Saturday, January 05, 2019


Herriman Saturday

November 2 1909 -- Another Baron Mooch strip missing from the Blackbeard book.


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Friday, January 04, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Charles Dana Gibson

Here's the last Gibson card I have from Detroit Publishing. This one is number 14192, which could indicate that this was a huge series since it started with #14001. This one is undivided back, just like the rest of the series, so likely to have been published in 1906.

This Gibson drawing, though cute, is what I'd have to call a bad composition -- usually not a problem for Gibson. Not to mention the cheering fellow looks like an eight year old dressed up in his dad's coat. This one didn't run in Life, but in Collier's Weekly. Apparently they'd take his lesser efforts?


My take is that it is an 8 year old boy - based on the bemused looks of the couple on the left, the kid might be there as a “chaperone” for the young couple? Maybe I think too much?
Another reading that may explain the composition: On the left an upscale family: mother, father and beautiful daughter (such a lady wouldn't go to a game unescorted). On the right a handsome young man. And a comical sports fan unaware he's a barrier to the attractive couple getting together. "The Game Begins" may be taken as the two making eye contact and trying to decide what do next.

Gibson did some other drawings on the theme of impediments, momentary or substantial, to romance. A familiar one has a man and woman sitting in separate rooms, each glumly leaning a chair against the same wall. Not sure if that was meant to represent a marital spat or lonely singles in neighboring apartments.
If you asks me, I think there's two kids inside that coat.
To me, the rowdy athletic supporter is probably not supposed to be a boy, his face is not one you'd see on one unless there's something wrong with him. The long, unkempt hair and the hollow eyes might rather suggest a thin, older guy, and his apparently impolite overenthusiasm indicates some other issue, like he's drunk, crazy, or senile.
As for the card, I don't know if this was all one continuously numbered series, certainly CDG could supply huge piles of past artwork. This one appeared in Collier's, and to include their copyright might indicate they owned the CDG cartoons they ran, so Detroit made a seperate deal to use them, and incorporate them into their overall CDG series.
the idea of two kids wearing one coat in order to get into a ball game for the price of one was so commonplace in 1906 that Gibson has taken it for granted that you know what it is. What is much funnier is seeing you folks trying to explain it. It's like watching the skit in which Peter Cook and Dudley Moore play two English intellectual music critics trying to analyze a blues lyric that contains the lines
Mama's got a brand new bag
Papa's going to rip it up tonight.

This is from a 1903 series of drawings titled "The Weaker Sex: The Story of a Susceptible Bachelor". I found it in "The Best of Charles Dana Gibson", 1969 Bounty Books.

The setup is a young man ordered by his doctor to avoid all excitement; the presence of a shy housemaid causes palpitations. So he goes on a trip to escape such stimulation but constantly encounters -- or at least makes eye contact with -- a succession of coolly provocative Gibson Girls: an acquaintance on a train, a friend's bevy of daughters, a bridge partner, fair strangers ... That's the joke. Sometimes he's alarmed, other times he's just the usual serious Gibson man. This one is titled HE SUDDENLY LOSES ALL INTEREST IN FOOTBALL. The last drawing has him resolved to Settle Down. He's trying to write a letter, but can't decide to whom because he's haunted by multiple smiling ghosts.

The first drawing in the series is an elegant nightmare: Four "fair entomologists" calmly study a tiny man on a tabletop. One of the ladies wields a magnifying glass and a long pin.
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Gibson often portrayed his friends, especially celebrities, in his drawings. I'm something of an expert on actor Raymond Hitchcock. "Hitchy" was a slapstick comedian who wore his hair exactly as depicted and looked exactly as depicted. Hitchy and the gentleman on the far right, who is Richard Harding Davis, were Gibson's friends. The tall lady in the middle is, of course, Gibson's beautiful wife. Davis was a prolific adventurer and novelist (married to stage star Bessie McCoy), who had written a novel based on his own experiences, entitled "The Notes of a War Correspondent." Probably influenced by his friend Hitchy, Davis adapted the material into a lively farce entitled "The Galloper", and would produce this show in 1906 with Hitchy in the starring role (see my image, Raymond Hitchcock as Copeland Schuyler in "The Galloper"). The couple on the left were prominent society figures (whose names I can't recall). Gibson also did an illustration of Flora Zabelle, whom Hitchy would marry in 1905; it depicts a Gibson beauty (Zabelle) with a cupid whispering in her ear (about Hitchy's secrets).
Deleted my comment when it didn't show up under my "profile". Anyway, the illustration by Gibson of Flora Zabelle is sometimes called "The Story of His Life."
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Thursday, January 03, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Little Rube

James J. Maguinnis produced a lot of material for the Boston Globe, most of it being eminently forgettable. I suppose that his most striking quality was the willingness to flog a simple idea longer than most cartoonists could. Little Rube, however, is so basic a concept that even Maguinnis could not beat it very long at all.

