Saturday, March 13, 2010


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, October 29 1907 -- Tonight's the featherweight bout between champ Abe Attell and young phenom Freddie Weeks, the Colorado boy. Since Herriman will not provide any further cartoon commentary on the fight I'll go ahead and tell you that Attell beat Weeks by a TKO in four rounds. Weeks took a one-year layoff after this fight and never was a serious contender again. So much for the phenom.

I get a kick out of Herriman treating the Coloradans as a rough-tough uncivilized bunch, as if California was quite the dandified cosmopolitan place in 1907.

Wednesday, October 30 1907 -- And speaking of dandies, Herriman attends the opera and provides 'ringside' sketches of the proceedings. Maestro Agide Jacchia seems to have captured his interest.


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Friday, March 12, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Gallus Coon

Don't shoot the messenger, folks. I don't draw 'em, I just document 'em.

Richard Outcault's Gallus Coon was a feature that he did for the New York World from June 3 to July 1 1900. Outcault was jumping around between syndicates at this time, and this strip seemed to be just a throw-away, though I confess that I like the style of this one more than Outcault's more fussily-drawn productions. I also like the original use of Ah Dope's ponytail as a sort of word balloon. I don't know if that was a recurring theme in this short-run strip, but it certainly is a neat idea, much as Outcault's other innovation, writing on the Yellow Kid's smock, was.

Perhaps most interesting about this strip is the use of the word gallus. I had never heard of this term before, but it turns out that it's Scottish slang meaning self-confident, cheeky, and stylish, all of which describe the nattily dressed title character. Everything I need to know I learned from comic strips...

Thanks very much to Cole Johnson who provided the sample of this rarity.


I wonder if this could be one of the earliest recorded instances of "... NOT" ?
"...not!" was pretty common in the 1900s. I recall the first time I saw it wondering the same thing, but then I started seeing it all over the place. I'd say it's one of those bits of slanguage that has come and gone and returned again, perhaps more than twice.

Here is another instance of ~NOT in a C.W. Kahles Billy Bounce strip from 1904:
One of the more integrated strips I've ever seen! Wonder how Southern readers felt about seeing this?
Ah thanks! Funny how these things drift in and out of popular use over such long periods.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010


News of Yore 1929-30: A Miscellany of Short Items

Hix Cartoonist at 22
(E&P 1/4/30)
Starting as a carrier boy on the Greenville (S.C.) News when he was 18, John Hix, "Strange As It Seems" artist, at 22 is a full-fledged syndicate cartoonist. With the announcement this week by the McClure Newspaper Syndicate that the feature will be extended to include a full Sunday color page early in February, Hix enters upon another phase of his youthful career in newspaper work.

Hix began his feature two years ago, and, according to Harold Matson, editor of the syndicate, it is now being used by 80 newspapers.

Hix took a three months' correspondence course in cartooning while he was a carrier boy in Greenville, his home town, and then at 20, set out to find other fields to conquer. He landed a job on the Washington (D.C.) Times as a combination office boy and cartoonist. For a short time he did a daily feature "Hicks by Hix," which was syndicated by King Features Syndicate. He joined McClure two years ago to start "Strange As It Seems."
[anybody seen "Hicks by Hix"? -- Allan]

New Story Strip
(E&P, 6/15/29)
"The Adventures of Aimee" having as its central character a French peasant girl is a new story strip obtained by Ledger Syndicate. It is drawn by Alan Dailey and the balloons are by L.L. Henson Jr.
[anybody seen this one? - I haven't -- Allan]

NEA Has New Features
(E&P, 11/30/29)
Werner Laufer, NEA sports artist, is doing his feature, "Brushing Up Sports" six days a week now instead of three days a week as formerly. Joe King, sketch artist, is back at the Cleveland office of NEA after a three-month tour of South America.

Bell Service Sells Kay Features
(E&P, 11/30/29)
Kay Features, Inc., has concluded an agreement with the Bell Syndicate, Inc., providing for an expansion of selling facilities it was announced this week. Under this arrangement Bell has taken over the sales agency for the Charles W. Storm Financial Service ... and Charles H. Forbell's comic strip "Cuddles, An American Flapper at King Arthur's Court."
[another strip I haven't found, but then I've found very few Kay products -- Allan]

Youngest Strip Artist
(E&P, 12/7/29)
Herbert Donald Stockton, whose juvenile comic strip, "Hick Hayes in High," is now being distributed by King Features Syndicate, is credited with being the youngest featured comic artist in the United States. He is 21. The foundation for his strip was made when he attended San Jose (Cal.) High School, where, according to the story, James Swinnerton, the celebrated cartoonist, recognized the boy's ability and induced him to enter art school.

At the age of 12 Stockton was a "hoofer," playing vaudeville houses in the West. Later he obtained employment on the San Francisco Examiner from 1925 to 1928, and has since been with the Oakland Post-Enquirer. His strip has been syndicated on the Pacific coast for several years.



