Saturday, November 23, 2013


Herriman Saturday

Saturday, May 9 1908 -- Herriman does a news roundup today; top headline is that Secretary of the Navy Metcalf is reviewing the fleet in San Francisco.

Then we have an obscure one, probably something about the Daily Telegraph Affair, in which Wilhelm II made some very undiplomatic remarks about his country's aims.

Then we have a cartoon illustrating some of the advances made because of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, including better policing of canned goods, federal oversight of liquor production, and removal of questionable ingredients (like cocaine) from sodas.

Finally, Herriman notes that the population of Los Angeles has reached 300,000. Today it is 3.8 million!


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Friday, November 22, 2013


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

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

Adam Chase strip #47, originally published April 23 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.


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Thursday, November 21, 2013


Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: Jaffee Unfolded

Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography

by Mary-Lou Weisman
It Books, 2010.  226 page hardcover, $27.99
ISBN 978-06-186448-3

If you're only interest in reading a biography of Al Jaffee is to read anecdotes about the hijinks of he and his cohorts at MAD magazine, you're going to be disappointed. This is not a bio of his working life, though of course that is discussed. This is a general biography, in the sense that we learn about the man's life, and his work is only a part of it.

And it's a smaller part than you might imagine. Jaffee comes across as a man whose ability to draw and write was not so much an all-consuming passion as a conveniently discovered talent to keep food on the table. As such, his biography is short on details about his professional life. That's too bad, because I sure would have liked to learn more about his newspaper work. So, I'm sure, would Mad fans like a whole book about his work for Bill Gaines and company.

However, given the caveat that this book is most definitely not the ultimate fanboy's dream, I must say that the story of Jaffee's life made for very interesting reading even without the comics angle. Not to give too much away, but Jaffee's childhood was quite eventful and makes for interesting reading. As you can gather from the cover drawings, Jaffee had a reverse immigrant's life -- he actually left America as a boy and grew up elsewhere.

The book is illustrated throughout with color Jaffee drawings and a few photos. Some of the drawings were created for this biography, others are samples of vintage Jaffee work.

If your reading diet can stand a dose of something other than comics and comics-related content, I heartily recommend this engaging read.

Thanks Allan--
Question-- what comic creator biographies do you find essential?
Hi Andy --
'Essential' is setting a pretty high bar. I think it depends on your particular interests. Obviously we should read bios of the creators whose work speaks most to us.

Is any one bio really essential for every comic strip fan? I dunno. Would anyone else like to weigh in on that question?

Well I learned French just to be able to read the interview/biographies of Hergé and Franquin... the interview based biography of Will Eisner which appeared just after his death is a good read... and Mort Walker's Backstage at the Strips remains a pretty seminal work.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: David Heames

David Heames was born in Niles, Ohio on December 3, 1918. His birthplace was found on a 1926 passenger list at, and his birth date is from the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of three sons born to Frank and May. His father, who was born in England and naturalized in 1912, was a superintendent at a metal products company. The family resided in Niles, Ohio. In 1926 Heames and his father traveled to England. They returned on May 14 in New York City. On the passenger list their address was 11 Saranax Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio.

The 1930 recorded the Heames family in Youngstown at 113 Halleck Street. Heames attended Rayen High School. The 1936 Rayen Annual noted his skill at tennis, in which, he was a letterman.

In 1939 he was enrolled in “Illustration IIX” at Pratt Institute (top photo). Among his classmates were John T. Donaldson, John R. Fischetti and Edward Lipowski, all of them would work in comics.

Heames has not been found in the 1940 census. The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), June 10, 1941, listed the Pratt Institute graduates. Heames and several classmates found work in comics: Kenneth Bald, Vincent CostelloAlfred DucaVictor DowdRaymond HarfordJames PotterRichard RylandsKurt Schaffenberger and John Westlake.

Beginning in 1945 Heames was the art director at the Iger Studio. He inked two Classics Illustrated comic book adaptations which were penciled by Robert H. Webb, a 1939 Pratt graduate. The books were R.H. Dana, Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast (June 1949) and Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (June 1949).

