Saturday, June 25, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, February 2 1908 -- Battling Nelson and Rudy Unholz are meeting in the ring on Tuesday, the only time these friends shall become ring foes. Herriman plays on the situation for this large cartoon for the Sunday sports page.

Herriman also submits a graphic review of a new indoor circus, run by Dick Ferris on South Hill Street. A small affair with some dubious acts, the big hit of the show wasn't even a circus act, but singer Arthur "Rags" Wallace, who made up a song on the spot in which he commented on the other performers and many of the patrons in the stands.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, June 24, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Paramount-Bray Animated Cartoon Promotional Comic Strip

One of the early animated cartoon production companies was the Bray Studio, which churned out a tremendous number of shorts from 1913 to 1927. For a sample of their fare, go check out Bobby Bumps and the Stork (1916) on Youtube. Extra credit if you make it through the whole six minutes of this aimless, herky-jerky stuff.

J.R. Bray himself was an old newspaper cartooning hand, and he brought newspaper pals like L.M. Glackens, Cornell Greening, Sam Loyd, Leighton Budd, A.D.Reed, Clarence Rigby, Milt Gross, Foster Follett, and Carl Anderson into the studio with him. So there was a predisposition in those hallowed halls to think about newspapers. This preoccupation resulted in the studio producing a series of newspaper comic strips to advertise their animated fare. The series was short-lived; it seems to have been actively distributed for only a few months, perhaps in the form of a 10-12 strip offering that was never repeated. The only samples found so far ran in October 1916 - January 1917 (and I think perhaps the January sample could be assumed to be running late). Most strips takes their titles from the company's cartoon productions and presents a gag from that short.

I was informed of this series by Cole Johnson, who sent me images of the strips he's found, and I was able to add some more. So let's take a look at what we have. First we have three Farmer Al Falfa episodes; these were credited to Paul Terry, an important animation pioneer in his own right. Notice in the third one that a suspiciously 'Mutt-ey' character co-stars (Mutt and Jeff had their own cartoon series produced by a different studio). These strips use titles that are slightly different from IMDB's animated film titles (Farmer Al Falfa's Wolfhound, Farmer Al Falfa's Prune Plantation, Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York). I don't know who the artist is here, but it's the same guy who did the Heeza Liar and one of the Bobby Bumps strips below.

Next up we have three of Earl Hurd's Bobby Bumps strips -- sorry, these are in pretty bad shape. The better repro'd square versions of two of the strips are from the magazine Film Fun which ran abbreviated versions of the strips with longwinded captions underneath the panels. IMDB's film titles are the same as the strip titles, except that Bobby Bumps Goes to the Circus is listed as Bobby Bumps At The Circus.

Earl Hurd started his own early animation studio in 1915, with Bobby Bumps, an ersatz version of Brick Bodkin, his New York Herald character. J. R. Bray went into a business partnership with Hurd, as between them they owned the two most important patents in the new field of animation. (Bray invented the concept of transparent "cels" on which the images were drawn, Hurd had created the peg system of keeping the pictures in register. ) You'll see "Licensed under Hurd-Bray patents" on cartoons up to the mid-1930's, when they expired. Note that the art on the lodge episode doesn't stick with Hurd's drawing style for some reason.

Next up are Colonel Heeza Liar strips from the studio head himself, J.R. Bray. Here again we have three episodes (do I sense a trend?). The first is from the short Colonel Heeza Liar Gets Married, the other two are from unidentified cartoons in that series. One includes a cameo by Carl Anderson's police dog character, who had his own series of shorts.

Finally we finish off with an adaptation of an L.M. Glackens cartoon short. Glackens did a series for Bray concerning a caveman named Haddem Badd. Seems like there ought to be two more, though, don't you think?  I mean, we must be consistent... Have no idea why Glackens' initials are seemingly wrong.

It seems pretty obvious that this series was produced to advertise the films and was distributed free to newspapers. Or perhaps they were distributed to local movie theatres who ran Bray shorts, with the suggestion to pass them on to the local paper. In any case, very few papers printed them and the strips found so far come mostly from backwoodsy titles -- Greenville (MS) Weekly Democrat, Perrysville (OH) Journal, and El Paso (TX) Herald.

If you reader-researchers can find any more episodes from this series (I have the funny feeling that there are two more lurking out there), Cole and I would both be tickled pink if you'd share your finds!

For more about Bray, go to Tom Stathes and Dave Gerstein's website about the Bray Studio.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for many of these scans, and for improving this post with a much needed injection of  his expertise on the subject!


