Saturday, March 21, 2015
Saturday, September 19 1908 -- The LA Examiner, and cartoonist Herriman, have been concentrating on this bond scandal lately, but the city and county are under investigation for hanky-panky on a number of fronts. Everything is coming to a head now, as a combined case has been brought before the grand jury.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, March 20, 2015
Sci-Friday starring Connie
This is the final sci-fi Connie story we have available from Cole Johnson. If anyone out there can contribute scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you! Note that we elitists at Stripper's Guide do not generally use digital microfilm material here on Stripper's Guide, so we would need sharp 300-600 dpi scans from newspaper tearsheets or syndicate proofs.
Labels: Connie Sci-Friday
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bill Seidcheck
William Randolph “Bill” Seidcheck was born in Illinois on May 31, 1906. His birthplace was recorded in census records and his birth date is from the Department of Veterans Affairs Death File at Ancestry.com.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Seidcheck was the second of three children born to Louis, a dentist, and Laura, a German emigrant. They resided in Hinsdale, Illinois at 146 North Monroe Street.
Downers Grove, Illinois, was Seidcheck’s hometown in the 1920 census. He lived on Odgen Avenue with his parents and four siblings.
Seidcheck has not been found in the 1930 census. His parents and five siblings remained in Downers Grove.
In 1934, Seidcheck copyrighted the Adventures of Spangola, which might have been comics-related. Seidcheck copyrighted and sold his comic strip, Betty Brighteyes, to the General Features Syndicate in 1936. The weekly newspaper Hastings News (Hastings on the Hudson, New York) published it beginning March 19, 1937. The strip’s run ended March 11, 1938.
Seidcheck’s father passed away March 9, 1938 in Chicago.
Seidcheck, his mother and two younger brothers were in Los Angeles, California, as recorded in the 1940 census. Their address was 1966 North Van Ness Avenue. In 1935, Seidcheck was a resident in New York City. His highest level of education was the fourth year of high school. Seidcheck’s current occupation was an artist in toy manufacturing although he was unemployed for the past 58 weeks.
During World War II, Seidcheck was in the army. He enlisted September 28, 1942 and was discharged September 7, 1945. His brother, Louis, an army private, passed January 4, 1945. His mother as listed as next of kin and her address was 2486 Cheremoya Street, Hollywood. She passed away May 13, 1970 in Los Angeles.
Seidcheck passed away June 4, 1973 according to his military death file. The Social Security Death Index said he resided in Honolulu, Hawaii. Seidcheck was buried in Hollywood, California.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The Comic Strip Series of General Features Syndicate
Of course, the star of the bunch is The Little Major, by none other than Bob Kane. Kane, of course, would just a few years later create that comic book icon, Batman.
|First General Features Syndicate page, 3/19/37|
Couple interesting things about The Little Major. First, I was unexpectedly impressed at Kane's humorous cartooning style. He shows a real adeptness at it, which was certainly absent, in my opinion, in his illustrative style. I gather from Kane's memoirs that in this period he considered bigfoot cartooning to be his strong suit, and I certainly agree with him based on this strip. In fact I'd say that Kane might have made a successful career in this genre had not Batman relieved him of the need. His gag writing, on the other hand, is pretty clunky. To his credit, he doesn't seem to just reuse old gag lines, but maybe he should have. He certainly shows no gift for writing a punchy gag.
|General Features Syndicate page, 4/16/1937|
Other interesting thing about The Little Major is that I wonder if this could be a poke in the ribs to Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. At about the same time Kane was drawing this strip, Wheeler-Nicholson was one of his bosses in the comic book world. As Kane relates in his memoirs, the Major sweet-talked him into doing a lot of work that he never got paid for, and maybe this strip was Kane's little stab at revenge.