Two Years Before the Mast original art courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Most of Heames’ work appeared in Fiction House Comics. American Newspaper Comics (2012) noted that Alberto Becattini cited him as a ghost inker on Matt Baker’s Flamingo, from February to June 1952. The Grand Comics Database has identified specific comics with his work. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 has an overview of his comics career which appeared to have ended in 1957.

According to the Social Security Death Index Heames passed away April 1982. His last known residence was Flushing, New York. The U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 2, at, had this address: “13454 Maple Ave, Flushing, NY, 11355-4537.”

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: R.H. Webb

Robert Hayward “Bob” Webb was born in New York around 1915 according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. He has not been found in the 1920 census but his parents, Thomas and Sarah, were residents in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father was an engineer at a machine shop.

The 1930 census recorded Webb and his parents in Bridgeport at 694 Courtland Avenue. His father was employed as a mechanical engineer at a brass company. In 1937 he was a student at Pratt Institute. The school annual, Prattonia 1937, listed his address: 694 Cortlandt [sic] Ave., Bridgeport, Conn. The Illustration II X class photo pictured him (see photo) with Lillian Chestney, Charles Cuidera, Gerald McCann, and Samuel Weissman.

In 1939 he graduated from Pratt. The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), June 8, 1939, listed the graduates and several of his Pictorial Illustration classmates went into the comic book field: John E. Ayman, William T. Bossert, Lillian Chestney, Charles Nicholas Cuidera, Philip J. Dring, Charles Mazoujian, and Stanley M. Zuckerberg.

Webb penciled three Classics Illustrated comic book adaptations: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (April 1948), R.H. Dana, Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast (June 1949) and Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (June 1949). Kidnapped appeared first in the Sunday comics section of many newspapers. The New York Post, March 26, 1947, said: “…‘Kidnapped,’ the first in a series of ‘Illustrated Classics’ in striking four-color comic strip form will be presented in four installments, four full pages each on successive Saturdays as an extra attraction of the Post’s brimful week-end edition.” The first installment was published on March 29.

New York Post 3/28/1947

New York Post 3/29/1947

Kidnapped original art courtesy of Heritage Auctions

1941 Pratt graduate, David Heames, inked Two Years Before the Mast and Mysterious IslandThe Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 1, Part 1B, Number 1, Pamphlet, Serials and Contributions to Periodicals, January–June 1947, had this entry:
Stokes, Manning L.
Mysterious island, by Jules Verne, adapted by Manning L. Stokes, illustrated by Robert Hayward Webb and David Heames. [New York, Gilberton co., 1947] 55 p. col. illus. 26cm. (Classic comics. Feb. 1947. no. 34) © publisher; 11Mar47; AA53546.
Webb worked in the comics industry for nearly thirty years. Employed at the Iger Studio he produced material for comic books during the 1940s. Webb had a notable run illustrating Sheena, Queen of the Jungle stories. In 1952 he and Rod Maxwell produced The Hawk for Jerry Iger, but it never ran in U.S. newspapers. 

An overview of his career is at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, and the Grand Comics Database has specific information on where his work appeared.

Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History (2002) said: “…After leaving the comics field, he turned to boatbuilding and later roared with laughter as he told Hames Ware, ‘I used to draw boats, and now I build them.’ ”

The Social Security Death Index has a person named Robert H. Webb who was born April 12, 1915 and obtained his Social Security number in New York. He passed away September 11, 2000, and his last known residence was Capitol Heights, Maryland. An obituary was published in The Independent (Maryland), September 13, 2000. 

—Alex Jay



At least nine weeks' releases (54 strips) of the daily newspaper strip The Hawk, by Rod Maxwell (a pen name for Ruth Roche) and R. H. Webb, were probably produced around 1952 for Jerry Iger's Phoenix Features. The strip was advertised in E&P until 1969, but it was never released in any US newspapers.

The Hawk strip was, obviously, an alternate version of the comic book series. Strips nos. 42-48were published in The Menomonee Falls Gazette, Vol. 5, no. 214, January 4-10, 1976.

There were other strips produced by Phoenix Features that never made it to the newspapers. Inspector Dayton and South Sea Girl were two of them. See details on my blog:

Sorry, didn't catch that reference in Alex's post. I'll correct it.

