Saturday, August 26, 2017


Herriman Saturday

March 22, 1909 -- In case you're wondering what happened to Mr. Gill's blind prospecting foray, here is a follow-up I found in the Bakersfield Californian:


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Friday, August 25, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Little Nemo

For some reason when Raphael Tuck got the rights to make a set of Little Nemo postcards, they opted to use an artist other than the Greatest Cartoonist Who Ever Lived. While the artist for these Little Nemo cards does an absolutely fine job, why not use McCay?!?!?!

On the postcard back is marked "Raphael Tuck & Sons Little Nemo Series of Postcards No. 6". The "No.6" designation seems to be used to refer to the whole series of cards, as it apparently says the same thing on all cards in the Tuck series. Most of the cards in the series say "Valentine's Greetings" on the front, a reflection on the puppy love romance between Little Nemo and the Princess; however, this particular card in the series doesn't. From a quick search online, it seems there are at least a dozen or more cards in the series.

This card seems to be unusual in that there is applied glitter all over the card -- on the steps, on the guard uniforms, the throne, the princess' dress and so on. Other cards I see online are missing this feature. Did Tuck offer these cards in  a regular and deluxe version?


Most likely they got another artist because McCay was busy.
Am I imagining things, or did this artist also change Flip (possible error in name on my part)?
I think that's meant to be the Dr. Pill, not Flip.
Ah. I sit corrected.
Any idea if the entire series were recreations of McCay little Nemo art, as this one was from the July 8, 1906 issue?
I don't know, DD, but neat that you found the comic strip match for this card. I knew the scene looked familiar, but I never took the time to look it up. --Allan
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Thursday, August 24, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 8 Part 2

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 8

Behold the Bogeyman! (part 2)

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Since advertising had become a mainstay of newspaper operation, it must be a subject of study by the thoroughly trained journalist. Learning how to sell space would be facilitated by a knowledge of how it was bought. The all-round newspaperman should master not only the physiology and anatomy, but also the psychology of the advertisement. He could shorten his route to that proficiency by a tour along “the other side of the sales counter.” An opportunity for such an experience led to my resignation from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Mermod & Jaccard, a leading jewelry firm, wanted a new advertising manager. Harry B. Wandell, the city editor, was approached. He recommended me.

Seven months in that position yielded a variegated crop of insights and understandings. Most important was the common disposition to reduce advertising to two denominators—cost and content. The need for research had found little or no recognition. The relationship between newspaper circulations and market prospects lay in the borderland of mystery. The nature and variations of reader responsiveness occupied an uncharted region. The average merchant believed the same judgments and tastes that guided the selection of wares should direct their presentation in public announcements. What better discrimination than his own could be used in the choice of media? On this he was intractable.

The perspective afforded by my work for Mermod & Jaccard proved a manifold advantage in the publishing problems of later years. It quickened my understanding of the successive stages by which the traffic in linage assumed commanding importance in our national growth. Hit-or-miss adventures in space-buying gradually gave way to laboratory methods. Guides for manufacturing and merchandising were sought in surveys and analyses of the public’s needs and tastes. Markets were studied before they were flooded. Distribution took on the nature of a science. It required a motive power commensurate with its boundless range. It found that force in printer’s ink. The motor was supplied by the graphic arts. It actuated the system that established the world’s highest standard of living. By hitching mass production to the multiple outlets of an ever-expanding circle, by cutting from months to hours the span between output and consumption, by speeding the turnover of inventories, the costs of processing and fabrication were reduced to a minimum. The genius of advertising brought to America the abundant life.

A spurt of enterprise by the St. Louis Chronicle facilitated my withdrawal from the marts of trade. The Chronicle had decided to make its local staff the strongest in the city. Among the moves in that direction was the creation of three new positions at the highest rate of reportorial salary yet paid in St. Louis—$32.50 weekly. That figure lured two stars—Walstein Root and Harry Tod—from the Post-Dispatch. It was less by $2.50 a week than my stipend from Mermod & Jaccard; but several times that difference would not have postponed my return to the news arena.

