Saturday, June 16, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 6 1909 -- Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson both tendered $5000 so-called 'forfeit deposits' against their planned upcoming bout. Johnson required as part of his tender that Jeffries and he get together to determine the details of the match. However, Jeffries was due to take a steamer to Europe, and there was a worry that the two fighters would not be able to meet before the sailing.

As it turns out, the two did miss each other. Jeffries reportedly waited until the last possible minute in New York, expecting Johnson to arrive at the last minute. What he didn't know (and neither did Herriman) was that Johnson had landed in a jail cell in London Ontario, charged with reckless driving after a car accident.


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Friday, June 15, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton

Grace Drayton did a series of postcards for the firm of Reinthal & Newman, apparently in 1908 though this card is undated. It is a divided back card, and she used her married name of Weiderseim so that year certainly qualifies. This particular card is #177.

These cards by Drayton show a surprisingly pungent sense of humor (this one being my favorite of those I've seen). She is sometimes derided for the cloying sweetness of the Campbell Kids, forgetting that she was very much capable of less cutesy work.


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Thursday, June 14, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Marvelous Fun and Games

Although Marvelous Fun and Games doesn't technically fall within the purview of Stripper's Guide (our bylaws, written by yours truly, exempt me from tracking activity features), two things make me give this one admittance onto our exclusive premises.

First, it is a Marvel Comics production, and so therefore of presumed interest to many collectors, and second, because this feature was created by Owen McCarron, a native and favorite son of Nova Scotia Canada, my newly adopted home. McCarron produced puzzles for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and also did quite a bit of comic book work, often for Marvel Comics. McCarron was pals with Stan Lee, and talked him into the idea of combining his puzzle mania with Marvel's characters. The results would become the syndicated Sunday series Marvelous Fun and Games and the comic book series Marvel Fun and Games.

Not being a Marvel comics expert, I don't know if McCarron drew all the material for these features or if a lot of it came from model sheets. If McCarron produced it all, I have to say he was astoundingly good at staying 'on-model' for everyone in Marvel's cast of thousands. The puzzles and games in the feature were somewhat pedestrian, but they were obviously intended for a pretty young audience and were simplified to fit that demographic.

Marvelous Fun and Games was syndicated by Register & Tribune Syndicate to a fairly modest number of client newspapers. It debuted on September 10 1978*, and ended on November 16 1980* -- an end date that is pretty well certain because it literally has "FINAL WEEK" lettered on it!

* American Comic Book Chronicles:The 1970s by Jason Sacks and Keith Dallas
* from my files; tearsheet from an unknown newspaper


Man, I loved Owen McCarron's stuff. It was obvious he was an artist who really knew puzzles and Marvel history in equal measure, and as a big fan of both I was very impressed with his work. There were also a number of activity books of his Marvel puzzles which are a terrific find if you can locate them. It's a shame Owen's no longer with us.
Yeah, this looks like all Owen's work.
He was very good at what he did.
I have almost the complete run of the Marvelous Fun and Games Sunday Newspaper strip. Is there any way i can find out, or possibly someone out there in comic land knows, how many newspapers carried the strip? I have a feeling that it was somewhat "rare" and would be interested inl earning more about the strip. Thanks! Martin C. Boyer

I have the last Fun and Games comic strip if you want a pic. Let me know
The late Owen McCarron was a local Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, friend of mine. I have a lot of Owen McCarron-created comics he illustrated (many of this written by his friend, the since late Robin Edumiston.) In addition to working for Marvel Comics on the Marvel Fun & Games sort-of comic book, he did a lot of art for Charlton Comics, prior to this, mostly on war comics. Additionally, he self-published numerous full-colour comic books (dozens of them) for a Canadian audience, giveaways, and still more, sponsored by the Government of Canada. I have most of them. I also have a lot of them, signed by Owen McCarron. I miss him. In addition to the Marvelous Fan & Games newspaper strip that Owen McCarron did, he also had a syndicated previous newspaper strip that had nothing whatsoever to do with Marvel Comics. It was syndicated in just three Canadian newspapers, including one in Ottawa. Many segments of it I saw at his house, while he was still alive, and some of those segments were never, ever published. I wish I still had all Owen's Marvelous Fun & Games comic strips but I don't. Anyone want to sell theirs, or colour photocopies of same?-- Phil Latter
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Claude Shafer

Winfred Claude Shafer was born in Little Hocking, Ohio, on January 7, 1878, according to a passport application, World War II draft card and Who Was Who in American Art 1564–1975 (1999). However, the Ohio Birth and Christening Index, at, said Shafer was born in Belpre, Ohio, which is 8 miles/12.9 kilometers west of Little Hocking. The index also had Shafer’s full name. An family tree said his parents were Henry W. Shaffer and Susan Lovisa Davis.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Shafer, his parents and younger brother Francis in Parkersburg, West Virginia on Labrobe Street. The Cincinnati Post (Ohio), March 16, 1914, revealed some details about Shafer’s childhood, education and art training.

