Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Handy Andy

Blog readers with extra-sticky gray matter may be thinking, "Hey that Stripper schmuck is recycling obscurities. I knew he had to run out of them eventually!" Not so, not so. Still barely scratching the surface!

You may remember that back on April 10, 2008 we featured Handy Andy as an obscurity, but that was a version by Ed Goewey from 1904-05. That Andy was a strongman who had a tendency to bite off more than he could chew. This Handy Andy, on the other hand, is a fellow who invents labor saving gadgets, usually for his adoring better half.

Johnny Gruelle would one day be the celebrated creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, but in the 1900s he was just another journeyman cartoonist. As 'Grue', his pen-name of the time, he created Handy Andy on his second go-round with World Color Printing in 1908-09 (he also did a short stint there in 1905). Handy Andy first appeared in the World Color Printing comic section on November 1 1908 and Gruelle didn't stick with it long, last penning the feature on January 31 1909.

The strip was then taken over by a fellow signing himself 'Bart'. He did the strip from February 7 to July 18 1909. I have always gone on the assumption that this 'Bart' was Charles Bartholomew, the famed Minnesota cartoonist who went on to be a big player in mail order cartooning correspondence schools. However, I've always harbored a niggling doubt. Why would Bartholomew, who was a pretty big fish in the little pond of Minneapolis, be doing journeyman work (and a lot of it) for World Color Printing? Anyone with a dissenting opinion regarding World Color Printing's 'Bart' is invited to make themselves heard.


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