Saturday, June 02, 2007


To Herriman or Not to Herriman? It's Up To YOU!

I just got back from a marathon session at the library working through the Los Angeles Examiner for 1906. As you may know, George Herriman worked there from 1906 to 1909 in between stints in New York.

All the stars lined up just right for me today. The microfilm was in beautiful shape, the microfilm printer wasn't being balky, and best of all, someone at the library screwed up and set the copying price on the machine to a dime instead of the usual quarter. With the light of providence shining brightly upon me, I took on the task of making copies of all the Herriman cartoons I found, a task that took all day because ol' Garge was a very productive little worker bee at the Examiner.

So here I sit this evening with a cornucopia of 1906 Herriman cartoons. They run the gamut from editorial and sports cartoons to a previously undocumented comic strip series. It was initially my plan to start a Saturday blog posting series that would share with you folks all the treasures I had found. The series would run for months, posting cartoons at the rate of two or three each Saturday.

But then I got to wondering if you readers of this blog are fans enough of Herriman that you want to see all this material. For instance, today's cartoons (Herriman's first for the Examiner, printed on 8/18 and 8/21/06) are all but incomprehensible because they deal with local politics of a century ago. They're good cartoons, but it would take a degree in California history to fully understand them. Many of the cartoons will fit into this category -- delightful art but impenetrable subjects.

So here's the deal. I've asked you to vote before on things and I usually get just a few responses. But I know you're out there, doggone it, and I need to know where you want to go with this thing. Here's your options:

1. Post 'em all. I love Herriman and I can't get enough.

2. Post just the highlights. I like Herriman but this material is of minimal interest.

3. Go on to something else. I don't get Herriman at all, or don't care about his early work.

4. Hell, take Saturdays off from now on. I really couldn't care less if you post anything. I thought this site would have pictures of strippers on it.

If I don't get a reasonable number of responses in the next week (hey, I do know how many visits the blog gets every day, you know) I'm going to assume the vote is for #4. So post a comment or, if you prefer, email me at to cast your vote. Voters, thank you for your interest and support!

I want it all.
Please post 'em all...
Post them all, and go back to the library and get even more to post!
We want them all!
I want them all, but I'd miss the variety if you spend all of the blog to it the next few months. I'd say give us a weeks worth and do either all of them or the highlights for every saturday or friday after that. And try to nget someone (Checker?) to publish all of them.
Well Ger took my comment
"put them in a book!"

(but please please not Checker - unless you maintain quality control)
Hi Ger -
If we do the Herriman thing, it will be on Saturddays only. Regular posts would continue Monday thru Friday.

Hi Allan,
Post as many Garge drawings as you can! I went to the Glendale public library a couple of years ago and photocopied all of his L.A. Times early work that I could find, glad you could do the Examiner.
I vote for posting them all. Another option may be to put them all on a disc and offer them for some reasonable price to interested parties, who will, no doubt, be visiting the blog in either case.
I think Allan ought to start up another blog for just such occasions.
Then we can get him twice a day.
I vote for running them all. Let me see if I can find an LA-area historian to explain what this pair means.

Joe Thompson ;0)
If it is only saturdays, Id say go for it!

But still, a book would be nice. Over at the Timely/Atlas Yahoo group Tom Lammers selfpublished an extended article of his, which went very well for him. I know you are busy enough with teh blog, but if you could find a partner I wonder if your audience hasn't grown so much that you may venture into this sort of thing. I know I would have vought a disc with the Family Comics...! And talking about Herrman, I'd love a collection of his Emberrassing Moments in the same way Net Gertler did It's Only a Game.
I like the variety of your site, soi I vote for the highlights only, especially because -as you said - most strips need an explaination, deling with contemporary events. I'd be the first (but also one of the few, I'm afraid) to buy a book which collects the drawings AND the explainations, but I think it would be a titanic job to put them together
(I tried the following explaination for the two cartoons you put online, and it took a couple hours).

