Thursday, September 23, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: The Wandering Goat Bolivar
A late entry to the Boston Herald's third and final attempt at syndicating its own comic section, The Wandering Goat Bolivar ran from January 26 to August 9 (or August 30 in syndication) 1908.
I admit to not knowing enough about Central American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar to quite understand why the goat is named after him, or why, for that matter, the goat wears a crown. Hopefully an astute reader can fill in the implications of the title and the character.
What I can say is that this is Hal Coffman's first known comic strip series, and ran a few years before he became a fixture in the Hearst newspapers. Coffman was a jack of all trades with Hearst, supplying large Sunday editorial cartoons (spelling McCay), weekday news and social cartoons, story illustrations, sports cartoons, you name it. Coffman had a long career, at least into the 1940s, but he was never particularly comfortable with series comic strips. The few he did were short-lived.
The pleasantly cartoony style Coffman exhibits here bears little resemblance to his later work, which is more detailed and realistic.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.
Mark A. Nobles
Offhand I can't think of anything all that innovative about Hal Coffman's work. But then again, since I focus on strips, maybe there is something about his other work that I'm missing.