Though we're all familiar with the early animated cartoons based on strip characters, would we not regard these as the first strips based on animated characters?
Real treasure! Thanks for sharing!
I did a small monograph a few years ago of some of Hurd's work, including a scan of some sheet music he did (ironically, to celebrate Dr. Frederick Cook's fake conquest of the North Pole), and his political cartoons that he did for a KC newspaper. I have an original of a book of these cartoons.
A few correction and additions: the series didn't start in October but in September 1916 (or earlier of course): the Urbana Daily Democrat (listed in Google News Archive under The Champaign Democrat) of Monday, Sep. 25 ran the first Paul Terry strip you reproduced here.
Sep. 26: your third Bray strip.
Oct. 26: a NEW one, "A shell game that was "Nuts" for Chick" by C. T. Anderson (i.e. Carl Anderson)
Nov. 8: the second Bray strip
Nov. 10: Oh oh, a FOURTH Earl Hurd strip, "Bobby Bumps assists a book agent".
Nov. 17: your third Earl Hurd strip
Nov. 28: your second Paul Terry strip
Dec. 8: your third Paul Terry strip
Dec. 15: a reprint of the Anderson strip!

Sadly, only the issues for September 1916 to December 1916 are available online:

But all in all, an earlier starting date and two new strips, including one new author.
Hello, all---The new strip found by Fram is based on one of Carl Anderson's early series, about a little black native boy and a long-legged ostrich, most popularly known as THE FILIPINO AND THE CHICK, for Pulitzer, ca. 1902, but also appeared as early as 1896 in the first Hearst sections. Looks like Anderson brought them back for one more go-round in animation.
The Wood County Herald (from Ohio) also ran three episodes in November 1916, two by Bray and one by Terry, but nothing new here. Still looking for more appearances and preferably new ones of course...
Fantastic article - very interesting. I have a question. Can anyone tell me which of the three listed newspapers the 'Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York and Calls It' featured in? For example, did it feature in one of the listed papers: Greenville (MS) Weekly Democrat, Perrysville (OH) Journal, and El Paso (TX) Herald?

Any guidance on this would be much appreciated - I am writing up a book and would love to see the original context.
So sorry, Chris, but my samples and notes about this all got thrown on the giant teetering 'to be filed' piles, where they are all but lost until some lazy researcher gets around to doing the filing. That sample was PROBABLY from a paper in newspaperarchive, but could also have been one of Cole's samples. At the moment I can't say for sure. But checking newspaperarchive would be a good move.

I have done research, and I think these were the first strips starring a licensed character out of any media. But I would like to know: did one of the strips appear before the other, or did they all debut at the same time?
Post a Comment

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles: By George! I'm Percy Winterbottom!

The Life and Times of Percy Winterbottom

Being a Biography of the Wonderful Boy Impressionist and Creator of the "New Art."

By Prof. Josh M.A. Long.

Author of
"Life and Times of Uncle Tommyrot," "Days and Doings of Darius D. Sawftsawder," "The Muse of Mary Mushandmilk," "Chemistry for Children, or the Fairy Tales of Science," &c., &c.
[The World (New York), September 5, 1897]


In compiling this present work the author cannot help stating at the outset that it is an honor to which he feels his poor talents inadequate. And with all due modesty, he is compelled to assert that at his hands the subject of these pages has a biographer who has fathomed the grand, gloomy and peculiar boy genius of whom he writes.

Chapter I.
The Babyhood of Percy Winterbottom.

Percy Winterbottom, the Great, was born at Swope Corner, Pa. The exact date has been lost, but it is supposed to be either April 1, 1887, or April 1, 1837. Owing to a slight blur or blot on the fly leaf of the family Bible it could not be determined with any degree of certainty whether it was '87 or '37, and his father, a singularly intelligent man, could throw no light upon the subject. Suffice it is, that, while the year may be in doubt, a minor point after all, the day of the month is established beyond all question. So we can say for sure that Percy Winterbottom, the oldest boy artist in the world, first saw light upon April 1, the year mattering not. It is but right, then, that his countrymen should set aside his natal day as a national holiday.

Percy Winterbottom, when but a few weeks of age, gave evidence of that wonderful precocity in art which in a few years was to bring him the fame and riches so deservedly his due. The story that his detractors have spread about, that in his early youth his parents were at some trouble to keep him hid from the dogcatchers, is the basest of canards. It is not even worthy of denial.

