Saturday, October 15, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 16 1908 -- It was a pretty sorry bunch of bouts last night at Jeffries arena. The headliners, Billy Papke and Hugo Kelly fought to a draw, and the other bouts were all 'professional debuts'. Herriman ends up finding more to sketch outside the ring than in it. I imagine most of the attendees last night were most interested in meeting the great Chicago Cub first baseman and manager Frank Chance.


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Friday, October 14, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

This 1908 divided back postcard by Clare Victor 'Dwig' Dwiggins is copyrighted by R. Kaplan, and on the back it says Germany Serie #49. I believe the caption here is a reference to a popular song or saying of the time, but I'll be darned if I can tease Google into admitting there ever was such a saying. The reference, of course, was to wonder about people who seemed able to live well beyond their means. Can anyone supply the origin of the phrase?

This is one of my favorite postcards, not for the front, but for the message on the back. It was sent by Amelia to Florence Randtke in Rochester New York. Here is the message:

25 15 21 18 16 15 19 20 1 12 9 19 16 18 5 20 20 25 7 15 15 4 2 21 20 15 25 15 21 11 9 4 9 12 12 10 5 20 25 15 21 10 5 20 25 15 21 9 8 15 16 5 25 15 21 3 1 14 13 1 11 5 20 8 9 19 15 21 20

 I'll leave it to you to figure out what that message means. Unfortunately I think Amelia's code broke down slightly in the middle of the message, but the intent is pretty clear.


The mystery deepens!
The cryptic code is a kid's idea of clever, in fact, this simple number substitution code is (or was) something learnt in Cub Scouts. The message is


There are a few Esperanto words in there, but I feel dirty reading such private, sensitive mail.

The phrase " Do it on $8.50 per" (or sum variant) was in common use generally then. Remember the Hall Room Boys' subhead was "how they do it on 7.50 per", back about 1907?
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Thursday, October 13, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ving Fuller

Ving Fuller was born Isaac Filler in Kisselynn, Russia, on March 17, 1903, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service form, Declaration of Intention, which was filed in Los Angeles, California, on August 4, 1941. The form said Fuller was a newspaper cartoonist who had sailed aboard the S.S. Canada from Liverpool, England. He arrived in Portland, Maine, on January 15, 1913.

The passenger list recorded Ving as Isaak (11), his mother, Rebecca (38), and siblings, Ester (12), Taabe (9), Rahmann (6) and Michal (1.5). Written in column twelve, Final Destination, was Worcester, Massachusetts. The family was going to join “B. Filler 45 Providence St. Worcester, Mass.” according to column eighteen. The last column, number twenty-nine, said the entire family was born in “Wladimir, Russia”.

The 1914 Worcester, Massachusetts, city directory listed Ving’s father, Benjamin Filler, as a laborer residing at 90 Water. Benjamin signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His residence was “21 Waverly St” in Worcester.

The same address was found in a 1919 city directory and the 1920 census. The Filler household included Benjamin, Rebecca, Esther, “Tena”, Thomas, Samuel and Raymond. Ving has not yet been found in the census.

One of Ving’s younger brothers was the screenwriter and film director, Samuel Michael Fuller, who said he was born on August 12, 1912, in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to the book, A Third Face. Samuel identified his parents, Rebecca Baum and Benjamin Rabinovitch, who later changed his surname, and siblings, “my brothers, Ray, Tom and Ving, and my sisters, Evelyn, Tina and Rose”. Evelyn was Esther in the census. Rose was married to William Epstein, a taxicab driver, and had a seven-month-old daughter, Edith. The Epsteins lived in Worcester at 106 Lincoln Street.

The census said the Fillers were born in Russia except Raymond whose birth was in Wisconsin. It’s not clear if the entire family or just the parents were in Wisconsin. Samuel said he requested a copy of his Worcester birth certificate.

According to the census, Rose emigrated in 1904 and her father in 1911. The rest of the family started their journey in 1912 and arrived in the U.S. in 1913, as seen on the passenger list.

The Fillers’ residence in the 1921 Worcester city directory was 5 Mott Street.

