Saturday, February 28, 2009

 

Herriman Saturday


Wednesday, July 3 1907 -- Harrison Gray Otis, arch-conservative publisher of the Los Angeles Times, is accused of taking bribes from Patrick Calhoun. Calhoun was a railroad magnate who came to LA to set up a streetcar system. Looking through the papers of July 1907 all I can find in the way of specific accusations is that Calhoun purchased many thousands of copies of one particular day's edition of the Times, a very backhanded yet effective way of making a bribe to a publisher.

Both Otis and Calhoun were justly infamous for their shady business and political deals, so the accusation that there was bribery going on between the two would have been like accusing Burt Reynolds of wearing a toupee.

Thursday, July 4 1907 -- The big fight is on! Australian Bill Squires will meet Tommy Burns in the squared circle today in a battle of the titans. Who will emerge triumphant? I'm not tellin'. Tune in next week for Herriman's post-mortem.

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Comments:
Hi Allan - like Eddie Campbell (a modern day master of the medium), I just wanted to say thank you for your efforts in letting us see this Herriman material. Don't be discouraged by lack of comments - I have read all your postings and this is the first time I've ever commented (apologies for my laziness in that regard), so please don't think that your efforts are not appreciated. Please continue - you are doing historic preservation work! THANKS AGAIN!
 
Thanks Anon, I really do appreciate when people let me know they're out there. The site gets plenty of hits, but for all I know they're all looking for that other kind of stripper. Good to know that all this silliness has an audience.

Best, Allan
 
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Friday, February 27, 2009

 

News of Yore 1949: Religious Feature Saves Country Weekly


Heart Attack Led To Bible Feature
(E&P, 1/22/49)

During the war, when Don Orput bought a weekly in Grants Pass, Ore., he achieved a life-long dream, although it was rather a mad time for it, what with newsprint, labor and machinery shortages developing. However, he and his wife were happy.

Then came a sad day. Don Orput suffered a midnight heart attack and doctors said, "You're through."

Orput nearly was through, until he remembered a suggestion of Fred Colvig of the Portland Oregonian, now an editor of the Denver (Colo.) Post. The suggestion was he make something out of his lifetime hobby — collecting Bible references.

Since 1945 Orput, assisted by his wife, has been producing a two-column feature called the Dean's Bible Bee. At first done anonymously, the feature consisted of three questions—usually of current interest—illustrated, accompanied by answers that cited text.

The feature clicked with the Oregonian and several other West Coast newspapers, and last year was picked up for syndication by Register & Tribune Syndicate.

[Allan's notes: Dean's Bible Bee sported delightful cartoon illustrations by Vernon Greene. The feature seems to have ended just six months after the publication of this article.]

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Comments:
interesting... are there any samples of this feature?
 
Ain't I a stinker, mentioning the nice art by Vern Greene? "News of Yore" posts generally only include art that went with the article. Gonna have to wait until the Dean's Bible Bee gets the "Obscurity of the Day" treatment for samples since the article didn't include 'em.

Sorry, Allan
 
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

 

Obscurity of the Day: Lancelot






Lancelot was introduced by the NEA syndicate on March 16 1970, back in the days when thoughtless, boorish husbands were apparently supposed to be funny. The newlyweds Lori and Lance are getting to know each others faults and foibles in the strip. Lance is an utter clod, while Lori is so in love that it barely registers. I can hardly imagine a more depressing strip -- most every episode I read only makes me wonder how long this is going to go on before Lori divorces this loser. Well, the divorce never came but the strip ended on April 29 1972. I figure about two years had to be all Lori could stand of this guy, and readers were happy to see them go. Would have been kind of interesting to actually see comic strip characters go through a divorce, though ... that would be a first! Maybe it would have started a trend -- Jiggs divorces Maggie for physical cruelty, Loweezy divorces Snuffy for lack of support -- hey, this starts to sound kind of interesting!

It's too bad that the strip had such a stinker of a hook, because the team of artist Paul Coker, Jr. and writer Frank Ridgeway were certainly capable of excellent work.

