Saturday, January 29, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Friday, January 10 1908 -- the Los Angeles Examiner, and Californians in general, are flabbergasted when former San Francisco mayor Eugene Schmitz's extortion conviction is nullified on appeal. We've discussed these guys on Herriman Saturday many times, but if you need a refresher, here are the Wiki pages for Eugene Schmitz and Abe Ruef.


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Friday, January 28, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Little Darling

Gene Carr took a page from George McManus' playbook with Little Darling. This holy terror is strongly reminiscent of Snookums, and the mother is a doting Mrs. Newlywed. Carr shakes up the formula a bit by portraying the father as being more open to the idea that junior might just have a little bit of a behavior problem.

Veteran cartoonist Carr pretty much sleepwalked through this strip ... well, that isn't fair. I imagine he must have had to schlep to the paper's morgue and leaf through those heavy bound volumes looking for Newlyweds gags to rehash. Points for effort there.

Little Darling ran as a chintzy little quarter-pager in the New York World's Sunday comic section from June 12 1920 to February 6 1921.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


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Thursday, January 27, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Petting Patty

Here's Jefferson Machamer's Petting Patty, a strip that may have set itself up for failure due to its rather risque title. For those who aren't familiar with the old-fashioned term 'petting', it's a synonym for necking, but tends to be reserved for the serious variety where things are getting well past first base. The title was suggestive enough that many subscribing papers used the alternate title Patty the Playful, or simply Patty.

The King Features strip, which starred a hep jazz age flapper girl, began on April 16 1928 as a daily only. Machamer was still pretty young, not yet known as one of the successors to John Held, Jr., but his style was already mature. Despite the appealing art, the strip didn't sell very well, but King must have seen a bright future for it. In September 1928 Patty moonlighted in a series of appearances on Sunday magazine section covers (starting either on the 16th or 30th, sources disagree)*. The magazine cover series was initially titled Adventures of Patty, but the final two installments (11/4 and 11/11) used the daily strip title.

King Features may have gotten encouraging feedback on the magazine cover series, because a Sunday page was soon added to the strip. I can only verify this starting in January, but I wouldn't be surprised if it actually began a little earlier, maybe right after the magazine series ended.

The now Sunday and daily strip continued until September 5 1930. The strip had never sold very well, even with the addition of the Sunday. Machamer, who was now becoming a hot property, probably tired of the grind of a seven day a week strip when he could make more money by freeing up that time for other cartooning and illustration work.

More Petting Patty strips can be seen over at Barnacle Press.

* Carl Linich has since provided proof from the series appearing in the Chicago American that is a good indication the Sunday magazine series began on the 16th -- thanks Carl!


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Lose-Out

We learned that Roland J. Scott did an early feature titled Mr. Lose-Out in this post by Alex Jay, and my plea for a sample or more information about this feature, of which I was previously unaware, was answered by Terence Hanley, who sends this undated example that ran in the Indianapolis Sentinel, presumably circa 1903.

Information about the running dates of this strip, penned by Scott while still a teenager, is still sadly lacking, but at least we now know that it really did exist. A tip of the hat to Hanley, who has a website about Indiana cartoonists.

For those who haven't had the pleasure of dealing with newspaper microfilm and are unaware of the challenges involved, here's an exhibit that can give you some idea -- the original photocopy from microfilm of the strip above:


Wow, Allan,

You did a good job cleaning up that mess I sent. Do you have to do that with all your posts? Anyway, I'm glad you could use Mr. Lose-Out.

Hi Terence --
No, thankfully I'm usually working with scans from tearsheets. While there is still some restoration work involved, it's seldom a major challenge like this was. My Saturday Herriman posts, though, are all microfilm photocopies and they can be a royal pain. Seldom as bad as Mr. Lose-Out tho!
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Adventures of the Stranded Dime Museum Freaks

I have no idea who Benjamin P. Elliott is, but I have to thank him for creating one of my favorite oddball comic strips. Adventures of the Stranded Dime Museum Freaks was Mr. Elliott's only comic strip series as far as I know, drawn for the Philadelphia North American from March 9 to May 25 1902. Ah, if only he had stuck to the gig. He had all the tools -- good drawing ability, sense of humor, goofy imagination.

