Monday, December 04, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: A New Worry Every Day


Carl "Mort" Mortison (1910-1963) was reportedly a cartoonist-in-residence at the Waterbury Republican-American for over forty years. In addition to editorial cartoons, he penned a humor panel called A New Worry Every Day. Unfortunately beyond that my crystal ball gets decidedly blurry. 

The panel is mentioned in Mortison's obituary, so I assume it ran for a long time, but my only samples are from 1940. Based on the very flimsy evidence I have in my files, I think it might have been a replacement for a cartoon quiz feature Mortison did titled Lester G.'s Kartoon Kwizz, for which I have examples earlier that same year. 

Does anyone have access to online archives or the microfilm of this Waterbury paper to fill us in on Mortison's feature, or features?


Some interesting stuff here: apparently, there was an auction of Mortison artwork earlier this year, but the items didn't sell.
There's also a current auction on eBay that appears to show a "New Worry Every Day" panel from some time in the mid to late 1950s.
Great catch there; yes, I would agree that's gotta be 50s. We'll call it strong circumstantial proof that the panel ran a very long time in Waterbury.
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Sunday, December 03, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Alphonse and Gaston


Hey, that's not a postcard! We give a sideways skooch to Wish You Were Here this Sunday to bring you another form of mail communication, an envelope. This envelope from the collection of Mark Johnson was produced as a marketing gimmick specifically for wholesalers/distributors to shill their wares to retailers. To get those marks to pay attention they use (aka steal) the well-known Fred Opper characters Alphonse and Gaston to add eye appeal. Mark says this envelope was used by the William Cluff Company of San Francisco, a grocery wholesaler. The addressee, Winship-McQuarrie, was a wholesaler of produce based in Seattle.


Hello Allan-
It never intrigued me enough to research what those companies were, but I think it shows these were main street small businesses, or they'd have the company printed on the cover. (That's the philatelic term for envelope, for you civilians)
I have seen other, non-authorized blanks with comic characters. Wish I had it, but there's one of Marriner's "Sambo" for a Dunning message, where he cheerfully yells out; " Kindly Make A Noise Lak' a Cheque!"
Oh geez, that's hilarious!!!
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Saturday, December 02, 2023


One-Shot Wonders: Things You Would Never Dream by Art Young, 1897


I'll be the first to admit that this isn't a particularly important work by Art Young, but in my humble opinion EVERYTHING Art Young does, even his tea stains on a placemat, are worthy of our attention. Here he is in an early colour comic section of the New York Journal, this the issue of January 17 1897. While the gags, all three of 'em, are nothing to write home about, check out the stylized action in the second panels of each two-panel series. There is a master class in these simple panels on how to depict restfulness and contrast it with activity.


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Friday, December 01, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Weekly Rib


Even Western Newspaper Union, probably the most prosperous of the syndicates that catered to weekly papers, started hitting hard times after World War II. Their comic offerings started bouncing around erratically, as opposed to before the war when they had maintained a mostly consistent and professional stable of features. 

Weekly Rib was one of their many experiments from this era. A panel cartoon with no consistent characters or setting, it was drawn by Roy Mathison, a decent enough cartoonist of whom I know nothing. The feature ran for just one year -- in other words, just 52 panels -- from April 15 1948* to April 7 1949**, and not many WNU clients used it. 

Given my bad track record on genealogical digging lately, I darent make any proclamations, but maybe this is our guy?

* Source: Pomeroy Herald

** Source: Graettinger Times


I've found a Roy L. Mathison who is listed in the 1952 Minneapolis City directory as an artist working for Brown & Bigelow, which makes him a highly likely candidate. Additionally, that directory lists his wife's name as Phyllis, which jibes with your link. The 1963 directory for La Mirada, California lists him as being married to Phyllis C. (slight variance to your link, which lists Phyllis E.), and his occupation as an artist with the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Southern California, which also jibes directly with your link. Interestingly, his 1940 draft card (which has him as an art student) and living in Minneapolis) has his name as Lee Roy Mathison, which may be a bit why you can't locate materials. His marriage record is under Lee Roy Mathison, too. I say you have the right man.
Got him. There's a bio in the May 15, 1975 edition of The Algona Upper Des Moines, page 29, which not only has a picture of him, but also specifically mentions that he had created a syndicated comic strip. So this is the same fellow who, when he was younger, was reported in the press as having a pet alligator.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Toppers: Wiggle Line Movie


When E.C. Segar was battling leukemia and only sporadically able to work on Thimble Theatre the show had to go on, and other hands kept the franchise running. In much of 1938 someone other than Segar handled the Sunday much of the time, but Segar rallied and penned (or at least signed) the Sunday strip from July 17 to October 2. During this short period he came up with his last new contribution to the Sunday toppers, the Wiggle Line Movie

Unlike earlier activity panels like Funny Films that theoretically gave kids a moving picture but didn't really succeed, the Wiggle Line Movie actually offered a successful but extremely limited animation. In each installment you got a funny face and a wiggly line; put the two together in the prescribed method and you get a wacky face with moving eyes. Worth the effort? I dunno, but the feature didn't last long so maybe the syndicate wasn't too impressed. 

Wiggle Line Movie ran with the Sundays of September 11 through November 13 1938, during which time (on October 13), Segar died. After October 2, Segar's last signed Sunday, the art and writing may have been in the hands of King bullpenner Doc Winner, which seems to be the consensus opinion. But I wonder, given that the art and writing is a cut above what I would expect of Winner, if perhaps Bud Sagendorf or others were involved. In Sagendorf's book Popeye - The First 50 Years he says that he started working on the activity panels "after 1938," but maybe he jumped in a little earlier than he could recall many years later. Any Thimble Theatre scholars out there who can shed some light?