The St. Louis Chronicle was a link in the Scripps-McRae—later the Scripps-Howard—chain of dailies. Organized by E. W. Scripps and Milton M. McRae, this string of publications won large success in the Middle West. Few managements equaled its efficiency in slenderizing expense. Frugality was imposed by requiring from each unit a net profit representing not less than 15 percent of its revenues. The spirit and methods of a Scripps-McRae plant found full expression in the price of the product—a penny. So, the St. Louis Chronicle’s salary splash was more than a local incident.

Central ownership of a group of scattered newspapers presented challenging aspects. From my post on the St. Louis Chronicle, grave objections and difficulties became apparent. Remote control might be successfully applied to the counting room and its ramifications. Would distant direction work as well with the editorial department? Reserve resources available from other links in the chain did spell some security. But did they not also impose obligations and occasion distractions tending to dissipate local solidarity? A daily should give its undiluted all to its own readers. How could such service be maintained in the face of warrantable demands arising from exigencies or conflicting currents in other centers? Sacrifices were inevitable. How would they be guided— in behalf of a single link, or for the best interests of the chain as a whole? Could any community rely on the constant and unqualified loyalty of a newspaper under a non-resident ownership with stakes outside greatly exceeding those inside the district served by the publication?

Few of these questions disturbed the St. Louis Chronicle staff. More immediate problems were always at hand. Some of them were futile embarrassments. These came in the main from capricious experiments undertaken “by order from general headquarters.” One was so inept as to halt even my irrepressible enthusiasm. It was a competition between the Scripps-McRae units. The mark of excellence would be awarded to the newspaper printing the largest number of items in a fixed period. To heighten the contest and also as a matter of general policy, the length of any single element was limited to 950 words. That, with a top head, would fill one column.

By these rules, news fell under block instead of story appraisal. Each of the leading yarns of the day—a business sensation, an absorbing romance, a crime mystery, a social or political flurry— necessarily commanded the maximum type allowance. Each occupied a column. So, in respect to classification by space allotment, all were identical. Except for the order of their presentation—often a misleading index—they offered the reader no clue to their relative importance.

Every page was crammed with as many items as the make-up men could squeeze in. Inconsequential trivialities—“corn-shuck scrapings too thin for a cow-lot weekly,” according to Harry Tod —were given the dignity of one-line headings. Nothing was overlooked to swell the tally in the contest score. The result was a newspaper of absurdly artificial values. The thought seized me that to remain on the St. Louis Chronicle would spell professional retrogression. Fear of being “caught in that kind of trap” restored Walstein Root and Harry Tod to the Post-Dispatch at their old salaries. John F. Magner, managing editor of the Star, welcomed me back to his staff. The St. Louis Chronicle itself followed the same course a few years later. It was taken over by the Star.

Magner made no secret of his disposition to favor me. “So far as it will be practicable,” he announced, “you may pick your own assignments. I’ll arrange matters with Howard Littlefield, the city editor.” This singular partiality was not mistaken as a reward for merit. It was the expression of a secret gratitude. It harked back to my resignation from the Star eighteen months before, when George E. Garrett, city editor at that time, had instructed me to put a “murder slant” on a double tragedy resulting from a surgical blunder. The incident strengthened Magner’s executive hands.

Under Magner’s patronage, the gamut of reportorial experience was completed. By the fall of 1897 there was no fixed local assignment on a metropolitan daily with which a term of regular duty had not familiarized me. The financial department—including in St. Louis the Merchant’s Exchange—was the last station on this training circuit. From that point my work was shifted for a while to the channel which led many years later to the most important accomplishment of my career—the defeat of a projected monopoly of news. The first step in this course was acceptance of a job “to buck” the Associated Press. The New York Sun engaged me as its correspondent in St. Louis. My appointment had been recommended by Owen J. McCauley when he resigned the position to accept an editorial post on the St. Louis Chronicle. The Sun was the only daily in the national metropolis competing with the Associated Press. Its famous editor, Charles A. Dana, had held aloof from that organization, the formation of which, in 1893, had been described as “a shotgun wedding at which perfidy and pusillanimity were conspicuous attendants.” The matrimonial allusion grew out of the fact that the Associated Press was formed by an alliance of two groups of publishers. One coterie had made up the New York Associated Press. The other had constituted the backbone of the United Press—not the Scripps-Howard company organized with the same title in the next generation, but the enterprising league fostered by Walter P. Phillips, inventor of the telegraphic code which bears his name. Friends of Phillips charged that the combination was brought about with subterranean methods. They talked of “the scuttling of the United Press by treachery and desertion.”