…At a very tender age Claude displayed signs of the drawing talent that has since won him recognition.

That boy was always a drawer. He took his parents by the hand and drew them from the family homestead, in Washington-co., near Little Hocking, O., Cincinnati.

He was then 4.

He has been drawing, here and there, ever since—salaries, and raises, and attention. And, of course, cartoons.

Well, to get back—one of the early achievements of young Claude in Cincinnati was to become a newspaper seller. You may recall him, darting about Peebles Corner, crying his wares—The Post.

At the age of 9, he entered art school. He was the youngest pupil. The teachers in the public schools paid his tuition because they recognized his ability, and wanted yto see it developed.

He attended the art school four years. After that he had to go to work. It was then he got the job as messenger boy. Then he entered the brick yard. Finally he was employed in a jewelry store, in the Arcade. he remained nine years.

…He has been a wage-earner since he was 13. And we forgot to mention that for five years, during which he grubbed during the day, he went to art school at night.
Cincinnati Curiosities said Shafer attended the Cincinnati Art Academy and his father died of cholera in 1892. Shafer’s passport application said his father died August 28, 1893.

The 1900 census said jewelry clerk Shafer was a Cincinnati resident. He and brothers Walter, Cleveland, Harry were in their mother’s household at 4120 Eastern Avenue.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Shafer produced the strip Old Man Grump, for the Cincinnati Enquirer, starting July 14, 1908.

Newspaper cartoonist Shafer, wife Kitty and mother-in-law Kate Wiederecht resided at 3626 Columbia Avenue in Cincinnati according to the 1910 census. The 1930 census said Shafer was 25 when he married.

Shafer illustrated a number of books including Dorothy (1906), Bill Johnston’s Joy-Book (1922) and the cover of Humor Among the Minors: True Tales from the Baseball Bush (1911).

Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists, including Shafer. 

During World War I Shafer traveled to England and France. Attached to the passport application was a brief letter, dated July 17, 1918, from the War Department’s Office of the Chief of Staff, that said: “The War Department has no objection to Shafer, Claude of 1129 Delta Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio being sent for duty with the A. E. F., in connection with YMCA.”

Pennsylvania in the World War: An Illustrated History of the Twenty-eighth Division, Volume 2 (1921) published a photograph of Shafer entertaining the troops.

Shafer signed his draft card October 20, 1918. The Cincinnati Post cartoonist was described as short and stout with brown eyes and hair. One of Shafer’s war cartoons appeared in Association Men, January 1919. Two Shafer cartoons were included in the book, The War in Cartoons, A History of the War in 100 Cartoons by 27 of the Most Prominent American Cartoonists (1919), here and here.

Shafer’s address and household was unchanged in the 1920 census. According to American Newspaper Comics, Shafer drew The Doodlebugs for the George Matthews Adams Service, from 1923 to 1928.

Shafer and his wife returned from Europe on August 25, 1929. Aboard the S.S. Carmania, they departed from Havre, France on August 17. The couple’s address on the passenger list was 1232 Paxton Road, Cincinnati. The same address was in the 1930 and 1940 censuses and Shafer’s World War II draft card.

Claude Shafer’s Cartoon Guide of Ohio was published in 1939. Included with the book was a cartoon map of Ohio which can be viewed here.

Shafer passed away May 24, 1962, in Cincinnati. Several newspapers, including the New York Times, published the Associated Press report the following day.

Claude Shafer, cartoonist for Cincinnati newspapers for fifty-five years, died today at his home in the Hyde Park section. He was 84 years old.

Mr. Shafer went to work for The Cincinnati Times-Star in 1901. He moved to The Post the same year and worked briefly for The Enquirer twenty-five years later before returning to The Times-Star in 1926. He retired in 1956.

One of his most widely known cartoon characters was Old Man Crump [sic].

—Alex Jay


Came across this today while searching info on Claude Shafer. My grandmother cut out The Doodlebug cartoons and glued them in a scrapbook. As a child in the the 1940s and 50s, my siblings and I enjoyed those cartoons. My current email is one cartoon advertising Florida real estate shows an arch called Welcomr to Doodleville that looks like a real one in Daytona Beach. Parts of it have disappeared over the years, but locals loved the Tarragona Arch so much that it was moved to allow U.S. 92 to be four-laned in rhe mid1980s.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: The Doodlebugs

Claude Shafer was a longtime sports cartoonist for various Cincinnati papers, serving for over fifty years in total from the early 1900s to well into the 1950s. He created a mascot character for his sports cartoons called Old Man Grump, and tried to take that character into syndication as a comic strip in the late 1910s with no success. He later tried again with The Doodlebugs, and that was modestly popular enough to last for quite awhile.

