Saturday, February 23, 2008
With this post we complete Herriman's 1906 output at the LA Examiner.
On December 28th Herriman continues his commentary on Jeffries' flirtation with a comeback along with other boxing bon mots.
On the 29th he contributes a cartoon to a news story about a forgery case. George W. Perkins and Charles S. Fairchild were indicted on a charge that they had cooked the books in a shady deal between J. Pierpont Morgan and the Republican Party. Not much ever came of the case and it was dropped in 1907.
Finally on December 31 Herriman does one of those "endless possibilities of the new year" cartoons that were and continue to be a staple on newspaper editorial pages as we ring in the new. Notice the line down the middle? It probably indicates that this cartoon was patched. May indicate that Herriman changed his mind about one half or the other and redrew it.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, February 22, 2008
- Comics researcher Rob Stolzer is writing a bio on cartoonist Jay Irving. He's discovered an ad from July 1923, shown above, for a sports strip called Bozo Blimp. Problem is that neither he nor I have ever found a newspaper appearance of this very early Irving effort. Can anyone help Rob with information about this strip?
- I'm betting that there's some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan out there who can tell me who was responsible for what on the daily comic strip. The feature didn't carry any credits. From an article by John Wells in Comics Buyers Guide #1208 (January 10 1997) I learned that the creators were, or included, Dean Clarrian, Ryan Brown, Jim Lawson and Dan Berger. Problem is I don't know which were artists, which were writers, or when each of them worked on the strip. Can anyone help?
- I am trying to complete my runs of Cartoonist Profiles and the old Cartoons Magazine. I have quite a few duplicate issues from these series if anyone wants to trade, or I'll pay cash. I'm looking for:
Cartoonist Profiles #1, 132, 142
1912: February, March, April, May, June
1913: June, October
1914: March, May
- For reasons unknown this sad news doesn't seem to have gotten much press coverage. Al Scaduto, who has been handling the art chores on They'll Do It Every Time since 1966, and the writing since 1991, passed away on December 8 2007. The syndicate has decided to end the feature when Scaduto's material already in the pipeline runs out. Last releases were to be February 2 2008 (daily) and February 10 (Sunday). King Features has been syndicating the feature since 1929, and it was originally created by Jimmy Hatlo.
- I've looked through my files and I can't find a few things I know should be in there some darn place. Maybe someone out there happens to have cites at hand.
1- Looking for proof that Marvelous Mike, a 1956 United Feature strip by Bob Kuwahara, was chosen for syndication in some sort of national contest.
2- that Pat Oliphant made a public stink when Doonesbury won the Pulitzer in 1975.
Or are both of these events just conjured out of random neuron firings in my noggin?
- Does someone who goes by the eBay moniker "fundaysunnies" happen to be a Stripper's Guide reader? You won something on eBay recently that I'd very much like to ask you about.
I hadn't heard about Oliphant criticizing when Doonesbury won the pulitzer (although I'm sure he probably did), but I've seen it mentioned many times that he criticized them when Berke Breathed won it... here's a quote from Breathed about it:
"In the world of hardcore editorial cartoons, there's a small, unpleasant fellow with a very little penis, the result of a sneeze during circumcision, named Pat Oliphant—himself a Pulitzer winner—who threatened a boycott when my prize was announced in 1987. Those were the days."
The quote is from this interview:
Hope that helps!
Kuwahara was mostly in animation, specifically at Terrytoons, where he worked as an animator, and briefly a director. One of the characters he created was Hashimoto, about a Japanese mice family.
On my site, www.itsthecat.com/blog/, I'm currently reprinting "Marvelous Mike" from the first strip. Scans aren't the greatest, they are from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch microfilm, but it will do until someone does a really good reprint book of "Mike" someday. I also paid tribute to Al Scaduto.
