Thursday, May 24, 2018
Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Boss
When World Color Printing began sharing many of the Philadelphia Press Sunday comics (Hairbreadth Harry, Mrs. Timekiller, Clumsy Claude, etc.) in 1911, they were able to produce a complete four page Sunday section with very little additional content. Along with their flagship feature, Slim Jim, the only other comic strip they kept producing was Mr. Boss by an excellent cartoonist who signed himself 'Rutledge'.
Thanks to Alex Jay, we've already identified the mysterious Rutledge -- he is Frank Rutledge Leet, one of the mainstays in the NEA cartooning bullpen at this time, and obviously moonlighting at WCP for a few extra bucks.
Mr. Boss was a pretty good strip, with highly animated barnyard animals the characters, and a typically egotistical rooster getting star billing. Lots of raucous physical humor with a minimum of gabbing makes this one a winner.
Mr. Boss began in the WCP section on November 14 1909, and survived the great content purge of 1911. The strip kept running until May 18 1913, when Leet decided to try something different. His new strip was called Duke -- a real stinker of a strip about a pony.
In my book you'll see this strip listed as Mr. Boss and Mr. Reynard, and a note there says that the Mr. Reynard character began to get co-billing in late 1911 or early 1912. Okay, so I don't know what sort of wacky weed I was smoking that day, but I can no longer find any evidence that a Mr. Reynard was a character in the strip except once on February 19 1911. So it's time to get the ol' Marks-a-Lot out, and do some surgery on that listing. Everything else is okay, but drop Mr. Reynard from the title and black out my completely errant comment.