Monday, April 09, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Air-Minded Junior

Air-Minded Junior really ought to be a strip about a forgetful kid, don't you think? But no, the strip is actually a desert dry feature about flying. The plot of each strip is that a kid asks his pilot dad questions about flying, and dad responds.

In the aftermath of Lindbergh's dramatic trans-Atlantic flight, American kids all seemed to have their heads in the clouds. Newspapers responded with adventure strips like Tailspin Tommy and Flying to Fame, and also with weekly flying pages geared toward kids. One of those syndicated pages was called Junior Birdmen of America, a relative late-comer which seems to have debuted in 1934. The page was syndicated by Hearst, and may never have been picked up by a non-Hearst paper.

The Junior Birdmen page really went all out. There was a club with neat swag for kids who joined, the dashing airplane racer Roscoe Turner was on tap as the figurehead leader, and there was even a club song, "Up in the Air, Junior Birdmen." The song later became notorious as a favorite putdown ditty when aimed at young pilots in World War II.

The Junior Birdmen page almost always had a comic strip or panel cartoon series running as part of the layout, and I believe Air-Minded Junior was the first. It debuted on August 12 1934 and ran on the weekly page until August 11 1935. Presumably by then the very inquisitive Junior had all his questions handled.

The creators of the strip were writer W.D. Tipton and artist J.H. Mason. I know nothing of either of these fellows.


Haven't you found one of your own mystery strips? On April 13, 2006, you asked for info on "Flight - J.H. Mason, W.D. Tipton - Miller Services - daily panel - 1934-35". If not the same strip, then at least the same guys!
Looking further revealed that it is not the same feature, since I found an example of "Flight" (or its successor "The Romance of Flight") in an Australian newspaper of all places, "The Argus" of Melbourne from 31 October 1935.

It seems to have started on 18 July 1935 and ran weekly until 9 January 1936.

It looks as if it ran in the Salt Lake Tribune, but I haven't actually seen it. And it also appeared in "Famous Funnies",
Finally, I think I have discovered who W. D. Tipton was. Colonel William Dolley Tipton even has a Wikipedia article, "He worked as the "staff aviator" for the Baltimore Sun newspaper, " and wrote a newspaper column on aviation between the wars. NO solid evidence so far, but a very likely candidate.

And I have found an actual image from the "Flight" panel in the Salt Lake Tribune,, so it can be removed from the "mystery comics"!
Thanks Fram!! Flight is a separate feature, I'm sure we agree. I'm guessing Tipton and Mason were trying to sell that to Hearst as part of the Junior Birdmen page and were told no thanks. So in '34 they tried to syndicate through Miller in Canada (perhaps unsuccessfully), and then McNaught in 1935. (Maybe it ran in the Baltimore Sun in '34 though). Looks like the McNaught run starts 6/17/35 and peters out in December. I can't get a decent end date because is STILL all screwed up -- highly annoying. Did they even test that new interface before they went live???

So Fram, you're due a goodie box. And since I lost most of my addresses in the big computer crash, please send me your address via email and I'll ship out a big box o' goodies to you!

As mentioned in one of the earlier comments Flight was reprinted in early issues of Famous Funnies, issues 15 thru 37 to be precise (and presumably issue #35 which I don't have access to at the moment). In issue #15 two of the panels of Flight are stamped "McNaught Syndicate Inc., NY". I didn't check all issues, but not all of the comics were stamped with the syndicate name. I find it somewhat interesting that the first run date in newspapers is possibly 18 Jul 1935 per one of the earlier posts, yet it started running in Famous Funnies in their Oct 1935 issue. I've hardly checked all of the Famous Funnies strips, but I've never noticed one run earlier than a year after it's first newspaper print date.

I'm part of the Digital Comics Museum initiative (found online) and we've almost completed scanning of all issues of Famous Funnies and made them available on the web in case anyone is interested in seeing the Flight strip or any others that ran in Famous Funnies or other similar reprint comics.
Hi there,
I am an online reseller and recently acquired a 1936 boys scrapbook which included clippings from "Flight" by W.D. Tipton. I was researching these and came across your posts. I would love to share the pics of these with you if you have an address for me to send them.
Regards, Shelly
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