Saturday, September 13, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Friday, August 21 1908 -- The local Republican political convention is over, and now it's time for the Dems to have their go. The drama isn't cranked up quite as much, so Herriman mostly just doodles faces, but he does comment on the divide between the Dems who represent well-to-do precincts (the silk stocking league) and the more impoverished sections (the scullion league). Loving the guest appearance by Teddy, who would indeed have enjoyed adding the term 'scullion' to his political lexicon.


The political conventions were something special for the 'toonists. All the big papers had their artists there. Sketching away.
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Friday, September 12, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, March 28 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


How did Prof. Borgg get the Native to kow-tow and call him Master and all?! Prof. Borgg is surely a baddy.
(the Native sounds almost like Little Beaver "Yes, Red Ryder, I fix 'em quick!)

Cool apparatus in the lab.
My father was an electrical engineer and loved to see all of the scientific stuff in Monster movies....bubbling and sparking... me too!

Does anyone know the range of dates for the Connie scifi stories? I've only got a few Connie Sundays and some are of her on an archaeological dig in presumably South America with what look like Aztecs in the story. Is this story line considered scifi?

Greg Matthews
Greg, I'd say the SF stories start August 2, 1936 when the time machine is first introduced and Connie goes into the future. They're still going in November 1940, though not everyone in between is really SF. They are all adventure strips and not the one off humor strips from before. At least as far as I've seen.
How did Prof. Borgg load all his lab equipment and vamoose so quickly? With the help of one flunky he can load tons?

Joakim Gunnarsson last year on his blog posted the version of a portion of this Connie storyline that appeared in Famous Funnies #93. Nice chance to see how comic books adapted strips during the era when that was their bread and butter.

Interesting point. I scanned the entire issue of Famous Funnies #93 for the Digital Comics Museum earlier this year! I've got a large collection of Famous Funnies and many of the Connie scifi stories in those. I never saw any of the time travel stories in FF though from what I can recall. Maybe I'm wrong on that point though.
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Thursday, September 11, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Harry Hershfield

Harry Hershfield was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on October 13, 1885, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In Comics and Their Creators: Life Stories of American Cartoonists (1942), Martin Sheridan wrote:
Hershfield was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but soon moved to Chicago, where he attended school. A few months’ study at the Chicago School of Illustration provided him with all the art training he ever had.
Coulton Waugh, in his book, The Comics, said Hershfield worked at the Chicago News before he was 15 years old. The World Encyclopedia of Comics’ profile of Hershfield, by Bill Blackbeard, said: “…[Hershfield did] newspaper sports and feature-story comic art first on the Chicago Daily News in 1899 at the age of 14.”

According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Hershfield’s family was in Chicago, Illinois. He was the fourth child of Mikel and Annie, both Russian emigrants, and his birth was recorded as “Oct 1885”. The household included eight children and was located at 293 West 12 Street.

The Chicago School of Illustration was operated by Frank Holme. Hershfield’s teacher may have been Holme, Joe Carll or John T. McCutcheon.

The New York Times, December 16, 1974, said:

…After completing high school, he went to work for The Chicago Daily News for $2.50 a week to draw pictures of news events. 
In 1902, when he graduated to being a cartoonist, he presided at a farewell banquet for another newspaper artist. From that point on he had a steadily growing diet of chicken and a widening audience to go with his developing repertory of jokes.
Regarding Hershfield’s employment at the Chicago Daily News, Sheridan said:
…[he] progressed from copy boy to cameraman, reporter, and finally sports cartoonist. During that time the comic artist began to experiment with a strip called Homeless Hector, telling of the difficulties of a lost dog.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Homeless Hector ran from January 4, 1906 to October 20, 1908. The strip returned and was syndicated by National News Association from July 22 to December 3, 1912.

Waugh provided some details about Hershfield’s work and employer.

