Saturday, September 07, 2013


Herriman Saturday

Thursday, April 23 1908 -- Last night Jim Jeffries' Vernon boxing arena had its grand opening. From reports I've seen, the card was underwhelming except for the bout between Mike 'Twin' Sullivan and Jimmy Gardner. It was advertised as a World Welterweight Title fight. However, I detect an air of disbelief in reports, perhaps the title may not have been properly up for grabs. In any case, Sullivan won the bout and retained his title.


As I understand it, boxing promoters were constantly making up new weight classes, presumably to create new championships. Naturally the punters tended to be incredulous of this. Welterweight was such a new one, 1914 usually being given as the date of continuous acceptance. In 1890 there were four weight divisions. There would eventually be seventeen.
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Friday, September 06, 2013


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

Adam Chase (c) renewed 2013 by Russ Morgan. All rights reserved.

Adam Chase strip #37, originally published February 12 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.


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Thursday, September 05, 2013


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Render unto the Cartoon Monarch

Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow & The Little King

Edited by Dean Mullaney, introduction by Jared Gardner
432 pages, hardcover, $49.99
IDW Publishing 2012
ISBN 978-1613771488

It's about time that Otto Soglow and his Little King finally got their due. Universally admired for his economy of line and elegant flowing style, Soglow's art is a treat that should have this book on any cartooning fan's wish list.

We couldn't ask for more in this collection. There are more Little King strips in here than you can shake a stick at, so many in fact that we really get to know Soglow's tricks for putting together pantomime gags. Pantomime is the toughest act to pull off in comics, and to get inside Soglow's mind to this extent is an enlightening treat. What is also wonderful is that the strips are chosen from a complete cross-section of the strip's lifespan. Oddly enough, I found the latest material (1975) to be perhaps the most fascinating. By this time Soglow's aging mind seemed to be a little off, and the strips become downright Dali-esque. The surreal element was probably unintentional, but it is quite unsettling work, especially when tackled right after perusing the earlier more lighthearted strips.

In addition to The Little King, we also get a good sampling of The Ambassador, Soglow's 1933-34 stand-in while King Features was waiting for the rights to use The Little King, originally held by The New Yorker. We also get some Sentinel Louie topper strips. An excellent biographical essay by Jared Gardner includes rare early Soglow work, including material in different styles that you would never guess to be Soglow's.The only thing I missed was a sampling of Soglow's short-lived Travelin' Gus strip, but that has been reprinted in Hogan's Alley magazine, so I guess they felt that strip had already gotten its due.

Most of the Little King strips are reproduced in black and white, but there is a color section of nearly a hundred pages. That gives you plenty of the flavor of the feature as it was seen in Sunday papers. Because of Soglow's incredible linework, the switch to black and white for the majority of the book is perfectly fine, as it allows us to bask in Soglow's work without chromatic distractions.

It hardly needs to be mentioned of an IDW/Dean Mullaney production, but the restoration of the strips, and the quality of the presentation, is utterly superb. Thanks to IDW for another great collection!


Do you see any point in a second book--or do you think this single volume is enough?
Hmm. As much as I love Soglow, I think I'm sated for the time being. About the only thing that might get my motor running again is a longer form bio with lots of his early and secondary work.

I'd like to know what other Soglow fans think, though...

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Capitol Gains

The success of Morrie Brickman's Small Society comic strip goes against a lot of my own ideas about what makes for a successful strip. The feature had no continuing characters (unless you consider the nameless schlubs to be that), and had no strong viewpoint or message about its subject of politics. I consider those two big strikes against it, which just goes to prove I am not ready to go into the fortunetelling business.

Small Society was successful enough to spawn imitators, and today's obscurity, Capitol Gains, is undeniably a member of that fraternity. The strip debuted on February 23 1976 as a daily and Sunday, syndicated by the LA Times. The cartoonist on the feature, James Stevenson, seems an unlikely fellow for the job. He was a very successful children's book illustrator and author, whose dabbling in straight cartooning was at the high end of the ladder, primarily in the New Yorker. Why he was in the market to try out a 'me-too' syndicated comic strip in addition to all that is a mystery to me, but do it he did.

The strip is actually pretty good, certainly as funny or funnier than Small Society. It seems just a tad edgier than Brickman's feature, but still falters for trying hard not to offend readers of any particular political stripe.

The strip did not catch on, and a title change to Capitol Games in June 1976 did nothing to change its fortunes. The strip seems to have been cancelled as of May 30 1977.


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Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Jerry Albert

Gerald “Jerry” Albert was born in New York City on November 13, 1917, according to Who’s Who Among Human Services Professionals (1992) and Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare (1999). His parents were Andrew Irving and Eleanor Walder, both Ohio natives.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Albert was the youngest of two children; his sister, Sylvia, was seven years older. The family resided in the Bronx, New York at 1728 Croton Park East. His father was an attorney, who had been a teacher according to his World War I draft card, signed in 1918.

The family of four remained in the Bronx but at a different address, 2775 Pond Place, as recorded in the 1925 New York State Census.

Five years later, the federal census listed the Alberts in the Bronx at 1840 Grand Concourse. In this decade, Albert enrolled at the City College of New York and graduated with a B.A. in 1938. He was the editor of the school paper, Mercury, and on the editorial staff of the yearbook, Microcosm.

Albert is in the top row, far right

Later that year he earned his M.A. at the New School for Social Research.

