Thursday, August 06, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: The Sooicides of Sam
You might think that the subject of suicide isn't really a great source for comic strip hilarity. You'd be wrong, though, as it has been the subject of several strips. Rube Goldberg's long-running Boob McNutt, perhaps the most famous suicide-attempter, beat the subject to death, if you'll excuse the term.
Here, though, we have an earlier death wish strip. The Sooicides of Sam is by the great William F. Marriner, though he apparently never bothered to sign the strip. Also remaining under the radar is the syndicate that distributed the strip, but my guess is that it was McClure in one of their half-hearted forays into black and white weekday comics.
Sam's attempts at 'sooicide' are dutifully numbered in the series, and that allows us a way to gauge the length of the run -- he tops out at 27 as far as I can tell. Few newspapers seemed to run the strip on anything like a regular basis, so let's basically say that there was a half-year's worth of weekly strips. The best run we are able to find is in the Spokane Chronicle, which was indexed via Google Newspaper Archive by Frances Mouton (thanks Frances!). The folks at the Chronicle had a tendency to run things late -- sometimes REALLY late -- but The Sooicides of Sam seems to have been an exception. I certainly wouldn't take their running dates -- July 3 1909 to January 6 1910 -- as gospel, but I think it isn't too far off from a proper first run.