Monday, November 07, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Josephus Bugle

Josephus Bugle had a very short run -- not because it was was a bad strip, just ill-timed.

When World War I ended in November 1918, a lot of papers were caught flat-footed holding war-themed material. Some of it got dumped, but a lot of it ended up being published, sometimes slightly re-jiggered to reflect the new situation. Luckily, anything that didn't actually show doughboys under fire could be run pretty much as is, because American soldiers remained in Europe by the thousands until well into 1919. As you can imagine, it was a task of Herculean proportions to shut down operations and get all those fellows back across the Atlantic.

Josephus Bugle bears the mark of having been produced while the war was still being fought. The star of the show was a hyper-patriotic fellow who wanted to do anything he could to assist in the war effort on the home front. Never mind that there wasn't a war anymore by the time the strips actually ran. There was, after all, still plenty of work to be done apres la guerre. So the Chicago Tribune, which probably gave cartoonist Pete Llanuza the green light to start producing a Sunday page of Josephus Bugle in late 1918, ended up running the even dozen produced episodes of the strip from May 4 to July 20 1919. They probably didn't have much choice. The Tribune inaugurated a new enlarged Sunday comics section on May 4, growing from four to eight pages, and they needed material. Apparently Josephus Bugle had been earmarked for the expanded section for quite some time.

As soon as the dozen Josephus Bugle strips were used up, Llanuza started a new strip for the enlarged section. His new strip also had a very short life, but that's a subject for another day.

Tomorrow: an Ink-Slinger Profile of Pete Llanuza


Another strip caught by the sudden end of the war was Walter Allman's Doings Of the Duffs, over at NEA.
Wilbur Duff finally joins up, and spends a lot of 1918 in training camp. He was finally ready for duty "over There", but the war ended while he was on a troop ship in the middle of the Atlantic, and so we never got any battle stories.
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