Saturday, April 25, 2009


Herriman Saturday

Wednesday, July 31 1907 -- Two boxers, both characterized as over-the-hill in the Examiner, clash in a 20 round bout in San Francisco this evening. The paper declares that the loser will surely retire. Well, Battling Nelson lost the bout but would go on in the prizefighting dodge for another thirteen years or so! Jimmy Britt, too, would keep on slugging, though only for a paltry three more years.

Friday, August 2 1907 -- Battling Nelson is eulogized in this Herriman cartoon, consigned to the sepulcher of the boxing has-beens.

Saturday, August 3 1907 -- Negro boxer Joe Gans arrives in town to a huge and enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers, the vast majority of whom are black. Sportswriter C.E. Van Loan thinks this is just hilarious and takes the opportunity to write an editorial just dripping with light-hearted fun-loving racism. If Roget's has a need to beef up their list of synonyms for the race they need not look any further -- Van Loan covers all the bases and comes up with a few probably never before heard.


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Friday, April 24, 2009


Johnson Roasts McGee

Today Cole Johnson gets the bully pulpit to talk about old time super-collector Ernie McGee. If Cole is less than charitable, the important thing to keep in mind is that I didn't say it! In truth, I'm sure I speak for both myself and Cole when I say that although McGee was definitely a quirky fellow, well, isn't anyone who hoards old newspapers like we do? Huzzahs to Ernie for being the great individualist that he was! Okay, take it away Cole ...

Back in the 50's and 60's, Ernie McGee was considered the go-to guy as far as comic strip history was concerned, primarily because of the size of his collection. As a largely unresearched wilderness, anything McGee said was held in high regard. A couple instances where McGee was a fibber: He told people he was contributing to Philadelphia syndicates and especially the World Color Printing company, circa World War I. Gordon Campbell made a print for me of a 1915 Slim Jim episode, where, sho' nuff', there was McGee's signature. It wasn't too much later, that I picked up another 1915 Slim Jim section in the flesh, again, signed by Ernie -- in ball-point pen!

Another little monkey wrench he tossed, appearing in a few out-dated references, was a mysterious early strip called Hard-Head Harry, cited as if it had some vague importance. When? Where? What? Having come into possession of some of McGee's stuff, it turns out to be something that appeared in a newsletter for paperboys, circa 1930! ("Harry" is a careless dolt who provides a negative example on his paper route! ) McGee's basic cartooning career was apparently a vaudeville lightning sketch artist. He really was a poor cartoonist, as shown by these two blotters he did in 1928 and '29, for his agent. By the mid-30's, he was doing his chalk-talk act for a night club in New Jersey.

Maybe other comic-section collectors have encountered this strange, cryptic writing. This is Ernie McGee, who must have blown out several cartons of #2 pencils scribbling obvious, unnecessary annotations on his collection.

(On a Happy Hooligan, "By F.Opper", on a Slim Jim, "World Color Printing Co.") Once I saw a very rare 1902 Morgen Journal section, on which he decided to translate every word balloon back into English--IN PEN!

A fellow I knew once visited him in the late 60's. He had moved his collection from Philadelphia to a tumbledown structure in a scary part of Gloucester, N.J. McGee was alone now, drinking too much, with not much more than bound volumes in the place. He had a bunch of chairs set up to a lectern, where he stood in a shabby bathrobe and pretended to deliver a talk on comics to his single member audience. His favorite strips were Slim Jim and Marriner's strips. Here's a tracing-paper drawing he did in the 1950's.

And here's a few shots from a photo-essay article about Ernie McGee that was printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer on October 20, 1957.

Ernie was a Great-Great Uncle of mine. I found your site via a Bing Search! I never knew him. Are you saying he never actually drew any cartoons?

His Dad was my Great Grandfather Will. Will had 16 children and Ralph was my GrandFather.
Sure he drew. He just doesn't seem to have actually earned some of the various newspaper cartooning credits he occasionally claimed for himself.

I bought the remainder of the McGee estate in 2002, was it true a fire took his grand collection of Bound cartoons? I have several proofs from the photo shoot that has him in various poses with these just tremendous stacks of the volumes , we have the charcoal sketches that were stored inside newspapers from 1938 he was quite a fan of Betty Boop and Felix the cat and the Gumps and a great deal of fliers from his vaudeville act(s)
Did McGee's bound volumes end up with Woody Gelman?
Yes it is true.
He was my grandfather's brother
Ernie was my grandfather's brother, Ervin McGee. Guess that makes us cousins. Yes Uncle Ernie drew his cartoons.
I assume the comment "It's true" relates to the Woody Gelman question, but it's hard to tell. If so, I have a couple of questions. I can be reached at
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Thursday, April 23, 2009


E-Mailing the Stripper

I love to hear from you folks! Although I encourage you to post your questions and comments publicly by clicking on the "Post a Comment" option that follows each post on this blog, if there's something you'd rather discuss privately you are welcome to email me at To ensure that I get your email and respond, please follow these suggestions:

1. Make Yourself Heard Over The Spam
I receive hundreds of spam emails every day so I'm pretty ruthless about deleting emails that appear to be junk. To optimize your chances of not getting tossed into the trash please include a subject line that will catch my eye. Ideal way to do that is to start your subject line with "Stripper's Guide". I can pretty much guarantee that if your subject line is blank, or something like "Question" or "Hi Stripper" or the like that your email will end up in the virtual circular file.

