Saturday, September 01, 2012


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, March 15 1908 -- Battling Johnson, aka The Russian Giant, has just beaten the living daylights out of Artie Collins in the ring in February, and has won his last three fights. Boxing fans are starting to take him seriously as a major contender. But now he is going to face Fireman Jim Flynn, a serious test of the Giant's mettle. Will Johnson go on to fame and titles, or will Flynn be his Waterloo?


Wow, NICE nocturnal scene. Very unusual!
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Friday, August 31, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Tom Little

Thomas "Tom" Little was born in Franklin, Tennessee September 27, 1898, according to Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners (1999). In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of John and Florence. They lived in Franklin, Tennessee on Cameron Street. His father was a carpenter. The New York Times, May 7, 1957, said: "…His father died when he was 2 years old and the family moved in with a grandfather, Andrew Johnson, who taught the boy to draw before he could write a word. Mr. Little earned his first money, half a dollar a day, picking potatoes from sunrise to sunset, but improved on this the next year, 1907, at 9 years of age with a job folding issues of The Williamson County News…."

In the 1910 census, Little was not counted, but his mother was. She was enumerated under her maiden name, Johnson, and her occupation was milliner. Her father was the head of the household which included two sons, both younger than Florence. They lived in Franklin on Main Cross Street. The Times said: "…He finished public school and studied at Watkins Institute and Montgomery Bell Academy, a private school, both Nashville, Tenn." Who's Who said he was a reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) and then the city editor at the Nashville Tennessean, during the years 1916 to 1923. Little signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived in Nashville at 519 Fifth Avenue South, and was a cartoonist at the Evening American. His description was short height, medium build, with brown eyes and hair.

The 1920 census recorded Little and his mother as part of her oldest brother's household in Nashville at 519 Fifth Avenue. She was a saleslady and he was a newspaper reporter. Who's Who said he was a staff member of the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate, from 1923 to 1924. He created Abner Simp. He returned as a reporter to the Tennessean, from 1924 to 1931. He married Helen Dahnke in 1926.

1937 Promo Ads courtesy of Cole Johnson

The couple lived in Nashville at 911 20th Avenue South, according to the 1930 census. Both were newspaper reporters. Little was city editor at the Tennessean from 1931 to 1937. The Times said' "…in 1934 he began a comic panel for King Features Syndicate with Tom Sims. 'Sunflower Street,' their creation, was Mr. Little's work for the greater part of the fifteen years until 1949." The last Sunflower Street appeared Saturday, April 1, 1950. On April 3 the Plain Dealer said: "…Judge Piffle, a double-talking gentleman who manages to involve himself and his friends in amusing predicaments…will replace Sunflower Street, which is being withdrawn by the King Features Syndicate." The Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame said: "…Despite his successes and national fame, Sunflower Street became one of his most bitter disappointments. It was a panel about blacks, and his decision to quit drawing it in 1950 came when editors were becoming leery of using it because of fear it might be construed as 'looking down' on black people…." [Allan butts in: if anyone can prove that Sunflower Street began in the often cited 1934, I'd love to hear from you. Earliest I can verify is 1935.]

Plain Dealer 2/7/1938

Plain Dealer 2/9/1938

Plain Dealer 2/10/1938

Who's Who said Little became editorial cartoonist at the Tennessean, starting in 1937; years earlier he studied with cartoonist Carey Orr. His wife passed away in 1938.

In 1940, Little lived alone in the Robert E. Lee Apartments at 2108 Hayes Street in Nashville. He continued as a newspaper cartoonist. On October 20, 1945 he remarried to Lillian Hannah, according to Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 at His mother passed away April 29, 1946, according to the Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1959 at

Little contributed cartoons to the New York Times since 1951, according to the Times. The Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning was awarded to Little in 1957 for his Tennessean, January 12, 1956, cartoon, "Wonder Why My Parents Didn't Give Me Salk Shots?" Daytona Beach Morning Journal (Florida), June 6, 1957, reported that he almost destroyed his prize-winning cartoon.

According to the Times, Little retired in 1970 and passed away June 20, 1972, in Nashville.