In 1902 the belltower in the Piazza San Marco in Venice collapsed. For a cover story featuring other imperiled structures, young Hershfield retouched what he took to be an off-angle photograph of a tower. The first edition of the morning paper showed the Tower of Pisa miraculously straightened. As Hershfield recalls, “I was given two weeks to complete my education.” He also made line drawings from photographs and covered breaking stories with on-the-spot sketches, including the famous Iroquois Hotel fire in 1903. At the time, most staff artists did both cartoons and illustrations and their efforts were considered “fillers.”
According to American Newspaper Comics, Hershfield’s Chicago Daily News strips include: War’s Ebb and Flow from January 3 to February 14, 1906; Bill Slowguy from February 8, 1906 to October 19, 1908; Adventures of a Fly from November 4 to December 3, 1907; Christopher’s Luck from October 16 to December 23, 1907; Tiny Tinkles from January 7 to 16, and February 11 to 20, 1908; The Luck of Christopher from February 18 to June 2, 1908; and The Fortune Teller from April 15 to September 16, 1908. In 1905 Hershfield also filled in for some of C.F. Batchelder’s panel cartoons.

Variety 12/12/1908

San Francisco Chronicle 11/10/1908

San Francisco Chronicle 5/10/1909

Blackbeard said Hershfield moved “…to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1907, then to the Hearst Chicago Examiner in late 1909 (where he created another dog strip, Rubber, the Canine Cop), and finally to the New York Journal to begin his first major strip in 1910: Desperate Desmond.” American Newspaper Comics said The Piker’s Rubaiyat* ran from November 10 to December 26, and Raffles from May 6 to 23, 1909, both in the Chronicle; and Desperate Desmond from March 11, 1910 to October 15, 1912. The strip was adapted for the stage. The New York Tribune, September 3, 1912, said: “Hershfield, the creator of ‘Desperate, Desmond,’ puts his villain through several adventures.”

Rome Daily Sentinel 10/30/1913

The San Francisco Chronicle, February 24, 1929, explained how Hershfield helped Robert Ripley’s career.
Luck began to shoot at him [Ripley] as soon as he got to the Bulletin office. He lost his job. That was the lucky part of it—because he immediately got a better job across the street with The Chronicle. Harry Hershfield was the star cartoonist of that paper and was busy illustrating a series [probably The Piker’s Rubaiyat] for W.O. McGeehan. Mr. Hershfield preferred to do sporting pictures and persuaded Harry B. Smith, the sports editor, to put the newcomer on trial doing McGeehan’s stuff.
“The boy’s good,” said the wily Hershfield, enthusiastically. “It’s only fair you give him a chance.”
About Hershfield’s Journal editor, Arthur Brisbane, Waugh wrote:
Hershfield once asked Brisbane if he considered a cartoonist a newspaperman. “Would you call a barnacle a ship?” was the reply. Brisbane, however, aware of cartoonists’ ability to attract readers, once cut off their signatures in order to reduce their personal following and thereby their salary demands. Hershfield took the issue directly to Hearst, who not only restored the signatures but ordered bylines as well. This credit has become standard practice since.
Hershfield has not been found in the 1910 census. When Desperate Desmond ended in October 1912, it was followed by Dauntless Durham of the USA, running from January 22, 1913 to January 31, 1914. Hershfield’s next, and best known strip, Abie the Agent, began February 2, 1914 and ended in 1940. Waugh wrote:
Abie Kabibble was a middle-class businessman and paterfamilias, a role with which more and more Americans could identify. Although minorities had been fair game for satire in the past, a cast of Jewish characters using dialect was a touchy endeavor. That Hershfield was able to make their qualities and traits universal is a tribute to his skill, gentle wit, and humanity.

Sunday topper 10/10/1930

10/26/1930; original art courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The Telegram (Elmira, NY) 2/27/1921

A New York passenger list, at, listed him and “Jane Hershfield” aboard the steamship Celtic, which sailed from Liverpool, England, December 19, 1912. The ship arrived in New York ten days later. On October 13, 1914, Hershfield married Jane Isdell in Manhattan, New York City, as recorded in the New York Marriage Indexes at, and included in Hershfield’s profile in American Jews (1947). The New York Times, June 13, 1960, said: “…Mrs. Hershfield was formerly an actress and appeared under the name Jane Dellis in a number of hit productions during the early part of the century. She performed in ‘The Ziegfeld Follies.’”

