Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Mystery Strips of E&P Special Edition

Following is a list of newspaper features, all discussed in the pages of Editor & Publisher in the period 1997-2009, for which I can find no direct proof that they ran in any newspaper. The idea of the mystery strip posts here on Stripper's Guide is that if you see something you recognize, and you can supply proof that it ran in a newspaper, you receive not only my undying gratitude (value: priceless) but also a goodie box of comic strip-related stuff -- tearsheets, books, memorabilia, maybe even some original art (value: sky's the limit!). Due to time constraints I have not attempted to contact the creators referenced.

An important reminder for those who don't have great reading comprehension skills: this list is of features that possibly, even likely, never ran in a newspaper. Please please PLEASE don't write on your website or article or book that Allan Holtz claims thus-and-such was a real feature that ran somewhere. I'm doing the OPPOSITE. Capisce?

All these items were culled from E&P news stories on the issues dated as indicated:

4/12/1997 -- Oliver Gaspirtz is offering a weekly panel titled Police Blotter. The panels originally started being produced as a series for law enforcement publications.

5/3/1997 -- Jay Schiller and Greg Cravens offer a self-syndicated panel cartoon titled Juxtapose.

7/12/1997 -- Casey Shaw's comic Roswell appears on the web, but also is claimed to be in the Roswell Daily Record.

8/30/1997 -- A weekly Slanted Lens 'photocomic' is offered to newspapers. The website for the feature has long since morphed into a general photography site.

9/6/1997 -- Freelance cartoonist Ross Bunch introduces a self-syndicated strip, Sweat Sox. The strip about a minor league baseball team was customizable -- they would play actual teams in the client newspaper's area.

9/13/1997 -- Sirg's Comic Corner by Richard Sirgiovanni is being self-syndicated. The creator claimed that the feature was already running in "a number of community weeklies."

12/20/1997 -- New England Features Syndicate announces the availability of three comic strips -- Cotton Candy, Rugby, and Prince Lightning, all apparently produced by syndicate president Chester Buckley. According to this site Cotton Candy apparently did run in the Portland Press-Herald.

1/17/1998 -- Jerry Buckley, artist for Express Newspapers of Bucks County Pennsylvania and Mail newspapers of Burlington County New Jersey, is self-syndicating a weekly panel titled Wendel.

5/8/1999 -- The Washington Post Writers Group unveiled 12:01 by Thomas Boldt. WPWG seems to generally have a golden touch with features, but this one apparently disappeared without a trace.

5/22/1999 -- New syndicate Paradigm-TSA announces their strips. I know that ffarm.com ran, but has anyone seen Warp Wilson by Mel Casson and William F. Brown, Patent Nonsense by Roy Doty, or Greenhouse Effect by Jeff Barfoot?

6/19/1999, 10/8/2001 -- R.A. Sirgiovanni offers Urban Philosphy, to be available in either English or Spanish. Seems to be an article about the feature at this location but I can't get it to load.

7/17/1999 -- Peter Ramirez is trying to interest syndicates in his strip Raising Hector with little luck. I know he eventually self-syndicated to newspapers, but does anyone know when that began?

5/8/2000 -- Che Rippinger self-syndicates a panel titled Touche. Based on the website it seems like the feature was produced daily from 1999-2001. According to the promotional info, it may have been in the Denver Post. Anyone see it there or elsewhere?

5/8/2000 -- Bill Costello's Bizzy's Home Biz is being offered, self-syndicated via BBS (how many of you whippersnappers even know what that is!).

7/24/2000 -- Australian star cartoonist Jim Russell produced a series of 26 cartoons about the Olympics -- titled Olympic Circles -- for worldwide distribution. Did any US newspapers run them?

11/6/2000 -- Apparently Long Island's Newsday was running a three-times-a-week comic strip called Chip Tracer on their 'Student Briefing Page'. The educational stories were then periodically collected into comic books published by the Newseum. I find quite a few mentions of this comic around the web, but nothing that indicates running dates in Newsday.

12/18/2000 -- Yesterday's News by Bill Rielly is being offered in self-syndication.

12/18/2000 -- Gus Cooks by Ralph and Darrah Baden is being self-syndicated.

1/22/2001 -- Everybody's Business by Matt Tolbert and Ken Roberts celebrates their tenth anniversary in newspapers. But which newspapers? According to Matt Tolbert's website the feature ran in over 200 papers. So how have I managed to miss it?

3/12/2001 -- Looks like Sea Urchins by Jason Whitley and Scott Eckelart did indeed appear in the Myrtle Beach Sun News, as evidenced here, probably starting 2/26/01. But how long did it run, and does that reprint book in the image really exist? I can't find a copy online. [The creators contacted me and have now provided ample evidence of the strip running -- see new posts about Sea Urchins on this blog -- Allan]

6/30/2001 -- Russ Miller's Oddly Enough panels are signed up by startup syndicator At Large Features. Checking syndicate directories, the feature made the rounds of several minor syndicates starting in 1998. Oddly enough, the panel was collected in a comic book that, for some unknown reason, is advertised on various websites for over $100. Dunno why it would command such prices.[Russell Miller writes to tell me that his sales through these syndicates seem to have been mostly or all overseas; also, the feature was not a cartoon panel, but rather an illustrated column. He has no idea why the comic book is offered at such stratospheric prices -- thank you Russell!]

