Saturday, July 21, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 12 1909 -- Here's one to keep the historians and sociologists writing theses. Herriman might be obliged by his editor to pen cartoons in favor of Jim Jeffries in the upcoming bout against Jack Johnson, but it seems very far-fetched to say that Herriman was required to depict Johnson as a mush-mouthed, ghost-fearing, watermelon stealing racist caricature.

Cartoons like this make me wonder if the cartoonist's psychological profile includes a complete self-denial of his racial heritage (as opposed to merely passing for white, which is generally the assumption). Is it that, or is it self-loathing? What could make him draw this cartoon, a red flag betrayal of his family and his race?


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Friday, July 20, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael

We've seen several examples of Albert Carmichael's "Gee I Wish I Had a Girl" postcards on Wish You Were Here Fridays, but this one, from the same Taylor Pratt Series #568, turns the tables leaving the poor gal out of the love loop for a change. Maybe if she wore a hat that wasn't 87 sizes too large for her head she'd attract some positive attention?


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Thursday, July 19, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Elizabeth Kirkman Fitzhugh

Elizabeth Kirkman Fitzhugh was born Elizabeth Katharine Atwater Kirkman on June 24, 1887 in Wallingford, Connecticut. Her full name was published in the 1906 Yale University yearbook Pot Pourri. The birth information was recorded on Fitzhugh’s naturalization and Social Security applications. The Social Security application had her parents names, Walter Kirkman and Laura Atwater.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Fitzhugh, her widow mother, younger sister, Laura, and aunt, Elizabeth Ashley, lived in Wallingford at 149 South Main Street. Her father was an Englishman.

Fitzhugh was a student at the Yale School of the Fine Arts from 1906 to 1909. The Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), October 22, 1909, said “Miss Laura Kirkman will continue her studies in the musical department of Yale university. Miss Elizabeth Kirkman will take a post-graduate course in the art department of the same institution.” The Brattleboro Reformer, July 29, 1910, reported “Mrs. Kirkman and Misses Laura and Elizabeth Kirkman will occupy James Underwood’s house during the remainder of their stay here.”

The 1910 census recorded Fitzhugh, her mother, sister and aunt in New Haven, Connecticut at 183 Lawrence Street. Fitzhugh’s occupation was artist.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the panel, Militant Mary, ran from September 29, 1913 to November 8, 1919. The panel was produced for Associated Newspapers. It was signed “Steve Hyde”. Beginning January 28, 1918, Fitzhugh signed the panel. There was no noticeable change in the art and lettering during the name change. Steve Hyde may have been a pseudonym for Fitzhugh. Coincidentally, the name Hyde turned up Fitzhugh’s “Josephus Hyde and His Sinful Pride” for the New York Tribune, November 15, 1914.

On January 21, 1914, she and Valentine M. Fitzhugh obtained a marriage license in Manhattan, New York City.

Valentine was listed in the 1916 New Haven, Connecticut city directory 29 Chestnut in West Haven. The 1917 directory said he had moved to New York City.

According to the 1920 census, artist Fitzhugh, her husband and daughter, “Emilee”, were Manhattan residents at 21 Waverly Place.

On June 26, 1924, Fitzhugh signed her Petition for Naturalization. Fitzhugh had lost her American citizenship when she married Valentine, an Englishman, on March 13, 1914. The petition said Fitzhugh had been living in the state of Massachusetts beginning June 18, 1920. Her present address was 99 Main Street, Concord, Massachusetts. She had two children, Emily and Richard.Three months later, Fitzhugh became an American citizen on September 29. Her husband also became an American citizen on April 13, 1929.

The Andover Historic Preservation website had this address for the Fitzhugh family, 124 Main Street. The 1928 North Andover, Massachusetts city directory listed Fitzhugh at 15 Morton. The same address was found in the 1930 census and a 1937 Andover directory.

Skull Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona was the home of self-employed Fitzhugh, her rancher husband and son in the 1940 census.

At some point Fitzhugh and Valentine moved to California where they obtained their Social Security numbers. When Valentine signed his World War II draft card, he lived in Noel, Missouri where he was unemployed. He was in Wichita, Kansas during the 1945 state census. Valentine passed away August 1965 and his last residence was Maryland.

Fitzhugh was included in the 1948 Yale University Alumni Directory Number: Living Graduates & Non-graduates.

What became of Elizabeth Kirkman Fitzhugh is not known.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Militant Mary

It's hard to believe that this blog has been running over a dozen years now, and I am just now getting around to making Militant Mary an Obscurity of the Day. I really like this little 1-column panel, which was distributed by Associated Newspapers from September 29 1913* to November 8 1919**, and I've been wanting to share it with you.

