Wednesday, May 06, 2009


News of Yore 1949: Hall Takes Title Role

Post Syndicate Name Changed; It's Post-Hall

(E&P, 3/19/49)

Post-Hall Syndicate, Inc., became effective as the new name of New York Post Syndicate, March 1, according to Robert M. Hall, the syndicate's president and genera1 manager since he organized it four years ago.

The company was not incorporated as New York Post Syndicate until August, 1946.

Hall, one of the corporation's principal stockholders, indicated that the change in name was a natural development, more representative of the syndicate's recent activities.

During the past several months, the syndicate has launched new features, including "Tex Austin," an adventure comic, and the "Wizard of Odds," a facts panel; signed on Walt Kelly's original animal comic "Pogo," and has picked up new clients for Columnist Victor Riesel's "Inside Labor," which involved changing the New York outlet to the New York Mirror.

Post-Hall Syndicate is a success story. Hall began it in 1944 with New York Post features such as Earl Wilson's "It Happened Last Night," Sylvia Porter's finance column, "Your Money's Worth," and Samuel Grafton's "I'd Rather Be Right." Within a short time, the syndicate began contracting features on its own, developing the action strips, "Mark Trail," and "Bruce Gentry," and the story-problem comic, "Debbie Dean."

The syndicate also obtained such features as Herblock's editorial cartoons, Elise Morrow's "Capital Capers," Pierre de Rohan's "Man in the Kitchen," Sterling North's book reviews, Major George Fielding Eliot's discussions of defense and tactics, Margene Danch's "May Mian," and Jimmy Cannon's sports column.

Hall was formerly sales manager of United Feature Syndicate, which he joined in 1935 directly from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Earlier he had worked for the Providence (R. I.) Journal throughout high school, three years at Northeastern Law School and four years at Brown University.


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Handy Andy

Blog readers with extra-sticky gray matter may be thinking, "Hey that Stripper schmuck is recycling obscurities. I knew he had to run out of them eventually!" Not so, not so. Still barely scratching the surface!

You may remember that back on April 10, 2008 we featured Handy Andy as an obscurity, but that was a version by Ed Goewey from 1904-05. That Andy was a strongman who had a tendency to bite off more than he could chew. This Handy Andy, on the other hand, is a fellow who invents labor saving gadgets, usually for his adoring better half.

Johnny Gruelle would one day be the celebrated creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, but in the 1900s he was just another journeyman cartoonist. As 'Grue', his pen-name of the time, he created Handy Andy on his second go-round with World Color Printing in 1908-09 (he also did a short stint there in 1905). Handy Andy first appeared in the World Color Printing comic section on November 1 1908 and Gruelle didn't stick with it long, last penning the feature on January 31 1909.

The strip was then taken over by a fellow signing himself 'Bart'. He did the strip from February 7 to July 18 1909. I have always gone on the assumption that this 'Bart' was Charles Bartholomew, the famed Minnesota cartoonist who went on to be a big player in mail order cartooning correspondence schools. However, I've always harbored a niggling doubt. Why would Bartholomew, who was a pretty big fish in the little pond of Minneapolis, be doing journeyman work (and a lot of it) for World Color Printing? Anyone with a dissenting opinion regarding World Color Printing's 'Bart' is invited to make themselves heard.


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Monday, May 04, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: When a Man's Married

Here's an early strip by Cliff Sterrett, who went on to pen Polly and her Pals to considerable acclaim.

When a Man's Married began in the New York Evening Telegram on May 13 1911 as one of their many less-than-daily strips (boy, wouldn't I love a less cumbersome, more descriptive term for that). Sterrett penned this strip along with several others until he defected to Hearst in December 1912. His last entry in this series was on December 12.

The Telegram must have thought a lot of Sterrett's strips, because when he left they were all continued by others. When a Man's Married was reassigned to Jack Farr, whose first entry in this series was on December 19. Farr continued the strip for eight years, quite a run for a strip that practically no one remembers. The strip last ran in the Telegram on November 23 1920.


