Saturday, June 07, 2008


Herriman Saturday

The first cartoon, printed on the Examiner's March 5 1907 front page, is a great example of yellow journalism. Of course the DA knows these guys -- L.A. government in these days was small and naturally everybody knew everybody. This sort of thing might find a home today on an editorial page, but definitely not as a news headline.

The second and third cartoons were printed on the Examiner's sports page on the 7th, one splashed across the top, the other along the bottom, full page wide. Herriman was often tapped for dog show coverage -- don't know if it was at his request or if he just got stuck with the assignments. Sorry about the quality of the bottom cartoon. Microfilmed newspaper pages tend to be particularly bad at the bottom of the page (I imagine the focus favors the top) so this one was in pretty bad shape.


"Gentlemen, with your kind permission I would like to investigate you." An example of how you don't need to know the full background to appreciate the cartoon (although the headlines give some big hints). Hilarious!
Post a Comment

Friday, June 06, 2008


News of Yore 1952: Once Mighty McClure Sold

McClure Syndicate Sold to Bell-NANA
By Erwin Knoll 9/6/52

McClure Newspaper Syndi­cate, which has long claimed the distinction of being the world's oldest newspaper feature service, this week terminated 68 years of independent operation with its sale to the Bell Syndicate-North American Newspaper Alliance group.

According to Ernest Cuneo, president of NANA, who con­tracted the purchase, McClure will be operated as a separate subsidiary of the group, which also includes Consolidated News Features, Inc., and Associated Newspapers, Inc.

Control of the syndicate passed to the new owners with the pur­chase of a 1,000-share block of capital stock for $47,250 by Mr. Cuneo at an auction Thursday, Sept. 4. Mr. Cuneo outbid James L. Lenahan, former president and editor of the syndicate, and Guggenheimer & Untermeyer, attor­neys for the estate of the late Adelaide P. Waldo.

The attorneys had held the block of shares as security for a debt, and had themselves offered them for sale at auction.

According to plans announced just before E&P went to press, John Wheeler, chairman of the board of the four affiliated Bell concerns, will serve in a similar capacity at McClure. John F. C. Bryce, who with Mr. Cuneo pur­chased a substantial interest in the group in March, 1951, will be president of the new acquisition. He holds the same title in Con­solidated News Features and Associated Newspapers. Joseph B. Agnelli, executive vice-president and general manager of the four companies, will be executive vice-president of McClure.

No decision has yet been made as to editorial supervision of the syndicate. Louis Ruppel, who last month was elected editor and president of McClure, told E&P: "Ernest Cuneo and I are old friends, and we are now negotiat­ing as to my future with the syn­dicate."

Mr. Lenahan, who was president and editor of the syndicate and operated it for six years, said he expects to re-enter the syndicate field with an independent service. He figured unsuccessfully in the bidding at Thursday's auction. He opened with $2,500, stating, "I know what the business is worth."

The McClure Newspaper Syndicate was founded in 1884 by S. S. McClure. In 1914 it was sold by the McClure interests to J. C. Brainard who in turn sold to Richard H. Waldo in 1927. After Mr. Waldo's death in 1943, his widow, the late Adelaide P. Waldo, ran the syndicate for three years. Mr. Lenahan acquired con­trol from her in 1946. Mr. Lenahan's failure to meet a due pay­ment on the stock led to the auction.

Among features introduced to newspaper readers in the course of McClure's 68-year history are the first cartoons of Claire Victor Dwiggins and Rube Goldberg; the articles and stories of George Ade, John Kendrick Bangs, Fannie Hurst, Theodore Roosevelt, Wil­liam Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells and Jack London; the art work of James Montgomery Flagg; Calvin Coolidge's column; "Superman"; and the first "behind the news" column from Washington.

Features currently handled by the syndicate include, among comic strips, "Archie," "Alfred," ''Superman," "King Aroo" and "Roger Lincoln"; "There Oughta Be a Law" panels; columns on fashions, interior decorating, in­ternational affairs and Ray Tuck­er's "Washington Whirligig".
An ironic aspect of Bell-NANA's acquisition of McClure is that John Wheeler, founder of the Bell Syndicate and now chairman of the board of McClure, did his first syndicate writ­ing for McClure Syndicate in 1913, and in 1916 sold his own business, the Wheeler Syndicate, to McClure.

Ernest Cuneo, who acted for the Bell-NANA group at the auction, bought into the group in March, 1951. He is an attorney for Walter Winchell.


Who owns what's left of McClure and Bell now? Who holds the copyrights? Where are the files?
Didn't United Media (UFS/NEA) buy
Bell/McClure-NANA in 1972?
I think they still own the rights.

Allan - love this syndicate stuff.
DC (Superman) and Archie both still control the rights to their comics strips (Of course, Archie is still running as a comic strip).
Let me be a bit mysterious here and say I know who most likely owns the rights to their strips, but I'm not at all sure they do after so many years, so I'm keeping mum just in case I someday wish to reprint some McClure material.

