Saturday, October 15, 2011


Not Herriman Saturday -- Q & A Instead

Sorry folks, ran out of time to prep my Herriman post for today. So instead here's a few questions we're pondering; maybe you can help!

Our Gang Ad -- Cole Johnson sends this Royal Gelatin ad, saying that it might be by Virginia Huget. I see no particular resemblance to the art style I associate with her, but it's also well established that she was pretty good at aping other styles. Anyone want to weigh in with an opinion on whether this is Huget, or maybe you'd like to nominate some other cartoonist?

The Grizzwells -- I was just clipping a few current strips the other day and noticed that The Grizzwells by Bill Schorr seems to have a second creator credited within the strip. Looks like 'Smith' to me, but at postage stamp size it is hard to tell. Found nothing on the web saying that the strip now has two creators. Does anyone know anything about this Smith person and his/her role?

Newspaper Archives on the Web -- I know about, of course, and the Library of Congress has a selection of digitized newspapers, and then there's Google Newspaper Archive as well. There's also, which I know very little about. There's also some localized websites like this one for Utah and one for New Jersey papers, for which I've somehow lost the link. If you know of other sources for digitized newspapers available on the web, either free or fee, I'd like to know about them. I think a link collection for digitized newspaper sources would be a great resource. Ideally we'd also tabulate a list of newspapers and date ranges as well, but that may be impossible to do as it is a pretty swiftly moving target.


Ralph (Through Thick and Thin, Captain Vincible) Smith is "writing The Grizzwells with my pal Bill Schorr" according to his NCS mini-bio card:
His signature started appearing on the strip in June of 2000 (June 14, 2000 signed 'Schorr'; June 21, 2000 signed 'Schoor/Smith').

A few years ago I found the Old Fulton New York Post Cards site - "Search Over 17,587,000 Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages":

Woodbridge Public Library,

California Digital Newspaper Collection,
Paper of Record has "Grit" and 21 million other images.

Don Markstein had a stroke in February, and now Don Markstein's Toonopedia is gone. Anyone have any info?
Thanks DD for the info on Ralph Smith, and all for sharing their newspaper sites!

The Our Gang advertisement is by Ray Thompson (1905-1982) a commercial cartoonist who worked in the Philadelphia area who created ads starting in the 1930S and later the double Bubble ads and he wrote the comic strip Myra North.
Toonopedia is back @
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Friday, October 14, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Louis Kniep's Comic Strip

October 15 1905

December 10 1905

January 14 1906

March 4 1906

September 23 1906

October 21 1906

February 10 1907

September 22 1907

November 3 1907

March 22 1908

April 12 1908
If I was to ask you to name cities that have been hotbeds of newspaper cartooning activity, Newark New Jersey would probably come pretty far down on your list. But there have actually been quite a few local features in the papers of that city. Why? Mainly because it is close enough to New York City that, in the old days of exclusive territories for newspaper comics, Newark was frozen out from most of the mainstream strips which were gobbled up by the Big Apple.

Although newspapers in Newark and other cities in the shadow of NYC always managed to make do, usually on a steady diet of B-grade syndicate features, there was an exceptional receptiveness at these papers to local features.

Blog reader Fram, who braves the dark waters of the Google Newspaper Archive in spite of an annoying interface, spotty coverage and buggy digitization, discovered the feature sampled above, perhaps the earliest local feature to appear in the Newark papers.

The Newark Call began publishing a weekly strip by Louis Kniep in their Sunday edition on or before October 15 1905. (Most of the dates cited in this post will be approximations -- many issues of the Call are missing from the Google archives.) The strip usually starred animals, though none were nominated for star billing for a long while. The strips are certainly not notable for quality of art or gags -- in fact they are quite firmly in the amateur category. What is notable is the level of cruelty and violence depicted -- Fram aptly described them as outdoing Tom and Jerry in that department, practically verging on Itchy and Scratchy territory.

Starting in September 1906 a dog named Towser takes star billing on occasion, and kids named Peter, Freddy and Tommy are named more than once. By 1907, though, Towser has been renamed Fido, and Fido he stays for awhile.

Finally in September 1907 Kniep makes a breakthrough and comes up with a consistent star player he calls the Wooden Man. Other than being drawn in a weird blocky way, the substance he's made of doesn't seem to be a major plot consideration, but hey, at least Kniep finally made the effort to develop a running character. The Wooden Man's horse, also presumably wooden, is more memorable than his master -- he sports a belly-side door in the Trojan style.

While Kniep was zeroing in on the comic strip convention of recurring characters, his writing was getting increasingly disjointed. Not that Kniep's work was ever the model of clarity, but some of the strips I perused near the end of the run were downright incoherent. Finally the Call seems to have had enough and the series ends on or soon after April 12 1908.

So, besides the minor novelty of this amateurish local comic strip lasting over two years, what can we say of interest? Fram offers this nugget -- he did a little digging on this Louis Kniep fellow and discovered that a Newark native by this same name competed as a gymnast in the 1904 Olympics! If it is the same fellow, he was about as good a gymnast as he was a cartoonist. He placed 44th in his best event.