2. If You Don't Get a Response, Check Your Spam Folder
I generally respond to my email, assuming there's some pertinent question I can answer or to tell you "I dunno" or to thank you for submitted information. Even if I can't answer your question or otherwise don't really have much to say in response to your email, I will likely write back to acknowledge your message. This can take awhile these days; I seem to get farther behind the faster I peddle, if you know what I mean. If you haven't heard from me after, say, a couple weeks, you can assume I did not get your email. Send it again or post it as a comment on the blog. And don't forget to check your spam folder; my response may be lurking in there.

3. Questions I Can't, or Won't, Answer
I get some questions that are beyond my ability or desire to help. Here are some basic categories:

a) I can detect a kid looking for me to write their class paper from a mile away. Not my job, sport.

b) The question that goes something like, "My mom used to have a {insert feature name} strip up on the fridge. The gag was something like {insert vague description}. Can you get me a copy of that strip?" The answer is no. Even if I could figure it out there would be a lot of work involved and you're momentary nirvana of nostalgic joy is insufficient payment for my trouble. If you're really serious about finding that long-lost memento, get on and start searching for yourself.

c) Questions that require expertise on comic books, animation and other cartooning genres. You'll find experts on those other genres lurking about the web, but I'm not the ideal guy to ask. Newspaper comics are my thing.

d) If you have some treasure and want to know how much it's worth don't bother asking me because you won't get an answer. There are very few things in this world that are so unique and rare that you can't get a good idea of their value by checking auction results for similar items on eBay and other sales sites on the web. If, on the other hand, you need a collection appraised for insurance or estate purposes I'll be glad to quote you a fee for that service, but keep in mind that I'm an expert on newspaper comics, not a licensed appraiser. The two are most definitely not the same thing. While I will be more accurate than 99.9% of all licensed appraisers (who know next to nothing about newspaper comics), my opinion may not be of any interest to your insurance company or lawyer.

e) Questions that are answered in my book, "American Newspaper Comics -- An Encyclopedic Reference Guide" will be answered by referring you to that reference.

4. Show and Tell
If you are hoping to have me ID something, please send a good sharp scan of the item in question. Don't bother sending shadowy, blurry, out of focus pictures. If the item is signed, a close-up of the signature is a great bonus. A picture of the reverse of the item can often be surprisingly informative as well. If you are sending pictures that you'd like me to feature on the blog please send minimum 150 dpi scans, and preferably 300 dpi.

5. If You Want To Sell Me Something, Quote a Price
I'm always interested in buying newspaper strips and related ephemera, but don't think you'll con me into doing a free appraisal (see #3d) by asking me to make an offer. It took me awhile to figure out this little scam. Someone writes me asking for an offer on their item, I make one, get no response, and then lo and behold it shows up on eBay, often quoting everything I said about the item and setting my offer as the minimum bid. No more. If you want to sell me something you'll have to quote a price, otherwise no go.

6. A Thank You Is Appreciated
Email has bred a lot of bad manners, and I admit I'm an occasional offender, too. But if I answer a question for you, a simple "thank you" is always appreciated.

Been enjoying the blog - Thanks
P.S. If you are ever looking for a topic may I suggest Rick Kane, Space Marshall? Ran across it in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette 1951 and haven't found out too much about it.
Hi Tom -
I'd love to, but only have one paltry strip in my collection. Hate to cover an obscurity without some good show-and-tell. I do have some microfilm copies but they're in really bad shape.

Thank you for the comments and the Herb Roth strip dated October 2006. I knew he had done a comic strip, but never saw one.
This blog has been invaluable to me in the rasearch project that I am doing on John Hix. Thanks so much!
If you could, would you respond with a statement of any information you might know about him, even if it is a very small amount? The aforementioned project has an interview requirement and your response will fulfil this nicely. Also, permission to republish the two commics of his which appear on this site in a powerpoint which will appear on my school's website would be much appreciated. If that is to much to ask then thanks anyway, the "interview" will be more help than you could possibley know!

PS I also sent you an E-mail to increase my chances of getting a response. If you respond here then feel free to delete it. Thank you agian in advance!
Hi Fielding --
An interview consisting of a single question "tell me everything you know" positions your request under rule 3a above. If you're a serious researcher you should be able to ask specific questions based on the information you have already gathered.

