Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Dr. Hardup

Yes, the turtle has finally emerged from his shell, I'm back to regular duty on the blog. On Monday I sent all the final materials for the book to University of Michigan Press. The die is cast [shudder]. To add one final annoyance to the process, I wanted to use the last week or so to do one final pass on correcting questionable dates on Naturally those folks decided to do "infrastructure upgrades" at the exact same time and the site was taking as much as 10-15 minutes to load pages. Sigh. Well, hopefully the upgrades will speed up that site. It's been ridiculously slow for months now.

My next job is to start gathering the illustrations for the book, of which I've promised at least a thousand to the publisher. Quantity will be no problem as I probably have at least that many waiting around in my scan archives that go back nearly 15 years. Quality is, though, since some of the early scans are going to be needing upgrades. They were made back when storage space was precious and I often sacrificed resolution for small file sizes.

Anyhow, enough about me, let's talk about Dr. Hardup. This was the first continuing feature that the prolific Charles W. Kahles penned for the Philadelphia North American. Unlike most cartoonists of the day who worked in one venue at a time, Kahles was also contributing material to the New York World and McClure Syndicate simultaneously. Even more surprisingly, he was signing the material at all three places. Usually when cartoonists worked for several different syndicates they would take on pseudonyms or just not sign at all. Perhaps Kahles' style was so immediately identifiable that there was no point in hiding. A better guess would be that Kahles' fine services were in such great demand that editors were glad to have him in their sections even if he was dividing his time.

The plot of Dr. Hardup seems downright bizarre today -- a doctor who has to drum up business for himself? I guess we wouldn't be in our current health care mess if doctors were twiddling their fingers waiting for business!

Dr. Hardup ran from July 13 to September 28 1902. The above scan, provided by Cole Johnson, is of the debut episode.


Congrats on finishing the book (or at least the text)! A mammoth task if ever there was one. I'll send you the first material for the second, expanded edition soon (like a local artist taking over "Mutt and Jeff" for a month in 1911 when it was on hiatus) ;-)
Hi Fram --
Thanks for the info, which I will be looking over ASAP. I did wonder what my reaction would be to the first new piece of juicy data I received after submitting the final data for the book. Turned out that it was nothing dramatic (no frothing at the mouth, no fetal position sobbing). Guess I'm too worn out now to get all that bent out of shape about it.

He gave them cholera!!

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