Saturday, February 09, 2008


Herriman Saturday

We start out today with the final Zoo Zoo strip. It ran on December 22 1906. That makes a grand total of five strips in the series. Herriman's next strip (also undocumented in the standard references) won't start for four months.

Next up we have what I take to be sort of a rogues gallery of horse-racing fans. Colonel George Waring (the fellow in the middle sporting the jaunty swastika-covered vest) is the only one for which I could find any biographical info -- he gained a measure of fame for his creation of a street cleaning force in New York City in the 1890s. The caricatures in this cartoon are particularly well-executed by Herriman, which makes it all the more a shame that they spelled his name wrong in the headline! This gigantic full-page width cartoon ran on the 23rd.

Last up is a sports page cartoon printed on the 24th. Boxers were demanding, and sometimes receiving, much larger purses with the burgeoning public interest in the sport.


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Friday, February 08, 2008


News of Yore: Comic Strip Ads Ineffective? - 1952

Food Firm Says Comic Strip Ads Over-rated
By Victor A. Schlich (E&P, 6/14/52)

Portland, Me. — Comic strip advertising is highly over-rated as far as food manufacturers are concerned. That's the opinion voiced by William Northgraves, advertising manager of the Burnham & Morrill Co. of Portland, in a speech before the New England Newspa­per Advertising Executives Associ­ation here June 10.

He backed up his contention by a case history of comic strip ads used for more than a year by Burnham & Morrill, one of the nation's largest canners of baked beans and other foods.
"We found that the convention­al type ad has the nod in food advertising, advertising studies to the contrary," he said.

B & M has found the best ad­vertising medium for its opera­tion to be widespread use of news­papers in conjunction with a con­tinuing campaign in the four ser­vice magazines distributed by food chain stores.

Mr. Northgraves told NENAEA that his firm was mapping out a program of extended newspaper advertising for next year. "We made quite a study of comics before we got into them, and the research certainly indica­ted they were a fertile field," Mr. Northgraves reported.

What Happened in Test
These studies indicated that comics had a great appeal to all income levels; they got an average of 699 readers per dollar spent in advertising; that the comics page was the big high traffic page on daily newspapers which would carry comic ads; that Starch ra­tings showed that 80 per cent of the people who saw comic strip ads read them through.

"But we still were a little skep­tical after all that," he said. "To test the worth of comics we ran a test in the New York Daily Mirror—certainly a high comic-reading paper."

The test consisted of this: A comic strip ad containing a hidden offer. Elsewhere in the same pa­per, run of the paper, another con­ventional type ad was inserted. It was the same size, but different shape and made the same offer.

"The results of that test run in April 1952 amazed us," said Mr. Northgraves. "And they got us out of the comics field."

The hidden offer in the comic strip ad—which by all studies got highest readership—produced only 71 requests. The conventional ad pulled in 374 requests.

"Proof enough?" he asked.

He added that his firm was a firm believer in newspaper adver­tising, considered it "a bridge be­tween national magazine advertis­ing and the retail level."

"Papers give us a steady, better relationship with the average con­sumer. She reads her magazines once or maybe twice. The papers are read every day," he summed up.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: True Comics

For a previous post about the mystery artists of True Comics and a bunch more sample strips take a look here.

True Comics was an exercise is making comics that were 'good' for kids. In 1941 a company called Parents Institute, a publishers better known for its parenting magazines, decided to create a line of educational comic books. Designed to wean kids from "blood and thunder" comics, the concept by the publishers own admission was a flop. That didn't keep them plugging away with the idea for almost a full decade. The flagship Parents Institute comic book title, True Comics, appeared on the newsstands in early 1941. Not long after that the company also put together a newspaper comic strip, also titled True Comics, along the same lines. It was distributed to newspapers in conjunction with Bell Syndicate.

The Sunday strip started on November 2 1941, and the earliest dailes I find are from the first week of December. Both the daily and Sunday strips told stories about famous people and events; the lives of Wild Bill Donovan, Amelia Earhart and Cordell Hull were early subjects.

The daily told rather long stories, while the Sunday at first had stories that continued anywhere from 1-5 weeks. After the first ten months the Sunday changed tactics and made all the stories self-contained each week.

Quite a few cartoonists contributed to the feature; unfortunately many of them didn't bother to sign their work. The most frequent artist was Sam Glankoff, who probably did well over half of the entire run, but Chad Grothkopf did some Sundays and dailies in 1942, and others such as Ed Smalle, Lew Glanz, and George Andrew Corley each made an appearance. Of particular interest is the very odd pairing of Joe Simon and Milt Gross who subbed for Glankoff on the Sunday every 3-5 weeks during much of 1945 (the sample above is a Simon-Gross production).