Thank you for responding. I’m sorry you thought that I was attempting to get you to do my research for me! I was really just trying to fulfill the interview requirement for this project and not knowing how intimately familiar with this particular artist you were and not wanting to take up any more of your time than necessary, I decided to make it brief and open ended. A brief statement of his identity would have been sufficient. But if it will satisfy rule number three I’ll expound on that.

1. How does Hix’s work compare to other artists of the same period both in drawing skill and in quality of content?
2. After Hix died in 1944 Dick Kirby took over the feature for which Hix was best known, “Strange as it Seem.” Kirby was succeeded by Ernest Hix then Elsie Hix and finally Ernest Hix, Jr. To the best of your knowledge what was the affect of these different artists on the feature if any?
3. What are your personal feelings regarding the fact that “Strange as it Seems” is basically a copy of Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” feature? What do you think made Hix’s feature able to compete with such a similar and long running adversary?
4. Are there any other comics besides “Strange as it Seems” for which Hix was responsible that I Should be aware of?

If you would like to help me out with this answer as many or as few of the above questions as you would like. I really can’t thank you enough.

Eternally Grateful,
Hi Fielding --
Okay, those are questions I can answer.

1. Assuming you mean how does it compare with other Ripley's-type features, I would say that it was better than most. Many such features were real bargain-basement jobs trying to trade off the success of Ripley. While Hix's was no different in that respect, my impression is that Hix was at least seriously interested in the subject of oddities, not just working for a paycheck. The artwork I would have to say is middle-of-the-pack. Ripley's, This Curious World and a few others had better art. Ripley was a real showman, especially on his Sunday pages. Hix didn't quite measure up in that respect. His artwork was functional and not much more.

2. Well, by the 60s the feature had lost most of its clients, so that speaks for itself. However, the people working on it in the 40s and 50s seem to have pleased newspaper editors enough to keep it in plenty of papers (albeit usually a city's #2 paper, since Ripley was usually snapped up by the biggest fish). And SAIS suffered from the slow demise of multi-newspaper cities -- why take Hix if you could have Ripley?

By the way, you're missing a few creators there -- also Doug Heyes and Geoge Jahns. Kirby, Heyes and Jahns were all darn good cartoonists, better than John Hix.

3. See #32 -- multi-newspaper cities are the main reason SAIS did good business. Not to throw stones, but Hix was definitely what you settled for if you couldn't get Ripley. The syndicate may well have offered it cheaper than BION, too, also contributing to the success.

4. John Hix did two short-lived series in 1928 titled O. Henry's Short Stories and Young Frank Merriwell.

Now a question for you. Tell me please about your project and if/where it is to be published.

Dear Mr. Holtz,
Thank you so much! You're probalbly tired of reading those words but you have no idea how much this helps!
This is a class research project that will be presented in the form of a powerpoint and later posted on my school's website. It's a bit multimedia heavy and information low but that's due mainly to the parameters that were set. I'd prefer not to give you the URL of my school because I'd practically be giving out my address online. But I'd be happy to send you a finished copy of the project if you are interested.

Dear Allan, I live in Austalia and have recently been trying to find out about the public domain situation re Buck Rogers Daily and Sunday strips. Australian copyright law has changed recently along the following lines: ‘In general, material that was previously protected for the life of the creator plus 50 years is now protected for life plus 70 years, and material that was previously protected for 50 years from first publication is protected for 70 years from the end of the year of first publication.’... which would put everything before 1939 in the public domain. I'm wondering if you knew off-hand if the Dille family still own complete copyright over all of the Daily and Sunday strips. I note that Hermes Publishers are planning on releasing reprints of just about all the strips. Is that in collaboration with the Dille estate? Perhaps you could point me in the right direction to check it out?
Hi Iain --
The new Buck Rogers book has a copyright to the Dille Family Trust.

My opinion on Australian copyright law is utterly worthless, being that I'm neither an Aussie nor a copyright attorney.

Best, Allan
Many thanks for your quick response Allan and compliments on a very impressive blog.
I have a small handmade booklet with a few newspaper clippings of Good-Night Stories by Max Trell probably from early 1900's. My mother's sister, Earle Rowe Glenn, probably assembled.

Will mail to you if you want. We are disposing of Mother's stuff.

Tom Nash
Roswell GA
Hi Tom -
Thanks for the generous offer, but children's text stories are out of my line of research. Suggest you offer it on eBay; there's probably someone who would be interested in it.

Best, Allan
Hello, Allan

Found your blog doing some hunting for the post-Kelly Pogo strips and was both excited to see some of the Doyle/Sternecky strips, and a little dismayed (they are NOT Kelly in quality).

Do you know (offhand), how long this revived Pogo ran and if these strips have ever been collected?

Hello Industri --
The essay tells exactly how long it ran. Strips were collected in the Fort Mudge Most.

