Thursday, September 23, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: The Wandering Goat Bolivar

A late entry to the Boston Herald's third and final attempt at syndicating its own comic section, The Wandering Goat Bolivar ran from January 26 to August 9 (or August 30 in syndication) 1908.

I admit to not knowing enough about Central American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar to quite understand why the goat is named after him, or why, for that matter, the goat wears a crown. Hopefully an astute reader can fill in the implications of the title and the character.

What I can say is that this is Hal Coffman's first known comic strip series, and ran a few years before he became a fixture in the Hearst newspapers. Coffman was a jack of all trades with Hearst, supplying large Sunday editorial cartoons (spelling McCay), weekday news and social cartoons, story illustrations, sports cartoons, you name it. Coffman had a long career, at least into the 1940s, but he was never particularly comfortable with series comic strips. The few he did were short-lived.

The pleasantly cartoony style Coffman exhibits here bears little resemblance to his later work, which is more detailed and realistic.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.


I am researching Hal Coffman for a book on his editorial cartoons. I am interested in any biographical info on Mr. Coffman you have and information on his work in comics. I have found a few references to him being an early innovator in the genre but nothing mentions why. Any help or info would be appreciated.
Mark A. Nobles
Hi Mark --
Offhand I can't think of anything all that innovative about Hal Coffman's work. But then again, since I focus on strips, maybe there is something about his other work that I'm missing.

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