Saturday, December 15, 2007


Herriman Saturday

Kind of pressed for time this Saturday, so just one Herriman today -- but it's a doozy. This cartoon ran a full page wide (8 columns) on November 25 1906. It's a fairly typical grumble for the day about the gas company, but exceedingly well-drawn.

Intermittent gas outages were very dangerous, as the thought balloons on the right depict. If the gas went off you might well forget to close off all the fixtures. Then when it came back on the deadly fumes could easily overwhelm and kill sleepers and children.


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Friday, December 14, 2007


Santa's Secrets, Day 5

Last day of the Santa's Secrets run today. As an added bonus, and courtesy of D.D. Degg, a most likely complete history of all the NEA Christmas strips, based on research by himself, Merlin Haas and yours truly. (note to DD - I made a few more minor corrections in this version).

Year NEA Christmas Strips
Title & Dates (United Media 2010-on)
1936 A Visit From St. Nicholas (Nov. 23-Dec. 23) George Scarbo (a)
1937 Sally Sailor & Meany Mo (Nov. 22-Dec. 25) Hal Cochran (w) & Walt Scott (a)
1938 Bobby's Christmas Dream (Nov. 21-Dec. 24) Hal Cochran (w) & Howard Boughner (a)
1939 Peter & Polly in Toyland (Nov. 27-Dec. 23) Hal Cochran (w) & Howard Boughner (a)
1940 Santa's Secrets (Nov. 25-Dec. 24) Hal Cochran (w) & Howard Boughner (a)
1941 Santa's Wonderland (Nov. 24-Dec. 24) Hal Cochran (w) & Leo Nowak (a)
1942 Santa's Victory Christmas (Nov. 23-Dec. 24) Hal Cochran (w) & Leo Nowak (a)
1943 First Aid for Santa (Nov. 22-Dec. 24) Hal Cochran (w) & Les Carroll (a)
1944 The Spirit of Christmas (Nov. 27-Dec. 23) Laurene Rose Diehl
1945 Unknown not offered?
1946 Unknown not offered?
1947 Unknown not offered?
1948 Unknown not offered?
1949 The Story of the Savior (Dec. 5-24) William Gilroy (w) & Walt Scott (a)
1950 A Christmas Carol (Nov 20-Dec. 23) Walt Scott
1951 Songs of Christmas (Dec. 3-22) Walt Scott
1952 The Little People's Christmas (Dec 1-24) Walt Scott
1953 The Little Tree That Talked (Nov. 30-Dec. 24) Walt Scott
1954 A Christmas Carol (Nov. 22-Dec. 24) reprint from 1950
1955 The Three Wishes (Dec. 5-24) Walt Scott
1956 The Animals' Christmas aka The Animals' Yule (Dec 3-24) Walt Scott
1957 The Music Box Trio (Dec. 4-24) Walt Scott
1958 Jeremy Christmas (Dec. 1-Dec. 24) Walt Scott
1959 Little Gabe & the Golden Stars (Dec. 7-24) Walt Scott
1960 The Brightest Star (Dec. 5-24) Jay Heavilin (w) & Walt Scott (a)
1961 Oleander's Christmas Eve (Dec. 4-23) Jay Heavilin(w) & Walt Scott (a)
1962 Christmas on Marrow-Bone Ridge (Dec. 3-22) Walt Scott
1963 Gifts of the Magi by O. Henry (Dec. 2-24) Ralph Lane
1964 The First Christmas, A Story for Children (Dec. 7-24) Ralph Lane
1965 Legends of Christmas (Dec. 6-24) Kreigh Collins
1966 A Christmas Playhouse (Dec. 5-24) Janet Henry (w) & John Lane (a)
1967 Bucky's Christmas Caper (Dec 4-23) Wally Wood
1968 Why Christmas Almost Wasn't (Dec. 2-24) Jack Kent (King Aroo)
1969 How Wyn Sock Saved Christmas (Dec. 1-24) Paul Gringle
1970 Dreadful Dick's Dilemma or, Santa's Fright Before Christmas (Dec. 7-24) Newton Pratt, Esq.