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Monday, November 27, 2023


Restoring Arnold by Charles Brubaker

 The following post was originally written for the Cartoonist Cooperative newsletter, but I am allowing Allan to run it here as I am in need of help for the Arnold complete collection I am publishing. I have every daily published for the comic, and I have most of the Sundays, enough to cover the first two volumes of a 3-volume series, but I am having a hard time finding the Sundays that ran from June 1987 to April 1988 (when the strip ended). Most of the copies I have for those dates came from microfilm, but I would vastly prefer using newspaper clippings if possible.

If you have any leads on finding clippings of “Arnold” Sundays from those dates, I would love if you would get in touch. Alternatively, if there are leads on finding bound, printed copies of newspapers that ran the strip, that would be great as well. “Arnold” ran in vanishingly few papers towards the end, but among the papers that ran it to the very end are Detroit Free-Press, the Baltimore Sun, and (I presume) Chicago Sun-Times.

I can be reached at


Restoring Arnold by Charles Brubaker

I never expected to become a publisher. Oh, I’ve self-published my own comics many times through my Smallbug Press label (a name I registered because a printing company I used back in 2017 required I have one). But there’s a difference between self-publishing, where you print your own work, and publishing another creator’s work. That happened to me this past August, when I released Arnold: The Complete Collection Volume 1.

Arnold was a comic strip by Kevin McCormick that ran in a small number of newspapers from 1982 to 1988. The strip featured the bizarre antics of a middle-school boy and his friend, two weird characters in a world that's just as weird to match. Very few characters appeared on-panel. In addition to the titular Arnold and his friend Tommy, the only other character to appear prominently was Mr. Lester, their teacher. There were technically other characters, as well, like Heather (who disappeared like Lyman in Garfield), but they mostly just yelled from off-screen, never appearing on-camera.

Trade advertisement for Arnold comic strip

I didn’t grow up on the strip, having been born over a year after the comic ended its run, but I was (and still am) obsessed with newspaper strips. In addition to reading the ones in my local newspaper growing up, I also sought out any comics I could find online. I eventually found an old message board dedicated to comic strips (remember message boards?). One strip was mentioned by several members: Arnold.

The more I read about the strip, the more intrigued I became. Finding samples proved to be hard as the strip ended before the internet became commonplace, but I managed to contact someone who xeroxed newspaper clippings and mailed them to me. I was hooked by the bizarre strip that seems to defy common decency. Arnold frequently wrote letters to Miss Manners, asking questions such as whether it was rude to do an impression of an anteater during dinner (which involved inhaling meatloaf with his nose), resulting in him getting a response asking if he was ever dragged through a cactus. Arnold's antagonism towards the cafeteria ladies (who frequently refer to him as "Ratso") got to the point that the ladies grabbed Arnold and force-fed him mayonnaise, which he refers to as the "White Death".

That this was serialized in the 1980s also made it more hilarious to me. The strip came out when Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County and Gary Larson’s The Far Side were taking off in the mainstream, so there was clearly a market for strips that pushed the envelope. Perhaps Arnold went too far for the editors as it never made a huge splash in the world of newspapers.

Proof sheet for a week of Arnold dailies

Not that readers didn’t notice. The newspaper strip gained a cult following among college students. It was especially popular in Detroit, where it ran in the Free Press until the bitter end, when a giant bird grabbed Arnold and flew off, never to be seen again. Kevin McCormick even acknowledged his Detroit audience by creating a special drawing for the paper and running a short letter thanking his readers.

Over the years I managed to track down more and more strips, through microfilms, newspaper clippings, and scans, but to my disappointment the strip never received a proper book collection. I contacted a few acquaintances with experience in reprinting complete runs of newspaper comics, but they all told me Arnold was such a niche title they didn’t feel it would be worth the investment. Well, as the saying goes, “if no one will do it, do it yourself.”

I had contacted Kevin McCormick before for an interview that ran on my blog, but getting his blessing for a book reprint took some repeated inquiries. I eventually got his attention on the matter after his daughter expressed support for the project. After consulting Nat Gertler, who specializes in reprinting obscure comic materials (including those by Charles M. Schulz), I put a contract together and we signed an agreement.

As it turned out, that was the EASIEST part of the project. The actual hard part was finding the comics. I was able to acquire scans of the proof sheets (a set of sheets containing a week’s worth of strips for newspapers to cut and paste into their page layouts) from King Features Syndicate for most of Arnold, but not for every single strip from the original run. They had most of the dailies, but half of the Sundays were missing, and some of the dailies had missing weeks as well. I also got lucky and managed to find original art for three of the strips from different collectors on eBay. With each original costing $100, it wasn’t the cheapest of investments, but collecting comic strip original art is already a worthwhile pursuit of mine. Those three strips (dated 1/6/1983, 2/16/1983. and 6/21/1983) have the sharpest reproduction among the weekday strips.

Finding the missing dailies was considerably easier, thanks to microfilm I was able to scan and sufficiently clean, using Photoshop to remove any dust and artifacts along the way. In extreme cases I had to Frankenstein a single strip together by stitching parts together from different sources.

