Saturday, February 02, 2008

 

Herriman Saturday


These cartoons are from December 20 and 21 1906. Pretty self-explanatory and I'm in a bit of a rush this weekend, so enjoy...

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Friday, February 01, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Honor Eden

In 1960 the McClure Syndicate was on its last legs but still in there swinging. In a desperate attempt to appear hip one of their last original offerings was Honor Eden, a soap opera that tried to capture a youthful flavor with cool cats and hip lingo.

The 44-year old Jack Sparling created the new strip in 1960 and he apparently thought this was going to be the big one after a string of less than stellar syndicated outings. Alas, 'twas not to be. Between a weak syndicate, snappy patter that was probably unintelligible to most of the newspaper-reading public, and a subject that was similar to an already successful strip (On Stage) and Honor Eden didn't stand much of a chance.

As capsulized in the promo above, Honor Eden was a housemother to a group of girls trying to make it in the big city.

The strip started either in January 1960 (according to Leiffer and Ware's E&P index) or April 11 1960 (the start date in my samples from the San Francisco Chronicle). The strip was advertised in E&P until 1963 but good luck finding any that late -- this is one very elusive strip. One reference claims that the feature lasted until 1972, which is patently ridiculous.

Comments:
Hello, Allan----I would assume this strip didn't begin in January, and that April 11 was indeed the start date. The three examples the syndicate provided are dated April 11,12, and 13. These have to be the first three dailies, as they are pure "situation exposition", introducing names, the building, where they came from, the boyfriend, etc, etc.--------Cole Johnson, playing his zither.
 
Toledo Blade first ran the strip on April 11 1960
 
I wonder if Will Eisner, who was at tat time running McClure, was in any way involved. He always said he ddn't do much in comics and was prouder of his success in securing certain columnists. But then again, he wasn't the man to mention his failures...

Or ws he there later? He was with Bell-McClure...
 
I came across this post when I found a quote about this strip in an online biography of Alex Kotzky. There they state that the start of Apartment 3G was postponed eight months because of a 'similar soapy' called Honor Eden - which doesn't seem to imply a long run. For what it's worth: on Google News I found the strip in the Ottowa Citizen. They have a spotty collection in March and no April issues, but the strip is not there in late March and it is in early May. The last one they ran was on September the 10th, at the end of a storylne, with the last panel indicating the start of a new one.
 
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Thursday, January 31, 2008

 

News of Yore: Walt Kelly Profiled - 1952


Walt Kelly Is Named Cartoonist of Year
By Erwin Knoll (E&P,4/26/52)

In a smoke-filled room in Darien, Conn., a deceptively mild-looking man named Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr., is grooming a dark-horse Presidential candidate. The candidate hails from the deep South—the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia, as a matter of fact—but he isn't a Democrat. Nor a Re­publican either.

And though he hasn't yet de­clared his intention to run, "Pogo for President" clubs are being formed all over the country and "I Go Pogo" buttons will soon be seen on every college campus.
Reason we mention all this at this time, besides the obvious po­litical overtones, is the fact that Walt Kelly, who draws "Pogo" for Post-Hall Syndicate, has just been named outstanding cartoon­ist of the year by his colleagues in the National Cartoonists Society. The sixth annual Billy DeBeck Award, given in honor of the late creator of "Barney Google," was presented to Mr. Kelly Wed­nesday night at the Society's ANPA Convention dinner.

Campus Boosters
But to get back to politics, the "Pogo for President" movement seems to be here to stay. The strip, which in less than three years of syndication has built an impressive list of over 250 news­papers, has from the first found its greatest fans among the col­legiate set, and it was on the cam­pus that the Presidential boom began. Early this year political bids started showing up in Mr. Kelly's ample fan mail—over 100 letters a week. And several weeks ago Mr. Kelly took formal note of the movement in a letter to some of his campus fans. The letter said, in part:
"It seems a lot of college people want Pogo for President. Nobody has made it clear what they want him President of, but presumably they don't want him for President of Nicaragua or even of General Motors—though they are both nice outfits, no offense.

"What we have come up with is the suspicion that Pogo is in demand for the job of President of these United States. That is, no large party has come out for him unless you count a large party named Harold from Cornell, but many college groups have been demanding something tangible:
some sign, some word, a campaign button, a free trip to Europe. Any­thing that would indicate Pogo is available would do."

Mr. Kelly has ruled out the free trip to Europe, but the cam­paign button is in the works. So far, requests for 50,000 buttons have been received.

