Monday, June 10, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Katinka

Ken Kling would eventually hit paydirt with a horse-racing tip strip, Joe and Asbestos, but in the 1910s and early 20s he was looking under every rock for his ticket to fame and fortune. His quest led him to a lot of syndicates, big and small, but his closest brush with early success came with Pulitzer's Press Publishing, which syndicated Katinka.

The star of the strip was a new Swedish immigrant to America, an ungainly looking middle-aged cook and housemaid. Katinka seemed to settle right in, vying with the Gessits, her employers, for the crown of biggest wiseacre. A mild-mannered dopey cop named Ferdie added a love-interest for Katinka, and an additional opponent for her employers. That about sums up the regular cast. Kling kept things very earthy, with lots of lowbrow humor, put-downs, insults, and a dash of physical comedy to keep the drawing interesting. In an era when strips of this type were often adding continuities, Kling showed little interest in the concept.

The strip debuted on February 9 1920, and was syndicated to an unimpressive number of papers. However, it was apparently enough to please the powers that be, and therefore lasted until April 7 1923. On the final date Katinka was wired that she had inherited money and a husband back in Sweden, and she caught the next boat home.


True fact: Wallace Beery's silent film career began with him playing Sweedie, a similarly outsized Swedish domestic. Oafish Scandinavians persisted even after Gardo made Swedes sexy, gradually modified into the midwestern Ole and Lena.
And don't forget Yens Yensen, Yanitor.
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