Allen, I can prove the Sunflower Street series began in 1934. I own over 3000 copies of the cartoons in King Feature proof sheets. The first 6 cartoons are dated at the bottom with the year but not the date. They are simply numbered as 1,2,3,4,5 or 6. After that each cartoon has the day, month & year. Only afew sheets have the 1934 date as the series began late in the year.
Allen, I have read it many times that the Sunflower Street series dated 1934-1949. I often suspected it went into 1950 but have no copies from that year. Do you or perhaps one of your readers can supply me with those copies (all or one). I would love to get the last one published. Gary
Gary has sent me info proving that the feature began on Dec. 3 1934. Thanks Gary!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Tommy Hogg

In this typically oddball World Color Printing series we have really good art in the service of an intriguing idea, and execution that falls utterly flat. The creator, Pollard, of which I know exactly nothing, has only this single series to his credit. But he's a darn good cartoonist, and I do like his decision to focus on anthropomorphic pigs, which would seem to have some distinct comedic possibilities. Unfortunately, other than getting a little mileage out of their penchant for squealing, Pollard may as well be drawing humans. And as long as he's at it, if he could have found it in his abilities to supply gags for Tommy Hogg it would have been a big plus. What he does is try to swipe standard 'naughty kid' turns from other strips, and succeeds only in botching the job so badly that the reader has to help out by mentally filling in some of the comedic blanks of the well-known gags.

Pollard's series ran in the World Color Printing Sunday sections from December 4 1904 to March 5 1905, then made one additional appearance on September 10 1905, when John E. Bernier took a single swing at the strip. Since it was Bernier's final appearance in the section, it obviously wasn't the hit he was looking for.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!

Note: in my book this series is improperly broken up into two separate series, Little Tommy Hogg, and Tommy Hogg's Father.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Comic Museum

One of the rare times a major syndicate has attempted to cash in on nostalgia for old strips was in 1954, when King Features stuck a toe in the water with Comic Museum.

On April 11 1954, the series was inaugurated with the Happy Hooligan episode seen above. In order to run in a third page format, King had to do some serious squeezing of the old art, so I suppose it makes some weird sense that they would pick this utterly static talking-head example of the classic strip from late in its run. Much easier to do a slice-and-dice on a strip where nothing actually happens to begin with. I imagine, though, that folks delighted to see the 'old favorites' were left wondering why in their memories they recalled much more boisterous, graphically interesting strips. Well, the aging mind does play tricks...

According to an article in E&P, Comic Museum was being test-marketed only in select Hearst papers, and it doesn't seem to have garnered much interest. The article states that this episode was followed by one featuring Buster Brown, And Her Name Was Maud and Krazy Kat. I haven't seen these subsequent episodes, nor any beyond those four, so chances are the series ended on May 2 1954. Has anyone seen the other episodes of this series?


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Klaus Nordling

Klaus Fjalar Nordling was born in Pori, Finland on May 29, 1910 according to a family tree at He was the only child of Gustaf Ribert and Aili Karoliina Hemmila, whose marriage license was listed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 8, 1909. The family sailed aboard the S.S. Oscar II from Copenhagen, Denmark on August 22, 1912; they landed in New York City on September 3. They were counted in the 1915 New York State Census; his father was a photographer in Brooklyn. In the Daily Eagle, December 19, 1916, the November honor roll list included Nordling, who attended the Sunset Park School, Public School 169. According to his World War I draft card, Nordling’s father was a self-employed photographer. The family lived at 4213 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. 

The Nordlings were recorded at the same address in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Nordling’s father had been in the U.S. since 1903. Their address remained the same in the 1925 New York State Census; his father was naturalized in 1923. In 1930, they lived at 4015 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. Nordling’s first name was recorded as “Frank” and his occupation was a clerk in the diplomatic industry.

The Ridgefield Press (Connecticut) reported the death of his wife, Lilja Heta Tellervo “Tel”, on December 5, 2003; excerpts from the obituary:

Mrs. Nordling was born in Cambridge, Mass., on March 30, 1910, the second of four children. Her Finnish-born parents, Risto and Milma Lappala, moved the family to Virginia, Minn., where they established a Unitarian ministry and raised their children among the forests, rivers and lakes of the north woods. True to her Finnish heritage Tellervo was named for a woods-maiden in the Finnish national epic, the “Kalevala,” and had a deep and life-long love of nature and the outdoors.

She was educated as a librarian, and lived briefly in Germany as a student until the imminent outbreak of World War II brought her back to the United States. Besides being fluent in Finnish, she also became proficient in German. She met Klaus Nordling, a cartoonist and comic book artist, while she was working as a translator for a Finnish newspaper in Brooklyn, N.Y. They married in March 1937, and lived in Brooklyn and Minnesota until moving first to Redding [Connecticut], and then in the mid-1940s to Florida Hill Road in Ridgefield [Connecticut], where Mr. Nordling worked at his home studio.

