Saturday, August 25, 2012


Herriman Saturday

Saturday, March 14 1908 -- The Coulon-McGovern fight must have been less than fascinating -- from ringside Herriman brought back mostly sketches of the audience.


This is what one source says re the fight:

On 13 March at the Naud Junction Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, Coulon outpointed Hughey McGovern over ten rounds in a fight that was reported to involve the world 105lbs title. Coulon (103½), packing plenty of ‘ginger’, forced the action from the start and was on top for all but two rounds and it was only by using planned attacks and showing good judgement that McGovern saved himself from a knockout defeat. While most papers of the day merely stated that it was ‘Young Terry McGovern’ in action against Coulon, the Oswego Palladium reported that it was Hughey, the brother of ‘Terrible Terry’, who was the opponent. At this stage of his career Hughey would have had great difficulty making anything like the reported weight, so I think that it was quite possibly contested at catchweights.
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Friday, August 24, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Charles Reese

Charles Chandler Reese was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May 1862. Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 (1999) named his birthplace and birth year; the month was named in the census. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, he was the third of five children born to Abraham and Mary. His father was in the iron manufacturing business. The family lived in Pittsburgh.

In the 1880 census, the family resided in Denny’s Cottages in Pittsburgh. His father was from Wales and his mother from England. Reese, the third of six children, was an artist; specifics of his art training are not known. He was in the class of 1880 at the Pittsburgh Central High School. The Pittsburg Dispatch, February 9, 1889, said: “…Charles Reese, in the late Lotus, made good use of colored inks in his engravings…”

As Adjutant in the 18th Regiment of the National Guard, Reese’s name appeared several times in the Dispatch from 1889 to 1892. The August 13, 1891 Dispatch said he had “seen 15 years of service.” Reese’s art was not limited to paper, as noted in the May 6, 1891 “Curios of the Town” column:

The little military dinner at the Monogabela on Monday must have been a help more enjoyable than such affairs usually are. The reason for this, I take it, was that there was nothing stiff or formal about it. When the 32 officers of the gallant Eighteenth were seated about the table, each man found on his plate a piece of hardtack on which the facile brush of Adjutant Charles Reese had limned a more or less humorous portrait of that particular guest. The hardtack gallery of beauties was designed to promote that fellow-feeling which makes men wondrous kind. It succeeded—every fellow felt for the next fellow who had been held up to good-humored laughter. Lots of sketches that get gold frames have not the merit of these little water-color crackers, and it is safe to say that bits of hardtack have never been hoarded as these will be….

The August 5, 1892 Dispatch reported the death of Reese’s paternal grandfather, William Reese, a pioneer in Pennsylvania’s iron mill industry; “…and among his grandchildren are Miss Reese, a bright newspaper writer, Charles Reese, an illustrator and cartoonist engaged in Pittsburg….” During the Spanish-American War, Reese contributed drawings to the New York World.

The World, 5/7/1898

The World, 5/26/1898

The World, 5/29/1898

Reese lived in Hackensack, New Jersey, on Main Street, according to the 1900 census, which recorded his birth date as “May 1863”. He was married to Bertha. His two-time comic strip, Speaking of Ancestors, appeared in the Philadelphia North American in February 1904. He also contributed cartoon series to the Boston Herald and New York Tribune.

In 1910, he lived in Manhattan, New York City at 46 West 16 Street, where he was an artist and painter. The whereabouts of his wife was not recorded in the census. The New York Sun, August 2, 1913, said the Supreme Court decided Reese would not have to pay alimony to Bertha, whom he married in 1895, while his divorce suit was pending. She had been seeing another man.

According to the 1920 census, Reese had remarried and lived in Staten Island, Richmond County, New York at 21 Nugent Street. His wife and daughter were both named Eloise. He was an artist for a press company.

Los Angeles, California, at 1824 Las Flores, was his home in the 1930 census. He was an independent artist. Reese passed away July 3, 1936, in Glendale, California. News of his death was reported by the Associated Press whose story was published widely.

Glendale, Calif., July 4 - Charles Chandler Reese, newspaper illustrator and cartoonist, died yesterday at a hospital here. His age was 74. His career included work on New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia newspapers. During the Spanish-American War his sketches on the field of action in Cuba appeared in The New York World.

Mr. Reese claimed to have been the first artist to have a picture reproduced as a double-truck, or two-page, illustration in a newspaper.

Born in Pittsburgh, Mr. Reese lived in the East until he came here six years ago. He was prominent in the Elks and was Past Exalted Ruler of lodges at Hackensack, N.J., and Staten Island, N.Y.

A daughter, Miss Elsie Reese of Los Angeles, and two brothers, Harry W. and Stanley C. Reese of Pittsburgh, survive.


I am doing research on Charles Reese's sister Cara Reese. I found a sketch I think was hers but may be Charles'. I was wondering if you had any more information on Charles and his pictures?
I came across a painting signed C. Reese. Wondering if it might be Charles or Cara Reese.

Are there any examples of their painted art to see?


