Saturday, September 15, 2018


Herriman Saturday

September 23 1909 -- After a two week layoff Herriman is back, and his first large cartoon is on a topic that he rarely covers -- football. That season is just getting started, and George takes a few broad swipes at it.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, September 14, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Gene Carr

Here's a St. Patrick's Day card from Gene Carr. It was published by the Rotograph Company, and numbered 'F.L. 189'. It is undated, but was postally used in 1908.

The message on the reverse is rather interesting. A friend who signs himself only as "Authority" is warning Mr. Delmer Homer of Cortland NY that a mutual friend of theirs,  of the female persuasion, has targeted him for matrimony. He is warned by "Authority" to beware of her 'bear trap.'


It is dated- note the copyright in the lower right corner. the type font the title is set in seems to be one Rotograph had made for them.
Oops! Time to check that eyeglass prescription...
Post a Comment

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bertram Elliott

Bertram Robinson Elliott was born on September 8, 1889 in Tokyo, Japan, according to his United States Petition for Naturalization, at, which he filed July 15, 1918. His parents were Canadian. It’s not known when he returned to Canada. Elliot was counted in the 1901 Canada census. He resided in Brandon, Manitoba.

Elliott’s artistic achievement was reported in The Victoria Daily Colonist (British Columbia, Canada), April 27, 1906, on page five, column five.

Won Royal Prize.—Bertram Elliott, who is studying with Miss L.M. Mills, of this city, has been successful in gaining the highest award from the Royal Drawing society. Miss Mills was so pleased with the boy’s work that she sent samples to the exhibition of the Royal Drawing Society, Caxton Hall, London, England. Two thousand seven hundred sheets of drawings were sent from various parts of the British Empire and out of this competition Bertram Elliott’s worked gained the highest prize, viz., H.R.H. Princess Louise prize. Had this boy been in England he would have had the honor of receiving his reward from the hands of H.R.H. herself.
Elliott’s award was also reported in The Journal of Education, May 1906.

The Victoria Daily Colonist, November 2, 1907, covered the graduation at Victoria High School. Elliott graduated in the Arts with an average percent of “73 2-3”.

According to Elliott’s petition, he sailed on September 1, 1910 from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington. Elliott attended the University of Washington and was in the class of 1914. He was on The Tyee yearbook art staff in 1912 and 1914; the 1913 yearbook was not available for viewing but he was probably on the art staff, too. Elliott was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Biological Club.

After graduating, Elliott returned to Canada for a brief time. A border crossing manifest, dated June 1914, said Elliott was an Irish Canadian commercial artist. His father was W.E. Elliott who lived in Cumberland, B.C. Elliott returned to the United States through Blaine, Washington on his way to the Seattle-based Electric Engraving Company.

Elliott signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He was a self-employed commercial artist residing in Chicago, Illinois at 109 West Huron Street. His description was medium height and build with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

When Elliott filed his petition he was in the army at Camp Walter R. Taliaferro, San Diego, California. The date of his discharge is not known. Elliott returned to Chicago.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census said Elliott lived at 245 North Avenue in Chicago and operated a commercial art studio. Elliott also pursued fine art.

The Arts, January 1922, reviewed the Arts Club annual exhibition in January and said “…There was a crayon sketch of Ben Hecht by Bert R. Elliott, a lively cartoon with strong linear balance, conveying an impression of Chicago’s latest literary limelight in a character of sardonic humor that undoubtedly was satisfactory to the sitter….” The same issue reviewed the “Twenty-sixth Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity” and opined, “There is good drawing in Bert Elliott's ‘River, Road, and Tower’ though one feels that his interest in the sky has made him neglect the tower a bit.” The Chicago American, February 4, 1922, mentioned the same drawing and identified the tower as the Wrigley Building.

The Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, December 1923, said Elliott joined its school faculty.

Writer Ben Hecht included Elliott in A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago (1922).

In the mid-1920s Elliott moved to New York City.

The New York Times, December 29, 1925, published an advertisement for the Master Institute of United Arts which included Elliott’s class in illustration and poster design.

Editor & Publisher and The Fourth Estate, January 28, 1928, published a McClure Syndicate advertisement that included Elliott’s Animal Ways and Wonders, a “daily strip telling drama of animals; authentic, fascinating, curious”. It’s not known if any newspaper published the strip. 