The Sundays proved to be the hardest to track down. I found old newspaper clippings of the Sundays on eBay over a better part of the decade, and Kevin McCormick sent me camera captures of Sundays from his original pieces, but he didn’t have everything. He had given some originals away over the years, and others had been damaged by squirrels that had snuck into his attic.

Typical Arnold Sunday tearsheet sample with awful print quality and color

Luckily I was able to get in touch with comic strip historian Allan Holtz, who possessed many of the early Sundays in his own collection. But even that proved to be a challenge because, as Allan explained, “the printing of the Sundays was truly awful. The word balloon text always seemed to be washed out and full of printing losses, and the coloring was a sickening miasma.” I knew that very well, from my own experience dealing with newspaper clippings, and applied many of my own. Photoshop techniques, including redrawing missing lineart and manually erasing artifacts. There was one strip that I spent an entire week cleaning up. Thankfully later strips didn’t suffer from nearly as many printing issues and I was able to get them presentable relatively quickly.

The first of three volumes came out in the last week of August 2023, after five years of attempts,, marking my official debut as a “publisher.” The reactions have been favorable, with many writing they’d been waiting over 30 years for this book to happen. This production was very much a labor of love. As I noted earlier, I had always wanted to have an Arnold book collection and ensure that this strip was preserved, so I took the initiative to make it happen. There are a number of other forgotten comic strips I’d like to see reprinted, and I wonder if I have the drive to do this further while keeping my own comics going. Time will tell, but first I need to get the other two volumes out.

You can get the book on Amazon here: Here's the cover of book two, not yet published:

This is a fascinating article, as I've stated on the Facebook page, I've been waiting for books to come out after sadly reading the final strip. As far as I'm concerned, Arnold returns, and would have an interesting story as to what he went through to get back. Thirty five years later, we're rewarded with the excellent Volume One. I can't wait for the others.
Arnold was one of my favorite strips at the time. It ran daily in my daily newspaper, The Miami Herald. I purchased this compilation as soon as I saw it was out. Very funny and brings back memories Aieeeee!
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Sunday, November 26, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Little Nemo


Here's another card in the Raphael Tuck series of Little Nemo Valentines Day postcards. Can you find the original McCay panel on which this image is based?


This is loosely based on the one from February 25, 1906.
Thank you Brian. And what a great McCay page that was!
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Saturday, November 25, 2023


One-Shot Wonders: The Wonderful Wizard's Terrible Revenge by Morris, 1904


This one-shot strip that ran in the World Color Printing Sunday comics section of December 4 1904 generates so many questions. Why does the wizard turn a snake into a watermelon? Why does he finger a mysterious case labelled "Goo-Goo From India"? Why does the wizard turn George Washington White into a chicken particularly? I'm so confused... 

This one-shot is signed Morris. He was not an artist in World Color's regular stable; in fact this seems to be the only strip he contributed to the syndicate. Nice art, but that gag needed some polishing.


Ah, because the stereotypical rural black character steals that which he craves; watermelon and chicken. So, to become the object of his desire would seem a grimly ironic punishment indeed. But this is really a terribly plotted strip. A really basic cause-and-effect gag is hard to muck up, but this one is.
What's the snake about? It's introduced to no effect; and why was transforming into watermelon done? More questions can be considered as well, but it's more than it's worth.
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Friday, November 24, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: The Hurry Up New Yorker


I rarely get to feature Maurice Ketten* on the blog because he worked on his daily panel, often titled Can You Beat It?, for the New York World pretty much for his whole newspaper career. But that's a shame because though his later style lost most of its allure, in his early days at the World he was a pretty incredible stylist. His work was so distinctive that the World billed him as "the Angle and Curve Cartoonist." His style at that time was so highly stylized I tend to think of it as Art Deco, or perhaps Cubist, and that's well before either of those were even things. 

As Ketten settled in at the World in 1906 his style quickly became more conventional, and to imitate T.E. Powers over at the New York Journal. However, in his only series that predates Can You Beat It?, The Hurry Up New Yorker, the vestiges of his "angle and curve" days are still in evidence. This series makes fun of Big Apple denizens, who always seem to be scrambling to make time. Of course in Ketten's series this always backfires to comic effect. 

The series ran from October 19 to November 17 1906**, predating Ketten's decades-long series Can You Beat It?  by a few months. As you can see from the samples above, which ran in other papers, the original title was changed to suit the local paper, sometimes made generic like these, other times by substituting the name of the newspaper's city.

* Ketten's real name was Prosper Fiorini; he changed it when he came to the U.S. 

** Source: New York Evening World.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Frank Robbins

Franklin “Frank” Robbins was born on September 9, 1917, in Boston, Massachusetts, according to his World War II draft card and Social Security application (transcribed at

In the 1920 United States Census, Robbins was the only child of Archibald (salesman born in Russia) and Laura (born in Austria). They were Boston residents at 3144 Washington Street. 

Famous Artists and Writers of King Features Syndicate (1949) profiled Robbins and said
... Robbins was a Grade-A prodigy of the drawing board in his native Boston at the age of four, won several art scholarships at 9, painted giant murals for his high school at 13 ...
Who’s Who in American Art 1976 said Robbins studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. 

The 1930 census counted twelve-year-old Robbins and his widow mother in Boston at 121 Chambers Street. 

In Famous Artists Robbins said
“I began life back of the North Station in Boston … precisely on the wrong side of the tracks! At fifteen [around 1933], my family came to New York, lived on the East Side and I began my professional career.”

