Saturday, November 30, 2013


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, May 10 1908 -- I think Herriman left this local Democratic Party meeting early. His sketches of the attendees, at which delegates were selected for the national convention, indicates that he saw little of interest. A couple quick sketches of the more picturesque in attendance and he skedaddled outta there.

After Herriman bowed out things got more interesting. Some sort of feud boiled over between a pair of members. As nominations were made for new vice presidents of the club, one nominee was accused of not upholding the ideals of democracy. The accuser became the accused as he was in turn charged with being a gambler. Sparks really flew, with lots of yelling and threats of violence. Great fodder for a cartoon had Herriman just stuck around.


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Friday, November 29, 2013


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase

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

Adam Chase strip #48, originally published April 30 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.


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Thursday, November 28, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Nick Penn

Nick Penn was born Nicholas Pouletsos in Illinois on February 8, 1911. His birthplace was recorded in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, and his birth date is from the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 census Penn was the oldest of two children born to William and Mary, both Greek emigrants. His father was a porter at a pool room, and his sister, Bessie, was two years younger. The Pouletos family resided in Fort Wayne, Indiana at 208 West Lewis Street.

According to Indiana’s Laughmakers (1990), Ray Banta said Penn “…graduated from Fort Wayne's Central High School and continued his art education in Chicago schools.” A 1928 Fort Wayne city directory listed Penn as a student who resided at 1326 Dodge Avenue, his parent’s home.

Penn has not been found in the 1930 census. Banta said he “…began creating editorial cartoons for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel in the 1930’s.” Penn was listed as “Pouletsos Nicholas cartoonist” in the 1932 city directory. He lived with his parents in the 1934 directory listing.

According to the Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index at, Penn married Laura Diamond April 9, 1936.

Penn also worked for the Chicago Tribune, according to Banta, “…where for 14 years he assisted such nationally-known cartoonists as Sidney Smith, creator of The Gumps, Frank Willard of Moon Mullins, and Carl Ed of Harold Teen.” The 1940 T
ribune comic strip, The Drums of Fu Manchu, was signed with the initials “N.P.”, most likely belonging to Penn.

Signed N.P. in bottom tier, middle panel’s lower left corner

The 1940 census recorded Penn as “Nick Penn” and his wife in Chicago, Illinois at 5646 Kenmore Avenue. He had been living in Chicago since 1935. The census said his occupation was newspaper artist, who finished one year of high school.

Penn served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and drew the comic strips Stalemate and Helen Highwater, which appeared in hundreds of Navy publications. Samples of both strips are in Great Cartoonists and Their Art.

Banta said that after the war Penn produced the strip Uncle Dudley which appeared in the News-Sentinel. Penn was profiled June 27, 1946, in the News-Sentinel article, “Comic Strip Starting Monday Created by Fort Wayne Native”. The strip was more commonly known as Bessie (probably named after his sister) and was syndicated from February 2, 1948 to October 28, 1950 (dates from American Newspaper Comics), then sold as reprints in 1951 and 1952 [note from Allan: Uncle Dudley does appear to be the origial title of Bessie -- info about this earlier incarnation is lacking in my book]

One of Penn’s colleagues at the News-Sentinel was Jerry Stewart who did the strip Little Moments.

Penn’s occupations and whereabouts were found in a number of Fort Wayne city directories. In 1949 he was a cartoonist who resided at 1010 Lake Avenue, apartment D. The following year he was a Chicago Sun Syndicate cartoonist and lived at 932 Lake Avenue. The 1952 and 1954 directories have him as an artist at 117 East Suttenfield. In 1956 and 1958 the artist resided at 2410 South Calhoun, apartment 2. Penn’s address was the same in the 1959 directory and he was an employee at the Rialto Theater.

According to the Social Security Death index, his sister, Bessie, passed away July 1983. Penn passed away December 1990 and buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne.


Thanks so much for posting this biography of my great uncle. I learned a lot I did not know.