Through W. M. Laffan, the Sun installed a subsidiary, the Laffan News Bureau, for operating convenience. That bureau was my putative employer. My actual chief was Chester S. Lord, the Sun’s managing editor. It was my task to get all the usable Mississippi Valley items that could be gathered singlehanded. The extent of my success would be reckoned by the volume of material obtained from the St. Louis dailies. The two morning papers were members of the Associated Press. They were debarred by a rule of that organization from giving or selling to non-members the news they collected. The Associated Press asserted absolute ownership of this intelligence. That claim was the basis of a monopolistic program, opposition to which I undertook with keen zest. So, my new duties were spiced with the sense of a struggle against unrighteousness.

Practical support came from various quarters for this fight against the theory that the rights of private property inhered in news. Ethical concepts of that dispute were in a state of flux. Its legal purports lacked authoritative definition for more than a quarter of a century. Then the United States Supreme Court divided on the subject. And the majority decision left unsettled an important phase of the issue. That ruling will be discussed in a later chapter.

Resentment in reportorial circles against the Associated Press program grew with the development of its results. Economic reasons fed this feeling. Theretofore, the reporter had considered himself the employee of one publication. Now, he found he was working not for one newspaper, but for many newspapers—for every member of an association that stretched across the continent. And there had been no increase in his compensation. The dissatisfaction this provoked was aggravated by a sense of further injustice. The arrangement, by which the products of his labor were distributed among hundreds of publishers without benefit to him, included a constriction of his opportunities for additional earnings. Thenceforth, he was forbidden to sell to out-of-town dailies—no matter how far removed from competition with his own employer—the news he himself had gathered. It belonged to the Associated Press.

Humorously exciting incidents attended my work for the New York Sun. A barter system was devised. Local stories—fruits of my own individual efforts—were swapped for telegraphic dispatches. My offerings were tendered openly. The items that came to me in exchange were usually delivered under a cloak of secrecy surcharged with comedy. Invariably they were brought to a rendezvous. Often the tryst was the back room of a saloon. The copyreader bringing me a proof or the reporter coming to whisper a tip frequently approached me with the exaggerated stealth of a villain in a melodrama. They were “on the lookout for Associated Press spies.” Their excessive precautions produced a picaresque atmosphere that they evidently enjoyed. It imparted to them a flavor of hazardous adventure.

At the end of six months, this routine began to pall. The laughs were enjoyable, but they built no ladder to high success. It was commendable to serve a worthy cause; but it was much more desirable to have a major share in the service. No decisive results could be scored in the post that had been assigned to me. An abrupt divergence followed a telegram from Chester S. Lord. It was reported that a calamitous flood had wiped out Shawneetown, Ill., and several neighboring communities. Estimates of the dead ran as high as 15,000. “Please get there as quickly as possible,” Lord directed.

This held the likelihood of the biggest out-of-town assignment yet intrusted to me. Newspaper circles were still stirred by recollections of the Johnstown (Pa.) cataclysm of eight years before. But the death list in that disaster had reached only 3,000. The possibilities for a reportorial exploit set me on edge. The main chance was to forward a complete report ahead of any other correspondent. Stimulating legends came to mind of various kindred feats. Outstanding was the hoary yarn about the journalist who commandeered a telegraph line. Only one operator with a single Morse channel was available. It was the telegrapher’s duty to complete the sending of a message before accepting any other dispatches. The hero of this incident wrote the address of his editor on the first page of a Bible and instructed the man at the key to transmit the contents of the volume. His own news copy was interpolated in instalments between Scriptural passages. Thus, until it became too late for his rivals to make use of it, he held the only wire leading from the scene of the story. With a slight variation, such a ruse might be repeated. Instead of a sacred work, a compact edition of Les Miserables found its way into my satchel.