The first of his immediate relatives to notice the outcroppings of genius in the child was his Aunt Matilda, who exclaimed one day, to the great surprise of his parents, "Gracious me! Look at the strange ways in which that child is drawing his breath!" This was the first sign he gave of his unique artistic talent. As an infant he drew his breath differently from other children, and later on he drew his pictures in the same strange manner, to the delight of his admirers and the confusion of his critics.

When he could scarcely walk he drew everybody's attention, and his father burst into tears and said he saw no future in store for his son (who he intended should enter the junk business) as he was fated to be an artist. Shortly after this Percy Winterbottom took to eating at an Italian table d'hôte in the neighborhood, sometimes going without food in this manner for a week at a time. Here he became affiliated with Walter Mose, of the pre-Raphaelite school of impressionistic drawing, whose influence can be noticed upon his work to this day.

Chapter II.
The Boyhood of Percy Winterbottom.

In the year of our Lord 1897 we find Percy Winterbottom at the zenith of his fame. Early in the year he affiliated himself with Jimmie Jones, a child journalist of brilliant promise, and together the two published that gem of juvenile journalism, Jimmie's Paper, which at once achieved an artistic and literary success, but, owing to dissensions among the stockholders, suspended publication with its seventeenth number. Short as this space was, it was sufficient to place Percy Winterbottom head and shoulders above all the artists of the "eight-years-ago" school, so called from a peculiarity in their artistic ritual which does not permit them to see a drawing of any kind with our remarking that they "had done it eight years ago." It is not out of place here to mention briefly the subsequent career of Jimmie Jones, with whom Percy Winterbottom was associated.

After the suspension of Jimmie's Paper young Jones became disgusted with journalism and left it forever, beginning again at the bottom of the business ladder as a hod-carrier's clerk, in which pleasant pursuit he is now prospering. Of the wonderful boy artist, Percy Winterbottom, little more need now be said. His pictures speak for themselves in no uncertain tones. Week by week they cause amazement and surprise in the columns of the great Comic Weekly. His half page cartoons are simply indescribable. See them for yourself. The greatest of modern masters, Munkascky, Bougereau, Carl Marr, Kenyon Cox, Sergeant and all the rest of the pairing push, unite in saying that they never saw such pictures before and that there is nothing like them, nothing with which to compare them. After this, further comment would be superfluous. Suffice it is to say that Percy Winterbottom, for the past twenty or thirty years, has been the greatest boy artist this county has ever produced. His is truly "the new art" He has his enemies; the successful always have; he has his detractors, for envy rears its hydra head where [text missing]…follow, but he stands to-day at the head of his own school and style of drawing. Percy Winterbottom, the great, inimitable, the unapproachable!

Let those among his lukewarm friends say, as many do, that Percy Winterbottom does not draw as well as he did fifteen minutes ago. The present biographer believes, and states it without fear of contradiction, that art, with a capital A, has the renaissance in that most wonderful delineator of realistic art, Percy Winterbottom, the wonderful boy artist!

[Obviously the profile of Percy Winterbottom was a work of fanciful fiction. Even the author's name, Prof. Josh M.A. Long, was a fabrication. Josh isn't short for Joshua; it's the slang word meaning to kid or joke. Say the name quickly: josh 'em along. So, who was Josh M.A. Long? Don't ask! The World revealed the name of man behind Winterbottom on December 22, 1897 on page 14. The paper printed quotes from a number of writers, humorists, artists and cartoonists who praised its creation, Father Puncherbocker.

George A. Beckenbaugh (Percy Winterbottom)
"I like the idea of blending Mr. Punch with Father Knickerbocker very well, because it cannot fail to amuse New Yorkers and at the same time make the English feel proud."

George A. Beckenbaugh was born in Maryland in June 1866, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1870 census he was the third of four children born to George and Mary; his father was a farmer. No address was listed so the nearest post office was given, Fair View, Maryland. Ten years later, the family, with two more children, lived in Conococheague, Maryland. Beckenbaugh's father had remarried and was a census enumerator who counted his own family.