Samuel said his father passed away when he was eleven. The family moved to New York City and settled in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on 172nd Street. The family and Ving have not been found in the 1925 New York state census.

Moving Picture World magazine published “Fuller on Bray Staff” in its August 15, 1925 issue. Ving was doing animation work for J.R. Bray. Ving left Bray and found work at the newspaper, New York Graphic. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ving produced Laff-O-Graphics from 1927 to 1929 for the Graphic. A photograph of Ving is here.

The Patchogue Advance 11/6/1928

Ving’s brother Samuel also worked for the Graphic. In the mid-1930s, Samuel moved to California and started a career in filmmaking.

Ving has not been found in the 1930 census. His mother and brother Raymond had the surname, Fuller, and lived with Rose’s family in Queens, New York, at 3825 56th Street. Rose’s second child was Stanley.

The Bridge World, February 1933, noted Ving contribution to the bridge club.

A portrait of assorted contented cows, executed by Mr. Ving Fuller, the club's artist, was unvealed [sic] shortly before the dinner.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 13, 1933, reported the exhibition of Ving’s portraits.
An interesting exhibition of sketches of officers and members of the Woodmere Country Club by Ving Fuller, former cartoonist for a number of metropolitan newspapers, is now being held in the lobby of the clubhouse. The cartoons are embellished with biographies of the subjects—including their idiosyncrasies and talents. Among the portraits on display are those of Supreme Court Judge Clarence G. Galson, Lewis J. Robertson, president of the club; Timothy McCarthy, Oscar Seagar, William Meissel, Harry Ackerman, William Wolff and Ellis H. Wilner.
American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew Helen Kane’s The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl from August 5 to October 21, 1934. It appeared in the New York Mirror.

Ving was a ghost artist on Ken Kling’s Joe and Asbestos, according to Hal Kanter (1918–2011) in his 1999 book, So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business:
Ving accepted me, probably because he had few friends. He was at least 25 years older than I and bitter that he had been reduced to ghost-drawing a comic strip called Joe and Asbestos for Ken Kling. The feature enjoyed its popularity on sports pages because each day’s strip contained a horse racing “best bet.” Kling was not much of an artist but he was a respected handicapper.
Kanter and Bert Gold, an aspiring artist, contributed more jokes to Joe and Asbestos. Kling eventually assigned the writing to Ving who paid his two young writers.

In Fall 1936, Ving drove his mother, Kanter and Gold to California to see his brother, Samuel. A week after their arrival in Hollywood, Ving ended his relationship with Kanter and Gold. It’s not known how long Ving and his mother stayed in Hollywood.

Back in New York City, Kanter told about a chance encounter with Ving

Ving Fuller approached me sheepishly on Seventh Avenue and asked it I could afford to buy him a hot dog. He told me he was unemployed, broke, alone. He was remorseful about his treatment of Bert and me in Hollywood….
At the time, Kanter was hired to write Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s Eliza Poppin. Meanwhile, King Features searched for an artist. Kanter explained what happened.
Ving’s name was, of course, known to the editors at King, and when I urged Ole to give him a shot at the strip, he agreed. Ving quickly drew three or four different faces of “Eliza.” Ole, Chic and Dick Hyman of King Features picked one. I typed out a week’s worth of comic strip dialogue, advanced Ving money to buy a Whatman board, India ink, pens and gum erasers and production began on Eliza Poppin. Ving’s work was fast, crisp, funny and quickly accepted by newspaper editors. The strip got off to a flying start….
American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew the strip from June 19, 1939 to January 6, 1940. It was continued by George “Swan” Swanson.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 10, 1939, reported the cartoonists’ contributions to a Chinatown restaurant. 

Lum Fong will shortly dedicate a “Cartoonist’s Corner” at his Canal St. restaurant. The Corner will be decorated with original sketches by such artists as Arthur William Brown, Billy De Beck, Rube Goldberg, Ving Fuller, Paul Fung, Chick [sic] Young, Ham Fisher and George McManus.
Ving has not been found in the 1940 census. His mother and brother Raymond, a cafeteria worker, lived in Manhattan at 336 West 95th Street. The date of his mother’s passing is not known. Raymond moved to Los Angeles where he died October 22, 1957. Samuel, a writer, lived in Los Angeles at 2050 1/2 Ivar Avenue.

