Saturday, May 03, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Monday, July 6 1908 -- The Democratic National Convention has convened in Denver, and it looks like there is very little opposition to the idea of running William Jennings Bryan for yet a third attempt at the presidency. He is the by far the most well-known face of the Democratic Party, after all, so the Dems hoped that the third time was the charm.

The headline (...7 Miles Up...) referred to the opposition delegates being so far in the minority that in addition to being a mile high in Denver, their seats at the convention were considerable farther up in the nosebleed sections of the grandstands.


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Friday, May 02, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, November 15 1936, courtesy of Cole Johnson. Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, May 01, 2014


News of Yore 1949: Harold Foster Profiled

Man Who Draws Prince Valiant

Hal Foster Has Had Almost as Many Adventures as his Drawing-Board Hero -- Thinks Hunting Ducks Is More Important Than Making Money

By Virginia Irwin
A Staff Correspondent Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

GEORGETOWN, Conn., Feb. 5 1949 -- Harold R. Foster, creator of the exquisitely drawn adventure strip, "Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur," which appears in the Sunday Post-Dispatch, was fired from the first regular job he ever held for taking off on a busy day to go duck hunting.

Reporting for work after his day's hunting trip, he was summoned by his boss, handed the pink slip and listened to a somewhat lengthy lecture.

"You seem," concluded the boss, "to think that duck hunting is more important than business."

"Isn't it?" asked Foster, in genuine amazement that any living being could hold a different opinion.

All that was many years ago, but Hal Foster, now in his fifties, still thinks that work is something you do in between times when the ducks aren't calling or the fish aren't biting.

"My working schedule is really harsh," says Foster, who recently acquired an old Connecticut farmhouse and several hilly acres some half-hour's drive from this little village of Georgetown.

"If I look out of my studio window and see a limb fall off a tree, I've got to investigate. Usually it's hours before I can make myself return to my drawing board. But at nights and on bad days I catch up on the hours I spend out of doors."

Actually hours of labor go into the production of each of Foster's Sunday pages. And because in "Prince Valiant" he carefully recreates the authentic flavor of the days of King Arthur, Foster spends endless hours in research.

"I made a few historical boners at first," he grins. "Such things as having dinosaurs showing up in medieval times. But every time my hand was called, it made me more careful.

"Some of the fan mail I get on 'Prince Valiant' is amazing. Students write in with all sorts of fascinating information they've unearthed in their studies of that period of history.

"Many of Prince Valiant's greatest fans are not children, but professors I picture as spending their lives in great libraries studying the literature on medieval times."

Foster, himself, has had almost as adventurous a life as Prince Valiant. Gold prospector, north woods guide, Canadian fur-trapper, and boxer, his life has been filled to the brim with drama, color, adventure and excitement.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, of English - Prussian - Irish ancestry, he comes of a family of seafaring men and ship owners.

"We were of the shabby gentility," he smiles. "Old highbinders on both my parents' sides of the family founded a considerable fortune and their descendants spent it.

"By the time the family got down to me there wasn't anything left but a lot of odds and ends in the attic which the old boys had accumulated in their travels, things like an old swordfish saw, a Jamaican hat, some dueling pistols and stacks of old log books."

At the age of 10, Foster was bailing a 30-foot boat alone in the dangerous waters off Halifax; at 14, while prospecting for gold, he was earning a living as a trapper in the Nova Scotian wilds.

When Foster moved to Winnipeg with his family, he found that his English accent and mild face and manner were interpreted by the other boys as indications of a slight sissiness. After taking several beatings at the hands of the school bullies, he decided to take up boxing. He fought a few professional bouts and then lost interest. Fishing, he decided, was much more fun than fighting.

In school, Foster liked only one subject — art. He remembers that the highest praise he ever drew from a teacher was a remark one of them made to his mother, "He's not exactly stupid, but ..."

So Foster quit school and got his first job as an officeboy in a mercantile business and promptly got fired for going duck hunting.

"Then I got my first job as an artist," he recalls. "It was as an illustrator for a Hudson's Bay company catalog. I remember my first chore was to illustrate a page on women's drawers. That was around 1910 when they were wearing drop-seat suits with lace around the legs.

