Saturday, April 01, 2006


American Armed Forces Features - Wha?

Is there a word that means more obscure than obscure? Well, if there is, the item above fits the description. This 8 page color comic section was issued in June 1960 by something called American Armed Forces Features, copyrighted to the W.B. Bradbury Company of New York. It's definitely a preprint section - the masthead for the Westover Yankee Flyer was obviously printed on later (and out of kilter).

All the strips are about military life, and all the ads are geared to men and women in the services, so the reasonable presumption is that Bradbury was trying to market this preprint section to military papers. I can't imagine that it was a success since this is the first I've ever found (on eBay a few weeks ago). However, you'll notice that it says "Vol. 6 Number 64" on the front page, implying that it was a going concern for a good long time. Has anybody seen more of these? Does anyone know any of the story behind this preprint section?

The features in this section are:

America's Fighting Heroes - uncredited
The Little Corporal - uncredited
Top Kick - uncredited
Tex by George Wolfe
Gooch by Jess Benton
The Sergeant's Family by Duquette
Silent Sam - uncredited
Armed Forces Athletes by Sebo
Phineas Fogg And Crocklesberry by Vic Martin
Air Force Ace by Henry Boltinoff
Big Hearted Harry - uncredited
Did You Know? - uncredited
Flossie - uncredited
The Wise Guy - uncredited

There is a military history research center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania that apparently has a run of the Westover Yankee Flyer newspapers. One of these days I'll have to go check it out.



This is a great find. I have been looking on e-bay for WWII cartoon material, but never came across anything like this. I hope you can find more and do an article in Hogan's Alley or post more pages here, so we can guess the artists.
My father was in an Army public affairs office during the Korean war and he had a number of old post papers that carried features similar to what you describe. The Medal of Honor winners, for example, were also available as single panel illos with accompanying text describing how and why they won their medals (usually getting killed in the process, I might add). I remember this vividly because we cut up most of those old papers for a 3rd grade class project I did on the Medal of Honor.
Hi Buzz -
Most likely the series you're recalling was in fact titled "Medal Of Honor". It was written by Arthur Curtis, drawn by Mike Arens. No relation to the one here as far as I know, other than the subject matter.

Best, Allan
Recently Paul Tumey discovered Jack Cole was in the first few issues with a 1944/5 strip. He shows one o his Cole blog. Did you ever persue this paper?
Hi Ger --
The link, if anyone wants to see, is

and the date is 1955, not 1945.

As for pursuing this paper, I'm afraid I haven't had the chance yet to make a stop in Carlisle PA, which is basically off the beaten path with just about anywhere you care to name.

The 44/5 thing was a typo. As Paul T. menions it is interesting that this was Xole's last comic strip thing before being accepted at Playboy. I have found and bought one on ebay, probably the same Paul has. I also found a copyright notice to the AAFF from 1965/6 (no typo this time!) so this ran a lot longer than I thought!
Silent Sam is by cartoonist Ben Wiseman. He did a couple and the ones I have seen he signed Wiseman as well. I showed them on the Facbook page of Dennis the Menace's Al Wiseman's duaghter and she confimed it was not by her father.

Post a Comment

Friday, March 31, 2006


Obscurity of the Day: Spence Easley

Here I go saying I hadn't gotten around to scanning any Spence Easley strips, and what shows up in my mailbox hours later but some scans of the strip. Hmm ... I like the way this works. Doggone it, I just can't seem to find time to scan the first and last AP Sunday sections. Any takers?

So thanks to Alfredo Castelli who supplies today's scans. I think he's just buckin' for an extra great goodie package!

Spence Easley by Jack Patton started life as Dolly Burns on May 21, 1928. It was a local feature of the Dallas Journal, a second-tier paper that was really committed to running homegrown cartoons. Patton had already been contributing strips and panels to the paper on a near-daily basis since 1922. His prior feature, correctly identified yesterday by an astute reader, was The Restless Age, a panel cartoon about the wild and wacky children of the Jazz Age. It was jettisoned in favor of the new strip, which plowed much the same ground but with continuing characters.

While Dolly remained the title character until 1933, the Spence Easley character was there pretty much from the start and shared center stage. The characters eventually grew up a bit, as you can tell from the samples shown. Spence and Dolly married, and the strip progressed from a Tillie and Mac mode into more of a Blondie and Dagwood dynamic.

