Monday, January 14, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Leave It To Lou

C.W. Wessell seems to have come on board at the New York Evening World to take over the spots of vacationing cartoonists in the summer of 1918. At least it is from this berth that all but one of his known comic strip series originated. None of his 1918 strips, though, lasted more than a few weeks while the regular cartoonists were away (but as we'll see in tomorrow's Ink-Slinger Profile by Alex Jay, there was good reason Wessell didn't continue them).

Leave It To Lou was another summer replacement, but it began a year later, taking over the spot left open by the vacationing Maurice Ketten on June 10 1919.  Unlike Wessell's 1918 efforts, this one 'had legs'. When Ketten returned from vacation, Wessell was given his own space in which to continue the feature.

Leave It To Lou was, perhaps depending on reader preconceptions, either a strip about a dim-bulb girl who innocently says insulting things, or one about a young woman with a quick and acid tongue who is smart enough to get away with her zingers by pretending to be a feather-brained innocent. I favor the latter interpretation, but you really can go either way. I think that duality made the strip popular to a wide audience, and saved it from the end of summer chopping block.

Wessell's strip ran until June 25 1921, a very respectable run for a feature that was originally created simply to fill an empty hole on the page. With the end of Leave It To Lou, unfortunately, that seems to have been the end of Wessell's newspaper cartooning career, despite cartooning and writing abilities that were above par.


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