 The panel offers up a daily verse, which is sometimes a simple gag or homily, but also often makes quite bold comments about politics, women's lib, suffrage, and the injustices of the 1910s male-dominated society, all voiced by Mary, an ardent and unabashed feminist.

There is plenty of cartooning that touched upon these subjects in the 1910s, because the women's suffrage movement was becoming a powerful force, but the vast majority of those comments are (a) negative, and (b) from a male point of view. Not so with Militant Mary. She serves up her daily skewering of sexism with a keen-edged sword, and is not intended and never could be taken as delivered by a female buffoon. Though Mary can be humorously self-effacing,  she is no object of ridicule. She is an able deliverer of wise and pithy verses accurately illuminating the feminist perspective.

So now you may be wondering what woman was lucky enough to be granted this unusual and powerful daily soapbox. Well, to paraphrase Henny Youngman, that was no woman, that was Steve Hyde! I know absolutely nothing about Steve Hyde except that he signed his name to Militant Mary's verses for most of the life of the feature***. Why and how such a blatantly feminist feature came to be penned by a man I cannot imagine. Oddly enough, as intriguing as Militant Mary would have been to newspaper readers of the day, I have not yet found a paper that offers up one single word of background on the author. Could "Steve" be a woman in disguise? I dunno.

I do believe that Steve Hyde was only the writer, though. The art was never separately credited, but on January 28 1918, Steve Hyde's name was replaced with that of Elizabeth Kirkman Fitzhugh. I know Fitzhugh's work well enough to say that I'm reasonably sure that she actually supplied the art throughout the life of the feature. My assumption is that she began signing the feature only once she took over the writing from Steve Hyde. She was an able versifier, so who knows, maybe she hid behind the name Steve Hyde all along.

Fitzhugh's signed tenure on the feature ran until November 1 1919, after which there was a single week signed once again by Steve Hyde (presumably reprints), and then what I believe is the end of the feature. In 1920, one of the reprint syndicates got hold of the Fitzhugh-signed portion of the Militant Mary run, and distributed it to small rural papers until at least 1928.

Needless to say, anyone with information on the identity of 'Steve Hyde' will find an attentive ear here!

* Source: Chicago Daily News
**  Source: Wichita Beacon
*** the samples above are from a paper that removed the signature from the panels -- why, I dunno


I'm afraid you must look farther for an informational leak, if Steve Hyde's true identity you seek. Sorry in advance.
Great post!
Elizabeth Kirkman Fitzhugh and hyde are one and the same
I wonder - assuming it was indeed her alias - if she picked it because it'd make her alter ego "Mr. Hyde"?
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Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: H.A. MacGill


Harold Arthur MacGill was born on November 5, 1875 according to his World War I draft card which also had his full name. Newspaper profiles of MacGill said he was born in November 1881 in Yarmouth, Canada.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded MacGill in Queens, New York at 130 Palace Boulevard. The newspaper cartoonist was married to Agnes and had a son and daughter. MacGill employed three servants.

MacGill signed his world War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided in Bayside, Queens County, New York on Palace Boulevard. The cartoonist was employed by Frank Munsey, the publisher. MacGill was described as medium height, slender build with blue eyes and brown hair.

In the 1920 census MacGill and his family lived in Flushing, Queens County, New York on Odell Avenue. MacGill was a self-employed artist.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said MacGill produced over twenty comic series. His best-known and longest-running series was The Hall-Room Boys also known as Percy and Ferdie. It ran from October 8, 1904 to April 3, 1924 with various syndicates. Percy and Ferdie was collected in a book.

The syndicate provided a profile of MacGill to newspapers subscribing to Percy and Ferdie. Space limitations affected the length of the profile. Three versions were found in the Rockford Republic (Illinois), April 22, 1922, News-Dispatch (Endicott, New York), April 26, 1923, and Cortland Standard (New York), March 8, 1924. Texts from each newspaper were combined to create the following long version.

* * *

This is the story of a comic cartoonist who got his start putting designs on tombstones. The professional artistic career of Harold A. MacGill began in his father’s monument plant at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. It developed into the production of a newspaper comic strip that has the longest run in America.

