Wednesday, March 27, 2013
A Frank Moser Mystery
I knew then that Cole hadn't just found some weird little try-out thing that lasted only a month. But why no other information? Dave Strickler's E&P listings don't mention Moser, the other standard reference books either don't mention Moser at all or focus only on his animation career, Alex Jay's research for yesterday's Ink-Slinger Profile revealed nothing about it, and both Cole's samples and mine don't even have syndicate stamps, so we haven't even a loose thread on which to start pulling.
I took a shot with Newspaperarchive.com, which I gave up on pretty quickly as it has gotten unbelievably slow and annoying since their latest redesign. My searches for "by moser" turned up lots of bad results but I found none that actually pointed to these panel cartoons.
Finally I decided to go through my old, badly faded photocopies of the E&P syndicate books. I know Strickler's E&P book did not catch everything from those early listings, because E&P did such haphazard categorization. Perhaps I could find some feature that mentions Moser as the creator.
Here I found success. Poring over those faded, barely legible listings, I struck gold. In the 1924 syndicate book (the first that E&P did), I found a listing:
Ah ha! That explained a lot! First, the lack of a syndicate stamp is typical for Associated, so that ends that mystery. Second, the multiple creators and lack of a series name explains all the rest. Strickler wouldn't have included such an oddball, vague listing in his book, and it also explains why we never seem to find a real run of these Moser panels. It's because this was an early sort of multi-creator series that we wouldn't really see again until the advent of features like Laff-a-Day, This Funny World, and others in the 1930s and 40s. Moser might have appeared once a week or even less. And many newspapers using this series, since it wasn't even really identifiable as a series, would probably not have run it consistently anyway.
Checking subsequent yearbooks, I find the listing show up two more times:
So my 1928 sample is either old material, or Associated Newspapers wasn't even bothering to tell E&P about this oddball feature anymore.
The only missing piece is to find a newspaper that did actually run this 'feature' consistently. As it is, I really don't feel I have enough solid information to add a listing for it to my book. How many others contributed to the series? When did the various cartoonists start and end their association with the feature? Did they contribute consistently, or is the feature a true grab-bag of creators? Was the feature still running in 1928 and possibly beyond? How long before 1924 might it have been running?
Thanks VERY MUCH for all this info! Not sure where or if I can view these online (as I said in my post, Newspaperarchive runs like syrup running uphill in January for me right now). Did you find that any of these papers was printing the feature on a consistent daily basis, including all the creators? What I'd really like to do, when the web-gods permit, is to review long swaths of the series to see which cartoonists are used (that etc in the listings is quite intriguing) and see if I can create a reasonably good Stripper's Guide listing for this rather thin series. Without a consistent creator or title, they certainly are stretching the boundaries.