Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Bedtime Pencil Pictures

T. Benjamin Faucett is a fellow I know very little about, but what I do is indicative of quite a Renaissance man. Besides today's feature, Bedtime Pencil Pictures, I have found Faucet's name on a few other cartoon features, as a New York Post syndicated writer, as an author of children's books, and as a contributor to Popular Mechanics. Faucett was a busy guy, and it all seemed to happen in a sudden great outpouring in the 1910s and early 20s.

Web searches show that his children's books are offered for quite high prices, but considering that I find no children's book fans discussing the fellow, I think the high prices have more to do with rarity of the tomes than for any perceived quality or fan following. None of his other ventures, writing or drawing, seem to have garnered a great deal of popular attention.

Bedtime Pencil Pictures was used as a part of World Color Printing's weekly page of daily-style strips from 1918 to about 1924. I used to think this was one of the very few original items they ran on that page (the rest being reprints, mostly culled from the backstock of other syndicates), but then I found a few isolated examples of the panel bearing a syndicate stamp of American Newspaper Service. Not being familiar with that outfit, I did a little digging and discovered that it was a start-up formed in 1918 by W.H. Johnson, former head of Hearst's International Features Syndicate, after he got bounced out in a business consolidation. Evidently his syndicate went nowhere, because Bedtime Pencil Pictures had been sold off to World Color Printing before the end of that year.

So my guess is that American Newspaper Service tried to sell Bedtime Pencil Pictures, probably got no more than a few clients, if any, and was happy to sell off the plates to World Color Printing later that year. World Color, in their typical slipshod way, failed to rout out all the old syndicate stamps, and so we were left with a little telltale bit of evidence to what happened. The question I'd most like answered is whether the panel did in fact get run through the auspices of American Newspaper Service at all, or if the syndicate was a complete failure and never actually got anything in print.

Well, that's a lot of gabbing about a not terribly interesting connect-the-dots feature, isn't it? Especially considering that my scope rules specifically exclude activity panels. Oh well. Those who feel they did not get their money's worth today will be issued a full refund.

Tomorrow Alex Jay will weigh in with an eye-opening Ink-Slinger Profile of  Mr. Faucett.


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