Well if you're going to go all secrecy on us Allan, how about revealing some real secrets -
What's the deal with Ernest L. Cuneo's NANA and the CIA?
What about the Joshua B. Powers'
Editors Press Service and the South American CIA activities?
Did every syndicate with foreign offices accommodate spies?
I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you. In fact you may know to much already. We know where you live.

Post a Comment

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Music Row Joe

Music Row Joe was a local strip produced for the Nashville Tennessean. It ran at least 1983-87 based on my few samples and may have run much longer for all I know. The creators were Jim Oliver and Ron Hellard.

That's the sum total of my knowledge of this feature - Holtz out!

EDIT 1/19/2020: This weekly strip ran 1/31/1982 -  3/27/1988. Based on a promo article it seems as if Jim Oliver was responsible for the art, and both contributed to gags.


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Bill and Budd the Bird Boys

The only thing less than absolutely delightful about this comic strip is its title, a run-on sentence all on its own. Here we go -- it's The Exciting Adventures of Bill and Budd the Bird Boys in the Good Airship Flying Fish. Whew!

Americans were utterly fascinated with airplanes in the years immediately after the Wrights soared above Kitty Hawk, and The Bird Boys were one of dozens of features that capitalized on that interest. Bill and Budd had a rather odd flying machine -- theirs resembled a submarine with venetian blinds for wings. The youngsters used their surprisingly airworthy contraption to pull pranks, as in the sample above, but also had adventures in strange lands (oh, okay, they also pulled pranks there).

The art was phenomenal on this series -- whimsical and sumptuous. If Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger and William Marriner had a child (granted a rather unlikely event) this would be the comic strip their progeny would have penned. So who is the master that actually drew this series? Nope, sorry, wish I could tell you. Although this delightful strip ran in the Chicago Tribune for a full year (September 12 1909 - August 21 1910) never once was it signed by the creator.

Perhaps because the creator chose to be anonymous this wonderful strip, a real classic, has been ignored by all of the standard comic strip histories. I guess they feel that a strip without a known creator just doesn't count for much.


Fantastic!!! Thanks, Allan.
Give us our dinner, and lots of pie. Words to live by....

Great find!
Post a Comment

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Einstein

Been well over a month since we did an obscurity of the day. We'll chip off the rust and oil the joints with this delightful little strip, Einstein by Jay Heavilin and Frank Johnson. The strip ran just a little over a year, from January 6 1964 through February 13 1965.

Einstein was a really neat idea. It was a light-hearted adventure punctuated almost daily with puzzles and riddles of various kinds. Read the strip, solve the puzzle and tune in tomorrow to see if you got it right. The only fly in the ointment is that limited to a diminutive daily format there wasn't much room to get fancy with the puzzles. Perhaps even worse, the strip was distributed by the George Matthew Adams Service which was on its last legs at the time. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if the strip was barely even marketed.

The creators were already old hands; Jay Heavilin was a writer for NEA; he's the fellow that wrote a lot of those short-run factual strips NEA was always giving out. He also scripted Vic Flint, a few years of Kevin the Bold and probably lots of others for which he took no credit.

Frank Johnson at the time was getting a little work from the New York Daily News doing filler strips in their Sunday comics section, but his bread was buttered mostly in comic book work. He later hooked up with Mort Walker to do the art on Boner's Ark, and then in the early 80s he would add Bringing Up Father to his workload, a strip that he stuck with until the bitter end.

Thanks to Jeffrey Lindenblatt for the running dates from the Staten Island Advance.


Eh, the puzzles don't send me although I appreciate the effort to address this kind of market. The granddaddy of puzzles in the comics (although it's more of a feature than a comic strip) is Uncle Art's Funland by Art Nugent. Bob Weber Jr.'s Slylock Fox also offers puzzles. Are there, or have there been, any others?
Yikes I didn't even comment on the art. (!) It's very nice. I always did like Frank Johnson's style: clear and clean, and he gets in some nice detail and texturing like the sky in the May 30th strip.
Hi Toonhead -
Puzzle features have been appearing in Sunday comics sections from the very earliest days of the form. There were even Ting-Lings puzzles in 1894. What's exceedingly rare, though, is to make the puzzles an integral part of an ongoing comic strip storyline.

I remember this very well. It ran in the local San Diego Evening Tribune as a stand alone filler, not on the regular comic page. I even clipped strips and kept them in a long vanished homemade scrapbook.The puzzles, etc. appealed to me more than anything. Even at 9 I thought it was an innovative concept realized in a very mediocre manner.
I was actually excited to find these. I moved in the summer of 1964 (age 8) and in our new town we got the Houston paper instead of the Dallas paper - and we did not have Einstein. The next time I saw a Dallas paper, Einstein was gone.