The couple was in the 1915 New York State Census; residing at 109 West 45th Street in Manhattan, where Hershfield was a cartoonist.

The Green Book Magazine 4/1916

Hershfield signed his World War I draft card September 12, 1918. His address was 620 West 149 Street in Manhattan. The cartoonist worked at the New York Evening Journal. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

The New York Dramatic Mirror, May 27, 1919, published a story on how Hershfield entered vaudeville.
Harry Hershfield has escaped being a ham. Mr. Armour and Mr. Swift, there is just so much less pork for you to sell. Why? Read on. Harry is known by his cartoons, accompanied by the nom-de-plume Abie, the Agent, throughout Manhattan and the provincial press. He has attempted and succeeded as a monologist.
It was at the 305th Infantry benefit held at the Hudson Theater. In the language of the Drama League he nearly busted everybody’s sides. It was rumored that one old maid, going through such contortions, cracked her glass leg to such fine atoms that sliding feet caused a whisper to circulate that Mr. Hoover be sent for at once because some one had hoarded so much sugar in her stocking that it had burst. Strange to say, Harry, up to the last second’s shaving before he was introduced by Louis Mann, had planned a revival service. No, don’t call for the hook. Nothing so dreary as hitting the sawdust trail. Drawing one or two of Abie the Agent’s carryings-on, was the blue print he had handed to Tom Oliphant of The Evening Mail, who carpentered the benefit together—and a job of mortising he did, too. But genius zigzags like lightning. Hastily he scribbled twenty of his own jokes on a slip of paper and stepped forth before a Sunday evening audience. He crossed out each joke with a lead pencil, padding the intermissions with impromptu lines. The real joke was that the audience thought it was rehearsal routine. The next morning Park Row was what Broadway is on the day after a footlight explosion—and such things do not happen to “hams.”
The 1920 census said Hershfield was at the same address found on his draft card and did newspaper work.

 Buffalo Courier 7/7/1924

Buffalo Morning Express 9/26/1924

In the 1925 New York State Census, cartoonist Hershfield resided at 454 Riverside Drive in Manhattan.

Hershfield’s residence, in the 1930 census, was in Manhattan at 251-257 West 104th Street. 
When Hershfield left the Hearst organization because of a contract dispute, he created Meyer the Buyer which appeared in the Evening Graphic from February 15 to May 9, 1932. About two years later, his strip According to Hoyle ran in the New York Herald-Tribune.

The New York Times, February 16, 1934, reported Hershfield’s bankruptcy filing with liabilities of $16,289.

340 West 57th Street was Hershfield’s home, since 1935, according to the 1940 census. One of the newspaper cartoonist’s neighbors was James Montgomery Flagg and his daughter. Hershfield’s highest level of education was the eighth grade. In 1939 he worked 52 weeks and had income over five-thousand dollars. [updated 11/14/2017]

On April 27, 1942 Hershfield signed his World War II draft card which had the same address in the 1940 census. He had an office at the Daily Mirror newspaper. He stood five feet seven-and-a-half inches and weighed 152 pounds. He had blue eyes and gray hair.

On July 2, 1945, Hershfield read the daily newspaper comic strips by invitation of Mayor La Guardia during the newspaper delivery man strike.

