Saturday, July 09, 2011


Herriman Saturday

Thursday, February 6 1908 -- Today we begin a new Herriman comic strip series, another that has never before been documented or reproduced to my knowledge. Mr. Amos Pidjin was produced in honor of the U.S. Navy fleet making a visit to California on a round-the-world expedition. The Great White Fleet was assigned the task of a circumnavigation by President Roosevelt as a show of American naval power. More here at Wiki. Herriman's series, which will run five episodes, becomes more intensely surreal and bizarre with each installment. A real portent of things to come from Garge's pen in later years.

Also today another installment in the Today in Sports series, with boxers Jimmy Britt, Unholz and Battling Nelson featured, plus a dog show.


I seem to recall the fleet also made an appearance in Mutt and Jeff around the same time, though since that was in San Francisco it would presumably have been slightly earlier or slightly later. (In the Hyperion reprint of Fisher's first year 1907-08)
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Friday, July 08, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Merry Mary

Here's a magazine cover feature that has managed to do a fine job of eluding me; the only sample I've seen is this one from the files of Cole Johnson. Art is by Virginia Huget, whose clean style I quite enjoy. You'll find several other magazine cover features by her here. The verses are supplied by Berton Braley, a poet who, if his wiki bio is any judge, specialized in doing the rhymester biz for trade journals (!) as well as general-circulation magazines and newspapers.

Based on this lone example of Merry Mary, whose date is January 1 1928, we know only that the feature ran in 1927-28 -- I'll try to track down definite dates at the Library of Congress now that I know a paper that ran it.

 EDIT: It ran 11/27/1927 - 1/29/1928

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Thursday, July 07, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Alfred Brewerton

Alfred West Brewerton, Jr. was born in Marion, Kansas on September 11, 1881, according to Who's Who in the South (1927). In the 1885 Kansas State Census, he was the second of three children born to Alfred and Ella. The family lived in Hillsboro, Kansas. Who's Who in the South said he was educated at Chicago, Illinois public schools and Lake View High School, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Art Student's League in New York.

The date the Brewertons moved to Chicago is not known. His mother, a widow and Illinois native, and two sisters were recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census; they lived in Chicago at 2745 Oakley Avenue. Brewerton has not been found in the 1900 census; he might have been in New York City, where Who's Who in the South said he was a cartoonist for Life, Judge, and the New York World. said he did comic strips for the World in 1903, and lived in Los Angeles, California in 1905. Four years later he "worked as a photographer as part of the 1909 Good Roads Tour, sponsored by the Atlanta Journal and New York Herald."

The 1910 census recorded him, as a boarder, in Atlanta, Georgia at 45 West Peachtree Place. His occupation was cartoonist at a newspaper. The Press of American Publishing Company published, in 1910, his book, Drawing for Newspapers, Cartooning, Comics, News Illustrating, etc. The book, Club Men of Atlanta in Caricature, by Brewerton and Associated Cartoonists, was published by Roycrofters in 1916. says he was a cartoonist at the Atlanta Journal from 1910 to 1920. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 4578 Peachtree Place, and his occupation was cartoonist at the Atlanta Journal. He named his mother as his nearest relative, who was in Atlanta, too. His description was tall height, slender build, brown eyes and hair.

Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South, Volumes 37-38, 1993, said Brewerton "was an Atlanta Journal cartoonist for eighteen years, during which time he drew a cartoon almost daily and headed the newspaper's art department….Brewerton became known for his weekly sketches of vaudeville and opera performers and for his eight-column Sunday 'Billboard of Weekly Events.' "

Brewerton was the head of the household, which included his mother and younger sister, in 1920. They lived in Atlanta at 322 East North Avenue. He was a cartoonist at a newspaper. Around 1922 his weekly golf panel, The Dubbville Foursome appeared. On December 2, 1924, the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) reported on an article in the Atlanta Journal which appeared the day before; a few excerpts:

The many Augusta friends of James Montgomery Flagg and Elbert Jackson (formerly of Augusta now of New York) will be interested in the article that follows that appeared on the front page of the Atlanta Journal. The Journal also carried a delightful cartoon of Flagg drawn by Brewerton and one of Brewerton drawn by Flagg and a picture of Elbert Jackson.

The article by Brewerton says:

James Montgomery Flagg, American artist, illustrator, painter, comic artist, motorist and prince of good fellows is in Atlanta for his first visit, and he says he likes the place…

…I saw him at the Hotel Biltmore shortly after he had arrived after driving over from Greenville, S.C., on a little motor trip he and Elbert M. Jackson, also a well-known artist, are taking out from New York in Mr. Flagg's car, to relieve the monotony of painting, illustrating, etc….