This explains it all. I thought it was pretty cool at the time!
Post a Comment

Monday, June 02, 2008


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Dondi

Following is our very first guest reviewer on the Stripper's Guide blog. Since I would rather have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than read Dondi I'm not a good candidate to review this new book. The saccharine sweetness, Dondi's third-person references to himself, his constant "goshes" all make my skin crawl. That doesn't mean it's a bad strip, though. Just not my cup of tea. I do, however, have handy a Dondi fan in the person of my lovely, talented and otherwise discriminating wife. So take it away Judy ...

by Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen, edited by Charles Pelto
Classic Comics Press 2007
ISBN 978-1-60461-686-6
262 pages, $21.95

The Dondi comic strip, created by Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen, was about the adventures of a war orphan from Europe. He is befriended by two American G.I.’s and comes to live with them here in the States. The Dondi reprint book by Classic Comics Press reprints the first 19 months of the strip, from it’s inception on September 25, 1955 until March 17, 1957. The book’s format (11" x 8.5") allows for 3 dailies or one Sunday per page, which is a perfectly acceptable presentation — the strips are readable while the book is manageable. There is a delightful introduction by Jules Feiffer about Irwin Hasen and an extensive interview of Hasen by Bill Baker. The reproduction is superb — only one or two strips have a few minor dropouts — noticeable more by contrast with the excellent reproduction of all the other strips than by any glaring fault of the few affected strips.The Sundays are reproduced in crisp black and white.

As a child I was a fan of the Dondi strip but only had access to the Sundays, reading them in the Pittsburgh Press in the late 60’s and early 70’s. So it was with great anticipation that I began reading these early strips; my memory of details had faded and the Sundays simply could not tell the whole story. I mostly remembered the sweet innocence of Dondi and the obnoxious Mother McGowan. The strip’s storyline begins with two American G.I.’s—Corporal Ted Wills and PFC Whitey McGowan—returning from Europe and reminiscing about the war orphan — Dondi — they had befriended and taken in. But when the Army says it’s time to move you move, so, missing the lad, they are headed back to the states in a far darker mood than you should be after two years away. But Dondi, showing the ingenuity that will serve him well throughout the strip, has stowed away on the troop transport and is reunited with his ‘buddies’.

The strip continues to tell the tale as the state must decide Dondi’s immigration status and whether or not Whitey will be allowed to adopt him. We learn that Whitey is a bit of a millionaire playboy, but has a good heart in contrast to his over-bearing mother who is far more concerned about her position in society than the well-being of her only child. Because of Whitey’s money, Ted reluctantly agrees that Dondi will be better off living with the McGowans in New York than going with Ted to small town America where he lives with his mother and drives a delivery truck. But not to worry — Ted’s not written out of the strip — not by a long shot!

Gus Edson does a masterful job of keeping the strip moving while managing to fill in the back-story so new readers won’t be lost. In these first 19 months we have marriage and death, poverty and privilege, prejudice and tolerance, all handled intelligently but not belabored. While the strip would seem to be an innocent diversion about an orphan, Edson and Hasen used it from the start as a commentary on whatever struck them as important. In the Baker interview we learn that later, after Edson had died and Hasen took over the writing, the strip would tackle such topics as toxic waste and child abuse. Even in the early strips the reader is confronted with some unpleasant aspects of society, such as entrenched attitudes about immigrants and the state of public education.

Anyone who was even a passing fan of this 31-year strip should enjoy reading (or re-reading) these early strips — I certainly have!


I am enjoying reading the Dondi book,and agree 100% with your review,having never read it in papers it's a fun find...but the really IMPORTANT thing is
Classic Comics Press published it, and that fans of classic comics have a chance to enjoy it. There are so many great strips that deserve a book!

PS Great review! I hope we get to read more reviews from you, Mrs. Holtz!
>The Sundays are reproduced in crisp black and white.<

What does that mean? Are the colour Sundays reproduced in halftone or is the original black and white linework (sans colour) printed?
Hi George -
The Sundays all appear to be reproduced from b&w proofs, not halftones of printed strips.

I was a big fan of Dondi as a kid as well: it had the entire back page of the Sunday NY Daily News comics for many years. Judy, thanks so much for your review and Allan as well for his candor. I'll admit that it's probably nostalgia more than anything driving my love for the strip so I can understand your stand here.
Not to sound like a jerk but Dondi is not from Eastern Europe, he is Italian.He's wandering around looking for his parents and saying: "Donde?" (where?) and that's what the soldier, not knowing any italian, names the boy.
Always happy to get corrections, Anon!
I was a Dondi reader from when I was seven to when Dondi left our local newspaper.Luckily the first story I read was when Dondi took a trip to Europe and revisited the place where he had first met Ted Wills many(three?)years before.It was revealed that Dondi's mother was an Italian girl who died in childbirth and his father was an American GI killed in action.
I have a friend whose elderly mother faithfully clipped and saved every Dondi episode for years and then when she found out it was to end she stopped and didn't save the last 2 or 3 weeks.
She has scrapbooks full of them. Amazing huh. Esther
Hasen was still alive in December 2011 when the NY Times ran an article about him - Corey Kilgannon, “At 93, Still the ‘Staff Artist’,” New York Times, Dec. 16, 2011:

Sara Duke (who grew up reading Dondi too)
Post a Comment

Sunday, June 01, 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.


Whew! That's a pretty impressive number. Add to that chalk talks, caricatures, etc. and you're waaaay up there.

I still have the my Jim Ivey originals!
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]