I love your site, read it each day,
Regards, Mark Kausler
says that Clarrain was writer 1990 - 1994, Brown did pencils 1990 - 1991, Lawson did pencils 1990 - 1992, and Berger did inks 1990 - 1992.
Other places have Michael Dooney and Steve Lavigne contributing to the strip, though I don't know what they did.
I have co-creators Eastman and Laird listed as co-editors, but they may have more to do with creator courtesy than reality.
I think after everyone listed above went elsewhere it was Dan Berger who continued the strip as writer/artist. His (occasionally signed) strips are the one being run on gocomics these days.
One last thing - my notes say that "Dean Clarrain" is a pseudonym used by TMNT editor/writer Steve Murphy, but I can't prove that.
and thought we'd make you aware of it.
Let us know if you want to trade links. We'd be delighted.
I checked out your blog -- a marvelous assortment of oddball stuff! A couple corrections about Kuwahara -- Marvelous Mike was syndicated, not a strip done for the SLPD (you'll find runs of Marv Mike in the Washington Post and the Long Island Star-Journal ferinstance). Also, Miki was not an ethnic strip -- in fact its pretty much the SAME strip as Marvelous M, about a little kid.
Thanks for your comments on my blog. I did not mean to imply that Marvelous Mike was a SLPD exclusive, it's the only run of the strip I have access to right now. Do you have any episodes of MIKI or BARKER BILL that you could post? I would love to see some of them. Thanks for all the Herriman Saturdays!
One more thing I forgot to ask you, do you have an end date for MARVELOUS MIKE? It's probably in 1957 or '58, but I'm not sure.
Thanks again, Mark
Thanks for this end date! I am up to 9-14-57 in the Post so far, I will let you know what happens when I reach 9-21!
Just found out today that the last MARVELOUS MIKE strip that ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was 9-21-57, the ending date you gave me. Kuwahara wound up the whole storyline on that date, so he knew his strip was ending. Thanks for all your help.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
News of Yore: Emidio Angelo Profiled - 1952
Two Humor Features From Inquirer Staffers
By Joseph W. Dragonetti (E&P, 5/31/52)
Philadelphia—Two local newspapermen, both of them serious-minded guys at heart, have redeployed their journalistic talents to the business of making readers laugh because they feel people today are getting entirely too gloomy.
The laugh producers are Oliver H. (Ollie) Crawford, a reporter turned humorist; and Emidio (Mike) Angelo, a portrait painter who switched to cartooning because he figured it was much more fun as well as profitable. Both work on the Inquirer.
Ollie is author of the front-page feature, "Headline Hopping" and even on days when the spot news is world-shaking and space-consuming, his chuckles are not crowded off.
Mike has created two original cartoon characters. He uses his deft artist's brush to keep "Emily and Mabel" ever in pursuit of a man and his thousands of followers laughing.
The features of both men are now syndicated nationally; Headline Hopping by General Features Corp., and Emily and Mabel by the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate. But Ollie and Mike's present top positions in the newspaper field were not the result of any overnight success. There were many years of effort before they found their proper niche.
Strangely enough, their opportunities came when editors of the Inquirer, during World War II and the postwar period, felt that something should be done to lighten the seriousness of the news columns.
Mike was first to fill a specific need. He had worked around newspapers and did freelance for many years before he was "discovered" as a newspaper cartoonist by E. B. (Tommy) Thompson, assistant managing editor and feature editor of the Inquirer. During the dark days of the last war, Thompson asked Mike to create a general panel which would "give people a laugh," and the artist welcomed the opportunity, because he had a feeling that even the comics were getting too serious.
Mike had joined the Inquirer in 1938 and his work included the Uncle Dominick cartoon for John Cummings' column. Being by nature a man who laughs a lot himself and gets a kick out of bringing a smile to others, Mike did not need much prodding from Thompson to launch the new feature.
He started a general panel called "Funny Angles." Occasionally, two spinsters would appear, but they were so good that Emily and Mabel emerged as a separate feature.