A much more practical provision was the assistance of an expert telegraph operator. Howard Deems, proud of his speed as a “press sender,” cheerfully accompanied me. Under thirty, wiry, spry and resourceful, he seemed especially fit for such emergencies as we might encounter. Shawneetown, on the Ohio River, on the far side of Illinois, lay less than 150 miles by a straight line southeast of St. Louis. Unfavorable railroad connections retarded us. Soggy roadbeds on the last leg of the trip doubled the delay. Twenty hours after our start, we reached the head of the floodwaters at Ridgway, Ill., eleven miles from Shawneetown. There, unable to proceed farther, more than a score of correspondents from Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and other Midwestern cities were gathered in fretful frustration. Among them were several Associated Press men under the leadership of Harrison L. Beach.

Our appearance was greeted with a round of supercilious snorts. “Johnnie-come-late for a handout,” sneered one of the offish crew. He was incensed over the fate that gave to tardy comers an even start from taw with earlier arrivals. Deems was feeling his oats. The sullenness of the trammeled journalists only raised his self-appraisal. With an air savoring of condescension, he announced that we represented the New York Sun. Apparently, Deems had hit upon a piece of news of the least possible interest to his hearers. A transition of glum faces into surly backs intensified the ambient boredom. But a single shout of welcome revived Deems’s spirit. A tall, good-looking chap came running to us. “I’m Dwight Allyn of the Chicago Inter-Ocean," he said. “It’s like finding comrades in an enemy country to see you. These fellows have been treating me as if I were a virulent case of smallpox.” The Chicago Inter-Ocean was a client of the Laffan News Bureau—anathema to loyal members of the Associated Press. So now we were three against the field.

Allyn explained the impasse in which the news men were fuming. They had converged on Ridgway from different directions, all arriving shortly before sunset. For four hours they had been striving to obtain transportation to Shawneetown. Not a boat was left for use. The railroad was the only possible means of conveyance. Its sole functionary in position to act—the station master—refused to do so. He said his hands were tied. He had been forbidden to entrain any passengers for the inundated area. The track to Shawneetown was extremely unsafe. Acceptance of fares would involve responsibility for death or injury. The depot chief himself was anxious to explore the flooded section for missing kinsfolk.

Wasn’t there somewhere at hand the key to just such a master stroke as had kindled my fancy at the outset of this assignment? Our Associated Press rivals had appealed to their headquarters for help. Railroad executives were being sought in Chicago to telegraph discretionary authority to the Ridgway station-master. Day might come before such orders were received. Wasn’t it possible to leave our confident competitors awaiting word from their superiors while we made our way to Shawneetown? The ban on transportation covered passenger service. It did not relate to freight. The depot boss would surely see this point if the cargo consisted of relief supplies. And, of course, the donors would be permitted to accompany the shipment at their own risk.

A cash order for seventy-five dollars’ worth of groceries was a big event to Ridgway’s leading merchant. It became a larger matter when the goods were consigned to the stricken citizens of a neighboring community. It enlisted the diligent cooperation of the grocer and his assistant even though they were summoned from bed for the transaction. The relief train was made up of an engine, a caboose and a freight car. The provisions were loaded at a siding half a mile south of the Ridgway depot. Allyn and Deems waited with me under an abandoned water tower across the track. We pictured the restless vigil of our Associated Press friends pacing back and forth at the railroad station. Meanwhile, we watched for the locomotive fireman’s lantern signal that all was in readiness. When it came, at one o’clock in the morning, our glee was uncontrolled. This was a stunt we’d never forget. We made a headlong dash for the caboose. Inside were Harrison L. Beach and the entire aggregation of Associated Press men.

Beach’s greeting punctured my last bubble of pride. “It was kind of you to arrange this,” he said with what was evidently intended as a patronizing smile. “But you should learn not to underestimate the Associated Press.” A poultice for our wounded feelings was applied later by Beach’s sportsmanship. He confessed that the circumvention of our plan was in no way due to remissness on our part. “You were outnumbered and outweighed,” he explained. “The railroad men caved in. The idea of letting two newspapers put something over on hundreds of their competitors was too much for them to swallow. They realized that if they played your game, they would have to reckon with us afterward. They felt they’d break under the load. So, they figured it would be easier to forget a broken word than a broken back.”

