Monday, August 27, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Don't Laugh -- Superstitious Beliefs

Among the offerings of the eensy-weensy little Van Tine Features Syndicate was the oddly titled Don't Laugh - Superstitious Beliefs. It looks like a strip, but each weekly episode is actually a collection of four separate vignettes. It began with the syndicate on September 2 1935, and petered out with the company in the second quarter of 1937, though the syndicate seemed to have tried to keep things going for awhile by sending out old material again. I've seen Van Tine reprint material appearing in a few podunk papers as late as 1940.

Many of Van Tine's creators were pseudonymous, and the writer of this feature, known only as 'Blumey', is no exception. I found a copyright entry for the feature, though, in which his real name -- Abraham Blumenfeld -- is given. The first copyright application for this series was in 1931, strangely enough, long before our start date. Perhaps Blumenfeld had been shopping the feature around for quite awhile when Van Tine picked it up.

The cartoonists on the strip are a mixed bag of mystery and the known. There were at least two of them, and possibly more since some episodes are unsigned. Of the two who signed, one used an artsy little squiggle sorta thing that I can't make out. The other signed boldly as Ernest Smythe, who was also an animator with the Walter Lantz studio in the 1930s.

Thanks to Mark Johnson for the samples!


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