Country bumpkin Little Rube has been visited by the Bright brothers, city boys from Boston. In each strip they treat him badly but he ends up getting the best of them. Since this strip was always a quarter-page size, Maguinnis allotted only four panels for the gag, so to say that the strip kept to the basics is an understatement. Maguinnis gave up on Little Rube after only a handful of episodes, running from June 25 to August 6 1905*.

*Source: Dave Strickler's Boston Globe index.


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Wednesday, January 02, 2019


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gerald Altman

Gerald Selwyn Altman was born on on February 22, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. His full name was found at an family tree. His birth information is from the Social Security Death Index and the New York, New York, Birth Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Altman was the only child of Ellis, a Russian emigrant and salesman of ladies wear, and Bertha, a Hungarian. They lived in Manhattan at 96 Haven Avenue. The 1925 New York state census recorded Altman, his parents and sister in Manhattan at 79 Haven Avenue.

A different address for the Altmans was found in the 1930 census: 410 Riverside Drive.

According to the 1940 census, Altman was a coat salesman and his father was a coat manufacturer. Altman’s highest level of education was two years of college. The Altman family resided in Manhattan at 155 West End Avenue.

A marriage notice was published in the New York Times, October 11, 1942.

Altman–Goodman–Mr. and Mrs. Morris Goodman of 1836 East 18th St., Brooklyn, announce the marriage of their daughter, Gertrude, to Gerald Altman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Altman of 98 Riverside Drive, Manhattan, Oct. 5.
Altman enlisted in the army on November 13, 1942. At the time, he was a commercial artist. He was discharged August 28, 1943.

Information about Altman’s art training has not been found. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Altman was worked at several comics studios, from 1938 to 1945, including Eisner and Iger, Binder, Funnies Inc., and L.B. Cole. Some of Altman’s credits are here.

Around 1948 Altman joined the Siegel and Shuster Studio which produced the Funnyman strip. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the series debuted October 11, 1948 and ran into Fall 1949. Alberto Becattini says Altman and Dick Ayers assisted Joe Shuster. Artist John Sikela also worked on it.

Altman passed away June 16, 1986. His last known residence was Jamaica, Queens, New York. He was laid to rest at Mount Judah Cemetery

—Alex Jay


Gerald Altman was drafted into the army.

I don't know what formal art training he had if any. He had natural talent and upon graduation from high school in the midst of the Great Depression was unable to find employment without experience. Fortunately, he was able to gain experience doing artwork for the WPA.

A victim of McCarthyism black listing his publisher, he found employment doing artwork as a commercial artist. He sketched hair styles for a famous stylist. He also did the artwork for banners and memorabilia produced by Hanco Art Novelties.

In the late 1960's he also worked in comics under the pseudonym Galt for Fun and Pleasure newspapers.
Bails also listed a Greg Altman, which I’m unsure if he’s a relative of Gerald or Gerald himself under an alternate name.

- Daniel
I don't think my father ever worked as Greg Altman. Also, he never attended college.
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Tuesday, January 01, 2019


Your Trip to Newspaperland ... A Visit to the New Bulletin Building

In 1955, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin opened a mammoth new plant. One of the ways they chose to celebrate the event was to commission a 12-page comic book in which kids learn how a major newspaper operates. Harvey Comics was given the job, and Ham Fisher's Joe Palooka was chosen as the emcee. For a punch-drunk boxer, Joe does a pretty creditable job of explaining the workings of a newspaper.

Hello Allan-Happy New Year to all. I thank you for running this piece, I miss the Evening Bulletin, lo these many years after it's demise. I don't know if my brother Cole gave you the images here, but the Bulletin was a great paper for a long time. Their building is still around, it's just a block away from the 30th street station, and also a large office structure once known as the "Food Fair" building. Both of which my father worked in fifty plus years ago. He'd buy the paper at the Bulletin on the way home, and we'd get it, if not "hot off the press", definately still warm off the press.
The Bulletin lived from 1847 to 1982. It started running a Sunday edition when it absorbed the Philadelphia Record in 1947, and got the rights to their comics. It was the top paper in Philly for many years. Their motto was "In Philadelphia nearly everyone reads the Bulletin". They had a famous almanac from 1924 to about 1978, which I have several to this day.
The booklet shown today is about the size of a Sunday tv supplement. It was given to those who took the Bulletin tour, which I did in October 1966. They had interesting displays of how the printing plates were used. (a plate of a May, 1963 edition was part of the permanent exhibit) and they showed the framed first issue, which nobody noticed but myself, was in fact not! But the highlight of the tour (I went with my school group) was seeing the presses in action. They were huge, probably three story high giants, with more noise than a squadron of Jet engines. They don't need presses like that now. They don't need newspapers much either. When the Bulletin folded, they spent months cutting and melting down those presses.
If it helps date more prescisley when this was issued, The new building was dedicated and opened on 1 June 1955 with the mayor on hand. In the picture of the building on the first page, where it says "IN PHILADELPHIA NEARLY" is obviously the begining of their motto, but in real life that was a news ticker, which conked out by the mid seventies.