Emily and Mabel has given Mike a national reputation, but success came after years of hard work on other projects. Son of an Italian immigrant, he worked his way through several art schools after getting the urge to draw from a few months association with the art department of the old North American in 1918.
His ambition was to become a painter. He won two Cresson scholarships for study in Europe in 1927 and 1928 from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He became interested in cartooning, he said, because he "had to eat" and painting commissions were slow. When checks for some of his drawings arrived from national publications, he decided to devote more time to that art.
Still free-lancing, Mike started to do some work for the Philadelphia Ledger in 1930, but never received much recognition as a newspaper cartoonist until Thompson thought he was the man to start a new and refreshing feature for the Inquirer. Mike has been clicking steadily with Emily and Mabel ever since.
Mike thinks up gags himself for the Emily and Mabel panel, but he also employs a gag man, Vincent Schiller of the Inquirer library.
Mike likes to watch people reading his panels in trolley cars and subways. He says that when they smile over Emily and Mabel he feels good. That is the real purpose of cartooning, to make people laugh, he adds and concludes that social significance or propaganda should have no place in comic strips.
On the surface Ollie Crawford does not look a bit funny or humorous. If anything, the whole impression is one of dead seriousness, but his Headline Hopping puts some hope into breakfast table readers who worry about the future of the world after they look at the news columns.
The feature originated with his assignment to do a daily column of highlights and sidelights on the Democratic and Republican national conventions here in 1948.
Ollie had started his newspaper career as a sportswriter with the Atlantic City Press Union Newspapers, transferred to the news side as desk assistant and rewrite-man. He joined the Inquirer staff in 1945, and covered many top, serious news assignments.
When he was asked to do the sidelights on the national conventions, he developed a new light style of writing and decided to try this technique on news subjects.
Tommy Thompson, the man who discovered Mike, gave a similar boost to Ollie. He passed his sample Headline Hopping columns on to Walter H. Annenberg, editor and publisher.
Annenberg, aware of the grim tone of the news, snapped up the idea for a humorous feature. The column was introduced on November 6, 1948, and has been a regular feature of the Inquirer ever since. It originally ran inside, now it is always used on Page One. In fact Headline Hopping is the first daily front page feature in the 122-year history of the newspaper, attesting to the popularity of Ollie's sharp comments on the news.
Recent syndication of Ollie's column has brought his unique humor to millions of newspaper readers throughout the country. Newspaper writers marvel at Ollie's ability to keep the gags flowing right on top of the news every day.
The column is not written in advance. It takes today's headline news story, develops it into slightly under 40 lines of wisecracks and epigrams for publication in the succeeding day's paper. The procedure is to pick a story, rough up a column while commuting to the Inquirer office from Atlantic City, polish and write it for delivery to the desk and syndicate (by wire) by 1 p.m. daily.
Labels: News of Yore
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Snoozy and his Friends
Snoozy and his buddies make a habit in the strip of visiting with local politicos and celebrities, which probably made it a popular with P-P readers who in these days barely got to know a strip before it would be whisked away and replaced with something else.
The feature was originally titled With Snoozy And Some of His Friends Baldy, Fatty and Fuzz, but I image Nelson got sick of doing all that lettering, and the strip settled on the more terse Snoozy and his Friends after a few weeks.
Since Nelson was on staff his Sunday strip survived quite a few of the ensuing purges, lasting until January 24 1915, a ten month run that made it a real veteran in that fast-changing funnies section.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Rufus McGoofus
Joe Cunningham was a journeyman cartoonist who spent most of his career kicking around at the Philadelphia papers. His earliest comic strip series were at the North American, but his most successful, Rufus McGoofus, came after he switched over to the Ledger.