I have an original/signed Hank Barrow cartoon and would like to see it go to someone who would appreciate it. Let me know how to send you some pictures. Do you know of anyone or company that specializes in this kind of art or would appreciate it? Thanks in advance for your time. Bob
Hi Allen,
I recently found a painting by sarge O'neill. On the back it is stamped J.R. "Sarge" O'neill, cartoonist. It also has an address in Miami stamped on the back. Your site is the only site with any of his work mentioned. I'm curious if you can tell me anything about him. The painting is of a home titled "Byrd's Nest". Any info is appreciated. Thank you, Tracey
Hi Tracey --
I'm afraid I know nothing about the Sarge other than what little has been posted here on the blog.

Allan, do you know anything about a cartoon syndicate in Chicago called "Stiles-Banning, Co."? I've got one of their proofs from 1905; they offer political cartoons "on topics of the day."
Hi Tony --
No, sorry, that name doesn't set off any bells for me.

Thanks anyway!
Just came across your blog. Maybe you can answer this for me. Why do the early Radio Patrol Sunday strips have a Saturday date in panels?
Hi Steve --
Welcome to the blog! Radio Patrol's color comics pages had the NY Journal as their home paper. The Journal published a color 'Sunday' section on Saturday so as not to compete with it's sister paper, the NY American, which ran it's Sunday color comics on, well, Sunday. So that's why some color comics of the mid-1930s have Saturday dates. In 1937 the two papers combined as the Journal-American and that was it for dating color comics on Saturdays.

Thanks, Alan. But I think you mean 1939. I have many Comic Weekly pages of Radio Patrol. All 30+ 1938 strips have Saturday date. The most recent Saturday I have is May 13, 1939. I have copy of an original art page with Sunday date of September 3, 1939. So switch must have been somewhere in between. Were other strips Saturday dated also?
Hi Steve --
No, I meant 1937. What I forgot was that the combined paper (Journal-American) went on to run color comics sections on both Saturday and Sunday for many years thereafter. In my experience most of the strips that ran in the Saturday section no longer used Saturday dates by then (you can imagine it was a bit confusing to other newspapers who bought the features in syndication), but apparently Radio Patrol took a bit longer to get the memo.

Best, Allan
Hi! I really enjoy your site, and was hoping for some help in the Batman newspaper strip area. I am looking for strips from the years 1953, 1972-74, and when he appeared in the World's Greatest Superheroes / Superman strip from 12/81 - 1/82... can you help me at all here?

I'd really appreciate it! Thanks and take care,

Hi, Paul Fung was my mother's uncle. I read your post and would like permission to post your blog entry to, an ancestry data management website like, under Paul Fung's name. His father was a cartoonist too. But your blog was about Paul Fung, Jr, right?

Thanks. Cori Fedyna (
Hi Cori --
The posts you are referring to are all about Paul Fung Sr. (note the dates).


I'm a historian who became interested in CD Batchelor's "Human Zoo" strip while working on another project. I'd like to do some digital history with these cartoons but I don't know the best way to find high quality images. Am I stuck with microfilm scans if I can't find extant artwork or is there another avenue I'm not thinking of?

PS the two university collections of Batchelor works both contain only strips after his "Human Zoo" period.

Thanks a bunch for your help,
Jamie Tallman
>>Am I stuck with microfilm scans if I can't find extant artwork or is there another avenue I'm not thinking of?

Hi Jamie --
Unless you can find someone selling tearsheets of the feature, or a library that has retained their bound volumes (fat chance), microfilm, either online or in person, are your options.

Thanks a bunch, Allan!
Thanks for the write up on Harry Westerman. He was my great grandfather. His daughter passed away in 1995. All his work was donated to Ohio State University library. I know I spent many hours as a child staring at his Sunday newspaper comic boards in amazement. Glad you enjoy his works.
I have been searching for good American comic strip examples from the turn of the century (1890's to 1900's) that have been printed in book form as a collection of strips under an individual title. The oldest one that I've come across so far is Polly and her Pals by Cliff Sterrett which first appeared in 1912. Do you know of any comic strips who's origins predate this 1912 example and have also been published in it's own book as an individual title?

Thank you
Hi I have some oivers adventure scripts are they worth anything
Hi Allan - I've emailed you several times but the message keeps bouncing back as undeliverable. I wanted to let know know I have an earlier start date for Hershfield's Homeless Hector Topper than you've got listed in your encyclopedia (I just found a strip dated August 29, 1926). I hope you're well & maybe you can see what's going on with your email. Very best wishes, as always - Carl Linich
Hi Carl --
Email address has not changed, and based upon the torrent of daily email coming in, it is working just fine. Are you trying to send a really big attachment, perhaps? My email server does limit attachment size, I think to somewhere in the 5-10 meg range. If that's not it, then it might be that your email server is on a blacklist and mine will not accept your emails. If so, try using a gmail or yahoo account maybe.