No evidence has yet been found that "Animal Ways and Wonders" was successfully syndicated.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Elliott and John Hix were the artists on the series, O. Henry’s Short Stories, which was distributed by McClure. The series ran from June 11 to July 29, 1928. Elliott drew these adaptations: “Iky’s Love Philtre”; “Springtime a la Carte”; “The Ransom of Mack”; “Sisters of the Golden Circle”; “Service of Love”; “Lost on Dress Parade”; “Buried Treasure”; and “Makes the Whole World Kin”.

The 1930 census recorded self-employed artist Elliott and his Japanese English wife, Sumi, in Manhattan at 202 East 43 Street. They married around 1926 and were naturalized citizens.

Elliott passed away in 1931 according to his grandniece, Dianne MacLeod. Elliot’s life was noted in an issue of AB Bookman’s Weekly which published an article about the My Book House series.

Bertram Elliott, who contributed by far the most drawings to volumes I and II was born in 1889 in Tokyo, the son of a minister. He attended commercial art schools in Victoria, B.C., Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago’s evening division sporadically from 1917 to 1920. A 1931 issue of an art publication noted: “Bert Elliott, well-known member of the liberal group of Chicago artists ten years ago, died recently in New York.”

The American Art Annual (1931) had this obituary: “Elliott, Bert.—A painter, died in New York in the summer of 1931. His early life was spent in Japan, but for many years he was affiliated with the No Jury group of artists in Chicago. One of his works is in the Art institute of Chicago.”

Further Viewing
Art Institute of Chicago
Two drawings: “Portrait of a Man” and “An Eminent Journalist”

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: O. Henry's Short Stories

O. Henry's stories are some of the most beloved and popular American literature this side of Mark Twain, so it's no surprise that they eventually found their way into the kingdom of comic strips. Interestingly enough, the same syndicate, McClure, offered comic strips based on Twain and O. Henry.

Unlike the much better received Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which had a successful run of a decade and a half, O. Henry's Short Stories was not embraced by newspaper editors or readers. No wonder, though, when the series distilled most of the stories down to two or three daily strips in length. Granted, Porter's stories are short, but to boil down a beautiful story like The Love Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein into two daily strips is a criminal offense. What's next -- the complete Shakespeare plays in three weeks? Considering that I see no copyrights on the strip to the estate of O. Henry, I have a sneaking suspicion that these adaptations were unlicensed. Maybe McClure thought they could get away with thievery if they were quick about it?

I have yet to find a newspaper that ran the strip with perfect consistency, but the Brooklyn Eagle came close enough that I offer this index as my best guess. The scripts are uncredited (as well they ought to be), but the two cartoonists who double-teamed the series did take credit:

TitleArtistStart DateEnd Date # of Strips
The Cop and the AnthemJohn Hix6/11/286/13/283
Jimmy Hays and MurielJohn Hix6/14/286/16/283
A Double Dyed DeceiverJohn Hix6/18/286/23/286
Tobin's PalmJohn Hix6/25/286/28/284
Iky's Love PhiltreBertram Elliott6/29/286/30/282
Springtime a la CarteBertram Elliott7/2/287/3/282
The Ransom of MackBertram Elliott7/4/287/7/284
The Skylight RoomJohn Hix7/9/287/11/283
Sisters of the Golden CircleBertram Elliott7/12/287/14/283
Service of LoveBertram Elliott7/16/287/19/284
Lost on Dress ParadeBertram Elliott7/20/287/20/282
Buried TreasureBertram Elliott7/23/287/26/284
Makes the Whole World KinBertram Elliott7/27/287/28/282

Here's a quick comic strip quiz for you: what other comic strip is based on a character created by O. Henry?

Tomorrow, Alex Jay weighs in with a profile of Bertram Elliott. You'll find his profile of John Hix here.

Didn't Joe Kubert (and School) feature Jim and Della in an adaptation of The Gift of the Magi for an NEA Christmas strip?
But I'm sure you're thinking of a different character.
A hero portrayed by Warner Baxter and Jimmy Smits, among others?

