Saturday, June 14, 2008


Herriman Saturday

All four of these cartoons appeared in the Examiner's Sunday edition of March 10 1907, a rather incredible performance for any cartoonist. The first and last were both full page width!

Of particular interest is cartoon #3 ("Are You a Worker..."). This is Herriman's first appearance on the syndicated Hearst Sunday editorial. Usually at this time the cartoons accompanying this preachy Sunday tradition were penned by Robert Carter, but occasionally others would fill in. It seems as if Hearst, or at least Brisbane back in New York, were starting to take note of our man Garge.


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Friday, June 13, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Teddy, Jack and Mary

After Tom McNamara's long-running Us Boys feature ended (use the Search function to find a month long reprint of that strip here on the blog) he got a berth at the Chicago Tribune with a very similar feature titled Teddy, Jack and Mary. The Sunday-only feature commenced on May 19 1929, about six months after the end of Us Boys.

I'd love to know if McNamara got canned at Hearst or if the Tribune offered him more money. If the latter then McNamara really got shafted, because after the one year of appearing in the Trib McNamara became the subject of a reader referendum. For three months his strip alternated with a new Sunday kid feature titled Little Folks by Tack Knight. Readers were invited to vote for the strip they liked best, and when the ballots were counted Teddy, Jack and Mary got a very public heave-ho in favor of Little Folks.

What a way for McNamara to end his long career -- a flogging at the hands of the readers themselves. The last Teddy, Jack and Mary, in which McNamara did not get to tell his audience to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, appeared on August 24 1930.



Tried to mail you, but it came back. Box full or was my post too large (2.1 Mb)?
Hello, Allan----I don't get how mediocrities like McNamara get long national careers. His drawing talent was quite low--he couldn't do expressions, body proportions, clothes that earthlings would wear, or proper perspective. His characters are unappealingly whiney, always being intimidated and blubbering. Punchlines, even lame ones, aren't necessarily even there. Still, when the OUR GANG comedy series began in Hollywood, producer Hal Roach called him in to write and direct some of the earliest episodes. McNamara did his snivelly kids for comic books at least up to the war.-----Cole Johnson.
Hi Cole -
I agree that McNamara was an utterly awfully cartooner, but if you can get past that -- not easy, granted -- his strip (Us Boys) really had its moments. After ignoring it for years and years I forced myself to read a few months and was so impressed I ended up running a month of it on the blog. Go check it out and see if your opinion on McNamara doesn't mellow at least a little bit.

I never trust newspaper polls. They're inherently flawed, for the simple reason that not everyone answers them. The results reflect only those who take the time to write in to their papers, while there could be a huge core of fans who can't be bothered. The lesson? You snooze, you lose. But it's not inconceivable, as a result of human nature, that five hundred fans could lose a favorite strip because twenty five readers answered a poll, and, out of that number, sixteen didn't like it. do I have a better way? No, but it's worth asking if the system really works.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008


News of Yore 1951: Spector's Coogy Graduates

'Coogy' Sunday Page Due from Herald Tribune

Cartoonist Irving Spector crossed the country 13 times in three years awhile back and there­by became infatuated with the desert in New Mexico and Ari­zona. "I remember everything in vivid detail," he says. "I can draw it without seeing it."

That helps explain the locale of his Sunday page, due May 27 from the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate. The char­acters apparently stem from 20 years of animated cartooning and the result: "In animation, you get so you consider that animals are people."

Mr. Specter's career goes back almost, but not quite, to the age of 14. At 14, he tucked some of his drawings under his arm, hied from his home in Los Angeles to the Walt Disney studio, in Holly­wood—only to learn that Mr. Disney was "out." He came back that night though and noticing a light on at the back, gathered his courage and walked right into a story conference attended by, among others, Walt Disney.

"They all seemed amused and Mr. Disney was kind." says Mr. Spector. "He told me there'd be a place for me at Disney's when I finished school."

As a matter of fact, the car­toonist (who has recently taught motion picture cartooning at the College of the City of New York) didn't finish school. He left with half a year still to go at the age of 16, got a job with Universal Studios. A year and a half later he went to Disney's as an assis­tant. and, at 20, he became an animator for Columbia Studios.

As a writer later for Warner Bros., he helped in the develop­ment of the "Bugs Bunny" type of humor (zany, wacky humor as opposed to sweet, cute animals, he explains.)

Mr. Spector's animals, none of which struck us as sweet, include the title character, which has rather faint resemblance to a cougar and serves mainly as the interlocutor of the piece. Others are Big Moe, a bear; a tortoise; and Arresting Sam, a deputized dog.

The cartoonist, who is now con­nected with Famous Studios as a writer, started the strip as a small-sized Sunday filler in December.


Expect Coogy in my blog a couple of weeks from now. I will have some interesting things to say, as it appears to be a missing link in one of comicdom's maddest myths. I hope I can quote from this piece, Allan.
Hello, All------Sounds like an ersatz POGO to me. Show us one, Allan!---Cole Johnson.
I'll leave it to Ger since he's planning a Coogy post. Let us know when you post it Ger.

.. and you can quote, Ger. It's an E&P article.