(NOTE: “The San Francisco Examiner” was a Hearst paper, so strongly Anti-Republican)

From 1861 to 1881 Republicans and Southern Pacific Railroads (“The Octopus”, as journalist Frank Norris called it) interests controlled California politics until the Democratic Party won the 1882 elections. Then, in 1906, land agent and lobbyist Walter Parker (right), representative of “the Machine” ran the Republican party in Southern California; William Ellsworth Dunn (1861-1924, left) – another important lobbyst, a lawyer for the South Pacific Railways (note the reference to railroads in the balloons) member of the LA Bar and Assistant City Attorney – was instrumental to the victory of the Republicans, and put his men on the city council (see 2nd cartoon).
As for the dogs Tobasco, Pimiento and Appayava in Cartoon 1: “Tobasco” was the name later (1908) used by Bud Fisher in “Mutt and Jeff” in his caricature of Detective William Burns, who worked for “the Machine” with lawyer Francis J. Heney and the President of First National Bank Rudolph Spreckles in a very dubious anti-corription campaign after the San Francisco Earthquake.
Alfredo Castelli
Even though I love Herrimans work, the highlights would be enough for me. But judging from the previous votes there seems to be interest in seeing the whole lot. So go for it.
My vote would be for highlights. I'm interested in your judgment about which of these cartoons are the best or most interesting, rather than in completism. If you were able to maintain the energy and interest to post commentary along with the drawings, that would be another bonus to the highlights options.
Ignore all those guys who voted for highlights only, they know not what they are saying. Post *everything*, more if possible! Pretty please...
Hello, Allan-----Just print some highlights. I'd like to see any local strips Herriman may have produced out there on the left coast.-----------Cole Johnson.
Post them all. Twice even. And thanks!
Post 'em all! Why not? For anyone who's heard the name Krazy Kat, this is huge!
Please post them all. If possible could you also include the publication date with each cartoon. Many thanks
Post them all! There are precious few resources and precious few people who actually care about the history of the comic strip.
I vote for #1.
I read my first "krazy Kat" last year and since then I can't get enough. I am so thoroughly fascinated by Herriman's work, and I enjoy looking at some of his earlier comic strips to see what the origins of Krazy were.
Plus, anything by Herriman could be great anyway.
Please post them all! I can't get enough Herriman. Thanks much for the wonderful blog!

Best wishes,

Steven Stwalley
Post 'em all.

There's probably the beginning of a book or a series here about The Lost Cartoons of (INSERT FAMOUS CARTOONIST'S NAME HERE)."

The Winsor McCay book series is awesome.

A LOT of the early cartoonists began by working for specific there's a treasure trove out there for some ambitious guy.

--Lee Nordling
Please post them all...
I was going to say highlights and then see if folks want more, but it's apparent that folks want more. So #1 seems to be the way to go.
Please post them all even if it takes 10 years--I will be 97 then and still enjoying them. Thanks from Charlie
Saturday's only? Then post them all, please.
Keep posting them, please.

Gary Esposito
1. Post 'em all. I love Herriman and I can't get enough.
1, please, I'm french and I say show dem all for chrissake
Publish 'em all. As if there's another choice?
All won't be enough, so, all please.
don't you dare not post them!
please show dates, and if it's a prime position like front or back page, that would be useful to know.

you are a magnificent fellow!

Eddie Campbell
In the words of Daffy Duck, "Post them all! Post them all!"
Please post all of them. Herriman's cartooning always delights (even when the context is be unclear).

Thank you!
Please DON'T post any more! Sometimes less is more, don't you realise?

The above said is a joke.
Certainly you are doing a great service by sharing all the material.
Bandwith protesters won't mind either.

Thank you for your time in this project.
1, please. Post'em all. Herriman's good just for the taste of it; all his work is worth to have a closer look.

And yeah, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your time and efforts.
Post a Comment

Friday, June 01, 2007


Obscurity of the Day: Norse by Norsewest

If you thought Hagar the Horrible was the only humor strip to feature Vikings you'd be close to right. But Hagar was prefigured by this obscurity, Norse by Norsewest, a comedy featuring a troop of mod Norsemen.