Mary Diamond Johns
Nick and his wife were really nice folks... I used to visit with him for hours when he resided in the Florida Apartments in Fort Wayne. I wish I still had the strip that he drew and wrote for me when I was young but it has been lost in time. I will never forget the amazing experiences he told us about.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The Chicago Tribune Comic Book: The Drums of Fu Manchu

Waaaaaayyy back in the summer, when we were young and life was gay, I published a long series of posts covering the comic strip series that ran in the Chicago Tribune Comic Book. Unfortunately, that blog series was not absolutely complete, as there were two titles for which I did not have the necessary samples to do a proper show and tell.

Luckily for us, Kurt Gore has come along and offered me scans of one of those series, making us 50% closer to our goal. Thanks Kurt!

The Drums of Fu Manchu was a comic strip adaptation of a Republic movie serial of the same name. The first episode of the movie serial was released on March 15 1940, and the first episode of the comic strip, which told the first episode's story via stills from the movie, was printed in the March 31 Chicago Tribune Comic Book -- the inaugural edition of the new Tribune feature.

Each episode was recounted in three pages of the comic book. The stills didn't work all that well because the printing was quite muddy. Although Tribune retouchers worked hard to make the photos reproduce better, often by removing backgrounds and outlining the characters, the results were less than spectacular. This method was finally dropped, and starting on June 2 the feature was drawn, probably by a Tribune bullpenner. The only clue the cartoonist gives us to his identity, beyond his style, are the initials N.P. on each strip. The new strip was much more attractive, but the movie serial only had so many episodes, so the strip had no place to go after adapting the whole run. The last comic book episode ran on June 23 1940.

Those N.P.  initials don't match anyone at the Trib that I can think of. In fact the only American cartoonist of the era with those initials I can come up with is Nick Penn. But I doubt it was him. The style has sort of a generic Tribune look to it. Gus Edson, Stanley Link, Al Posen, Carl Ed ... any of those Tribune guys could, I think, have whipped off this sort of thing. In fact, the second panel looks like a Caniff swipe. Hey, could it be? Nah. Caniff couldn't draw this mediocre on a bet.

Oh, by the way. If you'd like to see a good helping of the movie serial, head on over to The Serial Squadron, where they offer a half-hour video clip from the serial, and have a fully restored DVD available for sale when you just can't survive without knowing what happens next.

P.S. Before you expend a lot of brain juice trying to figure out the secret identity of N.P., I have to tell you that our resident super-sleuth, Alex Jay, has come up with nearly incontrovertible proof of the artist's identity. I have to say, when he revealed it to me, I was rather pleased. But that's all I'm going to say -- you can wait for Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile tomorrow to learn ... the rest of the story. Good day!


Could be anyone, as you say. Maybe even Ray Bailey? I still have tohave a look to see if the 'standing rock' formation that Bailey drew in 30% of his strips was something he took from Caniff or something he added to it... but there is one in the June 2 strip as well.
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Marjorie Organ

Marjorie Organ was born in Ireland on December 3, 1886. Her birth place was recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, which also said she was born in November 1886. However, there are several passenger lists, at, that have the December 3, 1886 birth date, but, recorded New York as her birth place. According to the National Cyclopædia of American Biography (1916), her father’s name was John. Bennard B. Perlman, in his book Robert Henri: His Life and Art (1991), wrote: “…Her father was an artist of sorts, creating wallpaper designs for a living, a profession he continued after he brought the family to the United States…”

In the 1900 census, Organ’s mother, Ellen, was a widow and head of the household, which counted six children: Martin (21), Kathleen (19), Mary (17), Marjorie (13), Violet (11) and Thomas (10). They resided at 194 Waverly Place, in Manhattan, New York City.

There are passenger lists at with an “Ellen Organ” who accompanied her children, on three trips, to New York City. In 1888, Ellen arrived with Kate, Martin, Mary, Jessie, Christopher, Thomas. The 1892 passenger list named the same children with the exception of Jessie, who became “Tessie”, and Christopher became “Chrissie”. In 1894 Ellen traveled with Martin, Teresa, “Christe” and Thomas. Comparing these lists to the census, I would say that Jessie/Tessie/Teresa was Marjorie, and Christopher/Chrissie/Christe was Violet; maybe these were nicknames. The third visit was very close to the 1895 immigration year in the 1900 census.




