Saturday, July 19, 2008


Herriman Saturday

These cartoons were published on March 25, 28 (2) and 31 1907.

The first and third cartoons are referring to the wild and woolly San Francisco graft and corruption trial, of which you'll find an excellent account here.

The second cartoon concerns a road rally from LA to San Francisco. From the fragment of the news story that made it onto my photocopy it seems to be some sort of private bet with the winner taking a $3000 prize. The cars were an Oldsmobile and a Pope-Hartford, and the route was said to be in horrific condition:

The time limit of forty hours which was originally agreed upon has been abolished, and the winner will be the first car to negotiate the 500 miles of rough going up the valley route.

There are not more than 100 miles of fair road on the entire journey, the highway having been completely washed away or badly cut up by the unceasing rains during the past winter.
The final cartoon brings us back to the road graft investigation which has now been sent to a grand jury.


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Friday, July 18, 2008


News of Yore 1952: Weinert Takes the Reins on Vignettes

Harry Weinert to Create GFC's 'Vignettes' Feature

(E&P, 1952)

Harry Weinert this week joined the list of distinguished artists who have created the "Vignettes of Life" Sunday color page in the course of its 30-year history as a newspaper fea­ture. He succeeds the late Kamp Starrett, who drew the feature for 12 years until his death in July.

Others who have handled the feature since Charles D. Mitchell founded it are Frank Godwin, who now draws "Rusty Riley" for King Features Syndicate, and the late J. Norman Lynd. The feature was distributed by the Ledger Syndicate, Phila­delphia, for many years, but has been a General Features Corp. property since 1949.

Mr. Weinert has studied at the Corcoran Art School in Washing­ton, D.C., and at the Pennsylva­nia School of Industrial Art. He has contributed freelance work to the Philadelphia Record, the In­quirer, Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post. For a time he was on the art staff of the old Phila­delphia Ledger.

Mr. Weinert hopes to modernize somewhat the style evolved for "Vignettes" by his predecessors, without interrupting the feature's gently satirical nature or otherwise alienating the fans it has gathered in its long history.

[I question one part of this article -- it states that C.D. Mitchell originated Vignettes of Life, but according to my research Mitchell created Follies of the Passing Show in 1918 for the Ledger and left it in 1920. Lou Hanlon continued the feature until 1931. While Hanlon was continuing the feature, which lost its title in the 20s, Godwin started Vignettes in 1924. The features were essentially identical in subject -- the only real difference is that Vignettes was a full color page, Follies was a black and white half. I could very well be missing something here but I think they were two distinct features, but perhaps there is some connection between the two that I'm missing. Anyone else have an opinion on this little mystery? -- Allan]


Sorry I don't know anything about Lou Hanlon, Alan. This is OT, but, I'm dying to know what you think of the new LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE reprint book. I'm getting quite a kick out of reading it, all the dailies from the first through Oct. 1927. Reproduction for the most part passable to excellent, many strips reproduced from the original artwork! Very few Sundays are included, just the ones crucial to continuity, although I felt the lack of the Sunday in a few cases. Overall, I give it an A-. What do you think?
Hi Mark -
I'm reading the book right now and will be posting a review soon.

I too remembered that Godwin started it, but The Comic Strip Project says that Mitchell started Vignettes in 1913 and Godwin got it in 1925

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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Balmy Benny

As far as I can tell Gene Ahern didn't serve in World War I, but that didn't stop him from doing a strip about a doughboy in the trenches.

His screwball NEA strip Squirrel Food had been running since 1915, often featured a dimwitted nut named Balmy Benny. The strip was retitled in his honor on July 25 1918 when the little fellow and his faithful companion George the dog were inducted into service in Europe. In order to be somewhat respectful of our boys in uniform Benny's lunacy was toned way down for the newly refocused feature, a change that definitely dampened the hilarity. Ahern's writing on this strip is tentative, searching for gags in a war zone of which he had no first-hand knowledge. Real soldiers like Percy Crosby, Wally Wallgren and Bruce Bairnsfather could serve up wartime gallows humor, but Ahern had to content himself with derivative gags, most of which dropped like lead balloons.

Luckily for Ahern the war ended mere months after Benny arrived in the trenches. Our screwball hero got to come back stateside and resume his screwball ways. The strip was renamed back to Squirrel Food on February 3 1919.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: History Repeats It's-Self

We hardly ever seem to discuss topper obscurities here on the Stripper's Guide blog and that's odd because I really enjoy researching Sunday topper strips. Anyway, this one, History Repeats It's-Self, was the first topper of Rudolph Dirks' Captain and the Kids. It started on April 11 1926 and was only used through the May 9 episode. In it Dirks has his little hellions reenact scenes from history in their own inimitable way.