After kicking around as errand boy in ad agencies, Frank, at the age of sixteen, came under the eagle eye of Edward Trumbull, well-known muralist. Trumbull was then color director of the Radio City project, and through him Frank met the architects and contractors for the buildings being erected. He immediately received commissions to do pencil portraits of all the architects and other personalities connected with the construction project. Upon completion of this lengthy and challenging job, Frank met the Rockefellers and received a grant from them to study and paint. A year later, in a studio given to him in the Graybar building, Frank was busy working on a series of mural sketches for the then proposed Children’s Broadcasting Studio in the RCA building. The sketches were approved when then NBC studios opened for a full schedule of broadcasting. Since the murals were to be painted directly on the walls this gave Frank the choice of working for three months in the wee hours between midnight and early dawn or forgetting the whole deal. Due to his health at the time Frank had to regretfully drop the project.
Art Digest, March 15, 1936, mentioned Robbins’ prize. 
… the Thomas B. Clarke prize of $100 was awarded to Franklin Robbins’ “Sixth Avenue ‘L’.”

In The World Encyclopedia of Comics, Volume 5 (1999), Maurice Horn said “In 1938 he flirted briefly with the comic book medium.” In The Encyclopedia of American Comics from 1897 to the Present (1990), Ron Goulart said Robbins “even put in time in Bert Whitman’s comic book shop.” 

In 1939, Robbins accepted the Associated Press’s offer to produce Scorchy Smith which began in 1930 with John Terry who was followed by Noel Sickles (1934), Bert Christman (1936) and Howell Dodd (1938). American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Robbins did the strip from May 22, 1939 to March 11, 1944 with a small gap in 1943 by other hands

In the Encyclopedia of American Comics, Goulart said 
At about the same time he’d been doing Scorchy Smith, Robbins also drew Lightnin’ and the Lone Rider, a thinly syndicated cowboy strip. This poor man’s Lone Ranger had originally been drawn by Jack Kirby.

According to the 1940 census, Robbins and his mother resided in Manhattan at 840 Third Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets. He was a freelance artist who had four years of high school. 

On August 20, 1940, Robbins, aboard the steamship Mexico, returned from Veracruz, Mexico to the port of New York. The passenger list said his address was 11 West 52nd Street in Manhattan.

Robbins signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940. His employer was the Associated Press. Robbins was described as five feet nine inches, 147 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. Apparently he did not serve during the war.

The Artists League of America’s 1943 exhibition, “This Is Our War”, was at the Wildenstein Galleries in New York. Robbins was one of 89 painters and 12 sculptors represented. His painting, “This Is Our War, Too”, was published in the Springfield Sunday Union and Republican (Massachusetts), March 7, 1943. (The painting was sold in 2019.)

American Newspaper Comics said Robbins was a ghost artist on The Green Hornet (1941) for the Bell Syndicate. For the King Features Syndicate, Robbins created the adventure strip Johnny Hazard. The daily and Sunday series ran from June 5, 1944 to August 20, 1977. Alberto Becattini says the strip was ghost written by Howard Liss from 1951 to 1971, and Jack Kirby drew six weeks of dailies in 1956. 

On April 30, 1945, Robbins and Bertha Greenstein obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 10025. Robbins’ lettering is evident on the affidavit. They married on May 17.

Famous Artists said
Frank is now married, and his lovely wife, Berta, helps him on research and the more pleasant matters of life. “Frankly,” Frank confided to me, “Any similarity between my comic strip heroines and my wife are pure coincidence!”
National Cartoonists Society

On October 15, 1947, Robbins and his wife flew on American Airlines from Mexico City to San Antonio, Texas. Their address on the passenger list was 418 West 20th Street in Manhattan.

The same address was recorded in the 1950 census. Robbins, his wife and son, Michael, lived on the second floor.  

Robbins and his wife departed New York, January 20, 1951, aboard the steamship Queen of Bermuda for a week’s vacation in Bermuda. Their address was 10 West 86th Street. 

Robbins was one of 239 cartoonists in the 1951 exhibition, “American Cartooning”, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A photograph of Robbins, at the museum, was published in the Daily Bulletin (Endicott, New York), May 29, 1951. 

On September 9, 1953, Robbins took his family on a two-month vacation in Europe. They sailed on the steamship Ile de France bound for Le Havre, France.

Robbins’ 1954 painting “Orchestra” was accepted in the 1955 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The catalog said Robbins lived at 285 Central Park West in Manhattan. Who’s Who said Robbins’ paintings were exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, National Academy of Design, and Audubon Artists in 1957 and 1958. 

Something About the Author, Volume 32 (1983) said Robbins’ magazine illustrations appeared in Life, Look, Cosmopolitan and The Saturday Evening Post

In the 1970s, Johnny Hazard appeared in fewer newspapers which affected Robbins’ income. He found work in comic books, first at DC then Marvel. Johnny Hazard ended in August 1977. Robbins’ final comic book contributions appeared in 1979. He and his second wife, Ida Hecht, whom he married in 1977, moved to Mexico. She passed away on January 27, 1989 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Co-incidentally, Robbins’ first wife passed away the same year on March 4 (Social Security Death Index). 

Robbins’ third wife, Fran, was interviewed in Comic Book Creator #1, Spring 2013.
“I taught English there,” she said. “I met Frank while I was directing a play reading of Amadeus.”