…Mr. Flagg has been drawing and painting for many years. I asked him how many pictures he thought he had turned out in all, and, while he had no definite idea, he said he now averages about three hundred a year and he had his first picture published at age 12, and I should judge he is now somewhere in his forties…He thinks that illustrating is really the American art; that it is the field in which we excel; in which no other country can begin to compare with us….

Brewerton's comic strip, Pam, began in 1928. In 1930 he remained head of the household which included his mother and older sister. His occupation and address were the same. Pam ended in 1943. According to the Georgia Deaths records at, Brewerton passed away in Fulton County, Georgia on May 21, 1960.

A collection of his papers is housed at the University of Georgia Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


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Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Obscurity Revisited: Paramount-Bray Animated Cartoon Promotional Strip

My plea for additional examples of the Paramount-Bray Animated Cartoon Promotional Strip has been answered by blog reader and contributor Fram, who found these two additional strips in the Urbana Democrat (through the Google Newspaper Archive, which is now an orphan as Google has decided to get out of the newspaper archiving biz -- here's hoping picks up the material before it disappears). Thanks Fram!

These two additional examples rounds out the number of strips to 12, a nice tidy number. Unfortunately it throws off the previously nice neat character counts because we now have four Bobby Bumps and only three Colonel Heeza Liars. Harumph.

The Hurd strip is for the 1916 Bray short Bobby Bumps Helps a Book Agent. The Carl Anderson strip is a mystery to me -- his series for Bray was The Police Dog, but this gag doesn't involve that character. Maybe this is from a one-shot, or another series for which IMDB doesn't have info, or represents a Police Dog short gag without the main character -- seems strange they would do that. By the way, Anderson made frequent use of chicks in his newspaper strip work, so I'm not surprised to see that character show up in his animation work.

Since we're revisiting this strip, I'd like to repeat an intriguing question posed by Mark Johnson after the original post, to wit, would we not regard these as the first newspaper comic strips based on animated characters (as opposed to newspaper characters making the opposite transition)? Anyone care to weigh in on that? Not being knowledgeable about early animated cartoons I can venture no opinion.


Aug. 11 1914: Gertie the Dinosaur enters the comic strip in "Midsummer Day Dreams".,2237455&dq=&hl=en

First crossover from animation to comic strip that I'm aware of.
Hello, all--The new Bobby Bumps strip is based on the similarly-titled BOBBY BUMPS HELPS OUT A BOOK AGENT (Released 10-23-16). The earliest strip series based on an animated character was perhaps a mid-1915 daily series starring, once again, Colonel Heeza Liar, by Bray. It ran in the Chicago Herald, but I don't think it was a Keeley strip, more likely self-syndicated by Bray.
The Colonel Heeza Liar series ran in July-Aug 1916, not 1915, so very shortly before this promo strip. Wish I'd made copies of some samples so I could figure out if they were re-used in this series.

I don't know if it ever appeared in a newspaper, but there are still more Bobby Bumps comic strips, like the one at (seems like another Fiklm Fun version)
HELLO----Bray's first Col. Heeza Liar strip was different from the Paramount promo strips. In the original series, the Colonel goes around the world on Minchausen-like adventures, demonstrating wild weapons to the fighting powers of World War One, meeting pretty Senoritas in Villa-era Mexico, visiting the Arctic, etc., similar to W.L.Wells' Nicodemus Nimble daily.
The Eugene Daily Guard (archived on Google News Archive under the Eugene Register Guard) ran eight of these strips, all of them included in the 12 shown on this blog (which suggests that there won't be dozen of others still to be discovered). Since some of them are of better quality than the scans shown here, I'll list them anyway:
*Oct. 14: Heeza Liar: Scandal
*Nov. 9: Bobby Bumps queers the choir
*Nov. 17: Greenland's icy mountains
*Nov. 24: Al Falfa: Prune plantation
*Dec. 1: Heeza Liar: Peeved
*Jan. 3: Heeza Liar: Married
*Jan. 4: Bobby Bumps: Book agent
*Jan. 15: Bobby Bumps: Circus

You can find the Greenland one at
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles: W.L. Wells

William Leonidas Wells was born in Painesville, Ohio on February 28, 1848, according to The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, 1911. Wells was the second of three sons born to Leonidas and Olive; the family lived in Painesville.