Ridgeway had been the gag-writer for Mister Abernathy, a King Features strip, since it began in 1957. Ridgeway took the pseudonym "Penn" to write Lancelot, presumably because King wouldn't have wanted him moonlighting for a second syndicate. Good thing, though, because it meant he never had to take any public credit for Lancelot.

Paul Coker, Jr., a superb cartoonist with an instantly recognizeable style, was already a Mad magazine veteran with a strong following. He was also well-known to anyone who watches TV Christmas specials -- Frosty The Snowman and other Rankin-Bass projects were blessed with his terrific character designs. His style was so widely copied in the 70s that it became cliché, hurting his later career. Like Adam West or Leonard Nimoy, he was a victim of his own popularity.

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Comments:
"His style was so widely copied in the 70s that it became cliché, hurting his later career."

He did have one more animation job, though.

In 2002 Cartoon Network had a short-lived series called "Robot Jones", which had a loose art-style similar to Coker's (I think it was even pointed out in the press release, although I don't remember).

Looking at the credits in one episode, I discovered that Paul actually did in fact work on the show as a character designer.
 
I remember this one debuting in the local paper complete with an article mentioning Coker's MAD-ties, which was probably the only reason I followed this strip being such a fan of that humor magazine at the time! This is probably going to be the only obscurity you'll mention on this blog that I ever read during its initial run!
 
Acoording to Who's Who Coker did another strip around the same time. I wouldn't mind seeing that one as well.
 
What strikes me as particularly unusual is that this strip, which debuted in 1970, depicted a married couple sleeping in separate beds. This is particularly jarring given the more-or-less modern appearance of the artwork. I realize that the comic pages are among the more conservative elements of the newspaper but I wouldn't have expected to see that in the 1970s.
 
Hi Ger -
Unfortunately I've never found "Horace and Buggy", the collaboration between Coker and Duck Edwing, running in any paper. Does anyone have tearsheets for this strip, or know a paper that ran it?

--Allan
 
Many people slept in separate beds in 1970. This wasn't a cinematic convention, it was a reflection of real life.
 
Glad you ask, Allan, but "Horace and Buggy". I don't know anything about that, but, I do know Coker and Ewing did a series of strips on bugs that was printed in Mad magazine in 1969. Maybe this might be the one you thinking of!
 
Given Bails' track record on newspaper credits, it wouldn't surprise me if "Horace and Buggy" was that Mad magazine series, mistakenly listed under newspaper credits. Or maybe Coker and Edwing shopped a Mad-inspired strip around to syndicates. However, the fact that Bails has it running smack dab in the middle of Lancelot's run makes me wonder.

--Allan
 
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Monday, February 23, 2009

 

Boston Bound -- Soliciting Your Suggestions

Travel plans have been firmed up and it's now definite that I'll be going to Boston in May. I hope to have at least four full days at the Boston Public Library, the only library in the country that has really good coverage of Boston and other Massachusetts papers. (Don't get me started on why that is -- what I have to say on the matter is not at all kind.)

I know that I definitely have work to do on the Boston Traveller, the Post, the Herald and the Evening Transcript. The Globe I'll work on if time permits, but it's available at the Library of Congress, so I'm giving it low priority.

Looking over the film available at the BPL I see they have a number of other papers with which I'm less familiar. So I'd like to solicit the brain trust for any information you may have about the comic strip contents of these papers:

Boston Daily Advertiser (thru 1929), Sunday Advertiser (thru 1972) -- these were Hearst papers I believe -- anyone know if they have interesting content, or did they just run the standard Hearst strips)

Boston American (1904-61) -- also a Hearst paper, right?

Boston Chronicle (to 1960), Boston Guardian (1939-57) -- black papers; any interesting content or did they just reuse Defender/Courier stuff?)

These ones I know nothing about:

Boston Courier (to 1914)
Boston Free Press (1960-67)
Boston Morning Journal (to 1917)
Boston Evening News (1903-04)
Boston Evening Record (to 1921)
Boston Daily Record (1929-61) -- combined with American 62 on
Boston Telegraph (1921-28)
Boston Sunday Times (to 1915)
Boston Daily Tribune (1907 only)

Boston also had a long list of weekly papers. Does anyone know of any with interesting content? What about the rest of Massachusetts -- anyone know of interesting papers I ought to check?

