Thursday, July 02, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Little Bill and Ben of Babylon

Here's one to celebrate the withdrawal of our troops from the cities of Iraq. Congratulations, guys and gals of the military, for getting one giant step closer to coming home!

Betcha didn't think I could come up with a strip set in Iraq, eh?

Little Bill and Ben of Babylon was by a fellow who signed his name 'Hampton'. You've gotta give this guy props for coming up with a very unusual spin on that tired old Katzenjammer formula. His two little finks were in ancient Mesopotamia. I particularly like the strip where they take over an oracle to perform one of their stunts -- you just gotta believe that some mischievous kids might have actually done something like that back in the day.

The feature ran in the Philadelphia North American from June 6 to August 26 1906. It's the only strip that Hampton ever did for the North American. I have a guy named Hampton signing one other feature in the New York Journal in 1908, but no other clues to his identity.

Thanks again to Cole Johnson, supplier of todays sample strips!


I have to confess, unlike some of thse entries in your Obscurities, I really like this one. If I were reading this way back in 1906, I'd be a fan. I can see a certain amount of Winsor McCay here, but by no means was Hampton a shameless mimic. Seeing the way he moved his point of view around in the lion hunt strip is amazing, when you stop to consider that films of the time were just beginning to do that.
Cool. I love the mix of Middle English and "modern" terminology ("Verily his range finder was out of order"). The art is great fun, too. Any idea why it only ran for three months?
This is really funny! I'd love to see more. I like the coin slot.
Hi Arkholt -
It seemed to be purely a fill-in strip, thrown in when the North American experienced a turnover in their cartoonist stable. Only nine strips were published, and it was replaced by the always prolific W.R. Bradford's Almost Family.

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