Apparently, Organ contributed to some of the newspaper contests and activities for children and young adults
New York Herald 8/14/1898

Perlman said Organ attended “St. Joseph’s School on Washington Square for a year. As was custom at the time, Marjorie entered the Normal College…” The New York Tribune, June 19, 1900, listed Organ (below) as one of 640 girls who passed the entrance exam for Normal College, now Hunter College. 

The book, Robert Henri and His Circle (1969), was written by William Innes Homer who had access to an unpublished biography of Henri, who had married Organ in 1908. Organ’s younger sister, Violet, wrote the biography, some of which was used in Homer’s book. Regarding Organ’s education, Homer wrote:
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Organ of New York City, Marjorie was a beautiful, vivacious redhead who left Hunter College in her freshman year to study art with Dan McCarthy, a newspaper artist who ran a study-by-mail school in the New York World Building. Recognizing her talent, McCarthy guided her into newspaper work, and when his school failed, he suggested she join the art staff of the New York Journal. And so she did, becoming the only woman (and a very young one) in an office of eight or ten men. Having embarked on a career as a cartoonist at the age of seventeen, she became well known as the artist of the comic strip, “[Little] Reggie and the Heavenly Twins,” which ran for three years in the Journal, and for her caricatures of theatrical personalities in the World….
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Organ also produced these strips for the Journal: Boastful Billy the Boy Wonder (1904), The Irresistible Mrs. Jolly (1904), Girls Will Be Girls (1904), The Wrangle Sisters (1904–1905), Strange What a Difference a Man Makes (1905), and Isn’t It Just Like a Woman (1905). Organ left the Journal and drew two more strips: The Man Haters Club (1907, American-Journal-Examiner) and The Misunderstandings of Martha; (1908, New York World).

Fort Worth Star-Telegram 12/15/1907

New Orleans Item 12/17/1907

When Henri met Organ it was March 1908. How it happened was the subject of a long article.

The New Orleans Item (Louisiana), August 2, 1908, published “The Romance of a Girl with Red Hair”, the a story of how Organ met Henri at a masquerade ball, the Artists' Ball, at Tuxedo Hall; below is an excerpt:
“Pardon me, do you pose?” he inquired, his eyes still fixed on the glory of red gold hair.
“No. In fact, I pose others, a little. I am an artist but an humble one. I have been doing a little work for the newspapers for two years. I want to get into the magazines. I hope.”
“Yes, yes. You are ambitious.” The master had a soothing voice.
“Had you a model for your ‘The Girl with Red Hair’?” the girl asked.
The master smiled. “Yes and no. She never sat for me. But I saw her each morning on the L train, and I made notes of her wonderful hair in my brain. She was a wee, scrawny, awkward creature, a school girl I should have said. She was timid. One day I approached to ask her if she would come to my studio and pose for my girl, but she shrank away from me so that I passed without speaking. I have often wondered what had become of that little girl. I gave the picture the face of a woman, but I kept the girl’s hair—that wonderful red hair.”
Behind the mask the girl’s lips parted. They closed again in a smile. Just then the tiresome boy came up to take her to supper…
“Masks off.”…
He saw it at last, the mass of burnished red gold hair.
“I thought so,” he said to himself. “I thought there could be nowhere else such wonderful hair as that. It is my little girl of three years ago. But the wee, scrawny figure has ripened. The timid face has grown serene. My little Girl of the Red Hair has grown up.”
To one of his disciples he said eagerly, “The girl with the red hair and the beautiful complexion. Who is she?”
“That? Oh, that is Marjorie Organ, an illustrator on one of the downtown papers.”
“Introduce me.” The follower obeyed.
Miss Organ, looking up with laughter in her eyes, saw the hidalgo bending over her. She rose. He knelt before her in mock humility.
“Forgive me.” His voice was beseeching.
“For saying that I was wee and awkward and scrawny? It was quite true.”
“But will you forgive me?”
“Certainly, Oh, please get up. Why should the great Robert Henri kneel to poor little Marjorie Organ, the great painter to the beginner?”
Three weeks later—it was while they were hurrying over to Connecticut on an impulsive wedding journey—he reminded her of her speech.
The newspaper account of Henri and Organ’s meeting was a fanciful fabrication. In the Delaware Art Museum 1980 exhibition catalogue, City Life Illustrated, 1890-1940: Sloan, Glackens, Luks, Shinn—Their Friends and Followers, was this reaction: “When the news reached the press, an article about the romantic marriage of Henri to a ‘comic artist’ was printed, but [John] Sloan declared it ‘ridiculous and untrue.’ ”