Hi, Alan,
I'm hoping you may be able to point me in the right direction, even though it's somewhat outside your field of study.
I've been randomly exploring strips on the Google historic newspaper archive and I stumbled onto a children's newspaper supplement similar to the Mini Page, Kid Scoop, and the Tiny Times (which you had listed here as an E&P Mystery Strip until it was confirmed it was a kids newspaper supplement). Anyway, the one I found had an alligator as an alligator as a mascot. I took a screen shot of the portion that interested me (a board game, which is another obsession of mine), but now I can't find that screenshot and can't remember the name the feature (I thought it might have been Gator Gazette, but I can't find anything with that title online) or of the paper where I found it. I think the date was probably in the 1980's or 90's.
Have you ever encountered a feature like this? And if so, any idea if I got the title right and where it ran?
Finally, do you have any suggestions of where I might go to try to track this down? I thought of writing the major syndicates to ask if they were familiar with it, but I somehow doubt that would help. I also thought to go to Editor and Publisher's site, but without a definite title to search on...
Sorry to be so vague. I know it's a long shot. Thanks in advance.
Sorry Mark, doesn't ring a bell.
Dear Allan,

Have you ever had occasion to contact the copyright holder for Harriman cartoons, especially the holder for Archy and Mehitabel? I would like to request permission for use of a couple of the drawings of Mehitabel in a memoir.

Thank you,

I noticed on your blog some information about my father, Jimmy Caborn, who was a cartoonist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and freelanced, all in the late 1930s, the 1940s, and early 1950s until his death in 1955.

Also noticed you live in Lake County, Fla (I live in Winter Park). If you would like additional background info on my father ("The Adventures of Little Rodney", I'd be pleased to pass along whatever you might need.

Rod Caborn
I have been looking for information on Columba Krebs who wrote "Adventures of Skuddabub" It is listed under the "A" section. I am wanting to now where it appeared. A book was published by that name but I have found NO strips. Any information would be appreciated.
Thanks in Advance.

Mark Esping
Mark --
Read what the post you're referring to is about please. The title "Mystery Strips" should be a tip-off.

I follow your blog, congratulations! I would like to transcribe here a topic that I'm creating in a Yahoo group, I think you'll like it:

Nhô-Quim - 1869 - 14 chapters 237 frames/boxes

I would like to start a little summary, chapter by chapter, of the two main comic Angelo Agostini: "The adventures of Nhô-Quim, or Impressions of a trip to the Court" and "The adventures of Zé Caipora".

In this article, with due permission, Professor David Kunzle makes a mistake, he mixes "Nhô-Quim" with "Zé Caipora":

Probably the mistake is due to the title of the book organized by the dear brazilian researcher Athos Cardoso: "The adventures of Nhô-Quim & Zé Caipora":


The two are distinct characters, comic different, made in different times.

Well, let's the older one: "The adventures of Nhô-Quim, or impressions of a trip to the Court" of 1869, published in the magazine "A Vida Fluminense" in 14 chapters, and 237 frames. The first 9 chapters were designed by Angelo Agostini and the last 5 chapters were designed by Candido Aragonez de Faria.

Before I would like to explain, if someone in the group still do not know, that "Nhô-Quim" in popular language means "Mister Joaquim".

Let's go to the first chapter of January 30, 1869: Nhô-Quim the age of 20 years falls in love with "Sinhá Rosa" but his parents (who are wealthy residents of the interior of the State of Minas Gerais) resolves to send him to a ride in the Court (Rio de Janeiro) for him to forget the girl. Who accompanies him is the "slave-friend" Benedito. On the train journey, when entering a tunnel - with the frame all in black - Nhô-Quim is scared and thinks about several things, including that he had been buried alive. On the first stop of the train he goes down to take a coffee and can not get on board...

Here is the first chapter in good resolution:

Chapter 2, on February 13, 1869.
Nhô-Quim is annoyed that he did not board the train, he fights with the coffee vendor. He stays waiting for a whole day until the next train arrives, and finally arrives at the Court (Campo Santa Ana Station). He enters a tilburi from the back, the driver is frightened and jumps from the tilburi causing the horse also to be scared and flee. An accident occurs and Nhô-Quim is arrested.

Drawing by Angelo Agostini (note the letter "A" in the lower right corner)

Chapter 3, edition 61 of February 27, 1869, Saturday.

Nhô-Quim is released from prison after spending 24 hours in jail.
He goes to the center of the city and is surprised by several news, drops the candy basket of a seller (he pays the loss), tries to buy a hat but can not find the right store.
When passing by a lady in a long dress, her cowboy spurs hold the dress and you fall. The husband of the lady gives a beating in Nhô-Quim.
He kneels before the image of a saint asking for protection against all this bad luck (but does not realize that it is only the statue of a large store in Rio de Janeiro).