Hershfield passed away December 15, 1974, in New York City. The New York Times reported his passing the following day. Blackbeard’s overview of Hershfield’s non-comics career said:

…Hershfield quickly developed a marked reputation as a humorous writer and raconteur quite apart from his repute as a strip artist. For a number of years in the late 1910’s, Hershfield wrote weekly short comic pieces presumably narrated by Abie, under such titles as “Abie on Conversation,” “Abie on Summer Snapshots,” etc., which ran on the editorial and feature pages of newspapers, many of which did not carry the Abie strip at all. In 1932, he became a columnist (“My Week”) for the N.Y. Daily Mirror, and, later in the 1930's, began to broadcast theatrical criticism, scripted for Hollywood studios, and joined the radio cast of Can You Top This? a 1940’s show tailored for comic raconteurs. His ethnic dialect stories, largely about Irish, Jewish, and German types, were marked by wit and good taste. A toastmaster who was always in great demand, Hershfield has also authored such books as Laugh Louder, Live Longer (Grayson, 1959): a title which seems to have been happily prophetic in his case....

—Alex Jay

* * * * * * * * * * *
Further Reading

In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture
Ted Merwin
Rutgers University Press, 2006

* The Piker’s Rubaiyat was written by William F. Kirk, of the Milwaukee Sentinel,in 1904. His profile and The PIker’s Rubaiyat were published in the National Magazine, July 1904. William O’Connell McGeehan was inspired by Kirk’s piece and wrote his version for the San Francisco Chronicle.


Hershfield also did a humorous text panel called Kabibble Kabaret, which ran daily (except Sunday) from 1915 until 1929. In the early years it was written in poetic form, but in the later years it became more like a tongue-in-cheek "advice" column, with "questions" being sent in by readers. I have no idea if any of the questions were legit; I'm guessing they were all imagined by Hershfield. An example from 1927: "Dear Mr. Kabibble, how will I know when the right man comes along?" - Miss X. "He'll keep on going!"
I should have said "at least" until 1929 - that's the latest I've seen, but it may have run longer.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Meyer the Buyer

Harry Hershfield, the creator of the popular Abie the Agent comic strip, had a disagreement with the Hearst people over his contract in 1931, and he jumped ship. While Hearst could have had a new artist take over the strip, he chose not to.

Whether that is a reflection of the somewhat flagging sales of the Abie strip I don't know, but the concept of a Jewish character headlining a comic strip definitely seemed to hold a lot of interest  to other newspaper publishers. I'm guessing that had to do with the large Jewish population in New York, and Hershfield's name recognition.

As soon as Hershfield walked away from Hearst, he accepted a berth doing a very similar strip, Meyer the Buyer, for a concern called Ace Feature Syndicate. According to Hershfield in Martin Sheridan's Comics and their Creators, "during that time I had an offer to draw for the now defunct MacFadden publication, New York Graphic. It was a fabulous salary that I refused. As they didn't intend to pay it, they could afford to be extravagant."

The problem with that statement is that it appears as if Ace Feature Service was just a covert name for MacFadden, as the only paper I've found that ran Meyer the Buyer was, in fact, the New York Evening Graphic.

Although Hershfield is a little foggy on who he worked for, it certainly seems he may remember correctly about MacFadden's inability to pay. Meyer the Buyer first appeared in the Evening Graphic on February 15 1932, and ended less than three months later, on May 9. Was the short run of the feature a result of MacFadden not coming through with a promised salary?

Meyer the Buyer was very similar to Abie the Agent, except that where Abie was a car salesman, Meyer worked as a buyer -- what we call these days a purchasing agent. The two characters looked very similar, except that Meyer's moustache is a black smudge rather than a series of vertical lines. Both spoke in a stereotypical Jewish dialect sprinkled with Yiddishisms. Although the strip had no time to catch on in the Graphic, evidently Hershfield wasn't done with the character when he left, as a short-lived radio show about the character began in August.

After Hershfield's adventure with MacFadden, he took some time off from the comic strip life and pursued other entertainment avenues -- not hard for Hershfield, as he was a multi-talented performer. In 1934 he came back to strips with According to Hoyle in the New York Herald-Tribune. His reappearance in newspapers seems to have rekindled the relationship with Hearst, and it wasn't long before Abie the Agent was resurrected for a final five year run. 

