Thursday, May 19, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Professor Wayupski

Here's a real rarity from the 1902 St. Louis Star, which is also (we think) the birthplace of the World Color Printing syndicate. Long story on that connection, one that I'm not prepared to tackle today.

Professor Wayupski is a delightful fantasy strip about a fellow who yearns to soar with the birds. In the first sample above he has a pretty standard cartoon dirigible design, but in the second Wayupski seems to have done a radical redesign.  How that metal submarine-y thing was supposed to fly is anyone's guess, but I think the basic idea with these fantasy craft was that they were dirigibles with the balloon removed. Or maybe, given the way it crinkles up when it hits the moon, he was riding the balloon itself. Well, whatever. These are the funnies, not Aeronautics 101.

Keep in mind that Kitty Hawk was still a year in the future. Torpedo-like airships stubbornly survived the Wrights, though. Soar on over to see The Bird Boys for a later model that shares the same shape, but adds an interior cabin for comfort.

Professor Wayupski ran from May 25 to June 8 1902, so you're on the observation deck for two out of his three flights. The strip was by Albert Bloch, whose only comic strip credits were at the St. Louis Star in 1901-03.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Albert J. Bloch was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 2, 1882, according to the Social Security Death Index. He was the first of four children born to Theodore and Emma, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Bloch's occupation was a clerk in a dry goods store.

Excerpts from a University of Kansas Relations press release (January 24, 1997), and web site, Rediscovering Albert Bloch at the University of Kansas:

…Albert Bloch was trained in a local art school….Bloch began his career
as a newspaper illustrator. He drew cartoons, caricatures and cover
illustrations for the literary weekly The Mirror from 1905 to 1908. In 1908,
Bloch went to Europe to continue his artistic training. In 1911, Kandinsky,
along with his friend Franz Marc, visited Bloch’s studio and soon invited
Bloch to join them in their new venture, the first exhibition of Der Blaue
Reiter (The Blue Rider), which opened in Munich in December 1911.
Bloch showed six canvases in the first Blue Rider exhibition. Thereafter
Bloch participated in other major avant-garde shows in Europe. Following
his return to the United States, Bloch taught for a year at the Academy
of Fine Arts in Chicago (1922-23) before accepting the position of head
of the department of painting and drawing at the University of Kansas
in the fall of 1923. For the next twenty-four years, Bloch taught art and
art history at the University. He died in 1961, survived by his second
wife, Anna Francis Bloch…
Part 2

A family tree at said his first son, Bernard, was born in New York City in June 1907. In the 1930 census, Bloch, his wife Hortense and son Walter (13 years old) lived in Lawrence, Kansas at 1015 Alabama Street. He married when he was 23 years old and his occupation was artist teacher at Kansas University. Bloch passed away in December 1961 in Lawrence, Kansas.

A selection of Bloch's paintings can be viewed here,
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