The strip was written by John Brinkerhoff (perhaps a relative of R.M. Brinkerhoff?) and cartooned by Bob Campbell, neither of whom have any other syndication credits. Both art and gags bear the indelible marks of the late 60s. The art was good, but influenced by the 1960s pop art craze it looks a little dated today. The gags were on the weak side, relying a bit much on the Laugh-In style when they weren't strictly jokebook material.

The strip, syndicated by McNaught, first appeared in a very small number of client papers on November 17 1969. I can only vouch for the strip lasting a mere month and a half, to December 27. If it lasted longer I can find no evidence for it. Perhaps a strip so tied to late 60s sensibilities just couldn't bring itself to tackle the 70s.

UPDATE 12/15/2023: Lots more digitized papers now, and it can be safely stated that the end date was 2/28/1970 based on Austin American-Statesman and several others. 


I found a page about Bob Campbell. Apparently, he's a Korean War vet. It mentions "Norse by Norsewest"
Thanks Charles!
Bob Campbell worked atAmerican Greetings fora while in the early seventies
Very belated, but I found this eBay listing for a drawing by Bob Campbell, along with a newspaper cutout of a strip dated January 13, 1970. I have no idea what paper that clipping came from, but it does confirm the strip managed to make it into 1970
Thanks for the push Charles, with many more digitized newspapers now I can confidently cite an end date of 2/28/70.
Post a Comment

Thursday, May 31, 2007


News of Yore: Buck O'Rue Launched

BuckO'Rue, A Wild West Travesty, Appears

By Jane McMaster, 1951

The cowboy trend in comic strips had doubtless reached an inevitable point. Generally speak­ing, what had to come was a burlesque of shoot-em-ups. To get down to cases, come it did Jan. 15 under the title of "Buck O'Rue."

And the new daily and Sunday offering of Arthur J. Lafave syndicate, Cleveland, mixes more than the standard number of satiric hi-jinx. Buck O'Rue, the celery tonic drinking, high-minded, pluggeroo shooting hero (a pluggeroo is when the bullet goes straight down the barrel of the other gun) is about what you'd expect for this type concoction. His dilapidated horse "Reddish," object of the hero's affections nat­urally, is not too surprising either (although he has an exceptionally expressive equine face.)

Incidental Nonsense
But unusual is the generous sup­ply of incidental characters and the strip's use of humorously macabre trappings. In Mesa Trubil, ruled by Badman Trigger Mortis, the hero talks to Skull-face Skelly (who obviously came straight from an iodine bottle) while a quiet black-coated char­acter, not previously introduced, takes the hero's measurements. Four panels later (next day to readers) the sombre measurer of­fers Mr. O'Rue a delooxey funeral for 20 bucks payable in advance.

The scene of this sideplay was Club Foote, Trigger Mortis' head­quarters in which the badman, boots and cuffs bulging with aces, gambles with his tough henchmen (called "Guardian Angels"). In a one-panel view of Club Foote ("Shore a on-healthy lookin' place!" says the hero) Buck and the reader see 10 incidental char­acters, each contributing mainly atmosphere and a different be­nighted expression.
All's Well with Deacon
In the tussle between good and bad, perennial adventure strip theme, the hero naturally lines himself up with Deacon Duncan, the leader of the decent and re­spectable folks, and his daughter, 'Dorable Duncan. The plot op­portunities seem unbounded. Mesa Trubil (which has civic slogans like "Not responsible fer bodies left over 30 days," and "Come visit our cemeteries") is in the West but is not part of the U. S. It seceded in 1861 and Washing­ton said "Good Riddance."

Ob­viously Buck will have to do some­thing about the "town without a country" and election notices that read: "The annual election for mayor will be held in the usual place, at the usual time and with the usual result."