There was a post on the Platinum Age Comics List back in 2004 on CUDDLES ( and an image was posted. I saved the image and can send it to you; I, too, would like to know more about the strip.
Hi Arthur --
For reasons I need not go into here, I'm not in the Platinum group nor will I join. I would much appreciate if you could send me that info and sample of Cuddles.

Thanks, Allan

I've posted the image I have to my blog at
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Rocky Rhodes of Hart's Location

Today we focus on one of Cole Johnson's favorite obscurities, a local strip of Manchester, New Hampshire, the old Johnson family stomping grounds. Rocky Rhodes of Hart's Location predates by just a tad Cole's direct memories, but who knows but that those bewhiskered folks in the Johnson family album were once big fans of the strip.

Johnson sent me the above samples of the strip, which ran weekly in the Manchester Union from April 2 to May 23 1923. Given that the story seems to start in mid-flight we can safely assume that the strip lasted longer than this, perhaps starting in February or March based on this article that was printed in the Union on April 16:

Rocky Rhodes Lands in Queen City Via Air

"Rocky" Rhodes hit Manchester last night. He hit the city a terrific wallop.

"Rocky" didn't exactly plan to stop off in the Queen City. He was headed for his home, up in Hart's Location. But circumstances -- said circumstances being the sudden collapse of the balloon in which he was traveling from Akron, Ohio, to New Hampshire -- forced him to drop in unexpectedly on Manchester.

"Rocky" and Specky, his steed, chose a soft spot on the side o]f Uncanoonuc mountain on which to land. Then "Rocky", astride Specky's back, sought Manchester and the Union Leader office.

"I'm here," he announced as he reached the editorial rooms of the newspaper. "And I'm rarin' to go."

On questioning, Rocky told interviewers that he plans to make Manchester his home.

"Will you play baseball?" he was asked.

"Most certainly," the pride of Hart's Location replied. "I'm open to offers from any team in the City league. And I might be prevailed upon to use some of my spare time filling in with a team in the Concord Twilight circuit."

Which indicates that Rhodes will be found regularly this summer with one of the local clubs.

Rhodes is a right fielder by nature. He has a record that extends back into the early days of 1923 when he first learned to play the national game through a correspondence course. Diploma in hand, "Rocky" accompanied the Red Sox south on their spring training trip where he met with an accident that placed him in the hospital for a fortnight. His layup cost him a contract with the Sox.

Until next spring, when "Rocky" plans to make another venture into the big league game, he will be found in this city, he says. He may enter one of New Hampshire's colleges next fall as he says he is an excellent football player.
The creator of the strip, one H. Thebodeau, was, according to Cole, the sports cartoonist for both the Manchester Union and its sister paper, the evening Leader in 1922-23. On a recent pilgrimage to Manchester Cole tried to do some research on the strip but was stopped in his tracks -- the local library only had the Leader on microfilm, and Rocky Rhodes was only printed in the morning paper.

Hart's Location is a real place, a tiny town that today boasts a population of 37. It's claim to fame is that it's one of two towns in New Hampshire that votes at midnight of election day on federal elections. It operates in the shadow of Dixville Notch, though, which is the town that always garners the media attention for the same practice.

Cole tells me that the Amoskeag Mill, referenced and shown in one strip, was also a real place, in fact they were the biggest employer in Manchester in those days, and boasted of being the largest producer of socks and blankets in the world. The Great Depression and unionization put an end to that -- the factory closed in December 1936.

On a personal note, I'd like to add that this strip gets the laurels for the most lovingly drawn horse's sphincter in the history of newspaper comics -- see strip #2 (or better yet, don't).


Sorry to disappoint, but that's not the horse's sphincter: it's just a straight-on shot of his scrubby tail.
Sure that's not "W. T. Thebodeau"?
Maybe Wilfred T. Thebodeau?
Hi Joecab -- disappointed ... um, no I don't think that would be the term if it's just the tail. Relieved? Yeah, I think that does the job.

DD -- I took the 'H' from Cole's note to me regarding the strip. I could see H.T. as another possibility. I kind of assumed that Cole, having seen Mr. T's sports cartoons, knew better than I. As J. Wellington would say, let's you and him fight.
Hello, dddeg--Mr. Thebodeau made an odd pitch in the line crossing the "H", and I guess this confused my ability to properly garner the true nature and aspect of this noble and useful member of the alphabet community.----Cole J.
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Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Double Dora

Virginia Huget seemed to prefer cultivating her writing talent, but for my money she was far too good a cartoonist/illustrator to ignore that part of her repertoire. Her deco-ish angular figures are stylishly stiff in the manner of the day yet undeniably lively, and her backgrounds are modern fairy tale vistas. The perfect sort of style for the flapper era.