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Monday, November 18, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Illustrated Classic

Thank goodness there are folks out there who are utterly devoted fans of the Classics Illustrated comic book series. I don't know if it is the actual comics that they like, or the complexities of tracking the confusing and complex history of the series. Gotta love tracking those HRN numbers, am I right? Whichever it is, I can say without a doubt that without them, today's obscurity would be a heck of a lot more obscure than it is.

In 1947, the folks at the Gilberton Company, publishers of Classics Illustrated, made a deal with the New York Post to syndicate some of their comic book wares as newspaper comics. The idea was to produce an insert-style comic section on a folded tabloid sheet. When the tabloid sheet was cut in half horizontally, an eight page mini-comic book would result, with two quite small comic book pages shoehorned onto each page. The adaptations would generally consist of four weekly installments, thus each adaptation was 32 newspaper booklet pages, or 64 comic book pages, in length. The novel adaptations offered were from as yet unpublished Classics Illustrated comic books, and would generally be published in newspapers about a year before their publications in comic book form.

The New York Post syndicate was, to be charitable, not the strongest sales machine around. That they managed to sell the Illustrated Classic insert concept to a known client list of just six newspapers I would count as not nearly as dismal as it sounds, given their track record on other properties.

Given that the insert page size was extremely small (I estimate the pages to be roughly half their intended size in the forthcoming comic books), and if my sample is any indication, the proofs rather muddy, it is also not surprising that half the client list bailed out after a half year. By the time the series was cancelled, exactly 52 weeks in, even the New York Post itself couldn't bring itself to run the final insert -- an abbreviated single episode version of The Courtship of Miles Standish. Only the Newark Star-Ledger is known to have soldiered on to the bitter end.

Here are all the stories, along with writer/adapters, artists and running dates:

Kidnapped3/30 – 4/20/47?Robert H. Webb
20,000 Leagues under the Sea4/27 – 5/18/47?Henry C. Kiefer
David Copperfield5/25 – 6/15/47George D. LipscombHenry C. Kiefer
Alice in Wonderland6/22 – 7/13/47?Alex A. Blum
The Spy7/20 – 8/10/47?Arnold B. Hicks*
Adventures of Tom Sawyer8/17 – 9/7/47Harry G. Miller*Aldo Rubano
House of the Seven Gables9/14 – 10/5/47John O’Rourke*Harley Griffiths
Julius Caesar10/12 – 11/2/47?Henry C. Kiefer*
Silas Marner11/9 – 11/30/47Harry Glickman*Arnold L. Hicks*
A Christmas Carol12/7 – 12/21/47George D. Lipscomb*Henry C. Kiefer
Lady of the Lake12/28/47 – 1/18/48George D. Lipscomb*Henry C. Kiefer
Man in the Iron Mask1/25 – 2/15/48John O’Rourke*August M. Froelich
Toilers of the Sea2/22 – 3/14/48Harry Glickman*August M. Froelich*
Courtship of Miles Standish3/21/48 ?Alex A. Blum*

Not many of the adapters and artists signed their work; all starred (*) entries are credits found at the Grand Comics Database or at Classics Central. I gather there may be separate inking credits on some or many of these as well; for instance, Alex Jay tells me that David Heames may be due inking credits on Webb stories.

According to Classics Central, the stories as seen in the Illustrated Classic series are close but not exact duplicates of what would later be published in the comic books. Because of formatting constraints, panels and pages were reformatted, often for the worse, for the newspaper series.


The serie was translated in French and published by Québec City newspaper LE SOLEIL from 1947 to 1950.
Hi Andre --
Evidently Le Soleil ran the series in a different format than the American newspapers, resulting in each week's episode only including 4 pages worth of story, rather than the typical 16. That explains the much longer publication history. I imagine it was also a much more attractive format, presumably the comic book pages would not have been miniaturized as severely. Interesting that the syndicate allowed that.

Thanks for the head's up!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Red Velvet Cake and Boston Cream Pie Ice Creams from Ben & Jerry's has made me the 'big guy' I am today.
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