One additional odd point about The Little Major, and one that we'll be revisiting for many of these features. The annual E&P listings for the General Features Syndicate line-up seemed to not be able to settle on a creator's name. In the case of The Little Major, Bob Kane was credited each year until 1942, when someone named Thomas Fogarty got the nod. This might simply be a typo, or Kane might have finally told the folks at General to quit using his name to sell reprints. I have no idea who this Thomas Fogarty might be, other than a pen-name picked from a hat.
|General Features Syndicate page, 7/16/1937|
Bob Kane was a complete unknown in 1937, but that wasn't true of Larry Whittington, who contributed Daisy Daily and Dotty Dawn. Whittington was the original creator behind the Fritzi Ritz comic strip, though he had lost the job to Ernie Bushmiller less than three years into the run. Whittington being the one creator in the bunch with at least a slight claim to fame, his strip usually got pride of place at the top of the page.
Though Whittington's brief heyday was long over, his ability to draw cute girls was undimmed. The gags in Daisy Daily and Dotty Dawn were nothing memorable, but the art was still top-notch. The strip is definitely the most attractive of the line-up by far. Be sure to read Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile of Larry Whittington, coming soon -- the guy had quite an interesting life!
Moving on, we have Betty Brighteyes by Bill Seidcheck. This strip is one of those that trades on the bubble-headed blonde stereotype, but the art is good, and the gags, though showing a bit of grey hair, are well-staged. Seidcheck has no other credits of which I'm aware, but his art and gag-writing were definitely pro level. Alex Jay will be telling us more about him in an Ink-Slinger profile, as well.
|General Features Syndicate page, 9/10/1937|
Moving on again, we get a sports strip (actually most often a panel with multiple vignettes) called The Sports Parade. It's tough to offer a good sense of the quality of the art, because the reproduction on this feature is pretty uniformly awful. Almost every strip has large dropouts along the bottom. At first I thought this was the fault of bad press work at Hastings News, because The Sports Parade usually ran at the bottom of the page. But I found the strip exhibiting the same problem even when it was run at the top of the page. Apparently the more intricate linework of the strip, or some other quality of it, had the fellas in the print shop totally stymied.
The content of The Sports Parade is non-fiction, offering 'amazing' facts about various sports figures. Sometimes the panel veers into Ripley's freak territory, but more generally it offers impressive statistics and portraits of the greats of yesteryear.
The creator of The Sports Parade is given only as 'Tap'. Based on the name, this could be Melvin Tapley, a cartoonist who worked for many years in the black newspapers, often the Amsterdam News. He sometimes signed cartoons simply as 'Tap' and the style is not too dissimilar to his. If that guess is right, this is a rare early appearance of a black cartoonist in a mainstream newspaper. However, there are a few clues that are at odds with that identification.
|General Features Syndicate page, 11/26/1937|
First is the copyright notice of 1936, in which Chuck Thorndike is given credit. To me this art does not at all resemble Thorndike's, but it is interesting that his name comes up. As I discussed yesterday, I believe that Van Tine Features and General Features Syndicate are somehow closely related, but this is the only creative name the two share (Thorndike was the artist on Van Tine's Follies of the Great).
Finally, there is my opinion that the art on The Sports Parade does not so much look like Mel Tapley's or Chuck Thorndike's, but rather like the work of Jerry Iger. Iger had some pretty noticeable quirks, and I see some of them here -- the dead round eyes and the outlined balloon lettering being the most telltale. Maybe Iger did the cartoony bits, and someone else did the more illustrative style portraits? I hate to bring Iger's name into it, though, as that is quite a can of worms. Why would Iger be working for this outfit when he was busy with his own shop? Could he have been reselling them material already used by Eisner-Iger on other projects?
|2/11/38, a few strips missing in this edition|
Looking at the E&P syndicate directories, the credits for The Sports Parade are an interesting but uninformative mess. In 1937 and 1938, the creator was listed as Tap Goodenough (more about that last name shortly), then Tap Goodnuff in 1939, Taper Tapper in 1940, and S.C. Begg in 1942. All except for S.C. Begg are obviously variations on the same pseudonym, but that Begg fellow is a complete mystery. Another pick-it-out-of-a-hat creator name, like The Little Major got in 1942?