Peter Spooner
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Thursday, August 23, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Speaking of Ancestors

Ah, for the days when a cartoonist could milk their idea and then move on to greener pastures. Here we have Charles Reese, journeyman cartoonist and newspaper illustrator, contributing Speaking of Ancestors to the Philadelphia North American for a grand total of two episodes. Yep, you're seeing the whole series here.

It's a very cute idea, that of trying to put a good face on the exploits of a black sheep forefather, and Reese executes it brilliantly. The wordplay is absolutely delightful, and the vignette style strips are ably and humorously drawn. The juxtaposition between the captions and the cartoons is just delicious. But Reese realized that there was really nowhere to go with the idea and dumped it after a few iterations. Could he have done ten or twenty or even a hundred of these? Sure, but they would have just been formulaic, and an absolute slog for the creator. And what sort of wall-eyed dullard of a reader would have found any pleasure in reading slight variations on the same jokes over and over? I just can't imagine.

Speaking of Ancestors ran on February 21st and 28th 1904 in the North American, and our samples, or rather our run, of the strip is courtesy of Cole Johnson. Thanks Cole!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Edwin Homer

Edwin Alisson Nicolaides Homer was born in Flushing, New York on January 6, 1916. His full name is from a family tree at His birthplace was mentioned in an obituary, and the date of birth is at the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, he was the second of three children born to Edwin and Atalanta, who married in 1910. His father emigrated from England and was naturalized in 1905; he was a gown and dressmaker. The family lived in Flushing, Queens, New York on Highland Avenue. His mother was the sister of Kimon Nicolaides (1891–1938), a noted artist who wrote the book, The Natural Way to Draw.

Homer’s mother, a designer, was the head of the household in the 1925 New York State Census. The fate of his father is not known. They remained on Highland Avenue in Flushing.

In 1930, the family of four lived in Greenville, Westchester County, New York, on Long View Drive. Homer’s mother was a designer of gowns. Living with them was Jessica Smith, a business partner, who designed hats.

The family was together in Manhattan, New York City, when the 1940 census was enumerated. They resided at 315 East 57 Street since 1935, if not earlier. Edwin’s mother had remarried to Mr. Maher, who was not recorded with them; his whereabouts is not known. The enumerator recorded her children under the Maher surname. ( has the surname as “Msher”.) Homer was a commercial artist, who had four years of high school education.

Shopping Centers Today published Homer’s obituary, in December 2007, and said:

…Homer was the nephew of the renowned American artist Kimon Nicolaides, author of the influential book The Natural Way to Draw. But Homer was also a prolific artist himself. Early in his career he drew a newspaper comic strip [in 1946] called “The Duke of Manhattan.” Homer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in the Air Force, had no significant formal art training, though he did spend a considerable amount of time as a young man watching his uncle teach at The Art Students League of New York.

On January 22, 1942, Homer enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He married Barbara Tillotson in September 1942, according to the family tree. Some time after the war, he was involved in real estate and had a long and lucrative career. He continued his hobby in art. Shopping Centers Today said:

…Throughout his life Homer sketched and painted frequently. He often doodled during airplane rides and business meetings, making sketches of Big Sky and other drawings that colleagues still remember. Many of his paintings were of the wildflowers he picked in the woods surrounding his home in Metamora, Mich., where for years he hosted an annual party that drew dozens of business leaders from across the country. Many toured his studio and showroom during the yearly event. “Ed Homer always had a pencil and sketchbook in hand,” said John T. Riordan, an ICSC past president and past trustee, one of many ICSC leaders who attended Homer’s annual gathering. “Almost anyone who knew him was a beneficiary of his art in one way or another,” said Riordan, recalling the holiday cards he sent out each year featuring reproductions of his paintings and signed simply “Ed.”

In 1993, he remarried to Barbara Harding. Homer passed away December 9, 2007, in Metamora, Michigan, according to the Social Security Death Index.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: The Duke of Manhattan

Awhile ago I was contacted by Nick Homer, the son of a creator listed in my E&P Mystery Strips. His dad's strip was called The Duke of Manhattan, and it was listed with McClure Syndicate in 1946. Nick said he knew nothing about any McClure connection, but rather that it was created for the New York Sun and syndicated by them to about thirty papers. I'd never heard of the Sun syndicating comics, and I found it a bit farfetched. The Sun was so very conservative; okay, downright stodgy; I couldn't see them doing something as frivolous as producing and marketing a strip.

However, Nick proceeded to tell me that his father had kept some of the material. He showed me photos of some promos which proved that the Sun really was trying to syndicate the strip. This was amazing to me! Imagine the National Review syndicating a strip -- this wouldn't be all that different.

I noticed in all the material he showed me that everything was strictly promotional -- there was nothing there that proved the strip ever actually ran in the Sun or anywhere else. I told the fellow that I smelled a failed attempt to sell a strip here. Why would dad have kept all this promo material but not one single tearsheet of the actual strip running in a paper? It seemed very unlikely. Also, frankly, the strip would have been a hard sell -- the story in the samples was quite badly written. The writer, Delos Lovelace, despite having some major writing credits, didn't have a clue about the rhythm of telling a story in the short daily spurts necessary. Artist Edwin Homer had kind of an interesting Chester Gould-ish style going, but the offbeat look of the strip definitely would take some time to get used to.

