Thursday, June 07, 2007


Goodies from Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson, comic strip scholar extraordinaire, sent me a goodie package of photocopies that I want to share with the blog. His reason for sending was to contribute Happy Hunch strips to eliminate that title from our Mystery Strips list (this was before I found a few samples myself). His strips come from the Tampa Evening Globe, a paper that unfortunately does not seem to exist on microfilm. Here are his two samples (the second of which required a bit of reconstructive surgery on the final panel - sorry about my bad lettering). Both are from February 1926:

In addition to these rarities, Cole sent some more goodies. Here's a promo cartoon that Rube Goldberg did in connection with a CBS radio show he hosted. According to Cole it was a 15-minute twice a week program that ran on CBS starting December 3 1935. The robot was named Irving Q. Ironsides. Anyone know if the recordings of these programs still exist?
And here's the inaugural episode of Hickory Hanks, a strip that Ben Batsford penned for Plane News. Cole says this was a weekly paper for factory workers at the Grumman Aircraft plants, and that Batsford also contributed editorial and spot cartoons to the publication. This first episode ran in the February 4 1943 issue:

And here's a still from the 1946 film Li'l Iodine. Cole says that there are no known copies of this comic strip-based film still in existence. It starred Hobart Cavanaugh and Irene Ryan, with Jo Anne Marlowe as Iodine. The movie was produced by Buddy Rogers, husband of Mary Pickford. I hope it was funnier than the strip, which remains my nominee for the unfunniest (successful) comic strip of all time.
Cole sent even more rare material, the rest of which I'm going to hold for a later date. Of course Cole earns a goodie box for his submission of the Happy Hunch photocopies, but choosing goodies for him is a real head-scratcher considering he has a stupendous collection. I solved the problem, though. Since Cole is a big fan of movies as well as comic strips, he'll be the recipient of one of the odder items in my collection - a huge, and I do mean HUGE, movie poster from one of the Bringing Up Father movies of the 1940s. Being a big Jiggs and Maggie fan I bought it years ago but then realized I have no place to display it in my home.

All of which I mention not only to reinforce that my goodie boxes are worth the effort involved in getting them, but it brings me to a burning question: do any of the Bringing Up Father movies exist on video? I've never found them and I'd love to see one.

EDIT: Cole Johnson writes to tell me that this may well not be the first episode of Hickory Hanks - it's just an assumption I made based on reading the strip. Cole also reminds me that it's not "Li'l Iodine", it's "Little Iodine" - okay, Cole, but I still stick by its being the unfunniest successful humor strip of all time. Cole also says that he's seen really awful 10th-generation copies of Maggie and Jiggs on video, but none of a quality worth watching.

Cole also asks if anyone has every tried to come up with a serious list of comic strips that were made into films. He volunteers a list of really obscure ones -- Mischievous Willie, Wille Westinghouse, Desperate Desmond, Everett True, Smitty, Uncle Mun, Lady Bountiful, Mr. Jack, The Newlyweds, Mike and Ike, Let George Do It. Sounds to me like the best candidate for the job is Cole Johnson...

The ILLUSTRATED DAILY NEWS of L.A., ran Happy Hunch for it's apparent last three weeks only, The last strip is dated for 18 September 1926, a Saturday, though the IDN ran it of the 24th.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Obscurity of the Day: Once Upon a Time

Fairy tale strips have been tried many times, but seldom have they attained any great popularity. Once Upon a Time is no exception to the rule. Walter J. Enright penned this one that adapted classic fairy tales to the comic strip medium.

The strip has a bit of a checkered history. Syndicated by McClure starting on June 1 1925, the strip in some papers went under the moniker of Make-A-Book, and in those cases included instructions for cutting out the strips to form a booklet (not exactly rocket science). The original run of the strip seems to have ended on August 5 1926, but McClure continued selling the strip in reprints as late as 1929. In 1933 Whitman Publishing issued a Big Little Book based on the strip even though McClure seems to have quit selling it four years earlier.

W.J. Enright first pops up on my radar in the oughts, illustrating a few books, and then drops out of sight until the advent of this strip. By 1929, however, he was producing illustrations for the New York World and did a short-lived Sunday panel titled Here and Thereabouts. Then he disappears again. He, or perhaps more likely his progeny, pops up again in the 1950s as W.J. Pat Enright, when he has a few children's books published.

Be sure to read the above samples, a complete tale with some rather 'Grimm' doings. Doctor Wertham would not be pleased!


What a wonderful strip. I'd love to see more of it. I notice in the bottom of the final strip we see the name Hansely Gretel, as if the author was trying out a possibly punny pen name.

Here was some concise storytelling I wish I could absorb in full.

Thanks for sharing this find.

Bill Willingham
Hi Bill -
That's a notice for the next story, Hansel & Gretel. Enright's sig is a little further up in the panel.

In the category of better late than never, I have him listed as: Walter Joseph Enright, 1879-1969. He worked as an editorial cartoonist in 1915. He published his cartoons until at least 1941.