Walt Kelly is no newcomer to the stresses and strains of a po­litical campaign. In 1948, while working for the late New York Star as art director, political car­toonist and editorial advisor, he drew a series of devastating "me­chanical man" cartoons of Gov­ernor Thomas E. Dewey, depict­ing the Republican candidate as an adding machine, a cash register, a tank, a music box and just about every other mechanical de­vice. The cartoons received nation­wide attention and were widely reprinted.

'Nature's Screechers'
It was while working for the Star that Mr. Kelly, in his capacity as art director, directed himself to launch the daily "Pogo" strip. He took his cast of talking ani­mals—they call themselves "na­ture's screechers"—from a series of children's comic books he had been doing since 1943. (Before that he had worked for Walt Dis­ney Studios for six years.) He still does four "Pogo" comic books a year.

The new strip caught on with Star readers, but the paper didn't stick around long enough to bene­fit. When the Star folded in Jan­uary, 1949, the New York Post saw a good thing and took "Pogo" on. Several months later, Post-Hall Syndicate started distributing it na­tionally, and added a Sunday page. The list of papers hasn't stopped growing since.

Fanatic Fans
Editors who try dropping "Pogo" —several have made the attempt— invariably find the strip has an al­most fanatic claque of fans, who usually succeed in getting it re­stored to the comics page. Mr. Kelly himself is at a loss to ex­plain this great enthusiasm.

"I try to comment on the pass­ing scene," he says, "and get peo­ple to stop taking themselves and the world quite as seriously as they seem to be doing. It's a good thing, these days, to make people relax and feel that there's always tomorrow. The Okefenokee swamp, where Pogo and his friends live, is a land of its own, enabling read­ers to escape into another environ­ment for a few seconds every day. But after all, these are things that so many comic strips try to do, and most of them succeed."

Some of "Pogo's" special appeal may be in the almost hypnotic weirdness of the dialogue, a syn­thesis of Elizabethan English, French, Negro and Indian dialects heavily interspersed with out­rageous puns. Mr. Kelly is a stu­dent of languages and a former civilian employee of the Army's Foreign Language Unit. The "Pogo" dialect is definitely not genuine Okefenokee talk, since Mr. Kelly has never been to the swamp country.

Poison Pun
But "Pogo's" main asset is un­doubtedly the friendly satire which spares no institution from Mr. Kelly's poison pun. His credo when he launched his cartooning career was: "I just want to be friendly and maybe make a buck at it." At 38, Mr. Kelly seems to be succeeding pretty well on both counts.

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How I miss reading Pogo! It was partly responsible for teaching me to have such a whack sense of humor about politics and life!!
 
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Bible Stories




You won't hear me say this too often, but Dan Smith may well have been to good an artist for newspapers. His delicately detailed realistic rendering usually turned to mud when subjected to the treatment of a high-speed newspaper press. When Smith was afforded a large enough format to really shine it was generally for cover and interior illustrations in Hearst Sunday magazine sections. The interior black and white illustrations are breathtaking, the color covers less so (Smith understood that bold colors were supposed to be the star of the show and considerably simplified his drawing style).

Here is Smith's only 'standard' comic strip, Bible Stories. He did some continued magazine cover series and occasionally contributed to Hearst's daily romantic cartoon series, but this is the only one I know of in daily strip format (though it was a weekly).

Bible strips came into vogue starting in the 1920s when cartoonists began to look for niche subjects for their wares. There were radio strips for the radio page, romance cartoons for the womens page, sports strips for the sports page. Religious strips for the weekly church pages were a natural, and quite a few came and went over the years.

Dan Smith's Bible Stories was one of the less successful entries in the market (by the way, it never actually ran with that title - it was only used in marketing). In Hearst's San Francisco Examiner it started on June 10 1933 and ran until August 31 1935. Smith handed off the creative chores to Dan Komisarow for the final month and a half of the run. The stories were generally short and the art (if a newspaper actually managed to print it clearly) was spectacular. Here are the stories titles; dates are from the Examiner which evidently didn't run the series strictly according to Hoyle since the proof dates don't match up properly:

Life of Samson, Strong Man of the Bible : 6/10 - 7/22/33
The Story of Queen Esther : 7/29 - 9/30/33
The Story of Joseph : 10/7 - 12/23/33
The Story of Ruth : 12/30/33 - 1/27/34
The Story of David : 2/3 - 6/9/34
The Story of Solomon : 6/16 - 7/21/34
The Story of Jezebel : 7/28 - 9/1/34
The Story of Salome : 9/8 - 10/6/34
The Story of Elijah : 10/13 - 11/3/34
The Story of Joel : 11/10 - 12/8/34
The Story of Abraham : 12/15/34 - 3/9/35
The Story of the Holy Child : 3/16 - 4/6/35
The Story of Moses : 4/13 - 7/6/35
The Story of Noah : 7/13 - 8/31/35 (by Komisarow)

The examples displayed above are from proofs. I regret that there is absolutely no way to give you a sense of Smith's art through these scans, but computer monitors, just like newspapers, do no justice to the art of Dan Smith.

