Saturday, September 20, 2008

 

Herriman Saturday


Mayor Harper's hydrous adventures continue with the On Tour strips of April 24 and 25. Only one left to go in this series, see you next week. Now I must leave for St. Pete to watch the Tampa Rays clinch their playoff berth. Go Rays!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: The Potts

An obscurity only in the U.S., The Potts was an Australian import that was created there in 1919 by Stan Cross. Under Cross' regime in Smith's Weekly the strip featured political humor and low comedy. Cross left the paper and the strip in 1939 and it was taken over by Jim Russell who would steer the strip single-handed for an incredible sixty years. Russell gradually toned it down into a more traditional domestic comedy, but introduced a new character, Uncle Dick, who injected some of the earlier raucous flavor that older fans loved.

In 1957 Arthur Lafave decided to give the strip a go in the U.S. market and the daily first appeared in a short list of papers on June 3 1957 through his Lafave Newspaper Features. Despite the small client list and the not inconsiderable work of translating the 'Aussie-isms' for an American audience, Lafave took it up a notch by additionally offering the Sunday page starting September 29 of that year. Like most foreign strips, The Potts did not find a particularly enthusiastic audience here. In 1961 Lafave tried stirring the pot by renaming the U.S. version Uncle Dick but it didn't help. The strip was last offered here by Lafave in 1962 as the syndicate ittself was winding down after the death of its founder.

The strip was offered once again to the U.S. market by Creators Syndicate in 1999-2003 but I have yet to find a single paper that ran the strip.

I've searched the web to find out if The Potts has survived Jim Russell's death in 2001 with no luck. Was the strip handed over to someone new? Was Creators syndicating reprints or new material? Has anyone seen The Potts running in the U.S. from Creators?

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An Aussie institution, as you know. Surprised to see our old chums here, thanks!
 
Hi Lyn -
So is the strip still running down under?

--Allan
 
No, I don't believe it is.
 
I have not seen Potts family comics for many years but thwy were one of the best ever produced - even if they were produced "down under". That is probably the very reason why they did not take off elsewhere in the worls. They were simply Aussies and did not measure up and comply with the seeping Americanisms of that time. Another strip of similar hype was Bluey and Curly. They were both really great comic strips equalling Dafwoof and Blondie. May they all rest in peace - even though we can't access them any more.
 
Dafwoof?
 
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Sherlock Holmes, Jr.

Here's another in the long list of Sherlock Holmes parodies that bumblingly sleuthed their ways through the comics sections in the first decades of the twentieth century. This one is notable for two reasons. The strip employed continuity as you can see by the example above, and it was an early outing by Sidney Smith, later to create that mega-hit of the 20s and 30s, The Gumps.

Sherlock Holmes Jr. enjoyed quite a long run in the Sunday section of the Chicago Tribune. It first appeared October 13 1912 and ran until May 31 1914. You may be wondering why I refer to the strip as Sherlock Holmes Jr. when the sample above is plainly titled Pussyfoot Sam. Reason is that Smith changed the name of his strip to the title of our sample on January 25 1914, probably at the behest of Arthur Conan Doyle's lawyers.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

 

News of Yore: The Piffle Family Read The Paper

This is a special page for the September 1922 issue of Circulation drawn by Jack Callahan. It unfortunately seems to point out that either my end date on Hon And Dearie (3/26/21) or start date for The Piffle Family (2/19/23) would seem to be wrong. Were they the same strip renamed? Did they run during the 1922 down period in which I thought Callahan was doing just Freddie The Sheik? More research needed....

EDIT 3/29/11: Alex Jay sends samples from the Syracuse Evening Telegram which pretty much conclusively prove that Hon and Dearie and The Piffle Family are names for the same feature; title change seems to have been around November 1922. There was probably no gap in the runs.

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Hello, Allan----I would assume that Callahan's strip OVER HERE / HON AND DEARIE had just been renamed again, as THE PIFFLE FAMILY. In the picture shown, they are all the same characters from the earlier strip. If this PIFFLE promo picture appeared in 9/22, it was probably running somewhere earlier than the given 2/23 date, but where? --Cole Johnson.
 
Hi Cole -
According to Jeffrey Lindenblatt who indexed the NY Evening Journal the strips stopped and started there on the dates discussed. Could very well be that some other Hearst paper did run it in the interim, or maybe Freddie The Sheik, running at this time, somehow figures into it. Unfortunately Hearst papers in general are very hard to get on microfilm.

Allan
 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Robin Malone


Although Bob Lubbers' Robin Malone never really succeeded as a newspaper strip, these days it's considered something of a minor classic.

The strip followed the adventures of a buxom rich gal in a story of romance and intrigue. The dailies did most of the storytelling while the Sundays, as you can see above, became a playground in which Lubber's graphic imagination could run wild.

The art, quite derivative of the Al Capp inspired style that Lubbers had introduced in Long Sam, tends to give the impression that the strip was more lighthearted than it usually was. My guess is that this element held the strip back; at least I have always found it a bit jarring to read a dramatic continuity with art this 'cartoony'. On the other hand, Lubbers might have been trying to fake out newspaper readers, few of whom were interested in following adventure strips by the 1960s. Between that and the lovingly drawn chesty babes perhaps Lubbers figured he was improving his odds.

Robin Malone was offered by NEA but I get the impression it may not have been included with their standard package but rather as an additional cost extra. At least it appeared in so many fewer papers than the rest of the NEA line-up that this seems to be a possible conclusion. NEA did that sort of thing every once in awhile, rarely if ever with much success.

Maurice Horn claims in his World Encyclopedia of Comics that the strip only ran a year. However in actuality Robin Malone ran daily from March 20 1967 to March 14 1970, the Sunday from March 19 1967 to March 8 1970. According to Ron Goulart, always a far more reliable source, the writing was farmed out to Paul S. Newman for the first six months, and Stu Hample thereafter.

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Hello, Allan----When it comes to poorly researched histories, THE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMICS is in a class alone. I cringe when I see this unreliable botch on a library's "reference" shelf, ensuring it's misinformation for years to be.
 
I own the original art for the strip that follows the second one you posted. I've had it for over 25 years. Interestingly, the reverse of the Bristol board has some pencilling by Lubbers. Apparently, he pencilled a couple of important images on the back, then lightboxed the board to do the inking.

Lubbers' use of color, on the two examples you posted here, is really striking. Some of the NEA strips of the '50s and '60s are surprisingly good, given that those were the end times for quality newspaper comics...
 
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Monday, September 15, 2008

 

Obscurity of the Day: Fish Stories

The cartoonists who worked at some of the smaller syndicates, like World Color Printing and McClure, created some really oddball series that, rather than feature continuing characters, derived their continuity from the animals or objects featured. The undisputed king of this rare genre was Eddie Eksergian who had a very strange umbrella fetish and actually did a series featuring anthropomorphic bumbershoots.

Ed A. Goewey wasn't willing to rise to quite that level of weirdness, but his fish series is plenty odd in its own right. I call the series Fish Stories even though the strip never really had a running title. In such cases I just do the best I can to supply a title that might be found by someone looking through my Stripper's Guide listings.

Goewey drew this series for the World Color Printing sections from June 5 to December 18 1904. It ran in tandem with his other more conventional continuing series, Handy Andy the Man of Good Intentions which we covered on a post back on April 10.

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Sunday, September 14, 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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I loved Jim's "Thoughts of Man." Hard to believe that there isn't a place for it in today's market.
 
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