Incidentally, said hero owes little more than his catchy name to O. Henry. In the single story the author wrote, he's not a nice person.
The final panel of "Lost on Dress Parade" on July 21 1928 in the EAGLE says "Next story: Buried Treasure" so I don't believe there's a missing strip
Said another way, "Lost on Dress Parade" has 2 episodes
And though the EAGLE does indeed credit Elliott on "Lost on Dress Parade", a later printing in the SAN BERNADINO COUNTY SUN credits Hix. Bit the comic strip editors aren't known for their accuracy :)
Thanks to Jeffrey Lindenblatt and Art Lortie, who both separately cleared up the mystery of the missing strip. Post has been updated.
Donald Benson takes the prize for IDing (in a coy way) the strip I was thinking of. DD, you get a double bonus for coming up with one I wasn't thinking of. --Allan
Post a Comment

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Early Comics of the International Syndicate Part VI: The Toles Show, with a Side of 'Midget'

From 1901 and stretching back to the 1896 inauguration of the International Syndicate weekly page, only C.E. Toles seemed to have any interest in producing a cartoon series. Mr. Toles was also by far the most prolific contributor, but I don't sense that series cartoons were disallowed of the other contributors.

Above we have a sample of the Toles series Reverend O. Shaw Fiddle D.D. I previously thought he had produced this series for the Philadelphia Press, but it turns out they were simply using bits and pieces of the International material in their paper. This series is a revival of the series Reverend Fiddle D.D. that Toles produced for the New York Journal in 1898.

This is the first real series, in the sense of using a continuing character, that ran on the International page. It is also the first series that ran on a regular basis. It ran each week from June 9 to July 14 1901.

The cartoonist who signed himself "Midget" produced many cartoons about bugs, and his style strongly resembles that of Gus Dirks. I thought for awhile that it might be Dirks using a pen name, but much later on, the same 'bug cartoonist' started signing himself as Joe Hanover on the International page.

Although I suppose you could make a case that all the bug cartoons are a sort of series, I didn't count them as such. "Midget" did manage to produce two episodes of Buggum and Snailey's Sideshow (2nd installment titled Buggum and Snailey's 20th Century Show). The first episode ran on June 23 1901, the second not until August 11. Committed to the series concept Mr. Midget certainly was not.

C.E. Toles produced six episodes of Tales of the Orient (later retitled Tales of the East) but it took him the better part of a year. The first episode appeared on November 12 1899, the last on October 14 1900. Each installment was rather text-heavy, just like the first one shown above.

The first continuing series on the International weekly page appeared so infrequently that I nearly didn't recognize it as such. Koon Tracks, a strip about stereotypical blacks with a hunting theme appeared on October 29 1899, December 17 1899, March 4 and March 25 1900.

Our last sample from the International Syndicate weekly page is its first installment in the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle, April 26 1896, and the earliest found in which it is a full page with masthead. Jeffrey Lindenblatt finds good evidence that a page existed as early as July 1895 in the Cincinnati Enquirer, but they chopped it up just enough so as to be uncertain as to the complete contents that were being distributed.

As you can see in the sample above , the early version was a little more text-heavy than it would be later, but right from the first it offered both panels and comic strips. The prolific C.E. Toles was its most frequent contributor right from the start.


Do you have any updates on Toles since you last reviewed his biography? I found this blog entry about a private collection of Toles' art: . I wonder if it has been sold to any public institution. Is Toles related to the political cartoonist Tom Toles?
Post a Comment

Monday, September 10, 2018


Early Comics of the International Syndicate Part V: Goodes, McK and Toles

Working our way backward now, we find W.M. Goodes making some contributions to the International weekly page. His only series, which managed just two installments quite far apart, was Illustrated Interviews. Above is the first installment on October 12 1902, and the other was on December 7 of that year.

On this page we also see cartoons by F.L. Fithian and William F. Marriner. Lillian Steinert and Jean Du Bois are both unknown to me, but pretty good cartoonists.

A longer series was Mr. Henry Peck, also known as The Henpecks, and Mr. Peck. As with other series that went by this same name, it is the tale of a henpecked husband. This series couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to be a panel or strip, appearing three times in each guise. The series ran from July 6 to September 7 1902. The series was signed only "McK", which I suppose is most likely to be McKee Barclay. He was active in Baltimore at this time.

This page has a contribution from C.A. David, about the latest he'll be found on International's page.  He was a major contributor to the page in the 1890s, though he never once deigned to pen a series.

Going back to 1901, we finally get to see a series by the great C.E. Toles. This one is a panel series titled The Summering of Miss Frivolity, and each pretty girl picture is accompanied by some verses by Toles. This series ran for ten episodes from July 7 to September 15.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]