I love the full-page in that comic book of the presses at work. I never got to visit one, but that does a surprisingly good job of conveying the vastness and power of it. What a horrible image to think of ... cutting those mighty presses into pieces to be shipped off to make Toyota fenders.

This booklet is from my own collection, and (as you can tell from the scans) someone folded the darn thing in half. Probably a kid on the tour who had to fold it to cram it into his pocket.

Thanks for the history lesson about the Bulletin. Some of their "Nearly Everybody..." ads I recall featured really great cartoon art. Can't think of where I would have seen then, maybe in E&P?

There was a series of ads for the Bulletin that appeared in various national publications by New Yorker cartoonist Richard Decker, about 1950, that featured groups of people in public, all so engrossed in their copies of the EB that they failed to notice something happening to the only one NOT doing so. Newspapers often advertised in mainstream magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Newsweek, etc. to catch the eye of advertisers who sought specific regional coverage. They were selling their ad space.
The motto was also the title of an, I guess, "satirical" painting that had some fame by Ben Sahn, featuring two old crazy ladies, one with and one without an EB. The one with has folded it into a paper hat she wears. So the gag, and I mean the humourous point, not the reaction to Sahn's hideous style, was the probably that no READING was going on. Perhaps the Bulletin's conservative Republican viewpoint is also a componant of the work.
I took a tour of the Bulletin building as a lad; I got one of those cardboard "mats" as a souvenir.

Don't think whoever wrote the comic was a Philly boy; one would say "37th and Snyder", not the other way around. Snyder only goes to 33rd, but I can see them wanting to use a fictitious intersection... :D

One thing that seems odd about the book, or booklet, is that it indeed was not concocted by a Philadelphian, it was assembled by Harvey comics in New York. Yet it begs a question, why, if there's this fantastic ultra modern press at the self-described "Showplace of American Journalism", didn't they print it themselves? They had their own art department and cartoonists, like F.O. Alexander and Bil Keane, for instance, both men who I knew.
So who actually drew it? I guess some of you comic book scholars might know. It's listed in Overstreet, (Vol.34) without credit.
I have been writing stories for my grandchildren, including some about various jobs I have had. In the summer of 1963 I worked at the Bulletin as a fly boy in the pressroom. I loved the job, made many paper hats, washed lots of ink out of my ears and nose, and was happy to find the comic book on your blog so I could share it with my grandchildren. I have one minor comment about the full-page drawing of the pressroom: The double track of rollers in the floor (which carried the curved plates), ran past the presses on each side, not just on the left. It emerged from the composing room,ran in front of the presses on the right side, made a u-turn at the end of the pressroom, and returned on the left side.
Thanks for sharing! Many good memories.
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Monday, December 31, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Sergeant Fumble

Here we have a pair of rare tryout strips from when Henry Boltinoff was being auditioned by Mort Walker to take over Beetle Bailey. Boltinoff would have had a better shot at the job if he had remembered that the Sarge is not the title character, and his name's not Fumble, either.

Oops, no, wait. Ah, I see. My notes were upside down. Turning them over I find that ...

Here's a rarity that ran only in the New York Herald-Tribune. We've talked about the H-T's filler strips on several occasions (here and here and here and here for instance), and this is one of the later ones. None ran every week, but rather only when ads dictated that a sixth-page slot was left open.  

Sergeant Fumble, whose title character bore an uncanny resemblance to another sergeant of the funnies, is more of a loveable moron rather than a bad-tempered bully like his doppelganger. It is by the great Henry Boltinoff, who is better known for comic book work and his long stint on the Hocus-Focus puzzle feature. This is the first actual newspaper strip of Boltinoff's that we've discussed on the blog, though his name has popped up here in regard to several not-quite-qualifying features.

Sergeant Fumble first appeared in the Herald-Tribune's Sunday comics section on November 7 1954, and through sheer chance, ran last almost precisely two years later, on November 4 1956.

Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied the sample scans.


And the Sergeant's surname is obviously inspired by Phil Fumble. Mort and Ernie Bushmiller should have sued!
But seriously, noting the uncanny similarity to Sergeant Snorkle and, as seen here, General Halftrack, and maybe other denizens of Camp Swampy, how in the world did the H-T give this the okay? Isn't it pretty close to real copyright infringement?
I guess in 1954 Sarge Snorkel wasn't quite the icon he's become in the intervening decades, so the H-T probably thought nothing of it. This feature didn't run often, and wasn't syndicated, so even if Walker or King had objected, the results wouldn't have been much of a ripple on the pond.

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