Saturday, September 01, 2018


Herriman Saturday

August 29 1909 -- Jim Jeffries continues to get the royal treatment while Jack Johnson is shunned by most of the world. The big fight is now less than a year away, although no date was set as of this time.


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Friday, August 31, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

For such a popular collectible, postcards seem to have a lot of unexplored history -- at least if that history is known it has avoided being reported on the 'net. This very nice Dwig postcard is from what I'll call the "Want Ad" series, all of which were copyrighted to "A. Blue" and indicated as being in series #500. I can find no info on A. Blue, but they published a very high-end card here, with nice embossing. The cards in this series are quite common, so they were evidently well-received by postcard buyers in 1909.


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Thursday, August 30, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Hazen Conklin

Hazen Conklin was born on April 21, 1883, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Birth Records at Ancestry.dom and Conklin’s World War II draft card. His parents were Charles Conklin, a clergyman, and Lillian Hazen, who died when Conklin was almost seven years old. Her death was reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 10, 1890.

Conklin has not yet been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

Conklin followed in his father’s footsteps. The Universalist Register for 1905 said Conklin was preaching in Canton, New York. The 1906 Register said Conklin was located at 16 Clifton Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Boston Herald, February 12, 1906, reported Conklin had resigned from the First Universalist Church in Plymouth and accepted a call from the Universalist Church of West Lynn. Also mentioned was Conklin’s education as a graduate of Tufts College and the Universalist Theological Seminary in New York.

Before leaving Plymouth, Conklin married Marcia Thomas Manter on March 1, 1906 as recorded in the Massachusetts, Marriage Records at

The Universalist Register for 1907 listed Conklin at 27 Mall Street in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Our Paper, February 9, 1907, said “The First Universalist Church of Nashua has extended a call to the Rev. Hazen Conklin of West Lynn.” Conklin and his wife were among the New Hampshire representatives who attended the Universalist General Convention. The 1908 Register said Conklin resided in Nashua, New Hampshire.

The 1910 census said Conklin, a widower, was in North Attleborough, Massachusetts at 25 High Street.

Several newspapers including the Washington Herald (District of Columbia), June 10, 1910, reported Conklin’s bankruptcy. Conklin said he wanted “to give up the ministry and take up writing.” The Spokane Press (Washington), November 4, 1910, said Conklin wanted to be a newspaper reporter.

On March 10, 1911, Conklin married Anna Esther Hilsebusch in Quincy, Massachusetts. The couple and their daughter Edith were counted in the 1915 New York state census. They lived in Brooklyn at 4404 Sixth Avenue. Conklin’s occupation was editor. In the 1920 and 1930 censuses, the Conklin family was in Brooklyn at 580 East 22nd Street.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Conklin wrote several comic series, from 1914 to 1916, for the New York World’s Press Publishing. Some of the series were Comickettes, Evening World’s Success Movies for Young Men, Sammy Says, Sammy’s Sayings and Sammy’s Slate.

Thornton Fisher illustrated Conklin’s piece, “Down in Front”, in the Moving Picture World, February 5, 1916.

Conklin’s move to the Thompson Feature Service was reported in Editor & Publisher, January 1, 1920.

At some point Conklin moved to Rhode Island. In the 1935 state census, Conklin was a widower in Providence. The 1940 census said Conklin and his daughter resided in Providence at 157 Melrose Street. Conklin was the editor of the Journal.

Conklin was at the same address when he signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. Two days later Conklin passed away. The New York Times, April 30, 1942, said Conklin died at his home.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Obscurities of the Day: Sammy's Slate / Sammy Says / Sammy's Sayings

The New York Evening World published hundreds of in-house produced comic strip and panel series in the 1900s-10s, and two of the most interesting of those series involved Hazen Conklin. Sorry but we're not going to discuss them today. Instead today we cover Conklin's much less interesting triptych of 'Sammy' series, Sammy's Slate, Sammy Says and Sammy's Sayings.

Offered in the series were peeks at the scribblings and doodlings of Sammy, a grade school kid. The first two series had those doodlings on the kid's school slate, so everything is shown in negative, white lines on black. Since daily papers rarely had really inky blacks, reading the contents of Sammy's slates was like squinting through a fog. In the top sample above I have played with the contrast on the scan quite a bit just so that you can see the contents, but on the original tearsheet (which granted, appeared in a syndicated outlet paper) is all but impossible to make out. An earlier and better executed version of this idea is Dwig's Ophelia's Slate, in which Dwig always made sure that the slate material was drawn very bold so it could withstand weak inks.

Printing difficulties notwithstanding, Sammy's Slate ran for quite awhile as a weekday strip in the Evening World, March 7 to December 12 1914. Conklin then took time off from his Sammy activities in order to work on those aforementioned much more interesting series, but then came back to his slates with Sammy Says. This version didn't try to cram so much onto the slate, and was therefore much more legible. However, it ran a mere four times in the period June 26 to July 13 1915.

