Saturday, March 16, 2019


Herriman Saturday

December 14 1909 -- The justice of the peace for Elizabeth Lake, an area primarily known for its duck hunting, has begged to be unburdened of his job. It seems he is caught between a rock and a hard place -- he wants to stay on the good side of the duck hunters, many of whom are persons of civic stature, and yet he must do his duty.

Faced with having to impose major fines or jail on a group of duck hunters who began shooting before sunrise, and knowing these defendants to be VIPs from L.A., he quickly dashed off a letter of resignation and refused to pass judgment. The judge receiving the letter has refused to accept the resignation, and told him to grow a spine and do his duty.


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Friday, March 15, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

Here's another card from Dwig's School Days series, aka Ophelia's Slate, aka Tuck Series #170. Although this is a divided back card, the user couldn't quite get all her thoughts on the back unfortunately. It was postally used in 1910.


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Thursday, March 14, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Coon Hollow Folks, with a side dish of Bear Creek Folks

For the longest time I couldn't understand why Bear Creek Folks, the long-running Philadelphia Inquirer strip, was sometimes referred to as Coon Hollow Folks in references. Never once had I seen a Bear Creek strip use that title or location. Eventually I just shrugged, listed it as an alternate title to Bear Creek Folks, and went on with my other research. Well, it turns out that Coon Hollow Folks does really exist, and it is an entirely separate (though identical -- get your head around that) comic strip to Bear Creek Folks.

It took a lot of searching around to figure out this messy little story, but I think I've finally unravelled the  most of it. The first clue came from good ol' Cole Johnson, who sent me the above two sample strips quite a long time ago. He made no mention of the fact that these strips bore that fabled name, because he was much more interested at the time in the fact that the Newark Advertiser was running a second set of color comics in their Wednesday papers of 1906 as a circulation stunt.

At the time I assumed that these were Bear Creek strips that for some reason were renamed for syndication by the Inquirer. It wasn't until many moons later, and unfortunately long after Cole could help to shed light on the mystery, that I finally did some due diligence on these strips. I searched through the online archives of the Philadelphia Inquirer just to see when these strips ran there, and if in fact the names had been changed. To my surprise, I found no Bear Creek strips that matched these, and in fact I realized when looking for the matches that the Inky never ran Bear Creek as a full, only a half. So where the heck did these full page strips originate? Did the Inquirer commission them separately?

Turns out the answer is no. My next clue came from a Pittsburgh newspaper of the 1950s that ran a puff piece on Charles M. Payne. They mention that he originated the Coon Hollow Folks strip in a Pittsburgh newspaper in 1903. Hmm. Could it be so? I knew that tracking any Sunday strip down in a Pittsburgh paper is a tough order. Whoever microfilmed Pittsburgh newspapers seemed to so hate Sunday comics that they rarely bothered to waste microfilm space on them.

However, I must have rubbed my rabbit's foot just right because I was in luck. In the period 1906-1908, many Sunday sections of the Pittsburgh Gazette-Times were filmed, and glory be but what did I find there but C.M. Payne's Coon Hollow Folks! The microfilmer stopped filming the Sunday comics on November 15 1908 when the strip was still running, but my guess is that it didn't run much longer after that. Payne by that time had actually stopped taking credit on the strip, signing himself "Coon" (complete with quotation marks) starting on February 2 1908, and in years hence he would say that he stopped doing the strip in 1907. Evidently he was moonlighting from some other job to continue this series. I know that in 1909 he had work appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York World, so presumably Coon Hollow Folks was very close to ending by then.

That leaves a big question. Why did the Philadelphia Inquirer start running a strip late in 1904 that was an outright copy of Coon Hollow Folks, complete to the characters and their names?  One could say that both strips are outright rip-offs of the Uncle Remus Stories of Joel Chandler Harris, right down to the use of the term Br'er, often used in reference to each of the animals. While that's true, why use the exact same animals, the exact same names, and the exact same art style?