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Sunday, May 03, 2009


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

Jim Ivey's new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from 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 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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Saturday, May 02, 2009


Free Hogan's Alley Day

This week we'll be going Herriman-less. Instead I offer (or rather Hogan's Alley editor Tom Heintjes offers) a free copy of everyone's favorite cartooning magazine. In observance of Free Comic Book Day, Heintjes makes the following offer:
Even in the depths of the Great Recession, the best things in life are
free! Mark your calendars for this Saturday, May 2: Free Comic Book
Day. Send us an e-mail ON THAT DATE with your mailing address, and
we’ll send you a FREE issue of Hogan’s Alley! No obligations, no
strings attached; the only thing it will cost you is several hours as
you enjoy the issue. (This offer is valid for all U.S. residents,
whether you’re a current subscriber or not.) Remember the one condition
—we must receive your e-mail request on Free Comic Book Day (May 2),
not the day before or the day after. (Before and after that date, any
requests for freebies will receive only scorn and derision.) Feel free
to pass this offer along to anyone you know who might enjoy Hogan’s
Send your request to Do it today or don't bother!

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Friday, May 01, 2009


News of Yore 1949: McClure Obituary

S. S. McClure, 92, Dies; Father of Syndicates
(E&P, 3/26/49)

Samuel Sidney McClure, 92, who launched the first newspaper syndicate, Nov. 16, 1884, died in New York City, March 21, almost forgotten by the general public that his editorship and inventiveness had once so importantly influenced.

Since writing his "Autobiography" in 1913 he was virtually retired from McClure Syndicate and the once-powerful McClure's Magazine.

He had another fling at publishing, however, in 1916 when he and associates bought the old New York Evening Mail, in later years to be merged with the New York Telegram under the ownership of the late Frank Munsey.

Wiry, alert, bright-eyed and always in a hurry, Mr. McClure is remembered by his associates as a man who could completely absorb himself with a new idea.

"I never get ideas sitting still," he said.

Started with $5 Loan
Mr. McClure began the syndicate on $5 borrowed capital, after the idea was rejected by his employers, Century Co., for the material in St. Nicholas Magazine which he insisted newspapers would pay to reprint. Five months later he owed authors $1,500, had $1,000 coming in from newspapers.

He was joined by John S. Phillips, a friend he had worked with on the Wheelman, Boston publication of a cycle manufacturer. Mr. Phillips was a business man, and Mr. McClure was not inclined to watch money, as he admitted.

The fortunes of the syndicate were at a low ebb when Mr. McClure went over to Columbia College and offered to file clippings at $3.50 a week. Even when he had 40 newspaper clients, he gave stories free to one of them to get proof-press releases for the others.

Mr. McClure was responsible for developing many great authors. Robert Louis Stevenson, then a noted writer, was promoted to new heights, when Mr. McClure received instruction from Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World to get Stevenson for $10,000 a year to write a weekly essay.
The syndicate also printed Stevenson's "Black Arrow" under another title, first story to be illustrated. The illustrations were done by Will H. Low, friend of Stevenson. This brought in the most money of any of the McClure's syndication.

At the turn of the century the McClure Syndicate developed its own printing plant in Baltimore, Md., and was among the first to print color comic sections.

In 1892, S. S. McClure had turned the syndicate over to a brother, T. C. McClure, so that he could devote himself to his proposed magazine. McClure's. He had developed a wide acquaintance with authors and journalists in nine years of syndication, although he had less than $3,000 in the bank.

Recognized Writing Genius
Mr. McClure's almost infallible ability to recognize writing genius made his magazine top rank. He discovered Willa Cather, helped popularize William Dean Howells and Mark Twain, and introduced Kipling, A. Conan Doyle, and many others.

Mr. McClure, ever modest, declined to take credit for his discoveries. "What an editor does is give a writer a chance to be printed," he said. He compared himself to a farmer who does not "make the wheat. What the farmer did was give the wheat a chance to grow."

His life is in accordance with American tradition. He was born in Ireland, came here as a poor boy, worked his way through college in Indiana, married a daughter of one of the professors. To his father-in-law he gave much credit for his training. To Harriet Hurd, the girl he married, he owed much, too. She helped him through early struggles, decided in favor of postage for the syndicate rather than steaks for the family, and translated French and German stories for him. She died in 1929.

Mr. McClure is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.


The obit here, as most obits are, is probably a little hagiographic, but I have to admit that the McClure quote in which he compared himself to a farmer who gives the wheat a chance to grow really touched me.
Anyone one know what happened to the comic strip properties (archives and rights) that belonged to the McClure syndicate? Were they bought out? Does another syndicate own them now?
Jason, according to one of Allan's older posts, McClure was bought out by Bell/North America News. Here's the link to that:

I could be wrong, but their properties generally seem to have been eventually absorbed into King Features.
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