Monday, July 13, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Johnnie Bostonbeans

William F. Marriner, the originator of the oft-copied spidery lines and giant heads school of cartooning, drew the occasional daily of Johnnie Bostonbeans from October 4 1901 to October 7 1904 for Hearst's New York Evening Journal. Marriner produced a whole slew of series in the oughts for just about every syndicate under the sun, but this was his longest running effort for Hearst.

The strip starred a bespectacled little smart-acre, a poke at the academic intelligentsia up in Beantown's Harvard Yard. Apparently the Bostonians didn't take offense at Marriner's creation because the strip also ran in Hearst's Boston port of call, the American.

Tip of the beanie to Cole Johnson, provider of the samples.


This strip surely predates other early daily strips like A. Piker Clerk and Mutt & Jeff. Should that give it some historical value as well, or was Marriner simply not dependable enough to make this a true daily strip, as the two mentioned above were?
"..occasional daily.."

Believe me, I'd make a big deal about a true daily from the oughts.

Suggest you read my article, "The Daily Show" in Hogan's Alley #12 for the straight skinny on the first true daily strip.

Thanks Allan. I'll try to check that out.
Most other "big head" strips from this period appear dated, but something about Marriner's line here is very contemporary. With a change of clothing and better lettering this art could fit in with present-day humor strips.
So that's his name! I am still learning the basics of these early American comic strips (everything more obscure than the likes of McCay or Branner), and came across a wonderful and prolific artist whose signature was sometimes WFM and sometimes something that looked like Marrinelos to me. William F. Marriner! You can probably fill a whole month with great obscurities by him.
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