In Robert Henri: His Life and Art, on page 86, Perlman wrote:
…The July 19 Sunday edition of the American-Examiner carried a story about his supposed courtship, headlined: “The Romance of a Girl with Red Hair,” which placed his meeting with Marjorie at a masquerade ball….
Henri was sent a copy of the newspaper story, complete with pictures. “Not one word was true,” was his only comment, and that included the location of the marriage in Connecticut.
Three accounts of Organ and Henri’s meeting are similar with minor differences. From page 55 of City Life Illustrated was this version:
Marjorie frequented New York Cafe Mousquin, the famous gathering place of artists, writers, and musicians, and it was here in 1908 that she first saw Robert Henri. At the coaxing of her friend Walt Kuhn, a cartoonist for the World, she attended some of Henri’s art lectures and was captivated by him. Another friend, Journal artist Rudolph Dirks, finally introduced the two at Mousquin’s in March 1908.
From page 86 of Robert Henri: His Life and Art (1991) was this account: 
Marjorie met Henri at Mousquin’s on February 3, 1908, after the opening of The Eight exhibition, to which she had been invited by Rudolph Dirks. She had brought along Helen Walsh; it was also the first meeting of Dirks with his future wife. Henri, dining at another table, walked over to greet Dirks and complimented him on the painting he had sent to the Pennsylvania Academy. Immediately attracted to the red-haired, blue-eyed Marjorie, he was even more intrigued when he learned that she was the creator of one of the comic strips he so enjoyed. He suggested she join his class, which she did, teasing him during the initial critique by sketching a caricature of him with enlarged feet. The teacher reciprocated by asking her to pose for a portrait in his studio, and it was there that the romance blossomed.
From page 148 of Robert Henri and His Circle, Homer wrote: 
She was often squired about by Walt Kuhn and Rudolph Dirks, cartoonists working on the World and Journal respectively; and at Mouquin’s, one of their favorite haunts, Henri was pointed out to her as the leader of the Eight. At Walt Kuhn’s urging, she attended some of Henri's lectures and was attracted by his slight southern drawl and electric changes of manner. Finally Dirks, himself a friend of Henri’s, introduced them at Mouquin’s late in March. Two days after the meeting Henri began to paint her portrait in sittings that were kept a secret from all but her sister Violet. Indeed, few were aware of their courtship during the spring, so their marriage on May 5 in a civil ceremony at Elizabeth, New Jersey, came as a complete surprise to most of his friends….
On June 7, 1908 the New York Times reported their marriage.
Robert Henri, head of the New York School of Art, it was announced yesterday, was married on May 5 to Miss Marjorie Organ, who was a pupil at the art school. The ceremony was performed in Connecticut, according to Mrs. Henri, the artist’s mother, by a Roman Catholic priest, but the bride’s mother was not present.
Mr. and Mrs. Henri are now on their way to Spain on board the Moltke. Mr. Henri is accustomed to take every year a number of his pupils to Spain, and did not drop this practice because of his marriage. The wedding was announced the day the ship sailed, last Tuesday.
Mr. Henri is a widower, his first wife having died about two years ago. He is 42 years old and is noted in art circles for the originality of his ideas and his refusal to be bound by conventions.
His wife is 21 and has been doing illustrating work for the newspapers. She has been a pupil at the New York Art School for a long time but is said to have met Mr. Henri only three weeks before they were married.
Organ and Henri’s names did not appear in the 1910 census. The reason may have been because they were away in Europe; a passenger list, at, recorded their return to New York on October 20, 1910. 