Next Dirks used an untitled topper featuring the kids for awhile before he settled on his first long-running series, Have You a Little Cartoonist in Your Home?

Sorry about the awful scan. Just couldn't seem to get the scanner to behave well with this strip.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: The Finesses

In the 1920s the game of bridge became popular in the burgeoning middle-class. In the new suburban tracts popular entertainments like movies and nightclubs were a long train ride away, so many residents took up bridge as a pretext for socializing. Inevitably the comics began commenting on the fad, with H.T. Webster's bridge cartoons leading the way in popularity.

In the depression bridge became even more popular -- an evening's entertainment at no cost became a very attractive substitute for going out when money was tight. It was then that The Finesses debuted, a daily strip designed to capitalize on the fad.

The strip was syndicated by McNaught and credited to "Kaydell". My guess is that the 'Kay' portion refers to art by Ken Kling -- Kling was producing the syndicated version of Joe and Asbestos for them at this time. I haven't even a guess who was hiding behind the "dell" portion, though.

The strip debuted on June 4 1934 and the creator(s) seemed to recognize trouble from the start. A strip that everyday shows a foursome seated around a card table isn't at all visually arresting (though Penny Ante traded on just that concept for years), so 'Kaydell' added some lighthearted adventure elements to the plot. Result, of course, was that bridge fans weren't happy (not enough card-playing) and others weren't happy either (enough with the bridge already!). The strip was doomed and less than four months later McNaught decided to fold; the strip ended on September 22.

The samples above include both the first and last strips; it was one of the few series that was given a chance to say a formal goodbye to its (few) loyal readers.


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Monday, July 14, 2008


News of Yore 1913: Berryman, Hamilton Profiled

Leading Cartoonists of America - Clifford K. Berryman, of the Washington Star; Grant E. Hamilton, of Leslie's Weekly
By Robert E. Heinl (E&P 7/5/13)

William McKinley paid Clifford K. Berryman, the Washington Star car­toonist, his highest compliment. "Your pictures," the lamented President said to him, "never bring a blush nor leave a stain."

Berryman got his start in a way not unusual for those who have made a name at drawing. When a small boy he sketched a picture of his teacher, representing him as Old Father Time. Then he cautioned the other little boys not to tell the teacher who had made the drawings on the blackboard. When the veteran teacher returned, he took one look at the chalk outlines, and the next minute he was warming the seat of Young Berryman's pants. It was a marked but painful recognition.

While still a lad Berryman made a rough sketch of the then Senator Joe C. S. Blackburn, who hailed from Berryman's home town in Kentucky. The work was executed on the back of a cigar-box lid. Then the boy cut out the figure with a scroll saw. He put a piece of leather behind the likeness, so that it could be made to stand up for a desk ornament. One day Senator Blackburn noticed the little ornament in Berryman's uncle's office.

"Who did that?" the Senator in­quired.

"My brother Jim's boy," was the re­ply.

"Well, sir," was Blackburn's reply, "I used to go to school with Jim. He could draw better than any boy in the class, but never had an opportunity to develop his talent. I am going to take this boy to Washington and give him a chance."

Senator Blackburn was as good as his word. He secured a job in the draft­ing division of the Patent Office for the promising youth. Berryman went to work harder than ever. He reached his stride and became the leading cartoonist of the Washington Post. Afterward he accepted an attractive offer made to him by the Washington Star, a position he has held nearly seven years.

Berryman's chief fame came to him when he originated the "Teddy Bear." It was at the time of President Roose­velt's first bear hunt in Mississippi. Col­onel Roosevelt had been informed that there was great sport to be had in that vicinity. In the face of this he had gone eight days without a sign of any­thing worth shooting at, to say nothing of bear.

The natives made frantic efforts to chase something up. One evening a guide rushed into camp breathless to announce big game a short distance away. President Roosevelt grabbed his gun and scrambled up the road with the rest of the crowd as fast as he could go. To his amazement he encountered a great, bulky negro leading a tiny cub bear. The negro was dragging it along with a huge rope. He was about to re­lease the little animal, so that the President might have at least one shot at a bear, when T. R. raised his hand in protest.

"If I had shot that bear," he re­marked afterward, "I could never have looked my boys in the eye again."

Berryman depicted the releasing of the diminutive bear, and captioned it "Drawing the Line in Mississippi." The original of that drawing is highly prized and now hangs in the National Press Club in Washington. It is a pic­ture of the first "Teddy Bear."

