Saturday, March 23, 2019


Herriman Saturday

December 16 1909 -- A very implausible story comes from 165 North El Molino Ave. in Pasadena.

James F. Ker has decided that a frog inhabiting the decorative pond in his front yard has awakened him once too often with his incessant croaking. The well-to-do Mr. Ker, who is president of the Chamber of Commerce Building Company, orders his gardener not to kill the frog, for he is of tender disposition, but merely to keep him from his nightly songfest.

According to the article writer, the gardener caught the frog and muzzled him. This was accomplished by doing a little operation in which the frog's mouth was sewn up with string so that it could only open wide enough to allow him to eat, but not croak. Supposedly this effected the intended solution.

Imagine the consternation of the Pulitzer committee that this story was not bylined.


What's the song?

(That's a question that comes up in my mind a lot when reading Herriman cartoons.)
Gosh, I just assumed it was the old song "Rose Marie", but I see that wasn't written until much later. So good question!

There's a 1908 "Rose Marie" by Gardenier & di Capua done in truly horrible Italian dialect that might be it. Doesn't have "Kiss-Kee-Dee" in the lyrics, but maybe frogs can't read any better than they can sing.
Herriman really loved that "kiss-kee-dee" line. In Krazy Kat he named one of his French characters "Mr. Kiss-ki-de ku-ku".
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Friday, March 22, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Myer Marcus

I think this is the first Myer Marcus postcard we've featured on the blog. His postcard output was limited, but I see them not too infrequently. As Marcus was a Philly guy, it is perhaps not too surprising that he did this card for the Rose Company, based in that city. As you can see on the front, they called this their Aurocrome Series, and this was card A8. This is an undivided back card, but was not postally used until 1907, when divided backs made their debut.


Could this be some other Myer? The style seems different from that seen in Fuller Bull and Asthma Simpson, only a few years after this.
Certainly he is showing us a different style here, somewhat Zim derived, but the consistency of the signature and the fact these cards were produced in Philadelphia leads me to be reasonably confident. Not that the name Myer is exactly rare, so I am open to be corrected.
Actually not published by Rose, but by the Post Card Union of America, also in Philly. They also published cards by Redw. Shellcope.
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Thursday, March 21, 2019


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Eager

Charles Philbrick Eager was born in November 16, 1880, in San Francisco, California, according to his World War II draft card which also had his full name. His middle name was his mother’s maiden name.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census, enumerated June 7, said Eager’s father and oldest brother were printers. The family lived at 1527 Tyler Street in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle, July 9, 1899, said “Charles P. Eager is enjoying a vacation in Honolulu. He expects to return within a month.”

Eager was not yet been found in the 1900 census.

The San Francisco Call, May 19, 1900, covered the Polytechnic students’ vaudeville show which included performances by Eager.

The 1901 San Francisco city directory listed Eager and his father at 1527 Golden Gate Avenue. Eager’s father and two brothers were pressmen at the Chronicle.

Eager was a student at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in 1901.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Eager produced two comic strips for the Chronicle. The Wise Gazabe ran from June 29 to September 21, 1902, and Chan Toy and Chop Suey from September 28 to December 14, 1902.

The 1903 San Francisco directory said artist Eager resided at 1527 Golden Gate Avenue.

Camera Craft, November 1903, covered the Newspaper Artists’ Exhibition said

Charles P. Eager, of the Chronicle, made one of the most interesting displays. His was all newspaper work of the best quality. It included the usual range of pen and ink work and all the different events. The color drawings for the comic “Wise Gazabe,” that appeared in the Chronicle, were particularly interesting.
The Reno Gazette-Journal (Nevada), November 8, 1956, said Eager
had lost his position as staff artist with the San Francisco Chronicle when the coast paper affiliated with the McClure Syndicate. The Syndicate furnished the comic pages to the paper.

“I had a chance to stay,” says Mr. Eager, ”but I had no interest in doing the straight stuff.” His salary with the Chronicle was $15 weekly. After leaving the Chronicle, Mr. Eager decided to travel. He first took a job as a draftsman with the old U. S. surveyor general’s office in St. Paul, Minn., at $900 a year…

Eager was recorded at St. Paul in the 1905 Minnesota state census.

The Gazette-Journal said Eager moved to Reno in November 1906 and became the Gazette’s first cartoonist. Gradually, Eager did less cartooning because of his work for the Bureau of Land Management, traveling to Portland, San Francisco and Burlingame.

In 1907 Eager’s father passed away January 27 and his brother William on July 19.

The San Jose Evening News (California), June 29, 1908, noted Eager’s marriage, “Miss Gertrude Grey of this city and Charles P. Eager of Reno, Nevada, were married at the home of the bride’s mother on Wednesday evening.” They married on June 24.