At some point Ving returned to California and in 1941 filed, in Los Angeles, to become a naturalized citizen.

The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlet, etc., 1942, New Series, Volume 39, Number 8, had this entry: “Fuller (Ving)* New York. Olive drab. © July 6, 1942; A 125087. 25047”.

During World War II, it was the City of Angels where Ving enlisted in the army on November 10, 1942.

It’s not known when Ving was discharged from the army but he was in New York City when his naturalization was approved October 15, 1943. This was about six weeks after his mother was naturalized on September 2 in New York City.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Ving drew the comic book character, J. Rufus Lion.

Ving’s longest running strip was Doc Syke, from January 8, 1945 to 1960, according to American Newspaper Comics. It also appeared in comic books. Later, Ving changed the title to Little Doc and distributed it through his Ving Features Syndicate.

Ving patented a toy bank in 1953.

Be it known that I, Ving Fuller, a citizen of the United States, residing at 4546 Stem Ave., Sherman Oaks, in the county of Los Angeles and State of California, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Toy Bank or Similar Article…
Ving and Walt Kelly were mentioned in Li’l Abner on December 7 and 14, 1958 and September 12, 1959.

The California marriage index, at, said Ving married Helen C. Dietrich on April 23, 1962.

Ving passed away August 2, 1965 in Los Angeles. His death was reported the following day by the Los Angeles Times. Samuel passed away October 30, 1997 in Los Angeles.

Further Reading
The Masters of Screwball Comics

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Magazine Cover Comics: Sunday Follies

Leonard T. Holton only contributed a few Hearst magazine cover series, and Sunday Follies was his last that I know of. The series was a loose conglomeration of wordy gags about people's activities on the Day of Rest. Of course, Holton's delicious deco-inspired art makes any gag seem palatable.

Sunday Follies was syndicated by Hearst's Newspaper Feature Service and ran from January 26 to April 13 1930.


Through your postings I've come to know several artists who worked in similar "Deco-inspired" styles. I'd include cartoonists like Gluyas Williams and Gardner Rea in this group. Their work has interesting similarities to the French "ligne claire" cartoonists of the same period. I wonder if there were cross-influences at work, and in which direction they flowed.
Hi Smurfswacker --
That's a great question, but my guess is behind door #3. I'd say rather that the Art Deco movement was an outside influence that inspired many cartoonists in Europe and here to reflect its sensibilities in their art. My guess is that cartoonists may not have necessarily looked to each other for inspiration as to the greater art world about them.

Clear line artists certainly pre-date Art Deco, so it may just be that it was that style that lended itself most to the Art Deco influence.

These are just opinions off the top of my head, and I'm certainly open to other more thoughtful interpretations.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dean Miller

Very little biographical information has been found on Dean Miller. An advertisement for the comic strip Vic Flint included a profile of Miller and was published in the Zanesville Signal (Ohio), February 15, 1959.

Dean Miller is one of the youngest artists in the United States to draw a top-flight comic. He illustrates the detective-adventure daily strip and Sunday page, Vic Flint, which appears in more than 500 newspapers.

A native of Springfield, Ill., Dean was born July 7, 1923. His family shortly afterward moved to Houston, Tex. Dean attended high school there and won a scholarship to the Houston Art Institute.

Miller’s baptism of fire in the cartoon world came at the tender age of 16. He landed a job as editorial cartoonist for a Houston weekly newspaper and after six months at the drawing board his salary was the same as when he started—absolute zero. It was guid training, but it bought no groceries, so Miller quit.

His next employer was Uncle Sam. After spending four years in the Air Force, where he was gunnery instructor, Dean landed a job as a cartoonist in Chicago. His work attracted the attention of NEA Service, Inc., and he reported for work in Cleveland early in 1950.

In October of the same year he took over the job of drawing Vic Flint. He is married and has two children.

