Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Ben
The strip debuted on June 12 1911, and at the beginning the strip should more properly be called Benjamin, as our hero's moniker had yet to be shortened. The feature was uncredited at first, but was probably by the same fellow who began signing the strip as Harry B. Dally on September 1 of that year. I don't know if Mr. Dally was a real person; it may have been a pen name. Dally disappeared for a short while in November, when the strip was taken over by a fellow who signed himself Herrmann. This cartoonist took over for Dally for about a month, and then Dally was back at the helm.
The lack of a consistent run of this strip in any paper I've reviewed makes things even sketchier from here on. Given World Color's track record with dailies, the fault was probably theirs, not the subscribing papers. Dally continued to sign for a good long while, and then Carl Ed took over. The switch occurred sometime in 1912 or 1913 (I warned you that it would be sketchy!). Ed's turn took him through sometime in 1914. The final cartoonist was Budsee, who after years of head-scratching I finally figured out must be Bud Counihan. Budsee suffered the ignominy of working under Carl Ed's byline, but World Color didn't seem to mind that he sometimes signed the strip itself. Counihan was at the helm until the end of the feature, which came on May 22 1915. The next Monday, Budsee/Counihan was back with his new strip, Luke McGlook, another baseball strip, but this one from the perspective of a player rather than a fan.
Ben wasn't ready to retire though. No, World Color Printing specialized in beating dead horses. They offered the strip in reruns in at least 1919, 1922, and 1924-33.