Joe may not have learned cartooning at the Landon school, but you'd never know it from his style. It was prototypical Landon and never really got much better over his long career. Cunningham did a lot of sports cartooning, and any minor flash of brilliance, or at least pushing the envelope of basic competence, came in that venue. Rufus McGoofus (also various titled Rufus M'Goofus for no particular reason) started as a mascot of sorts in Cunningham's sports cartoons before getting a berth in his own comic strip. The feature was, as can be seen in this better than average example, hastily drawn with gags that rarely rose above jokebook level.
Cunningham drew the strip first as a daily starting November 6 1922 in the Evening Ledger. A Sunday strip was added on January 28 1923; it appeared in the Public Ledger (the morning and Sunday issued paper). The daily ran for nearly three years, ending on May 16 1925, while the Sunday soldiered on a little longer, ending September 6 of that year.
Rufus came out of retirement a few years later as the second banana in a short-lived revival, but we'll cover that in another post one of these days.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Betsy and Me
Betsy and Me by Jack Cole
Introduction by R.C. Harvey
Fantagraphics Books, 2007
$14.95 softcover, 120 pages
Every biographer seems to be in agreement that Jack Cole's fondest professional desire was to author a syndicated newspaper comic strip. For Cole his classic Plastic Man comic books and Playboy magazine cartoons were never more than waypoints on a road that he hoped would end not at Oz but with a syndicate contract.
Other than a short stint ghosting Will Eisner's Spirit daily comic strip, Betsy and Me was Jack Cole's first, and as it turned out, only syndicated offering. The strip was offered by Field Enterprises, the syndication arm of the Chicago Sun-Times. Field had a rather pathetic track record for selling strips -- the syndicate (not to mention the newspaper) were said to be kept afloat mainly on the back of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon, a bestselling strip in these years. This gives us the first inkling that Betsy and Me was not cut out to join the pantheon of Cole's greatest creations. Since Cole's reputation was well-known his syndicate submissions would not have had to wallow in slush piles, so we can safely assume that Betsy and Me was given a serious look at any syndicate to which he submitted. Signing up with Field probably indicates that there were no takers among the strongest syndicates.
Betsy and Me is a departure, and not a good one, for Cole. His reputation was made with the looney antics and superbly executed art of Plastic Man, and his stature grew in the 50s with his magnificent painterly Playboy cartoons. But Betsy and Me is in no way emblematic of either of his previous successes. Unlike the Playboy cartoons it is not risque or titillating, neither does it exhibit the loopy sensibilities of his Plastic Man. With this strip Cole is not adding a new chapter to his biography and inventiveness; Betsy and Me is formulaic, conventional and drawn in a fad style of the day unworthy of Cole's talents.
Betsy and Me rehashes the most overdone subject matter in comic strips -- the family sitcom. That's okay -- many great strips have worked within that hoary formula. But Cole's actors are pure stereotypes - Chet is the dimwitted dad and Betsy the cipher of a wife, both with bland personalities that have no originality, in fact no definition, at all. The kid, Farley, does have a hook but it's one that's been done a dozen times before -- he's a boy genius.
With a cast of characters straight off the assembly line, Cole takes his one stab at originality in the way the strip is built. Chet narrates most of the strips in the past tense, often framing the action by introducing the strip's subject in the first panel, then narrating the ensuing gag. Sometimes the commentary is cute, other times it consists of a lot of "he said"s and "she said"s surrounding the panels. Cole was so enamored of this motif that sometimes he doesn't bother with a gag at all -- the presence of the narration itself is, at least to Cole's thinking, funny enough. And it is a cute idea, just not that cute. The narration also has the problem of making the strip far too type-dense. In these tiny 4-column strips the addition of narration leaves darn little room for art. The result is unattractive and uninviting.
In a generously long and informative introduction punctuated with sample art from Cole's better efforts, R.C. Harvey rehearses Cole's life story. Cole's mysterious suicide, which took place bare months after the introduction of this strip, is discussed at length. The consensus opinion of Cole's biographers is that the suicide was a result of long-standing troubles in Cole's marriage. No one seems to have considered the possibility that Betsy and Me could have played some role. After all, this was supposedly Cole's fondest desire. Why would he kill himself after finally getting that syndicate contract he'd dreamed about for years? Well, if you'll forgive the conceit I'm going to indulge in some amateur psychoanalysis.
