Saturday, March 07, 2009


Herriman Saturday

Friday, July 5 1907 -- After months of build-up, and somehow convincing gamblers that Squires would mop the floor with Burns, it takes just four punches to lay Squires flat. In just two minutes Squires was knocked to the canvas three times -- on the last he had the good sense to stay there.

Sunday, July 7 1907 -- The Squires camp tries to squelch rumors of a fix by claiming to lose $14k that they bet on the bout. The case is made that the champion of Australia was over-matched because down under the fighters do not learn defense -- they essentially walk into the ring and pummel each other until one falls down. Squires supposedly would have given Burns a run for his money had he had the chance to land some hard blows. In fact the leadfooted pugilist barely touched Burns and many onlookers say he barely even tried.

Anyone who has seen the classic Bogey film The Harder They Fall will recognize a very close parallel between fiction and non-fiction.


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Friday, March 06, 2009


Questions for

I'm conducting an interview with the director of content development at, a site that I know many of you use. I'm winding down on questions and I'd like to throw it open to you guys. What would you like to know about the service? Whether it's a general question about the service, about the site, even a tech support question, the director has been very forthcoming, so if you have a burning question please post a comment or send me a private email (

The interview is tentatively scheduled to appear in the next issue of Hogan's Alley.

How do they choose what issues (dates) of a newspaper to scan and include in their collection? For many of the newspapers I search, it's hit and miss whether or not I'll find something because there are only a few issues available for any particular year.
Hi Central --
Hmm. Could you give me an example? I know the archives are by no means perfect, but I've certainly seen very few of their archived papers be limited to a few per years.

No question, more of a comment. Could they amend the search engine in such a way that it tells you if the paper you are looking for is not in their archives for that date? For example, it took me several tries to realize a paper I was backtracking trough january wasn't available for any date in the year before that. And no means except hit and miss to see how long the gap would be.

Of course, for comic fans it would be great if they included a vertical word search as well for those strips that have the name of the strip along the side...

Tricky question. How is their relation to copyrigh issues? If I take a strip from their archives and put it on my blog, are there additional copyright issues I should take into account (apart from not using images that are still copyrighted in themselves)?
Hi Ger --
Let me take a crack at those:

1. The search engine doesn't really 'know' that it's searching a particular paper. A search on a specific paper just knows that it didn't find any results and reports that. Instead use "Browse Available Papers" to see which dates the site has available.

2. OCR software isn't nearly smart enough yet to recognize when text is vertical rather than the expected horizontal, especially on lo-res images from microfilm. Check back in a few years.

3. I've asked about copyrights, but not secondary use. I'll definitely ask that.

I have one: When are the digitized issues of the Toronto Star, obtained with their purchase of Paper of Record, expected to be available on Newspaper Archive?
I don't know if this is the right place to post this question, but I'll ask anyway: is there anyplace I can get a complete run of my all-time favorite strip Gordo? I have many strips from the 40's, none from the 50's, a few from the 60's and 70's, and a lot up until the end in 1985 (although I seem to be missing all of '83 and '84)?
TimeGhost... lot's of Gordo NewspaperArchives. I have samples from all through the fifties, both Sundays and dailies. But they are from micro-fiche, so I wan to scan in some of my own collection to add a little color before showing them on my blog. I could start with a 1951 daily run if I get those lifted.
Hi Ed -
Thanks for the question. I'll ask about that.

Hi everyone. I know I should wait until the interview to answer questions, but I thought that Ger's question on copyright would be great to answer here. We do maintain a separate copyright for the digital images, but we also love to urge people to use the images on their blogs and other non-commercial online endeavors.

Like Ger mentioned, you do have to be careful about the original copyright - but for the older content, you can go ahead and post images. We do require a citation or link back to the site so we're credited. But have fun with the newspaper pages!

Thank you,

I "misposted" earlier. It was Google that bought Paper of Record, so that's where the Toronto Star is headed, not My bad.
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009


News of Yore 1949: Dick and Dahl

Dick Tracy's Double Has Fun In Cincinnati

(E&P, 3/19/49)

Cincinnati, O.— Some Cincinnatians were amused and some were startled, but hardly any of them were indifferent to the sight of a man who bore a remarkable resemblance to Dick Tracy. This man had a hooked nose and wore a wide-brimmed green hat, a flaming red tie and a yellow coat. As he strolled about downtown Cincinnati streets, he carried a black bag labeled "$1,000,000."