Patton ended the local Spence Easley strip in the Dallas Journal in September or October 1935 (these months are unavailable on microfilm, as are many stretches of the Journal), but eventually started shopping it around to syndicates. Register and Tribune Syndicate finally bit and Spence Easley was resurrected on the comic pages starting April 10, 1939*. Unfortunately for Patton the strip did not catch on and ended sometime in 1940 (the last I can find - once again the Dallas Journal microfilm gaps stymie me - is April 1940). Since the strip was listed in the 1940 E&P Syndicate Directory it presumably made it through the summer as the directory was published in September that year**.

* UPDATE: Jon Ingersoll sends proof that the syndicated Spence Easley debuted on February 27 1939, based on the Boston Globe run.

* UPDATE: Original art to a February 1941 strip has been found, with copyright slug intact. Although I would prefer to see an actual newspaper appearance, it is ALMOST certain that the strip was still running then. 


I am interested in purchasing a collection of original or reprint copies of the Tillie-and-Mac series published in the 20's and 30's for my boyfriend for Christmas this year. Please contact me at if you have these items for sale or know where they can be obtained. THanx!
I just picked up several WWII stationery kits titled "Spence Easley Goes to War". I wasn't familiar with the character so I googled it and found this site.
A Spence Easley daily copyrighted in 1941 is currently being auctioned:
Thank you Rodrio! I'll update the post.

Allan, the debut was Monday Feb 27, 1939 not Tuesday Feb 28. The first dated strip was Feb 28, but the Globe ran an intro strip identifying the characters on Feb 27.
Sorry, case of the flyin' fingers. Corrected.
Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Obscurity of the Day: The Family Car

As you can read in the comments on the post below, our contest was over in hardly any time at all. Comics scholar Alfredo Castelli made it look easy when he correctly identified all seven titles. The correct titles are:

Moon Mullins
Screen Oddities
The Bungle Family
Broncho Bill
Joe Palooka
Sky Roads (aka Skyroads)
Spence Easley

I figured if nothing else that Spence Easley would stump you guys for awhile, since it was a local strip at the time, appearing only in the Dallas Journal. Its creator, Jack Patton (forever famous in Texas for his Texas History Movies strip) abandoned the strip later in 1935, only to resurrect it in 1939-40 for the Register & Tribune Syndicate.

Okay, guys, think you're so smart? Tell me the original name of the Spence Easley strip, and the panel cartoon series that Patton ended to start it.

I had fully intended to show you a sample of Spence Easley when the contest was over, but you caught me napping. Haven't gotten around to scanning one in yet. Oh well. Instead we'll look at some great samples of an intermittently excellent panel series called The Family Car.

Wally Falk's Family Car ran from sometime in 1956 until sometime in 1961. I can't supply exact dates because the Register & Tribune Syndicate didn't even run the feature in their home papers. Sigh. Anyhow, Falk supplied the iconic 50s clean-line gag cartoon stylings to this panel, and those glorious tailfins abound. What also abounded, unfortunately, were 'woman driver' gags. Not just once in awhile, mind you, but practically every day. The samples here were some of the few I could find that weren't full frontal slams at women drivers, and yet even in these there is an undertone of amusement at the ladies behind the wheel.

Now I realize that these were very different times, and that 'woman driver' gags were in their heyday. But might the feature have had a longer run if Falk had mixed up a bit more? I think so. The drawing is excellent (he had a real flair for caricaturing the 1950s American land yacht), but the incessant gags about the woman driver coming home with a crumpled fender and explaining it to hubby begin to pall on you after awhile.

By the way, when Falk wasn't making fun of woman drivers in The Family Car, he had the thankless task of drawing endless headshots for The Country Parson, a gig he started in 1955 and gave up in 1962. He has no more syndicated credits after that point, and who could blame him for seeking alternative employment after drawing that many itty-bitty rev heads.


Restless Age
Lotta sharpies reading this blog. Don't know whether to be pleased or intimidated. How 'bout equal measures...

>OUCH!!!< That poor pooch with his tail trapped in the door! That's gotta be one of the most sadistic images ever published in a newspaper and the fact that it's cute and funny doesn't make it any less painful.
Hi Buzz -
Not to worry, I have it on good authority that Wally Falk did not draw from live models ;-)

Best, Allan

Maybe this is the place to ask about the different titles of Bud Blake's panel cartoons fom the late fifties-early sixties. He ended his run on Ever Happen To You? and I believe his son said in an online interview that the original title was Comic Situations (for some reason I never got the last Hogan's Alley from my comic shop, so I haven't got their piece on Blake). But a little bit of looking in Newspaper Archives a couple of months back gave me at least three titles. Have you got all of those or should I send what I have got?
Hi Ger -
The weird thing about Bud Blake's panel cartoon series is that "Ever Happen To You?" and the multi-title series were both advertised in E&P. I have always suspected that they were one and the same, though. Here's the rundown on the E&P listings:

Humorous Cartoons 1954-57
Bud Blake Panel Cartoons 1956-62
Ever Happen To You? 1958-65

I can give you some of the titles he used on his multi-title series:

The Great Outdoors
Growing Pains
Home Sweet Home
Office Hours
Oh, Happy Day!
Public Enemy
Sinking Feeling

Best, Allan
Post a Comment


Are You a Comic Strip Expert? Contest Today!