After working at Playboy, with its leisurely monthly deadlines, Cole was once again under the gun as he'd not been in a long time. The stress of producing a comic strip seven days a week is well-known, and not something that Cole was used to. He was probably working harder and longer hours than ever before, and all that toil spent on a strip that was not selling well at all. Betsy and Me had a tiny client list and no rosy prospects for improving. Worse still, Cole couldn't have helped but realize by then that his strip idea wasn't very strong. And this was not like comic books or magazine gags -- he couldn't just dump the concept and come up with something better. He had a syndicate contract that obligated him to continue beating this dead horse until the syndicate told him to stop -- they could keep the strip limping along for years. Granted he could break the contract but that would do a lot of damage to his professional standing.
I'm not saying that Cole killed himself only because of Betsy and Me, of course, but I think it could have been an important influence. Cole might have seen this as his only way out from a terrible situation, a shattered dream, of his own making. Just my two cents.
Fans of Jack Cole, and aren't we all, will want the book if only for its curiosity value. But be forewarned that there is little of the Cole we know and love to be found herein. The book is also far from a complete reprinting of the strip, despite the claim on the back cover. R.C. Harvey cites Jeffrey Lindenblatt and myself for the running dates of the strip, but the information he gives is long out of date. My research has since determined that Betsy and Me ran until December 27 1958 on the daily, December 21 on the Sunday, not December 10 and November 23 as listed in the intro. It will matter little for Cole fans because Dwight Parks had taken over the strip back in September, so these final months, of which the last is missing from the book, are a pastiche of Cole. On the other hand, the Cole material is also incomplete, and that's less forgiveable. By my count 8 Cole Sunday strips are missing, including the whole first month, and 13 Parks Sundays. Two of the Cole Sundays are printed in color (the rest are in black and white), but these two are the third-page incomplete versions of the strip.
I am glad you tackled this. Although your amateur analysis doesn't sound weird, I guess the main reason people suggest a more personal reason for Cole's suicide is the fact that the note to his wife was kept in the family and mentioned at the coroner's trail but noit entered into the records. Somehow, I think that if the note would have said 'he couldn't take it anymore', the contents would have been made public.
I am looking for people who have the missing Cole sundays (at least) to find a home for them in a magazine or on a weblog somewhere. Anyone who has any, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for writing this thoughtful review. But I'm not convinced by the linkage between working on "Betsy and Me" and Cole's suicide. The fact is that the one real piece of evidence we have on this matter -- the letter Cole wrote to Hefner right before the suicide and republished in the Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd book on Cole -- speaks about a personal issue (not wanting to go on hurting those close to Cole). Given this evidence, anything else seems pure conjecture. Jeet Heer
As I said in the review, I was throwing out Betsy and Me as a possible contributing factor; I can't imagine anyone would off themselves if that was the only reason. I was just struck that other biographers hadn't even mentioned it as a possibility.
You can find the missing Sundays in the Washington Star microfilm. Not in particularly reproducible shape, tho.
Of course the hype that it was Jack Cole meant that it had to be great to meet expectations, unfortunately it wasn't.
I have since found more of Parks' sundays, but not the last two you mention or the last month of dailies. All who wojuld like to see those (in a por state, due to the microfgiche origin should have alook at my site.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Fear not, though -- your Sundays with Jim are not at an end! Jim has agreed to plumb his memories anew for a series of strips about cartooning -- another round of reminiscences, opinions and anecdotes to brighten your Sundays. See the new series start, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, next week!
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.
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Thanks to you for posting them. Thanks to Jim for creating them.
I'm already looking forward to next Sunday!