It was all a part of the Cincinnati Times-Star's promotion of the "Dick Tracy Mystery Contest," a contest based on a 36-episode strip by Chester Gould. The object of the contest is to discover, by means of clues in the mystery strip, what happened to a missing black bag that contains a million dollars. The Dick Tracy stunt started out to be nothing more than a modified sandwichman advertisement for the contest, but it grew almost to the proportions of a one-week institution. The young college student hired for the job was immediately hailed by passersby with "Hello Dick!" and "Hiya Dick!" Policemen greeted him everytime he passed their corners. The owners of a shoe-shine emporium refused to accept his money when he patronized them. Secretaries and stenographers gawked from office windows when he passed.

Since he was obviously making such good copy, "Tracy" was photographed giving "advice" to the Cincinnati Chief of Police and a locally well-known private detective, and was shown directing traffic on a busy corner. The stories were kept light. One disclosed that the young man is a college senior, majoring in psychology. He gave his impressions on pedestrians' reactions as he saw them. The more orthodox phases of the promotion consisted of three full-page advertisements (one in black and one color), frontpage boxes, and several quarter-page ads. Spot announcements were also used on radio stations. A special broadside, calling carriers' attention to the contest, was distributed, urging them to capitalize on the promotion and the contest to obtain new subscriptions.

Picked His Successor
(E&P, 1/22/49)

The cartoons of Gluyas Williams, before he retired more than a year ago, pleased managing editors so well that reprint releases continue running in some papers. This despite the fact that Williams' replacement, Francis Dahl, is a sharp cartoonist, able to win an audience on his own.

Dahl's "ideas are funny and his drawing is funny and you can't ask for more than that in a cartoonist," said Williams about Dahl. Williams, a down-Maine man himself, admired Dahl's New England caricatures in the Boston Herald and Traveler. Bell Syndicate says most of the Williams reprints have about run out, and Dahl has proved as popular as his predecessor.

[Allan's note: Although Bell might have offered Dahl's cartoons to Gluyas Williams subscribers, I have yet to see any paper that took them up on that offer. As far as I know Francis Dahl's excellent work was never successfully syndicated.]


The Dick Tracy Bag contest also appeared in the St. Louis Star.
Alan, I am showing the first four episodes of the Dick Tracy contest in my blog. The ads reprinted ehe first, first two or first four episodes and a complete Sunday color reprint for the first six week.The announcement seems to have been in every small town paper in Michican and Oregon, advertising it for the Chcago Daily Mail. Maybe the Mail owned a string of small papers? It also seems to have been used in a similar way for a larger paper in other States. One of my blog readers spooted the fact that the strips don't seem to have been drawn by Gould. I had only seen that the lettering was off.
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Monday, March 02, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: War On Crime

The Public Ledger Syndicate of Philadelphia put their stable of great illustrators to good use in the hard-boiled gangster strip War On Crime. The strip told the true stories of notorious criminals, starting out with such modern anti-heroes as Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger.

The stories were "adapted from the case files of the FBI". The writer, Rex Collier, a reporter for the Washington Evening Star, had a close relationship with the bureau and the notorious J. Edgar Hoover. Collier essentially worked as a publicity hack for the FBI, producing books, radio programs and screenplays in addition to this comic strip, all with the aim of mythologizing the crime-busting acumen of the bureau.

The art on the strip was usually uncredited. Although Frank Godwin fans hope to see his mark on the strip, art-spotters I trust tell me it isn't so. According to Jay Maeder in the third issue of his publication Paper Soldier, the artists on the series were:

(James?) Hammon (5/18 - 6/13/1936)
Kemp Starrett (6/15/36 - 7/17/37)
Jimmy Thompson (7/19/37 - 1/22/38)

Anyone disappointed by Godwin's lack of involvement should take heart -- the artists on these strips were superb. Just look at Thompson's brushwork on the samples above -- gorgeous stuff!

The strip was never a big seller from the start (one source says only 45 papers ran it at the height of its popularity), and it really stumbled after the stories of the big stars of the underworld had been told. By the time the ninth story arrived, featuring the relative unknowns of the Tri-State Gang, the writing was on the wall that the strip had nowhere left to go. Certainly there were more picturesque criminals out there, but their tales didn't shine the light on the FBI so Collier had no interest in writing their bios. The Tri-Staters and the strip met with similar ends -- execution. Our samples above are the final strips of this last story.

