Saturday, February 04, 2012


Herriman Saturday

Thursday, February 27 1908 -- Apparently it's pretty big news when boxer Jimmy Britt takes a long jog in the morning rather than work out in the gymnasium. Do you think a runner, even in 1908, really did their miles dressed in suit coat, hat and dress shoes?!?!?


Did you know about Jimmy Britt's bar on the Russian River in Sonoma County,CA near Rio Nido? Gone now but it was there into the 70's.
Sure didn't, KevB!

I was at Jimmy Britt'a bar on the Russian Ruver as a kid. Jimmy was married to my dad's cousin. But I am guessing, although he was a boxer, hr was the son of the most famous boxer named Jmmy Britt. Can anyone confirm this and/or offer more info?
I remember that bar ... can still see the neon sign with the rendering of Britt throwing punches. The boxer Jimmy Britt died in 1940 ... fought 23 matches including numerous against top fighters.
JM, it's possible you have the wrong Jimmy Britt, sort of. Check out this wikipedia link.
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Friday, February 03, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: The Brown Family

Perhaps the most historically intriguing of Melvin Tapley's strips is this one, The Brown Family. It was an ad strip for Brown Bomber Bread, produced by a 100% black owned and operated bakery in New York City. The bakery named its flagship product after boxing hero Joe Louis, nicknamed the Brown Bomber, though they seemed never to have gotten him to actually endorse the product.

The bakery seems to have started up in the late 30's, and by 1940 they had marketed their bread so effectively to the black consumer market that housewives would reportedly go into a grocery store, order all their groceries,  then, as the last item on the list, request a loaf of Brown Bomber bread. If the grocer could not provide it they would walk out of the store, leaving all their groceries behind. Inspiring such fervor for their bread was no wonder with advertising lines like "11 cents spent for Brown Bomber gives you double value…a loaf of tempting delicious bread plus part payment of some Negro’s salary."

In 1942 Brown Bomber began a new comic strip marketing campaign in conjunction with Mel Tapley of the Amsterdam News. The Brown Family ran weekly, extolling the virtues of Brown Bomber bread from January 24 to September 12. Some of the strips tie in to other Brown Bomber marketing gimmicks, like the 'Inquiring Fotog' referenced in the final strip above.

What I'd like to know is whatever happened to Brown Bomber bread? The product was so skillfully marketed I can't imagine that the bakery went out of business, but I see no references to the brand past the early 40s. What happened? Did Joe Louis finally object to them trading on his nickname?


Ask and you shall receive!
Thanks Fram!!

There seems to be a lot of harsh behavior connected with Brown Bomber bread!
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Thursday, February 02, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Mel Tapley

Tapley editorial cartoon, February 1944
Melvin Stanton "Mel" Tapley was born in New York on May 29, 1918, according to the Social Security Death Index. His middle name was recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Third Series, 1949.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the Tapley family of three lived in Cortlandt, New York at 1105 Park Street. His parents were Harry, a chauffeur, and Louise, and his age was recorded as nine months, which would make his birth in 1919.

In 1930 he lived at the same street address but in Peekskill Village of Cortlandt Town. His age was recorded as 11. His brother's age was a year-and-a-half. The New York Age (New York) published news from surrounding cities on May 16, 1936:

Tarrytown, N.Y.
…at the annual Elks Oratorical Contest held at the A.M.E, Zion Church under auspices of the education committee of Westchester Lodge, No. 116 and Sleepy Hollow Temple, No. 58, I.B.P.O.E. of W….Second prize was awarded to Melvin Tapley of Peekskill whose subject was "Booker T. Washington and the Constitution."

Pioneering Cartoonists of Color said Tapley "won a scholarship to [the] Art Students League [and] earned a bachelor’s from the New York University and an M.A. from Columbia." The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists said "Tapley started at the [New York] Amsterdam [News] in 1942 drawing "The Brown Family" as his first assignment. He later he took over "Jim Steele" in 1943, and drew editorial cartoons in late 1940s." He also created the strip, Breezy, which was about teenagers. Both strips appeared in The Plaindealer (Kansas City, Kansas) in 1943. The Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 3, Part 1B, Number 1, Pamphlets, Serials and Contributions to Periodicals, January-June 1949 has this entry on page 308:

Breezy, by Tap Melvin [pseud.] [Comic strip] (In Afro-American, Baltimore, Mar. 6, 1948, p. M-14) © 3Mar48; B5-8452.

