Saturday, February 26, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Good news -- scanner is back online, weekend posts resume...

Sunday, January 12 1908 -- Herriman serves up a rather involved boxing cartoon to the sports page. Lessee ... Joe Gans recently fought and beat George Memsic in L.A., and then Memsic beat Rudy Unholz, and Battling Nelson was about to fight Jack Clifford, and ... um ... oh heck I give up. Like I said, it's involved. Basically the idea is that Gans is playing puppeteer to the lightweight division in order to choose himself a lucrative bout for the spring.

Herriman's other cartoon appeared as a small vignette in the full page editorial on the cover of the magazine section. The editorial is some ridiculous rambling silliness about Father Time waking up all the slumbering young men in the new year to, I dunno, go out and do great deeds I guess.


So glad to see Herriman Saturdays return, Allan! I love reading these. Did System Restore bring back your scanner?
Mark Kausler
It took a System Restore plus another re-install of the scanner driver.

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Friday, February 25, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Adventures of Willie and Bill

The Chicago Tribune's Sunday comic section of the 1910s was a pretty high-class affair. Between Frank King, Penny Ross and Sidney Smith they had some of the brighter lights of the cartooning world gathered together in their pages. One glaring exception was a fellow named Brandt, who had the good sense not to divulge his first name. His artwork was horrendously bad, sticking out like a sore thumb in the Trib's Sunday section. His only contribution (thank goodness) to the section was The Adventures of Willie and Bill. The premise of the strip is that Bill, the poor kid, and Willie, the rich kid, are fellow prankmeisters. Bill is a little more reticent about pulling dangerous stunts than Willie, who is completely out of control. The gag, such as it is, is that Bill usually suffers all the consequences for their escapades.

Miraculously, this awful strip lasted over a year in the Tribune, from December 24 1911 to January 26 1913. I'm left wondering if Brandt was a relative of McCormick or Patterson -- I can think of no other explanation for its longevity. Oh, one noteworthy item -- in the third sample above you'll find a guest appearance by Penny Ross' Mamma's Angel Child.

Thanks to Cole Johnson who provided the scans. He's lucky the scanner didn't break when it saw these!

And that brings to an end Willie Week on the Stripper's Guide blog. The point is that cartoonists in the 1890s-1910s had a fascination for that name. Practically every second kid in the comics of those days was named Willie. I don't exaggerate that I could easily make this Willie Month if I put my mind to it. The habitual use of the name actually causes problems for we indexers. When looking through early material, say before 1905, when series strips were much less ubiquitous, you might have the same artist draw comics featuring a kid named Willie over and over. The question then becomes, "Is it a series?" I can't tell you how many times I've had to put the ol' microfilm reel in reverse gear because of "Willie problems". Is it the same kid or is the cartoonist just enamored with the name? Same problem, to a lesser extent with blacks named Sambo and Rastus. All those names were used as shorthand to indicate types, a prized commodity in an art form where brevity truly is the soul of wit.


I laughed. I thought it was funny.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: What Willie Got

I almost hate to post this one, a sample of What Willie Got by Ferd G. Long. Long is one of my very favorite cartoonists of the era, a brush-wielding dynamo whose sense of humor didn't have an 'Off' button. He produced literally dozens of different series for the New York Evening World over a span of almost twenty years. I was surprised to find that I apparently haven't yet done a post of any of his series on the blog.

This particular strip of What Willie Got should by no means be taken as representative of Long's work. The gag falls flat because of a bumbling set-up. I can only guess that Ferd was out late the night before he produced this one. But beggars can't be choosers, and this sample from Cole Johnson's archives is likely the only one I'll ever have from newsprint. The series ran from October 11 to December 16 1909, appearing precisely eighteen times in amongst all the other series he had running.


This makes four "Willie" strips in a row. Are you trying to give us the Willies?
Bravo Grizedo! I was wondering when someone would notice. I'll be featuring Willies all week!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Willie Cute

Joseph A. Lemon, one of the anchormen of the McClure Syndicate Sunday sections, was not the most exciting cartoonist by any means. His fussily drawn entries were formulaic and unoriginal. The one strip where he almost breaks out of his box is Willie Cute. While the inspiration is obviously Buster Brown and the Katzies, Lemon's Willie Cute somehow manages to up the ante. While not a particularly funny strip by any means, this little imp may take the cup for being the rottenest little bastard I've ever seen acting it up on the funny pages. Lemon had a moment of (evil) genius when he drew Willie Cute as the ultimate little fey angel, which makes his horrific pranks seem so much worse than when they're pulled off by little toads like the Katzies. And unlike Buster Brown, drawn on the same general model, Willie never suffers any pangs of guilt at the end of his sprees. No, his only concern is figuring out bigger and meaner stunts.

It's really no wonder that there was a movement afoot in the 1900s to ban Sunday newspaper comics when we see productions like Willie Cute. Between it, Buster Brown, the Katzies and their scores of imitators, what parent wouldn't wonder if Junior wasn't getting inspired by his little Sunday paper friends?

Willie Cute ran in the C.J. Hirt copyrighted version of the McClure Sunday section from April 5 1903 to June 17 1906. The strips were re-used in the section as late as 1912.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Urgh. Is this supposed to be funny because his target is a stupid black woman? Did people actually laugh at this stuff? I weep for humanity.
one thing I can say for Hans and least they were Equal-Opportunity stinkers who bedeviled EVERYONE, regardless of race or creed.

Willie Cute, on the other hand...I'd have clobbered the little @#*&!!, myself (but dat ain't kosher these days;-))
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Little Willie

In 1908 W.G. "Jack" Farr made his syndicated comic-stripping debut with a short fill-in stint in the World Color Printing Sunday comics section. However, the first strip in the substantial list of his own creations was Little Willie, which had a pretty long run in Hearst's New York American from February 26 1909 to April 17 1910. Farr showed no particular genius at first in this very conventional strip about a kid who has a bit of an attention span problem. The concept had been done before, many times, and what the American editor saw in it I can't fathom. But Farr did improve, and though he was never considered a cartoonist of the first rank, he knew how to crank out the funnies, practically taking over the New York Telegram in the mid-teens and chasing off all that interesting content I spoke of last week in the post for Pazaza, It's Great.


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Monday, February 21, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Adventures of Willie White, Bennie Brown and Bobby Black

In this very early entry by William F. Marriner in the Philadelphia Inquirer we have a trio of unlikely turn of the century pals -- a rich white kid, a poor white kid, and a black kid. The series ran from May 20 to September 30 1900. When appearing in strip form they engaged in the standard bits of urban street kid high jinks, but from May 27 to July 22 they were also featured in a hidden-picture puzzle contest. The contest was just to find the objects hidden in the Marriner-drawn cartoon, but it was framed around an adventure story titled Captain Kidd -- Hys Cheste, which featured a continuing tale told in verse by Roy McArdell.

Although I've assigned the title Adventures of Willie White, Bennie Brown and Bobby Black to the series, that exact title never appeared. The headline-style titles would typically mention some combination of the kids' names but rarely all three in the same week.

PS -- can you find the six hidden objects in the cartoon? I think I did, but I'm not too sure about a couple of them.


I am guessing some of the objects were instantly recognizable back in the day. I think I found a telescope on the notice board thingy. Oar in the kids shadow. Oar in the tree? Or perhaps a bottle. The Bannister of the step looks like some kind of salt grinder. And whatever the front of the carriage is, a shield perhaps.
And some sort of brush in the street. That one took me a while.
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