Moving on to the next strip, we have Bing and his Buddies. This one is a turkey that works the very well trodden subject of wiseacre kids. If you know Freckles and his Friends, or Just Kids, or Reg'lar Fellers, you know what you're in for here, except those strips are positively Shakespearean in their profundity by comparison.
|2/18/1938, a few strips missing, and one strip printed separately|
In the original 1936 copyright notice, Bing and his Buddies was credited to Edward Brenner. However, the strip itself ran under a byline of Goodenough, which you'll recall from the E&P listings for The Sports Parade. A more detailed review of the strips reveals that Mr. Brenner did indeed sign a couple of the early strips, and the style was different than the later ones signed Goodenough.
Goodenough seems likely to be (another) pseudonym of Tap, or whoever was the creator of The Sports Parade. The styles match pretty well. Of course, the E&P listings once again serve mainly to confuse. In 1937 the creator was given as Tap, which makes for a good start. But in 1938 the creator is listed as Ed Brennon, then in 1939 Edward Brennen, then Edward Brennan in 1940 and Ed Brennan in 1942. Why they had so much trouble with Brenner/Brennan's name is anyone's guess, but considering he only produced about 3 or 4 strips at the beginning of the run, why in the world were they offering him credit at all?
|I believe 2/25/1938 represents the last new material the syndicate distributed|
Bringing up the rear, we have Oddities of the News, another of the ubiquitous copies of Ripley, of which at least one was seemingly a requirement for every syndicate. This feature was credited and signed by someone named Al Boon. That's not a name that means anything to me, so let's check our secondary sources.
According to the 1936 copyright notice, the creator was Dic Lacalzo. Also a name that means nothing to me; I have someone signing a 1926 Wheeler-Nicholson strip 'Dic', and there was a Dic Loscalzo who drew terrific cartoon drawings for Ruth Roche's children's book Chimpsey at Play (1945), in a book series called Action Play-Books closely associated with our pal Jerry Iger.
|Hastings News played catch-up, printing these strips on 3/4 and 3/11/1938|
I guess it doesn't matter much, because that's the only reference we have to a name anything like that. In the E&P yearbooks, we have Alex Boon in 1937, Al Boon in 1939 and Al Blum in 1942 (the strip was only listed for those three years). That last one had me wondering if this was actually Blumey (Abraham Blumenfeld), who wrote Van Tine's Don't Laugh - Superstitious Beliefs. However, Alex Jay went off in a different direction with this alphabet soup of names, and came up with at least an equally possible scenario for the actual creator. You'll have to wait for him to weigh in later, though.
Well, that's it for my overview of the General Features Syndicate comic strips. Stay tuned for Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profiles on a number of these folks. Before I close, a final note of thanks to Art Lortie, who brought this exciting discovery to my attention. Thanks Art!
FWIW Dept. - I ran across that Bob Kane / Thomas Fogarty listing when I pulled all the strips and looked up references> But I came to the conclusion Fogarty was real and not a Kane pseudonym [or fake].
Besides the famous Thomas Fogarty (1873 - 1938), who this is obviously NOT, I have a New York Times obituary and 1934 class listing for the Free Art Schools of the National Academy of Design in New York that hints at his ID. In 1934 he earned Honorable Mention in Drawing Room Life (Day class - figure) and later taught at the Pratt Institute.
Other graduates of Nat'l Academy of Design include [at different times] Alex Blum, Henry Boltinoff, Carl Burgos, Irwin Hasen, Tom Hickey, Everett Kinstler, Irv Novick, Carl Pfeufer, Mac Raboy, Frank Robbins, Al Stenzel and George Tuska.
His obituary is at obituary at http://www.nytimes.com/1989/04/15/obituaries/thomas-fogarty-jr-painter-73.html
I'll send you the clipping from the award presentation.
