Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Hank and Knobs

Hank and Knobs was one of the longest-running and popular features of the Associated Newspapers co-op syndicate in their early years. Associated, as you may recall from other posts, was formed from a group of major newspapers in various cities, each of whom contributed their locally produced features into a pool that could be used by all the members.

Hank and Knobs was a contribution from the Boston Globe and cartoonist Joe Farren. Farren has a style that strip fans either love or hate -- I fall into the love camp. Some guys just know how to 'draw funny', and I find myself smiling at Farren's drawings even before I read the gag. I also like the heavy outlines around the figures, which seem to make them pop out of the page -- a trick Farren probably stole from Winsor McCay.

The strip is an obvious and outright rip-off of Mutt and Jeff, Bud Fisher's juggernaut of the weekday comics pages. In the teens there were plenty of cartoonists trying to ride those coattails, and few did it so successfully (or slavishly) as Farren.

Associated Newspapers features of the teens are notoriously hard to track, but luckily the Boston Globe ran this strip from start to finish without a hiccup, so I can report the 'official' running dates confidently as January 3 1911 through January 9 1916, an impressive five year run.

If you'd like to see some additional Hank and Knobs comics, visit the Barnacle Press website.


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