Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Doddlesby's Home Tasks

Here's a strip that lends itself to a little 'inside baseball' on comic strip research. Doddlesby's Home Tasks is a Chicago Daily News strip of 1901. I indexed the Daily News by ordering the microfilm of the paper through inter-library loan, five months of reels at a time. The Daily News was notoriously cavalier about naming their strips, so I took voluminous notes on the strips that appeared and went over them with a fine-tooth comb to determine which represented continuing series.

Doddlesby's Home Tasks, a cute little gem about a fellow who can't seem to successfully fix anything around the house, was easy to recognize as a series once the main character was named. Unfortunately that happened months into a very sporadic run, and cartoonist Charles Fletcher Batchelder did many non-series strips and panels at the same time to throw me off the scent. Unfortunately, once I'd finally recognized the strip as a series, the previous batch of microfilm reels had been sent back to the lending library and my notes, copious as they were, did not yield a start date for the series prior to the naming of the main character.

Perhaps not fascinating information, but it is my excuse for now saying that the series first gained a named star on October 15 1901, but that the proto-series predates it by a few months. I can say with authority, though, that the series last appears on November 14 of the same year. So there.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


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