Saturday, March 19, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, January 21 1908 -- Herriman contributes two cartoons today, a review of the stage musical Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway, the other a sports cartoon about tonight's bout between Jack 'Twin' Sullivan and Joe Thomas, two fighters then near the beginning of long ring careers (though the 30-year old Sullivan's premature baldness made him look older).


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Friday, March 18, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: R. Edward Shellcope

Postcard, 1909
Raymond Edward Shellcope was born in Pennsylvania on June 3, 1879 according to his World War I draft card. There was a "J. Raymond Edward Shellcope", a Civil War veteran, who may have been his father; other than a pension card, there is no other information about this person. Nothing is known about Shellcope's art training. His name was recorded in the book, Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898 (W.S. Ray, State Printer, 1901), on page 49: "SHELLCOPE, Raymond E., Priv. Co. D; Res. Philadelphia, Pa.; Enrd. May 10, 1898; MI May 11, 1898; MO with Co. Oct. 26, 1898."

Possibly Shellcope's first Inquirer appearance, 9/1/1901

Shellcope's first strip might be The First Silk Tie in Umboolaland, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on September 1, 1901; it was signed, "R. Edw. Shellcope". Two more 1901 strips, November 10 and December 15, were signed the same way. In 1902 his signature changed to "Redw. Shellcope". His first series was The Interfering Idiot, published in 1902-03. It was soon followed by the series Jimmie the Messenger Boy, which began on May 3, 1903 and ended on July 6, 1913.

The Interfering Idiot, 3/1/1903

For a few years Shellcope was active in the National Guard. On September 26, 1909, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on one of the Guard's activities:

The members of Company D, First Infantry, have organized a minstrel troupe and are having a portable stage constructed, on which to give several performances in the company rooms during the winter. The personnel of the troupe is as follows: …interlocutor, Private R.E. Shellcope...

His name was recorded in the book, History of the First Regiment Infantry, National Guard of Pennsylvania (Grey Reserves) 1861-1911 (J.P. Lippincott, 1912). In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census he was a boarder in Philadelphia at 2540 Twenty-Ninth Street; his occupation was artist as a newspaper illustrator. In addition to his Guard duty, Shellcope was an oarsman who participated in many boat races as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Times.

Shellcope signed his draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided in Philadelphia at 6932 Tulip Road, and gave his occupation as "machine gum" at Henry Disston & Sons, a saw mill. On the line "Nearest Relative" he wrote, "Alas None." His description was tall, medium build with blue eyes and gray hair.

First Jimmie the Messenger Boy, 5/3/1903

In the 1920 census Shellcope was at the same address as above; his name was recorded as Redwood and occupation as artist at the saw mill. Around 1922 Shellcope married Marie Carter, who was a graduate (date unknown) of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. A close examination of the census record finds a "Marie Carter" who lived at 6950 Tulip Road, a few houses from Shellcope. She, too, worked at the saw mill, as a bookkeeper. Of particular interest is her father's sister, Elmira, an artist and art teacher, who was part of the Carter household for over 20 years. Undoubtably, Elmira's presence influenced Marie. Years later Shellcope and Marie's names were listed in the Ocean City Directory 1928 (New Jersey); they lived and worked, handling art goods, at 1230 Boardwalk.

In 1930 the couple lived in Ocean City at 369 Ocean Avenue. He remained an artist. Marie was 12 years his junior. In Polk's Ocean City Directory 1937-38, the couple was listed on page 159; they lived at 305 Ocean Avenue.

The date of Shellcope's passing is not known. In Polk's Ocean City Directory 1948 on page 226, Marie was listed as the widow of Raymond E. Shellcope; she lived at 309 Ocean Avenue. Based on newspaper articles that mentioned Marie, Shellcope's passing can be narrowed either to late 1946 or early 1947.

Two 1946 Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger articles dated August 12 and November 1 referred to Marie as Mrs. R.E. Shellcope. The use of her husband's name indicated he was probably alive at that time.

A few months later in 1947, a Sentinel-Ledger article, dated March 14, gave her name as Mrs. Marie Shellcope. On May 17, the New York Times reported on the New Jersey Women's Clubs convention in Atlantic City, and identified her as Mrs. M.C. Shellcope. These changes of her name, in the papers, suggest that Shellcope had passed away between November 1946 and March 1947.