“His wife had died two years before I met him … We were together for about five years. We had a wonderful marriage. It was a big loss when he died, let me tell you.”
In addition to his artistic talent, Robbins was an audiophile according to Fran.
“We had a sound system that was second to none. ... He created a single cone speaker that was astonishing. It was very pure sound, very clear. wonderful, wonderful. He knew a lot about sound. He had boxes and boxes of research about sound.”
Robbins passed away on November 28, 1994 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He was laid to rest at Panteón de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Further Reading and Viewing
News from ME, About Frank Robbins – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
More Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books (2016)
Fabulous Fifties, Frank Robbins’ comics and advertising
Art Digest, May 1951, Met Surveys U.S. Cartooning
Invaluableoriginal comics art and paintings
Heritage Auctions, Frank Robbins original art
Syracuse University, Frank Robbins Cartoons
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999


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Monday, November 20, 2023


Firsts and Lasts: Dumb Dora's Not So Dumb ... But Cancelled Anyway


Dumb Dora was on its third artist, or more like a hundred and third if you count ghosts and assistants, when her strip was retired in January 1936. Bil Dwyer was the final credited artist on the strip, taking over in late 1932 from Paul Fung, who in turn had taken over from Chic Young. 

Dwyer reportedly brought on a small army of helpers to get the Sunday and daily strip out on time, including Milton Caniff, who R.C. Harvey reports did much of the pencilling for the initial eighteen months of Dwyer's tenure, plus inking some of the girl characters. By the time Dumb Dora ended Caniff was long gone, but we can still easily see vestiges of his style on the dailies above, the last two of the series. 

Dumb Dora had begun as a me-too flapper strip in 1924, but had the additional hook that Dora acts dumb but usually turns out to have a bean firing on all cylinders by the end of each gag. The concept is fine, but awfully repetitive. By the time Dwyer took over the conceit was well and truly played out, and flappers were long gone, so the strip had turned into a more generic "teen boys chasing the pretty girl" feature, which left it drowning in a sea of its betters -- Tillie the Toiler, Harold Teen, Winnie Winkle, Etta Kett, etc. 

Mark Johnson supplied a scan of the last two rather rare dailies seen above, which offer no farewell or conclusion to the strip. So I went looking online to see if the Sunday, which ended the next day (January 5 1936), offered us some closure. Nope!


By the end of 1935, Dora had exhausted itself, very few papers were still hanging on to it. I can't think of any clients offhand. The two final dailies are from the bottom third of a proof sheet.
My guess is that the feature lasted as long as it did because Dora had been such famous character that her very name became part of the popular American idiom, everybody said it, there were "Dumb Dora Clubs" organised by college girls; a "Dumb Dora" was a shorthand description of a He said-she said joke or cartoon gag.
Thing is, though still well known, it became stale. It was corny. The name was associated with the 1920s.
It was like calling your strip "Oh You Kid" or "Sheik n' Sheba". And all those change of artists didn't help. There's nothing interesting story-wise, either.
Yung was the only one who really understood the character and material to suit her, perhaps Fung did as well to some extent, but by the time it was dumped on Dwyer's drawing board, the feature had lost its soul.
Errata: Meant Chic YOUNG, not Yung.
The phrase "Dumb Dora" hung on at least until the mid-1970s, when they used it regularly on the game show "Match Game:"

Gene Rayburn: Dumb Dora is SO dumb . . .

Audience: HOW-DUMB-IS-SHE?

Rayburn: She thinks "Night School" is where you learn how to be a ______.

I never knew it was a comic strip reference. I wonder how many people did.
If anybody cares to read a little more about Dora, take a peek at my now-defunct web page's entry on it:
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Sunday, November 19, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton


Here's a Grace Drayton postcard issued by Reinthal & Newman as #250. Drayton's cards in this series were generally quite humourous, but this one just tries to elicit compassion for the typical Drayton waif.

This card was postally used in 1914, sent from Great Britain to Portugal. Eventually it ended up in a Florida antique store, where I bought it and then brought it here to Nova Scotia, Canada. That is one well travelled postcard!


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Saturday, November 18, 2023


One Shot Wonders: One Thing That Sticks in Danny Long's Noodle by Will Sperry


Way back in 2012 Cole Johnson sent me this strip that he clipped out of the San Francisco Bulletin of January 20 1912. He wondered if this was a one-shot cartoon or part of a series starring this Danny Long fellow. 

I never looked into the matter until recently, but then I noticed that the Bulletin is now available at Well, as it turns out, Danny Long isn't a cartoon character at all, but rather the manager of the San Francisco Seals. Thus the gag makes perfect sense, and additional review of the paper reveals that Will Sperry was their sports cartoonist, apparently just in 1911-12 based on a quick perusal. 

Sperry's early cartoons for the Bulletin are nothing to write home about, but by 1912 he had quickly developed into a pretty darn fine cartoonist as evidenced by our sample. What happened to Mr. Sperry, then? Well, I'm no expert at tracking but I found a few tidbits. Seems he went to Europe when World War I broke out and served valorously in relief of Belgium, being cited for bravery on several occasions. When the U.S entered the war, he took a commission with the expeditionary force. When the war ended he elected not to come back to the States but rather to live in France. After that I lose track of him. I wonder if he got back into art over there in Europe once his war hero days were over?


