Monday, September 18, 2017
Obscurity of the Day: Charley Hist the Detective
In the hands of accomplished cartoonist Hy Mayer Charley Hist the Detective, a pedestrian strip in which a would-be gumshoe gets the stuffing beat out of him, is actually pretty darn awesome. If you follow Stripper's Guide regularly, you are familiar with the fact that in early comic strips, comedic violence was a constant ingredient in the Sunday comics stew. Most of it couldn't bring a laugh to a hyena, but when Hy Mayer sets his hand to the genre, wow!
How amazing that with the simple addition of great character design, effective body language, and dramatic staging, you can turn the typical dreck into something worthwhile. Charley Hist the Detective is no classic by any means, but at least it is worth the ink it took to print it. Compare that to a more typical 'funny violence' strip of the day, say Sunny Sam and Shy Sue. What a difference.
Charley Hist the Detective ran on February 9 and March 2 1902 in the Pulitzer paper St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ken Barker's New York World index indicates that a third episode ran there, on March 9, unless it was a typo.
Thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied the scans.