Pioneering Cartoonists of Color said he also used the pseudonyms T. Melvin and Stann Pat. Peekskill's African American History: A Hudson Valley Community's Untold Story (2008) said

Melvin S. Tapley (PHS [Peekskill High School] Class of 1935) distinguished himself as an accomplished editor, artist and pioneer cartoonist as arts and entertainment editor of the Amsterdam News in New York City until his retirement in 1997. Mr. Tapley was president of the local NAACP chapter for eleven years until he resigned in 1968.

Tapley passed away on February 8, 2005. The Journal News (White Plains, New York) published an obituary on February 10.

Melvin S. Tapley, of Peekskill, N.Y., died Tuesday, February 8, 2005 at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y. after a long illness. He is survived by his devoted daughter, Allison Tapley-Thompson, dear granddaughter, Imani Thompson, brother Dr. Harold L. Tapley, nieces, nephews and a host of other relatives and friends. Viewing Services will be Friday, February 11, 2005, 11 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 11 Rev. G. Franklin Wiggins Plaza, Peekskill, N.Y., where family will receive friends and where Funeral Services will be held Saturday, February 12, 2005 at 9:30 am. Interment, Hillside Cemetery, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.


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Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Black History Month on the Stripper's Guide Blog!

It's huge! It's amazing! It's unprecedented! It's a month-long look at black-produced newspaper comics on Stripper's Guide! Never before has the blog done a month-long theme, but we're all about breaking new ground here, so we're going to observe and celebrate Black History Month with no less than 20 posts about black creators and their features (weekends will be our normal Herriman Saturdays and Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics).

We'll begin the month with a series  of posts covering the career of Melvin Tapley, and then the rest of the month will be a miscellany of other features and creators. Be here tomorrow for the start of the festivities!

Can you do A.C. Hollingsworth? I have a couple of his Scorchy Sundays but did not scan them the first time around an dnow they are somewhere in a pile.
Hi Ger --
I have no plans to do Hollingsworth, but you never know, Alex Jay might just surprise us both!

Best, Allan
Hi! Keep writing good stuff like this. I'll be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. I had so much fun reading and of course to have additional learning from you with this blog. Kudos! Thank you so much for sharing with us an information about this topic. This is a good read! You have a very informative and interesting page.
Strippers can be contracted for performances outside of the strip club environment. Some strippers will only strip for private engagements and do not have a regular affiliation with a strip club.

Our hot talent pool knows exactly how to bring their best to any event, including:
⌐Divorce Parties
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Harry J. Tuthill

Harry Joseph Tuthill was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 10, 1885, according to his World War I draft card at The World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) published, on March 7, 1926, a profile of him; Tuthill said:

I was born in Chicago, Illinois and sold newspapers until I was old enough to answer advertisements for 'strong boy, not afraid of work,' and in this capacity experimented with employers for several years, at the rate of one job a week. One per week is a generalization, because too frequently some boss with a particularly low voltage nervous system was willing to call one day long enough.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the Tuthill family of six lived in Chicago at 731 West Ohio Street. His mother, a widow, was a laundress. He was a newsboy and the oldest of five children. In the World Herald, Tuthill said:

Drug stores were my main hold. The opportunity to learn a business while eating ice cream sodas was very alluring in spite of junior drug clerks who apparently devoted their spare time and knowledge of chemistry towards jokes calculated to annoy small boys….

Then a man with more faith than vision sent me out of town to sell enlarged pictures. After that I sold soap, knobs for tea-kettles, baking powder, calendars, solicited patients for an itinerant malpractitioner who specialized in bunions, and, for a part of a season traveled with a medicine show which tried to pass a business depression that was running on the same track.

The September 26, 1935 Niagara Falls Gazette (New York) elaborated on his medicine show days:

He got his start as a humorist when he was playing the banjo for an itinerant medicine man in the middle west. The medicine man specialized in corns, and he and Harry traveled in a covered wagon with beautiful signs, picturing the miseries of the human foot, on the outside.