The answer may well be that Payne himself managed to sell the Inquirer on the idea of running a doppelganger strip, because it is commonly said that Payne was the artist on the Inquirer strip at the beginning (late 1904). The Inquirer wasn't above being a copycat, because they already had Harold Knerr penning a copy of Katzenjammer Kids (as Fineheimer Twins).

The problem is that the early Bear Creek Folks strips are unsigned, and in a style that could be produced by any number of Inquirer cartoonists -- R. Edward Shellcope, William F. Marriner, Sidney Smith and Jack Gallagher could all handle that style with -- at least to my eyes -- darn little difference to discern who is who. In fact, as part of readying this post, I made a close study of the Inquirer strip of 1904-05, and I actually did find a few signed with a single initial -- K. Was it Knerr who produced both the Katzies rip-off and the Coon Hollow ripoff? Did it have nothing to do with Payne at all?

I'm not nearly good enough as an art spotter to tell, but just in case you, dear reader, are gifted in that respect, here's a couple early Bear Creek Folks, one signed K, to consider. Sorry for the low quality but these are from online microfilm sources:

First Bear Creek Folks, Oct 9 1904

First Bear Creek Folks signed 'K', Oct 30 1904

PS: To make an already long post even longer, I wish to commemorate a small landmark in my research. When American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide was published, my count of newspaper comic series documented therein was 7012. With the addition of Coon Hollow Folks added to the ranks of documented series, my meter clicked over to 7500, the first real nice round number I've hit since then. Congratulations to me!


Hello Allan-
Are you saying you think the Coon Hollow strips were syndicated by the Pittsburg Gazette Times? Or Payne self-syndicated?
It might be that Payne owned the characters and Bear Creek Folks was the same strip with a new name so that the Inky could have something they could own and control.
The Newark Advertiser ran a WCP section on Sunday, and the Wednesday one was McClure, so is this a McClure series, or maybe they were doing a syndication arrangement with Payne, or the Pittsburg G-T who might own it.
Looks like a different artist to me. Might well be Knerr. Do you have any zoo-illogical snapshots we can compare against?
Hi Mark --
There is good evidence that Payne was working for the Pittsburgh G-T at the time the feature debuted -- there are several write-ups in the paper about him being a staff member. Now as far as actually syndicating the material, it could be that the G-T or Payne sold the strip to McClure for syndication, or they could have syndicated it themselves. Since McClure sections are in plentiful supply, yet this strip is rarely seen, I'm going with the G-T as my best guess. One thing I can say for sure is that the Coon Hollow and Bear Creek material, though so very similar, does not overlap as I was lucky enough to be able to compare both series in the early years. All the strips I reviewed were different between the two series.

Daniel --
FZor your art-comparing pleasure I'd suggest looking at this post:

Where you'll find signed Knerr work from very close to the time when the Inky strip debuted.

I've just found a few pages of photocopies made from THE SAN ANTONIO LIGHT microfilm, one shows the comic section of 16 Sept. 1906 another that of 14 October 1906. I'm sure they were made for a reason. They're both McClure sections, but the October one features the Coon Hollow "Pretzel Tree" episode seen above. That the Newark section is 11 days earlier, could it be the debut McClure Payne strip?
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019


World Color Printing's Invisible Color Book (Part 2)

Yesterday we left you on a cliffhanger. What could possibly save the Invisible Color Book, a World Color Printing production that was crashing and burning. Newspapers were cancelling it right and left. What .... would ..... they  ..... DO!!!!!!

Well, the answer is not a whole hell of a lot.

But they did make an effort, and some of the material they introduced is kind of interesting. Not necessarily entertaining, mind you, but kind of interesting.

Okay, to remind you of what was in the earlier sections (or ya could just scroll down to look at yesterday's post) it was all fairy tale illustrations, a few paper dolls, and a text story (what a great use for invisible color that is!). With the installment of September 24 1922, however, they inaugurated a new line-up. That included:

* a revival of the old Annabelle paper doll feature from the WCP Sunday sections. This paper doll series had last seen print in 1916, but the character was dusted off and put under the leadership of Garde, aka Gordie, aka Gardie. He did a perfectly creditable job, but recall my previously voiced concerns over making paper dolls out of damp wrinkled newspaper.

