Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Obscurities from the Chicago Record-Herald

In 1914 the Chicago Record-Herald started a small comic strip syndicate. They had a mixture of second rate material, but they also printed early material by some cartoonists who would later go on to greatness. Among these are E.C. Segar (Popeye), Frank Willard (Moon Mullins) and Billy DeBeck (Barney Google).

Today I’m posting images from some 1915 Chicago Record-Herald Sunday strips that are probably deservedly forgotten. Movies Featuring Haphazard Helen is the best of the group, with decent art by Carothers. Notice that the feature captions are done in rhyme. This was a pretty common device back in the oughts and teens – my impression is that some cartoonists thought that no one would notice that their strips weren’t funny if they were in verse. By the way, the captions were so small and faded that I had to replace them on the scan – sorry purists!

Next is Old Sport Owl by a cartoonist named Clardy. I don’t like to be negative, but this is just a plain poor excuse for a strip. Believe it or not, this thing ran both daily and Sunday for almost four months.

Last is Roaming Rufus And Romeo by Joe Kohn. This is yet another take on the Katzenjammer Kids, but I’m not even sure if the protagonists are kids or adults. Although the art on this one is amateurish, I must admit to liking panel 7, where the old geezer’s pain is depicted with a thought balloon of him getting a tooth pulled.

If you’re wondering why these strips only have one or two colors, it’s because until the 1920s it was typical for newspapers to print only the outside wrap of their comic section in full four color. The inside was almost always like you see here. Typically you would get black plus one color. Sometimes papers would use a second color instead of black (you can see this on Old Sport Owl where a dark blue is used instead of black ink). Papers that were willing to shell out more dough would go with three colors (black plus two more). When the 3-color scheme is skillfully handled the casual reader may not even realize that they’re not getting full color.

As always, be sure to click on the images to see them at full readable size.


As others have done, your site is now boolmarked and moved toward the top of the list.
But with the Classic Adventure Comic Strips/Classic Comic Strips/
PlatinumAgeComics Yahoos pages,
Coconino Classics, Toonopedia,
Andy's Bugpowder, RCHarvey.com,
Barnacle Press, Boondocks.net,
Arnold Wagner's and now your blog,
plus a few sites trying to keep up
with today's strips I don't know if
I can keep up with it all.
So forgive my ignorance when I ask:
if Carothers is the artist of
"Haphazard Helen" who is that Burroughs being credited with plot and pictures at the top of the page?

Good eyes, D.D.! Actually the posted strip is from late in the run after Carothers left. And therein lies great story that I'll relate one of these days. After Carothers' run, Burroughs took over, then Tom Rover, then someone who signed himself just "Bud", and then another semi-anonymous cartoonist who signed himself "Awrie". I also failed to mention that the bad versification was by none other than J. P. McEvoy, later a very well-respected writer whose credits include writing the "Dixie Dugan" strip.
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