Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Obscurity of the Day: O. Henry's Short Stories
O. Henry's stories are some of the most beloved and popular American literature this side of Mark Twain, so it's no surprise that they eventually found their way into the kingdom of comic strips. Interestingly enough, the same syndicate, McClure, offered comic strips based on Twain and O. Henry.
Unlike the much better received Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which had a successful run of a decade and a half, O. Henry's Short Stories was not embraced by newspaper editors or readers. No wonder, though, when the series distilled most of the stories down to two or three daily strips in length. Granted, Porter's stories are short, but to boil down a beautiful story like The Love Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein into two daily strips is a criminal offense. What's next -- the complete Shakespeare plays in three weeks? Considering that I see no copyrights on the strip to the estate of O. Henry, I have a sneaking suspicion that these adaptations were unlicensed. Maybe McClure thought they could get away with thievery if they were quick about it?
I have yet to find a newspaper that ran the strip with perfect consistency, but the Brooklyn Eagle came close enough that I offer this index as my best guess. The scripts are uncredited (as well they ought to be), but the two cartoonists who double-teamed the series did take credit:
|Title||Artist||Start Date||End Date||# of Strips|
|The Cop and the Anthem||John Hix||6/11/28||6/13/28||3|
|Jimmy Hays and Muriel||John Hix||6/14/28||6/16/28||3|
|A Double Dyed Deceiver||John Hix||6/18/28||6/23/28||6|
|Tobin's Palm||John Hix||6/25/28||6/28/28||4|
|Iky's Love Philtre||Bertram Elliott||6/29/28||6/30/28||2|
|Springtime a la Carte||Bertram Elliott||7/2/28||7/3/28||2|
|The Ransom of Mack||Bertram Elliott||7/4/28||7/7/28||4|
|The Skylight Room||John Hix||7/9/28||7/11/28||3|
|Sisters of the Golden Circle||Bertram Elliott||7/12/28||7/14/28||3|
|Service of Love||Bertram Elliott||7/16/28||7/19/28||4|
|Lost on Dress Parade||Bertram Elliott||7/20/28||7/20/28||2|
|Buried Treasure||Bertram Elliott||7/23/28||7/26/28||4|
|Makes the Whole World Kin||Bertram Elliott||7/27/28||7/28/28||2|
Here's a quick comic strip quiz for you: what other comic strip is based on a character created by O. Henry?
Tomorrow, Alex Jay weighs in with a profile of Bertram Elliott. You'll find his profile of John Hix here.
But I'm sure you're thinking of a different character.
Incidentally, said hero owes little more than his catchy name to O. Henry. In the single story the author wrote, he's not a nice person.