Best regards,
Francisco Dourado

Quim can also mean 'Francisco> Francisquinho> Francisquim> Quim'. Soon Nhô-Quim could also be "Mister Francisco"
I have about a year of Sir Bagby strips from 65-66 written by H&B Hackney. I have been trying to locate more of them or hopefully an archive. So far I have only found a couple of random strips. Do you have any info? Thanks
Oops - that should have been R&B Hackney.
Thank you, I was wondering who J.K. Bryans was in the Black Cat Club book I have. Nice write-up!
Great write-up on Louis Ferstadt! His wife Sophie was a cousin of mine. I never met either of them but have followed their lives. Sophie was an artist too but not as achieved as Louis. I have several pieces of their art in my home, passed on to me by my parents and Sophie's niece. Once again, really good write-up. Wendy
Hi Allan. Hope You can help me. In the past You published some Connie Sundays (Sci.-Fi.)
I can`find them. Could You please tell me when they were published?
TIM tyler`s Luck Sundays from 1931. I miss from July 19-1931 until September 6-1931 in my Collection.
Can You help me??
Best from Henning - Denmark

allan i am trying to get my comic newspaper clips to send to you i am all done ralph bakshi
Aloha Allan, my name is Lisa Reimannsiu-Siu the granddaughter of Carl Adolf Ryman, cartoonist creator of “Alfred”. I have sent you a private email under Stripper Guide. Please read. You were seeking additional information on my grandfather. I hope it’s helpful.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl

As promised yesterday, here's a very interesting obscurity. So interesting that Cole Johnson and I both had the idea to scan some in at the same time. As I was putting a couple into the queue Cole sent me a third, plus a photo of the 'writer' and subject of the strip. Since Cole is the film historian, let's hear what he has to say about The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl:

The singer Helen Kane was a briefly popular entertainment oddity in the late 20's. She made a few Paramount film appearances at the time, and the animators at Max Fleischer's cartoon studio adapted her persona into the Betty Boop character. Since Fleischer's films were also released by Paramount, it may have seemed initially as good, solid cross-promotion. Unfortunately, Kane's career ran out of steam very soon, her last film being a 1931 short subject. However, "Betty Boop" took off, quickly eclipsing her inspiration's career. Helen Kane felt reparations were in order for purloining her mojo, and sued the Fleischer studios in April, 1934. Somehow the judge in the case couldn't see how anybody could see Helen in Betty, (Maybe the only one in all christendom), and Fleischer and Paramount won the case. They even thought it a suitable publicity event for a jokey segment in the Paramount newsreel!

The Betty Boop comic strip started in July, 1934, for Hearst's King Features Syndicate. Behold this item, "The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl by Helen Kane", by Ving Fuller, from the August 12, 1934 issue of Hearst's N.Y. Mirror. (The only one I have-can you supply the dates on this?) Why was this out-and-out rip-off of the Betty Boop strip that Hearst also ran? Did this run in any other papers? This is a classic example of a pre-fab promo strip. Really too little too late for the sadly stalled Helen Kane. (Hmmm-Just this one example seems more fun than the dismal stiff that Counihan and Seeger put out.)

The New York Mirror (and only the Mirror) ran this strip from August 5 to October 21 1934. According to one historian, this strip was running while Hearst waited to get the rights to the real Betty Boop. Well, obviously t'ain't so because Hearst started running the daily version of the Betty Boop strip a month before the debut of this competing version. In fact both strips ran in Hearst's New York papers -- the 'real' one in the Journal, the fake one in the Mirror. Really kind of fitting that the sleazy tabloid got the knock-off, don't you think?

The strips shown above are the first, second and last episodes of the strip. As you can see the early ones were drawn by the always goofy and delightful Ving Fuller, but later on they got the janitors and office boys to produce the thing.


I read director Samuel Fuller's excellent autobio, A THIRD FACE, and discovered Ving was Sam's older brother and drew cartoons for Sam's film on turn-of-the-century New York journalism, PARK ROW. Sam himself was no slouch at the drawing board and drew an occasional cartoon for the New York Evening Graphic between crime reporting assignments.
Yet another reason I'd love to see Park Row. Unfortunately it is not available on video as far as I know.

Wow, I love the one with Helen sliding down the back of the car. Granted, the Helen version came a day late and a dollar short, but it just looks like such an amazing joy ride. Thanks so much for digging out this obscurity - it sure didn't deserve to be one. Heck, if we could have two sets of Katzies legally, why not two sets of boop-a-doop girls?
Hello, Allan--------I recognize the artwork in the last episode of the HELEN KANE strip. The artist would occasionally ghost DUMB DORA and TILLIE THE TOILER in the early 30's. Could it possibly be Milton Caniff?----Cole Johnson.
Hello, Allan--------I recognize the artwork in the last episode of the HELEN KANE strip. The artist would occasionally ghost DUMB DORA and TILLIE THE TOILER in the early 30's. Could it possibly be Milton Caniff?----Cole Johnson.
Caniff was far too busy with Mister Gilfeather and Dickie Dare over at AP to be messing with a hack job like this. I agree, though, that the style is just a little familiar (especially on the new maid). It would probably be someone in the King bullpen, maybe Jack Callahan after a long night on the town?