The corn doctor and his able assistant covered most of the towns between the Adirondacks and the Rockies, and Harry picked up, besides his weekly pay, a wealth of impressions and mental notes.

Another version of the story was published in Modern Mechanix, October 1936. The World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976) said he arrived in St. Louis, Missouri when he was 19 years old, around 1904. In the 1910 census, he, wife Ethyl and son Harold lived in St. Louis at 2808 Dayton Street. He worked at a dairy. In the World Herald, Tuthill said:

...I worked for several years in a dairy, studied steam engineering and got a license to practice it.

During all of this I liked to draw and finally made enough progress to justify a preliminary skirmish with a managing editor. After my wounded vanity was able to be up and around I took a course in drawing and returned to the editor many times. Youth against age. I wore him down to the point where he hired me to get rid of me.

I spent eight years as topical cartoonist and then joined a syndicate as a comic artist.
St. Louis Star editorial cartoon 1916

He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided in St. Louis at 4537 Tower Grove Place. His occupation was cartoonist at the St. Louis Star. His description was tall, slender brown eyes and hair. The Editor & Publisher reported, on October 16, 1919, Tuthill's move to a syndicate: "Harry J. Tuthill, late cartoonist of the St. Louis Star and the Post-Dispatch, will join the forces of the New York Evening Mail Syndicate, October 27th." There he created the strip Home, Sweet Home, which changed it's name to The Bungle Family around 1923.

He was counted twice in the 1920 census. He resided in Manhattan, New York City at 534 West 153 Street. He was a newspaper cartoonist. He lived in St. Louis at 4537 Tower Grove Place. The head of the household was his brother-in-law George Morrison, who was married to Tuthill's sister Irene. The childless couple looked after Tuthill's sons Harold and George. 

Tuthill was the head of the household in the 1930 census, and lived in Saint Ferdinand, Missouri at 102 Elizabeth Avenue. Harold, the eldest son, was a newspaper reporter. His sister Irene was a widow who had a son. The Niagara Falls Gazette said:
From possible undocumented cartoon series, 1916

…He has an old-fashioned home of many large rooms, set back among the trees. A separate building houses his studio and a workshop where he tinkers with automobile engines in his spare time. He is a widower, and has two sons in college. His sister presides over his home, and Harry's friends know the place as one of the most hospitable in the hospitable city of St. Louis.

…Tuthill has always spurned the lures of Broadway. He is one of the few strip cartoonists who insist upon living in the middle west. He likes the outdoors and enjoys a motor trip through the Ozarks more than he enjoys a visit to New York night life. He visits the big city once or twice every year, and goes back to St. Louis more than ever contented with home life in Missouri.

Tuthill owned The Bungle Family strip and ended it on August 1, 1942. Time magazine said on June 11, 1945: "…The strip's newspaper clients dropped to 70 in 1942. Cartoonist Tuthill, as bored as everyone else, killed the Bungles. Eight months later, he started them up again this time with three teen-aged children…." World Encyclopedia of Comics said, "…Weary even of that by the close of the war, Tuthill once more folded his strip in June 1945, and lived out the remainder of his quiet life quietly in Missouri…"

Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office published his April 5, 1946 application for "Shading Process for Photographs".

1. The process of applying dots to a graphic composition which consists in providing a thin sheet of transparent flexible material having a multiplicity of perforations extending therethrough, laying such perforated sheet upon said graphic composition, applying to the exposed face of said sheet a liquid solvent therefor which flows through the perforations therein to the underside thereof and causes said sheet to removably adhere to said graphic composition, and then applying to said exposed surface of said sheet a viscous marking fluid which flows through said perforations and adheres to said graphic composition in the form of dots corresponding to the shape, size and spacing of said perforations.

Tuthill passed away on January 25, 1957, in St. Louis. His death was reported, on January 26, in the New York Times which said he died of heart disease at St. John's Hospital. "The Bungles were just an accidental creation," Mr. Tuthill once explained. "I didn't have anybody in mind when I drew them. They just happened."


