Saturday, October 06, 2007


Herriman Saturday

Taking a break from Waddles for the weekend; he'll be back on Monday. Today's budget of Herriman starts out with some xenophobia, a fairly typical California editorial cartoon for the day reacting to the influx of Asian labor. Next up, one of Herriman's few editorial cartoon contributions on national news items reacts to another verdict against Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly. Third we have the Examiner casting its net wide to accuse both Democrats and Republicans of being at the beck and call of the Southern Pacific.

Finally we have a cartoon commemorating America's third straight loss in the Long Island Vanderbilt Cup automobile race. The race was conceived to encourage American auto makers to get into auto racing, a new sport taking Europe by storm. After three straight losses, though, all to French cars, not to mention a spectator being killed at the 1906 race, the concept was shelved for a year. The cup race resumed in 1908 with an American succeeded in winning the race for the first time.

The top cartoon appeared on October 19, the second two on the 20th, and the bottom cartoon on the 21st. A Herriman editorial cartoon published on October 18 had to be omitted because the photocopy was beyond redemption.


Allan: Very interesting to see the Vanderbilt Cup cartoon. The 1908 winner was Harry Grant, who drove an ALCO (American Locomotive Company) car at an average speed of over 63 mph. Just the other day, I posted something about on my blog:

Joe Thompson ;0)
Hello, Allan---The top cartoon of the overwhelmed American worker could be run legitimately today----if you put sombreros on the engulfing hoard.----Cole Johnson.
Oops--that should be "HORDE"!----CJ
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Friday, October 05, 2007


The Adventures of Waddles: Week 2


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Thursday, October 04, 2007


The Adventures of Waddles: Week 1

Today we begin a reprint series of a strip I bet not one in a dozen of you has ever seen before.

The new issue of Hogan's Alley, which should be on your newsstand in the next few weeks, features an article by yours truly about the comics of the Christian Science Monitor. This article is the first in a projected series on features in off-the-beaten-path newspapers. I'll let you read the article to learn all the details, but in it I describe the surprisingly long and interesting history of the comic strips that ran in that paper.

Among my favorites from the Monitor is The Adventures of Waddles. The strip, starring Waddles the duck, started out as a cute little kiddie strip written all in rhyme back in the 1920s. By the 40s, though, the strip began to feature seriocomic adventures that I think might remind you of a certain other cartoon duck as penned by Carl Barks. While the storylines in Waddles may not quite stand in comparison to the classic Barks stories, I think you'll agree that they have a wonderful charm all their own.

I'll be adding the strips to the blog at about a week's worth each day, and once we get through to the end of my part one I'll tell you where you can go to read the exciting second half of this long story (now you probably know darn well where the rest of the story is, but don't peek until you've read the first half!).

We pick up the story today on June 1 1949. Because Waddles' stories tended to blend together, I've had to pick up with the story already somewhat in progress, so read the following before you proceed:

Our Story Thus Far
A mysterious person claiming to be "Battling Bill" Baldpate has come to town to claim the old abandoned Baldpate mansion. The mansion, though, is also coveted by local bigwigs Blacksoil and Topsoil MacLoon. Battling Bill comes armed with a paper proving ownership, but loses the proof in a gust of wind while showing the claim to Waddles and his pal Ted. "Battling Bill" goes on a crying jag when this happens, leading the boys to wonder about the mysterious stranger's real identity. Meanwhile the MacLoons, aided by their stooge, Shorty, cook up a scheme to get the property for themselves.



Together we can present this LOST EPIC! Thanks for making it available and for sharing it with's great stuff!

Hello, Allan----Does WADDLES have anything to do with the strip DOK'S DIPPY DUCK, seen in the SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMICS?----or am I just quacking up?-----Cole Johnson.
Hi Cole -
Though both by Hagers, Dok was apparently J.R. Hager, while the originator of waddles was George Hager. Been a long time since I looked at Dok's cartoons (have one of the reprint books buried around here somewhere), don't recall the style.

Interesting, though, that both Hagers were duck fanciers. Maybe there is indeed a connection. Definitely got all your neurons firing to put those two together!

For what it's worth, I believe the Hagers who worked on Waddles were the children of J.R.

John R. "Dok" Hager's children were indeed the authors of Waddles after he had given up the strip because of failing eyesight. Mary wrote the script, and George was the illustrator. "Dok" was a real live doctor by the way, trained as a dentist before turning to cartooning. Dok's Dippy Duck eventually became Waddles, but I'm not exactly sure how that came about.

Terence Hanley
Thanks for the info Terence. I'd love to know more about Dok Hager, who was evidently quite active in Seattle newspaper cartooning. Maybe Waddles originated there at some point before the Monitor?

My mom had a red book of the Waddles comic strips as a child. She gave it to me when I was a kid and I must have read it 100 times! I loved that little duck! Sadly, the book--which must be 60+ yrs old now--was misplaced, so finding Waddles online (after a long search) was like finding an old friend. Thank you!
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Zimmie - Redux, Redact, Retract

We talked about Zimmie on Monday, but it turns out there's more to the story. I really love it when I learn something new because of the blog, and presume you do too, so let's take another whack at Zimmie, even though there's still some holes in the story.