The daily, which some papers titled Real Heroes for reasons unknown, seems to have ended on February 6 1943, while the Sunday soldiered on until November 25 1945. (The comic book version ran until 1949.)

Here's a good Time magazine article on Parents Institute, and an interesting blog article on the comic book series.


How can the daily start on a Sunday? Anyway, the Milwaukee Journal starts it on November 2, 1941 (with an announcement the previous monday), and to my untrained eyes, this looks like a Sunday page:
Boy, did I bung up my dates there. Totally misread my notes. Post is corrected, thanks for the heads-up Fram.

Hello Allan Holtz, I am the director of the Sam Glankoff Collection, and have stumbled upon your piece on True Comics. I have many Glankoff strips, some of which can be seen on the Glankoff website: Thank you for your coverage on True Comics, also listing the names of other cartoonist's who contributed during the 1940s. Greg Theakston wrote a piece on Glankoff as cartoonist, which is also on the Glankoff website. Please feel free to add to your links...and I look forward to being in touch, to learn more of that period of Glankoff's life.
Wendy Snyder /
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Franklin Booth in the Sunday Funnies

Here is a rare, perhaps even unique, appearance by the great illustrator Franklin Booth in the Sunday comics. This strip, which seems to be the start of a series but apparently wasn't, was produced for the World Color Printing Sunday section of July 24 1904.

If you're not familiar with Booth's work, it is absolutely fabulous, breathtaking stuff. Go check out his work on this site and this one. And now that you're a Booth fan (and who wouldn't be after even a small taste!) get a copy of this wonderful collection of his work.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008


News of Yore: Marty Links Tells Her Own Story

[from The Cartoonist, summer issue 1957]

Being a word-by-word account via New York and California of the correspondence between the editor and a contributor—the creator of "Bobby Sox"—our Miss Marty Links.

Jan. 3
Dear Marty:
Would you like to do a story for "The Cartoonist" about yourself, de­scribing your hectic and unglamorous role as mother and cartoonist? Please let me know.


Jan. 12
Dear Alfred —
Will try. Love, Marty

Jan. 23
Dear Marty:
Just a quick note to give you a dead­line. I must have material by March 10th.
Many thanks, Alfred

Feb. 2
Dear Al:
Would it upset your schedule if I withdrew my proposed story? I'm so swamped with cub scouts, school ba­zaars, dripping noses, sore throats—and I haven't even thought up a Sunday page idea for this week! Anything I wrote for the magazine no one would believe anyway.
Signed, Desperate.

Feb. 10
Dear Desperate —
If you are too pressed—or too shy— to write about yourself, can you have someone else write a truthful story about you—perhaps your husband?
Signed, Very Desperate

Feb. 23
Dear Al—
My husband!?! God forbid!
Yours, Marty

March 5
Dear Marty —
Deadline looms. Are we going to press without the whole truth on our Marty?
Love, Still Very Desperate

March 6
Dear Alfred —
I airmailed a stirring story, exquisite­ly illustrated, over which I slaved for weeks! If it is lost I will kill myself!!!
Best, Marty

March 8 Via Western Union:

March 5
Dear Alfred —
As a female cartoonist the only differ­ence between me and other housewives is that I draw instead of making beds and doing dishes. And drawing is more fun.

I have three children. Alex, eight, Elizabeth, five, and Victoria, three. In addition to these adorable, beautiful and loathsome children, I have one husband. Handsome, kind and understanding, his name is Alex Arguello and he is an at­torney in our home town of San Fran­cisco. We are both natives. Alex's great-great-grandfather was first governor of California. I met my husband the first day of high-school. He wore his hair parted in the center and was a sopho­more!

We were married some years later when he was in law school. When he entered the Navy and went overseas, I already had been drawing weekly car­toons for the San Francisco Chronicle for a year or so. From the back of a book on how-to-cartoon, which he had given me as a gift, I found a list of syn­dicates with addresses. This gave me the idea of writing to them. I received an­swers from all, even one syndicate which wrote it also sold art courses ac­companied by real nylons (this was war time, remember).

I decided that Joe Agnelli of the Bell Syndicate had written the nicest, most pleasant letter, so I signed with them and have been associated with them ever since.