A big tip of the Stripper's triregnum to Cole Johnson who provided the samples.

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Comments:
Hi Allan;

What an interesting blog you have!

I just stumbled upon it and have to say your description in the article is really quite compelling, I can feel your passion for this kind of art.

I am amazed at the detail work on the large left panel of “The Story of Solomon”.
 
My fave is panel 1 of the David strip. The oxen really jump off the page on the proof sheet.

--Allan
 
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Adventures of Powder Pete




Lute Pease was the editorial cartoonist for the Newark Evening News for almost forty years, from the teens to the fifties. He won a Pulitzer for a cartoon about union leader John L. Lewis in 1949 at the age of 80 -- I believe he still holds the record as oldest recipient. As with many Pulitzer winning cartoons, Pease's was a pedestrian effort. It didn't hold the power and style of his earlier work; evidence of his bold and evocative style are far more evident in the Pease strips above.

Pease went to the Klondike in the 1890s gold rush and from then on styled himself something of a frontiersman. That made it a natural subject when he created a comic strip for the Newark paper in 1926, a lighthearted strip about a grizzled pioneer, treasure-hunter and adventurer. Adventures of Powder Pete began on March 29 1926 and ended on October 2 of the same year. The samples above include the first and the last strips.

A hearty tip of the Stripper's ten gallon hat to Sara Duke at the Library of Congress who provided samples and information about this rare strip.

Fun Fact: Lute's real first name was Lucius.

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Comments:
My name is Gayle & I have acquired 123 of Lute Pease's metal comic plates depicting Power Pete, Slim & sal (his boro). I believe that the strip is from Lost in the Artic (not 100%). I am listing the entire 123 plates on Ebay under the user name ICECREAMWITHSPRINKLES If interested in purchasing them, take a look! You can also email me at millermj12@aol.com with any questions.
 
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Monday, January 28, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Over Here - Over There



Ernest Henderson took on the task of chronicling World War I in a comic strip that lasted as long as the American involvement in that conflict.

Over Here - Over There began (in the few papers that started it on time) on April 6 1927, exactly ten years after the U.S. entered the war. And for the few papers that stuck with the series to the bitter end, the feature ended on September 29 1928, a decade to the day after the armistice was signed. In the interim Henderson described the war in exacting detail over the span of 407 comic strip installments. The strip was syndicated by the Register & Tribune Syndicate.

Those good with dates will wonder how the number of strips meshes with the start and end dates. There should be a total of 465 strips if the series ran continuously. Unfortunately I don't have a satisfactory answer to that because I have had no luck finding a paper that started the strip on time and stuck with it until the end. My information is cobbled together from several different papers (specifically, the Oakland Tribune, the Jackson Daily News, the Nashville Tennessean), none from which I have a complete unbroken run. My best guess is that the strip took occasional vacations during its run.

Ernest Henderson was starting on his next comic strip brainchild, Flying To Fame, three months before Over Here-Over There ended.

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Comments:
But the Armistice was signed on 11/11/18...not in September.
 
Hey, you're right! Only Bulgaria signed an armistice on 9/29. Well that shoots my assumption that the end of the strip was timed to coincide with the end of the war. Unless Henderson was a Bulgarian...

--Allan
 
A closet Bulgarian?
 
Unless I'm mistaken, there have been some interesting amendments to the wording in "Setting the Stage": AGITATION seems to have replaced a shorter word, IN replaces a longer word, and SET UP probably replaces a single short word. I wonder what it said originally, and why it was changed. At what stage would it have been changed? The changes look a bit makeshift: could it be a local paper that did it in this instance?
 
Hi Lyn -
Probably changes made by the syndicate editor. I checked this tearsheet against another run and the text is the same. This sort of thing isn't uncommon, especially since cartoonists seem to be genetically prone to be bad spellers.

--Allan
 
No help on the end date or the interruptions, but the starting date was actually April 4, not April 6, as can be seen in the Spokane Daily Chronicle at http://tinyurl.com/35n4rd3
 
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics



Order Jim Ivey's new book Cartoons I Liked at Lulu.com or order direct from Ivey and get the book autographed with a free original sketch.

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fantastic (nine letters)
 
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