Saturday, February 11, 2012

 

Herriman Saturday

Friday, February 28 1908 -- Among the many festivities planned for the arrival of the Great White Fleet (see previous Saturday episodes) is a four-day amateur boxing tournament put on for the entertainment of the gobs. An important part of the attraction is the star-gazing potential, as well-known professional boxers will act as referees and seconds, including Jim Jeffries.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Greeley Hall

Greeley W. Hall was born in Arkansas on February 15, 1924, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census and the Social Security Death Index. In the census, he was the second of three children born to William and Erma. They lived in Little Rock, Arkansas at 1011 Dennison. His father was a supervisor in the insurance industry.

According to the U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, Hall enlisted on September 24, 1943 in Little Rock. He had four years of high school and was single without dependents. The State Press (Arkansas) announced his new comic strip on February 14, 1947.



Cartoonist

Greeley Hall, brilliant young cartoonist of the city, and Tik-Tok of the State Press, is pictured above at his drawing board in the office of the State Press. Hall is the creator of several comic strips, his latest being the dynamic Larry Labate to be seen in future issues of this paper. He served with the largest all-Negro Air Force at Godman Field, Ky., under command of Col. B.O. Davis, Jr., and was art editor of the base publication, The Godman Field Beacon. Hall drew Shorterbilt Jones for the State Press before entering service which later became a feature in the Godman Field Beacon. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Hall of 520 East 20th Street.








The strip appeared fives times, beginning on February 28 and then ending on April 4, 1947. Ten years later the State Press published this item on July 19, 1957:


Mr. and Mrs. Greeley Hall and Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Hall and their three sons are visiting their parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Hall, 520 East 20th st. Greeley Hall is a former cartoonist of the State Press. He is now employed with the Navy department of Washington, D.C. as an artist. He is a graduate from Dunbar hi school and junior college. Calvin Hall is an accountant with the Veterans Insurance in Washington, D.C.


The Bureau of Ships Journal (1961) of the U.S. Navy Department listed Hall as a staff designer. He held the same position on the publication, Naval Ship Systems Command Technical News (1963-1965), of the U.S. Naval Ship Systems Command.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Hall passed away on February 1, 2006 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Veterans Gravesites, at Ancestry.com, recorded him as a corporal in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He was buried at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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I intend to make regular visits to your blog. What an amazing resource - thank you
 
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Thursday, February 09, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Breezy



Melvin Tapley's longest running feature was one for which he didn't quite take credit. If anyone was fooled by the oh-so-devious pseudonym T. Melvin, though, it would be quite a surprise. Especially when Breezy often appeared on the same page as one of the strips for which Tapley did take credit. 

Breezy was an unassuming wise guy kid strip with little special slant to its black audience noticeable. Certainly Breezy was a bit more jivey than your typical kid-strip kid, and he wore that high style zoot hat, but basically just an everyday kid who could be of any race.

Syndicated by Continental Features, it's earliest known appearance is in the Atlanta World on August 1 1943. The strip ran in quite a few black papers over the years, and may have been produced steadily right through early 1948, the latest I've encountered it.

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Breezy ran in the Florida Times until February 11, 1956; by then it had become a two-tier weekly strip. I don't know whether it continued on in syndication after that date
 
I am not aware of a newspaper titled "Florida Times". I don't think you mean the Florida Times-Union, since they would never carry a strip like Breezy. Perhaps you mean the South Florida Times?

--Allan
 
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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Spoffin'




Melvin Tapley's gag panel feature Spoffin' has a name that sent me off looking for definitions. The Brits use the slang term to mean something fabulous or brilliant. Unabridged dictionaries tell us it means fussy or officious. Slang dictionaries are divided -- some say it means to lie, others that it refers to male ejaculation. What was Tapley's take on the meaning? Take your pick. Maybe he liked them all.

Tapley produced Spoffin', whatever the heck the title means, for the New York Amsterdam News from August 29 1942 to August 19 1944. Before 1944 it was a regular weekly feature, in 1944 it ran sporadically. The middle two panels above are good examples of the more permissive attitude the black papers had about subject matter -- white papers would never allow a cartoon that referred to women's breasts or to defecation, even somewhat veiled references as above.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Jim Steele






Mel Tapley tried to keep up with black cartooning powerhouse Ollie Harrington by launching his own hard-boiled adventure strip to compete with Jive Gray. Jim Steele started off as a war strip in 1943, and then switched to general adventure storylines after the war ended. Steele's fight against racism was a recurring motif in the boisterous, two-fisted tales.

The black papers had one heck of a time with continuity strips. Even the major papers with national audiences could not seem to manage to run continuity strips on a regular basis or in proper order. I don't know if it was faulty distribution, lateness paying syndicate bills or what, but trying to follow a story in any of these strips, and there were others in addition to Jive and Steele, was a pretty hopeless task. It's a wonder they gained any popularity at all. What a treasure it would be to find a nice run of proof sheets for strips like these.

Jim Steele's earliest appearance that I've yet found is in the Philadelphia Tribune on April 24 1943. It ran through the auspices of Continental Features and its latest known appearances are in 1947.

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Looks like he was influenced by Milt Caniff. The one character even looks a little like the Dragon Lady.
 
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Monday, February 06, 2012

 

Obscurity of the Day: Do's and Don'ts




According to researcher Tim Jackson, Do's and Don'ts belongs here in our salute to Mel Tapley. He claims that the creator, 'Stann Pat', is Tapley. It stands to reason -- Tapley's middle name being Stan and Pat being Tap backwards. However, I cannot completely squelch this nagging voice in my head that says the quality of the cartooning on this feature eclipses Tapley's usual work and then some. The skilled use of the grease crayon, the strong anatomy and panel design really don't quite find their matches in other Tapley productions. Why he would reserve some of his best work to appear under a pseudonym is a mystery. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, Jackson apparently met and interviewed Tapley before his death in 2005, so perhaps Tapley himself claimed credit for the feature, and the pseudonym certainly seems to be a red flag.

In any case, whether 'Stann Pat' is Tapley or not, it's an interesting feature. Black papers made a habit of trying to 'improve the race' with both cartoon and prose admonishments about good behavior. The case was made over and over in the  pages of the black press that the race would more quickly gain the respect and rights they wanted if they had good manners and behaved well in public. Do's and Don'ts was one of a handful of cartoon features that tried to drive this message home.

Do's and Don'ts was syndicated by Continental Features and the earliest appearance I find is August 30 1943 in the Atlanta World. The feature appears sporadically (and most likely late) in its pages until 1948. A very similar feature, also bylined by Stann Pat, was Your Public Conduct; it ran for a few months in 1944 -- it may just be an alternate title for Do's and Don'ts.

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

 

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

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I loved Thoughts of Man. I think it is one of the reasons I love quotes so much and change them daily [I post quotes below my e-mail signature].

It's too bad there isn't a market for them or a website...
 
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