The Sam Houston High School yearbook, Cosmos 1939, had a student named Dean Miller who was in the class of 1941. Miller has not yet been found in the U.S. Federal Censuses. Miller’s Department of Veterans Affairs record at said he served from February 2, 1943 to February 11, 1946. His birth date was July 7, 1923 and death date January 1, 1977. The record included his Social Security number. According to the Social Security Death Index, Miller’s birth year was 1924 and the day of death was not mentioned. His benefits had been sent to Feeding Hills, Massachusetts.

Miller drew a 1948 Sunday strip called Mighty O’Malley for the Chicago Tribune.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Miller was the second artist on the NEA strip Vic Flint which began with Ralph Lane on January 6, 1946. Miller drew the strip from July 31, 1950 to January 7, 1962. During Miller‘s run the strip was scripted by Michael O’Malley (pseudonym of Ernest “East” Lynn) and Jay Heavlin.

Apparently Miller illustrated the Big Bear Lake Valley street map which was listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 19, Part 6, Number 2, Maps and Atlases, July–December 1965.

The 1954 Lakewood, Ohio city directory said NEA cartoonist Miller and his wife, Henrietta, resided at 17704 Fries Avenue. The 1956 and 1959 Fort Lauderdale, Florida city directories said Miller’s home address was 648 NW 21st Place. Also in the 1956 directory was the Dean Miller Art Studio at 440A East Las Olas Boulevard, Room 202.

Any information about Miller is appreciated.

—Alex Jay


Hi, I was just reading your story about my grandfather. I was just showing my boyfriend the pages of comics I have that my mother gave me, which are Vic Flint and Mighty O’Malley. Tammy
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Monday, October 10, 2016


Mystery Strips: A Chicago Tribune Mystery

Writer Frank M. Young recently contacted me about a very intriguing mystery. He is engaged in writing a piece on cartoonist Dean Miller, most remembered (to me at least) as the second artist on the detective strip Vic Flint.

Young is in contact with Miller's family, and they told him that Dean Miller was further distinguished as the creator of a 1948 comic strip titled Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, which was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune. They produced as proof a photo of a Sunday strip, the only sample they have:

Young diligently searched for more information about this series, and came up with nothing. Which is why he came to me. Unfortunately I'd never heard of it either. But now we were both curious to try to solve the mystery.

The photo the family had originally offered to Young was rather blurry and was taken with the piece matted and framed (the one above is a sharper image out of the frame taken later). This led both Young and I to wonder if Dean Miller might have created a mock-up of the tearsheet for some reason, and that the strip was actually a red herring.  Although it looked genuine enough, how could a strip run in the Chicago Tribune have managed to so thoroughly escape the world's notice?

I asked Young to get the family to take a photo of the back of the sheet. Here's what we got (they took a pair of close-ups that don't quite stitch together):

What at first blush looks like a normal newspaper page is shown to be quite unusual under closer examination. You'll note that the text on this page looks almost like it was created on a typewriter as opposed to professionally typeset. Does that mean it's a fake? Actually, no, it is a proof that the page is genuinely from the Chicago Tribune. In 1948, the Trib was going through a protracted strike by their typesetters, and much of the paper was typeset in exactly this way. Score one for Mr. Miller's veracity as a ChiTrib almunus.

Unfortunately, trying to date this page is troublesome. Since the Chicago Tribune archives on the web have a search engine that is blinder than Mr. Magoo, I was not surprised at my inability to find this page using any of a dozen different search terms. Most of the material here is syndicated 'evergreen' material, making coming up with a publication date troublesome. I checked other papers to see when they ran some of the stories:

Climbing Butch -- 3/9 - 3/21/48
Peg-Leg Coyote -- 3/15 - 4/5/48
Hip Replacement -- 3/11 - 3/26/48
Circus Model Builders -- 3/12 - ad infinitum (popular article!)

That narrows it down nicely, and the one local story, the traffic accident, was reported in a few papers, one on 3/11, the other on 3/13. Since that story came from the Trib, I narrowed down my viewing to the editions of 3/11/1948 and earlier. Immediately I hit paydirt of a sort -- the story and photos appeared in the March 10 edition ( Unfortunately, the rest of the page doesn't jive with the tearsheet supplied by Miller's family.