"From ladies' drawers, I graduated to princess slips and corset covers. The day I got to men's herring bone tweeds, which were considered the tops because of the fine lines you had to draw, I knew I'd gone as far as I could go. So I quit."

In the meantime, Foster had met and married his wife, Helen, an American girl from Topeka, Kan. He had also saved up enough money to consider some serious study in the field of art. So bundling his wife off to her grandmother in Topeka, Fosters set off on a 1000-mile bicycle trip to Chicago to study at the Chicago Art Institute.

He joined a firm of young advertising artists and soon had his family, which by now numbered a wife and two sons, enconsced in a Chicago basement apartment.

"I was doing all right, but then came the depression and every advertising artist was on an enforced diet," Foster grimaces. "Five people committed suicide within the sight of my studio window. There wasn't much for us artists in the firm to do, so We set up a ping-pong table and a dart game and had a little fun while we were slowly starving to death."

Times were tough, but Foster, his wife and two children, managed. Swimming in the lake was free and that's where the Foster family spent most of its time.  

Then came 1931 and Foster was approached to draw an adventure strip, "Tarzan and the Apes."

In spite of the fact that he had been earning very little money, he was fairly happy in the achievement of a certain artistic success. His pictures had been hung in various places and he had taken his share of prizes. He did not exactly relish the idea of becoming a comic artist.

"But I sold my soul to the funny papers and it paid," he says. "I had a certain obligation to the guys with whom I was In business and for six months the money I earned from Tarzan was the only dough that came into the firm."

Soon Foster had made a name for himself in the field of comic art.

"The appearance of Harold Foster's work," wrote one critic, "started a new period and almost finished it; the man was so good at his particular job that there remained little for subsequent workers to improve on, and very few have had the ability to come anywhere near him.

"For the first time, Foster brought to the strips a complete mastery of figure drawing. Foster possesses also the true illustrator's passion for periods and authentic detail. He is a remarkable figure among comic artists, and his place in strip history is unique."

In 1936, Foster turned Tarzan over to another artist and went to work for King Features Syndicate, under contract to produce "Prince Valiant." The strip, with its exciting blend of legend and history, not only caught the immediate fancy of the young fry among comic page readers but was soon being praised by educators for its educational treatment of that fascinating period in history. A great admirer of the strip is the Duke of Windsor and he is rated as Prince Valiant's number one fan.

"God in His wisdom endowed me with certain imperfections but I have made Prince Valiant as I wish God had made me," says Foster. "Also I like to think of my wife as Mrs. Prince Valiant. You know when the Prince gets a little bumptious, Princess Aleta, his wife and the mother of his baby son, Prince Arn, quite often slaps his ears down. That's the way Mrs. Foster does me."

In spite of his snow white hair, Foster has a young face and a lithe body that comes of hours tramping through the woods, building bridges, cutting down trees and generally working around his wooded acres.

He is perhaps as contented a man as exists in the world. He says he hates "important people who are just important people and nothing else." He prefers to pick his own friends rather than be bothered by folks it is considered smart to know. He has one superstition born when he was a boy hunting and fishing in the Canadian woods.

"Never," he says, "fail to face north and take a drink to the Red Gods before casting a rod or loading a gun."

And he adds, "never shoot a sitting bird; never take more fish than will fit in a frying pan; never take more liquor than you can hold like a gentleman."

"I often think of what my first boss said about business being more important than duck hunting," he smiles. "It isn't, you know. For instance I could make more money than I do by working harder, but then I'd have no time to enjoy spending the money."

Foster is no gatherer of possessions. He's satisfied with his simple life in the Connecticut hills. His house is comfortable, his wife is happy, his two sons are well on the way to success of their own.

"The piling up of possessions is regarded with much approval," says Foster. "Many people strive to do that all their lives. Monkeys and bluejays also collect bright objects."

"So few people take time off to enjoy what they already have that trout streams and hedgerows are left for the peaceable enjoyment of such leisurely financial incompetents as I."