Eager and his wife were Reno residents as recorded in the 1910 census. The draftsman owned his home at 742 Plumas Street.

Eager was a member of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was secretary at the Reno branch.

Eager’s mother passed away June 13, 1911.

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, January 28, 1913, published Eager’s patent of a parallel protractor.

Eager was the exalted ruler of the Reno Elks.

In 1917 Eager moved to San Francisco.

Eager signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 796 Pine Street, San Francisco. His occupation was topographical draftsman for the U.S. government. His description was tall and slender with blue eyes and blonde hair.

In the 1920 census, Eager, his wife and five-year-old daughter, Margaret, were in San Francisco at 244 21st Avenue. His occupation was “computer” draftsman.

The Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, 1920, New Series, Volume 15, Number 1 included Eager’s work “Alas, the Dooserdoo”.

The 1930 census said Eager’s home was 744 Paloma Avenue in Burlingame, California. He was an engineer with the federal government.

Before 1935, Eager moved to Glendale, California. The 1940 census had his address as 410 1/2 North Jackson Street. The government engineer finished four years of high school and earned $2,800 in 1939.

On April 26, 1942, Eager signed his World War II draft card. His address was unchanged.

In 1949 Eager and Robert Lenon presented a paper to the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Reno Gazette-Journal, 11/8/1956

The Official Register of the United States 1950 said Eager was at the Bureau of Land Management survey office in Glendale.

The Gazette-Journal said Eager retired in 1950; his wife passed away in 1952; and their daughter was head of the psychology and sociology department at San Diego Junior college.

Eager passed away April 12, 1965, in Los Angeles, California. He was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: The Jug Jugs

The Jug Jugs are a group of animals who leave the Central Park Zoo to see the world. Some are bona fide zoo animals, while others, like the mosquito, maybe not so much. The species of the animals are no means obvious since the art is wretchedly awful. The text stories that accompany the art, though, are really quite glorious.

The Jug Jugs appeared in the New York Herald in 1899. I don't have complete information on their run. The earliest one I've found (above) is from the August 6 issue, and the text makes it obvious that it is not the first in the series. OSU's Bill Blackbeard collection documents three additional episodes, on September 3, September 10 and October 8. Based on the title of that last episode it appears to be the end of the series.

The author of The Jug Jugs signs him or herself Lazy Locket. This signature was all over the Herald's children's section from August to October 1899, and then disappears. I haven't a clue who this person really is. At first blush that seems small loss since the artwork is something that should be tacked up on a refrigerator by a doting parent, not published in a major newspaper. But the text story is another matter entirely. Although The Jug Jugs is certainly inspired by the work of Lewis Carroll, it is not just derivative hackwork. Based just upon this single episode, the only one I've seen, I say it is Literature with a capital L. I'd love to see more to find out if Mr. or Ms. Locket was able to sustain this level of writing, or if this episode was merely a flash of brilliance.


The San Francisco Academy of Comic Art apparently has two Lazy Locket items in its collection. "Amusing Animalities Artful Artic [sic?] Aptly Illustrated" It's listed as a one-shot. They also have "The Jug Jugs Entertained by Santa Claus." Sounds to me like you might have a shot at a comparison. Website here:;;brand=default;query=editorial and look for Series II, comic sections, New York Herald.
EOCostello -- Not sure I understand your comment. The post states that I found three Jug Jugs installments in the Blackbeard collection and gives their dates. I did not count "Amusing Animalities..." because there is no definite tie to this series based on the title alone. --Allan
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Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Charles Plumb


Charles Parsons Plumb was born on November 13, 1899, in Gardiner, New Mexico according to his World War II draft card. Plumb’s World War I draft card had the same date and full name.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Plumb was the only child of Carl and Mary. His father was a mining engineer. The trio lived in Gardiner.

The Plumb family numbered six in the 1910 census and were residents in Joplin, Missouri at 319 North Pearl Street.

In the 1918 University of Missouri yearbook, Savitar, Plumb was a freshman yearbook assistant and Kappa Sigma pledge.

On September 6, 1918, Plumb signed his World War I draft card. His home address was the Miners Bank Building in Joplin. He was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and hair. Plumb said he was a student. Sometime later he dropped out of school.

According to the 1920 census, cartoonist Plumb lived with his parents, siblings and maternal grandmother, Lucina Parsons, in Joplin at 1131 Florida Street.

Plumb was featured in the two-page Federal School advertisement in Cartoons Magazine, February 1921. Plumb was included in Chalk Talk and Crayon Presentation: A Handbook of Practice and Performance in Pictorial Expression of Ideas (1922).

Plumb’s marriage was reported in the Joplin Globe, November 16, 1921. 

