Monday, April 16, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Collection Day Chuckles

If you delivered newspapers as a kid, you certainly remember that the worst part of the job was to collect the subscription money. There were always people on your route who never paid their bills on time, or gave you a run-around. Any fantasies we kids had of being invited in by beautiful housewives wearing negligees on collection day were quickly dispelled. Hairy guys in undershirts with ugly dispositions seemed to be behind every door.

A group of newspaper publishers got together in the 1920s or early 1930s and formed an organization called the Newspaper Boys of America. The purpose of the organization was to teach kids how to be effective in their jobs -- one of the key points being how to get those deadbeat subscribers to pay up.

In 1948 the organization put together a series of panel cartoons titled Collection Day Chuckles, and offered them free to newspapers. The idea, obviously, was to remind newspaper readers to pay their newsboys. Although the gags were pretty uniformly bland and unfunny, the point was being made.

The cartoons were to be run on any frequently the newspaper wanted, and they were supplied in batches. It's probably impossible to tell just how many of these cartoons were produced. Though some are numbered and those are generally in the 500s, I see enough re-run cartoons showing up in papers that my guess would be way lower, certainly no more than a few hundred. I've encountered Collection Day Chuckles appearing as late as the early 1960s, but I imagine they were only actually being produced for a few years, and the material then sat for years in slush piles.

Most of the cartoons were drawn by Rome Siemon, who will be profiled tomorrow, but a subset (mostly the numbered ones) were by a different cartoonist (or catoonists) who did not sign them. 


"Everybody in wig-wam have heap fun with the comics--just like white family." Gee, the well meaning casual racism in this panel cartoon is chilling for so many reasons. What a concept, Native Americans enjoy the comics just like the immigrants do! Woo-woo-woo-woo everybody!
Mark Kausler, (one quarter Cherokee)
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