Saturday, October 05, 2013


Herriman Saturday

Monday, April 27 1908 -- Pacific Coast League baseball, which seems to have been all but forgotten between the visit of the Great White Fleet and all the big boxing matches in L.A., is finally noticed once more. And not for a good reason. The Angels, who have been riding high in first place have just been surpassed by the San Francisco Seals.


I don't think she is in to cartoons, somehow.
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Friday, October 04, 2013


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

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

Adam Chase strip #41, originally published March 12 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.


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Thursday, October 03, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Louie Unt Chakie

Take a dose of Weber and Fields, throw in an acrobat act and a dog act and what do you get? Well, in the case of Louie unt Chakie, not a heck of a lot. William Steinigans must have dreamed up this little series while sitting through an afternoon of vaudeville, and the New York World seems to have had the good sense to banish its appearances to the mono-color inside pages of the Funny Side Sunday section.

The strip ran from August 7 to October 16 1904.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


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Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Claire & Weber

In the wake of the stupendous mega-hit Calvin & Hobbes, it's not surprising that syndicates tried over and over to recapture that lightning in a bottle. Unfortunately, lost among those me-too strips, shunned by most newspaper editors and newspaper readers, was Claire & Weber by Doug Shannon.

On the face of it, Claire & Weber seems a transparent C&H wannabee -- change the little boy into a little girl, and the tiger into a frog, and what more could newspaper readers pining for the original want? Well, not Claire & Weber. Calvin and Hobbes it ain't. But what it is is a darn good strip on its own terms, with perceptive, well-written gags and nice art. The strip does have plenty of imagination, but it's far more down to earth than C&H, and Claire is written as a more average, typical kid than Calvin. The strip is also gentler, more rooted in what kids of the 90s do in their free time (computer games for instance) and the relationship between Claire and her parents is warm but able to stand a little strife then and again.

Claire & Weber was introduced as a Sunday and daily strip by King Features on January 5 1998, and didn't find a lot of clients out of the gate. In 1999 Shannon shortened the title to Claire, presumably realizing that the frog character invited unfortunate comparisons, and was a crutch he really didn't need. Not having seen late strips in this series, I don't know if the frog was dropped entirely, or just sliced out of the title. Unfortunately, the writing was already on the wall, and the strip was cancelled sometime in 2000 (anyone know the specific date?).

It's too bad Doug Shannon has gone on to other pursuits. I think that if freed from the need to produce a copycat 'product' rather than an artistic expression all his own, we could have had a stripper to reckon with. 


Back when the Houston Chronicle ran archives on their website, they carried the daily Claire until December 30, 2000.
For Sundays it was reported that Shannon ran a December 31, 2000 strip and titled it "Final December 31, 2000 Final".
The January 14, 2001 Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran a notice stating, "Starting today, The Press Democrat will add Prince Valiant to its comic strip pages, replacing Claire."
Seemingly putting the last Sunday strip on January 7, 2001. The above dates are hearsay and not eye-witness facts.
...skipping Prince Valiant comments, the Press Democrat continued:
"Claire debuted as Claire and Weber, the story of a little girl
and her talking frog, and was created by cartoonist Doug Shannon of Santa Rosa. King Features Syndicate, which also distributes Prince Valiant and many other strips, canceled Claire, Shannon said last week.
'I have a new strip in negotiation now, so I hope to have something
out within the year,' Shannon said.
Never heard anything more about the new strip.


Thanks very much for all the info DD! I'm putting in tentative end dates of EITHER 12/31/2000 or 1/7/2001 in my records, and adding another item to my "to be researched" list. At least now I know the paper to go to to get the final word!

Thanks, Allan
Much thanks Allan for running these strips. I agree; the obvious comparison is there between this one and C&H, but just this sample made me laugh....wish they would have lasted longer.

Gosh... "Claire and Weber" was one of my favorite childhood comic strips. It appeared on the Philippine Daily Inquirer in the late 1990's to early 2000's. I wish someone would revive this comic ang bring them back. I definitely miss them.
I saw some of the later strips, and Weber did disappear for a while after the name got changed, but he returned few months later. If I recall, he said he was hibernating during his absence.
Later strips? I wanna see it. That Claire And Weber strip.
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Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: It's Hammer Time

From the Files of Mike Hammer: The Complete Dailies and Sundays

Mickey Spillane and Ed Robbins
Hardcover, 160 pages, $49.99
Hermes Press 2013
ISBN 978-1-61345-025-3

Before I say anything else about this collection, I think the most important thing is to compliment the folks involved in this book for managing to put together a full run of this very rare strip. That, I can say from years of collecting, was no small feat. They deserve our respect for that accomplishment, no matter any other positives and negatives they'll accrue in the rest of this review.

First let's focus on the positive, of which there is plenty. To open the discussion I have to come clean and admit that I am not a big fan of Spillane's writing or of the hard-boiled detective genre in general. I bought the book primarily because I was so impressed at the fact that they were able to amass the strips and wanted to support the effort. I approached reading the strip itself expecting not to be too enthused. I also considered that the newspaper comic strip operates under one of the strictest informal codes of decency possible, so if I were a big Spillane fan, I could expect this strip to be much watered down from his usual work.

I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find that I quite enjoyed some of the stories. The early dailies, penned supposedly by Joe Gill, were pretty awful -- the plots were so badly constructed. But after Gill's tenure, the daily stories took a big turnaround, and I quite enjoyed the balance of the stories. Artist Ed Robbins says he wrote these daily stories, and I'm certainly glad he took the bull by the horns.