* Ladd F. Morse started a series about some little munchkins called The Danny Dees. The poetry was bad, but the pictures were well done.

* an untitled series of full-page comic strips would tell a fairy tale or fable each week. Reducing Alice in Wonderland and Robinson Crusoe to a six panel comic strip may seem just a tad overreaching, but at least they tried. Art on this feature was often unsigned, but Bob H. and Peggie did own up to quite a few of the episodes.

* the next two additions were both from the Boston Globe. Why WCP couldn't dip into their own vast inventory I can't imagine, but considering that the Globe was a subscribing paper, maybe they got these on the cheapsie. They added large four panel comic strips of Billy the Boy Artist by Ed Payne and Fatty Spilliker by George H. Blair (the latter was a latecomer, starting in the October 15 issue).

* the final addition was an activity page, also loosely based on a Boston Globe feature. The Globe had a Sunday feature titled The Bingville Bugle, a spoof newspaper that reported the goings-on in a rusticated podunk town. "Marshall Ladd" offered very well-drawn views of various venues in that town (the general store, the sheriff's office, and so on), and each picture held mysteries to be solved, like hidden pictures or 25 items that begin with the letter G. I've not encountered this feature in the Boston Globe itself, so why the Invisible Color Book used it as a backdrop for the feature is a bit of a mystery in itself.

Here's the complete first issue after the big revamp:

With the revamp I'm still flabbergasted that it never seemed to occur to these folks to make some really creative use of the invisible color process. Howzabout a feature where the text is all hidden, and you have to wet it to find out what the characters say? How about a puzzle feature that depends on the locations of colored objects? This isn't that hard fellas!

Well, for them evidently it was too hard. But at least they'd revamped the section to offer some semblance of entertainment, some small payoff to linger after the joy of wetting newsprint has worn off.

The Danny Dees lasted only three weeks and was replaced by Fatty Spilliker. The rest of the features ran through to what seems to be the end of the secton on April 1 1923. Online I can only find one paper, the Buffalo Times, that soldiered on to the end. Even the Boston Globe, sire of three features in the section, only ran two pages of the section at the end -- their two strips.

That was the end of the Invisible Color Book. The Invisible Color Print Corporation went back to using the invention primarily for store promotions and contests, like the one below, but these mentions peter out in newspapers after about 1926.

Unsolved Mysteries:

* Who is this Bob H. who did a lot of work for the section? Only cartoonist fitting that name I can come up with is Robert (Bob) Hines, and he's too young. There's also Robert N. Holcomb, but I have no biographical data on him to make this even guess-worthy.

* Is Garde / Gardie / Gordie really Chester I. Garde? I have my doubts. Although this  cartoonist does pop up in unusual places, he never seemed modest about giving his name, and never used a signature anything like the one used in this section.

* "Marshall Ladd" has a lovely style, and you'd think the artist would be proud enough of his work in the section to offer his real name. But I can't find anything written about him, and there's also this "Ladd F. Morse" person in the section, making me think we've got one guy who's just throwing around nonsense names. Anyone heard of him? Before anyone throws out the name "Wesley Morse", I have to put in my art-spotting two cents that I don't think Mr. Morse could have created those lovely Bingville pages.

I am burning with curiosity to know what a colored page using this system looked like. The results on the water-activated coloring books we bought the kids 20 years ago were pretty the colored spots were visible as large dots on the page before water was applied.
Young Harry Lillis Crosby in Spokane was a fan of THE BINGVILLE BUGLE, so much so that his nickname soon became Bing!
Hi Smurfswacker -- Try searching for "invisible color" under Collectibles on eBay. Several of the bread promo cards are there right now, some have evidently been 'painted'. The color looks pretty good. Harder to find would be ones that definitely were not painted. Even those on eBay that don't have vibrant colors do still seem to be tinted.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019


World Color Printing's Invisible Color Book (Part 1)

On an old blog post about World Color Printing a new comment recently showed up from Bob Harris. Harris mentions that WCP did a short-lived special section called the Invisible Color Book. I vaguely recalled seeing a few of those and thinking that I needed to look into their story a little farther. This message gave me the kick in the pants to get that done. 