Percy and Ferdie, the Hall-Room Boys, have been on the newspaper stage for 18 years. It is remarkable how they have kept their youth, snap and swank, after appearing 365 times a year since they sprang to life under MacGill’s pen in a New York newspaper office long ago. They swagger through a week-day strip and full Sunday page in over a hundred newspapers, amusing with their bluff and effrontery, hundreds of thousands of readers from Maine to California, and from the Isthmus of Panama to the Arctic circle.

Harold A. MacGill was born in Yarmouth of New England-Scottish parents in November, 1881. He attended Yarmouth schools, but gave more attention to caricaturing his teachers, putting wigs on the pictures of bald statesmen in the history and turning to comics the serious illustrations in the geography than he gave to his studies. He covered the backs of maps with designs of his own which pleased his fellow students but annoyed his instructors and decorated the walls of the Y.M.C.A. locker room with [illegible] which began his considerable [illegible] reputation.

“When I was old enough,” he said, “my father put me to work in the monument plant. There I was supposed to draw the conventional ivy leaf and the cross and crown for the tombstones of the town’s celebrities.

“But my heart was not in the work,” he added, with a twinkle in his eye. “Much of the time that I was supposed to be designing stone lambs and wreathes I was in a little abandoned shop next door to the plant which I had arranged as a studio. As I had the door as will as the walls covered with drawings and paintings, my father could not see me at work, and many a time when he tried the knob and got no answer I was inside, quietly working with pen and ink.”

The fame of young MacGill got him a number of odd jobs making advertising cards, posters for the street railroad and signs for various shops. Harold also collected the usual number of rejection slips. He saved his money with the idea of going to New York to make his fortune. In 1900 he realized his ambition in coming to the city and as to whether he has made his fortune his six-cylinder car and comfortable suburban home can testify.

With the parental blessing he received a $10 gold piece which is still in his possession, and fortifies his claim that he was never really “broke”. MacGill did not exactly starve in a garret at any time in his career, but when he first arrived he did spend a week in a boarding house which gave him the background for The Hall-Room Boys who live out of tin cans, cook over the gas when the landlady does not catch them and put all of their slender capital into clothes. From the boarding house he moved to a little apartment which was dignified by the name of studio. Here he and other cartoonists now famous had many a good time in the irresponsible joyousness of their impecunious youth.

Like the heroes of the [Horatio] Alger books, MacGill was soon rewarded with a position and he got a newspaper job but it didn’t bring him into contact for a long time with the illustrators he yearned to meet. He became a “slip boy” in the old New York police headquarters on Mulberry st. The slip boys handled the routine police reports for the newspapers and assisted the older reporters.

“I wasted several years down there,” he said, “I should have been carrying around photographs and retrieving erasers in the art room of some newspaper office. However, I went to Cooper Union for a while at night, where they tried to teach me to draw hands and feet. Finally I drew a cartoon on a subject involving the police headquarters which pleased the editor of a New York daily newspaper, and he gave me a job. I drew cartoons for a while and later worked as a reporter at $5 a week. This reporting was something I wasn’t fitted for or interested in, so I devised a series of “future punishments” which got me a job on another evening newspaper. In this series I imagined a just reward for men in various walks of life. A cab driver, for instance, would be [illegible] get between the shafts and [illegible] as passenger around streets that are paved with good intentions.

“You want to know where I got the idea for the Hall-Room Boys?” he said. “Well, I got a number of suggestions from real life. As an illustration: One evening on the gay white way of the Broadway theatrical district, I saw an elegantly dressed man, in a top hat and all the accessories, with a young lady whom I knew. I was curious as to who he was, and found out that he lived in a boarding house, kept his shiny hat under the bed, timed his rising in the morning by an alarm clock, punched the time clock at a department store, and there juggled rugs in the rug department for the balance of the day.

“Another young fellow who displayed the same kind of swank lived where I did. He was good looking and appeared to advantage in a dress suit. One evening he suggested that we go to the Waldorf, where there was a fashionable affair of some sort.

“What do you want to go there for?” I asked. “You haven’t an invitation.”

“He explained that he wanted to stand around in the lobby where people could see him. It gave him a good time just to be looked at.”

MacGill is neither a Percy nor a Ferdie. The more he draws flashy persons the deeper becomes his dread of being like them. The features of Ferdie might be a caricature of MacGill’s, but that’s just a coincidence.

The cartoonist is smooth-shaven, and does not show all his forty years. He is of medium height and by exercise has maintained a slender figure. He has a heavy shock of light hair on which time has not yet laid a finger, and he shows pride in it by wearing it a little long—but not of poetical length.