I wonder. There is a listing for a William Alexander Sperry, Jr. in the draft registrations section of Ancestry (giving a birth date of June 4, 1890), commercial artist living in SF, and I found a William Sperry in the 1920 census living in San Anselmo, CA (just outside SF), occupation, commercial artist for a daily paper. At least as of 1920, he had a wife named Lucy. The 1930 census has William and Lucy living in San Francisco. Be interesting if there were two William Sperries as commercial artists in SF.
The September 1, 1937 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, page 13, carries an obituary (brief) for William A. Sperry, Jr., beloved husband of the late Lucy Sperry, who died on August 31, 1937, and was noted as a native of San Francisco. If this is him, he died quite young, only about 47.
The October 2, 1918 edition of the San Francisco Examiner, page 6, notes that "William A. Sperry" of the editorial department had joined the field artillery at Camp Kearny (located in San Diego). This, of course, was a year and a half after the US joined the war.
The December 23, 1914 Stockton Evening Mail, page 5, has an article about Will Sperry serving in Belgian relief -- but that's a Wiliam *H.* Sperry. William Hatfield Sperry was born on in Stockton on June 28, 1885 according to his 1914 passport application, and as of 1914 was living in Klamath Falls, Oregon, occupation: manufacturer. In the 1910 census, he was still living with his father George and family, as a law student. So I don't think the Belgian relief guy is the guy who did that strip.
Yeah, yeah, I know. One more thing. The July 24, 1915 Modesto Morning Herald, page 17, carries a strip entitled "Oh! Nevermind!" (rather Herriman-esque, if you want my view) credited to Will Sperry. This, at a point when I think the "other" Sperry was in Belgium. The strip pops up in the Morning Herald on in August, too.
Did I mention I'm no expert at genealogical tracking? Thanks EOCostello for the effort you're putting in to find "our" Mr. Sperry, even if it does strip him of his war hero status! -- Allan
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Friday, November 17, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Nobody Works Like Father


Here's a series by the ever-busy pen of Gene Carr that reminds us that "social media" is not a phenemenon limited to the current century by any means. Long before the internet, long before TV, even long before radio, people could still tune into cultural zeitgeists. Yes, fads and memes were with us in 1906 -- maybe they didn't travel at the speed of fiber optics, but they still worked their way through our society at an amazing speed. 

In 1905 a new song was published called "Everybody Works But Father", a comic ditty about a lazy father. A number of artists recorded it, and here's one of them:

It was a big hit and soon spawned postcards and other trinkets bearing the title. Soon there were also reply songs, like "Father's Got a Job", and various singers offered new and alternative lyrics. In the world of comics, Gene Carr took up the gauntlet and decided to defend poor father. His series Nobody Works Like Father debuted on January 28 1906*, offering new song lyrics featuring a father who slaves for his family only to be treated like dirt. 

Carr must have really relished creating this series because the strips are in my opinion some of his best work; funny, on point, animated, and smart. Coulton Waugh, on the other hand, singled it out in The Comics for what may or may not be a diss, "too reminiscent of the ancient days of Dickens and Cruickshank to last long in a modern world."

As with social media today, though, the world quickly tired of its memes even way back when. Gene Carr's Nobody Works Like Father ran its course in less than a year, last appearing November 25 1906*.

* Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


I can relate.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Burne Hogarth

Burne Hogarth was born Bernard Spinoza Ginsburg in Chicago, Illinois on December 25, 1911, according to a profile at AskArt: “…Burne Hogarth was my father’s brother, thus I am his niece. He was born Bernard Ginsburg in Chicago, Illinois, on December 25, 1911, though he spent most of his life living in Pleasantville, New York…” At, his full name was found in a Tuley High School yearbook, The Log 1928.

In the 1920 United States Census, he was the youngest  of two sons born to Max and Pauline, both Russian emigrants. They lived in Chicago at 1252 North Campbell Avenue; an older sister, in the 1910 census, had moved out of the household. His father was a carpenter in a cabinet ship. At At Rafael Alvarez posted his biography of Hogarth and said
…Max kept those sketches and took them and his young son to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1924. Burne was accepted as a student at age 12. By age 15, he was an assistant cartoonist at Associated Editors’ Syndicate. He flourished at the Institute and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts….Burne graduated high school at the dawn of the Great Depression….
Comics Scene, #5, September 1982, interviewed Hogarth; here are a few excerpts: 
Comics Scene: Give us a capsule history of your career and early background. You graduated from the Chicago Art Institute?

Burne Hogarth: No, I didn’t, as a matter of fact, I went to the Institute but it was only a kind of supplemental activity while I was really in the process of going to high school and at the same time doing art work.

I went to the Art Institute, started Saturday classes, at the age of 12 [1924]. My father thought that I had sufficient material to be able to enroll in classes like that and so he took down a bundle of stuff one day, on a Saturday, and said “Let’s go see what they will think about this.” And they accepted me—so that’s how my training began. Later I went to the Institute taking special courses, but I didn’t enroll in any formal classes. I couldn’t because we were not an affluent family and [the world] was headed into what was later to be known as the Great Depression.

CS: When did you know you had a talent for cartooning?

BH: Very early, when I was a kid, about four. My father would sit and design furniture and cabinets—he was a carpenter and cabinet maker—and I would ask for my own piece of paper and pencil. And when I would say, “What should I draw?” he would push a cartoon under my nose and say “Here, draw this.” So the cartoon became a kind of focus of attention.

CS: What happened after you left the Art Institute?

BH: I enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. There I studied further drawing and then cartooning as another side of that. That’s when I met a cartoonist who was working for a syndicate and other people who were working for newspapers, and we used to get heavily into what syndication was all about…deadlines and magazines and doing samples and taking them around. I did gags and editorial cartoons, illustrations and that was all part of my portfolio.