Thank you for this interesting article. This is particularly of interest to me because my mother spoke of her aunt, whose name was Marie Shellcope, and was an artist herself, and resided in Ocean City, New Jersey. I am certain that She is R. Shellcope's wife. My middle name is even Carter! I inherited Four of her paintings. One is a still life with candelabras and a plaster bust, which are also still in the family. This will be of great interest to my family, and I thank you for posting this.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Joe Doyle

Gag cartoon, 1912
Joseph Dennis "Joe" Doyle was born in Ireland on January 21, 1888; his full name and birth date are from his World War I draft card. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census he and his mother, Catherine, immigrated during the year of his birth to the United States. They were boarders with the Buckley family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2137 Randolph Street.

In 1910 Doyle was a boarder in Philadelphia; his occupation was salesman for a cigar store. 

Doyle produced comics for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His strips appeared in the Boys' and Girls' Magazine Section as early as March 9, 1913; usually there were four different strips in the eight-page magazine. Cole Johnson said that Doyle did the "Scary William" strip from August 16, 1914 to June 2, 1918. [Doyle's stints on Scary William, as well as on Fineheimer Twins, Little Possum Gang and That Irresistible Rag, all for the Inquirer, were unsigned and his work was IDed by Cole Johnson -- Allan]

Doyle strips from March 9 1913 Boys and Girls Magazine of Philadelphia Inquirer
In the Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey) '"Excuse Me," by Myer Marcus, appeared from March 5, 1913 to the middle of December 1914. Unsigned strips appeared from mid-December to February 6, 1915, and most appear to be by Doyle. The strips were signed by Doyle beginning on February 8 and ending on March 27, 1915. Doyle's "Lonesome Lew" replaced "Excuse Me" from Tuesday, March 30 to Wednesday, May 19, 1915. [Excuse Me began in the Inquirer much earlier, on 4/10/1911. The Doyle version either didn't appear in the Inquirer itself, or was missing from the microfilm, so I had the series ending earlier, on 1/30/15 -- Allan]

In the last week of "Excuse Me", a Charlie Chaplin Tramp-like character was introduced on March 24 and 27. That character became "Lonesome Lew" on March 30, but this one was actually an "Excuse Me" strip because the series' last panel always had someone exclaiming, "Excuse me!" On May 20 "Lew" was replaced by Robert Brook's "Officer Crust".

Doyle signed his draft card on June 5, 1917. His occupation was cartoonist at the Keystone Feature Syndicate. He was described as slender, height five feet ten inches, with blue eyes and brown hair.

Jersey Journal, 3/24/15
Jersey Journal, 3/27/15
Jersey Journal, 3/30/15
Jersey Journal, 3/31/15

At the time of the 1920 census Doyle was married to Sophie and they had a daughter, Dorothy. They lived in Philadelphia at 5527 North Marshall Street. According to the census Doyle had been naturalized in 1908. His occupation was listed as cartoonist for a newspaper.

In 1930 the Doyles lived at the same address. His occupation was unchanged. This census showed that Doyle married at age 27 (in 1915). His wife was seven years his junior.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Doyle passed away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 1973.


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Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Reddy - Also Caruso

In Reddy - Also Caruso, Gene Carr answers the age-old question "Does a bear sh---", wait, no, that's not it, it's "what would a kid do if he had a trained bear at his disposal?" The answer, not surprisingly, is that he'd cause some serious mayhem. Since the answer to the question was so simple, Carr felt no need to beat a dead horse; Reddy - Also Caruso ran less than three months in the New York World, from January 13 to March 3 1907.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