1971 Toys That Talked: A Christmas Fantasy (Dec. 6-24) Phil Pastoret (w) & John Lane (a)
1972 How the Firefly Lost His Heat (Dec. 4-23) Navarro (w) & Elmarine Hanratty (a)
1973 Amanda's Christmas in the Forest (Dec. 3-24) Marcia Course (w) & Jack Millie (a)
1974 The First Christmas Toys (Dec. 2-24) Phil Pastoret(w) & Don Baur (a)
1975 Mitten So Big (Dec. 1-24) Dorothy M. Floreck(w) & Don Baur(a)
1976 America's First Christmas Candle (Dec. 6-24) Barbara Craig(w) & Don Baur (a)
1977 Judy, Joe and the Ho-Ho-Ho (Dec. 5-24) Phil Pastoret(w) & Don Baur (a)
1978 Why Christmas Almost Wasn't (Dec. 2-24) Jack Kent (reprint from 1968)
1979 How to Make a Merry Christmas (Dec. 3-25) Phil Pastoret (w), John Lane (pencils) & Bobby Miller (inks)
1980 Montague's Christmas (Dec. 1-25) Mark Lasky
1981 Montague's Return (Dec. 7-25) Mark Lasky
1982 A Christmas Carol (Dec. 6-25) The Joe Kubert School
1983 Gifts of the Magi (Dec. 5-24) The Joe Kubert School
1984 Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (Dec. 3-25) The Joe Kubert School(signed Joe Kubert)
1985 The Nutcracker (Dec. 2-25) The Joe Kubert School (signed Joe Kubert)
1986 Christmas Every Day (Dec. 1-25) John Lane based on a story by William Dean Howells
1987 Elmore, the Too Tall Elf (Dec. 7-25) Kevin Fagan
1988 Carlyle's Christmas (Dec. 5-24) Larry Wright
1989 Amos & the Christmas Couch (Dec. 4-23) Susan Seligson (w) & Howie Schneider (a)
1990 Alphonse, the Misguided Moose (Dec. 3-22) Heidi Stetson
1991 How to Make a Merry Christmas (Dec. 2- 24) reprint from 1979
1992 A Christmas Carol (Dec. 7-25) reprint from 1982, one strip omitted?
1993 The Grizzwells Christmas (Dec. 6-25) Bill Schorr
1994 A Christmas on Santa Street (Dec. 5-24) Gary Delainey (w) & Gerry Rasmussen (a)
1995 Big Nate's Secret Santa (Dec. 4-23) Lincoln Peirce
1996 St. Nick of Time (Dec. 2-25) Jimmy Johnson
1997 A Time-Traveling Christmas (Dec. 1-25) Carole Bender (w) & Jack Bender (a)
1998 A Very Drabble Christmas (Dec. 7-25) Kevin Fagan
1999 A Puddles Christmas (Dec. 6-25) note: may have been titled "The Search for Santa"
Greg Evans
2000 Santa, Inc. (Dec. 4-23) Dave Whamond
2001 A Fairy Merry Christmas (Dec. 3-25) Brooke McEldowney
2002 Duncan's First Christmas (Dec. 2-25) Chris Browne
2003 A Mall & the Right Visitor (Dec. 1-25) Jef Mallett
2004 Spotting Santa (Nov. 29-Dec. 25) Mark Heath
2005 Big Nate's Secret Santa (Dec. 5-24) reprint from 1995
2006Cow & Boy and The Quest For Santa (Nov. 27 - Dec. 25)Mark Leiknes
2007Roamin' Holiday: A Humble Stumble Christmas (Dec. 3-25)Roy Schneider
2008The Search for Santa (Dec. 8 - 25)reprint from 1999 - 2 strips omitted
2009Rip Haywire: Away in the Danger (Dec. 7 - 25)Dan Thompson
2010A Mall & the Right Visitor (Dec. 6 - 25)reprint from 2003 with 5 strips omitted (now copyright United Media, not NEA)

A big Stripper's Guide tip o' the tam to Holmes at Barnacle Press who sleuthed out the problem with the table above that was inserting those acres of whitespace. Not only that, he sent me all the corrected HTML to fix the problem. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's a Festivus miracle!

Thanks also to Alex Jay, who IDed "B. Craig" of the 1976 strip.