The final Sammy series was Sammy's Sayings, in which the slate conceit is thankfully dropped. It also had a very short lifespan, running weekdays from December 6 to 29 1915. Sammy work was expelled from the Evening World after that third attempt.


Nice to see Mr. Zip enjoying a skating date.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Albertine Randall Wheelan

Albertine Randall Wheelan was born Albertine Randall in San Francisco, California, on May 27, 1863, according to a California State Library biographical index card filled out by Wheelan, and a family tree at Wheelan’s parents were Albert Gallatin Randall and Anne Augusta Frost Soule. An 1862 San Francisco directory said her father was a notary public and involved in real estate. The family tree said he passed away January 12, 1869, in San Francisco.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Wheelan was the youngest of four siblings. Her mother was a housewife and her brother was a store clerk. The 1871 San Francisco Directory listed her mother with the address 911 Howard. Directories for 1873 to 1875 said the family resided at 6 Harriet.

The 1880 census recorded 430 Oak in San Francisco as the address for Wheelan, her mother and siblings.

According to volume 27 of the American Art Annual (1928), Wheelan was a pupil of Virgil Williams at the San Francisco School of Design. In Artists in California, 1786–1940: L–Z (2002), Edan Milton Hughes said Wheelan studied privately with William Keith. Wheelan exhibited at the Mechanics’ Institute in 1879; the San Francisco Art Association from 1887 to 1905; San Francisco Guild of Arts & Crafts, 1904; the San Francisco Sketch Club from the 1890s to 1906; and the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The San Francisco Call, May 23, 1887, reported Wheelan’s marriage. (The announcement was transcribed at San Francisco Genealogy and had the year wrong, 1886. Wheelan’s biographical index card had the date May 18, 1887. In the text below, the wedding was on Wednesday which corresponds with the 1887 calendar. In 1886, that day was a Tuesday.) A marriage notice appeared in the Daily Alta California, May 20, 1887.

On Wednesday afternoon [May 18], at the residence of the bride’s mother on Bush street, Miss Albertine Randall of this city, and Mr. Fairfax Wheelan of San Jose, were married according to the impressive rite of the Episcopal church, the Rev. Bishop Kip reading the marriage service. The home was beautifully and artistically ornamented for the happy occasion, and after the solemnization of the ceremony a wedding breakfast was served, during which many congratulations and good wishes for a happy future were offered to Mr. and Mrs. Wheelan. In the afternoon the bride and groom left on a wedding tour to the Yosemite valley.
So far, Wheelan’s earliest published work, “The Japanese Dolls”, in St. Nicholas was found in the July 1887 issue. A partial list of Wheelan’s illustrations for St. Nicholas is here.

According to the 1900 census, Wheelan and her merchant husband had two sons, Edgar and Fairfax. Also in the household were Wheelan’s mother and sister-in-law. They lived in San Francisco at 1915 Baker Street.

Wheelan’s move to New York City, in 1906, was explained in The Argonaut, November 5, 1921. 

…But the earthquake and fire came, and the local atmosphere was not favorable to art. Thus did Albertine Randall Wheelan go, as do so many of our gifted ones, to New York, and there for a number of years she has devoted the major part of her time to designing costumes and sets for the David Belasco, Henry Savage, and other theatrical productions.
The Book-plate Booklet, May 1908, profiled Wheelan and said: …Mrs. Wheelan has spent the past year and a half in New York City, giving her time chiefly to the designing of costumes for David Belasco’s productions. She has designed a book-plate for Mr. Belasco…

The American Magazine of Art, April 1921, explained how Wheelan met Belasco.

…[Wheelan] came East to do some special work for St. Nicholas Magazine. Mr. Belasco, at that time was bringing out the “Rose of the Rancho,” portraying Spanish California in the early forties. He sent his Art Director to the Century Company to ask if they knew of anyone familiar enough with California history to make costume plates, and he was referred at once to Mrs. Wheelan.
Wheelan’s New York theater credits are here.

The 1910 census said magazine illustrator Wheelan, her sons and sister Frances were in New York City at 9 Fort Washington Avenue.

Wheelan illustrated works by Anice Terhune including Colonial Carols, Dutch Ditties, A Chinese Child’s Day and Barnyard Ballads. Wheelan illustrated The Secrets of the Elves by Helen Kimberley McElhone, and Nell K. McElhone’s The Surprise Book.

In 1914 Wheelan crossed the Atlantic Ocean. On the return she sailed from Dover, England, June 20 and landed in New York July 1.

Wheelan’s husband passed away March 26, 1915 in San Francisco. He was remembered in The Pacific Unitarian, April 1915, and the Harvard College Class of 1880, 40th Anniversary Report 1920, which has two photographs of him between pages 196 and 197. An obituary was published in the San Francisco Examiner on March 27.