And it is an ersatz Pogo... including comedic phonetic writing of big words... but it is also much more. There are some actual movie and genre parodies, for instance. Was it a sunday only, Allan? If you have any dailies, please show them. I just bought a couple more samples, so I will be waiting for those to arrive. It'll probably be tuesday plus two weeks before I get around to that.
Hi Ger -
It was Sunday only.

If this piece ends up being quoted (on Ger's site) let me know, and I'll correct a few minor errors. I've never seen it before, but it explains why I've seen the exact same misinformation elsewhere on the web (not from this blog, but someone else cribbing from it previously); e.g., he never worked for Disney -- the story behind it is true but slightly different. A few other things too. "Embelished" maybe, by a Trib copy editor?

Ger, if you do Coogy on your site, feel free to let me know. If you like, I'll help you out (Yes, I have original boards).

The 1951 sundays are up. I'll add this piece next saturdy or sunday and some other stuff Paul sent me.
Go check out Coogy on Ger's blog at:

There are several posts, go to the September 2008 archives.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: The Wish Twins and Aladdin's Lamp

The Wish Twins are an obscurity by association. The strip ran for five years in the New York Herald, almost always as an inside third-page with only one spot color. Meanwhile on the other side of that sheet was usually something by Winsor McCay. Not quite well-drawn or interesting enough to compete with the master, they are ignored like the wallflowers at a dance. If you can afford to buy Little Nemo tearsheets you're among the few with access, but who could tear their eyes away from the full-color full-page glory of Nemo long enough to peruse the sparse monotone color of the third page Wish Twins on the reverse?

The creator, W.O. Wilson, was a regular of the humor weeklies where he was never a star player but did turn out good cartoons. He spent most of the 1900s at the New York World where he penned this feature as well as a number of others that hid in the section's interior. His one breakout strip was Madge the Magician's Daughter which he did for the Philadelphia North American; this strip has lately been the subject of a Hogan's Alley article.

The Wish Twins ran in the Herald from October 30 1904 through January 5 1908. You'll find more samples of this strip over on Barnacle Press.


Did you know, speaking of McCay and the Herald, that for a very brief period of time, both McCay and Earl Hurd (one of the inventors of the cel-animation process) were drawing cartoons for the same paper?
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: The Zanities

The New York Daily News, for reasons I don't fully understand, made a habit of including filler strips in their Sunday comics sections. Since they had free and easy access to all the Tribune strips I don't understand why they needed to do this -- they could always run one of their usuals in any format they might need, or pick from a list of strips they didn't usually run.

Whatever the reason was, they did run filler strips, often in series but occasionally one-shots. Above you'll find one of each. The Zanities, by a rather long in the tooth Thornton Fisher, showed up in the section on widely dispersed dates at least as early as 1949 and as late as 1955. Fisher's salad days were way back at the New York World in the 1910s.

Bus Stop
by Adam Barth seems to have been a one-shot, though not having indexed the Daily News Sunday sections I couldn't say for sure.


What equipment do you use to scan your strips, every item I have been able to purchased is either to small or what i possibly need is $1000 to get. any suggestions or ideas would greatly help. -steve
Hi Steve -
Usually I use my el cheapo Mustek ScanExpress A3; when I need a larger scanning surface or want optimum quality I use my Epson 1640XL, a much more expensive scanner that I picked up from NASA surplus for a song.

Re: the fillers... maybe it was a New ork prestige thing? As the Herald was doing the same thing?

I am going to devote some room to Coogy over on my blog soon (I have couple more coming in, which I am waiting for). Interesting stuff.
Hi Ger -
Doesn't seem all that prestigious when a lot of these fillers were grade B material. Both the Herald-Trib and Daily News printed some really great fillers but plenty of lesser material too (I think Zanities definitely falls into the lower category). But maybe they were just toeing the line on Sturgeon's Law.

It did occur to me today that maybe a lot of these filler producers were on the payroll at the papers as retouchers, layout men, etc, and maybe the filler spots were given out as perks.

I don't know the Daily News fillers that well, but on the Herald there seems to have been a real effort to get the hottest cartoonists in town... Kurtzman, Fox, whomever it was that signed Henri Arnold... or maybe they told each other and saw the Herald as a way to get from cartooning or advertising to the big time?
Hi Ger -
I agree there were some beauts in the HT, Ger, but most of it was dreck. Specs, Bedelia, Oscar, Mr. Fussabout, et al. I might have to index it all, but I don't have to like it!

Allan, there were other Bus Stop Sundays. I found one dated 7/1/51. I also recently found The Zanities in 1949.

Jeez, that means they let the Bus Stop strips sit around for ages. My sample was from 1955. Thanks for the info. Keep hoping that someone in NYC will index the Sunday News!

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Monday, June 09, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Radiobituaries

Here's another one of those radio page features that were showing up amid the circuit diagrams and frequency lists in the 1920s. This one is from Audio Service, one of several syndicates that specialized in populating these pages.

I know very little about the rather morbidly titled Radiobituaries -- it ran at least in June-July 1927 and possibly longer and it was signed by someone named Lawrence. Beyond that ya got me.

Tip o' the tam to Cole Johnson who supplied these samples of a feature previously unknown to me.


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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Great feature, Jim!

I do remembered one Jack Kent did for Mad, around 1969 or 1970, about Sex Ed. That's about the only one I remembered he did.
I loved this edition of the Sunday Comics by Mr. Ivey. I must tell all my friends on my blog to buy his book!!!
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