Nothing is known of Beckenbaugh's education and when he moved to New York City. His writings appeared in print as early as October 20, 1895 in the Wheeling Register (West Virginia). On December 6, 1896, The World published Jimmie's Papers (Volume 1, Number 1) in its Comic Weekly, which may have been Percy Winterbottom's debut. Beckenbaugh was listed in both the 1898 and 1899 Trow's New York City Directory at the address, 60 West 92nd Street. The Dallas Morning News published an interview with Beckenbaugh on April 9, 1899; excerpts from "A Humorist Dissected":

Did you ever make the acquaintance of a professional humorist? If you have had that pleasure you know something of what a sad and serious business it is to write original jokes or grind out humorous matter for the current periodicals. Judging by the appearance of the average professional humorist, it is a business that makes a man lantern-jawed and stoop-shouldered, that obliterates from his countenance even the shadow of a smile, that casts a funereal gloom over his life and makes him muggy, miserable and melancholy. To learn something about this strange and interesting mortal, with a view to imparting to the public such information regarding him as they wish to know, I called on George A. Beckenbaugh, the humorist, whose works over his own name and under the pseudonym of Percy Winterbottom are so well known to newspaper readers….

"Would you mind telling about your methods of working?"

"I have no particular method. In the first place, I task myself every day. That is, I lay out certain work, and determine to do it before I go to bed again. I know the nature of matter that most papers care for, and I try to please them. That is, with regard to subjects. I writes sketches for one, verses for another and send picture suggestions to another; next week I reverse the scheme, and so keep on. No, I do not write five jokes a year. I long ago found that a joke is nothing less than the nucleus of a story; so I weave all ideas into stories and poems.

"How did I begin to write humor? Well, I began it by writing pathos. The two are closely allied: if a writer excels at one, he excels at the other. It is the pathos in life that appeals to me. I never thought a clown funny. I have been collecting data for a couple of plays, and hope to take up play-writing in a little while."

In 1900 Beckenbaugh resided in Manhattan at 138 West 21st Street; his occupation was journalist. In the same year, his book, Cotton Tails, was published. The Inland Educator, June 1900, published this review:

"A book of fun, bearing on the board cover the picture of a rabbit wearing checked trousers and sitting on a toadstool…Within are forty-eight full pages of comical pen and ink drawings of animal life, with as many clever verses in large type on the opposite pages. Those who are familiar with the work of the author, George A. Beckenbaugh, will know that they may expect here a collection of drawings grotesque and ridiculous on the one side and yet satirically suggestive of certain animal traits which belong to some members of the human family."

Beckenbaugh passed away a year later. The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) printed a death notice on February 26, 1901.

BECKENBAUGH—George A. Beckenbaugh, on February 25, 1901, in Harrisburg, Penn., at the home of his brother, E.L. Beckenbaugh, aged thirty-five years [sic: technically he was 34, being born in June 1866].

Funeral on Thursday at 2 o'clock from E.L. Beckenbaugh's residence. Private. Harrisburg cemetery.

The 1870 census listed Edgar who was four years older. The Sun Almanac for 1902, a supplement to the The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) newspaper dated January 11, 1902, noted Beckenbaugh's passing. On page 166, in the General Obituary Record, it listed, "Beckenbaugh, Geo. F., 40, humorous writer. Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 26." The middle initial, age and date were incorrect but the "humorous writer" description was right on the mark.]


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Klondike

Very distressing, very distressing. Here we have the two part series Klondike by Percy Winterbottom that ran in the New York World Sunday sections of August 29 and September 5 1897. What's distressing is that I cannot find even a peep about Winterbottom in my cartooning library. Yet I know I have read about him somewhere. Grumble, grumble. I guess I must put out the call to Alex Jay to save my bacon on this one and dig up some background on ol' Percy (no worries, Alex will come to the rescue tomorrow!).

Anyhow, this neat little series is one of just two that Winterbottom contributed to the early Pulitzer funnies sections. Both the art and text are inspired lunacy, and I love that Winterbottom billed himself as the inventor of "the New Art" (what we more typically refer to as Art Nouveau, acknowledging the French role in popularizing the style).

The captions, in teeny-tiny type, are just about impossible to read, so let me save your peepers the strain:

Caption 1 (missing a few words cropped out of the scan): We have organized an EXPEDISHUN TWO GO TOO KLONDIKE. No panes have bean speared to make our planz thorough. Sea us as wee start. First comes our guyed -- LAUGHING VIPER, THEE PIEYUTE CHEEF. Then comes our faithfull dog, drowing the sledge with provishuns for himself a indian. THIRD is US. Wee are all well mounted on a good serviceabell horse. Wee have soul charge of thee expedishun. Below us is our BODY-GUARD. Next comes a hog. Wee take him along two root out thee gold. If he refuzes to work wee will kil and eat hymn. It is an experiment. After thee hog comes MINIE who who volunteered to go along too keep the party inn a good humor. Last is a COLORED MAN with BAGS for the gold and CAND CHICKENS Four the DOMINIE. WEE started from HOBOAKIN and att this moment are almost att PATERSON. OUR CORSE is DEW NORTHWEST.