The Wild West travesty was composed by Dick Huemer, who was born in Brooklyn and was a Walt Disney staffer for about 20 years. Mr. Huemer writes the con­tinuity and does the layout.
Paul Murry, another former Walt Disney man, draws the com­ic. The two work in Hollywood.
The starting list for the strip, which hasn't been widely promot­ed yet, includes the Los Angeles Mirror (which took it as a re­placement for "Hopalong Cassidy"), Detroit News, Cleveland Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Possible TV Show
Before it had been running a week, an advertising agency had shown interest in a possible tele­vision show based on the charac­ters and one paper that had signed for nine months had requested a two-year contract.

Arthur J. Lafave believes from his own survey that the strip has a Charlie Chaplin audience:
"Some see the satiric overtones, others take it at face value."

Mr. Lafave himself is inclined to fall into superlatives when dis­cussing the characters in the strip. Some characters worth watching: girl named Lillian Rustler who manages to rustle because dumb beasts as well as men follow her around; some paleface Indians who speak with a British accent, have tea every afternoon at 4.


Thanks for reprinting this article. I alerted Didier Ghez at his Disney History blog so he could remind Disney fans to check out your blog!
Post a Comment

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Ivey Pays Tribute to one of the Greats, Fred G. Cooper

Don't know much about fgc other than to parrot you by saying that is one of the greats and agreeing with Mr. Ivey that his work is awesome.
Blogger Filboid Studge spent a couple of his weekly installments highlighting Cooper.
So for more of Fred Cooper see
Post a Comment

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Obscurity of the Day: Do You Remember?

Erwin L. Hess made a cartooning career based on nostalgia. His long-running weekly panel cartoon titled The Good Old Days featured homespun images and reminders of the past. Though Hess could not be classed as a master cartoonist, he more than made up for any technical lack with the obvious amount of research and painstaking effort that went into getting every prop and costume absolutely correct in his intricately drawn panels. For Hess every detail in every panel had to be as accurate to the times as a vintage photo.

The Good Old Days was inaugurated in 1946 and ran until 1981, so it is certainly not an obscurity. However, I recently discovered these samples of an earlier version of the feature, titled Do You Remember?. It ran in the Milwaukee Journal in 1938. A little biographical sleuthing turns up that Milwaukee was Hess' hometown, so presumably this was produced as a local feature for them. Unfortunately in the scant material I have on Hess there is no mention of the feature, so I have no idea how long or how often it ran. With the few samples on hand it appears that the feature ran more often than once a week. Given the intricately drawn panels, I can't imagine it was a daily though. Does anyone know more about Hess or this panel series?


I collected the Hess cartoon from the Sunday paper from Jan '63 until Oct '65 and have preserved them in a scrapbook. I enjoy reading through them on occasion. Does anyone have copies of these from '47 until '81?
my mom bought his cimics from 57- 69 about 250. I want to sell at a profit looking at places
I have a sort of scrapbook of my great-grandmother's, and she collected about 60 of these panels.
That is, the Do You Remember series from 1938.
Hi Allen,
I just rediscovered an envelope of about 25 cartoon panels, from my wife’s great, grand aunt. She writes on the envelope that these Erwin L. Hess “Do You Remember?” panels are from the twenties. Not sure of that, maybe the thirties. I believe they ran in the Milwaukee Journal or Milwaukee Sentinel. They are in very good shape. Would you like to see them? Please let me know.
Mike Silber
Post a Comment

Monday, May 28, 2007


News of Yore: 1951 Comic Strip Poll

Blondie, Alley Most Popular In 2,500 Votes

Roanoke, Va.—Two weeks of balloting among readers of the Roanoke Times and World-News in the "Comic Strip Popularity Contest" ended with 2,500 votes being cast.

The winners:
Blondie in the World-News.
Gasoline Alley in the Times.
Uncle Remus in the Sunday Times.

The Bumstead strip received 1,920 votes and piled up 7,551 points (on a placing basis of 5-4-3-2-1) while the Alley folks got 1,665 votes and 5,685 points.

