Saturday, June 02, 2007
To Herriman or Not to Herriman? It's Up To YOU!
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 email@example.com to cast your vote. Voters, thank you for your interest and support!
"put them in a book!"
(but please please not Checker - unless you maintain quality control)
If we do the Herriman thing, it will be on Saturddays only. Regular posts would continue Monday thru Friday.
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.
Then we can get him twice a day.
Joe Thompson ;0)
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 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.
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.
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 newspapers...so there's a treasure trove out there for some ambitious guy.
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!
Bandwith protesters won't mind either.
Thank you for your time in this project.
And yeah, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your time and efforts.
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.
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.)
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.
Labels: News of Yore
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Ivey Pays Tribute to one of the Greats, Fred G. Cooper
Blogger Filboid Studge spent a couple of his weekly installments highlighting Cooper.
So for more of Fred Cooper see
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 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.
Monday, May 28, 2007
News of Yore: 1951 Comic Strip Poll
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.
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.
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.
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.
Labels: News of Yore
Never mind that half of the favorites come from Tribune-News, but KFS's 2nd rated favorite after Blondie is ... drum roll please ... Grandma.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics