Saturday, March 05, 2016


Herriman Saturday

Saturday, November 7 1908 -- The Elks are staging a harvest festival starting on Monday and running all week long. Each day there will be a full slate of vaudeville-style entertainment, performed by Elks' members from all over the country.


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Friday, March 04, 2016


This is the Life by Walt McDougall: Chapter 10 Part 2

This is the Life!


Walt McDougall

Chapter Ten (Part 2) - THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS

For now the new [New York World] building was being erected after much hesitation and debate. We all had a hand in devising this, which was to be the most impressive structure in the city. I often think of our ambition as I survey the little golden pippin over by the Bridge and recall our gasps of wonder as we pored over the plans in the rat-infested old office. J. P. was already so sightless that a nine or ten-foot drawing had to be made of the building for his inspection. I picked out for my studio half of the top floor, up in the dome; nobody else seemed to yearn for so lofty a perch; in fact, few speculated with keen avidity on the prospect of spending eight hours daily so far from terra firma.

When the building was ready for occupancy, but before the elevators were running, a man climbed to the twelfth or thirteenth floor, where some compositors were working, and halting with his head just above the flooring, he stared into the dimly lighted room and asked in an awed tone: "Is God in?" From the terrific height of fifteen stories men lost stature and became crawling bugs. Ballard Smith, editor for a period, would never approach the windows, and Doctor Parkhurst once confessed to me that when up there he always thought of Satan tempting Christ on the Mount, and in a vague way suggested that there was some relation between the temptation and the impulse to throw oneself from a height. Being short-sighted, altitude never had this effect upon me; two miles up in an airplane never bothers me half as much as ninety feet!

One of the many memorable conveniences in the new building was Charley Perry's drug store, wherein there soon developed a beneficial new cult, that of moderating one's whiskey with orange juice. This effete unmanly innovation was derided by the old-timers like Coffin, Wheeler, Eggleston and Doc Cohen, but Charley's prescription grew in favor with the years to the material benefit of the Florida orange trade.

About this time George B. McC. Harvey joined me in establishing a weekly paper called the Suburban in Newark. Harvey was then editor of the New Jersey edition—lank, lean, preternaturally austere, although at heart as frisky as they make them. He was too busy to pay any attention to the little Suburban beyond giving advice, and it languished unobserved for a few months and died. George even then was possessed of stupendous assurance, the gravity of an Asbury Park undertaker, and with a manner as imposing as Woodrow Wilson's. You could tell him a story, a new one, in fact, one that you had just devised, at luncheon today, and on the morrow he would begin with his regular formula, "Once, up in our little Vermont town, there was a man," and he would tell your story with local names and dates and get away with it! In an editorial conference he would sit wrapped in gloomy silence until every possible suggestion had been made, and then, selecting the most potential ideas that had been submitted, he would calmly and solemnly present them as his own. It takes a master of audacity and a command of boundless nerve to succeed at this game, and I think Harvey caught the trick from Pulitzer himself. It requires a certain stony heartlessness and, perhaps, some discrimination, and Harvey had both.

When, a year or so later, he was managing editor, he had meanwhile been made a colonel on the staff of Gov. Abbett of New Jersey. I published "The Unauthorized History of Christopher Columbus" and suggested that we publish a few excerpts from the work, thinking that World readers might thereby be induced to spend a quarter for the silly little book. Next Sunday, to my amazement, I found that he had printed the entire book, pictures and all. I protested vehemently. "You have done for my book. Hamstrung it completely. Now not a World reader will buy it!" I mourned.

"Well, it wasn't copyrighted!" he retorted with a cool grin. "What are you going to do about it?"

Don Seitz states that George was fired because of absenteeism, etc. The truth is that although the skids had been already greased for some weeks, he walked the plank because he had permitted an article to appear in the paper criticizing Mrs. Richard Croker's table manners. I think that J. P. was less exercised over the resulting loss of 40,000 circulation following the Tammany Hall boycott than he was concerned over the paper's exhibition of bad taste, for he was just beginning to be touchy about such matters. At any rate, Harvey lingered at the gate no longer than it took to get the raspberry ready, and for a time he had rather hard sledding until he got in touch with Thomas F. Ryan and then J. Pierpont Morgan, who placed him in charge of Harper's Weekly. He enticed away two of our best men, Fred Duneka and William O. Inglis, wholesome cheery lads to whom I was greatly attached.

This period saw many pleasant gatherings of World men in my house in Newark. To meet them came a number of joyous, carefree actors, artists and musicians to whom an eight-mile railroad journey should have been a deterrent. Henry E. Dixey, Charles Ellis, Edward Milton Royle, Marshall P. Wilder, Gunn, Powers, Griffin, Fred Dey, Henry Guy Carleton, Eggleston, David Graham Phillips, Duneka, Inglis, Bill Sulzer, Langdon Smith, Peter Dailey, James Whitcomb Riley, Bill Nye, Frederick Villiers, Stephen Crane, even Teddy Roosevelt twice found time from his labors to join these informal stag parties that sometimes packed the old farmhouse to the cracking point. These parties engendered many others.

Si Pickering, the jeweler, father of Theodosia Garrison, the poetess, worthy peer of the wittiest, gave one that was memorable. He transformed his basement dining room into a typical German beer saloon with beer kegs, sawdust on the floor, and old-fashioned free lunch of pickles, cheese, sausage and crackers. The affair was a grand success, and when toward midnight John "Rolling-mill"Kelly arrived, it became certain that the session was to be an all-night one. John, an expert, pronounced the imitation saloon perfect and proceeded to tell stories, while Pickering, in a bedtick apron, impersonated a German saloon-keeper to the life. Fred Dey, the author of the Nick Carter books, had dined at my house that evening but was under peremptory orders to produce a story for Street and Smith by morning. He began his task at seven-thirty in my library and completed it about midnight, perhaps ten thousand words. Every twenty minutes he would dart across the street to Pickering's, lap up two or three beers, and rush back. He assured me it was the best of his tales.

Just as Kelly had overcome all opposition and silenced all rivals and Pick had opened a fresh keg, a thundering rap at the door sounded. Pickering opened the portal without suspicion, to admit a stern-looking police sergeant and three cops, who arrested all hands, bundled them into a patrol wagon, and drove away. At the police station Pickering was charged with keeping a disorderly house, having no license, being open after hours, and other offenses, and his guests were held as witnesses. Not a man suspected that it was a cruel practical joke, and the reaction of the victims to rage, disgust and anxiety was extremely comical to a hard-hearted observer. Also, nobody remarked that a number of jolly Newarkers who should have been in bed turned up opportunely to plead Si's cause, but when my brother Harry appeared with his crony Van Riker, the District Attorney, both notorious jokers, the rat became odorous. When Van Riker solemnly proposed to return at once to Si's saloon to start the case properly, and the police captain promptly assented, a blinding light illumined the gathering. So heartless and unfeeling is human nature that there were some among the indignant prisoners who plainly intimated that the whole affair was concocted by the jeweler himself.

Back went the overburdened patrol wagon, the saloon was reopened, and joy was unconfined, but the hours were haunted by a feeling of more dynamite in the air. Staid New Yorkers, all unused to practical jokes, and among them Brian G. Hughes, not yet famous and a fellow member of the Thirteen Club, learned that night how small-town parties amuse themselves.

We always had meetings, when either Kelly or Dockstader was in town, that lasted until the whistles blew. Lew, a Rahway boy, I had known since boyhood. His name was George Clapp but he assumed an uncle's name for the stage. Much of his comicality was impromptu; he had a clever mind and a rare gift of repartee, and would have made a humorous writer if trained. His whimsicalities were his greatest asset, his sudden freaks convulsing his audiences and providing material for years. Now and then he fell upon a song like "The Brand-new Shovel" or "Everybody Works but Father" that lifted him to new successes, yet, although he earned large sums, he somehow never contrived to achieve the financial success he deserved as a great entertainer. Never did he attain to the prosperity of Al Jolson, whom he discovered and employed; indeed, he never had a successful theater of his own. Mrs. Dockstader was his financial guide and guardian; without her he would never have been two months ahead of the game.

When, about '86, he took the theater on Broadway, he was at the height of his popularity, yet in this venture, in which Henry Guy Carleton and I aided him on the literary side in producing "The Boodle Aldermen," perhaps the most ambitious of all attempts to lift dying minstrelsy to a higher plane, he failed to make money. The audacious tricks and desperate devices to which we resorted to obtain publicity would of themselves make an interesting chapter, yet three fairly gifted brains could not work the miracle. He was fain to go back to old-time clowning, wherein by merely shaking up his voluminous old dress suit and drawling out a well-worn gag he earned the highest salary then paid. His so-called imitation of Roosevelt, while to the eye a replica of Teddy, was far more. It was Roosevelt as The People imagined him, a satire, but lovingly done. Twice I saw the ex-President almost weeping over the caricature.

John Kelly was the reverse of Lew. He attracted little attention to his personality, using few gestures but exuding a stream of quaint humor that was irresistible. Nothing funnier than his casual droppings into boyhood reminiscences was ever offered to vaudeville audiences.

His recital of his return to his father's house was not one of his stage gems, but he told it that night. During the years he had been acquiring fame, he had never revisited his home town. His aged parent knew nothing of his career except that John was on the stage. On the night of the performance John saw that he was provided with a front seat, but was pained and puzzled to see that his act, although convulsing the audience, afforded the old man neither pride nor pleasure. He never unhooked a smile, and at the finish he arose and left with evidences of disgust visible.

After the show John went home, to find his father smoking by the fire. "You didn't seem to like my stunt," he remarked.

"Aw, go to bed!" snarled the old man. "I seen the show!"

"Wasn't my act any good?" demanded his son.

"Aw, go to bed! 'Twas a turrble exhibition. Ivery wan in the whole damn house was laughin' at yees!"

From the little Kinney Street house I would start every morning with a general idea of catching the 9:15 train. Provided my course was unimpeded, I would have a few minutes at the barber shop under the station to act the part of philanthropist by handing out to Frank, the tonsorial expert, my notion of the day's best bets. Whether my tips lost or won, he regarded them as the output of an omnipresent prognosticate; in fact, the reverent attitude of the barber was a daily uplifter of self-esteem. He knew me, yet respected my judgment.

One June day, attired in a white linen suit, I halted at his door to find him eagerly awaiting me. My tip of the day previous had won, and he was in a quiver. When I had oracularly given my prediction for that day, he stammered:

"Could you take once a seat and watch the shop a minute while I skip over to the pool room and get a bet down? You got twenty-two minutes yet."

I was reading a paper a few minutes later, when a man entered. I did not look up until he rumbled: "Here, give me a quick shave! I want to catch that nine-fifteen."

I instantly recognized Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, who I knew had lectured in town the night before. He scrambled into a chair and I looked out across the street. Frank was invisible. The bald head rolled around and a dark eye glared indignantly at me. It did not for a second occur to me that he took me in my white suit for the barber. Then I felt that I was to blame, as I perceived that the eminent Agnostic was in real need of a shave. Regarding it as unfortunate for Frank to lose the chance to shave this great man, the natural thought of saving the situation by myself preparing that noble chin flashed into my mind.

I leaped forward, grabbed my own cup, and flew for hot water. I enveloped Ingersoll in the appropriate lingerie and began lathering him as I watched the clock and the shop door. The operation of lathering, even when conducted by a mere tyro, requires little time, but I prolonged it until his lower jaw looked like the foot of Niagara Falls in winter. Of course my audacity was unequal to any attempt to shave the great orator. I began to strop a razor with slow strokes that must have driven him frantic with impatience the while the clock speeded up to double-quick and the accursed barber remained aloof.

When the apostle of free speech was beginning to mutter and writhe in the chair and there remained but two minutes in which to catch my train, I ladled out another ridge of lather below his expressive eyes, stepped back, took up my hat, and tiptoed up the back stairs to my faithful train, which tore away with me to New York. Several days later I heard what befell that idiot barber when he strolled into his shop to a wild-eyed man awaiting him with a stock of language befitting an unheard-of outrage. Frank declared that he had not revealed my name to Col. Ingersoll, but as he calmed him and finally shaved him, I suspect he informed him who had thus abused him.

Not long afterward I was asked by somebody to accompany him to one of Ingersoll's famous Sunday evenings. I refused from a craven fear of meeting those flashing eyes.

Years later a Newark man came to me with a tale of how he had been deprived of the earnings of a dressmaking device by a well-known dry-goods concern, asking me to obtain publicity for his wrong. This was impossible, but instead I sent him with a letter to Ingersoll. That great-hearted humanitarian took the case, maintained his client's family for months, and finally secured a court's decision for twenty-five thousand dollars.

This man's name evades me, but I will never forget his tribute to Ingersoll's goodness when he came in to announce the verdict to me. He then revealed quite innocently that his benefactor had somewhat cryptically referred to me as "a great cartoonist but a damned bad barber!" I realized that he must have known all the time of my perfidy and had perhaps watched for a heartless publication of the story, but Fred Duneka told me that Ingersoll himself had related the tale to him with every evidence of amusement. Anyway, I lost a chance of becoming acquainted with one of the greatest of Americans of my time through a witless effort to assist an undeserving scoundrel of a barber, which was the sole origin of the prank.

One feels a sort of secret exaltation when the subject of a cartoon is broad and generous enough to express appreciation of it. Quay and Roosevelt secured and framed numbers of original drawings; indeed, Quay had a large collection which he enjoyed exhibiting. From the period of McKinley's first candidacy, when the Senator and Dave Martin, the cleverest vote-buyers of the time, came to New York with a carpetbag filled with big bills from which they were astutely separated in a few days by abler manipulators, to the death of Quay, ten years or so later, I must have made several hundred cartoons of him, yet the old man was always urbane and kindly, often inviting me to boating parties, even asking me to join one of his famous "Florida Revels." I doubt if Boies Penrose ever preserved a copy of a cartoon. Quay expressed a contempt for the influence of the press, which Penrose, more sensitive, did not share, and when one reflects that he won his battles over and over again against a mighty combination of New York and Philadelphia journals, one is inclined to admit that the old warrior read the public mind better than the editors.

New York Journal advertising poster featuring Li Hung Chang

In one of the early colored supplements was published a cartoon representing Li Hung Chang divested of all his garments, the Purple Button, the Scarlet Cap and the other tokens of Chinese officialdom, and a messenger boy with a telegram from the Empress ordering him to remove the Yellow Mustard Plaster. When the great statesman visited this country, I was presented to him at the reception here as the man who made a famous cartoon of him, and the aged man's little eyes twinkled as he said, in perfect English: "I have that cartoon framed and hanging in my palace."


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Thursday, March 03, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Asterix and Obelix

The Asterix comic albums by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, published in France starting in 1959, are wildly popular in that country, and many other countries throughout the world. In the Canada of my childhood,Asterix was a familiar character to both French and English children, and many English kids learned French with the assistance of the wacky little Gaul and his oafish companion, Obelix.

However, Asterix has never really garnered wide interest in the U.S. That's a shame, because the characters are delightful, the stories are droll and full of terrific wordplay (most of which, miraculously, has been successfully translated to English), and the art is superb. My assumption is that Americans, who are, generally speaking, almost entirely innocent of knowledge of European history, just don't get the basic premise, and the various locales may as well be in Middle Earth for all they know. While that knowledge isn't absolutely necessary to understanding the Asterix tales, it certainly helps.

In 1977, Field Enterprises chose to take on the daunting, and ultimately thankless, task of adapting Asterix albums to American newspaper comic form. Adapting the albums to daily and Sunday strip form required a great deal of editing and reworking. The easiest way to see how much the material was changed is to compare with the (English translated) albums. Compare the strips above to the album pages below:

Not only does the art suffer terribly from the postage-stamp size reproduction of daily comic strips, but the storyline gets chopped up so much that the comedic pacing is completed defeated. It's a mess in other words, though I must admit that some editor really put a lot of effort into remolding the material, even sometimes creating new gags where they didn't exist. The Sundays weren't quite so badly chopped up, but of course the muddy newspaper coloring of the 1970s did those strips no favors.

EDIT 3/23/2021: Since this post was originally made, better information on stories has come to light. Here is the story list as compiled by Justin Bur:





1 – 2



Introduction (Sunday starts 11/20)

3 – 15



Asterix the Gladiator

16 – 28



Asterix and Cleopatra

29 – 41



Asterix and the Great Crossing

42 – 54



Asterix and the Big Fight

55 – 67



Asterix in Spain (Sunday ends mid-story? Last known is 1/7/79)

68 – 69



Asterix in Britain (no Sundays, only gets part way through the story)

 Despite boastful claims that 150 clients signed up for the strip, you'll find it appearing in few papers, and by the end of the run the clientele was tiny. In fact, I've been searching for a definitive end date of the strip for years. However, now both Jeffrey Lindenblatt and Justin Bur have independently found papers that ran the strip to the same end date shown above (New Castle News and Windsor Star), so I think the case is closed. The only piece of the puzzle left unfound is the date of the final Sunday - no one has found it running anywhere near as long as the daily.

If Asterix intrigues you, I'm surprised to report than you can read all the albums, in English, at Asterix Online, for free.


Asterix ran also in the Worcester, Mass., Telegram & Gazette. It did suffer from reduction there, also!
I have used this great, addictive epic when teaching Ancient History - both the comics themselves, and clips from the English-dubbed versions of the Asterix films. The students loved it. One became so enthused that he downloaded the entire Asterix corpus from that website and started digging in.

People tend to think that high school students today can't "get into" material that isn't culturally sanctioned for their age group and for the contemporary moment, but that simply isn't true. I have gotten students interested in all kinds of things simply by introducing them shrewdly.
I have Asterix Sunday pages starting from Nov. 27, 1977 (which I think is the first Sunday?) - so did the color pages begin before the daily strips, or is the Wiki page wrong?
Patrick -- three cheers for you! I can't agree more that kids are very open to learning, if only it can be made interesting and fun.

Cliff -- Sorry, I made a typo and forgot to put in the footnote. All cleared up now.

"If Asterix intrigues you, I'm surprised to report than you can read all the albums, in English, at Asterix Online, for free."

And if you're STILL into hardcopies, Amazon does feature the books for sale domestically, including the recent ones penned by Ferri and Conrad!

Speaking of Asterix, Tintin also had an interesting brush with the daily section of my hometown newspaper it the 1960's (Toledo Blade), I blogged about it here!
For English readers, they've completed the Asterix Omnibus series with three albums per volume. It's available in paperback, making a nice and comparatively cheap way to own them all.

In reading them now, the puzzle isn't so much history as it is the contemporary jokes and satire. There's a lot of playing with national stereotypes (Favorite crack in "Asterix in Britain": "Drink your beer before it gets cold!") and celebrity references. "Mansions of the Gods", while it stands very well on its own, feels like they were satirizing something very specific. Even the hapless pirates were originally a parody of a serious adventure comic; they've outlasted their models by many years.

A little annoyed that, aside from a few ancient VHS releases, none of the Asterix films -- animated or live action -- are available here.
I grew up during my teens in France and at school our economics teacher used the Asterix book 'Obelix and Co.' to introduce the concepts of money and fiduciary value, as also the effects of monetary trading on society. There is so much in the original Goscinny & Uderzo albums that serve a truly educational purpose. As a result of my own experience, I have never forgotten that teacher or that particular class. This is why I now myself create educational comics, inspired of course by the fabulous Asterix albums and also Tintin.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Les Carroll

Lester Edward “Les” Carroll was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1912, according to the Social Security Application and Claims Index at, and the Supplement to Who’s Who in America, Volume 44 (1987).

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Carroll and his parents, Lewis and Cora, in Lancaster at 330 North Franklin Street. His father was a telephone linesman.

In 1930 Carroll and his parents resided in Manheim, Pennsylvania on Eden Street.

Who’s Who said Carroll attended the Lancaster Business College from 1931 to 1932. He was an office worker at the K-D Manufacturing Company, in Lancaster, from 1932 to 1938. Next, Carroll was a freelance cartoonist from 1938 to 1943.

Carroll married Mary Ruhl on September 30, 1933. A 1935 Lancaster city directory listed Carroll as a stenographer residing at 663 Juliette Avenue.

In the 1940 census, Carroll was the head of the household which included his wife, son, Lester, Jr., and parents. They resided in Manheim on R. D. Number Five. Carroll’s highest level of education was the twelfth grade.

Who’s Who said Carroll was a staff artist with the Newspaper Enterprise Association beginning in 1943. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Carroll’s strip, The Tillers, began May 10, 1943. With staff writer, Hal Cochran, Carroll drew First Aid for Santa which ran from November 22 to December 24, 1943. In 1944, Carroll produced Dinah which was the topper to Brenda Breeze.

Beginning in 1961, Carroll’s Life with the Rimples ran to April 4, 1975. Carroll assisted Edgar Martin on Boots and Her Buddies. Martin turned over the Sunday page duties to Carroll who drew it from June 6, 1965 to October 6, 1968. Carroll also drew the Boots toppers Babe and Horace, Boots Cut-Outs and The Gooneys. Next, Carroll drew and Tom McCormick wrote Our Boarding House from 1971 to 1984. The Mobile Press Register (Alabama), August 1, 1976, interviewed Carroll and asked:

What led to your drawing “Our Boarding House”?

Going all the way back, my parents said that instead of “crayoning” coloring books I would copy the pictures, and later I would copy the funnies in the daily newspaper. I began freelancing while I was working in the office of an auto parts manufacturing company. I kept with it and eventually went to work for Newspaper Enterprise Association doing general drawing and a weekly farm strip. I used to draw “Boots and Her Buddies” and also “Alley Oop.” I returned here from Lancaster, Pa., in 1969 to draw “Our Boarding House.”
According to Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, Carroll used the Landon Correspondence School. He had stints at these animation studios: Mintz, Pat Sullivan, Schlesinger, Fleischer and Hanna-Barbera. And he contributed material to comic books.

The Ohio Deaths records at said Carroll passed away October 28, 1998, in Rocky River, Ohio. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


Any idea if this was the same Les Carroll who, starting in 1954 and continuing for a decade or so afterwards, had a syndicated music review column called "Country Platters"?
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Tuesday, March 01, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Life with the Rimples

NEA supplied the majority of smaller daily papers in this country with content that they couldn't  afford from the big New York syndicates. But weekly papers generally couldn't even afford NEA's economical service, and the amount of material NEA provided for dailies was far more than they needed for their weekly schedules, anyway. But NEA offered an even more inexpensive service to weeklies,  which, starting in 1960, gained its own name, Community Enterprise Features. Before then it generally just went under the banner of the NEA Weekly Service.

Community Enterprises offered mostly 'evergreeen' material, as it's known in the news biz, meaning content that is not date dependent, like breaking news. The content was mostly columns, feature articles, recipes, humor, photos, and, of course, comics. Nothing carried printed dates, and could be used as and whenever the newspaper pleased.

With the new syndicate name, NEA did some updating of its weekly features, and that leads us to Les Carroll's Life with the Rimples. Carroll had been doing a strip called The Tillers for NEA's weekly service since 1943. That strip was about a family of farmers, and I imagine NEA decided that they would prefer content that was more of a suburban character than rural to go with theiur revamped syndicate.

Thus, sometime in 1960, The Tillers disappeared, and in 1961 Life with the Rimples began*. The new strip was the most regimentally typical family strip you can imagine -- mom and dad and two kids, one a girl and one a boy. Dad goes off to some unknown office job every day, mom manages the household, and the kids are, of course, a handful. Daughter Tami is patterned after Lucy of Peanuts, and Tomi the boy is sort of a Linus type, but without the blanket or, for that matter, much of a personality at all.

Carroll did a very nice job with the art, and the gags, though utterly conventional, were played out well. However, when he was assigned by NEA to take over Boots and her Buddies, and later Our Boarding House, you could definitely tell that the Rimples strips were getting less and less attention. By April 4 1975, the last time the strip appears in the NEA archives, the art was only a shadow of its former slick self. Of course, Carroll was also not a young man by 1975, and perhaps it was simply the onset of old age.


* the ending date of The Tillers and start date of Life with the Rimples may actually mesh perfectly, but the NEA archives are missing quite a few of the weekly syndicate books, and I have yet to find a newspaper that printed these features on a consistent enough basis to get definite dates.

newspapers that took NEA's weekly service were notorious for running material late, so you'll find Life with the Rimples strips appearing in the late 1970s. My guess is that these do not represent later material that was not present in the NEA archives.


I'm happy to see that, in panel three of the third strip, Mom is plainly wearing seamed stockings, keeping up her sexy vibe for someone other than her potato-nosed sub-Dagwood hubby, no doubt!
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Monday, February 29, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Pierre M. Artigue

Pierre M. Artigue was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on May 5, 1872, according to a family tree at and Edan Hughes’ book, Artists in California, 1786–1940.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Artigue was the oldest of three sons born to Louis and Leontine. Born in France, his father was a carpenter and mother a Louisiana native. The family resided on St. Peters Street in New Iberia. At some point, the family moved to California.

The Inland Printer, September 1899, published Artigue’s initial designs. He was a San Diego, California resident at the time.

In the 1900 census the family plus a daughter lived in San Diego, California, at 1993 India. Artigue’s occupation was “artist-designing”. His brothers were sign painters. Artigue was counted twice in the census. He also boarded in Los Angeles, California, at 1405 Magnolia. His occupation was designer.

A 1901 Los Angeles city directory listed artist Artigue at 510 North Bunker Hill Avenue. Artigue worked for the Los Angeles newspaper, Evening Express. The May 1901 issue of the Inland Printer reprinted his cartoon, “Events of the Week”, for the month of February that included Valentine's Day, Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, and Chinese New Year.

The Inland Printer, September 1902, published another Artigue drawing, A Seashore Belle, and said his residence was Kansas City, Missouri. Artigue was a cartoonist with the Kansas City Star. Two of his Star cartoons were reprinted in the Inland Printer, September 1907, here and here. Artigue was a contributor to Life. Artigue was a contributor to the book, Representative Men of the West in Caricature (1904).

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Artigue produced a handful of comics. First up was He Just Imagined It—That’s All which began December 30 1906 and was syndicated by the Boston Herald/W.E. Haskell. For the North American Syndicate, Artigue drew Pa’s Nightmare, from April 14 to July 21, 1907; When Dad Was a Boy—He! He! Ha! Ha!, from July 28 to August 25, 1907; and Curious Charley, from June 27 to August 15, 1909.

In the 1910 census, Artigue was married to Creta, and they lived in Kansas City at 3622 Tracy Avenue. The couple was married for eight years. Their five-year-old son, Louis, was born in Missouri. Artigue gave his occupation as “artist (pen & ink)” at a “newspaper office”. His mother-in-law, Adelaide J. Stocks, was also in the household.

The Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado), March 5, 1912, announced on the front page, above the masthead, that Artigue was joining the newspaper.

As a result of prolonged negations The News announces the engagement of Pierre Artigue as a member of its art staff. He will not come to Denver as a stranger, for his work in Life, Puck, Judge and other national periodicals has given him country-wide fame. It is confidently expected that Mr. Artigue will easily take rank as the foremost cartoonist and illustrator in the West, for not only does he possess cunning technique, skill draughtmanship, and the secret of caricature, he has also that note of strength that enables his work to rise above the merely comic, and strike deep to the very heart of feeling. Sir John Tenniel, the greatest cartoonist that ever lived, brought tears as often as he did laughter, and Mr. Artigue, by training and temperament, is fitted to do work that will arouse as well as amuse. By this engagement of Mr. Artigue, The News feels that it has rounded out its “all-star staff” in such fashion as to leave small room for further improvement.
Beginning on March 10, 1912, Artigue produced a strip, Mr. Want, that ran on the first page of the Sunday Small Ad Section. The strip also featured Mrs. Want and Little Want. Chris and Christena’s Courtship replaced the Wants beginning June 30 and ended on September 22, 1912.

On December 5, 1913 the San Jose, California newspaper, Evening News, printed one of Artigue’s editorial cartoons from the Kansas City Times. The September 9, 1913 Kansas City Star reviewed the Poster Show at the YWCA. Artigue's poster elicited this critique: “Pierre Artigue, 3731 Tracy Avenue, won honorable mention with one of the more pretentious exhibits of the show.”

Artigue returned to Los Angeles in 1914, according to Artists in California, and later joined the Cartoonists Club of Los Angeles. A 1917 Los Angeles city directory listed Artigue at 232 S Mariposa Avenue. His address in the 1918 directory was 145 South Norton Avenue, which was also recorded in the 1920 census.

According to the 1920 census, Artigue was an artist in the painting industry.

Artigue had an inventive mind and was aware of the motion picture industry. On February 23, 1926 the Reno Evening Gazette published an Associated Press report on Artigue’s lawsuit against the motion picture industry.

Pierre Artigue, artist and inventor, filed suit in the United States district court today against more than a hundred prominent motion picture companies and individuals for an accounting of millions of dollars alleged to have been saved by the producers through use of the so-called “glass shot” background principle which Artigue asserted was his invention….

…The “glass shot” principle involves a glass screen upon which is painted backgrounds for pictures and which is placed six feet before the camera and between the camera and a small portion of the background built to actual size. In the film the picture on the glass screen blends into the picture of the real background so perfectly as to be practically impossible of detection. Artigue alleged that he was the discoverer of the process and that patents were issued to him on April 6, 1918….
The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume 381, 1929, reported the following in the section, Patent Suits: “(Los Angeles) P. Artigue v. Fox Motion Picture Co. Dismissed for want of prosecution Feb. 25, 1929.”

Presumably all of Artigue's suits were dismissed in court. He continued inventing and patenting his ideas: United States Patent 1669407; 1742680; 1764490; and 1772622.

In 1930 Artigue was a newspaper cartoonist. He and his wife lived at 500 Arden Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

UNLV University Library has two Artigue drawings of houses from the early 1930s here and here

Creta passed away April 21, 1933. Artigue passed away November 5, 1934 in Los Angeles. The New York Times, November 7, 1934, published the Associated Press report:
Los Angeles, Nov. 6 (AP).—Pierre Artigue, veteran cartoonist and comic strip artist, died in his sleep here. He was 62 years old. He had worked on The Kansas City Star, Denver Post and the old Los Angeles Evening Express, coming here almost twenty years ago.
So far, there is no evidence Artigue worked for the Denver Post. Artigue was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. His son, Louis, was also buried there.

—Alex Jay


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