Back to regular posts today, and we're starting off with a fun one!

I found this advertisement in the September 21, 1935 issue of Editor & Publisher. The ad isn't all that interesting, except that down at the bottom they list the winners of a popularity contest conducted by the Dallas Journal. Only Ella Cinders and Back Home Again are named, the others identified only by their initials. Seems to me, you'd want to let editors know the strips you beat out ("Hmm ... Ella Cinders was twice as popular with readers as this strip I'm running in my paper. Maybe I should switch?").

Anyhow, marketing strategy aside, naturally we wonder what the other features are. I've identified them all (not without using a bit of noggin juice, I promise you), so I'm making a contest out of it. First person to correctly identify all seven features will win one of my coveted goodie packages shipped to their door; goodies to include all sorts of rare and unusual comics related cool vintage stuff.

In case the image isn't sharp enough, here are the titles:

M - - - M - - - - - -
S - - - - - O - - - - - - -
S - - - - - E - - - - -
T - - B - - - - - F - - - - -
B - - - - - - B - - -
J - - P - - - - - -
S - - R - - - -

I'll even give you a few hints:

1. One of the features is a panel cartoon series, not a comic strip.

2. One of the features was local at the time, but later was nationally syndicated.

3. One of the feature titles shown here as two words was actually supposed to be a one word title, but many papers ran it with the title shown as two words.

Well, that's it. Good luck to you. Contest remains open until someone comes up with all the right answers or in a month when I'll give up on you guys and post the answers.

I understand the "true" quiz is the
S----- E---- character.
(NOTE: you copied it with five dashes after the E. In the original ther are 4 dashes)

The other characters possibly are:

Moon Mullins
Screen Oddities (the panel)
The Bungle Family
Broncho Bill
Joe Palooka
Sky Roads (or, correctly, "Skyroads")

Concerning "S E" - Just trying to guess:

If the spaces after the "E" were 5, there's a very very very
remote possibility of an early pre 1939 version of "Spence Easley", because the series was drawn by Jack Patton, and Jack Patton worked for the Dallas Journal in the '30s.

Anyway, I surrender on the S E matter
I had all the same as Alfredo, except for Screen Oddities (nice one, Alfredo).

I too am stumped with the S...E.... and am guessing that it is "Sister Something" as in My Sister Eileen.

Segerr Elseee?
Well, despite Alfredo's protestations that he can't be right, he is. Congrats Alfredo! Regarding the number of letters in "Easley", there is actually another dash on the original ad, it was just rather faint and didn't survive the lo-res imaging.

Geez, I thought this contest would last longer than just a matter of hours! I'm going to have to think up something REAL hard!

Alfredo, email me your address and I'll start putting together a goodie bag!

Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Roy Powers, Eagle Scout: Week Eleven (+2)

We leave Roy now as his African adventure comes to an end, and he wings away on to continue his exploits in Egypt. Back to 'normal' posts starting tomorrow.

Happy trails, Roy. 'Til we meet again...
Post a Comment

Monday, March 27, 2006


Roy Powers, Eagle Scout: Week Ten

Comments: Post a Comment

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Roy Powers, Eagle Scout: Week Nine

Today we start a new story letter (L), though the story continues pretty much as before. If there was supposed to be a major story arc with those guys who stranded Roy, as you've seen it never really developed into more than a basic robbery. Obviously our writer planned a more complex (okey, less simplistic) story there with the long build-up, but for some reason they scrapped it. I see a lot of that sort of thing with Roy Powers, slapdash storylines with lots of hanging threads and anti-climaxes. Thank goodness for that lovely art.

Blogger crapped out after uploading four images today. The other two had to be loaded offsite. This is getting real old real fast...

Yes, but the characters are so forth-right, upright, and earnet... in a H. Alger sort of way.

Still lovingit.
I'm seriously considering tallying up the number of times the boys say "golly", "gosh" and similar in this 11-week sequence. Scintillating repartee...
Great art.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]