For those unfamiliar with dime museums, they were entertainment venues, where, for a mere tenth part of a dollar, you could marvel at all sorts of wonders and freaks of nature. Mermaid skeletons, devil babies, two-headed cows, medical oddities ... you name, they had it. I imagine around the turn of the century you'd find at least one operating in any major American city. Most of the exhibits, of course, were fakes, or at least fancifully represented, but hey, whaddya want fer a dime, buddy? Here's a brief introduction to them from Wiki, and here's a page about Hubert's Dime Museum in New York City, and below (if the link works) is a Youtube video of some of the exhibits at the American Dime Museum, probably the last of its kind and recently shuttered. I am surprised at how little there seems to be online about dime museums, a great (if not necessarily all that proud) part of American history:

Thanks to Steven Stwalley who provided the scan!


To my eye the signature looks like "Benj. P. Elliott", with two Ts. A search finds a potential candidate in the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The June 27, 1883 issue reported that a "Benjamin P. Elliott" was admitted to the Philadelphia High School. The February 12, 1886 issue reported on the Central High School commencement where Masters and Bachelor of Arts degrees were awarded. Elliott was one of many students who were declared "meritorious". He received the same distinction the following year as reported in the February 11, 1887 issue. However, it is not known which arts program he was enrolled.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census there is a Philadelphia "Benjamin P. Elliott", born August 1868, who fits the age of the Inquirer Elliott. However, the census has his occupation as "Indext Maker"; he married in 1894 and had a year-old daughter.

On February 16, 1902 the Inquirer reported on various visual arts activities. At the Philadelphia Sketch Club, a "B.P. Elliott" was elected to the House Committee.

There was a 1911 publication, "Address of the President, the Rev. Azel W. Hazen, D.D., on the First Decade of the Society", produced by the Middlesex County Historical Society in Connecticut. Page 37 listed item 133: Painting by Benjamin P. Elliott, who lived on the corner of Court and Pearl Streets, Middletown [Connecticut].

So, there was an artistic Benjamin P. Elliott at the time of "Adventures of the Stranded Dime Museum Freaks" but I'm uncertain I correctly identified him.
Quite right, Alex. My research was done on microfilm where the sig was (as usual) really hard to read. I'm confident you've got our man and I'll update my info. Thanks!

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Monday, January 24, 2011


News of Yore 1922: Young Cartoonist Struck Dead

 [Alex Jay contributes this piece about cartoonist Cy Long who was killed by a lightning strike shortly after the syndication of his first newspaper feature, Mose Bones, began. While Mr. Long was no budding cartooning genius -- his embarrassingly bigoted strip does nothing to enhance my opinion -- this is some very rare and interesting material about a beyond-obscure strip and a creator who seems to have gotten some early success based mostly on chutzpah and enthusiasm. 

Note that all the samples are from microfilm sources, so the quality is low, but the best we can do. Also, notice that one sample includes a different comic, Who Stumbles Most Dances Best by someone named Acker -- so having learned about one obscure cartoonist, in the process we find another unknown. Isn't it always the way... (see comments at bottom for info Alex has since gathered on this oddball item).

Thanks Alex!]

Thomas Cyril Long was born in Old Fort, North Carolina on December 29, 1897, as recorded on his death certificate. He was the only child of Luther, a life insurance agent, and Theresa. According to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census the family lived on Main Street in Newton, North Carolina.

Cyril was the preferred name as recorded in the censuses and the Charlotte and Greensboro newspapers. Beginning in 1914 the society pages of both papers reported on his violin playing, travels, college comings and goings, and other activities. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918; he was a student at the time. In the 1920 census the Longs still lived in Newton, at 1306 North Main Street.

Long's interest in baseball was noted in the Charlotte and Greensboro newspapers in the spring of 1922; he was an umpire. June saw the publication of his comic strip, "Mose Bones". On June 6 the Charlotte Observer picked up the announcement from The Hickory Record:

The newspaper public in various parts of the South will be introduced today to "Bones," a new comic strip prepared by Cyril Long of Newton. Some of Mr. Long's friends realized that he was a genius at drawing, and their pleasure will be increased by the publication of his strips. The Record is glad to be able to run "Bones" and it trusts that its readers, many of who know the young author personally, will remember that they were not done in New York, but in Newton. It's good work as Mr. Palmer, sketch artist of The New York World, remarked when shown the advance copies in this office the other day. Here's hoping that "Cy" will sell every paper in the country.