Joplin friends of Charles Parsons Plumb of Chicago, formerly of this city, will be Interested to learn of his marriage Monday afternoon, November 15, at 4:30 o’clock in Hyde Park Methodist church, Chicago, to Miss Rachel Griffith of Vincennes, Ind. The bride was a house guest of Mrs. C. H. Plumb in Joplin some time ago.
Mr. Plumb is the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Plumb of Chicago, former residents of Joplin, and who are well known here. He is cartoonist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, with headquarters in Chicago. After the wedding ceremony, which was witnessed by the immediate families and a few intimate friends, the bride’s father, Dr. Griffith of Vincennes, Ind., was host at a wedding dinner at a hotel. The couple left Tuesday morning for a wedding trip to Atlanta, Ga., where Mr. Plumb will attend the annual convention of the farm bureau federation. They will be at home to their friends on their return to Chicago.
The Galena Evening Times (Kansas), November 24, 1921, published this item. 
Announcement has been received here of the marriage of Charles Parsons Plumb and Miss Rachel Grace Griffith in Chicago, November 14. Mr. Plumb is a former resident of Baxter [Kansas] and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Plumb. They will reside in Chicago.
The Buffalo Evening News (New York), September 10, 1926, printed a profile of Plumb.
Charles P. Plumb, the artist, was born in Gardner [sic], New Mexico, reared in Colorado and Missouri, and when he grew to college man’s estate went to the University of Missouri. Later he attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He traveled and swung a pencil before audiences in the Chautauqua circuits, and later drew front page cartoons for a Chicago dally newspaper. He also produced syndicated cartoons for a national farm organization.

From these he went to animated cartoons, after moving to Pasadena, California, in 1923; then spent two years as a cartoonist on the Los Angeles Times and art editor of the Times Preview magazine. In Mr. Plumb’s own words, also, it is divulged: “Married. Two. One of each. Specially admires work of N. Y. Wyeth, Bateman, Arthur Rackham, and Edmund Dulac. Hobbies, fishing and rocking the baby, but too busy drawing Ella [Cinders] to do either. Ambition, to invent blotless ink and a three-speed-roller-bearing drawing pen. Favorite nightmare, the dead-line.”
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Plumb drew the Ella Cinders daily from June 1, 1925 to May 13, 1950, and the Sunday from September 19, 1926 to May 9, 1943. Plumb had assistants including Roger Armstrong, Jack McGuire, Hardie Gramatky and Joe Messerli. Bill Conselman was the initial writer followed by Fred Fox and Conselman’s son. Plumb also wrote the Tarzan Sunday pages from February 10, 1946 to August 3, 1947.

San Gabriel, California was Plumb’s home in the 1930 census. His house, at 132 Live Oak Avenue, was valued at $40,000. The newspaper cartoonist had two children and a servant. The following year, a third child was born.

The whole family vacationed in Hawaii. They departed Los Angeles on January 12, 1934 and arrived in Honolulu on February 17. They started their journey home on March 10 and landed on the mainland the seventeenth.

Plumb and Charles Stuart Ramsay collaborated on the book, Tin Can Island: A Story of Tonga and the Swimming Mail Man of the South Seas. It was published in 1938.

The 1940 census said syndicate cartoonist Plumb had remarried. He and wife Josephine had a two-year-old son named Peter. Plumb’s household included his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a servant. They lived in San Antonio, Texas at 1202 West Mulberry. Plumb was a San Antonio resident when he signed his World War II draft card on September 15, 1942.

A 1945 issue of Caduceus, published by the Kappa Sigma fraternity, noted Plumb’s whereabouts and activities, “Cartoonist Charles P. Plumb (Missouri) of Progresso, Texas, is remembered as co-creator of the comic strip ‘Ella Cinders,’ done when he was a correspondent for United Press. He is in Hawaii as a Red Cross assistant field director. Mrs. Plumb lives at 1010 W. Craig, San Antonio, while their son, Charles C, is in the navy in the Pacific.”

A military manifest card said Plumb was a Red Cross worker whose home address was 251 Cornell Street in San Antonio. Plumb flew on a B-29 from Hawaii on August 22, 1945, bound for San Francisco.

Plumb’s third marriage was to Martha Louise Wright. News of the event appeared in the Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah), September 6, 1970. 

Sep 6, 1970—Announcement is made of the marriage on Aug. 7th of the former Mrs. Martha Robeson Wright, formerly of Ft. Myers, Fla., to Charles Parsons Plumb, also of Ft. Myers. The couple exchanged vows in the presence of immediate family members, and after a trip to St. Augustine Beach, Silver Springs and Clearwater, Fla., the couple is at home at 1925 Virginia Ave., Ft. Myers. Mr. Plumb was creator of the cartoon Ella Cinders, for 30 years, and is the author of short stories of adventure.
The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 31, Part 1, Number 1, Section 2, Books and Pamphlets, January–June 1977 included this entry for Plumb. “The Tattooed gun hand. By Charles P. Plumb. 176 p. © Charles P. Plumb; 8 Feb 77: A840993”.

