's own life has been at least as adventurous as his hero's. He served in the Marine Corps in both world wars, enlisting at 16 in the first and commanding a line company in the second. In the rest of his 51 years he has worked as a prizefight manager, sailor, pilot, speculator and detective. Previous comic strips include "Dan Dunn" and "Hunter Keene."
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