Now you'll have to take my word on that because this particular page isn't all that exciting, but Double Dora is a magazine cover series I only just discovered and I had only a few samples to pick from. The Hearst magazine cover series just seem to keep multiplying on me. Every time I think I must have found them all some more come out of the woodwork.

This series, featuring a movie stuntwoman, was syndicated by Hearst's King Features Syndicate division June through August 1929.

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Monday, March 08, 2010


News of Yore 1925: Joe Cunningham Profiled

J.C. and Rufus McGoofus
by Joe Devir

(originally printed in Cartoons & Movies Magazine, April 1925)

It was the appreciative eye of a Pennsylvania Dutch compositor which saved the youthful Joe Cunningham to art and for the later delight of countless admirers of his "Rufus McGoofus," according to Leon Holtsizer, art director of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, who tells the story as follows:

"Young Joe was about to destroy his first drawing in despair — a 'fight picture' — when the aforesaid Berks County connoisseur and typesetter stayed the ruthless hand. 'Dat's putty good, Choe," was the critical and encouraging comment that sent Cunningham in hot haste to Reading's Latin Quarter for a black velvet jacket, tam-o-shanter and tube paints; henceforth resolved to do or die for art!

"Now Joe swings a wicked pencil. His 'Rufus McGoofus', the man with the funny troubles, appearing daily in the Evening Public Ledger and other newspapers, is a favorite 'funny' throughout the land. Joe's chief sport is banqueting. As a raconteur he is as much sought after as is his art, and his after-dinner speeches are as big a hit as 'Rufus.'"

"Rufus McGoofus" is a comic strip with punch, read by more than a million persons daily. "Rufus" does what the ordinary chap does but never gets credit for. He is a take-off on countless thousands in the land of Stars and Stripes. "McGoofus" is married and has a family. He is convincingly human and tries most anything. First he worked on salary, then he entered business with another chap. His exploits are legion.

The creator of "Rufus" got his start as office boy to the Public Ledger art director. Thereafter Joseph Cunningham flitted in and out of many departments of that paper until he found comfort in the local room, where he did some clever reporting. He drifted into sporting assignments and later the magnet of art drew him back to his first love.

Joe did layouts and retouching on the Philadelphia North American and Evening Times, later reporting for the Evening Telegraph. Then Joe thought he'd travel. He landed a job at the Reading News office. On that sheet Joe proved his ability. He produced a combination of specialties, including a sports cartoon review on Saturday.

Returning to Philadelphia a year later, he grabbed a berth on the North
American, doing sports—writing and cartoons. Then came the war and Joe donned khaki.

After the war Cunningham married, and the happiness of his domestic life improved the quality of his work. But it was hard sledding at first. He opened an office and did free lance sketching and what he called "general sharpshooting." The art work, including writing, was for Judge, The Farm Journal, Hardware, Motion Picture Exhibitor and other magazines.

"The sharpshooting," he explained, "consisted of a varied assortment of methods of gathering the jack," his business having started on a capital of fifteen dollars. He sold stuff such as egg crates, pliers, freight rate guides, ventilators, plate glass and other more or less useful articles.

A typical period of his career was a month spent in taking orders for a hair tonic. Although astounded by the amount of his commissions, he was innocent of the fact that he was the "goat" of a bootlegger. But that's a story for Joe himself to narrate—if he cares to.

Mr. Cunningham's versatility is a strong point in his character. The man who spends his whole existence in the same shop or office is a pitiable specimen. In his famous "Essays on Self Reliance" Emerson says: "A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles it, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls."

While Joe was very active selling miscellaneous wares, his dominant purpose was the creation of a newspaper comic. He tried out "John Sapp, Demobilized Doughboy," and it went over big. When the service men had all returned home to civic life, the "John Sapp" strip was withdrawn. Shortly afterward Cunningham hit upon his masterpiece, "Rufus McGoofus," which he draws for the Ledger Syndicate, together with "Dumb Bells," another comic.

Some time ago Joe blossomed out as an after-dinner speaker. He harrangues big business organizations and social gatherings with a marvelous flow of humor and common sense. When he addressed the twenty-first annual banquet of the Philadelphia Sporting Writers' Association, the other day, the Record said:

"The real hit of the evening was a short address by Joe Cunningham, the well-known cartoonist and humorist, whose ready wit fascinated the diners (400 all told, including Lou Young, coach of the University of Pennsylvania football team, and other celebrities), while he leveled words of praise and criticism with equal fairness. None escaped the verbal darts thrust with unerring accuracy by Cunningham, and when he finished his talk the massive banquet hall was in an uproar."
Cunningham is a regular fellow, with many hobbies. He has managed football teams and has performed over eighteen holes of golf in 90 even, besides being a devout angler. He has three splendid children—Joe, Jr., Jack and Joan.

[a sample of Rufus McGoofus can be found with this post of 2/29/08.]


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