The author of Percy and Ferdie is quiet in manner, deliberate in speech, unaffected and easy of approach. He has a quaint chuckle which goes well with his dry Scotch humor, but he is no more a loud-voiced back-slapper than he is glum. He would probably fail completely as a book agent.

“I am fond of outdoor sports, such as mowing lawns, and clipping hedges,” he said. “Hence my attenuated waistline. This proved especially advantageous when the doctor called one day for my appendix.”

MacGill admits he is even-tempered. He claims to be the only man living who, without losing his equanimity taught his own wife how to run the car.

But to return to Percy and Ferdie:

The boys have been on the stage and are now in their third year in the movies. They appear also between book covers.

Although reluctant to talk about his work, MacGill need not be urged to discuss his two beautiful children. He is exceedingly proud of them and of the fact that Mrs. MacGill is more likely to be mistaken for their sister than their mother.

Laurence Leighton MacGill is 13, and will resent the word “beautiful” as applied to him. He is at present filled with the radio fever, and keeps the electric light switches in good repair. Laurence’s father was first convinced of the boy’s genius when he refilled a non-refillable bottle.

While the son has embarked on a career in mechanics, his sister Vivian, a year younger, hesitates between the graphic arts and classic dancing.

The MacGill home is in a suburb of New York city on Long Island, out where the lawns begin. The village in which it is situated, and which contains a considerable colony of artists, writers and actors, is in Greater New York, but is actually rural and has not yet arrived at the metropolitan dignity of street numbers.

In this peace and quiet, MacGill can work without interruption and need only go into New York once a week with his drawings. If he wishes to attend the theater or shop, however, an electric train takes him to the heart of Manhattan in half an hour. The grounds of the inviting home show the cartoonist has been busy with the lawn mower and hedge clippers when he could get away from his drawing board.

* * *

Other strips by MacGill are J.M. Muggsby’s Social AspirationsThe Economical Husband, and The Second Mrs. Mac.

According to the 1930 census, MacGill emigrated in 1898 and made his home at 205-15 42 Avenue in Bayside, New York. He had submitted naturalization papers. MacGill’s occupation was “Cartopracter”.

At some point MacGill moved his family to Manhattan. The 1940 census said the MacGill family was at 65 Seaman Avenue. MacGill was still an alien.

MacGill passed away December 1, 1952, in the Bronx, New York City according to the New York, New York Death Index at

—Alex Jay


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Monday, July 16, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: The Economical Husband

H.A. MacGill's fame is not secured by the fact that he was the cartoonist on the first true daily comic strip*, nor is it because of his appealing and unique art style. No, those few who do remember him tend to remember only that his comic strips, in particular the long running Hall Room Boys/Percy and Ferdie, were ridiculously text-heavy. In fact most of McGill's strips take the better part of a cup of coffee to read, and probably took him longer to letter than to draw.

MacGill's weekday strip The Economical Husband is no exception to the rule, though I've tried to spare you by picking some less text-heavy examples. The strip concerns a skinflint who ends up in trouble because of his frugal ways. The strip focuses also on his wife, though she seems to have no noticeable personality. Despite her often taking the brunt of his penny-wise ways, she rarely offers any opinion on the matter.

MacGill produced The Economical Husband on a stint at the New York Evening Globe, where it ran from August 21 1911 to December 1 1913**, mostly alternating space with his Hall-Room Boys, which he brought there after its long run with Hearst. All of MacGill's work at the Globe was syndicated through Associated Newspapers. The Globe assigned copyright to MacGill's strips not to the newspaper, but to H.P. Staton, the art director of the paper from 1904-1912, and then to J.G. Lloyd, whose role at the Globe is unknown but presumably he took over as art director***.

* Source: my article in Hogan's Alley issue #12
** Source: Jeffrey Lindenblatt's index of the New York Evening Globe.
*** Alex Jay has found a citation that he was the private secretary to the Globe's publisher, and another source stating that he was a "member of the editorial staff."


Have you heard, or know anything about the TRADER HORN newspaper strip, illustrated by Paul Berdanier? It ran in THE NEW YORK AMERICAN and other Hearst newspapers. Some of Berdanier's illustrations were used in the Simon & Shuster edition of THE BOY'S TRADER HORN by Kenneth Payson Kempton. Based on Berdanier's art for TRADER HORN he was once considered to take over the Tarzan newspaper strip and did illustrate TANAR OF PELLUCIDAR by Burroughs.
Hi Robert --
No I haven't. The microfilm record of the NY American is spotty, and that feature may well have fallen through the cracks. Anyone seen this series?

My understanding is that it ran in 1927 or 1928.
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