Caption 2: When WE reach HOHOKUS, NOO JERSEY, OUR INNDIAN Guyed Takes an over-dose of FIRE-WATER and LOOSES Thee TRAIL. This, TOGETHER with HIS LOUD HOOPING GIVES THEE DOMINIE NERVOUS PROSTRASHUN, and wee are obliged too give up WHAT PROMISED TOO BE A Sucksessful PROSPECKTING TOUR. WEE do knot blame "LAUGHING VIPER," OUR GUYED, BUT WEE DEW BLAME the dominie. WEE did not want too take HYMN along, but hee said hee wood cheer our hours of sadness. THEE OLD RASKELL, THIS PICKTURE shows us in site of SEECAUCUS. THEE Dominie has our "MOUNT," and thee COLERD man is holding him onn and driving thee horse. WEE are sketching farmers en-root, so wee will have something too SELL when WEE REECH NOO YORK. NOTE THEE TERROR OF THEE chickens. CONFOUND THEE DOMINIE.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!!


The Scoop newsletter seems to have published some info on him in 2003, judging from this:
Hello, Allan---I think that when Mr. Winterbottom refers to the "new art", he's not really referring to any highfalutin' French art movement. I think his "new art" is a satire of pretentious art. His "new art" is a purposefully juvenile/hideous put-on.
Post a Comment

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


News of Yore 1940: Death of Harry Homan

Harry E. Homan, News Cartoonist

Brooklyn Eagle (New York), July 21, 1940:
Harry Elmer Homan, editorial cartoonist for United Feature Syndicate and a resident of Hempstead, died of a heart attack yesterday in the home of his brother-in-law, Edward C. Crumlish, at Townsend, Del. He was 51.

Mr. Homan, who was on vacation when he died, was with United Feature Syndicate for six years, a job which resulted from a series of political cartoons which he did in behalf of Judge Frederick Kernochan during the electoral campaigns of 1933.

For years he was a leading member of the art staff of the Barron Collier organization and previously was art director of the Odets Advertising Agency. He was also connected with the Handel Company as a designer of ornamental metals.

During the war he enlisted in the Coastal Artillery of the New York National Guard and was later transferred to the Topographic Mapping Service of the 472d Engineers.

During his life he studied under Dean Cornwell and became his assistant, and learned painting with Charles Rosen and Charles Hawthorne. He was born on Feb. 18, 1889.

Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Marguerite Crumlish; four sons, Robert, Edward, Richard and David, and a daughter, Ann. He lived at 117 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hempstead.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at his brother-in-law's home in Delaware. Burial will be in the Wilmington-Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington.
According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Harry Elmer Homan was the only child of Frank and Emma; they lived in Meriden, Connecticut. In 1910 his mother was the head of the household; his occupation was designer at a novelty factory. They remained in Meriden. On June 5, 1917 Homan signed his World War I draft card which had his middle name. In 1920 he lived in Brooklyn, New York at 407 Adelphi Street. The census recorded his occupation as "Art League School." Homan had a wife and three children at the time of the 1930 census; he had married around 1922. They lived in Hempstead (Long Island), New York at 100 Albemarle Avenue. He was a commercial artist. His Sunday strip, Billy Make Believe, started on July 22, 1934.


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, June 20, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: The Purdys

Paul Robinson was one busy guy in the mid-20s. In 1925 he began doing Etta Kett, then in 1927 added to that Just Among Us Girls. Now Mark Johnson sends me samples of a new one on me -- The Purdys, a weekly strip he produced for the Publishers Autocaster Service starting in March 1926.

The Purdys was a pretty typical strip designed to appeal to the small town folks who were reading weekly papers. All the syndicates looking for this business had a strip about a 'typical' rural family. Publishers Autocaster was sort of an also-ran in this category, trailing well behind the more popular Western Newspaper Union and NEA (which had what they called a 'pony service' for weekly papers in addition to their daily-centric regular offerings).

The Purdys ran at least into the first few months of 1927 from what I can tell. This seems to makes sense as an end date since Robinson added a second daily to his workload in August 1927. However, Mark Johnson's samples are from 1928 issues of the Sycamore (IL) True Republican, so either it ran even longer, or Sycamore was running backstock.


It would seem that these were done about 1925 and used as a finished set of however many strips, to be used whenever the client cared to, even if it were years later.
Post a Comment

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]