Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Professor Bughunter

Ah, this one takes me back. No, not to my salad days in 1902. I'm not quite that decrepit. No, to the days when I was struggling to index the Chicago Daily News. The Daily News, as I've no doubt mentioned before, ran a daily half- to full-page of comics every day of the week back in the oughts. This was an impressive and unusual amount of cartooning content, especially when you consider that the paper printed all the panels and strips really, really tiny. I'm talking borderline microscopic. I dunno, maybe in the original papers it was all perfectly legible, but on microfilm -- oy vey. Add to the mix that the News used no running titles, so you have to read every comic on the page to determine when you're looking at a series cartoon or a one-shot (of which the latter were the majority), and you've got an indexing project that involved a lot of Tylenol chasers.

Nevertheless, it was fun work, one reason being that there were some great cartoonists working at the Daily News, including the all but forgotten Roy W. Taylor, penman of today's obscurity, Professor Bughunter. I just love his early style, which straddled the old world of woodcut engraving and more modern bigfoot cartooning. This series, which ran a grand total of five times over the period from February 3 to March 19 1902, concerns that old-timey favorite, the wacky scientist. The gags were simple, as they had to be to work at a printed size that rivals today's strips for miniaturization, but the excellent drawing and pithy subtitles keep you from feeling that you've wasted your time.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Thanks for posting this strip, I like Taylor's style, too. It is forward-looking, especially in the design of the Professor's head and his nose. This is a little off-topic, but have you ever written anything about Ernest McGee? He was an early collector of newspaper comics, he had an enormous collection, mostly Sunday pages. He is probably no longer around, do you know what happened to his collection? Mark Kausler
Roy W. Taylor was born in Indiana in November 1876, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1880 census, Taylor was the youngest of two children born to William and Mary. The family lived in Richmond, Indiana at 32 South Sixth Street.

Taylor illustrated Strickland W. Gillilan's "Finnigin to Flannigan: An Irish Dialect Story in Verse" (Richmond, Ind., Nicholson Printing and Mfg. Co., 1898).

Taylor lived in Chicago, Illinois at 242 West 66th Street when the 1900 census was taken. His occupation was newspaper artist. Many of his comics are mentioned at Hoosier Cartoonists, www.hoosiercartoonists.com/Cartoonist_of_the_Month.html, and Lambiek, lambiek.net/artists/t/taylor_rw.htm.

Taylor passed away on October 21, 1914, in Washington, D.C. The Washington Herald reported his death on October 22.

Comes Home to Die

Funeral Services for Roy W. Taylor Will Be Held Today

Roy W. Taylor, cartoonist, who died of Bright's disease yesterday at the
home of his mother, Mrs. A.L. Marshall, 723 Third street northwest, will
be buried in Richmond, Ind. The body will be sent to that place following
funeral services here this afternoon at 5 o'clock.

Mr. Taylor was employed on the Philadelphia North American at the time
of his death, and previously had been on the staff of the New York World
and of the Chicago Sunday Tribune, drawing for the Sunday comic sections
which give pleasure to thousands of children. He came to Washington
some weeks ago feeling that he was growing weaker gradually and had not
much longer to live. He was thirty-six years old.
I found these photos of McGee posted on Flickr by his gret-nephew, who sadly reports most of the collection was lost in a fire...

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