Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: He's Talking to a Stranger

One of Billy DeBeck's earliest features is this one, which used several different titles sort of in the Briggs-Webster mode. The series began on February 24 1916 in the Chicago Herald, and was distributed by the J. Keeley Syndicate (Keeley was editor of the Herald).

At first only two titles alternated -- He's Talking to a Stranger, an entertaining bit featuring blowhards who expound on subjects about which they may not have quite the grasp they think, and Victim Number ..., a series that was sort of a snarky adult version of Briggs' When a Feller Needs a Friend. Each episode gave the victim a more-or-less random number.

In June of 1917 DeBeck tired of the Victim title and began a series titled Feeding the Jinx, but this title in turn disappeared after July of that year and the Victim series was resurrected. In early 1918 two more series titles were added, Brother Bulls and Ain't Bothered.

DeBeck didn't get much time to explore the possibilities of his new series, because when Hearst bought the Herald in May the feature was dropped, on May 4 to be exact. DeBeck's other series, Married Life, did continue under the new Hearst regime.


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