The Doodlebugs was one of those 'panorama' cartoons that seemed to find an appreciative audience back in the day. Shafer's page-wide panoramas featured a cast of bugs and woodland creatures. Some of the bugs were of identifiable types, but most were Play-Doh blobs. The weekly cartoons typically had a seasonal or holiday theme, and the whole large cast would show up to toss off one-liners.

The feature was syndicated by the George Matthew Adams Service starting on July 29 1923* with an episode in which the bugs 'hatch out', and it was marketed as the main graphic attraction on a boys-and-girls page meant for a paper's black-and-white Sunday feature section. As far as I know The Doodlebugs was never offered or used in color comics sections. Although I offer the 1923 date as the start, I found a piece of original art at Heritage Auctions that had a note on it to appear on a Sunday date in 1918 (the note seems just slightly suspicious as a possible later addition), so it could be that Shafer produced the feature for a Cincinnati paper for a long time before it comes onto my radar.

The feature is hard to track because it did not merit its own listing in the E&P yearbooks; only the whole kids' page was listed. It seems like the Boys and Girls Page may have moved from George Matthew Adams to Associated Editors in 1927, but that is unclear. What is clear is that about this time the page started rerunning old episodes of the feature. Whether Shafer was personally involved with the feature after this, or if GMA sold off their inventory and someone in the Associated Editors offices chose the episodes to re-use I do not know. All I can say is that I have examples of the feature running as late as 1931*.

* Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette
* New Orleans Times-Picayune


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Monday, June 11, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Johnny Devlin

John Daniel “Johnny” Devlin was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 10, 1906, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at His full name was published in a newspaper.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census said Devlin was the youngest of four children born to James, an English emigrant and baker, and Sarah, a Scottish emigrant. The family lived in Brooklyn at 8 Hicks Street.

In the 1915 New York state census, the Devlins resided at 6 Poplar in Brooklyn. Devlin’s father was a shipping clerk.

According to the 1920 census, the Devlin family were residents of Richmond Hill, Queens, New York, at 115 Mills Street.

Newspaper artist Devlin and his parents, in the 1930 census, made their home in Freeport, Nassau County, New York at 68 West Seaman Avenue. The same address was recorded on a May 1931 passenger list when Devlin visited Bermuda.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Devlin ghosted Milt Gross’s Looy Dot Dope early in its run which began in 1925. Devlin created the Looy Dot Dope topper Colonel Wowser for United Features Syndicate. For the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate, Devlin drew Honey Dear that ran from December 6, 1937 to August 27, 1938. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Devlin assisted Rube Goldberg.

The Quality Companion: Celebrating the Forgotten Publisher of Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters (2012) explained Devlin’s role with Goldberg.

[Publisher] Busy Arnold had arranged for his book to be filled, printed and distributed, but he still needed an editor to run the outfit and to maintain its…quality. Arnold had become good friends with the popular cartoonist Rube Goldberg and Busy credited the artist with helping him put together the first issues of Feature Funnies. Rube’s assistant, Johnny Devlin, edited the first few issues, but Rube had just begun “Lala Palooza” and he couldn’t spare Johnny for more that a few days each month….
Devlin’s comic book credits are at the Grand Comics Database.

The Nassau Daily Review (New York), December 18, 1934, published marriage license notices including Devlin’s: “John Daniel Devlin, 28, of 68 West Seaman avenue, Freeport, and Miss Margaret Mary Bice, 38, of the Nautilus beach club, Atlantic Beach.”

The 1940 census recorded newspaper cartoonist Devlin, his wife and daughter, Diane, in Brooklyn at 850 Lincoln Place. Devlin had four years of high school.

Devlin passed away April 1, 1942. An obituary appeared two days later in the Brooklyn Eagle

The funeral of John D. Devlin, 36, artist and cartoonist, of 62-14 18th St., Elmhurst, who died Wednesday after a brief illness, will be held at 9:30 am. tomorrow from the chapel at 38 Lafayette Ave.; thence to the R.C. Church of the Ascension in Elmhurst, for a final blessing.

Mr. Devlin formerly was a cartoonist on the old New York World and later drew the comic strip “Looy Dot Dope” for United Features Syndicate. Lately he had been associated with Rube Goldberg. He also drew for comic magazines.

Mr. Devlin is survived by his widow, Margaret Rice Devlin; two daughters. Diane and Mary Jane; his parents, James and Sarah Devlln; a brother, James, and two sisters, Mrs. George Thorne and Mrs. Frank Goonan.

—Alex Jay


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