UPDATE 2/19/2023: Mark Johnson has brought to my attention some daily-style strips of Meyer the Buyer. They seem to start in May, right after the Sunday-style strip ended, and ran as a weekly feature, mostly in small papers. That means they were probebly freebies. The latest found ran in August 1932, but they could well be running late. However, since the radio show began around this time, perhaps the weekly strips were giveaways designed to promote the upcoming radio show. They did continue to sport the Ace Feature Syndicate syndicate stamp.


Thanks for posting the MEYER THE BUYER strip, first one I've ever seen! Was the strip Sunday only? Just curious,
Mark Kausler
Oops. Forgot to mention that in the post. It was a Saturday only strip (the Graphic had no Sunday edition).

Meyer the Buyer was also a short-lived radio program in 1932. Alan Freed was on it. I believe it was broadcast from New York City and am trying to learn what radio station produced it. I have a hunch it was WOR, but would like to know for sure.
For more information on the CBS Radio Program
Meyer the Buyer Go to the SPERDVAC (The Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy) web page and check out the Radiogram (SPERDVAC Magazine) January 2021 issue. It is posted on line.
Charles P. Niren
Hello Allan-
I see the fifteen minute, weekly Meyer the Buyer radio programme debuted 25 August 1932, but seems to be last heard in November. Not what would seem like a big hit. But here's a good queston- as the GRAPHIC went toes up in July, was MEYER Hershfield's property all along, and therefore could turn it into a radio play, and there was no question of McFadden involvement? I understand Hershield himself was either a narrator or cast member.

Maybe another question would be, just what became of Ace Features after July?
Mark, your guess is as good (or probably better) as mine. "Ace Features" as a name just doesn't have the ring of either Hershfield or MacFadden to me. I suspect there is an answer behind door number 3, Monty.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Magazine Cover Comics: Barbara's Bad Man

Hearst's International Feature Service offered up Barbara's Bad Man, which ran from November 23 1930 to February 22 1931 on newspaper Sunday magazine covers. Between the glorious art of John Held, Jr. and the finely spun verses of Berton Braley, it was one of the more entertaining magazine cover series, in my opinion. Of course the storyline was the typical goofy love story, but so well done that you can forgive the creaky, but seemingly required, magazine cover series plot.



I was wondering if you know of any adventure strips that may be public domain?
Many, if not all, years of Hairbreadth Harry (1906-40), the first adventure strip are PD.
The three syndicates that handled it, Philadelphia Press, McClure, and the Ledger Syndicate are all long gone, and the trade mark (which was given to me) expired years ago.
Okay, Mark, you can't just mention that the trademark for Hairbreadth Harry was given to you, and not give with the story behind that statement. 'Fess up or I'll tell Disney you once thought about reprinting a Mickey Mouse daily without permission.

Wouldn't many of the old strips be PD now? Like Smokey Stover or Happy Hooligan? Have you ever looked into this?
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Monday, September 08, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: What is the Reason

I really like the work of Foster M. Follett, so much so that I devoted a week to him on the blog back in October 2012. Luckily, though, that didn't empty the coffers of Follett gems. Here's his debut series in the New York World's Funny Side section, a delightful one titled What is the Reason.

Just in case you thought Jimmy Hatlo was covering new ground in They'll Do It Every Time, this is a very early precursor to the theme -- poor innocent nebbishes beset by the trials and tribulations of a harsh, unfeeling, and arbitrary world. Pity them!

There is a typo in my book American Newspaper Comics, saying that this strip ran from March 30 to June 1 1901. Evrything's right there except the year, which should be 1902. Holtz's flying fingers rewriting history ...

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


When did color comics start?

The post 1900 papers I've looked at online are black and white (or not microfilmed in color?).
Joe --
The first newspaper color comics were in 1893. The online newspapers you're viewing are taken from black and white microfilm.

Best, Allan
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Sunday, September 07, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


~ Had to cut that one out! Miss Parker in her prime was a force of nature.
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