Anyone ever hear of a strip named "Wolfe" by Llyod - spotted it in a newspaper from 1976 and I never herad of it and found nothing on the web about it?
Dear Mr. Holtz-
Here is an article about the cartoonist who signed himself 'L'. The time period for this Louis Kniep fits but the artwork does not match, in my opinion, these examples you have here about the Toweser strip. Do you think this may be the same person or am I barking up the wrong tree, ha ha? Any leads would be greatly appreciated.
Paul K Davis
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Thursday, October 13, 2011


News of Yore: Charles F. Batchelder

Entry from Batchelder, Batcheller Genealogy:
Descendants of Rev. Stephen Bachiler, of England (1898)
with illustrations from the book

Charles Fletcher Batchelder (Janies L., Jeremiah S., Nathaniel, Samuel, Nathaniel. Nathaniel. Stephen), b. Cincinnati, Ohio, March 29, 1853; [married] Feb. 8, 1885, Harriet Pottle, b. Jan. 3. 1858. Charles Fletcher Batchelder was born in Cincinnati, O.; was associated with his father in the book business until the fire of 1871; went west to Clyde, Kan., where he aided in the conduct of a weekly print; was appointed postmaster and captain of a military company. Returned to Chicago in 1879-80; was reporter on the Chicago Tribune and Times; participated in an advertising agency; subsequently went to St. Paul, Minn., as an artist on the Globe of that city and illustrated for a pictorial print; took the prize for a design commemorative of the Haymarket massacre by Anarchists in Chicago; has been an artist on the Chicago Daily News from 1891 to 1896, and later the leading one on the Times-Herald of Chicago, whose designs daily appeared on the first page of said print. He now occupies the same position on the Daily News.
The Haymarket monument was erected to the memory of the policemen murdered by Anarchists. The foundation was commenced December, 1888. The cost of the pedestal and everything complete in readiness for the figure aggregated $5,000. The railings, electric lights and supports, together with the expense of placing the figure in position, added another $1,000. The figure itself increased the value of the monument to $10,000. From the foundation, the height of the pedestal is seven feet six inches. The designer of the figure was Charles F. Batchelder. Res. Ravenswood, Ill., Paulina st.

(Batchelder has not been found in the 1860, 1870 and 1880 U.S. Federal censuses. The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (1876) had the following listings.

Batchelder Charles F. (Batchelder & Co.) r. 817 Wabash av. [residence]
Batchelder James L. (Batchelder & Co.) r. 817 Wabash av. [his father]
Batchelder & Co. (James L. and Charles F. Batchelder) bookbinders 119 5th av.

On October 25, 1892, he had registered to vote in Chicago. He lived at 2819 Paulina Street; the same address as his father. In 1900 he lived in Chicago, Illinois at 2713 Winchester Street. He and his wife Harriet had two children. His occupation was pen and ink artist. In the book Cartoons by Bradley (1917), Luther Daniels Bradley worked at The Daily News in Chicago; his first cartoon published on July 5, 1899. "…in 1900, he was made director of the art department…he had efficient help in the routine of the art department, especially from Charles F. Batchelder, his assistant and friend…"

Ten years later, the Batchelders remained in Chicago, having moved to 656 Sheridan Road. He worked as a newspaper artist. In 1920 the family was at the same address. Retired from newspapers, he was recorded as a librarian in the advertising illustration business. In the 1930 census, he and his wife lived with their youngest daughter, a widow, and her son, in New Trier, Illinois at 120 Woodbine Avenue. The Chicago Tribune reported the passing of his wife on June 17, 1944. Batchelder passed away on September 3, 1947. The Cleveland Plain Dealer published the news on the fifth.

Cartoonist Dies
Chicago, Sept. 4—(AP)—Charles F. Batchelder, 94, newspaper cartoonist many years and retired head of Chicago Daily News art department, died last night. He was a native of Cincinnati. Batchelder began his newspaper career in 1880, working at various times on the Chicago Tribune, the old Chicago Times-Herald and the St. Paul Globe. He joined the Daily News staff in 1893 and retired in 1918.

A link to four Chicago Daily News photos of Batchelder is here. A photo of the Haymarket Moument is here.)


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Doddlesby's Home Tasks

Here's a strip that lends itself to a little 'inside baseball' on comic strip research. Doddlesby's Home Tasks is a Chicago Daily News strip of 1901. I indexed the Daily News by ordering the microfilm of the paper through inter-library loan, five months of reels at a time. The Daily News was notoriously cavalier about naming their strips, so I took voluminous notes on the strips that appeared and went over them with a fine-tooth comb to determine which represented continuing series.

