Saturday, May 21, 2011


Herriman Saturday

January 27 and 28 1908 --Herriman is off and running with a new series, Today in Sports. Because it is sports editorializing it doesn't qualify for my index (which specifically excludes series of a purely editorial nature), so I'm very glad to be able to share the find here. We'll be seeing quite a few more episodes of this series in upcoming Herriman Saturdays -- and also a new series I bet you've never seen that does qualify for my index.
January 28 1908 -- The Belasco's latest production is Commencement Days, starring most of the usual suspects. Although the play got a good review from the Examiner, it seems not to have caught on big, and I find no reference of it being staged after 1909.


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Friday, May 20, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Colonel Daffy-Dil Nutty

By the 1910s the McClure Syndicate Sunday funnies sections were become more and more a patchwork of reprints and barely professional work.Colonel Daffy-Dil-Nutty is a good example of this trend. The strip, which lasted a little over a year, was a sort of Foxy Grandpa knockoff. Not truly awful, just sort of -- there. No serious energy was expended on either art or gags. In this example I would bet that the Colonel's lame lines came straight out of the filler in the back of a bad joke book.

The strip was never signed except for an occasional "W" monogram and ran from December 3 1911 to January 26 1913.


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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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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Have You Ever Noticed?

Here's an uncharacteristically low-key series from that master of slapstick mayhem, George Frink. Have You Ever Noticed? Ran on the Chicago Daily News' weekday comics page from February 7 to April 12 1902, appearing a total of nine times in that period.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


Haha I love how his wife couldn't come to the retreat...
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Hagen, Fagin and O'Toole

Here's an innocuous little strip about a trio of animal pals, Hagen (the dog), Fagin (the cat) and O'Toole (the bird). The art by Chuck Bowen is nice enough, but the gags tended to be more cutesy than actually funny. The writer was Wayne Brinkerhoff, who apparently is the son of Robert M. Brinkerhoff, a comic strip career man who did Little Mary Mixup.

The strip was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, but was taken by few papers other than the Daily News. The strip began as a daily only May 4 1964, a Sunday was added on September 13, and the pet show came to a close on July 2 1966.

Although I don't see anything all that memorable about the strip, I've received occasional inquiries about it over the years, so evidently it did have its fans.


There was another animal strip that has a similar effect on me, I think it was called The Comic Zoo.
Oh Ger, say it ain't so! George Scarbo was such a great cartoonist in my book. Sure, Comic Zoo was about as brain-dead as it comes, but oh the art!!!

I agree, every time I see one I have to have a look at it. But I never managed to read one all the way through.
Just a little Hagen, Fagen & O'Toole tidbit here. I dated Chuck Bowen's daughter Brenda for 3 years (best 3 years of my life by the way). I was like family and Chuck often fashioned his work by watching, listening and studying the interactions between Brenda and myself and somehow incorporated us into his work! They lived in Bay Village, Ohio at the time. Miss those days greatly!
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Monday, May 16, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Animal Wise Cracks

Sorry about the lack of posts since Thursday. Blogspot sorta had a little existential crisis last week, sending some of my posts into slumberland for a time. Thought I'd give it some time to get over its hiccups rather than risk the loss of my deathless prose.

So anyway, today we've got Animal Wise Cracks by Ralph Wolfe. This was a New York Evening Graphic strip, begun in September or early October 1929, that didn't fit the mold of their usual material. The Porno-Graphic readership was pretty much limited to adults (we hope), so why run an animal strip obviously aimed at children (and rather dull ones at that)?

Well, to ask why the Graphic did anything is to assume a level of intelligence and planning that simply didn't exist at that zany paper. So I'm also not going to ask why the strip was renamed Animal Wisecracks in 1930, or why it was advertised in E&P as Animal Antics. Or why the strip was apparently distributed both by the Graphic (as MP Inc.)  and McNaught Syndicate. No, I'm just going to say that it expired sometime in 1930, and that it seems to have been Ralph Wolfe's last syndicated newspaper strip.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Part 1

Ralph Allison Wolfe was born in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) on August 19, 1894 as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. His father, James, was Caucasian, and his mother, Kate, was half-Cherokee. Ralph was recorded as "three-quarter white"; he was the fourth of six children.

In 1910 Wolfe's older siblings had moved; he and two sisters remained with their parents in Vinita, Oklahoma at 101 Miller Street. Some time later, the family moved to Los Angeles, California. Wolfe signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917; his occupation was caddie at the Los Angeles Country Club. His description was medium height and build with green eyes and light hair.

Wolfe's mother was the head of the household in 1920; they lived in Los Angeles at 1260 West 51st Street. His occupation was cartoonist in the moving pictures industry. Apparently in the late 1920s he moved to New York City where he worked on a number of comic strips.
Part 2

In the 1930 census Wolfe was a lodger at 14 West 68th Street in Manhattan; his occupation was cartoonist for a newspaper. Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928-1999 lists his animation employment at Disney, Warner Bros., and Fleisher studios in the 1930s; when he returned to Los Angeles is not known. During his time at Warner Bros., his name was "hidden" in the cartoons, Have You Got Any Castles?,; and Speaking of the Weather,

Wolfe wrote "and now — The Painted Voice" for the Watson-Guptill publication, Art Instruction (1939); "an article describing the new 'shorthand' of hand-drawn sound invented and patented by Dave Fleischer of Fleischer Studios, Inc., Miami, Florida…" Edan Hughes (Artists in California, 1786-1940) wrote, "…He worked for 40 years as a cartoonist for Disney Studios."

According to Who's Who, Wolfe free-lanced in the comic book industry during the 1940s into the early 1950s. The date of his marriage to Enola Richardson (1905-1987) is not known. Wolfe was 90 years old when he passed away on June 20, 1985 in Los Angeles; he was buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

These are Wolfe's animation credits as they appear on my "Albertopage" website:

WOLFE, Ralph Ellison (19 Aug 1884-20 June 1985)

Inbetweener: DISNEY 31-33

Animator/Story: DISNEY 33-


I'd like to add that at Warners Wolfe's name inspired the character Ralph Wolf, who appeared in several Chuck Jones-directed cartoon shorts along with Sam Sheepdog.

Apparently Wolfe was in California before 1915; here is his entry in the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 4. Works of Art, Etc. 1915, New Series, Volume 10, No. 1:

Wolfe (Ralph) Sawtelle, Cal. [653
Chollychap. [Grotesque drawing of statuette of man wearing derby hat,
tight-fitting coat and large trousers, standing with heels together and
toes turned outward.] © 1 c. Mar. 16, 1915 ; G 49221.

In the mid-1920s Wolfe was involved with producing stop-motion animation shorts under the name, Plastic Art Productions Presents Ralph Wolfe's Mud-Stuff. Three shorts can be viewed here:

Green Pastures,
Long Live the Bull,
The Penwiper,
It sounds like the "Chollychap" statue is an unlicensed Charlie Chaplin figure.
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