Saturday, November 16, 2013


Herriman Saturday

Tuesday, May 5 1908 -- Tonight George Memsic, freed from having to make weight, will battle Clarence English in what was known as a 'catchweight' bout -- in other words, the fighters weights are in different classes. This was a do or die bout for Memsic. Coming off a series of three losses, the boxing establishment was about to write him off if he couldn't take English.

Judging from English's boxing record, he seems to have been a respectable fighter, if a little foolish to get in the ring with an overweight foe.

Since Herriman was about to take a few days off, he did not produce a cartoon about the outcome of this contest. So I'll spill the beans and tell you that Memsic won in the newspaper decision. Unfortunately, this was a rare bright spot in his boxing record from here on in. 


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Friday, November 15, 2013


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

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

Adam Chase strip #46, originally published April 16 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.


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Thursday, November 14, 2013


News of Yore: Richard W. Thomas Dies

Brooklyn Eagle
June 25, 1940

Richard W. Thomas Dies; Ex-Reporter, Columnist

Richard Webster Thomas, former reporter and columnist of the Brooklyn Eagle and a candidate for Congress and the State Senate in the downtown area in 1932 and 1934, respectively, died of a heart attack yesterday in his home at 163 E. 81st St., Manhattan.

Born 33 years ago in Manhattan, Mr. Thomas was active in newspaper work in Brooklyn for about ten years, remaining “in harness” during the vigorous campaigns he waged to put political theories formed as a newsgatherer to active use in legislative chambers.

He was educated at the Collegiate School and Rutgers University and was employed by the Standard News Association and the old Brooklyn Standard Union before joining the Eagle staff and launching a busy career in all phases of reportorial endeavor.

A keen student of penology, his views on courtroom procedure were frequently aired in special articles written for the Eagle, and he later became intimately known to this newspaper's readers by conducting a column under the title “By the Way.”

’Stranger Than Fiction’

In addition to his regular duties Mr. Thomas found time to delve deeply into the odd and interesting, a hobby that led to his collaboration for several years with Walter Galli of the Eagle art department in the syndicated feature “Stranger Than Fiction.”

A stickler for factual reporting, he insisted on substantiating to the last degree the unusual customs and events he unearthed, frequently passing up “real gems" because of inability to establish their proof beyond all quibble or doubt.

On entering the 1932 election campaign as the Republican opponent of Representative John J. Delaney, Mr. Thomas waged a forthright, hard-hitting fight based on a strong anti-Tammany stand and a denunciation of the 18th Amendment.

Although swamped in the landslide for Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then 25-year-old campaigner, the youngest in the country during that election, made an excellent showing in the Heights area, carrying ten election districts.

Before accepting the G.O.P. nomination for State Senator in 1934, to which was added the support of the Fusion, Liberal and Recovery parties, Mr. Thomas published the Brooklyner, a monthly magazine that flourished for about a year.

He was married on March 13, 1933, to Betty Stuart Peck of Brooklyn and Belle Terre, daughter of Mrs. Bayard Livingston Peck and a descendant of Philip Livingston, signer, of the Declaration of Independence. They were divorced on Oct. 8, 1935.

Formerly active in the Golf and Country Club of Belle Terre, Zeta Psi fraternity and the old Crescent Athletic Club, Mr. Thomas is survived by his mother, now the widow of the Rev. Dr. David G. Wylie, former president of the Lord's Day Alliance, and a half-sister, Mrs. A. Thornton Baker. His father, Richard Henry Thomas, a engineer, died in 1911.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Walter Galli

(An updated profile (July 31, 2023) is here.)

Walter Galli was born in Massachusetts on January 4, 1913. His birthplace was recorded in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, and birth date was found at Find a Grave.

Galli has not yet been found in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. 

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published his Stranger Than Fiction panel, which was written by Richard W. Thomas, beginning April 1, 1935 and ending June 5, 1937, according to American Newspaper Comics (2012). That panel was followed by Galli’s But It’s True which ran from May 11, 1937 to July 4, 1940. Galli also produced material for a handful of comic book publishers. According to Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, his career began in the 1930s with his Stranger Than Fiction, which that work says was published by the Centaur Comics Group.

Brooklyn Eagle 1/8/1936

In the 1940 census, Galli and his mother, Sophia, resided in Brooklyn at 217 Bainbridge Street. He was a commercial artist who had completed two years of high school. During World War II he enlisted in the army on April 7, 1942. He was stationed in the Pacific Theater and saw combat at Guadalcanal.