The 1940 census recorded Albert and his parents in the Bronx at 2065 Grand Boulevard. His occupation was salesman for an advertising company and his father’s was salesman for a printing company.

According to Who’s Who, Albert was an editor at Vulcan and Creston Publications, in New York City, from 1939 to 1943. His next job was a writer for the Sangor Studio. In Joan Schenkar’s book, The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith (2010), there are several references to Albert, most prominently on pages 153 and 154:

In 1943, Gerald Albert, the twenty-six-year-old son of a smart lawyer-turned-pulp publisher who sold his wartime paper allotment to Ben Sangor, got himself a job writing comics for Sangor-Pines a few months after Richard Hughes hired Pat. Albert thinks his job may have been part of the paper-supplying deal his father made with Ben Sangor. However it transpired, Gerry Albert found himself sitting in the writers’ bullpen at Sangor-Pines two seats away from a “tall, dark, serious, attractive, rather remote young woman [with] good features” — like everyone else who met her at this time, Albert emphasizes how “good-looking” she was—named Patricia Highsmith.

…Gerald Albert, who later became a psychotherapist (his leading questions in the office to Pat — “You seem sad” — annoyed her), says he somehow formed the impression that Pat “was a homosexual.” He never heard a word about it at the office, but thinks his feeling may have been prompted by Pat’s rather severe style of dress, or by the “semimasculine disdain for the feminine” which seemed to emanate from her.

“But,” says Dr. Albert, “what I remember most is her ability to produce an enormous amount of material.”

The four other Sangor shop writers would come to the office, get their individual assignments from Richard Hughes — the assignments would be for different kinds of stories— and try to bat ideas around with each other, spinning out the time while they tested out their “gimmicks” or their story lines on themselves and on their typewriters. But Pat would come in and start typing — “Just like a machine,” says Gerald Albert, and he said it several times — the moment she arrived at the office. And she wouldn’t quit until it was time to leave. “As a producer of comics, she was a huge producer. And she was constantly producing stuff that was useful.”

Albert collaborated with Bob Oksner, Sangor’s art director and artist, on the comic strip, Miss Cairo Jones, which debuted July 29, 1945. According to Who’s Who, that same year, Albert was the national director of advertising for public relations at Universal Pictures’ division of educational films, in New York City, until 1950. From 1951 to 1964, he was executive director at Advertising Enterprises and Continental Research Institute, Queens, New York.

In 1964 Albert earned his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) at Columbia University. During Albert’s career in psychology, did he meet psychotherapist, Claire Szep, who was married to the comic book writer, artist and editor Al Feldstein?

The New York Times, February 10, 1972, published the article, “What 40 Years of Counseling Taught Psychologist About Saving Marriages,” which was about Albert and his booklet, Choosing and Keeping a Marriage Partner. The syndicated article can be read in the OCR text box here. On February 22, 2000, the Times published his letter.

An overview of Albert’s comics career is here. Some of his comic book credits are here and here. I believe Albert currently resides in the New York City metropolitan area.


Jerry Albert passed away at age 96 on December 12, 2013.

Just a note to mention that "Creston Publications" and the "Sangor Shop" are the same company.
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Monday, September 02, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Miss Cairo Jones

Ron Goulart tells pretty much everything we need to know about Miss Cairo Jones in his excellent book, The Encyclopedia of American Comics. He says that two fellows from the comic book industry, artist Bob Oksner and writer Jerry Albert, took an idea for a slam-bang action hero named Cairo Jones to Bell Syndicate. Syndicate president John Wheeler did the ol' Orphan Otto switcheroo, asking the creators to revamp the strip with a female lead. That was easily done -- Cairo became a Miss, the original hunky hero was renamed Steve Racy and his role was reduced to second banana, and the strip was off and running on July 29 1945.It was distributed by North American Newspaper Alliance's Associated Newspapers imprint. 

Running is an apt description of Miss Cairo Jones. The strip, which began as a Sunday-only feature, had a breakneck pace in which we never really learned all that much about Cairo or Steve -- their overdrive adventures zipped by too fast for boring background stories, recaps, or, well, really any exposition at all. But it was all good fun, especially when Miss Cairo was found to have the same odd habit as other adventure heroines -- losing some or all of her clothes with startling frequency. Oksner's ability to draw gorgeous females was certainly the star of the show in this strip.

Perhaps sensing that a well-crafted plot was not of paramount importance to the strip, or due to the disappointing sales figures,  Jerry Albert's credit dropped from the strip sometime before mid-1946. With Oksner now taking on writing duties, the new adventures dialed down the pot-boiler level and amped up the humor. A daily strip was also added sometime in July 1946, perhaps under the thinking that the new direction would make the strip more palatable to newspaper editors. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the daily sold like ice cubes to Frigidaire dealers.

The syndicate gave up on the daily pretty quick. The latest it has been found so far ends mid-story on January 4 1947 (Port Chester Item, via Jeffrey Lindenblatt). The Sunday, which Goulart very liberally claims to have run in a hundred papers at the height of its sales success, was cancelled on April 27 1947.

As far as I know, Jerry Albert never got involved in another newspaper strip. Oksner, on the other hand, would come back to the trough pretty regularly. His next foray was supplying art for the I Love Lucy strip, for which he was a perfect choice to delineate Mrs. Arnaz's classic features.


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Sunday, September 01, 2013


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


That's another good reason for poker... the weather is ALWAYS right for a game!

Doralya sends her best wishes your way!
And every great poker hand is a 'Collectible'....
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