Monday, July 01, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Over Here

The soul-stirring patriotic song "Over There" stirred doughboys and homefolks alike during World War I, and, inevitably, the title found its way into newspaper comics. There were no less than three wartime features that used some version of the title.

The one you see in the sample above (my apologies for the quality -- it is from photocopied microfilm) was titled Over Here, and concerned itself with the lighter side of being on the homefront. It was drawn by Earl Johnson, who sometimes signed himself "Jing" Johnson, presumably in tribute to the great comic strip Jingling Johnson. The rhymes were by a fellow by the name of Rupe Hainer.

The only place I've found this feature running is in the Pittsburgh Leader of 1917-18, and my very limited time with the microfilm of that paper made it impossible to get exact start and end dates. There were no syndicate stamps on these panels, and I assumed that they were produced locally for the Leader. This assumption becomes even more likely based on new research by Alex Jay, who not only uncovered biographical data on Earl Johnston, but also identified him as the son of F.E. Johnston, the creator of the important but little known strip Bobby the Boy Scout. Ink-Slinger Profiles of both cartoonists will follow this week.

Anyway, not much to be said about Over Here, except that if you are wondering about the knitting references, you can read this page which tells all about the big push that was put on during World War I to have women knit clothes for the troops.

PS: Happy Dominion Day, fellow Canucks!


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