The strips were not dated. Like several other Ledger continuity strips, they used story code letters and numbers to designate the order in which strips were to appear. The stories were coded as follows, number of strips follows each:

Introduction of Series (12)
A-The Urschel Case (36)
B-Pretty Boy Floyd (30)
C-The Dillinger Case (78)
D-Alvin Karpis (108)
E-The Weyerhauser Kidnapping (60)
F-Eddie Bentz And The Million Dollar Gang (42)
G-Harry Brunette (42)
H-Glen Applegate And Robert Suhay (48)
(no I)
J-The Tri-State Gang (72)

There have been a few reprints of the series. Paper Soldier #3, mentioned above, is scarce but well worth finding. Ken Pierce Books sells a four volume set of the series claiming that it's a complete reprint with the 'best source material possible'. I haven't seen these books since I've been disappointed in this company's offerings before and I no longer roll the dice on buying their reprints. Can someone who did purchase them give us a review?


Hello, Allan----It's my understanding that the mysterious missing "I" series was to be the Lindbergh kidnapping case. It went into production, but for reasons of taste (and the less-than-spectacular participation of the FBI in the sad story,) it was scrapped. ----Cole Johnson.
Hi Cole -
I think Ledger just didn't use "I" since it might be interpreted as a January date. "Roy Powers" also skipped story I.

But your story makes for a much better legend.

Some companies who code date their products using letters to represent the months of the year begin the year with 'A' for January through 'M' for December. They don't use 'I' for fear that 'I' and 'J' will be mistaken one for the other.
Since you mentioned Roy Powers...
In a bit of serendipitous synchronicity Mr. Door Tree posted the first few weeks of that strip a few days ago.
Maybe Frank Godwin don't have drawn WAR ON CRIME (I think so too), but surely Jimmy Thompson have drawn CONNIE (episode "Q" in 1937).
Thomas Sawyer wrote me privately with some interesting info:

"Hi Allan,

Your discussion of War on Crime reminded me of a Godwin letter, which I mentioned to you some years ago. I have a photocopy of it. I kind of misplaced it, I think, but I did see it about two years ago.

It was a copy of a letter that Godwin sent to Gordon Campbell, and Gordon sent me a copy of it. It was typewritten and signed, and it was sent from Cuba. I can't remember the year, but I think it was 1938 or so.

In the letter, Godwin came right out and said that he did not draw War on Crime. (I'm not sure whether War on Crime was still running when Godwin sent the letter.)

Many years ago, Gordon wrote to me as follows: "Several artists on the Ledger staff were capable of imitating his style, Williams, Franke and Hamblen. Curtis Publishing Company used many artists and they also did work for the syndicate. A fellow named Henderson was the art director and as I remember he had a combined staff of around 75 people."

Franke would presumably be Joseph Franke, who was an excellent illustrator, but who is not well-known today. Williams would I assume be Roy Williams. Hamblen I do not know about.

Gordon also mentioned that Godwin did a baseball strip called Pipe the Fan. I would not be surprised if that was in some way connected with that baseball cartoon by Godwin that you found. Gordon mentioned that it appeared in a Washington, D.C., newspaper.

According to Sid Hydeman (of Redbook), in How to Illustrate for Money, Godwin was (I gather in his early days) an infielder for the Washington Senators. "

Allan's note: I checked the major league records; no Frank Godwin (or Goodwin, for good measure) ever played major league ball. No Godwin or Goodwin at all ever played for the Senators. He might have been in the minors, tho.
Las Strips delatan varias manos. Pero el estilo de Jimmy Thompson ("Robotman") es inconfundible. Al menos el entintado de las strips le pertenece.
Un saludo
Benavent desde Barcelona
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Sunday, March 01, 2009


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics

Jim Ivey's new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from for $19.95 plus shipping, or you can order direct from Ivey for $25 postpaid. Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. The book is 128 pages, coil-bound. Send your order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807

Also still available, Jim Ivey's career retrospective Cartoons I Liked, available on or direct from Jim Ivey for $20 postpaid. When ordered from Ivey direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.


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