Artists in California, 1786–1940 said Plumb retired to Ashland, Oregon.

Plumb passed away January 19, 1982 according to the Huntsville Times (Alabama), January 21, 1982, which published the Associated Press article.

‘Ella Cinders’ Creator Is Dead
Ashland, Ore. (AP)—Charles P. Plumb, creator of the comic strip “Ella Cinders” which was popular during the 1930s, has died in a rest home at the age of 82.

His strip ran for 27 years, ending in 1951. A popular newspaper and comic book feature which hit its peak of popularity in the 1930s, it was the first comic strip to be made into a full-length motion picture.

Plumb, who died Tuesday [January 19], also was the author of three books: “Tin Can Island,” {The Tattooed Gun Hand,” and “The Murderous Move.”

His wife, Martha Wright Plumb, said he had been ill for the last several weeks.
The Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio), January 21, 1982, said Plumb died in Fort Myers, Fla. Plumb was laid to rest at Restlawn Memorial Gardens.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, March 18, 2019


Toppers: Chris Crusty

The long-running and popular strip Ella Cinders was quite economical about toppers. Through the entire long lifespan of the strip, it used only one --- Chris Crusty.

Ella Cinders combined comedy, melodrama and adventure in a strip that did all three quite well. Although mostly forgotten today, in its heyday it was very popular, on a par with many blockbuster strips of the day. In later years the strip's reputation was tarnished by second-rate writers and artists, some credited, some not. However, when writer Bill Conselman and artist Charlie Plumb were at the helm it was a delight to read and very well-drawn to boot.

The strip sold very well as a daily and so a Sunday was added after fifteen months, on September 19 1926.  The syndicate, Metropolitan Newspapers, had never syndicated a Sunday page and so Ella Cinders became their first foray into that arena. Such was the reader response to Ella, though, that the Sunday sold well right out of the gate. The Sunday didn't in my opinion have nearly the same magic as the daily, but I must be in the minority, because the Sunday sales were very strong and stayed that way.

Being new to the Sunday game, Metropolitan didn't clue into the topper craze. It took half a decade before Ella Cinders would gain her one and only topper on July 5 1931. Chris Crusty got a rousing introduction onto the Sunday page:

but that was the highlight of the entire run of the strip. After this intro strip, the feature consistently used the star as a mannequin on which to hang the week's jokebook gag. There was no continuity to his character or surroundings. Eventually the strip was demoted from two tiers to one tier, then to two panels vying for room alongside Ella Cinders' logo. Finally on July 6 1941*, exactly a decade after its debut, Chris Crusty's swan song was sung and Ella graced the Sunday funnies all by her lonesome for the rest of the long run of the strip.

* Source: New York Mirror


1926 was also the year Colleen Moore -- then a major star -- starred in a movie version of Ella Cinders, which is probably better known that the strip at this point. Harry Langdon, briefly a rival to Chaplin and Keaton, has a cameo.

The story has Ella winning a contest and going to Hollywood, which evidently mirrors the early days of the strip itself. It's still entertaining, although a few period bits date badly.

The film, one of the few Moore features to survive tragic mishandling, is public domain and there are various DVD releases as well as online videos. All seem to run about 52 minutes -- perhaps copied from a condensed version for Kodak's Kodascope lending library, which offered silent films for home projector owners.
Ella Cinders was probably the first strip launched the way (more) modern ones were, with a big promotional campaign beforehand, with`licensing arrangements made in advance. She had a song, dolls,and the movie appearing a few weeks to months after the strip began. According to IMDb, the film rights were secured by First National in January 1926,,and this one hit movie screens just short of a year from the strip's debut. I liked the strip, at least in it's early years. It was nicely drawn and had humourous, slangy dialogue, though given to the always-annoying PUNS. It became bad, or at least undistinguished when they made it into a dreary, verbose soap opera about Ella and her boring husband, "Patches", (who appeared to be a caricature of Antonio Moreno) and how events always kept them apart, from their unconsumated marriage in 1937 on. The film didn't strictly adhere to the strip's first story, though it seems like the two were created together. in the film, she makes it in Hollywood, and hometown iceman/sweetie "Waite Lifter" (the level of punmanship Conselman could reach) comes out there and marries her. He's played by the handsome he-man Lloyd Hughes. In the strip, Mr. Lifter was a thick, cypher-eyed grotesque that is left behind long ago. And obviously, Ella doesn't become a film star either. Fritzi Ritz went out there to be in the movies too, and I'm still waiting for her movie to come out. Fun Fact: one 1927 Ella Sunday was drawn by Clifford McBride.
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