Nobody was more pleased with the creation than Colonel Roosevelt. He dedicated a photograph to the artist with the inscription: "To the creator of the Teddy Bear who always has a call on the Roosevelt family." Like his distinguished predecessor, President Roosevelt took occasion to notice Ber­ryman's work in fitting terms.

"You have the great cleverness com­bined with entire freedom from mal­ice," was Mr. Roosevelt's written senti­ment. "Good citizens are your debt­ors."


Fecundity and his work in developing artists to the point of popularity are characteristics for which the art world is indebted to Grant E. Hamilton, aside from his own rare attributes as an art­ist. Many pictures in Judge are drawn after ideas Hamilton has developed. His work as art director of Judge and as supervisor of the art work on Les­lie's, and of organizing ideas for other artists to work from, has taken him lately somewhat from actual work on pictures, although he is more able and versatile to-day than ever before. Ham­ilton is a many-sided man, a prince to work with and, although still devoted to his art work, an enthusiastic farmer. Two or three days a week Hamilton spends with his family on his farm near Alstead, N. H., where he has live­stock of the best breeds, and where, when the notion takes him in season, he can hunt game in his own forest.

Hamilton is a prodigious worker. He has been the life and soul of Judge. He once told John A. Sleicher, the present owner of the publication, that in the old days of Judge there were times when he drew all the colored cartoons, including the first page, and the back page, and the double page, and all the black sketches in more than one issue. In addition to this he wrote paragraphs and stories. In other words, in those days he was all that was visible of the entire working force of the paper.

Hamilton was about nineteen or twenty years old, a good-natured, smooth-faced boy, when he first came to New York from Youngstown, O. He was the son of a furnaceman, and him­self had entered that business, but was determined to become an artist. He called upon Mr. Goodsell, the proprietor of the Daily Graphic, in which his ear­lier artistic work had been published, and said he had come on to take a place that had been promised him. The publisher looked him over for a mo­ment, and then said: "I do not want you. I want a man, not a boy."

Hamilton's heart failed within him, but his pluck did not desert him. He said: "You have sent for me, and I have come on at your invitation. This is not any way to treat me. I am in the city, with little money. You sent for me, and I have come here."

Mr. Goodsell hesitated a few minutes and said: "Well, you can report to the head of the art department, and see what he can do for you, but I can't pay you more than five dollars a week." "It is all right," replied Hamilton. "With me the money does not matter, so much as getting a place. All I want is to get a hold where I can show you what I can do, if you will give me a chance."

So Hamilton went to the head of the art department who put him at work, He was with the Graphic but a short time when he was receiving fifty dollars a week. He was a tireless, energetic, brainy worker, indefatigable and indus­trious to a marvelous degree. After a time Hamilton was invited to become a cartoonist on Judge, which had been leading a precarious existence, but which, in the hands of W. J. Arkell, was becoming well known and prosper­ous.

Hamilton was anxious to learn the art of lithographic work and of colored cartooning, and foresaw that in time a great field would develop for the col­ored cartoon periodical. He, therefore, jumped at an offer, even at a sacrifice in salary, which to him at that time was of large moment. Subsequently in his association with Bernard Gillam, the fa­mous cartoonist, Hamilton was taught colored work, and he was an apt pupil and finally became a master of the art. His colored work in after years was stated by Mr. Gillam himself to be the most perfect done by any artist in the country.

When Mr. Gillam invited Hamilton to remain on Judge, and act as his chief assistant, Hamilton realized the jeal­ousy of feeling that naturally exists among competitive artists. "I fear that you will not be able to get along with me," he said. "Never mind that," re­plied Gillam, "all I ask is that you do your work, and we will get along well together." He urged Hamilton to ac­cept the place, and the latter reluctantly consented, insisting to the last that the association could not be congenial and that it would not last longer than ten days or two weeks.

The fact is that in the ten years' inti­mate connection of the two men, up to the time of Gillam's death, there was never occasion when the slightest cool­ness existed between them, never a word of censure was heard from the lips of Gillam, never anything but praise from the lips of Hamilton. It was a beautiful association, and brought the two artists into such intimate relation­ship that each seemed to supplement the best there was in the other. Hamilton became the successor of his beloved partner on Judge after Gillam's death. The same comradeship exists after years of association between Mr. Slei­cher and Hamilton. The two friends are inseparable.
Hamilton's extreme modesty as an artist has kept from him much credit that is his due. He is not one who loves to see his name exploited, and his reticence as to his own work is pro­verbial. He stands to-day the dean of American cartoonists, while his work and judgment as to contemporary mag­azine art are shown in the great popu­larity of Judge on its modern lines as a humorous and satirical journal.


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Sunday, July 13, 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.


The Retreds would have made a fun strip.
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