I used to take this around and get some jobs in magazines and at the same time worked at odd jobs like driving a truck, selling newspapers and shoes—nothing was too high, too low, or too intermediate to do, because there was obviously an economic necessity.

One of the people I met at the Academy introduced me to one of the syndicates. I worked (for them) in his studio and I was his assistant. I was just an apprentice. I used to come in and sweep up. I learned lettering and I learned also there’s something about the craft of doing work on deadlines. And more than anything else I learned how to use pen, brush, different media and all sorts of things in a very professional way. Maybe two and a half, three years later I sold my first feature to Bonnet Brown.
Many sources called the studio “Barnet Brown” but there was no such company. The Bonnet-Brown Company was mentioned in The Economist, March 13, 1915; Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations for the Year 1920; and The Miami Daily News, October 12, 1926. 

Hogarth was interviewed in the Comics Journal, #166, February 1994, and at age 15, he produced artwork for Associate Editors’ Syndicate’s panels The Sportiest Act I Ever Saw and Famous Churches of the World. He attended Tuley High School although it’s not clear when he graduated. Chicago Public Schools’ website (currently closed) said he was in the class of 1929. The Log 1929, which is available at Memory Lane’s section, does not list or mention Bernard Spinoza Ginsburg. He was the art editor of the 1928 yearbook but it has no picture of him. He signed his name “Hog III” or “Hogarth”; below are pages with his art, photo of the drawing room, and the yearbook staff credits.

Hogarth has not been found in the 1930 census. According to a family tree at, his father passed away in 1930. Hogarth tried the correspondence courses of the Federal School. 

Federal Illustrator, Summer 1931

Federal Illustrator, Fall 1931
see second column, Story Illustration
Second Prize, $10

Federal Illustrator, Winter 1931–1932
Second Prize, Story Illustration
A decorative pen-and-ink, by Bernard Ginsburg, apparently
illustrating the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” took second prize.
It is somewhat in the manner of Rackham, but does not, however,
appear to be in imitation of that master of the grotesque. 

In the Comics Scene interview, Hogarth said he sold his first series to Bonnet-Brown, a commercial art studio, and it was called
Ivy Hemmanhaw. It was one panel, humorous gags about Americana. I was just 18 [1930]. It lasted about a year and then I went on to teach in the Emergency Educational Program, which came along about the time I was 20–21 [1932–1933], and I went to school, too. I went to Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and studied psychology, anatomy, sectional anatomy, and then things altered. The Depression got worse and under the urging of friends who had relocated to New York, I made my foray into the field in New York, into the syndicate field, very quickly—and that became the start of a whole new and different part of my life.
Around 1934, Hogarth moved to New York City. According to the 1940 census, he had lived there since 1935. In the Comics Journal interview, he said he visited, on a friend’s advice, King Features and found work. He met Lymon Young who offered him an assistant’s position on Tim Tyler’s Luck because his current assistant, Alex Raymond, was leaving. After two summer months of penciling in Greenwich, Connecticut, he quit and returned to New York. At the McNaught Syndicate he met Charles Driscoll who liked his work and considered him for an Albert Payson Terhune dog project. Hogarth got the job but soon was reassigned to Pieces of Eight, which was written by Driscoll. Hogarth recalled the research involved to produce accurate historical drawings: 
…Well, I want to tell you, I started work in February. It was agonizing. I spent 11 hours every day, half the time in the library, and I’d be sitting up nights and working incessantly, and by the end of the week I’d be drained. I’d send this stuff off to the syndicate…I lived the life of a monk in that period….” In the fall, the syndicate decided to end the strip. Hogarth said, “…‘Thank God this thing is over! I’m through with it’. The pirate strip was the heaviest chore I ever carried. And I was glad it as over.
Two weeks of his Pieces of Eight can be viewed here and here

On February 29, 1936. Hogarth and Rhoda Simons were married in Manhattan. 

In the winter of 1937 Hogarth visited United Features and learned that Hal Foster was leaving the Tarzan strip. Hogarth accepted the invitation to submit samples. Later he learned he got the assignment because the United Features general manger could not tell the difference between his and Foster’s work. His first Sunday page appeared May 9, 1937 and the last on November 25, 1945. A dispute with the syndicate led to Hogarth’s departure. After Tarzan, he produced the strip, Drago, for the Robert Hall Syndicate.

#533,10/12/1941; Russ Cochran’s Graphic Gallery #6

#633, 4/25/1943; Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #44

#665, 12/5/1945; Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #42

#666, 12/12/1945; Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #42

#859, 8/24/1947; Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #28

#911, 8/22/1948; Russ Cochran’s Graphic Gallery #6

4/21/1946; Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #36

In the 1940 census, Hogarth lived at 26 West 74th Street in New York City. On October 16, 1940, Hogarth signed his World War II draft card which had his updated address. His description was five feet nine inches, 177 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.

The Manhattan Telephone Directory 1942 had his home address at 66 West 88th Street. His business address was 2091 Broadway in the 1945 directory. 

In the Comics Journal #167, April 1994, when asked how the School of Visual Arts started, he said around 1945 war veterans began contacting him for cartooning advice. He would invite them to his apartment, on Saturdays, to give advice and do demonstrations. To accommodate the growing number of veterans, he looked around his neighborhood and found space at a private secondary school, which was a high school. There he met Silas Rhodes, an English teacher, who suggested that he open a school. Hogarth asked what was involved and Rhodes explained the procedures. Hogarth recalled that he rented a loft on 72nd Street and Broadway and called it the Academy of Newspaper Art. A search of that name produced nothing, however, a series of small advertisements for the Cartoonists & Illustrators Center appeared in October 1945 issues of the New York Post.