Here's the Invisible Color Book idea: you open your Sunday paper to find a seemingly black and white tabloid section filled with drawings. According to the instructions, if you apply water to the paper it will bloom forth in four color splendor. Is it the most earth-shattering idea to come around the pike? No. Inks that require activation to appear had been used for newspaper stunt pieces before this. What's new here, I think, is that the concept works with the full four color palette (I think earlier versions were a single color of 'invisible ink') and the idea of doing a weekly kid's section composed this way was something new.

A description of the process makes it just seem like it is making the reader work to get what could just as well have been printed in normal inks. But kids don't think like adults. Imagine a kid wetting a brush and pretending that they are a great artist, beautifully and masterfully coloring those black and white pictures. Okay, maybe it's not going to replace Nintendo, but in the 1920s kids were a little easier to please. I can definitely see them getting a kick out of it.

According to the ubiquitous notifications all over the Invisible Color Books, the special process was patented on July 12 1921. Bob Harris used that date to find it was patent #1384663, issued to Joseph A. Imhof of the Invisible Color Print Corporation.

Before the Invisible Color Book debuted in 1922, Imhof had already marketed his innovation in a different venue. Very shortly after the patent date, various bread companies began advertising that they were including an Invisible Color print in each loaf of their bread. It seems like a nice promo, and quite a few local bread companies bit on it, but they also seemed to tire of it quickly. By 1922 the ads for this promo were already petering out.

Maybe World Color Printing had done the production work on those bread promos, maybe not. But they were evidently interested in exploiting the technology. On March 26 1922, WCP in association with Invisible Color Print Corp. debuted the Invisible Color Book in a very healthy number of prominent newspapers following a blizzard of promos the week before.

Invisible Color Book full page promo, Buffalo Times

Unfortunately, the material chosen for the new section was a collection of mostly storybook-type illustrations, none of them drawn particularly well, and there really wasn't anything innovative at all done with the invisible ink process. Look at picture in black ink, give it a watering, look at it in color. Kinda ho hum. Here's all eight pages of the first issue:

It seems very odd to me that World Color Printing didn't call on any of their regular cartoonists to jazz this thing up. Imagine what fun it would be to have a Slim Jim strip in which revealing the colors is an integral part of the story!

The artists used by the Invisible Color Book mostly seemed embarrassed to be there for some reason. Many illustrations were unsigned, and many others offer inscrutable monikers --- Bob H., Win, Tan and Peggie for instance would do quite a bit of the work. Then there is this interesting pair of contributor names: Marshall Ladd and Ladd F. Morse. Who knows what that pair of pseudonyms was trying to hide. The only likely non-pseudonym I find is Garde, who I assume is Chester I. Garde. Even he started trying to hide after a few months, changing his signature to look like 'Gordie'.

As the weeks went by, the section only looked more slipshod and dashed off. No innovations, just more fairytale scenes and paper doll cutouts. (By the way, paper dolls seem like a very odd choice for an activity considering that kids have to get the paper wet -- you want them to cut out those damp wrinkly things?) In less that six months most of those big newspaper clients had soured on the Invisible Color Book and cancelled it. Obviously the section needed to be revamped to save it. We'll cover that tomorrow. See you then!

A promo for the book, when it ran in Utica, NY (Utica Observer-Dispatch, 1 August 1922) has a drawing of a boy and girl watchiing a mob of clowns and funny animals approaching them, drawn, and signed by Lyman Young. Can we assume he might have been one of the contributors to the book itself?
I haven't seen that promo, but I've looked through all issues of the Invisible Color Book and did not find his signature. --Allan
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Monday, March 11, 2019


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Brandford

Edward Joscelyn Brandford was born on August 17, 1905 in Richmond, Saint Mary, Jamaica according to the Jamaica Civil Registration Birth Record at His parents were Luther Brandford and Edith Young. Brandford filed a Petition for Naturalization, on May 14, 1940, and said he was born at Highgate.

