Friday, September 11, 2009


Questions, Always Questions

In my mad dash to tie up loose ends for the publication of the Stripper's Guide Index, there's one item that steadfastly refuses to be dealt with. The comic strip Condorito, a Spanish-language comic strip, which has apparently been popular in Latin America for many years, now appears in some U.S. Spanish-language papers. That means it qualifies for Stripper's Guide listing, but I can find very little information about the strip. Can anyone tell me about the history of it, when it started, creators, etc.?

Betty Boop in 1937
A new book project is in the talking stage and the editor is looking for some help. We know from the King Features Microfilm Catalog, assuming it's correct, that the Sunday strip ran until November 28 1937. But the New York Mirror, one of very few papers that ran it seems to have dropped the feature at the end of 1936. Previous reprint projects haven't printed anything past November 1936. I don't have a single example from 1937 in my own collection, so I'm no help. Does anyone know the names of any papers that ran the strip in 1937, or even better yet, have a 1937 run in their own collection?

The editor is also looking for a few other strips that are proving elusive. Does anyone have the ones for 9/8/35, 2/23/36, 3/22/36, 8/9/36, 9/27/36, 10/11/36, 10/25/36, 11/8/36, 12/6/36, 12/13/36, 12/20/36?

Katzies Locale?
A German researcher asks me a question regarding an E&P article that I reprinted here on the blog. His question is:

The article says that the Dirks strip was located on the Squee-Jee Islands. Wasn't that the Knerr strip? I guess Dirks strip was located on Cannibal Islands. Do you know anything about that?
I could probably dig up some samples to determine where the duelling Katzie strips were set in 1950, the date of the article, but it would be a big operation and I know there's a few Katzie-philes out there who probably know the answer. Can you give him some help?

1905 New York World on CD?
A few years back a fellow named Jonathan Barli was offering a whole year of New York World Sunday sections on CD. Of course I wanted one and went ahead and placed an order on his website. Or at least I sure thought I did. The transaction slipped my mind for so long that now it's impossible for me to find any evidence that I completed the transaction. I was reminded of it, though, when I stumbled upon his website again the other day. Has anyone ordered from him and received the CD? If so, what did you think of it? I'm very tempted to try ordering again, but I'd like some assurance that you really do get what you pay for from that website.
[EDIT: I placed a new order and received the Cds. I'll review it shortly (it'll be positive)]

Hello, Allan----BETTY BOOP can still be found in the Sunday MIAMI HERALD in 1937.------ I know that Knerr stopped the KATZENJAMMER KIDS' world travels in 1934, and made their permanent home with the friendly cannibals of the "Squee-Jee" islands. I see by the early 90's that the black natives have been replaced with South American-style blowgun Indians, and a caricature of a tin-pot latin general. Not sure if the KK crew have moved, or some kind of politically correct racial miracle happened on ol' Squee-Jee. ----Cole Johnson.
Regarding Cordorito:

"Condorito is a comic strip started in Chile in 1949 and spread to the rest of Latin American in the years following. The author was the cartoonist Pepo.

... International rights were acquired in 1976 by Editors Press Service, a subsidiary of the Evening Post Publishing Company."
Cole --
Thanks for the pointer on Betty Boop. That info isn't in my Miami Herald notes, leading me to think they perhaps didn't microfilm the Sunday sections. Grumble, grumble...

V -
I'm Spanish impaired, so maybe you could clear up some stuff. I see start dates varying from 1943-49 on Condorito depending on the website, and I get the impression it might have been a feature in humor magazines or something well before it became a daily comic strip. Can you shed any light on when the newspaper strip began?

And Pepo died in the 90s, so do any of these sources tell who's doing it now? Current strips seem to still be signed 'Pepo'.

I believe Cole means the MIAMI DAILY NEWS, the now defunct (1988)tabloid paper.
Marco --
Thanks. I'm going to try ordering again. This time I'll keep a note to remind me!

