Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Did You Know

For the rest of the week we'll be looking at some features from black papers. They are all related by being about Afro-American history, and further related by all the samples having come from a scrapbook put together by some young newspaper clipper in the 1940s. Big tip of the hat to Cole Johnson who put me wise to this scrapbook being advertised on eBay.

Our first feature is Did You Know, a panel by that great girlie cartoonist E. Simms Campbell. The circumstances of its debut are interesting. It was one of three features (four if you count a revival of an earlier one that was brought back) that he started in the same April 6 1940 issue of the Amsterdam (NY) News. Campbell essentially seems to have taken on the challenge of producing the bulk of their comics page, with an adventure strip, a humor strip, and an Ollie Harrington-style panel cartoon rounding out the offering. What's even odder is that April 1940 just happens to be the very same month that Campbell's daily Cuties panel began with King Features.

Was Campbell trying to see just how much he could produce? Was he sloughing off a bunch of unsold tryouts to the News? Was the News getting rid of a bunch of old Campbell work they had on file? I dunno, but all four features ended abruptly after eight episodes on May 25 1940.


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