I checked with my expert on New York City papers, Jeffrey Lindenblatt, to see if he'd seen it, and he had no recollection of it. At that point I felt that all the facts were lining up and pointing in the same direction. I told Nick that it seemed to me extremely unlikely that the strip had ever run, and enumerated my reasons for thinking so. I volunteered to check the microfilm of the New York Sun the next time I was at the Library of Congress, but that I frankly didn't hold out much hope.

He took my opinion with good humor, but said that he just happened to be going to Washington soon, and that he would check the microfilm himself as long as he was there.

Well, since this post is an Obscurity of the Day, and not a Mystery Strip, you can guess the result. We don't know why artist Edwin Homer hadn't kept any tearsheets of the strip, but the fact is that it ran in the New York Sun (and maybe even elsewhere). The strip ran in the Sun from May 15 to November 11 1946. As far as we know, there was never a McClure Syndicate connection, and it could well be that E&P simply messed up the entry.

The moral of this story, I think, is that sometimes the only people who believe in you are your family, and sometimes they believe in you despite seemingly overwhelming reason not to -- but that doesn't by definition make them wrong. Your family knows you better than anyone in the world, and that's just one of the many reasons they are so important.


The late 40s was an interesting time for New York papers. The Sun, around this time, had Rube Goldberg for their editorial cartoonist, and was working very hard to stay alive (the effort failed; a few years later it would merge with the World-Telegram). Over at PM/the Star, they had Walt Kelly doing double duty as an editorial cartoonist and comic strip producer (Pogo had an early run, there), and this was after "Dr. Seuss" had done cartoons for them in the early 40s. I think "Barnaby" was also in the middle of its run on one of the minor papers around this time. Can't say those lads didn't try to do something different to stay alive.
Who doesn't love a villian who has a swastika tattood to the side of his head? He is smart enough to cover it up when he goes out, though.
I would like to see posts like this under a different label, something like Additions to the Book. This would make it easier for me to look newly discovered/newly released strips that have surfaced since the book was published.
Eric -- Barnaby was in PM in NYC. Good point about the Sun taking on Rube Goldberg; guess they were indeed trying for some half-baked makeover as you say. Unfortunately Rube's editorial cartoons were, with occasional exceptions, pretty run of the mill -- if they wanted him for his zany humor, they were disappointed.

DD -- so you want me to systematize and categorize my shortcomings, eh?

Well, when you put it that way...yeah.
Nobody expects The Book to be complete, and if they did you let them know that "although [The Book] seeks to be complete, it cannot be...there is still much ground to be covered-many newspapers remain unsearched,"
Far from shortcomings, these are new discoveries that are a part of completing and fulfilling your mission.
When you find stuff like 'The Duke of Manhattan' or Marc Lutz's 'Can Hed Comix', that ran in the Manteca edition of the Stockton Record in 1994-95, I see that as part of an ongoing success on your part.
I guess you will release supplements eventually, but those will probably come way too few far between for most of us.
Right now I'm trying to decide if I should carefully print 'The Duke of Manhattan' information on the appropriate page in the very small margins.
I hope you'll rethink the label idea.
The promo says "in New York about New Yoprk: which makes it sound like it was meant to be a one paper strip. Maybe they thought about syndication and/or even made some inquires to McClure but then for whatever reason it turned into a short run wonder at (maybe?) one paper.
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Monday, August 20, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Oh, Lady!

Here's a pretty darn good panel by Ruth Marcus sporting a truly awful title Oh, Lady! Did Jerry Lewis name this feature?

Mrs. Marcus was primarily a fine artist and fabric designer (you'll notice the penchant for drawing elaborate fabrics in some of her cartoons), but her habit of people-watching inspired her to begin sketching, and the result was a new tall one-column panel cartoon from Hall Syndicate that debuted on February 18 1963.

The panel never ran in many papers, and those that did mostly used it as filler. I think it was under-appreciated -- the humor often had a sly edginess to it, and the drawing was modern and clean but stylish.

I wonder if this panel was ahead of its time. In the mid-60s, women in newspaper comics were pretty much strictly caricatures. They were either dim-witted blonde babes or frumpy battleaxes, with little room for anything in between. Marcus' women seem far more real. The temperament and intelligence level differ every day, rarely veering into pure parody. Were newspaper editors not interested in seeing these more realistic women in their papers? Did they prefer the broad caricatures of the other features?

Oh, Lady! ran until sometime in 1968 -- can anyone supply a definite end date?

Marcus returned with other features in the 1970s, but those will be subjects for a different day. Thanks to Mark Johnson for the samples and newspaper article about Marcus!


My notes tell me the paper that ran it stopped doing so on 8 March 1968, but that may not be it's actual end date because that was a Friday.
I don't think this would go over well today. But I do like it.
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Sunday, August 19, 2012


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Alan - Thanks again for posting Jim's Sunday Comics. I look forward to them each week.

Hope Jim's move has gone well. We have to arrange a group meeting!
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