Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: The Zanities

The New York Daily News, for reasons I don't fully understand, made a habit of including filler strips in their Sunday comics sections. Since they had free and easy access to all the Tribune strips I don't understand why they needed to do this -- they could always run one of their usuals in any format they might need, or pick from a list of strips they didn't usually run.

Whatever the reason was, they did run filler strips, often in series but occasionally one-shots. Above you'll find one of each. The Zanities, by a rather long in the tooth Thornton Fisher, showed up in the section on widely dispersed dates at least as early as 1949 and as late as 1955. Fisher's salad days were way back at the New York World in the 1910s.

Bus Stop
by Adam Barth seems to have been a one-shot, though not having indexed the Daily News Sunday sections I couldn't say for sure.


What equipment do you use to scan your strips, every item I have been able to purchased is either to small or what i possibly need is $1000 to get. any suggestions or ideas would greatly help. -steve
Hi Steve -
Usually I use my el cheapo Mustek ScanExpress A3; when I need a larger scanning surface or want optimum quality I use my Epson 1640XL, a much more expensive scanner that I picked up from NASA surplus for a song.

Re: the fillers... maybe it was a New ork prestige thing? As the Herald was doing the same thing?

I am going to devote some room to Coogy over on my blog soon (I have couple more coming in, which I am waiting for). Interesting stuff.
Hi Ger -
Doesn't seem all that prestigious when a lot of these fillers were grade B material. Both the Herald-Trib and Daily News printed some really great fillers but plenty of lesser material too (I think Zanities definitely falls into the lower category). But maybe they were just toeing the line on Sturgeon's Law.

It did occur to me today that maybe a lot of these filler producers were on the payroll at the papers as retouchers, layout men, etc, and maybe the filler spots were given out as perks.

I don't know the Daily News fillers that well, but on the Herald there seems to have been a real effort to get the hottest cartoonists in town... Kurtzman, Fox, whomever it was that signed Henri Arnold... or maybe they told each other and saw the Herald as a way to get from cartooning or advertising to the big time?
Hi Ger -
I agree there were some beauts in the HT, Ger, but most of it was dreck. Specs, Bedelia, Oscar, Mr. Fussabout, et al. I might have to index it all, but I don't have to like it!

Allan, there were other Bus Stop Sundays. I found one dated 7/1/51. I also recently found The Zanities in 1949.

Jeez, that means they let the Bus Stop strips sit around for ages. My sample was from 1955. Thanks for the info. Keep hoping that someone in NYC will index the Sunday News!

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