As a last ditch effort, I manually reviewed the editions for the rest of the week, especially Sunday which could well have repeated the story for readers who buy only the Sunday edition. No dice though. So how could the comic strip have been printed, yet not printed?

Frank Young offered up a final clue. He points out that the Sunday Tribune in 1948 was 10 cents in Chicago, and 15 cents elsewhere. This copy is plainly offered for 15 cents, with no mention of the in-town price. That means it was clipped from an out of town-only edition. Therefore it could be that Mighty O'Malley was printed only in the out of town edition, which is not the version that survives on microfilm. Although it is unusual for the two versions of a paper to be different in such a major way, it is by no means unknown. In fact, I've heard convincing evidence that the New York Daily News, the Trib's sister paper, had slightly different versions of the Sunday comics line-up at some points in its history.

That is as far as Frank Young and I can trace this mystery. Now we ask you good folks out there -- have you seen any samples of Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, and if so, what can you tell us about them? Does anyone know of an archive that has the Tribune's out-of-town edition?


Thanks, Allan. Here's hoping someone in newspaper strip land can provide some more information. In the meantime, as we agree, it's a fascinating mystery.
This 1948 edition of EDITOR AND PUBLISHER has some kind of listing for MIGHTY O'MALLEY. But the snippet view is lmiited and almost unreadably small. Maybe someone has the physical issue?
Here's a 1946 comic with a "Mighty O'Malley" story, but credited to George Merkel. Could Miller actually be a later artist or could a title conflict have killed the comic or forced a title change?
Miller could have taken over the Merkle strip. A few years ago Alex Jay did an Inkslinger Profile on Merkle that has him passing away (March 12, 1948) at the time of this strip.
All Great Comics #14 (Oct. 1947)
"Famous Newspaper Comic Strips"
"Copyright 1947 Chicago Tribune"
But a couple of the features are not comic strip reprints.
D.D.Degg (hat tip: glynis37)
Hey Paul --
I'd swear I checked my E&P index and found nothing -- but on rechecking, it is there. Boy that O'Malley guy is sneaky!

Anyhow, E&P listed the strip for three years, 1947-49. According to Dave Strickler's index (I don't have my originals with me here) it was credited to George Markle (sp?) in 1947, and Dean Miller in 1948-49. It was a Sunday-only throughout.

And now glynis37 has found a comic book apparently reprinting some of the strips. Are the innards of that comic book online anywhere? has the full issue -- great website
Thanks Brad! Seems like the character does seem to have been created by George Merkle. Now if we could only find it in a doggone newspaper besides the family's sole example.
I am Dean Millers great grandson. My grandmother made the story board of those clippings. I can ask her to dig around for more or if you have any questions for her, I can provide you with her email.
Hi Zak --
If she can find anything more about Mighty O'Malley that sheds light on the strip running dates or why it might have run only in the out-of-town edition, we'e all ears here. I imagine, though, that Frank M. Young has asked her all those questions already.

Thanks, Allan
Here's a picture of him in front of a Christmas party tree decorated with Mighty O'Malley illustrations in 1948 when he started illustrating it
And a news paper interview about him. Mistakes in the paper : he was born in Springfield Missouri but grew up in Houston. Born July 7 1924 lied about his age to go into the military

[url=]free upload site no registration[/url]
Thanks Zak! Interesting stuff.

"Vic Flint was scripted by Ernest Lynn (as "Michael O'Malley") and drawn by Ralph Lane..." probably where it came from.

"Though Mighty O’Malley never became a major strip (a fate shared by other intriguing minor Tribune features of the era), it caught the eye of Ernest Lynn at NEA. After the strip’s 1949 demise, Dean Miller moved to Cleveland to work for NEA as staff artist. Thus, he was handy when Lane left Vic Flint. Lane’s last daily strip appeared on July 29, 1950; his final Sunday ran on October 8th. Miller first signed the daily on October 7th, over two months after he began his run. His first signed Sunday was the second he did, on October 22nd."
Hi Don --
To say we'd be curious to see those Mighty O'Malley prints from the Tribune is selling it short. More samples might help to further unravel this very mysterious feature! Can you send me good sharp pics? I'm strippersguide (at)

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