In fact, I'm going to commit heresy here. The Sunday stories, which were apparently penned by Mickey Spillane himself, except for the final one, are better than Gill's, but no match for Robbins' in my opinion. Spillane's stories are too loosely plotted, tend to have too many characters running around to keep track of, and rely incessantly on Hammer's supposed ability to instantly mesmerize women in order to keep the detective alive and point him to the who of the whodunit. On the other hand, Robbins' plots have all the standard Hammer tropes, but they play out in a much more satisfying, logical and inventive manner. Maybe Robbins should have considered a career in writing?

Ed Robbins' art is a great match for the material. The necessary dark and moody film noirish feel is handled perfectly. The character design of Mike Hammer (looking like Spillane himself) and the all-important sexy 'dames' look just perfect in this strip.

I do have a complaint. I really wish the Sundays had not been so garishly over-restored. I can appreciate the tremendous amount of work that went into these restorations, but I feel, and I think I follow the general consensus, that restorers should not remove the original 4-color dot screen colors and replace them with full-process colors. To do so is to subvert the intentions of the artist and colorist, whose plans with their art and color choices were based on how they expected their work to be printed.

Being a comics restorer myself, I have wrestled with this question. In the desire to do everything I can do to make the work look new and fresh, I too went through a short phase where I zapped all or most of the existing colors out of Sundays and recolored them myself. I quickly saw that this was a case of my ego overruling my duty to the material. While it is nigh impossible to restore the colors on old tearsheets to proof sheet quality, it is better to do what we can within the stricture of maintaining the original look of the work. Sunday comics are generally printed badly, and we probably just need to accept that, and recognize that we aren't living in the world of CSI. The recoloring of these strips is an especial shame, because I think the grittiness of Mike Hammer is perfectly suited to the rough treatment of newspaper coloring.

PS: It is worth noting that the strips in the book begin with the daily release of April 20 1953, and the Sunday release of May 17 1953. In an article in  Editor & Publisher (1/10/53), the initial release dates were given as March 9 and March 16 respectively.  I assumed those dates to be correct, and those are the dates I cite in my book, American Newspaper Comics. I'm satisfied that the publishers of this book have discovered the correct starting dates, so you might want to pencil that information into your copy of my book.


Is there a missing Sunday strip? When the book was being put together there was a search for a strip that has never truned up.
Hi Tom --
You're quite right. They were unable to find one Sunday, and they admit that in the front matter. I didn't even notice the omission while I was reading, so they certainly did get lucky to miss a strip that wasn't making important plot points.

I never buy from Hermes again, after so many badly designed books and even worse paper choice. The recoloring faux pas sounds like something I would hate. I am glad of any review, because that gives me a chance to get the book after all (the strip interests me, you see). You did not mention there was a previous collection and how they compare. As for the recoloring, it is always a problem, certainly when the copy tyou have is so bad you would love to redo all the colors. I wish there was a photoshop program that did dot patterns.
I'm also a bit gun-shy with Hermes Press books, ever since I bought their complete Star Hawks book. I needed a magnifying glass to read those strips.
Are the Hammer strips printed in a decent size?
Ger -- Somewhere in the stacks I have those comic book Mike Hammers you refer to, but I'm pretty sure they were nowhere close to complete reprints. At least they failed to make any lasting impression on me. Anyone have them at hand and can tell us how much they actually reprinted?


Hi DD --
The reproduction is at a good size. The dailies are at original 4-column newspaper size (and crisp for most of the run, which came from proofs). The Sundays are slightly reduced from tabloid, but plenty big enough.

I trust your judgement on this, but I must concur with D D Degg, that Star Hawks book just crushed my spirit-- and the worst part was that they had plenty of room to play with.
Photoshop has always had:
Filter>Pixilate>Color Halftone

It's not a true dot pattern with all the colours angled correctly but I've used it to recreate the texture of letterpress colour.

With Photoshop you can do perfect Benday dots.
Not so easy, but not so hard...

A few days ago I've written about it in my (Italian) blog:
Ken Pierce reprinted the strip in 2 volumes, in 1982 and 1985. The reprint was complete except the 05/17/1953 Sunday strip could not be found.
Daily: 04/20/1953-03/20/1954
Sunday: 04/26/1953-03/14/1954
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Monday, September 30, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Mayor Mudge

In 1980 it might not have been the smartest strategy for cartoonist Bob Urso and the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate to try to interest newspaper readers in Mayor Mudge. A scant six years after Nixon resigned from office, they faced a real uphill battle to convince readers to willingly take the side of a politician, even if it was a woman who ran for city mayor on a lark.

Urso did provide himself with a rich vein of humor to mine. Imagine a whole town full of wacky and unreasonable voters all knocking on the mayor's door to provide straight lines. Then you've got a city hall full of petty backbiting bureaucrats, not to mention an involuntary house-husband (in the days when that was still a noteworthy familial arrangement). The strip was obviously still finding its footing in the early months, but it did manage to get off some good gags -- the last example here being a sidewise slam at the Moral Majority, for instance. And I don't know how the third sample got past the censors -- if I'd been drinking coffee when I read that one there would have been a pretty good spit-take. 

Mayor Mudge came and went with no notice or fanfare that I can detect. As best I can tell, the series began in December 1980 with Mudge unwittingly dumped into the race for mayor, and my latest samples come from September 1981. Anyone with further information about the extent of this run please contact me. Also, if you have any biographical information on Bob Urso, who seems to have not existed apart from this feature, please let me know.


From a quick Google Search, it seems he is still teaching art at a university level and is also a miniature gun officionado. Has even written a book on them.
i always assumed it was loosely based on mayor jane byrne of chicago, who had just gotten in around that time. similar hair, even. at least that's what it looked like to my 11 year old eye.
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Sunday, September 29, 2013


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


More FAVORITE ANECDOTES, please. Love the anecdotes, love the art.

Craig Zablo
Yeah, love 'm!
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