I have just come across a huge collection of "make your own book" inserts in the Chicago Tribune Newspapers printed by Spadea Synd in the 1960s and bought them all. The paper's objective was to have kids cut the books and assemble them from the newspapers. I must have at least 50 titles or more all cut from the paper all of which are original stories with original comic book like illustrations. Some of the titles include "The Bugs Picnic', "Fearless Freddie Coon", "The Cats of St. Ives", "The Hat That Grew","Hard-A-Lee","The Mysterious Ouphe","Myron the Mousenik","The Knotty Elephant",Horsey Gorsey and the Frog","Round Robin Riddle Reader", and this is about 1/10th of all I have. All of them have great original comic illustrations of characters I have never come across some by the author and some done by a different individual. I would like to know how rare they are and what they may be worth. The newsprint, as you might imagine, is a little brown but otherwise they are in excellent condition. The colors are vibrant and all of the styles are different...very cool! I can be reached at I welcome any input.
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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,, and Lambiek,

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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Monday, March 14, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Sunbonnet Babies

Depictions of girls wearing sunbonnets that hide their faces seem to have begun to appear in the 1870s or 80s, and became a popular icon seen on china, postcards and quilts. It was in 1902 (or possibly 1900, there seems to be some dispute) that the imagery was first incorporated in a popular book series by Eulalie Osgood Grover and Bertha L. Corbett. They nailed down the representation in its now familiar form, though they were neither the creators nor the only marketeers to ply the 'sunbonnet trade'.

Bertha Corbett created a short-lived Sunbonnet Babies Sunday comic strip series which first appeared on December 8 1907. Her sometimes partner Ms. Grover doesn't seem to have been involved, or at least wasn't credited. In the Boston Globe the series ended on October 18 1908. The syndicate responsible for distributing the series is uncredited and unknown, and the strip appeared in papers that took varying syndicate offerings. If I had to guess, I would say the feature was syndicated by a publisher (maybe Rand McNally?) as publicity for the book series.

Alfredo Castelli in Here We Are Again adds credit to Grover on the strip, but I've never seen that credit actually included.

Here's a website with more Sunbonnet Babies history.


Better to play with a doll than to resort to kidnapping, I suppose.
I would have thought it tough to achieve a lot of interest in this concept. There's not a lot of personality in look-alike characters with no faces!
Very cute. Sunbonnet Sue's are classic quilting patterns. I guess someone thought they needed their own comic strip.
The Sunday continued in the Boston Globe until October 18, 1908. I have that last page before my eyes, so expect a copy by email. I don't see any Grover credit either, though.
Part 1

Bertha L. Corbett was born in Colorado on February 8, 1872, according to the California Death Index. The Corbetts lived in Denver, Colorado; her father, Waldo, was listed in the "Corbett, Hoye and Co.'s Annual City Directory City of Denver" from 1876 to 1879. In the book "History of Arkansas Valley Colorado 1881", Mr. Corbett was mentioned as a member of the Knights of Honor in Leadville, Colorado. Sometime later, the family moved to Minnesota.

In the 1895 Minnesota State Census, Corbett was the oldest of three children born to Waldo and C.E. They lived in Minneapolis. On July 19, 1896, the Saint Paul Globe (Minnesota) reported the results of an art contest for the cover to the Big Store Fall Fashion catalogue: "The third prize, an English fob seal watch chain, was awarded Miss Bertha L. Corbett. Her design represented autumn and winter by two sweet faces appropriately arrayed."

According to the 1900 United States Federal Census, the family lived in Minneapolis at 3404 Chicago Avenue. Her mother had died between the state and federal censuses; her father was a sign painter. The Minneapolis Journal (Minnesota) published an New England Bazaar ad, on February 6, 1901, which featured "Valentine Novelties By Bertha L. Corbett; the cutest things ever seen. 'Sunbonnet Baby' Valentines, absolutely unique, artistic and dainty."

The Kansas City Star picked up a story from the Minneapolis Tribune about Corbett; excerpts, from March 26, 1902, on the Sunbonnet Babies.

...The Sunbonnet Babies really grew out of a group of children I saw
playing in the sand. I drew a picture, the original Sunbonnet Baby, as it
afterward proved. My fellow artists examined it critically and professed
to like it. I fell quite in love with it myself and at once set to work to
draw more….

…They came out in a book bearing their names in June 189[illegible]
accompanied by little verses of explanation. Then the dainty maidens
began to appear on blotters, valentines, Christmas cards and calendars,
and now they are coming out in a primer, which Rand & McNally will
publish soon.
Part 2

A different account of her Sunbonnet Babies origin was given in the Kalamazoo Gazette-News (Michigan) on June 29, 1902.