Doddlesby's Home Tasks, a cute little gem about a fellow who can't seem to successfully fix anything around the house, was easy to recognize as a series once the main character was named. Unfortunately that happened months into a very sporadic run, and cartoonist Charles Fletcher Batchelder did many non-series strips and panels at the same time to throw me off the scent. Unfortunately, once I'd finally recognized the strip as a series, the previous batch of microfilm reels had been sent back to the lending library and my notes, copious as they were, did not yield a start date for the series prior to the naming of the main character.

Perhaps not fascinating information, but it is my excuse for now saying that the series first gained a named star on October 15 1901, but that the proto-series predates it by a few months. I can say with authority, though, that the series last appears on November 14 of the same year. So there.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Virginia Huget

An updated profile is here

Virginia Clark Hudzietz was born Virginia Clark on December 22, 1899, according to the Social Security Death Index. (The year 1900 is the birthdate that appears in books and most web sites.) A Dallas, Texas native, she was the youngest of three children born to William and Sarah, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. They lived in Dallas at 211 Park Street. Her father was a civil engineer.

In 1910 the family of six was counted twice in the census. Their Dallas address was 161 Lear Street, and their Jackson, Texas home was on Stewart Street. Her mother's name was recorded as Sadie and her father worked for the railroad. During this decade, it appears her father passed away.

Hudzietz, her mother, youngest brother, older sister and her husband lived in Dallas at 1412 Sanger Avenue, according to the 1920 census. In A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993), Trina Robbins wrote, "…she married her childhood sweetheart, Coon Williams Hudzietz, and moved to Chicago, where she attended the Art Institute. The name Hudzietz was pronounced Huget, so in 1926, when the artist sold her first strip, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to the Bell syndicate, it was natural that she signed it not with a suspiciously 'foreign' name that was difficult to pronounce, but with the glamorous 'French-sounding' Huget." The short-lived Gentlemen Prefer Blondes strip was followed by several strips including Babs in Society (1927), Merry Mary (1927), Miss Aladdin (1929), and Double Dora (1929).

The 1930 census recorded the Hudzietz family of three in New York City at 1046 Madison Avenue. She was a commercial artist and her husband was a mechanical engineer. Their 16-month old daughter was born in Texas. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series Volume 13, Part 1 Number 2, Books and Pamphlets etc., July-December 1959 listed the following book:

Abingdon, Alexander, pseud., comp. Prize boners for 1932. Illustrated by Virginia Huget. (Boners: fourth series) © 4Mar32; A49048. Viking Press, Inc. (PWH); 3Aug59; R240685.

In the mid-1930s she illustrated stories of fiction which were distributed by the Bell Syndicate.

"Careful Young Man", Evening Recorder (Amsterdam, NY) 6/15/1934

"Glorious Buccaneer", Evening Recorder (Amsterdam, NY) 8/11/1934

Lamibek Comiclopedia, said, "During the 1930s, as fashions changed, so did Huget's style. She took over the popular strip Skippy from Percy Crosby (under his name), and in 1944 she carried on the strip Oh Diana!, originally by Don Flowers, under her maiden name Virginia Clark." Her mother passed away in 1948. The May 5, 1948 Dallas Morning News (Texas) named the survivors and said Hudzietz lived in Great Neck, New York.

According to the Social Security Death Index, her husband passed away in August 1968 in Rye, New York; she passed away on June 27, 1991 in South Carolina.


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Monday, October 10, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a surprise bestselling novel of 1925 by Anita Loos. Despite garnering tepid response from critics, the public went mad over the adventures of gold-digging flapper Lorelei Lee and sent the book through twenty printings in just its first year of publication.

Bell Syndicate smelled a good property for comic strip adaptation, procured the rights and had the feature on the market in a matter of a few months. The strip debuted June 7 1926 with art by Virginia Huget. This was Huget's first newspaper series, but it was a good move for her as it may have been an entree into her later high-profile Sunday magazine cover series like Miss Aladdin, Babs in Society and Double Dora

The writing on the strip is credited to Anita Loos herself, but the chances that she actually had anything to do with it are slim. Although Loos was an astonishingly productive writer (check out the long list of screenplays on her IMDB page), she was putting most of her energy in 1926 to writing a Broadway show version of the novel. My guess is that Huget, who later wrote flapper material in the same vein as Loos, handled her own writing chores on the strip.

Huget didn't stick with the strip for long, perhaps chafing at her lack of a writing credit. Phil Cook took over on July 26 and did a creditable job as well. It was all for naught though, because the strip was cancelled after just five months in the papers, expiring on October 2 1926. Why it didn't catch on is a bit of a mystery, although the surfeit of other flapper strips already infesting the funnies pages  was probably no help. It could also be that, as is often the case with licensed features, the royalties were spread too thinly and no one ended up making enough money to suit them.

Although the strip had a very short run, Bell Syndicate eventually gave it a second life by selling off the backlog of strips to an outfit called American Newspaper Features. That firm sold the strip to newspapers looking for cheap material in 1929 and the early 30s, presumably without the handicap of paying royalties to Loos.


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Sunday, October 09, 2011


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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