8/6/2001 -- Mike Black is self-syndicating a panel titled Dark Humor. Only evidence I can find of it is an apparently ghost-drawn sample.

11/5/2001 -- At Large Features announces a new comic strip, Way Out West, by Robert Snyder and John Whelan.

11/19/2001 -- Another At Large Feature offering, Hair of the Dawg by Quinn Williams. The creator got his moment on TV, and Google seems to find him on several social networks, which I can't access. Did the strip ever succeed in finding newspaper clients?

11/26/2001 -- Richard Harris Jr., who apparently did a cartoon called CheapSeats for Newsday, evidenced by a reprint book, announces a new comic strip titled What the Black. Any evidence of either feature running in newspapers available? I ordered the CheapSeats book, just seems to be sports cartoons, not really getting a series vibe.

3/11/2002 -- Robert Berardi and Pedro Hernandez Jr. are offering a new comic strip, No Rodeo, to newspapers. Later developments were found on the web: this 2005 newspaper article makes no mention of it appearing in newspapers, and this newsgroup discussion from 2004 says the strip has been signed by Creators Syndicate to a 15-year (!?!?!) development deal after another development deal with United Media fell through.

3/18/2002 -- A Universal Press Syndicate advertisement offers True North by Kevin Frank as one of their "new stars." The creator calls it the saga of an American moving to Canada. Despite my Canadan pride, I can easily imagine the idea falling flat with U.S. newspaper editors. Did it run anywhere in the U.S.? [Danny Sichel contacted the creator, who says "[True North] WAS picked up by 2 US border papers, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and Detroit Free Press (...) But [they] didn't actually print it." He notified all his friends in those cities, and they bought the paper on the day that he expected the strip to begin appearing... and they all called him to say "your strip isn't here?" - he was very disappointed.]

5/20/2002 -- Everyday People is being offered for syndication by creator Cathy Thorne. The creator's website indicates that the weekly panel appears/appeared in two U.S. newspapers -- the Ventura County Star and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Anyone seen it?

9/23/2002 -- Signe Wilkinson signs up with Washington Post Writers Group to distribute thrice weekly political comic strip Shrubbery. Supposedly began on 9/17/2002 in Wilkinson's home paper, the Philadelphia Daily News. One website shows strips as late as July 2003. Can anyone verify its regular appearance anywhere?

July 2004 -- an advertisement for Brain Squirts, created and syndicated by Frank Cummings, appears. I found a few samples online.

January 2005 -- an article about M.E. Russell's comic strip CulturePulp, which apparently ran every other Friday in the A&E section of the Portland Oregonian starting April 2004. The creator has an extensive website, but I can't get a handle on whether the strip actually ran in the newspaper or more often just on the paper's website. It also seems to have slowly ground to a halt, but the strips aren't dated so I can't tell when that might have happened.

March 2006 -- John Kovalic is a fount of mystery strips in this article. He is offering his comic book series and online comic strip, Dork Tower, to newspapers. Did it ever get picked up? He's also developing a newspaper comic strip titled Newbies with Liz Rathke. How about that one? And for that matter, what about The Wild Life, which he says was syndicated in the 1980s by Chronicle Features.


Kovalic's Wild Life supposedly ran in the Wisconsin State Journal during the time Kovalic was an editorial cartoonist there (circa mid/late 1990s).
I have way too many dates for Raising Hector by Peter Ramirez. There's the 2006 date when it got on with TribMedia. Then I have it starting on January 3, 2000 - running in the Rocky Mountain News as a self-syndicated strip. But I also have it starting circa December 1995 as a self-syndicated strip titled "Raising Hec" (no paper associated with that date).
A conversation at the time said that Thomas Boldt's 12:01 was running in the Boston Globe, and ran as a summer replacement for the Non Sequitur reruns of 1999 in the CinCinnati Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It was also claimed that Boldt called it quits (bolted) early in the run due to personal reasons.
Hi DD --
Thanks very much for throwing some good punches at this list.

I will put Rocky Mountain News on my research list to check for Raising Hector. After several re-readings of the articles about Ramirez, I think he's saying that the earlier incarnations were online or maybe magazines or something. But I could be misunderstanding...

I did see a newsgroup note about 12:01 running as a temporary replacement in the Cincinnati Post. I'm still not absolutely decided on whether such trial appearances, which are typically a freebie from the syndicate, should be considered a 'real' appearance. It's tough. But I'll put the Boston Globe on my list to check.

Thanks, Allan
I was able to get the article about Sirgiovanni's "Urban Philosophy" to load -- strip off everything in the URL after the letters "pdf" and it should work.


The article appears on page 8 of the link and claims that "Urban Philosophy and Faboo [its main character] have been featured on ABC's Eyewitness News and have appeared in The Newark Star Ledger, The Daily News and in various community newspapers.
Mike Russell here. Yes, CulturePulp did in fact appear in print in The Oregonian's A&E section on occasion from 2004-12. I'll email you more details in a sec.
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