Long drew about a month's worth of strips, each of which were dated consecutively beginning with June 1, but they were printed out of order in the Charlotte Observer and Greensboro Daily Record. For example, the Observer printed the June 2, 3, and 5 strips together on June 4th; the June 1 strip appeared the next day. The Daily Record printed the June 24 strip on the 19th. The Observer published the news of Long's sudden death on the front page, July 2, 1922.

Cy Long Killed By Lightning

Young Cartoonist of Newton Taken While Playing Ball

Was Just Introducing Negro Comic, "Mose Bones"—Funeral at Wilmington Monday

Thomas Cyril Long, better known, especially among newspaper men of the south and east, as "Cy" Long creator of the comic cartoon strip of negro characters, including "Mose Bones," was killed by lightning while participating in a baseball game at or near Newton, N.C., his home town, Saturday afternoon, according to information received from Newton by telephone.

The body will be taken to Wilmington, N.C. former home of Mr. Long's mother, where funeral services will be held Monday morning according to information received in Charlotte.

Mr. Long was about 24 years of age, was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Luther F. Long, of Newton, his father being a well-known insurance man of that town. Deceased was an alumnus of Catholic university at Washington, to which institution he went after completing the course at Belmont college, Belmont, N.C. He was a young man of high ambitions, energetic, of pleasing address and manner, and very popular among those who knew him.

Only the past week he returned to his home at Newton for a few days after completing a tour of the southeast and as far north as New York City, introducing his new comic, to which he had devoted most of his time and thought during recent months and on which he had been working several years. He was enthusiastic in his belief that his comic, the first in the country based upon the dialect and character of the southern darkey [not by a long shot-ed.], would prove a great success, and he had received much encouragement from newspaper men throughout the southeast and in larger cities north.

He had made arrangements with a publisher at Cumberland, Md., to prepare his cartoons for his newspaper clients and was just conducting a campaign to place his comic in the larger papers of the south and east generally. He was in The Observer office Thursday night and had a conversation with the managing editor about his cartoon, which had been recently published at intervals in this paper. The Observer has a number of the comic strips on hand for publication.

The first news of Mr. Long's death to reach Charlotte came by long distance telephone in a message from his father to O.A. Williams, Jr. of this city, a close personal friend and former school mate of the deceased.

On July 5, the Observer printed this tribute:

The Nipping of a Genius

Of a verity it was a case of genius nipped in the bud when Cyril Long, of Newton, made answer to the sudden summons. This young artist had developed a talent for cartooning and The Observer is moved to happy reflection that it was the first paper to which he made advances and that it received him cordially, seeing in the character of his product a case of native talent which called for encouragement. He gave promise of development in the illustrated field to position similar to that held by Joel Chandler Harris in the dialect field and his "strips" were developing a popularity of the sort that has been accorded the older established cartoons of Mr. Jiggs and publications of the kind. His talents had become recognized by the newspapers in general and he was on the way to closing contracts which would have extended his fame throughout the land. The tragedy of his taking off was of the sort that could not fail to arouse painful contemplation.
Final strip, published posthumously, July 15 1922


What a sad story, to be killed at such an early age, a month after his first touch of success. Long had a kind of Joe Farren-ish style which might have really developed into something. (He may have developed a more advanced sense of humor, as well.) -----------------What is the syndicate on the mysterious "Acker" strip? I can't read it from this distance. The oddly specific title makes me think it could be an entry in one of those polyonymous/polyunsaturated/polystyrene/polynrpals strips. -----Cole Johnson.
Sorry, Cole, I couldn't read it either, even at high resolution. It could be {something} News Bureau, but I'd need magical CSI software to be taking more than a wild guess.

New interesting info from Alex on the Acker strip:

"I think I have the story behind the strip Who Stumbles Most Dances Best. This strip was really an ad for a new song titled "Stumbling", and a Broadway dance couple. The Trenton Evening Times (August 15, 1922) article tells the story of the song "Stumbling", and the couple who sought to capitalize on it. The Rockford Republic (August 12, 1922) published a photographic sequence of the couple in action.

I found a cleaner copy of the strip which was produced by the Music News Bureau N.Y.C. Presumably the artist, Acker, was based in NYC; maybe the name was a pseudonym. I couldn't find any info on the Music News Bureau; maybe they produced other strips promoting new music.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


I came across a cartoon by Jean Knott in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for December 2, 1911 and am looking for more information about the artist. Any suggestions as to where I could find more information about him. Also, is this a different artist from John Francis Knott the cartoonist for the Dallas Morning News? Any information would be appreciated.
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