Thanks for writing this. There is not enough information out there about Tuthill and the Bungle Family. I keep longing for Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly or IDW to do a reprint.

One thing about Tuthill and the Bungle Family that I've never heard remarked on is how large his original art was. I've bought a few pieces over the years, and they dwarf the originals of his peers. Was this the result of bad eyesight?

Again, thanks for writing this.
LOVE Tuthill and the Bungles. Robert is right, the original Sunday drawings are huge, drawn on beautiful full sheets of top-quality Strathmore watercolor paper... quite extravagant.

Anybody here interested in comics should know that Heritage still has lots of these wonderful Sundays, many gorgeously hand-colored, for sale each and every week, and they are an absolute steal. I bought six of them.

The continuing stories in the dailies are quite different in tone. They are epic stories written like Broadway plays.

And although he switched to typeset lettering later in his career, the lettering on the earlier strips has got to be the best ever until Dan Clowes came along decades later.

I show four of the Sundays in my collection here, as well as my theory of why Tuthill's and the Bungles' fame plummeted after his death.

Get into the Bungle Family!
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Monday, January 30, 2012


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Luks' Illustration Work Reviewed

Life on the Press: The Popular Art and Illustrations of George Benjamin Luks
by Robert L. Gambone
University of Mississippi Press, 2009
Hardcover, 284 pages, indexed.
ISBN 978-1-60473-222-1

Gambone's book, which seeks to recap George Luk's life as an illustrator, was published so far under the radar that I didn't stumble across it until just a few months ago, two years after it was published.

Of course I ordered it immediately, because the subject is right up my alley. Anything about the work of a cartoonist who was in the thick of the Sunday funnies phenomenon of the 1890s is like manna from heaven. Of course I do realize that the book would not have seen the light of day had Luks not been famous as a painter, but the blurb reassured me that this book is about his illustration and newspaper work, not his 'fine' art.

And so it is. Although Gambone certainly does discuss Luks' fine art here and there, he does an admirable job of sticking to the task he claims to be tackling in the title of the book. So huzzahs on that account to Gambone. And huzzahs again for the thoroughness of coverage, because Gambone discusses many of Luks' cartoons and illustrations in detail as to style, subject and background, and mentions seemingly practically every major piece he did for a newspaper. So regarding sticking to the subject and covering it thoroughly I give the book an unmitigated thumbs up.

Beyond that things unfortunately go downhill. My problem with the book is that I found myself mistrusting Gambone's judgment about Luks' artwork. In a book as sparsely illustrated as this (keep in mind this is no coffee table art book) it is quite disconcerting to find yourself wondering if the author is really able to judge and explain a piece of artwork realistically and accurately.

I first became concerned early on in the book when Gambone discussed a minor little multi-panel cartoon produced for Puck. This is a strip that is fairly well reproduced in the book. In it we see a dapper rich kid holding a balloon encountering a tough-looking street urchin. The urchin, who is smoking a cigarette, gives the kid a disdainful look and pops the balloon with his cigarette. Panel three finds the pair in a tumbling wrestling match, and in the final panel the foppish rich kid is stalking away with the tough kid's cigarette perched victoriously on his lip while the urchin slinks away, bloody and cowed.

Gambone makes much of a perceived difference in the way the two kids are drawn. He feels that the rich kid is "merely an outline" whereas the urchin is "carefully rendered". Looking at the strip, at least as it is reproduced in this book, it certainly looks to me like Luks put the same amount of effort and detail into both kids. Certainly there is more ink expended on the dirty urchin as opposed to the immaculately clean rich kid, but it takes more ink to show soiling than it does to indicate cleanliness.

Bringing this up would be hairsplitting, except that Gambone uses this perceived difference in the drawing to jump to an utterly ridiculous conclusion. He claims that the quality of the drawing on the urchin proves that it could only have been drawn from life and "this drawing demonstrates that at least three years prior to starting as a newspaper artist-reporter in 1894, Luks developed the habit of strolling about inner-city neighborhoods observing, sketching and devising compositions." Even if there were a vast difference in the quality of the drawing of the two kids, a difference I certainly don't see, drawing such a conclusion is like saying that Alex Raymond must have visited Mongo since he drew the creatures of that world so convincingly. While I certainly don't discount the possibility that Luks might have been sketching street urchins, I can offer a much simpler explanation for a cartoon in which the two characters seem to have a stylistic difference. How about this -- the cartoonist was swiping from different sources for the two characters and didn't make the effort to adapt them to a single unifying style.