Mark -
Thanks. The Miami Daily News is a pretty obscure paper, I checked WorldCat and they don't list anyone with microfilm for 1937. Does KFS have proofs/tearsheets/microfilm for the 1937 Sundays?
Many years ago, I bought tear sheets from the Miami Daily News, and amongst them were the November 1937 Betty Boop pages.
The MDN section was a tab, with Dick Tracy on the front cover and Terry on the back, as if they were modeling themselves after the New York Sunday News.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Drawing a Crowd

Benita Epstein is not the sort of cartoonist that you would figure to merit an Obscurity of the Day posting. Her gag cartoons have been published in all the major magazines, including many in the New Yorker, and she's been nominated for National Cartoonist Society awards an impressive six times. So we're not talking about a rank amateur getting caught like a deer in the headlines with a newly signed syndication contract. Nevertheless, Epstein's feature, Drawing a Crowd, came and went in just a year and a half.

I could make the case that Epstein chose to do panel gags. Those are a tough sell to newspapers, and even once they do sell editors looking to shake things up know that dropping gag panels is the easiest path to take. Rarely do readers get so firmly attached to them that they put up much of a squawk (unless it's Family Circus, and then, brother editor, prepare for death threats).

No, I have to be honest here and say that what I saw of Drawing a Crowd (and it wasn't all that much, so take this with a grain of salt) was generally not prime Epstein material. Visit her website where you'll find her A-game, which is fantastic stuff. So here's the multiple choice quiz:

Why Drawing a Crowd just wasn't all that funny:
(a) she found that producing seven good gags a week was more than she could handle
(b) she saved the best gags for her magazine work, the B material went to Drawing a Crowd
(c) she made so little off the syndicated panel that she gave 'em exactly what they were paying for
(d) little bit of all of the above.

Drawing a Crowd ran from February 17 2002 to August 25 2002 as a Sunday and August 18 2002 to May 3 2003 as a daily. These dates are based on the material posted on the Creators website at the time, but Epstein says she did the feature from January 2002 to June 2003, so perhaps they left out some. Anyone have definitive dates?

After shunning syndication for 6 years Epstein is taking the plunge again, this time with a much more forgiving once-a-week schedule. She is now one of the Six Chix, taking over Kathryn LeMieux's spot.


I remember this feature and I think I even have a newspaper tearsheet of a daily somewhere from a Detroit newspaper.

Nothing special. I can see why newspapers didn't bother with it.
Geez, that's some lousy research I did. One of the Sundays I show here is dated 2/10/02, so obviously the Creators website didn't show everything. Sorry about the sloppiness.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Val the Ventriloquist

Here's another obscurity from the Boston Herald. Unlike most of the Herald's offerings, Val the Ventriloquist actually served up a smidgen of something akin to humor, a nice change of pace at that paper. Most of the Herald cartoonists were better known for their drawing ability, whereas Frank Crane, veteran comic stripper, actually knew the ins and outs of gag construction. Here he takes a kid ventriloquist through his paces. Val throws his voice to right wrongs, make the world a better place, and occasionally create a little good old-fashioned mayhem. The plotlines are very similar to that Boston mainstay, Billy the Boy Artist, just substituting a kid with voice-throwing ability for one who can execute trompe l'oeil paintings. Val the Ventriloquist ran from August 26 1906 to August 30 1908.

Crane is best-known for his boy inventor strip, Willie Westinghouse Edison Smith, that he did for many years at the Philadelphia North American, but he also did work at the New York Herald and a few small things for World Color Printing. For years I thought the guy's name was Drane because of his weird signature. Once I got that mystery cleared up then I puzzled over whether he was also the Frank Crane who was a famous psychologist and newspaper columnist of the day. He wasn't.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Didn't MUGGSY and WILLIE WESTINGHOUSE appear in both The Piladelphia North American and the New York Herald's syndicates when Mr. Crane served as comics editor in those organizations?
Hi Mark --
Not simultaneously, of course, but yes. Muggsy was particularly weird, as it started in the North American, then switched to the Herald, and then back again.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: The Gimlet Club

From Charles H. Wellington, that font of obscurities, today we have The Gimlet Club, yet another of the series he did for the New York Evening Journal. This one ran from January 10 1909 to January 31 1910.