Wheelan and her son Edgar lived in Manhattan at 19 West 31st Street. Both were artists who had studios. They were at the same address in the 1925 New York state census which included Wheelan’s sister, Frances, a teacher.

Evening Star 1/7/1924

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Wheelan produced Dumbunnies for the George Mathew Adams Service. The strip, also know as In Rabbitboro, ran from May 1922 to October 1, 1927. The Fourth Estate, May 27, 1922, noted Wheelan’s entry into comics. The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, October 25, 1927, published the following entry. 

Ser. No. 254,653. Albertine Randall Wheelan, New York, N. Y. Filed Sept. 12, 1927.

Particular description of goods.—Comic Strips. Claims use since June 21, 1926.
The American Art Annual said Wheelan’s studio was at 337 Fourth Avenue and her home at Life Chambers, 19 West 31st Street. She was a member of the American Association of Cartoonists and Caricaturists. At the 1926 International Exhibition of Book Plates, in Los Angeles, her design was awarded an honorable mention.

Wheelan has not been found in the 1930 census. A passenger list recorded her departure from Kobe, Japan on December, 24, 1930. She arrived in Seattle, Washington on January 7, 1931. Wheelan may have been out of the country during the 1930 census enumeration which began in April.

The New York Evening Post, March 8, 1932, noted Wheelan’s new location: “H. B. Hillyer & Co. rented apartments to Mrs. A. R. Wheelan at 21 Fifth Avenue….”

Wheelan and her sister, Frances, an art teacher, shared an apartment at 51 Morton Street in Manhattan according to the 1940 census which said Wheelan was a housewife who had four years of college. At the same address was Wheelan’s son Edgar.

Wheelan sent her portrait to Edwina Dumm in May 1943. 

Courtesy Heritage Auctions

Wheelan passed away January 9, 1954, in Litchfield, Connecticut. The Evening Star (Washington, DC), published the Associated Press report the same day. Wheelan died in her home in Litchfield where she had lived for a 
year-and-a-half. She was survived by sons, Edgar and Fairfax, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

—Alex Jay


One known visit to England. The idea that Dick Dumbunnie is meant to be a concert party Pierrot is still faintly possible.
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Monday, August 27, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: In Rabbitboro / Dumbunnies

Albertine Randall, whose married name was Wheelan, came to newspaper cartooning work very late in life. In her earlier years she was primarily known as a children's book illustrator. She was well into her 50s when the bug hit, and she probably caught it from her famous son, Edgar "Minute Movies" Wheelan. In May 1922 (exact date uncertain)* her strip In Rabbitboro debuted with the George Matthew Adams Service in a reasonably healthy number of papers.

In Rabbitboro featured a cast of bunnies and was set in a seaside resort town. The lead was Dick Dumbunny, who was just as often a gagster as well as the butt of jokes. Dick wore a  Pierrot clown costume for reasons unclear, while the rest of the town residents went in for more conventional attire.

The strip had an undeniable charm. I think 'sassy' would be an accurate description of the humor. Perfectly fine for the kids, but mom and dad could get a chuckle out of it too. My pet peeve with animal strips of this type, in which the characters are animals for no particularly overwhelming reason, can be forgiven for its other strengths.

According to an article in Cartoons magazine, the official name of the strip was originally Dumbunnies, changed to In Rabbitboro from mid-1923 to 1926, then switched back to Dumbunnies. I long assumed that to be a true statement, but now with the benefit of more digital newspapers to canvass, I believe the truth is that the original title is In Rabbitboro, changed to Dumbunnies in June 1926, and never reverted.

I believe that Randall retired the strip on June 2 1928** or very shortly thereafter despite several online sources stating that it ended in 1929. The strip did get resurrected in the 1930s, sold in reprints, which always muddies the waters.

* Source: The Fourth Estate, May 27 1922.
** Source: Harrisburg Telegraph


Was Randall British? Concert parties were little variety shows presented at English seaside resorts, traditionally featuring Pierrot costumes and usually on outdoor stages. Dick's getup would have been a familiar sight at Brighton or at Scarborough (note the name resemblance), although he likely wouldn't have worn it while doubling as a bellhop or otherwise between performances. Conceivably, Rabbitboro featured other British touches that were lost on American readers and editors.

Concert parties figure in the movies "Sylvia Scarlett" and "The Good Companions". "Good Companions" was based on a popular British novel of three sensible folk cut loose from their dull lives, who hook up with a failing concert party and help propel it to success. Young John Gielgud plays a fired schoolmaster paired with Jessie Matthews, a lively young singer. "Scarlett" is a Hollywood oddity starring Katharine Hepburn as a girl impersonating a boy, who joins Cary Grant and a few others to form a concert party fraught with soap opera complications.

I have come into possession of approximately 50 In Rabbitboro comic strips from the 1920's by Albertine Randall Wheelan and am trying to find out information and valuation but there is scare information of either. Help would be wonderful
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