Monday, December 28, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: The Strange Adventures of Pussy Pumpkin and her Chum Toodles

Thank goodness for cut and paste. If I had to type in the fershlugginer title of today's obscurity more than once I doubt I'd have the energy left to talk about it.

The Strange Adventures of Pussy Pumpkin and her Chum Toodles was by Grace Drayton, who at the time was working under her married name of Wiederseim. This is Drayton's second newspaper strip series, unless you count it as a continuation of her first, Naughty Toodles, which ended just a few weeks earlier. The strip ran from August 2 1903 to January 10 1904 in the Hearst newspapers.

Toodles, obviously, continues from the earlier strip, but here the spotlight also falls on her owner/companion Pussy Pumpkin. The companions engaged in fairy tale adventures that displayed Drayton's subversive genius for pleasing both parents and kids:

Parent (after a cursory look-see): Ah, this is fine reading for my precious little Priscilla. Nothing like those horrid Katzie rascals. Just a sweet story about a little girl and her kitty helping out poor Mr. Alligator.

Priscilla (after a full reading): This is bully! That alligator just tried to eat that sap kid and her alley cat, and now the elephant's gonna break every bone in his body swingin' him like Hans Wagner. Me for more of this!

Although this was very early in Drayton's career, note that Pussy Pumpkin was already a prototypical Campbell's Soup kid, as would be most every kid she ever drew throughout her career. Drayton would gain lasting fame for her iconic contribution to 20th century advertising shortly after this series ended -- either in 1904 or 1906 depending on who you believe.

A tip of the hat to Steven Stwalley for the sample of this strip!


There are some examples (black and white scans) at the Library of Congress's Chronicling America archive of newspapers:
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