Comments:
The Boston Herald had a much needed to be researched syndicate starting in 3/04, sometimes known as the HASKELL syndicate. It at one time was edited and contributed to by Frank Crane. It would appear to have lasted only a few years.
"HEARST'S BOSTON AMERICAN" was his first paper there, though the Herald and the Post carried Hearst sunday comics before then. The Herald started theirs in 11/00.
The Boston TRAVELER had a daily syndicate going as early as 1908, with such luminaries as "HARRI KARI THE JAP" by Greening.
The GLOBE is available on the free proquest site,at least up to 1924, so spend your time more valuably on the other titles.
 
Hello, Allan----Wow, I envy you in this library adventure---In 1917, Hearst bought the hardened-arteries Boston Advertiser, which they did'nt seem to know what to do with at first, and may have suspended publication for a few years. In 1923, the Advertiser is the daily tabloid, merged with the Boston Record,("Boston Daily Advertiser and Record") another superflous paper they had bought in 1921. By Jan. 1925, the Advertiser is the Sunday paper, [the new name for the Sunday American,] and the Record by itself is the daily tabloid. (The Evening American also turned into a tab, after the big 1937 crisis in the Hearst empire, making Boston the only city with Two Hearst Tabloids!) I have many copies of the Record, from the mid-20's to the 50's, and there really isn't a lot of odd material to be found. These papers are old familiar friends to me!----The cool stuff is going to be the early material, like the Haskell syndicate and the daily Traveller strips, of course.---Cole Johnson.
 
Hi Cole and Anon --
Actually the Herald had a Sunday-only syndicate going as early as 1900. They'd start up for awhile, then drop it, then bring it back. Went through that process at least three separate times. I've indexed the Herald in fits and starts up to about 1915, but Cole has mentioned to me that there was some daily stuff going on too occasionally which I seem to have missed.

I am pretty excited about doing the Traveller, which I've never gotten to see. That weird daily syndicate of theirs is completely unexplored turf for me.

And regarding the Hearst papers, geez Cole, you're going to have to draw me a flowchart of that craziness. Your explanation is making the gray matter leak out my ears.

--Allan
 
For reasons that totally elude me -- I must have thought it neato at the time -- I have a hard-copy volume of the Boston American from February of 1925. Evening paper at the time, and there's no Sunday edition in the volume; it jumps from Saturday to Monday. Some acid in the paper, but overall, quite readable. Weighs a blessed ton, and I'd forgotten I had it. What on earth I can do with it, I can't possibly imagine.
 
Hey EOC -
So what dailies was the Boston American running that month?

If you think one bound volume is neato, perhaps you'd like to take about 500 or so off my hands?

Best, Allan
 
Looking at the editions for Monday, February 16, 1925 (the American was an evening newspaper):

The sports section has:

"Indoor Sports" by TAD
"Moe and Joe, They Get the Dough - Sometimes." "Done by Dunn"

The last-named is odd, in that in the first panel a horse-racing tip is inserted in the first speech balloon...but the strip (c) Star Co. is dated 1925

Comics Section:

Thimble Theatre
Krazy Kat
Bringing Up Father
Us Boys
Goldberg's Cartoons
Jerry on the Job
Polly and Her Pals
Fillum Fables (Chester Gould)
Abie the Agent
 
Well, I need start and end dates both on Moe and Joe and Fillum Fables, so this taste shows me that the Boston American's certainly worth looking at. Thanks EOC!

--Allan
 
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics



Jim Ivey's new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from Lulu.com for $19.95 plus shipping, or you can order direct from Ivey for $25 postpaid. Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. The book is 128 pages, coil-bound. Send your order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807

Also still available, Jim Ivey's career retrospective Cartoons I Liked, available on Lulu.com or direct from Jim Ivey for $20 postpaid. When ordered from Ivey direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.

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