Other Favorites
Others in the top five favorites were:

World-News: Dick Tracy, 1,734 votes, 5,872 points; Smilin' Jack, 1,291 and 4,195; Henry, 1,249 and 2,856; and Little Orphan Annie, 942 and 2,814.

Times: Joe Palooka, 1,508 votes, 4,729 points; Grandma, 1,240 and 4,521; Terry & Pirates, 1,132 and 3,750, and Steve Roper, 1,323 and 3,698.

One of the surprises was Or­phan Annie's edging out Li'l Abner in almost a photo-finish for fifth place. The Yokum lad got 921 votes and 2,686 points. Another oddity was that Mickey Finn re­ceived more votes (948) than either Orphan Annie or Li'l Abner but so many were third, fourth or fifth position votes that Mickey wound up in seventh rank with 2,306 points.

Trailing in the World-News poll were: Moon Mullins, 662 and 1,523; Toots & Casper, 361 and 721; and The Gumps, 232 and 460.

Back of the top five in the Times were: Rip Kirby, 1,172 and 2,934; Dotty Dripple, 884 and 2,553, and Mary Worth, 932 and 2,505.

Uncle Remus got 973 votes and 3,626 points in capturing the honors among the "Sunday only" comics. Others in the top five were: Barney Google & Snuffy Smith, 828 and 2,910; Donald Duck, 864 and 2,364; Steve Can­yon, 658 and 2,266, and Mickey Mouse, 675 and 1,892.

Most Ballots from Papers
Trailing in order back of the top five "Sunday only" strips were:

Rusty Riley, Bringing Up Father, Ozark Ike, Buz Sawyer, Smitty, Katzenjammers, Tim Tyler, Polly & Her Pals, Flash Gordon, Popeye, Elmer, Room & Board, Tillie the Toiler, and Just Kids.

More than 1,000 women cast ballots in the poll, about 850 men, 325 boys and 300 girls.

M. W. Armistead, III, assistant to the publisher of the Roanoke newspapers, found the contest, which he directed, proved so popular he had to increase his staff of tabulators. It was conducted with minute attention to details.

The ballot was carried several times in each paper, and ballots were placed in the lobby of the newspaper office, along with a ballot box. The bulk of the returns came from ballots clipped from the papers and mailed in but several hundred ballots were left in the ballot box.

Least Popular
At the opposite poles from Blondie and Gasoline Alley, which won the "most popular" titles in more than 2,000 reader ballots, came Tillie the Toiler and Flash Gordon.

Tillie, who ran 36th in popularity ranking, got almost the same number of votes from men and women, but boys disliked her more than girls.

The newspapers' pollsters said the order of the unpopularity "'amazed" them because some of the "most popular" funnies drew many negative votes. The order of unpopularity was given as follows: Tillie the Toiler, Flash Gordon, Room and Board, The Gumps, Ozark Ike, Toots and Casper, Just Kids, Steve Canyon, Elmer, Polly and Her Pals, Dotty Dripple, Rusty Riley, Barney Google, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Li'l Abner, Katzenjammer Kids, Popeye, Tim Tyler (tie), Grandma (tie), Moon Mullins, Mary Worth, Rip Kirby, Bringing Up Father, Buz Sawyer, Smilin' Jack, Smitty, Uncle Remus (tie), Henry (tie), Steve Roper, Mickey Finn, Joe Palooka, Mickey Mouse, Dick Tracy (tie), Donald Duck (tie), Gasoline Alley, Blondie.


Whaddya know, they're all "legacy" comics! ;>)
Clearly there's something wrong here.

Never mind that half of the favorites come from Tribune-News, but KFS's 2nd rated favorite after Blondie is ... drum roll please ... Grandma.

Art Lortie
Post a Comment

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


I enjoyed your information on The Good Old Days by Hess. I remember reading his single panel in the Omaha World Herald in the later part of the '50s and early '60s. There was always so much going on in the panel. Little jokes here and there if one was paying attention.
Post a Comment

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

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]