The chagrin that underscored this new tabulation of pragmatic values was sharpened by another revelation. “You couldn’t prove that you were double-crossed,” Beach resumed. “You’ll find your station-master friend all wrapped up in innocence. If you accuse him of betraying you, he’ll probably flare out with righteous indignation. Nobody here tipped me off. I got a message from our Chicago headquarters that a relief train was being made up. Of course, I immediately cornered the depot chief and the rest was easy. But who slipped the word to our Chicago office and why it was done before you could get away, make another story. Anyhow, there’s nothing you could do about it.”

At daybreak, Deems found a swaying telegraph pole atop a section of levee from which the floodwaters had receded. It supported a single strand of copper. Fifty feet away lay an overturned farm wagon. Deems set his sending key on the tailboard of the shattered vehicle and “hooked up a circuit” with a stretch of office wire that he carried. But Deems found little satisfaction in the deftness with which he worked. The bitterness of his disappointment persisted. It had not been allayed by Beach’s generous statements. My own discomfiture was considerably eased. The Shawneetown disaster had dwindled into relative unimportance. The death toll had shrunk from 15,000 to less than 50. So, consolation was gained by matching the measure of our defeat with the actual proportions of the story. Moreover, Beach had insisted on sharing the expense of the relief train. That was a tribute to the soundness of the undertaking. Perhaps my pique would give way to a consciousness of valuable lessons learned. This comforting reflection was interrupted by an oath from Deems. “Our wire is dead!” he complained.

Again the mammoth rode the midget. The Associated Press crew had grounded the Laffan News Bureau line. Deems found the wire trouble in the person of Malachy (Mal) Doyle, a crack telegrapher, who had just arrived from St. Louis to reenforce our rivals. A strapping six-footer with a three-dimensional grin, his intentionally overdone show of innocence was a swaggering taunt. It said more derisively than words, “So what?” A compromise was proposed. Doyle would help Deems locate and repair the break, upon our agreement to share the channel with the Associated Press in alternate transmissions. Beach assented to the arrangement. Then came our inning. “You may have the first sending,” Beach was told. “The bulk of our story has already gone.” It was a small triumph, but it evened the score.

The tally soon turned in my favor. Doyle had set up a loop direct into the Chicago office of the Associated Press. Messages were exchanged between Beach and his headquarters. Deems could not be excluded from the circuit. It was his chore to listen in. Scraps of historic news ticked from the instrument on the rear end of the battered wagon on the levee. Relations between the United States and Spain were near the breaking point. Deems handed me a transcript of a Washington dispatch that had just reached Beach. It recited the issuance of orders to all American consular agents in Cuba to join Consul General Fitzhugh Lee in Havana and be prepared for immediate departure. That could have but one meaning. We were on the verge of actual hostilities.

The flood-drenched bottomlands of Illinois faded into a panorama of drabness. Beyond them stretched a vista of blazing battlefields. Nearly eight years had passed since my first ill-fated adventure in war correspondence. This time there would be no silly entanglements with Mexican filibusterers. This would be a man-sized job in all respects. Nothing should delay my start for the front. The Shawneetown story could be cleaned up by Allyn and Deems. My resignation as St. Louis correspondent of the Laffan News Bureau went by telegraph—over the same wire in which the Associated Press had forced a partnership and over which had come the Associated Press news that sped me toward the firing line.

Chapter 9 Part 1 Next Week   
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Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ken Reynolds


Kenneth James “Ken” Reynolds was born in Wabash, Indiana, on February 4, 1909, according to his birth certificate which had his full name and parents’s names, James Reynolds and Ercie Pricket.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Reynolds and his parents in Wabash at 693 Columbus Street. His father was a blacksmith.

In the 1920 census, the Reynolds family remained in Wabash but at a different address, 556 Sivey Street.

At some point the family moved. Reynolds graduated from Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Michigan. The school yearbook, Legenda, June 1928, published Reynolds’ senior photograph with this quote, “I never dare to write, or draw, as funny as I can.” Information about Reynolds art training has not been found.


Reynolds married Mildred King on November 10, 1929 in Marcellus, Michigan. The 1930 census said Reynolds’ parents lived in Marcellus.

According to the 1930 census, Reynolds resided in South Bend, Indiana, at 919 Logan Street. Reynolds was staff artist on a newspaper, probably the South Bend Tribune.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Reynolds produced Smokie, from December 5, 1932 to April 24, 1933, for the Bonnet-Brown Syndicate.