Wow, These are great. I'd love to see Helen Kane on video. Anyone know where it may be available online (if available at all?)

Hi Mikalyn --
Just go to youtube and search on Helen Kane. There was at least one there that I watched awhile ago.

Fred Lasswell once told me that "Ving Fuller had more syndicates than newspapers." This is probably true.

There was an Al Capp Sunday Abner strip where Abner's son was drawing, and his mother said "Maybe the boy will grow up to be a famous cartoonist like Ving Fuller or Walt Kelly!"

The boy answered, "Who's Walt Kelly?"
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Out of the Inkwell

The New York Hearst papers became quite the hotbed of Fleischer Studio activity in 1934. At the same time the New York Journal began running the Betty Boop Sunday comic strip they also started this considerably more obscure Fleischer product, Out of the Inkwell. Since the sample of this rare strip came from Cole Johnson, and he knows his animation history about a hundred times better than me, let's hear his take:

Here's an example of an oddity. Out Of The Inkwell is based on Max Fleischer's brilliant silent animated series of the same name. In each episode of the animated series, the character of Koko the clown would emerge from an inkwell, in effect a cartoon character playing the part of a cartoon character. Koko usually enjoyed tormenting Fleischer himself and causing all manner of chaos, superimposed on live-action "real world" footage. Each film's coda had Koko being brought back into the inkwell, of his own accord or otherwise. The last of these cartoons was released in 1929, but Koko appeared in some of the studio's cartoons from 1931-34, usually with Betty Boop. Apparently, with the introduction of the Betty Boop strip, they felt it the right time to launch a second effort. Both the Koko and the Betty strips were drawn in a corner of the Fleischer studios in mid-town Manhattan. They were drawn by down-on-his-fortunes, alcoholic cartoonist Bud Counihan, and written by the teen-aged future comic book artist and animator Hal Seeger (perhaps best known for the "Milton the Monster" cartoons). This is from the N. Y. Journal Saturday comic section, Dec. 8, 1934. I don't know if it appeared anywhere else, or how long it lasted-probably not long! Can you fill in the dates, Allan?
You bet, Cole, and thanks! Out of the Inkwell ran in the Journal, and almost certainly no other papers, from November 25 to December 15 1934, a grand total of just four episodes. I'm pretty sure about that crack about no other papers because I don't believe Hearst had any of his other papers outside NYC try out the tabloid comics section experiment until well into 1935 (or am I wrong?). By the way, if you want to read more about that tabloid experiment be sure to pick up the current issue of Hogan's Alley and read Bill Blackbeard's article.

And if you think this is a real oddball, tune in tomorrow for another strip with a decidedly bizarre Fleischer Studios connection.


The Hearst chain had a few tabloids, like the NY MIRROR and Boston DAILY RECORD, but the "PUCK" brand of section tabloid experiment started in February 1935, and ended in August.
Another Koko - Is anyone acquainted with the comic strip "Koko The Kaffer Kid with Teddy Roosevelt in Africa" The ones I seen were from The Sunday Journal 1909. Don't know the city or state. Need to get Allan's book more then ever.
In which you would discover that it is the Minneapolis Journal.
Yes, I need that reference book! Thanks for responding.
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Monday, April 20, 2009


News of Yore 1949: Edgar Martin Profiled

Boots Kept Step Through Her 25 Years

(E&P, 2/26/49)

Change, the kind of wholesome change that marks a good life, has come to "Boots and Her Buddies," in the 25 years since Artist Edgar E. Martin first created her. NEA Service, the distributor, claims Boots is now syndicated to more than 500 dailies and half as many Sunday newspapers. When Boots celebrated her silver anniversary last week, she was still the star, yet little "Pug," the freckle-faced girl she brought home from a summer resort in 1939, is growing into something of a beauty, and a prime figure in the strip.

Boots began as one of four girls about town. Two of them soon dropped out of the community circle, leaving schoolteacher Cora and Boots. Cora remained true to type, married Professor Tutt. The Tutts boarded Boots, who became a glamour girl. She was successful in the role.

In 1926, after monied brother Bill gave her a trip to New York, she got a new haircut, the "Boots Bob," which clicked nationally with hairdressers. She was, in 1939, honored guest, in sketch form, at the Yale junior prom, and her glamour brought artist Martin several assignments as judge of beauty contests.

Boots Matured
Boots picked up a chum, Babe in these days, and they had a strong following among the students. But as the original audience grew older, Boots matured. She was courted by numerous swains. It's like ticking off calendars to recall their names — Ronald Ross, Prince Franz of Grandalia, Jonathon Marlsboro Jones, Handy Andrews, the wealthy Cecil Livingston, and Rod Ruggles.