According to Irish Comics Wiki, “…[Organ] continued to paint and draw, exhibiting at the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, the Society of Independent Artists (1919–24, 26–28), the McDowell Club (1917–18), the New York Society of Women Artists (1927, 1932), the Morton Gallery (1928) and others…”

In 1920 the couple lived at 10 Gramercy Park in Manhattan and their occupation was artist. Henri died July 12, 1929.

The 1930 census recorded Organ at the same address where she was a painter. Almost a year after her husband’s death, Organ passed away July 5, 1930. A death notice appeared in the New York Times the following day. The New York Evening Post, July 7, noted her death:
Mrs. Marjorie O. Henri 
Funeral Being Arranged for Staff Artist of the World
Funeral services are being arranged today for Mrs. Marjorie Organ Henri, for several years an artist on the staff of the World and the Journal, who died of a heart attack in St. Luke’s Hospital in her thirty-fourth [sic] year.
Mrs. Henri was the widow of Robert Henri, the American painter, who died a year ago. Recently she had been painting and doing pen and ink sketches. She lived at 10 Gramercy Square.

—Alex Jay


Thanks for the Marjorie O.Henri posting. I just finished reading John Loughery's biography of John Sloan and I wanted to learn more about Marjorie Henri.

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Monday, November 25, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Little Filipino and the Chick

When I was taking literature classes in school, I was often astounded at the hidden meanings my teachers could extract from the texts we studied. I've never become really adept at 'reading between the lines', or at least I've never learned to do it to my complete satisfaction.

In the bizarre 1903 New York World series Little Filipino and the Chick, it's abundantly obvious that the comic strip isn't merely about a child and his overgrown baby chicken. What it's really about, though, I cannot decode to my satisfaction.

Cartoonist Carl Anderson (yes, the fellow who many years later created Henry) gives us a whopper of a clue in the title, that the little kid is a Filipino. Okay, that makes sense. In 1903 the U.S. had just officially concluded a war with the Phillipines, having convinced them that when the U.S. is feeling warmly paternalistic and takes control of your country that you better darn well not get uppity and try to say "no thanks."

Although the war was officially over, there was no shortage of insurrectionists (that's what you call freedom fighters when they're on the wrong side) making life interesting for the American occupiers. It seems reasonable, then, that the Little Filipino, who seems dead set on making that poor chick miserable, is meant to represent the Phillipine insurrectionists, or the Filipinos in general.

The giant chick is where I run into trouble. It seems reasonable that it represents the U.S. But why would Anderson use that particular representation? An eagle, maybe, but an overgrown baby chicken? And if not the U.S. in general, who or what does the chick represent?

Whatever it all means, here's what I do know. It ran in the New York World's Sunday Funny Side comic section from February 1 to September 27 1903.

While you're pondering the hidden meaning of Little Filipino and the Chick, you will also no doubt notice the sumptuous coloring of the strips. Trust me that your computer screen doesn't hold a candle to the coloring of the original pages. Here's a blown-up detail from one strip:

If you look at this image at full size (click once or possibly twice on the image) you'll see the intricate patterns of dots that make up the color. Note that there are varying patterns, too. Some patterns look like a shotgun effect, some are regimentally straight, there are even ones that are in solid lines. Amazing, isn't it? If you've ever wondered about the technical work behind coloring a newspaper comic strip, then you want to head on over to The Back Flap Blog, where Phil Normand has explained some of the technical wizardry behind newspaper coloring in an easy to understand way. Great post, Phil!


Hello, Allan---The "FILIPINO AND THE CHICK" idea was one that dear to Anderson's heart. In 1896 they can be found in the early Sunday N.Y.JOURNAL , with the "Filipino" more conventionally an African native. As late as 1916 he apparently was considering making an animated cartoon with the bizarre characters.
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Sunday, November 24, 2013


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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