The plot of the strip is simple. Some long-winded pecksniff bores his poor victim to distraction, then a messenger appears with an official membership card in the Gimlet Club. But why "gimlet club", you ask? Did Mr. Wellington have some special dislike for gin and lime cocktails? Perish the thought that a newspaper man of those halcyon days would ever speak unfavorably of spirits. Let's do some research!

In fact, it turns out the gimlet referred to isn't a drink at all, it's a hand tool used for boring holes into wood. Here's a picture of one on Wikipedia. Get the gag? Okay. But wait, there's more! The interesting bit is that Wellington didn't originate the concept. I've found references to Gimlet Club and the motto "Bore, brother, bore" as early as 1907 with a Google search. There were novelty tokens in circulation at the time imprinted with "Gimlet Club" and the motto. The name and motto were even taken up by the U.S. Army's 21st Infantry Regiment (they date the moniker to the 1920s, but I'd bet they're a decade late).

My guess is that the Gimlet Club was thought up by someone as sort of an adjunct to another fad 'club', the Ananias Club, which was also well-memorialized in the comics (and perhaps even originated there) in the early oughts. Here's a great early example by Outcault. I saw at least one contemporary reference to the Gimlet Club cozying up to a mention of the Ananias Club, a bit of slang that means a foolish liar.

Phew! Enough research for one day! If you just can't get enough of The Gimlet Club, you'll find additional selections from the series over on the Barnacle Press site.


hello, I need some info on a few strips. In my attempt to fill in gaps of some strips I am gathering, I came across a page of some very odd strips from the Urbana Daily Courier in Illinois. If you may, would you review the images I have and fill me in on these. I have come up blank online, and nothing surfaces on Google that gives me any ideas as to what they are or if they are knockoffs or copycat strips. -Mr ilovecomix
Hi ilove --
Looks to me like you've identified them all correctly. Assuming the file names are dates, you're seeing all these after their original runs, being sold in batches by reprint syndicates (probably US Feature Service in this case).

one last question, do you know the original runs of these strips? You stated they were in reprint and I was curious as to when they originally ran?
Lemme see ...
Bringing Up Bill -- original run seems to be 1919-23. I wrote a post regarding the strip (and other popular reprinted strips) on the blog 11/1/05.

Dorothy Darnit -- original run 1919 to apparently mid-20s. Very hard to say because it seemed to be running in reprints even when new material was being produced.

Hank and Pete -- 1916 to about 1924.

Tubby -- finally a simple one, 1923-26.

Best, Allan
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Monday, September 07, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Lazy Lew -- He Yawns

Hmmm ... what to post on Labor Day. Probably ought to be something from the Daily Worker, but I don't have anything from them in the queue right now. Well, today's all about taking it easy, so how about a strip featuring one very laid-back fellow, Lazy Lew. Close enough!

Lazy Lew -- He Yawns was the epitome of a one-note feature. In case the title wasn't enough of a clue, Lew was constantly yawning. Bet you didn't know that a yawn can be represented in text as "Ow-o-e-o", so you learned something today! Eventually the power of suggestion would get his victim to do the same with hilarious (?) results. That was the never varying plot of this strip every Sunday for over two years (October 15 1905 - December 8 1907) in the Philadelphia Press. Penned by Hugh Doyle, who was a fixture at the Press from 1905-1911, this feature is emblematic of what was a major failing with the Philly Sunday funnies triumvirate (the Inquirer, the Press and the North American). Although they did publish some brilliant work, a lot of that Philly material is mind-numbingly repetitive like this.

Thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied the scans!


Lazy Lew is a freak! He yawns with his eyes wide open.
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Sunday, September 06, 2009


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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