Brooklyn Eagle 6/27/1943

After his discharge, he married Dorothy Roubicek, in early 1944. She left the editor position at All-American Comics near the end of February, according to Julius Schwartz in All-Star Companion, Volume 1 (2004). Their marriage ended in divorce. She is best known as Dorothy Woolfolk.

Galli was listed in the Manhattan City Directory at 110 West 40th Street, for the years 1946, 1948 and 1949. In 1959 he was at 31 West 11th Street.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Galli illustrated several books including Mountains in the Sea: Japan’s Crowded Islands (1957), Skyscraper Island: How Ships Built New York (1957) and Light in the Dark Forest (1961). In the early 1970s he drew the panel, Did You Know, which was about race horses. It was sponsored by the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

Times Record (Troy, NY) 12/12/1970

Niagara Falls Gazette, 8/1/1971

Galli passed away April 25, 1974, in New York.


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Stranger than Fiction

One of these days I just have to count up all the Katzenjammer Kids rip-offs and all the Believe It or Not copies and see which feature was more imitated.

Today we have another one for the Believe It or Not column. This one is titled Stranger than Fiction, and it was the Brooklyn Eagle's entry, distributed by Watkins Syndicate. The creators were a pair of Eagle bullpenners, Walter Galli on art and Richard W. Thomas supplying the amazing facts.

The Brooklyn Eagle had hardly any luck selling features to other papers. I don't know if Watkins Syndicate had a sales force at all, but if they did then the salesmen really needed some help from Zig Ziglar. In 1939, for instance, Watkins advertised in E&P a whole batch of really snazzy sounding new features, but not a one of them ever seemed to have made it into a paper (including the Eagle itself!).

Stranger than Fiction began as a daily on April 1 1934 (a great omen!), and a Sunday page was added on January 12 1936. The Sunday was the first to expire, on April 4 1937, with the daily sputtering out soon after, on June 5. For some reason the panel was advertised in the 1935 E&P listings under the title Oddities. I've never seen the panel itself actually using that title.


I wonder what the Charles Hiller item is supposed to be about. The only Charles ("Chuck") Hiller ever to play Major League Baseball didn't reach the majors until 1961, twenty-four years after this panel ceased publication.

Even if the Charles Hiller referenced here was a nonplayer, he still would have had only four years in which to serve all of the then-eight American League baseball teams. (The AL didn't become a major league until 1901, with eight teams, and Hiller retired in 1904 according to this strip. The National League started in 1876.) That would have required a lot of job-changing in a short time.

I wonder if perhaps the first two words of the strip's title were superfluous?
Perhaps that 1935 Oddities oddity was just a text filler? Maybe just the block of type underneath the panel for use as space allowed?
After all Stranger than Fiction's Sunday topper (Big Little Things)was running as a short text column of factoids under Thomas' name in 1935 and 1936.

Noticed you didn't list Galli's (weekly?) panel Did You Know in The Book. It ran in 1970 in Saturday's Troy Times Record and Sunday's Niagra Falls Gazette. It followed the pattern of offering little nuggets of information but focused on thoroughbred horses, his signature was even followed by the initials NYRA.
Hi Joshua -- I'm shocked ... shocked to be told that the Stranger Than Fiction crew's facts are not perhaps as factual as some would like.

My guess is that by "major" they probably meant anything but that. He probably played on a bunch of local clubs.

Or they got the name wrong.

Or they got the number of teams wrong.

Or they made it up.

Hi DD --
My policy for the book is generally to list only advertising comics when they are of significant historical or artistic interest. Galli's Did You Know series, which is obviously a sponsored giveaway, didn't really seem to rise to that level.

On the other hand, if someone else were to do the research into just exactly how long it ran, this lazy guy would be happy to credit them and include the info in the 2nd edition.

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Monday, November 11, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: It's a Natural

Western Newspaper Union, a premier supplier of  comics and features to many small weekly papers, got it into their heads to expand the syndicate offerings after World War II. A number of panel cartoons, in particular, were added to the lineup. For one reason or another, very few papers ran these panel cartoons, limited space being paramount, and most of the panels were cancelled before the memory of the war was a half-decade old.

Here's one of those panels,  It's a Natural. I can't offer anything like definite running dates. I can only say that a few panels ran in 1948 newspapers. I assume it was offered every week but I've only seen isolated examples in March and August of that year.

This factual panel about nature and ecology was produced by Bob Hines, who by 1948 was already a well-regarded wildlife artist. In addition to It's a Natural, he also reportedly produced a series of public service newspaper cartoons for the Ohio Division of Conservation. A bio and photo of Hines is at Ohio's Yesterdays.


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