Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Raising the Family
The highly prolific Thornton Fisher left the New York World after a three-plus year period (1914-1916) in which his flying brush practically froze out the rest of the staff cartoonists. Why he left the World is a mystery to me, unless the powers that be there had begun to recognize that quantity is not necessarily a full substitute for quality.
Fisher certainly took a giant step down next, by accepting a contract with the foundering McClure Syndicate to publish his new strip, Raising the Family. The strip began in mid-1916 (the daily started July 3, but I have no definite start date for the Sunday, September 3 being my earliest on hand, ), and there really wasn't anything at all memorable about it. It was the familiar combination of grumpy henpecked husband, overbearing wife, and gorgeous daughter -- a plot that had been done plenty of times before. Bald Uncle Ike was a non-standard addition, but he lacked any discernible personality. It was almost as if Fisher didn't think McClure was worthy of one of his more original ideas.
The daily, originally a large double-tier affair, had an extra sidebar feature each day; some papers clipped it off and used it separately from the strip. The extra strip had a number of running titles, including Illustrated Comical Joke, More Truth Than Fiction, and Our Own Little Beauty Talks. By 1917, that feature seems to have been dropped and the daily had become a conventional one-tier affair.
The Sunday apparently ran until September 29 1918, a healthy two year run considering the lackluster material, while the daily seems to have fizzled out not too far into 1917.
As with most McClure properties of the era, the strip wouldn't stay dead. The International Cartoon Company sold reprints of the dailies in the 1920s, and World Color Printing ran the Sunday as part of it's Sunday pre-print section in two spurts, first from May 14 to July 9 1926, then from May 31 to July 26 1929.