New York Post 10/10/1945

With One of the Leading
Cartoonists in the Field
Classes Start October 16th, Eves. & Saturdays
Write for Information NOW!
2091 Broadway, New York, 23, N.Y.

New York Post 10/19/1945

Learn Cartooning with
The demand for original cartoonists grows daily.
Comprehensive course in cartooning and illus-
trating. Special courses for advanced students.
BURNE HOGARTH (of Tarzan Fame, Dir.)
2091 Broadway at 72nd St.  TRafalgar 4-6616

New York Post 10/26/1945

HOGARTH of “TARZAN” fame. New complete
intensive course for beginners and ad-
vanced students.
Cartoonist & Illustrators Center
2091 B’way (72nd St. N.Y.C.) TR 4-6616

When the Center outgrew the loft space, Hogarth found space at a secondary school that opened in the evenings. There he could easily add classrooms as needed. In 1946, nearly identical advertisements ran in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 10, and Arts Magazine, February 15. 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2/10/1946

With A Leading Cartoonist
of “TARZAN” fame
Now is the time to get
into the cartooning field!
Learn the technique of
newspaper and magazine
panel gags — sport car-
toons — comic strips —
caricature advertising
comic illustrations.
(Mornings & Afternoons)
246 West 80 N.Y.C. SC 4-3232

The Center was certified by the State Education Department, in 1947, and renamed the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The New York Times, January 19, 1956, said the school opened August 20, 1947. The school was mentioned in the Post, November 10, 1947.
Classes are still forming at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, 112 W. 89th St., it was announced by Silas H. Rhodes, director. Nationally prominent cartoonists and illustrators, headed by Burne Hogarth, illustrator of “Tarzan,” comprise the faculty and lecturing staff.
During Hogarth’s absence, Ruben Moreira had been drawing the Tarzan Sunday page from December 2, 1945 to August 3, 1947. According to ERBzine Hogarth returned to Tarzan for the next three years, from August 10, 1947 to August 20, 1950. And for about four months, he also worked on the Tarzan daily from September 1, 1947 to January 3, 1948. Miracle Jones was short-lived strip he produced in 1947, a very busy year.

At the Silver Lantern site (currently inaccessible), Sy Barry recalled visiting Hogarth’s apartment: 
…When I got to meet Bernie Hogarth, I went up to his studio, which was in his apartment. My brother [Dan Barry] had an apartment like that later on.

You would go into the main area of the apartment and it was one step down into the living room area, but there was also a staircase at the end of the living room that went upstairs to the bedrooms, in an apartment house, believe it or not. I don’t know how they designed this thing, but it was really remarkable. So you’d go up the staircase and there’d be a landing there and that landing would take you into the bedrooms. Then in one of the upstairs bedrooms was his studio. It was this beautiful, brightly lit studio and it was on Central Park West.

It was a beautiful apartment and of course he was very wealthy. He’d written anatomy books and he taught and of course they paid him very handsomely on the Tarzan daily. Trust me, he was very well paid, especially for those Sunday strips. He was a brilliant guy….
Hogarth and Rhodes were accused of being Communists, as reported January 19, 1956, in the Long Island Star Journal (below) and other papers. Both men invoked the Fifth Amendment. Later that year, the Cartoonists and Illustrators School was renamed the School of Visual Arts

Suburbia Today, June 12, 1983, profiled Hogarth’s second wife, Connie and said:
…By the mid-1950s she had met artist Burne Hogarth, famous as the man who drew the Tarzan comic strip. They soon married and had two children….

…In 1962, the Hogarths moved from their Queens apartment in search of more space for the boys and a studio for Burne. In Mount Pleasant [New York], they found a fortress of a house, resembling something out of Charles Addams…. 

…Her personal life has also become a testing ground. She and Burne were divorced last year….
The University of Chicago Magazine, October 2006, published the following sequence of events:
...In 1953 she married cartoonist Burne Hogarth, who drew the Tarzan comic strip (1937–50) and founded the art school that became New York’s School for the Visual Arts. Soon after son Richard was born in 1956 and son Ross in 1959, the Hogarths moved to suburban Westchester County, which had a reputation for good public schools. (She and Burne divorced in 1981, and nine years ago she married Art Kamell, a longtime activist and former labor lawyer.)
The Dispatch (Lexington, North Carolina), November 9, 1963, published Hogarth’s article, “Our American Art Heritage.” 

In 1970 he retired from the School of Visual Arts due to differences with Rhodes. He continued to teach at Parsons School of Design. 

Hogarth returned to Tarzan by producing two books, Tarzan of the Apes (1972) and Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1976). His first book, Dynamic Anatomy, was published in 1958. Following it were Drawing the Human Head (1965), Dynamic Figure Drawing (1970), Drawing Dynamic Hands (1977), Dynamic Light and Shade (1981), Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery (1988), and The Arcane Eye of Hogarth (1992).

In the early 1980s he settled in Los Angeles, California, where he taught at the Otis School and Art Center College of Design. Hogarth was a guest at the 1984 San Diego Comic-Con (below). 

Souvenir Program Book

After attending the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, Hogarth suffered a heart-attack in Paris and passed away on January 28, 1996. 

In 2017 Hogarth entered the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame. 

(An earlier profile was posted in 2015.)


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