Info from: “Original cartoons by American Cartoonists from the collection of Mr. Charles L Howard, February 6 to March 4, 1939,” pdf file: AIC1939AMCartoon_comb.pdf ; “Political Cartoon Collection, 1889-1944: Inventory,” Princeton University Library – Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 2001, viewed online:

Sara W. Duke, Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art, Library of Congress,
W.J. "Pat" Enright was a noted editorial cartoonist for the New York World and other newspapers. He did indeed write and illustrate his own books in the 1950s. His only progeny was his daughter (with Maginel Wright), Elizabeth Enright, who grew up to become an illustrator and a Newbury Award-winning author.
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


To Herriman or not to Herriman - Poll Results

Thanks to all of you for voting!

First, my apologies for not posting yesterday. I'm training a new software tester and it's keeping me extra busy. And at night I'm busy watching those poor Ottawa Senators get the crap beaten out of them in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tallying the web and email votes so far, the results are ~80% in favor of running all the material, ~20% for highlights, and one voter who wants both Herriman and stripper photos. Sorry buddy, you'll have to visit Craig Yoe's blog for that material! So it looks like we're going to post everything unless there's a real surge in votes going the other direction.

Some of you have commented that the material should be published in book form. With the advent of that has become a possibility, but I have to nix the idea for this particular project. I wouldn't be comfortable putting my name on a book of this material unless I was also going to do all the research on L.A. politics so that I could explain all the cartoons. Having taken years educating myself in turn of the century New York City politics I know what a huge project that can be, and I have to wimp out on you guys -- I'm just not willing to put in such a big effort for a book that could very well sell just a couple dozen copies. I've got my hands plenty full with Stripper's Guide research, not looking to add more to my plate. That being said, if there is some LA history expert out there who would like a collaboration I'm all ears.

Despite wimping out on this particular project, I would like to put my two cents in that I am nevertheless a big supporter of annotating cartoons. I see a lot of reprint books coming out with material that really cries out for explanations. The typical reader cannot be expected to fully understand and appreciate the subject matter in early comics and cartoons, and I think publishers should consider having someone write annotations for the material. And I'm not just thinking about editorial cartoons. There are plenty of comic strip reprints that would benefit greatly from annotations.

For instance, when I read reprint books of Gasoline Alley, Terry and the Pirates, Out Our Way and such, I can't help but wonder if the average reader goes away not understanding what's going on half the time. For those not immersed in the pop culture of the time, do they know what Walt Wallet means when he refers to a woman as a 'grass widow'? Or when Mutt is called a 'plunger'? Or Tillie refers to a fellow as a 'sheik'?

I doubt that it would reduce the charm of these strips to be annotated when necessary, and it would certainly help readers to follow the nuances of the story better, making them more likely to be customers for more reprints.

Yes, annotations are are really helpful, and often fun to read. As long as they are kept separate from the comic strips/pages. The most horrible example is the new translations of the Tintin albums here in Sweden, where they've placed the annotations on the bottom of the pages wich disturbs and interrupts the reading flow.
BTW: The Gasoline Alley books you mention *have* annotations! Check in the back of the book. :) And Bill Blackbeards debaffler pages in the Krazy books are just great!
Hi Joakim -
Actually I was referring to the Spec Productions GA book. Haven't seen the new ones yet, probably will pass on them since I already have most of the run in clips. The Spec books were comped in return for some research that I did for them.

I prefer annotations printed along with the strips, small enough that they can be ignored if you don't need them.

actually, my new book "clean cartoonist's dirty drawings" WILL have some work by herriman fitting that title, both a previously published piece and an previously unpublished piece of art repro'd from the original. thanks for mentioning me in your great blog, alan. there's an incredible treasure every and every day on stripper's guide!
My favorite recent wrong annotation was from one of Checker's Winsor McKay books - where they wonder if the "obvious fake name John Kendricks Bangs" was a McCay penname. Yow. Has Bangs ever been out of print?
But yes, lots of folks dont know the difference between a grass widow and a sod widow. Or of course, now how many songs you got on those big CDs back in 1920s.....
Hi Steven -
Yeah, those olden days CDs were really low capacity storage devices. Just two songs!

Here's a pop culture icon that I've never been able to fully decode. In the 1880s and 90s it was common to indicate someone was a young dandy by showing him sucking on the end of his walking stick. What kind of weird iconography is that? Where did it come from?

Hello, Allan---I've also seen the "dandy" character with the cane at his mouth many times when I go back to the 1890's. I call this guy a "Cholly" as that seems to be the name he's given most of the time. I read him as an English dandy, or a pretentious American aspiring to be one. I'm assuming the cane up to "Cholly"'s mouth was a gesture of pondering, like scratching your head. -----Cole Johnson.
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Sunday, June 03, 2007


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

Don't forget to cast your vote on Saturday's poll regarding Herriman posts!


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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...
Everything! and more...
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.
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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.


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
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