The 1940 census said Reynolds, his wife and daughter, Jo Ann, lived in Ionia, Michigan at 323 North Dexter. He the “telegraph editor” on a daily newspaper (the Sentinel Standard). The census said Reynolds completed four years of high school, and in 1935, he was a resident of Ottawa, Ohio.

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, October 5, 1954, published Reynolds trademark application for his panel Quickies.

SN 664,983. Ken Reynolds, Ionia, Mich. Filed Apr. 21, 1954.

For Cartoons of Varying Subject-Matter, Published Daily in Newspapers and Other Publications. Use since May 13, 1939.
According to the application, Quickies began May 13, 1939. American Newspaper Comics said Reynolds established the Ken Reynolds Newspaper Services to sell Quickies.

Reynolds’ trademark application for his cartoon Tips was published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, February 8, 1955.

SN 670,977. Ken Reynolds, Ionia, Mich. Filed Aug. 2, 1954.

For Cartoons of Varying Subject-Matter, Published Weekly in Newspapers and Other Publications. Use since May 14, 1953.

Reynolds’ letter was printed in Hoosierland, Volume 1 (1962). 

Being a Wabash native, I am particularly interested in getting a copy of your Hoosierland Magazine, the copy featuring Francis Slocum and Mississinewa Dam at Red Bridge.

Ken Reynolds
Creator of the Newspaper Comic, Quickies
Reynolds passed away January 19, 1986, in Ionia according to the Michigan death index at His death was noted in the Grand Rapids Press, January 21, 1986, “Kenneth Reynolds, aged 76, of 9477 Button Rd., Belding, died Sunday (January 19]. He was a retired Syndicated Newspaper Artist and Cartoonist….” Reynolds was laid to rest at Smyrna Cemetery

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Quickies

We've covered several comic strips and panels that were designed specifically to run in a newspaper's classified ad section, but here today we have what must be the most succesful of the genre. While most of these features had short lives, tiny client lists, or both, Ken Reynold's Quickies always had a healthy number of newspaper clients, and it ran for an amazing four decades.

The other amazing thing about the Quickies success story is that the daily panel cartoon was self-syndicated. It may well be that Quickies is not only the most successful classified ad panel of all time, but also the most successful self-syndicated feature.

Ken Reynold's gag panel debuted (as best I can determine) on May 13 1940. The formula was simple -- gags that offer a chuckle while at the same time gently suggesting that classified ads are the answer to all of life's problems. It wasn't the first feature that tread this exact path, and it wouldn't be the last. So what set it apart? My guess is two things -- first, Ken Reynold's art is so lively and fun that, like Sara Lee, nobody wouldn't like it. The second item, though, is my guess for the more important factor: Reynold was probably offering his service on a very cheap basis.  While Quickies found its way into some big papers, its bread and butter was smaller dailies. Some of these papers ran no other comics, but yet they managed to make room in the budget for Quickies. Either Reynolds was one heckuva salesman, or his prices were so cheap that even an editor who pinched pennies until they screamed couldn't resist adding Quickies to his classifieds. In the 1950s, Reynolds also targeted weeklies, and often the panel was titled Tips in those appearances.

Ken Reynolds was still finding clients in the 1970s, but I imagine he was finally longing to go through a day in which he didn't have to come up with a gag having to do with classified ads. Finally on November 7 1981 he called it quits.

I know next to nothing about Reynolds, except that his only other known feature was Smokie, which had a short run with the Bonnet-Brown Syndicate in 1932-33.  Lambiek claims that he was somehow associated with the South Bend Tribune. Beyond that he is an enigma. Here's hoping that Alex Jay can reveal our man. (Which he has, and you'll see that tomorrow ... and note he may have a likely even earlier start date)


Here's a photo
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Monday, August 21, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Bessie Busybody

Bessie Busybody is I guess what you'd call a double obscurity. It was a feature of the Philadelphia North American syndicate in 1903-04, so that's already plenty obscure. The double comes in with the fact that the North American itself did not run this strip, but only offered it to some of their small client list of newspapers, where it was an option they could run instead of Fatty Felix and the Flipp Boys. But don't ask me why their clients needed a substitute for Fatty Felix -- since that was essentially the North American's headline strip, why would clients want something else instead?

