Thursday, July 02, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 14: July to September 1918

The July 1918 strips are a good example of what I would have been for a long while calling the work of Outcault with an occasional minor assist from Ross. But is Ross getting better at aping Outcault's style? On the 7th we see a signature Ross pose in story panel 11, and on the 28th Tige adopts a Ross pose twice (panels 4 and 8). I find it hard to believe that this was the sum total of Ross' involvement, so I'm guessing that he's getting better able to throw us curveballs that look more like Outcault. If he's learned to draw Tige in Outcault's distinctive manner, I'm really losing an important element of my meager art-spotting toolkit.

July 7 1918

July 14 1918

July 21 1918

July 28 1918
On August 4 we get a page that seems to put my worries to rest. This is obviously mostly Ross work. Is it possible that Buster, Tige and Mary Jane are now being drawn by Ross but close enough to the Outcault standard that I fail to tell the difference? Sometimes Ross definitely still misses on these characters, but is that a true tell anymore, or a momentary lapse?

August 4 1918

After August 4th, we are back to what looks more like Outcault to me, but who's to say. The drawing is certainly less fussy than what Outcault used to produce, but it still has many of his distintive poses and stylistic flourishes with little in the way of obvious Ross-isms.

On the August 18 strip we get an enigmatic signature line, "I think this is pretty good,", along with a rather shaky Outcault signature. What does it mean? Is he complimenting Ross on a good ghosting job, or is he merely patting himself on the back for a good strip?

On a different note, I think the strip of the 11th is a real hoot.

August 11 1918

August 18 1918

August 25 1918
On September 1 we get a masthead that looks like vintage Outcault, over an at best indifferently drawn strip that has some telltale Ross-isms on Buster's face (one thing I look for is cheek pouches these days, as they are not something I associate with Outcault). If I had to make a bet, I'd say this masthead has been reused from an old strip.

September 1 1918

September 8 1918

September 15 1918

The last four panels of the September 22 strip are definitely Ross, the rest of the strip it's harder to tell.

September 22 1918

And finally on September 29, I'm calling this Ross in his 'deadline doom' mode. Buster's face is badly drawn, Tige is off-model, but Ross always has time for those frilly dresses.

September 29 1918

Hey! This doesn't have anything to do with Buster Brown, but it does relate to some older posts on this blog and I wasn't sure if you would see the comment there.
I noticed several posts about Fay King while reading through the archives of this blog, and her bio mentioned that after February 1954, when she paid for "Bat" Nelson's funeral, her whereabouts were unknown. Someone on another comic strip forum found the following passenger list from a few months later, which shows her leaving for England:
I just thought you might find this interesting, since it gives more of an idea of what happened to King after her cartooning career ended.
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