Monday, February 02, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Professor Specknoodle

The great editorial cartoonist and conservationist Jay 'Ding' Darling actually did a few comic strips early in his career. Here's Professor Specknoodle, also sometimes known as Everything Taught By Mail. The strip lampoons mail order courses that promise to make the prospective student/pigeon an expert in most any discipline under the sun, usually in "three easy lessons" or "with ten minutes practice a day". One of the more popular manifestations of these come-ons was, of course, the mail order cartooning course, some of which were legit while many others were just a way to part the naive with some cash.

The strip was produced for the New York Globe and was syndicated through Associated Newspapers. It ran on an irregular basis from September 2 1912 to January 21 1913 (these dates are from the run that appeared in the Chicago Daily News, not from the Globe itself, so keep the salt handy).

Darling missed his boyhood haunts of the Midwest and was unhappy living in New York. He left the Globe in 1913 when he managed to get a sweetheart deal at the New York Tribune -- he would be their editorial cartoonist but would work out of Iowa. The arrangement turned out to be mutually beneficial; Darling was content, and the Trib had hooked a man who would eventually be one of the best known editorial cartoonists in the world, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.


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