But Alex Jay assures me that he is finding biographical info about this guy too, so bottom's up I guess!
Well, the artist that looks to me to be a dead ringer for Jerry Iger, is apparently REALLY a person named Tap Goodenough. I gather he just shared a style with Jerry Iger (maybe they took the same cartooning correspondence course?). I wrote my post assuming that was a pen-name. Evidently not. Alex Jay will be following up soon with an Ink-Slinger Profile.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Mysterious General Features Syndicate Uncovered
Recently, fellow comic strip researcher Art Lortie made one of his intrepid forays onto that annoying Fulton Postcards website. He downloaded a selection of material from the weekly newspaper Hastings News of Hastings-on-the-Hudson, New York, which he shared here. Art almost offhandedly mentioned that there was some oddball material in 1937 that included a strip by Bob (Batman) Kane. That certainly got me curious. Well, as it turned out, Art had uncovered what is most likely a complete run of all the General Features Syndicate strips.
Now frankly none of the strips are ever going to be on anyone's list of classics, but they are a curious bunch, by an assortment of odd and interesting creators. But before we look at the strips individually, let's spend a moment on General Features Syndicate itself.
Who were the folks behind this unsuccessful attempt at syndication? Editor & Publisher doesn't give much of a clue. They list a downtown New York address, and nothing more. I've seen no advertising therein for the syndicate; just the features listed in the yearbooks. Bob Kane, too, is mute about the syndicate; his autobiography mentions not a single word about it. The rest of the creative talent, as far as I know, did not publish their memoirs.Copyrights were pulled for all the strips in 1936, but they give us no insights about the syndicate either.
Finding the Hasting News run, however, tells us some things. First, the fact that the strips all come and go in approximately a year indicates that the syndicate probably produced no more material after that. Though the strips were advertised in Editor & Publisher from 1937-42, I'm quite confident in saying that if they were indeed selling anything to anyone after February 1938, it was reprints of that one year's worth of strips. As proof, we need only consider that Bob Kane had gone on to bigger and better things for most of those years, and was certainly not producing his strip.
But there is something about the presentation of the strips that strikes a familiar chord. It is the local advertising we see surrounding the strips, featuring the characters' endorsements (you'll see samples with tomorrow's post). I've seen this marketing gimmick before, and it was with the Van Tine Features Syndicate. They favored newspaper clients with boilerplate drawings of their characters, too, so that they could act as pitchmen in local ads.
And that leads to the next interesting tidbit -- General Features material starts appearing right after the demise of Van Tine's original run. In fact, the Hastings News was running Van Tine features up until the week before their General Features material debuted.
It seems pretty certain to me that when Van Tine ran out of original material, they for some reason changed their name and tried the same strategy all over again with an entirely different batch of strips and creators. Why they did this is a mystery. The really weird part is that they (or someone) continued to sell the Van Tine material for years after the original run, but without advertising it in E&P. On the other hand, the General material was advertised for six years, but no one has yet found the material running as reprints after the original run.
Tomorrow: The Comic Strip Series of General Features Syndicate
Monday, March 16, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: Pink Whiskers Jones
There's not much that is terribly memorable about Jimmy Swinnerton's Pink Whiskers Jones except for the title. The strip's oddly named star is a hobo who will go to great lengths to steal a meal or a drink, and those fellows were a very common commodity on the comics pages of the 1900s. Swinnerton's nod to originality was in the way Roy Delancey "Pink Whiskers" Jones took his inevitable setbacks. He was ridiculously cheerful about his situation, even after being beat up by a bouncer or ripped to shreds by a guard dog.
I don't know if the fellow's name had its origin in contemporary slang for a red-head, or some other source. There is an obscure cocktail called a Pink Whiskers, but I doubt that has anything to do with Swinnerton's character name. Anyone have any ideas?
Pink Whiskers Jones ran from July 26 to November 15 1908 in the Hearst Sunday funnies sections.
The samples above are courtesy of Cole Johnson. Thank you Cole!