On April 10, 1924, Brandford was a passenger on the steamship Tivives when it departed Kingston, Jamaica. He arrived in the port of New York City on April 15. The passenger list said his occupation was clerk. His final destination was New Rochelle, New York where his aunt, Miss E. Milbourne, resided at 170 Elm Street.

Brandford was profiled in the April–June 1947 issue of Opportunity which said “In Jamaica he had been apprenticed to a British academician, with whom he studied painting. He had also taken a correspondence course from an American art school…..”

Brandford was also profiled in The Crisis, January 1947.

After completing the course, he felt he was ready to apply for a job, so he approached the firm that was then Doubleday, Doran & Co., in the hope of getting employment as a commercial artist. “As I look back now,” he said, “I still can’t understand why they didn’t throw me out bodily along with my very amateurish drawings. Instead, they were most kind and told me I should study some more and work very hard.”
On January 31, 1929, Brandford and “Thelma O'Conahan” obtained a marriage license in Manhattan, New York City as recorded at the New York, New York, Marriage License Index at The New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index said Brandford and “Thelma L Conohan” married on February 3, 1929 in Manhattan.

The 1930 census said the couple lived in Manhattan at 258 West 117th Street. Brandford was employed as a shipping clerk.

Opportunity said Brandford worked as an elevator operator, messenger and factory hand to earn enough money for tuition at Cooper Union where he graduated in 1930.

Brandford’s work was included in the Harmon Foundation’s An Exhibition of Work by Negro Artists, at the Art Center, February 20 to March 4, 1933.

Edward Joscelyn Brandford, New York—Born 1905 in Jamaica, B. W. I., and came here in 1924. Worked in lampshade factory; financed his study at the Barile School and Cooper Union as elevator operator. Had one man show at 135th Street Branch of New York Public Library. Work shown in Harmon Exhibit of 1931.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York), February 15, 1931, said the judges for the Harmon Award and exhibition, at the Art Center, awarded an honorable mention to Brandford, 1031 E. 217th St., New York, for his “Broken Toys” painting. This painting, according to the Pittsburgh Courier, December 18, 1931, was included in the Harmon Foundation’s traveling exhibition of Black artists at the Spooner-Thayer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. The next stop was the Milwaukee Art Institute as reported by the Milwaukee Journal, January 10, 1932.

In 1932 Brandford wrote about the Black artists for the newspaper, New York Age. On June 25, 1932 the paper announced the following.

The New York Age is pleased to announce the addition of Edward J. Brandford to its staff as cartoonist and artist, and will present in the near future an original comic strip by Mr. Brandford. Mr. Brandford will head the newly established art department.
A graduate of Cooper Union, Mr. Brandford has also studied under Xavier J. Barile, well known artist. Last year, this rising young artist presented an independent showing of his works at the West 135th Street Public Library and received favorable comment by critics.

Competing for the Harmon Award, his exhibition at the Art Center, 65 East 56th Street, won honorable mention for him with his study of “Broken Toys” and his work has been on tour since with the exhibition for the past year.
Versatile in his work, Mr. Brandford has done commercial work—in label designs, layouts and advertising—and his work in color is just as fascinating as his black and white illustrations and cartoons.
Brandford drew editorial cartoons from July 9, 1932 to May 5, 1934. On July 16, 1932 Brandford’s comic strip Sam debuted and ended on May 19, 1934.

Brandford was included in the Harmon Foundation publication Negro Artists: An Illustrated Review of Their Achievements (1935).

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Brandford created two series for the International Negro Press. With writer Rosie Nelson, Brandford drew Food for Thought from June 30 to August 26, 1936. His second feature was The Jones Family which ran from August 4 to 26, 1936.