Boots' audience had apparently reached a new stage when Ruggles appeared on the scene. They liked him. They sent a cascade of letters asking for wedding bells, and Boots and Rod went to the altar, Oct. 2, 1945. Boots became a family comic, and a baby boy was born, July 4, 1946. Out of a welter of name suggestions, Martin chose for the boy, "David."

Recently, Professor Tutt was ill, so Pug moved in with the Ruggles, and became an established member of the family when her father, long absent from the strip, was lost at sea. So it is legal now. From now on, Boots will have Pug's romantic adventures to remind her of her own school days.

As for Martin, who for many years lived in Cleveland, he now makes his home in Clearwater, Fla., still attends style shows and occasionally judges a "Boots" contest, but prefers spending the time with his wife and daughters in the Florida sun.

Martin landed with NEA in 1921 when he was 23. He drew several comics without much success until 1924 when NEA asked several artists to submit strips for a girl comic. Martin in off hours created Boots, submitted the idea, unsigned, and the board of judges picked her.

Before going to NEA, Martin's drawing was confined to sketches of salamanders, frogs, and grasshoppers, in his days at Monmouth (Ill.) College, where his father was a professor. He quit in his junior year to enter the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.


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Sunday, April 19, 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.


Not about today, but the one where you told u about the Sam's Strip reprint book. I remember reaedin g it in the Menomonee Falls Gazette badck in the 70's, and enjoying it. I ordered the book, and it arrived yesterday. I had planed to spend at least 3 das going through it but it is so addictive I can only put it down long enough to send you this THANK YOU note.
One other question people always ask cartoonists (and I asked it too, way back when): "What kind of pen/ink/paper/brush do you use?" Because we knew that if only WE had a Winsor and Newton Series 7 Brush we could ink just as well.
The answer to "how long does it take to draw that" given here sounds very similar to the one given by the old Japanese sumi artists, and is quite true. When I give the same answer, I get a very annoyed reaction.

Smurfswacker, I used to ask those "what tools do you use" questions too, but I think it's helpful to know. Today, though, I meet kids who think that they HAVE to have Photoshop or Illustrator to do anything. There's the preconception (often difficult to break) that "no one" is doing things with brush n' ink anymore. In that way, we've gone from "if I had the right tools I could be Walt Kelly or Alex Raymond" to "I have the same software tools, I can cheat and shortcut my way to the same results, and it just doesn't matter." To me, that's a cynical regression.
You're right, Hugo. As much as I like the idea of everyone getting to speak his or her piece, I prefer there to be some craftsmanship as well. The "anyone can do it with our software" angle of Manga Studio annoys me, even though the prog has its merits.

But we all feel most comfortable using what we grew up with. I've tried and tried to master the graphics tablet but I've yet to get the results I can achieve (with a lot less effort!) with pen and brush.
What I think you miss is that with PShop and Illustrator it's easier to correct your mistakes, and it's also a lot easier to play with things to see what works. While there are techniques for doing that with pencil and paper, it's a lot easier to do it in P/I than it is to do it by hand, and you can easily place your favorite of the options in play when you select your preference... and, if later on, you try something else and want to go back and see if that worked better with one of the earlier efforts, well, to use an old phrase, "Bob's your uncle".

There's a reason why the new tools become prevalent. When you truly master them, you can/should be able to do everything with them that you did before, and more. I haven't kept up with all the artwork touches usable with P/I (I'm much more of a dabbler), but the purpose behind Fractal Design Painter was to completely mimic the real-world tools while gaining the ability to use all the advantages of the computer too. I suspect that most of that functionality has since been built into P/I either directly or is available via add-ons.

I'm not saying that there aren't any advantages to pencil and ink, but, with a good graphics tablet and a large screen, you can learn how to do almost anything -- any trick, any technique -- with the computer that you can do with the other.

And modern photoprinting can get you as close in the final result as any hand technique, too.
Oh, I certainly acknowledge--and appreciate--computers' ease of correction. I use Photoshop constantly, and I thank those little bits and bytes every time I breathe a sigh of relief and press Undo. Also, I agree progs like Painter do a fine job of imitating traditional media.

However speaking only for myself, the feel of pen, paint and paper is a great part of my enjoyment of drawing. The spring of the nib, the drag of the paper's tooth are part and parcel of the experience.

while I don't claim one form is better than another, one thing does bother me. An electronic original exists only as long as the power's on. Physical art has survived for centuries because it is physical. Four hundred years from now a vast portion of present-day culture might be inaccessible because of simple changes in technology. Think of how engineers work to rebuild obsolete video tape machines--less than fifty years old--to view recordings of lost shows.

This is why I cringe when I see books and newspapers digitized and the originals tossed. Nothing's permanent, but physical art is a heckuva lot more stable than the digital variety.
This was actually a pretty interesting topic. I wonder if anyone's perceptions have changed 10 years on.
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