Actually Foster is far from the financial incompetent he pictures himself. Prince Valiant appears in more than 100 Sunday papers throughout the United States and, before the war upset conditions abroad, was carried in dozens of foreign papers and translated in some 10 different languages, Including Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Portuguese.

But more than of the success of Prince Valiant, Foster enjoys talking of the joys of his "estate."

"It has," he says contentedly, "everything. There are deer in the woods and that trout stream outside my kitchen door talks to me in the night."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied a scan of this clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is part 1 of a 5 part series that they ran in 1949. We will be presenting all 5 episodes in upcoming posts.


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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Speed Walker Private Eye

In the heyday of the continuity strip, most every feature told an ongoing story -- didn't much matter whether the strip was in the humor or drama category. By the 1980s, though, the concept of a humorous continuity strip had practically become extinct. For Better or For Worse was starting to dabble anew in the form, but it was an exception.

Into that vacuum Cris Hammond brought Speed Walker Private Eye, a humor strip that, at least in the dailies, told wacky detective stories that ran as long as three months. The strip debuted on May 2 1983, syndicated by United Feature Syndicate. I'm impressed that United was willing to give the strip a chance, and if we believe the marketing, it seems to have paid off. Supposedly the strip got signed by 150 newspapers, which is a very fine start.

Though I confess I haven't read much of the daily continuity of Speed Walker, I get asked about this strip often enough by fans even today that Hammond's feature was definitely finding an appreciative audience. In fact, before the strip was a year old, two book collections were already published by Pinnacle -- Speed Walker Private Eye and Totally Fearless. Both are now available, though often rather pricey, on the collectible book market.

Cris Hammond said about the work load that "I'll probably be stark staring mad in a few years." Turns out Hammond had nothing to worry about. When the strip was just a bit past its first anniversary, on August 27 1984, it was cancelled. Although I don't know the facts involved in the cancellation firsthand, one person online commented that "he [Hammond] was getting bored and finding it hard to write gag a day mysteries. He stopped the strip to take a job with Lucas Films Industrial Lights & Magic to design special effects where he made lots of money doing something he enjoyed."

Hammond has a few websites of interest -- his cartooning and graphics site, and one for his webcomic Rainbow's End and a book about barge boating in France.


Well as his grandson I really liked this article and I can tell you he has told me great stories of his time as a writer and his time at Lucas Films.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Arch Bristow

Archibald Ralph “Arch” Bristow was born in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 1882, according to his World War II draft card. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he the youngest of four children born to Thomas, a preacher, and Sarah. His parents and siblings were born in England. The family lived in New Brighton at 813 12th Street. Bristow was an apprentice to a machinist, but not for long.

When he was 19, the family moved to Garland, Pennsylvania. The Times Observer, June 12, 2012, said: “…At 20 years old [1902], Arch lived and worked in Johnstown [Pennsylvania] writing for The Tribune.” According to the Times Observer, October 28, 2011: “…After attending a school of caricature in New York City, Arch began drawing the cartoon ‘Zimmie’ which was syndicated nationally….” The Inland Printer, January 1908, devoted a full page to his Zimmie drawings and said:

The owl sketches shown herewith are from the pages of the Johnstown Tribune, a live Republican daily published every weekday afternoon in the Flood City. The artist—Mr. Arch Bristow, whose portrait accompanies the sketches—has made a hit with the little owls, which appear every evening with the weather bulletin. In the three years Mr. Bristow has been the Tribune’s cartoonist, the names of Zimmie and Lizzie have become household words in Johnstown; and every issue of the paper is eagerly searched on its arrival “to see what Zimmie is doing.” During a recent vacation of Bristow’s, when for ten days the owls were missing from their place at the head of the “Here and There Column,” the Tribune office was besieged with letters and telephone calls from people wanting to know what had become of Zimmie and Lizzie. Hundred of Johnstowners are clipping and preserving the pictures, and the smiling face of the owl is even embroidered upon sofa-cushions and burnt on wood. Mr. Bristow also uses the owl as a mascot in all his political cartoons, the strength of which is best illustrated by the fact that no candidate has been elected by the opposition since his cartoons began to appear in the Tribune. All of Bristow’s work is done on chalk plates.