…[Corbett] told of a visit to the theatre with a friend who, after watching
her sketch this and that actor's face, remarked: "It is all in the face,
isn't it? There would be no expression or meaning in a picture if you
left out the face?" Miss Corbett after a moment's thought sketched for
her a little child tugging his wagon loaded with autumn leaves in which
no face appeared and yet the picture told its story.

From that time the idea grew and the little sunbonnet people have grown
and developed as healthy children will, until the oldest are 4 years of age.

Miss Corbett has collected a number of her earlier children late a little
volume which has been published. She is now working on a Sunbonnet
Baby Primer for Rand & McNally of Chicago, the text for which is being
written by Miss Eulalie Grover….

A book which won the heart of all was the Sunbonnet Children with four
leaved cloves over their shoulders, which Miss Corbett got out about
Christmas time, four years ago….

Corbett's Chicago studio was mentioned in the Minneapolis Journal on October 22, 1905.

MIss Corbett has an attractive studio in the Fine Arts building with
some other young women in art crafts, but she uses the place now
rather as business headquarters than as a workshop, for her work has
taken an entirely new turn and now the babies and boys are being
exhibited in chalk talks by their creator.
Part 3

On September 20, 1906 the Minneapolis Journal reported her venture into advertising.

At present she is associated with R.F. Outcault of "Buster Brown"
fame, and together they evolve ideas which are to be set afloat in the
advertising field.

The Evening World (New York) published an ad, on May 31, 1907, touting the success of its Sunday art supplements.

The Sunbonnet Babies made a great hit when the Sunday World gave
them as illustrations of a series of art lessons to New York City readers.
It has now been decided to give the set to out-of-town readers.

Each picture in colors. Just the thing for framing or passepartouting.
Get the set. Order from newsdealer in advance. The Lovers Next
Sunday. [illustration of sunbonnet baby and overall boy kissing]

Perhaps the Evening World's sunbonnet series prompted Corbett to develop her comic strip, "The Sunbonnet Babies", which debuted in the Boston Globe on December 8, 1907.

Corbett was counted twice in the 1910 census. She was a roomer in Chicago at 4541 Prairie Avenue; her occupation was artist in a studio. And she was counted as a member of her father's household in Minneapolis at 203 14th Street. Later in 1910 she married George H. Melcher, who was an artist and 10 years younger.

In 1920 the Melchers and two daughters lived in Calabasas, California. The husband and wife were artists at a studio. The Melchers remained in Calabasas in the 1930 census; George was an artist and Bertha was an illustrator, both independent. According to the California Death Index Bertha C. Melcher passed away on June 8, 1950.
Thank you Leonardo, for the info and the scan! My guess is that the Globe moved it to another section that didn't make it onto the microfilm I reviewed after my end date, or those Sunbonnet pages were pilfered before microfilming. Not as rare an occurrence as I'd like. This is exactly the reason I try to note discrepancies in dates between what I have and those in other works. Not trying to play 'gotcha' just trying to get to the Truth. I'll amend the post and my SG listing.

And to Alex, thank you as always for the biographical research. The word 'passepartouting' sent me scrambling for my dictionary. Turns out it is "a picture simply mounted between a piece of glass and a sheet of cardboard stuck together at the edges with tape." There really is a word for EVERYTHING, isn't there!

Thank you for the great information about Bertha Corbett Melcher. My wife is giving a presentation to a group and I was attempting to find information about this illustrator for the Sun Bonnet Books. The information posted has, indeed, filled in the gaps in what I had been able to find.
For more information on Bertha Corbett Melcher see my article in the Spring 2010 issue of Minnesota History.

Moira F. Harris
Can you help me identify a character? I recall a comic from the 50's or 60's which featured a small, presumably old, hill-billy woman. She was always turned to the side and she wore a sunbonnet which concealed her face and she smoked a corncob pipe and wore a dowdy dress. I am reminded of Mammy Yokum from the Little Abner strip, but she is portrayed differently. Thanks for any help you can give me!
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Sunday, March 13, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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