Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: City Sketches

Although I savor ever bit of comic art to ever come out of the notorious New York Evening Graphic, even I have to admit that City Sketches is one of their lesser features. Patterned after Pulitzer's urbane and sophisticated Everyday Movies panel, City Sketches offers slice of life glimpses of the Big Apple. While the gags hit the mark, the art is pretty questionable. I've only seen three examples (the two above courtesy of Cole Johnson), and while the one signed Reed has sort of a nice Ashcan School quality, the unsigned top one is pretty amateurish -- and perhaps by a different artist?

Tringulating based on Cole's and my spotty collections of the Graphic, it seems as if City Sketches started no earlier than late August 1929, and made it only into early October. The panel series apparenly did not make it into McFadden's other papers, at least I did not find it in the Philadelphia Daily News. Based on such a small sampling, I can't even say whether this Reed person was the regular artist on the feature, or if it was a group effort of whoever looked underworked in the Graphic's art department.


Julian Ollendorff had an animated cartoon series released by Educational pictures called "Sketchografs" in 1921-2. Don't know if any examples survive, but starting 2 July 1928 he began a comics version of it, syndicated by McNaught. It was an all-topic commentary or short bit of slapstick series, offered in two long thin panels so it might be stacked into one column. It had different sub-titles, one that was re-occuring was "Big City Sketches". I bring this up to say that perhaps the Graphic's "City Sketches" was likely unsyndicated, and ran only in the Graphic.
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