Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: That Kid

In the early 1910s, the Pulitzer Sunday section tried giving readers more comics for their money. Rather than add pages, they divided up some of the pages of the comics section into thirds or even fourths. The addition of more features into the section brought in some new blood. One cartoonist who managed to get through that crack in the editor's door was a fellow known only as H. Ross. His only contribution to comic strip history is the quarter-page comic strip That Kid, which ran a grand total of three times between July 2 and 23rd in 1911.

The strip featured your typical rotten little prank-playing  kid, the maid Fifi (ooh la la!) who is his favorite target, and her policeman beau, Pierpont. Ross' gags were your typical slapstick nonsense, and his artwork was raw though it showed promise.

Of course, if you know your cartooning history, that creator name set off some bells. Might it possibly be that H. Ross is the famed Harold Ross, creator and longtime editor of The New Yorker? Although never known as a cartoonist himself, perhaps the man who guided gag cartooning to a whole new level in his magazine once tried his own hand at it? Harold Ross would have been 18 years old in 1911, and was already a newspaper veteran by that time. Probably not, but wouldn't it be fun if it really were him!

Addendum 1/14/2018: According to Harold Ross biographer Thomas Kunkel in "Genius in Disguise", at the time these strips were published in New York, Harold Ross was working at the Marysville Appeal newspaper in California. So this strip is not by Harold Ross.


Is there no way to research this further? You are an ace researcher — please do it for the benefit of all humanity!
Many moons ago I read Thurber's bio of Ross, and I'm pretty certain it would have stuck with me if he'd mentioned Ross having published cartoons in his past. There's a newer bio out by Thomas Kunkel(pub. 1997) that appears to be a more serious look at Ross' life. I don't have this one, and where I am right now it would take many weeks for it to arrive. But I will order it. In the meantime, if someone here has the book, could they please check the index for mentions of this subject?

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