“Both dearly loved art, music, literature, their wonderful circle of friends, and living in Ridgefield,” said her daughter, Thea Nordling.

According to Who’s Who in American Comic Books 1928-1999, Nordling began his career as a gag cartoonist and caricaturist for Americana Magazine in the early 1930s, and then produced, under the name Fred Nordley, Baron Munchausen in the mid-1930s. The late 1930s saw his entry into the comic book field. An overview of his comics career is at Wikipedia, and a list of his comic book credits is at the Grand Comics Database.

In the 1940 census, Klaus, his wife, Tellervo, and daughter Thea, lived in Brooklyn at 760 67th Street; the same place as in 1935. He was a cartoonist for publications. During the mid-1950s the newspaper, Bridgeport Telegram (Connecticut), reported his theater work as an actor and director. A photo of Nordling in Tobacco Road was published in The Hour (Norwalk, Connecticut), November 7, 1978. The Ridgefield Press, August 18, 1983, printed a photo of Nordling and his wife with another couple.

Nordling passed away on November 19, 1986, in Ridgefield, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Death Index. Photos of the Nordling’s early Brooklyn residences are here.


For me the biggest revelaton in your book (okay, one of many) was the fact that Nordling assisted on/took over the Greg Walker/Guy Gilchrist strip The Rock Channel. If you can show some samples of that, I'd be delighted. Your entry gave the impression Gilchrist only wrote, but in the introductary article I have, he also is mentioned as artist. I'll put up my clips soon, but they are from a paper which only did one strip a week.
Hi Ger --
Thanks for calling that to my attention. The credits were swapped by mistake. Gilchrist was the credited cartoonist on the strip, and the Walkers were primarily writers. Here is additional info, from a Guy Gilchrist email (edited just a bit for space):
"I only did the Rock Channel for a year. I met [Klaus Nordling] through Gill Fox, who also occasionally inked for me. Klaus began inking backgrounds about 4 months into the run, along with Gill. They did about half the backgrounds each on the dailies for about 4 months or so. Sorry, it was a while ago, and I'm fuzzy on the times. Toward the end of the run, Klaus started inking the whole thing, except for any caricatured folks that were guest starring, as that was much more my personal style. In the last couple months, Klaus ghosted the whole thing, except for the caricatures. But, it wasn't ghosting. I let him sign it with me. Greg, myself and Brad shared equally in the gag writing. Greg occasionally lettered it. Sometimes I did. It depended on the schedule...or how far I was behind, to be more specific. I believe Greg lettered more than I did. Yes....I'm sure he did."
Great, I'll use that added information if and when I get arund to showing a few strips on my blog.

Man, your identification stuff is hard. This is my fourth. Using sound is no help, either.
My sincere apologies for the capcha Ger. They are insanely hard -- I misinterpret them half the time myself. But considering I nevertheless have to start almost every day by deleting spam comments from the blog, I hate to think what it would be like if capcha was turned off.

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Monday, August 27, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Don't Laugh -- Superstitious Beliefs

Among the offerings of the eensy-weensy little Van Tine Features Syndicate was the oddly titled Don't Laugh - Superstitious Beliefs. It looks like a strip, but each weekly episode is actually a collection of four separate vignettes. It began with the syndicate on September 2 1935, and petered out with the company in the second quarter of 1937, though the syndicate seemed to have tried to keep things going for awhile by sending out old material again. I've seen Van Tine reprint material appearing in a few podunk papers as late as 1940.

Many of Van Tine's creators were pseudonymous, and the writer of this feature, known only as 'Blumey', is no exception. I found a copyright entry for the feature, though, in which his real name -- Abraham Blumenfeld -- is given. The first copyright application for this series was in 1931, strangely enough, long before our start date. Perhaps Blumenfeld had been shopping the feature around for quite awhile when Van Tine picked it up.

The cartoonists on the strip are a mixed bag of mystery and the known. There were at least two of them, and possibly more since some episodes are unsigned. Of the two who signed, one used an artsy little squiggle sorta thing that I can't make out. The other signed boldly as Ernest Smythe, who was also an animator with the Walter Lantz studio in the 1930s.

Thanks to Mark Johnson for the samples!


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Sunday, August 26, 2012


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


So glad to read this post. I was getting concerned I hadn't heard anything.

I plan to write Jim a snail mail letter today.

Man, sounds like things are perfect for Jim. Excellent. He deserves it.
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