That mystery aside, this series by Hy Gage, he of the funny name and the extremely naive cartooning style, is a real delight. When it began on October 25 1903 it looked like it was going to be yet another totally forgettable strip about a naughty child. However, Gage soon got completely carried away with his character, and had her starring in adventures in the deep sea, outer space, and in bizarre fantasy lands. His undersea adventure was even sort of a continued story from one Sunday to the next, a rarity this early.

Gage mined some of his ideas from the writings of Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum, but brought plenty of his own creativity into play. A slight bit of -- let us say inspiration -- aside, Gage really pulled out all the stops and gave readers a whole lot of bang for their pennies in these joyously wild  full page strips. How very odd that this series, which I think  is some of Hy Gage's most interesting work, should not have even seen the light of day on his home turf in the Philadelphia North American.

Bessie Busybody is known to have run until at least the end of June 1904, and possibly longer*.

Thanks very much to Cole Johnson, who alerted me to this delightful double obscurity, and provided the scans.


* EDIT 12/21/21 -- New material just in, now my latest is 9/10/1904 in the St. Paul Dispatch


Hi Alan - Gage died in 1971. What I wonder about him and lots of other cartoonists is, how did they support themselves in all the years where they weren't working on strips? Gage had something like 60 years left after his strips...
Hi Brad -- According to Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile, he was working at the Philadelphia Bulletin and doing a little comic book work as late as the 1940s. That would have been when he was pushing 70. I think after that he'd earned his retirement. -- Allan
Hy gage was the editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia EVENING BULLETIN until January 1942, when F.O. Alexander spelled him. Alex worked alongside Gage for a few weeks,and Alex told me the old man intended on retiring.
It's true the Bessie Busybody series was not in the NORTH AMERICAN, but outside of the fact that the OREGON JOURNAL fielded a lot of NA Sunday strips, and Gage was based in Philly, how do we know this title was a NA release? It has no imprint. Maybe Gage was self-syndicating. Besides, if you will recall the configuration of a NA section, Fatty Felix in 1904 is offered as a half page only, usually coupled with the NA's longest running series, Muggsy.
Hi Mark --
I think the appearance of Bessie Busybody along with an otherwise full menu of PNA material in the Oregon Journal cannot be a coincidence. Circumstantial evidence, yes, but pretty darn convincing to me. Granted, I'd love to have a second paper with which to back up my claim, but beggars etc etc.

As for your observation that Fatty Felix was a half by this time, that's a very good point. Unfortunately my North American index is some 2000 miles away from my current location, so I can't compare it to the OJ to see what else was missing from their section. Any ideas?
Here's the breakdown of a North American section from this period from my own notes:(note the OREGON JOURNAL ran their comic section on Saturday)

28 February 1904
The Up-To-Date railroad terminal as pictured by McDougall(Full)
Willie makes a water motor for the sewing machine (by Crane)(½)
Speaking of ancestors (Mamma's "Uncle Tom"/ Cowboy) (by Chas. Reese) (½)
Fatty Didn't know the Chief was behind him, but the Flipps did (By McDougall (½)
Muggsy, on Board Ship, breaks up a crooked card game (By Crane) (½)

20 March 1904:
Effect of the war on everyday affairs by McDougallovichekski (Full)
Willie Westinghouse gets his teacher into more trouble (By Crane) (½)
Little Jap "It" and the Fierce Russians (By J. F. Hart) (½)
Jealous Percy Flipp couldn't resist a chance to injure Fatty Felix (McDougall) (½)
Muggsy and a Sausage Factory (By Crane)(¼)
Doll ad- Attleboro premium House, Attleboro, Mass.(¼)

McDougall's full-pager, which was sometimes locally-oriented, is always missing, so that makes sense.

The McDougall full page anthology series was sometimes syndicated by itself, such as in the CALGARY HERALD and the RICHMOND TIMES, where they might even be seen in the mag section.
I don't recall any specifically Philly-oriented one in either of McDougall's anothology series, the second was around 1908. Some full paged series appeared between them, like Peck's Bad Boy and Handsome Hawtrey, etc.
From their first section in 1901, it looked like the NA was offering a modern syndicated list of features. THE BOSTON SUNDAY POST ran the NA material starting only a few weeks after it's debut.
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