In The Crisis, Brandford said “Since the city was full of unemployed artists I thought I’d try my hand as a freelance cartoonist. I soon discovered that being a cartoonist involves more than originating a funny situation and thinking up a gag line to go with it. Besides, every other artist out of a job was tryig [sic] the same thing. So, I had to give up that idea.”

Brandford was hired at the Burland Printing Company which handled the printing and advertising accounts of several New York business firms. The exposure to commercial art influenced his decision to pursue a career in this field. Brandford went on to learn lithography at Lutz and Sheinkman Corporation.

The 1940 census recorded commercial artist Brandford, his wife, nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son in the Bronx, New York at 2700 Bronx Park East. 

On May 5, 1941 Brandford became a naturalized citizen.

Brandford’s freelance work grew steadily which included brochures, posters, publication design, book jacket, illustration and packaging design.

Brandford’s most well-known achievement was co-founding a Black modeling agency on July 30, 1946. A 1946 issue of Printers’ Ink published the following.

New Negro Model Agency to Appeal to All Markets
New York:—An all-Negro modeling agency that aims to appeal to both the Negro and the White markets has been formed here. Known as Brandford Models, Inc., the agency’s first step will be to supply models for products going solely to the Negro trade but will “eventually lead to the use of them in all markets,” according to Barbara Watson, one of the founders of the company.

The agency claims to have the first all-inclusive modeling school for Negroes Edward Brandford, commercial artist and president of the group, says, “All models are students, artists and writers, many of them working their way through school. I have been dreaming for years of a project like this where national advertisers can get copy befitting the Negro trade. Negroes represent vast spending power in America (according to latest figures, population-wise, the Negro market represents 10% of the entire American market) and yet never have had their wants or tastes consulted. Negro women, in their buying, never have had proper guidance, always have been neglected.”

Miss Watson explains that in the past famous Negro personalities and sketches have been used to illustrate ads with a Negro appeal. “But now our advertising can be brought to greater advantage by a full-time use of live models,” she stated.

Before the models can be used in a white market, “a subtle and non-flambuoyant [sic] promotion campaign must be pursued to point up the marketing advantages of a Negro model to sell merchandise to all color groups,” Miss Watson believes.

The third incorporator of the new modeling agency, which expects to get underway in “three or four weeks,” is Mary Louise Yabro, fashion editor of Our World. Offices are temporarily located at 55 W. 42 St.

A 1948 issue of Advertising & Selling noted Brandford’s agency expansion.
An outgrowth of his Negro model service, “Brandford Models,” Edward Brandford has established a new advertising agency at 107 West 43 St., New York, specializing in the $16 billion Negro market. The new agency offers complete facilities, including merchandising and public relations, art and production and model services.
New York Age, May 13, 1950, reported changes at Brandford Models, Inc.
Miss Barbara Watson, executive director of the Brandford Models, Inc., last week announced extensive plans for the well known agency following completion, of its reorganization. A stepped-up program of activities will include concentration on developing wider opportunity for Negro models in photographic and fashion work, she said.

Some consideration is also being given to changing the name of the agency in view of the withdrawal from the concern of Edward Brandford who, with Miss Watson, founded the corporation in 1946.

Fashioning Models: Image, Text and Industry (2012) said “By 1953, Brandford Models changed ownership and name to Barbara Watson Models, although the nomenclature 'Brandford Girls' continued to be used for pioneering African American models….”

New York Age, June 2, 1951, published an advertisement for “The Ed Brandford Mannequins”, “distinctively styled Negro Mannequins”.

The New York Amsterdam News, September 21, 1963, said Brandford was treasurer of the newly formed Kingston Technical Alumni Association in New York City.

The New York Amsterdam News, August 30, 1969, said Brandford conceived the production “Colorama USA”, a musical and fashion narrative “about the experiences of a young black girl in her quest for identity.” The goal was to raise funds for West Indian scholars. “Colorama USA” premiered September 6 at Town Hall, in New York City, and was scheduled to tour the Caribbean and Latin America.

Brandford passed away May 1980 in New York City.

Further Reading
Afro-American Artists: A Bio-bibliographical Directory
Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry

—Alex Jay


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