Around 1905, Bristow was a cartoonist for the Tribune. Zimmie was a local feature whose start date is not yet known. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), the panel was self-syndicated by Bristow; the Houston Chronicle started it May 5, 1908. Later, the panel would be handled by International Syndicate and the George Matthew Adams Syndicate. Three Zimmie panels are here.

The Zimmie cartoons were apparently collected and published as a book. The Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1: Books; Dramatic Compositions; Maps and Charts; Index, New Series, Volume 4, Number 26, June 25, 1908, had this entry:

Bristow (Arch)*, Johnstown, Pa.Zimmie’s summer book, 1908. 105 p. illus. 12mo. [13592A 207976. May 25, 1908.
Bristow’s other cartoons were adapted for the stage according to Variety, January 16, 1909:
Johnstown, Pa.Majestic (M.J. Boyle, mgr.).—That Quar­tet, splendid; Ed. Bondell and Co., in “The Lost Boy,” a laughing hit; Carroll Johnson, good; De Witt, Burns and Torrence, “The Awakening of the Toys,” good; Josephine Davis, songs, fine; Arthur Huston, pantomime Juggler, good; Nye and Crispi, fine; the show is opened by a local team, Adams (Leo Short) and Whitford (John Boyle), In a sketch called “Waiting on the Train,” founded on Arch Bristow’s cartoons in the “Tribune.”
2/14/1910 -- courtesy of Cole Johnson
He married Grizelle Andrews in 1909. One of his interests was noted in the Daily Times (Beaver, Pennsylvania), October 15, 1907: “Arch Bristow, the newspaper cartoonist of Johnstown, was the guest of New Brighton friends Sunday. He was on his way to the northern part of the State where he expects to hunt for several days.”

The 1910 census recorded cartoonist Bristow and his wife at his father-in-law’s residence in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania. The Gettysburg Compiler (Pennsylvania), August 31, 1910, reported the death of William Jacobs and included the editorial from the Johnstown Daily Tribune:

…The death of William Jacobs, of the South Side, removes a young man who doubtless would have made his mark in the literary world had he been blessed with health and strength. That he had unusual ability with the pen was known to his imitate friends, but not to many outside that circle, for he was able to work only at certain intervals, making impossible any undertaking requiring sustained effort and generally he concealed his identity by the signature “L.N.C.” Under that pseudonym he has contributed to “The Tribune” many delicious sketches and bits of verse whose origin those who enjoyed them will now know for the first time. He collaborated not infrequently with Arch Bristow, “The Tribune’s” cartoonist, and together they produced some very excellent work. A characteristic bit of verse by Jacobs was that which formed the introduction to the last issue of the “Zimmie” book. “Zimmie” is speaking to his friends, when they open the book at the preface, and he says:
It's foolish being introduced to people what you know,Or making farewell speeches when you ain’t a-going to go;It seems to me it’s most as bad as telling what ain’t so,Which is something what I never, never do.
And I didn’t want to have no introduction in this book,But Lizzie says, “Good gracious, Zimmie! Think how that would look!Of all the liberal notions that a person ever took—And you brung up so strict and careful too!”
But the purpose of an introduction is, to introduce:And this here introduction hasn’t got that there excuse.For you all know me and Lizzie. Consekently, what’s the use?But it’s done now. And I’m much obliged to you.
Bristow signed his World War I draft card September 12, 1918. He lived at 6 Main Street, Coory, Pennsylvania. His employer was George Matthew Adams in New York City. He was described as tall and slender with blue eyes and gray hair.

In 1920, Bristow, his wife, two daughters and sister resided in Pittsfield on Garland Road. He was still a cartoonist with the Adams Syndicate. At some point, he returned to writing. The Fourth Estate, March 19, 1921, reported the phenomenal success of his periodical: “The Hay Rake, a monthly magazine, written and published by Arch Bristow in Garland, Pa., which started in a shoemaker's shop seven months ago with a first issue of 1,000, has since, without capital, climbed to 20,000. The paper is published in a village having a population of less than 100.”