In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, the family resided in Monmouth, Ohio. At age 12, Wells' occupation was shoemaker, the same as his father. A few years later, Wells "studied art at Chicago Acad. of Design and in independent life classes," according to The Book of Chicagoans.

Wells was the second of seven sons in the 1870 census; his occupation was painter. He "studied animal and bird life in Wis., Ill., Minn. and Ia.," and "married Mary Estell, of Monmouth, Ill., Aug. 22, 1879," according to The Book of Chicagoans.

Wells and his wife settled in Evanston, Illinois where his occupation was artist; his home address, 328 Chicago Avenue, was listed in the 1890 Evanston, Illinois Directory. He contributed to the 1892 Chicago Columbian Exposition. The Daily Inter Ocean (Illinois), March 13, 1892, said, "the historic picturesque floats…are to be a feature of the World's Fair exhibit, the artistic work will be done by Mr. W.L. Wells as designer and Mr. Fawcett Robinson, the artist in papier mache…There are to be twenty-four of these floats…[that] will float barge-like in the waters of the lagoon, and will afford a spectacle as delightful to the eyes as it will be edifying to the mind." According to The Book of Chicagoans, Wells "followed painting of game birds and animals for a number of years" and was "head of art dept. Chicago Tribune since 1898."

In the 1900 census the family, which included two of his three daughters, lived in Evanston at 1327 Chicago Avenue. His occupation was artist. Wells took over F.M. Howarth's Old Opie Dilldock's Stories in October 1908.

The Wells family remained in Evanston but had moved to 418 Greenleaf Street in 1910. His occupation was "Head of Artist Dept. Chicago Tribune." His strip, Old Nicodemus Nimble, began on June 24, 1915. His wife passed away before the 1920 census which recorded Wells, his daughter Constance McKinnie, a widow, and granddaughter Miriam, in Edwardsville, Illinois at 431 East Vandalia Street. Later that year they moved to St. Louis, Missouri. On November 15, 1920, the Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper wrote about him:

The Artgravure section of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat yesterday contained two very fine reproductions of paintings of game birds, the work of WIlliam L. Wells of 705 St. Louis street. They were given prominent position, as two of four on the first page of the section.

Mr. Wells is one of the foremost painters of wild birds, especially the game birds in this section of the country. At present he is exhibiting twenty-five of forty paintings which he has recently completed. Mr. Wells also does some work in landscapes.

Wells was a major influence on his granddaughter, Miriam, as reported in the Edwardsville Intelligencer on December 9, 1929.

Mrs. Donnell Hofmeier, of 918 Grand Avenue this city, won a first prize of $100 for a portrait entered in the modern painting exhibit at the St. Louis Artists Guild in St. Louis Saturday night. The composition is entered under her maiden name, Miriam McKinnie.

The portrait is of an Edwardsville girl, whose identity was not revealed today. It is entitled "Mae", and presumably it is the given name of her subject….

…Mrs. Hofmeier is a [grand]daughter of the late William Wells, former resident of Edwardsville, whose death occurred a few weeks ago. He was one of the best known wild bird painters in the United States.

More about her career can be found by searching Miriam McKinnie Hofmeier.

On October 22, 1929 the Chicago Daily Tribune reported Wells had passed away on October 17, 1929.

Word reached Chicago yesterday of the death in Minneapolis of William L. Wells, for many years art director of The Chicago Tribune. He died on Thursday following an illness of six months. He was 81 years old. Funeral services, which were private, were conducted at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charles Marshall, on Saturday….

...Mr. Wells is survived by another daughter, Mrs. William, T. Baird, Edwardsville, Ill., six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Two brothers are Charles K. Wells, Kansas City, Kas., and Archibald C. Wells of Washington, D.C. Mr. Wells was one of seven sons, and a descendant of Thomas Welles, first colonial governor of Connecticut.


Thanks for ther article! This will make for good information on my family tree, he's my great-great grandfather.
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Monday, July 04, 2011


Happy 4th of July!

The man who plans for all the holidays, Cole Johnson, offers us this great Independence Day full page from World Color Printing, originally published (just a tad early!) on June 18 1905. All the World Color stars are shining on this delightful jam page, plus we get bonus photos of WCP cartoonists John Bernier, Dink Shannon, Ed Goewey, C.H. Wellington and Johnny Gruelle.

I notice that early comics for Christmas or Thanksgiving are also published two weeks before the holiday a lot of the time. Why is that?
Because syndicated material often had to run late on the west coast due to travel time.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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