For the remainder of the book, now having established his credentials as a spotter of such things, Gambone tells us with assurance many instances when a drawing must have been sketched from life. Another instance when the author's logic in this regard is highly questionable comes with an illustration from the New York Sunday World. The subject is bosses who take their secretaries to lunch, and Luks contributes a large illustration of a restaurant, filled with older men dining with attractive young women. According to Gambone, who notes that the dresses and varying body types seem fully realized, and that the furniture is of a specific design, concludes that the "degree of veracity indicates the World assigned Luks to dine at this establishment and record the scene or else had a photographer make a candid shot that served the artist as an exact model." Oh come now. First of all, any newspaper artist worth his salt could produce such an illustration without moving an inch from his drawing board -- artists were not employed by newspapers if they needed the crutch of live models in order to make a simple story illustration. Second, the illustration depicts a restaurant populated ONLY by twosomes, each consisting of a man and a gorgeous young lady. What are the chances of this ever happening in real life? What, not a single pair of guys or girls going out to lunch? No table just happens to have just a single person or three? The chances against such a congregation of businessmen and their secretaries is astronomical. Third, the women are dressed in such high style my guess is that they were copied out of a Godey's Lady's Book -- it seems very doubtful that a secretary would wear such finery to go to work or could afford to, even if they were the boss' 'special favorite'. And finally, for all the vaunted realism of the scene, Luks has made a royal mess of the perspective. If he were sketching from life, surely he was a good enough artist to not make such a mash-up of the drawing.

These are only two examples, but they're not the only ones. Look, I don't much care whether Luks sketched a given scene from life or not. To me it's not really an important distinction. However, I cannot help but wonder how often Gambone is leading me down the garden path about all sorts of details of Luks' other drawings, the ones that aren't reproduced in the book.Without an illustration which I can judge for myself (which is often since there are few illustrations reproduced), how much of Gambone's description and interpretation should I believe?

Also, to be a bit nitpicky, the book would have benefited from the services of a good proofreader. I don't blame Gambone for the many slip-ups I noted, because everyone has a few holes in their knowledgebase and fingers that sometimes type faster than the brain functions, but a proofreader certainly should have caught the instances of "grizzly" for "grisly", "ground-braking" for "ground-breaking", "sheers" instead of "shears", "lodge" instead of "loge", and so on.

I am impressed and enthused that people from the fine art world would see fit to look beyond Luks' paintings and delve into his commercial art career. Cross-pollination like that is thrilling to me, because I myself rarely think of cartooning in terms of just the lines on the paper or the stories that are told. I am fascinated by the whole universe of thoughts, events and viewpoints that swirl around every piece of newspaper cartoon art. The world reflects the art, and the art reflects the world. To read the perspective of someone like Gambone whose specialty is in fine art is instructive, as so are the perspectives of other disciplines when they intersect with my own personal passion for the history of cartooning. We can all learn something from each other, and increase the sweep of our perspective accordingly. The fact that I think Gambone's book fails on some counts is nothing compared with my delight that this kind of book is being published. More, please more!


Ran across this review when trying to locate Gambone. I agree with everything you say here. So glad he wrote the book, impressed by how comprehensive his treatment is, but also frustrated by the overly facile interpretations and hasty conclusions drawn. And the proofreading also drove me crazy!! Here's a question for you, which I am also hoping to ask Mr. Gambone: do you know if Luks worked alongside Outcault, either at Truth or at the World? I assume the answer is a definite "yes" with respect to the World, but I'm not sure if Truth had staff artists, or just used their artists on a freelance basis. Gambone hedges the question in his book.
I have heard Outcault being termed as a staff artist on Truth, but I don't know if the writer(s) were making assumptions, or if there is actual evidence that there was an artist's bullpen and that Outcault sat in it. There are enough interviews with Outcault floating about that maybe he mentions it somewhere; I don't know off-hand.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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