A photo of the Hay Rake office is here. The office appeared in an illustrated advertisement in the Oil City Derrick (Pennsylvania), May 5, 1921, below.

A 1923 issue of Printers’ Ink had an advertisement written by Bristow.
“The Erie Daily Times is looked for every evening as a part of our day, quite as much as supper and going to bed. It is a piece of our life in this little town, fifty miles from Erie, and it is just as much a part of people’s lives! in dozens of other smaller and larger towns in the prosperous section that surrounds Erie. So when an advertiser uses space in this staunch daily he has the attentive ear not only of the City of Erie, but of all this region ’round about.” Most of the folks in Erie and trading territory (150,000), and nearly all of them prosperous, look to the Erie Daily Times each day for general news and FOR ADVERTISING NEWS.
The Warren County Historical Society said: “…He was a kindly man and often helped others. He once taught a boy cartooning and devoted many Saturday mornings to this lad, who was Fred [sic] Johnson of Spring Creek, the creator [sic; Frank Willard] and cartoonist of the comic strip ‘Moon Mullins’….”

According to the 1930 census, Bristow lived in Warren, Pennsylvania, at 315 Hazel Street. His occupation was newspaper writer. In 1932 he published Old Time Tales of Warren County, a collections of stories and folktales told to him by early pioneers in Warren County. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), June 5, 1939, profiled Bristow and said of his newspaper career: “…Arch Bristow walked into the Pittsburgh ‘Post,’ father of the Post-Gazette, 35 years ago and got a job as cub artist. He went on to the New York ‘World,’ the Johnstown ‘Tribune’ and the Erie ‘Daily Times.’ And he became a syndicated artist whose ‘Zimmie’ pictures were published from coast to coast.”

The 1940 census found him at 1156 West Seventh Street, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He continued as a newspaper writer. His World War II draft card was signed on April 22, 1942. His home was in Meadville, Pennsylvania, at 636 North Street. He worked for the Erie Dispatch Herald, 12th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania. His description was 6 feet quarter inch, 154 pounds, with blue eyes and gray hair.

He continued writing until shortly before his death. Bristow passed away June 2, 1964. The following day the Leader-Times (Kittanning, Pennsylvania) published the United Press International article:
Death Takes Farm Life ReporterArch Bristow, whose accounts of small town and country life appeared in publications for more than 40 years, died Tuesday in a convalescent home. He was 82.
Bristow, a native of New Brighton, Pa., had been in semiretirement for the past several years. His writing was confined to a daily column in the Erie Morning News.
During the 1920s and early ’30s, he was editor and publisher of the Hayrake [sic] magazine, a monthly farm publication circulated in the northeastern United States.
Before starting the magazine, he worked as a cartoonist for the old New York World and later for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Johnstown Tribune.
He was interred at the Garland Presbyterian Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, April 28, 2014


Ludwig Bemelmans for Jell-o

Ludwig Bemelmans is today remembered primarily for his children's book series starring the little schoolgirl  Madeline, but before he hit it big he did quite a bit of advertising work. This full page Jell-o ad from early 1932 is, to me, his most remarkable advertising cartoon. The ad really jumps off the page, making the surrounding strips look positively sad in the comics section.

Unfortunately, because ad strips aren't really within the main thrust of my research, I can't tell you if this was part of a series or not. I know I've seen these lovely ads on plenty of occasions, but I never made notes on them so as to determine how many different strips there may have been in the series. Anyone?

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan!


The Bemelmans Jell-O ads were definitely a series, I found several examples from the San Antonio Light over at Newspaper Archive. I don't know exactly how many different ads that Bemelmans created.
I like the offer of a model of the AKRON. maybe further entries will show the R101 and the HINDENBERG.
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Sunday, April 27, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


We need to do a birthday celebration!
As a young cartoonist visiting my grandparents in Winter Park, FL I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Jim's fantastic comic shop. He was generous with his experience, critiques of my work and selling me several traesures from his store. A very happy birthday to you Mr. Ivey. I am forever grateful for our visits!!
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