Larry Fanning (who is now with the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate) was my boss on the Chronicle, and due to the fact that he didn't fire me when he should have, I had many samples of work in print to send out. George Lichty also has been a great help, advising me many times and steering me in the right direction.

Also involved in all this were a few lucky breaks, which is a good basic fac­tor to start with in any career. Mine was in coming up with the idea of a teen­age cartoon just as the public was be­coming aware of that particular age group. Jeans, bandannas, sloppy shirts and Sinatra were their trademarks and they became mine. A good subject for gentle humor.

Here's how it goes. Running the house, husband and three children come before drawing. Although there is a question of who runs what. As soon as Elizabeth and Alex are off to school, I sit down in my studio—which is a sunny, pleasant room off the kitchen, overlooking the laundry room—and start to draw feverishly. When school is over (which is much too soon) and the children arrive home with their lit­tle friends, everything starts going down-hill.

Elizabeth is still in kindergarten so the working day actually consists of only two and a half hours. After that I draw intermittently all through the rest of the day, grabbing ten minutes here or there whenever possible. The baby alone is no trouble, but the others love my studio and the baby does every­thing they do. They spend the after­noons at my desk, using up good paper, ruining brushes or anything else they can lay their hands on.

When I first started with the syndi­cate, I drew only daily panels. After we sold to a few papers, they asked for a Sunday page. This was impossible to handle alone, so Jerry Bundsen and Ted Martine came into my life.

Jerry, who works for the San Fran­cisco Examiner with Herb Caen, the columnist, has been writing my daily gags for eleven years. Once a week he sends me a large batch of gags from which I select what I want and like. If there aren't enough to make up a week, I fill out with my own ideas-which drives Jerry mad! He claims if he sent me sixty gags I would be unable psy­chologically to select more than four out of the bunch. This isn't so at all.

After selecting the four best gags, I pencil in the whole week of dailies. These go to Ted Martine, the world's best artist (I should be working for him). He inks in all the pencilled backgrounds. When they are returned I ink in the figures. I have pencilled them in rough enough so that I change as I go along. This keeps the action loose and fresh. In addition I draw from models constantly, then use the sketches as ref­erence. With the outlines of the furni­ture inked, for instance, I add details like prints and upholstery, flowers in bowls, fringe on curtains, etc. My hus­band claims I can't stand a plain white space. But it's this detail which gives a homey touch. As a matter of fact I draw all the furniture in our home. I often think I'd like to recover the worn up­holstery in a popsicle-colored back­ground so the popsicle stains will not show.

As to the Sunday panels, these I dream up myself, and it is more work than everything else put together. I feel each idea is the last one I'll ever be able to eke out. Also I meditate (or should I say brood?) on my own girlhood, which was a long time ago, believe me. But once the mind starts going back it's amazing how much it remembers.

In addition, some ideas come from parents of teenagers, sometimes from a teenager who will call or write about some funny experience.

Well, Alfred, this is the end of the fascinating, stimulating, glamorous story of a career woman versus marriage. From now on if anyone should ask you if they mix, refer them to me. I'll tell 'em!

Writ by hand, Marty.

Marty Links passed away on January 8 2008 at the age of 90.


Dear Allan,

I am Marty's daughter-in-law and widow of her son, Alex Arguello. Thank you so much for this information. No one in the family has this correspondence and it is precious to us.

Thank you again,
Ginny Arguello
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Monday, February 04, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Sports Hall of Shame

Here's a good obscurity to bring you down from last night's Super Bowl. Sports Hall of Shame was by writers Allan Zullo and Bruce Nash along with cartoonist Bill Maul. It plied the familiar waters first sailed by the venerable Ripley, with the twist that this feature limited it's strange but true factoids to the world of sport (which, incidentally, was also Ripley's original subject). The panel feature ran both Sunday and daily starting May 7 1990* and ended on October 22 1994. Maul bailed on the feature on January 15 1994 and a cartoonist named (Marty?) Bucella took up the reins until October 22 1994. The strip was retired without ever having much caught on with newspaper editors. Nash and Zullo had quite the little cottage industry going with sports anecdote books. They published a slew of different titles, but my impression is that only two, Sports Hall of Shame Cartoon Classics and Sports Hall of Shame Golf Cartoons Classics, are reprints of the newspaper feature.

* EDIT 6/20/2021: Strike that start date. Seems to have started as a weekly panel in October 1989, graduated to daily in January 1990. 


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Sunday, February 03, 2008


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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