"note to DD - I made a few more minor corrections"
Yeah, I keep thinking I've caught all the typos and flat-out errors when another one or three turn up.
We both seem to have missed the ending date for 1941's strip - I think it should be Dec. 24, not the 27th.
Oh, and if anyone can tell me the full names of 1972's Hanratty and Navarro or 1976's B. Craig, I would be most appreciative.
Hi DD -
Right you are about Santa's Wonderland. I based the end date on a paper that ran the strip late, neglected to check the dates on the strips. Now corrected.

Great list, Alan.

Just a note. Greg Evans later rerunned "A Puddles Christmas" few years later as a regular "Luann" storyline.
Smart fella, that Evans chap. If Roy Schneider is still lurking about, take notice buddy - you've bought yourself three weeks off when you want it!

Just stopping by to update the list to include the 2008 entry...
United Media has announced that this year's
annual Christmas strip will be a repeat of the
one that ran in 1999.
"The Search for Santa" by Greg Evans
December 8 - December 25, 2008

This year's version runs 16 strips.
When last we saw this story it ran 13 strips.

When it originally saw print in 1999
it ran 18 strips - from Dec. 6 - Dec. 25.

My problem now is to try to find out what the
actual title to the story was in 1999.

I got the original dates from Greg Evans himself
when it ran in 2006. I also got the title of the story
from that 2006 run, but now it turns out that the
original title may be "The Search For Santa".
Much thanks for the update DD!

Regarding "A Puddles Christmas"(1999) versus "The Search for Santa"(2008) -
I asked Greg Evans and he was kind enough to answer my questions about the title of the series and who edits out the two strips for this year.

His reply: "When it ran in 99, it was "A Puddles Christmas." NEA came up with the new title and also picked the 2 strips to omit."

Thanks to Mr Evans for setting the record straight.
United Media has announced the 2009 NEA Christmas series - "Rip Haywire: Away in a Danger" by Dan Thompson,
running 17 strips from December 7 to December 25, 2009.
The 2010 Christmas series will be a rerun of the 2003 "A Mall and the Right Visitor" series, and will run from December 6 to December 25, 2010.
So someone will be editing out five strips, which seems kind of a drastic edit for such a short series.
The Ocala (Florida) Star-Banner has announced that they will carry the strip, as they apparently have for the past three years: "For the third year, we are offering a special comic strip during the holidays. From Dec. 6-25, you can look for this bonus comic strip in the classified section Monday through Saturday. Created by Frazz cartoonist Jef Mallett, this strip is titled 'A Mall and the Right Visitor.'"
The strip can be read online during the 2010 Christmas season at
Just a note to note that last year's (2009) NEA Christmas comic strip was technically the last.
While United Media still refers to the strip as the NEA Holiday Special/Christmas Strip, this year the credit ran "dist. by UFS", not distributed (or copyright) by NEA.

No newspaper comic strip carried the NEA mark since January 2010.
After 75 years the NEA Christmas strip may be a thing of the past now.
The Hogan's Alley magazine newsletter reports on the strip:

"In other comics news, we recently learned that Universal Press
Syndicate, which absorbed United Feature Syndicate's operations
earlier this year, will not offer a short-run Christmas strip this
year. UFS's Christmas strip, syndicated through its Newspaper
Enterprise Assocation subsidiary, had a long history, dating to 1936,
but obviously the industry has undergone seismic changes since then.
Our source at Universal didn't indicate that the Christmas strip won't
return in future years, so time will tell."

re: 1972's How the Firefly Lost His Heat by Navarro and Hanratty
I think I may have found out who Hanratty is.
John Platt's recent post at
gave me the name Elmarine for that 1976 NEA feature.
That led me on a hunt for who that was,
which led me to Elmarine J. Hanratty.
In her 1955 high school (West Technical High School, Cleveland) yearbook she took a "Special Art" course and her ambition was to be a commercial artist. The yearbook's prophecy had her as a "Park Avenue Artist".
She was Elmarine J. Howard then, but her eventual married name was Elmarine J. Hanratty. She was born April 4, 1937.

Many of the This Week in Astrology features
were signed by the artist as "E.H", but in 1976 she seems to have signed, at least a few, as "Elmarine".

Her 1976 art is a bit more detailed and is more closely aligned with the NEA Christmas strip art.

I think I found Hanratty.
Still on the lookout for Navarro.

Hey! Just noticed you got an Elmarine Howard doing "Peggy" for NEA in 1958-60.
Great sleuthing, DD. That also allows us to assign her the drawing credit specifically.Elmarine -- what a great name!


