Monday, August 19, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Matt's and May's Matinees
C. J. Budd spent most of his working years producing illustrations and cartoons for magazines, but he did take the plunge into newspaper comics one time. Matt's and May's Matinees was produced by him for the New York Herald Sunday sections from July 30 to September 24 1911*. This was an unfortunately short visit for newspaper readers with the fine work of Mr. Budd's pen.
Matt's and May's Matinees concerns a brother and sister who have the theatre bug. They stage plays for their own amusement, using household items for props and enlisting their long-suffering pets, a cat and a dog, to play bit parts. The kids are delightful, neither angelic or devilish but acting like real kids, and the cat and dog, who talk among themselves, offer up good comedy.
Matt's and May's Matinees must have been such a breath of fresh air to newspaper readers who had been inundated with rotten little scoundrels like the Katzies and Buster Brown for years on end. Here finally are kids who get into funny situations, and even big trouble, with not a single drop of vitriol influencing their actions. When their parents find the messes thay've made, they'll be punished and no doubt will be truly sorry for what happened. The originality of the concept is downright mind-boggling, isn't it?
Unfortunately, all my samples of this strip are from papers that took the strip in syndication and they are all printed as either mono or two-color jobs. I do not know if in the original Herald run of this strip these delightful full-pagers appeared in full 4-color splendor or not.
One postscript: as we've discussed in the past, cartoonists in these years were still not quite all up to the task of making sure that word balloons could be read from left to right in proper order. C.J. Budd, obviously recognizing the problem but not quite up to the task of organizing his panels to eliminate the problem, has opted to number the word balloons to tell the reader what sometimes cicuitous route their reading should take. I don't recall seeing anyone else use that solution.
* Source: Ken Barker's New York Herald index in StripScene #20.