Turns out that Zimmie had a far longer run than I'd been able to verify. The Houston Chronicle started running the feature on May 5 1908, and ran it until November 8 1916 (all this info is from J.R. Gonzales of the Chronicle). Furthermore, Gonzales tells me that the earliest panels were signed by a fellow named Arch Bristow, and that when the feature debuted the Chronicle included this blurb:

"The Chronicle is pleased to announce to its readers that it has secured in Arch Bristow's weather cut service what it considers one of the most unique and attractive newspaper features in existence."
A cut service is sort of like a syndicate. The cut service would periodically send out a whole batch of illustrations to subscribing papers. Depending on the focus of the service, the illos might be cartoons, drawings of people in the news, ad illustrations, page decorations, any number of things. The newspaper would receive from the service printed sheets full of drawings, and in-house staff would cut out individual drawings (thus the term cut service) and use them to
add decorations and illustration to the paper.

Apparently this Bristow fellow had found himself a very specific niche in doing cuts about weather (which seems like an overly specific niche market, frankly). I can certainly see why he would come up with something like Zimmie to keep subscribers coming back. I mean, how many different cuts does a paper need to represent 'partly cloudy', right?

Worth noting, by the way, that International Syndicate began as a cut service back in the 1890s, and retained vestiges of that business into the 1910s and perhaps beyond. Maybe Bristow sold out to them in 1912. Or maybe Bristow was aligned with International all along. Just another guess, and my track record's been pretty lousy on this one so far!

Speaking of a lousy track record, Cole Johnson is apparently right that Zimmie was not drawn by Harry Martin as I had guessed in the first post. When will I learn that it's rarely a winning proposition to disagree with master Johnson?

Gonzales wonders if Bristow was working directly for the Chronicle because on occasion the Zimmie cartoons would make specific references to Houston and the paper itself. My guess is no, that the occasional local references might have been Bristow doing special items for a valuable client. For a big paper like that to use a cut service is a mite odd. Usually cut service clients were limited to small papers that couldn't afford an in-house art staff, a category that certainly doesn't fit the Chronicle, even in 1908.

Anyone else out there who can tells us something about Zimmie or Arch Bristow?


I would just like to comment that doing a weather panel like this for the Chronicle would've been the easiest thing in the world, considering it's partly sunny and in the mid 90s for half the year and rainy and 70 the other half. (A slight exaggeration but not much of one.)

The copy of The Family Upstairs arrived the other day, by the way. Thank you much for sending it.
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Monday, October 01, 2007


Obscurity of the Day: Zimmie

Your faithful blogmeister, always happy to kill two birds with one stone, tells the tale about Zimmie on the blog today because someone wrote to me privately asking about it.

Zimmie, who appears to be an owl, is a knock-off of the locally famed St. Louis Post-Dispatch Weatherbird. Weatherbird, an overfed cardinal, was created in 1901 by Horace "Harry" Martin. The feature continues today, making it without peer for longevity of a daily panel cartoon. The Weatherbird, ostensibly a cartoon reporting the day's weather forecast in an entertaining manner, more typically provided pithy philosophy and commentary on politics and local events.

Harry Martin decided to parley his local hit on the national stage. He went to New York and did lots of bird-related cartoons, mostly for Hearst, from 1903-12. Martin seems to have been canned from Hearst in 1912, and that's the point at which Zimmie appears (first I've seen are from May 1912), syndicated by Baltimore's International Syndicate. The Zimmie cartoons are never signed or credited, but the art style certainly seems to be Martin's.

Zimmie ran until at least August 1913. After that Martin only shows up once more that I know of, doing a minor feature at the New York Globe in 1918.


Hello, Allan-----My two and a half cents-----I don't think ZIMMIE was the work of Martin, rather the artist just used Martin's style of bird face. This character would be pretty unusual for Martin, his birds are bigger and wear clothes. The letters don't look like his either. It also would be odd for a nationally known big-time cartoonist to do such a humble,unsigned International Syndicate thing. Besides, Martin for some months in 1912 was still employed by the Post-Dispatch doing the full-page ADVENTURES OF THE WEATHER BIRD in their Sunday section.-----------Cole Johnson.
Your halfpenny change ...

Weatherbird in the SLPD Sunday section in 1912? I only have it indexed in 1903 (I stopped indexing after 1904 because it seemed to turn into the normal NY World section). Even by then the Sunday was by Oscar Chopin, Martin having (ha!) flown the coop. Can you tell me more about the 1912 Sunday?

Seems unlikely to me that Martin was still in St. Louis since he worked for Hearst doing minor daily features in 1903-12.

A nationally known cartoonist? None of his features made much of a ripple as far as I can tell. No reprint books, anyway. Do you really consider him a bigtime guy?

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Sunday, September 30, 2007


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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