Monday, May 19, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Do You Know

An early entry in the 'oddball facts' genre was Do You Know by Walter Kaharl. It was originally syndicated by McClure, and the earliest I've been able to find it starting is on December 13 1926. Since Ripley's Believe It or Not, the king of the oddball fact, did not really catch on as an international phenomenon until 1929, Mr. Kaharl may have actually approached his panel not as a me-too but thinking he was actually doing something original.

Where Kaharl's panel couldn't measure up to the soon-to-be Ripley blockbuster is that former's panels, in addition to only serving up a single odd fact, are wordy and ... dare I say it ... too informative. Whereas Ripley is pithy and dramatic, Kaharl is plodding. I'd love to find Ripley's treatment of candle fish as a comparison, because I'm sure his version is delightfully grotesque, probably featuring a lurid sketch of a burning fish face.

Kaharl's panel never caught on with McClure, but it did continue until 1929 through their auspices. In 1930, the backstock of the feature was apparently sold to Western Newspaper Union, which redistributed the old panels to their weekly newspaper clients until at least 1935, and perhaps later.

Alex Jay has done some research on Kaharl and found evidence that he may have adapted his panel feature into an advertising piece -- more tomorrow with Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile.


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