I found my way here looking for information on the The Story of the Savior strip. Is it still under copyright? Thanks!
After picking up two Walt Scott originals for "The Story of the Savior" which were missing the captions, I located, and purchased, a full set of the 18 printed strips. The strip ran from Monday 12/5/1949 through Saturday 12/24/1949 (except on Sundays). The strips which I acquired were published in the Sandusky Register-Star-News. The writer of the strip is credited as William E. Gilroy, D.D. The strip was not printed on the comics page, and looks to have printed in various locations throughout the newspaper (on the top and/or bottom of various pages).
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Thursday, December 13, 2007


Santa's Secrets, Day 4

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Santa's Secrets, Day 3

NEA wasn't the only syndicate to produce these annual Christmas strips. King Features still (as far as I know, though I don't have first-hand knowledge of any past 1996) produces theirs, usually in conjunction with Disney. Other syndicates that took a whack at them include the Associated Press, the Central Press Association, Register and Tribune Syndicate and Bell Syndicate.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Santa's Secrets, Day 2

Howard Boughner, the cartoonist on Santa's Secrets, was a bullpenner at NEA who first got a regular byline on an obscure weekly strip titled Mac. He produced a trio of Christmas strips in 1938-40, this one being the last. After Clyde Lewis left the Hold Everything panel Boughner took it over without a byline, finally being awarded one a year and a half before the feature was canceled.

Boughner exhibits here a delightful style, clean and uncluttered yet very stylish. It's easy to see why he was an invaluable member of the NEA's staff. Boughner also lent his pen to a number of other features as an assistant and ghost.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


Santa's Secrets, Day 1

Today we begin a complete reprinting of NEA's 1940 Christmas strip, Santa's Secrets by Howard Boughner. NEA has been producing an annual Christmas strip since 1936, offering it to subscribing papers as a holiday bonus.

The NEA Christmas strips typically run about four weeks. Some feature regular NEA characters, others adapt classic Christmas stories, and others (like Santa's Secrets) feature original stories and 'one-off' characters.

Although NEA continues to produced the Christmas strips to the present day (the 2007 strip is titled Roamin' Holiday - A Humble Stumble Christmas) few newspapers run them anymore. Lots of papers printed the freebies back in the 30s and 40s, but things tailed off after that. Finding a paper that runs the NEA Christmas strip these days is a rarity indeed. What a shame that such a nice holiday tradition has all but ended. I guess in one-paper towns these days editors see no reason to go to the bother of opening up a little space for three weeks of holiday cheer. A big "Bah, humbug!" Christmas message to their readers. Nice.

Here we go...

The only newspaper I've seen that has announced it will run the "Roamin" Holiday" strip this year is The Dalles (Oregon) Chronicle.
Haven't seen the actual paper to confirm.

A page one item introducing "Santa's Secrets" in the November 25, 1940 Modesto (Ca.) Bee lists Hal Cochran as the writer of this series.
Hi DD-
Thanks for the Hal Cochran info. I get the impression that he wrote quite a few of those earlier Xmas strips without a byline. As I read over this one I kept saying to myself, "no one writes sappy kiddie stuff like this quite like Cochran. Gotta be him at the helm."

I don't mean to put you on the spot but how would you feel about me reproducing your NEA Xmas list on the blog. I contributed quite a few of those listings, some directly and some through Merlin Haas, but you found some of the real toughies, so I don't want to step on your toes. Lemme know.

Feel free to post it. I posted it on RACS and sent a copy to Mary Anne Grimes at United Media; both with credits to you and Merlin Haas.
Thanks DD, we'll make that the grand finale to this week's reprint series. Mucho gusto!

Um, there's a paper in Plainview Texas that's announced it's running it, too...

Thanks for the mention!

Roy Schneider
For some years King Features did a Christmas special with the Disnery characters. Very elusive to find our information of this. Does anyone know when it ceased being produced?
Hi Dana -
The latest one I was able to document was 1997, but I'm pretty sure they continued on, perhaps even to the present day. Maybe Mark Johnson at King Features could give us more info. Mark, you out there?

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Sunday, December 09, 2007


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

Order Jim Ivey's new book Cartoons I Liked at or order direct from Ivey and get the book autographed with a free original sketch.


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