Saturday, April 27, 2019


Herriman Saturday

December 21 1909 -- Herriman covers the Board of Health beat when they try to come up with a definition of what is and what isn't a fresh egg.


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Friday, April 26, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

Here's another Dwig card, this one from Tuck's Cheer Up Series, less colorfully known as Series 176. This card was postally used in 1911.

Looks like that pup is pretty pleased with himself for taking a bite out of the corner of the card. Bad dog!


Shouldn't it have said,"The worse you think of the WURST?" Perhaps the inclusion of the mutt alludes to a popular conception of the day, that sausage makers regularly included a helping of Fido as an inexpensive "Filler" in the mix with the other "by-products." Maybe the term "Hot Dogs" was more truth in advertising than we want to assume.
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Thursday, April 25, 2019


Side Talks with Newlyweds

The popularity of George McManus' Newlyweds and their Baby strip was so great that the doting Mrs. Newlywed was given her own newspaper column about caring for babies. Each column consistented of a long series of short pronouncements about babies, some serious, others played for laughs. The highlight was a drawing cribbed from one of the comic strips. It is very doubtful that  George McManus was involved in the production of this weekly column. In fact, Cole Johnson, who supplied the sample, believed that the column was produced by anonymous hands at the Chicago Tribune, the only place Cole or I can find it running. It seems to have run in their Sunday womens' section from January 12 to March 22 1908.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Stubby Stout

In the final days of World War II, on the day Hitler committed suicide as the allies entered Berlin, the struggling comics syndication arm of the Associated Press tried out a new comic strip in their blanket service titled Stubby Stout. Meant purely as a fun antidote to war news elsewhere in the paper, the strip concerned a wacky maintenance man, and though the gags were nothing to write home about, the wonderful art sure did make it fun to look at.

I know very little about the cartooning life of creator Ernie Hager, but based on his style I'd be surprised if he didn't spend some time at Disney. He sure does have a Paul Murry flavor to his work. A short obituary at Find A Grave confirms he was a west coast guy, so it seems like a good possibility. I also wonder if Hager was kin to the other west coast Hager cartooning folk, Dok Hager and his son George Hager.

Nice art aside, the subscribers to the AP service did not seem to have the space or inclination to add Stubby (as it was apparently always abbreviated except in promos) to their line-ups. I have yet to find a newspaper that ran the daily-only strip from the start date of April 30 1945 supplied by Dave Strickler in his E&P Syndicate Directory reference. The latest end date found so far is March 9 1946, courtesy of Jeffrey Lindenblatt, in the Big Spring Herald.


The lettering on this strip is agonizingly familiar. It's similar to Frank Engli but it's not him...looks a lot like the letterer on George Wunder's early Terry strips. Somewhere I read that was Ben Oda. Or was it?
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019


News of Yore 1923: O.O. McIntyre on his Cartoonist Friends

 [ O.O. McIntyre's nationally syndicate column, New York Day By Day, discussed cartoonists in an early April 1923 release. Headlines were chosen by the paper running the column, so I have omitted one for this reprinting. Nate Collier provided the cartoon to go along with the column (though he doesn't merit a mention!). Does anyone know who McIntyre is referring to in the last paragraph?]

I sing today of the limners -- the black and white masters. In short, the cartoonists. From the solemn face of Tad to Rube Goldberg, the merriest wag of the lot.

Day in and out they lighten our sorrows -- giving us pungent, individualistic criticism of human life and human problems more humanizing at times than the printed word. They are sometimes impudent, but always clever.

There is Jay N. Darling, to his readers "Ding," who can draw a warped board fit for the galleries. "Ding" lives in Des Moines, where he owns stock in a thriving newspaper. He comes to New York often, but all the purring of publishers cannot make him leave the great middle west.

I have found pseudo-intellectualism among cartoonists as I have among some writers. "Ding" will sit in at draw, tell a good story, play a practical joke, but at the same time, he is a thinker. He is able to assimilate and digest life and draw his own conclusions.


George McManus is short and pudgy, with a certain gravity of demeanor until you know him. And then he proves a cutup. Sometimes you will find him at "Dinty Moore's" -- the corn beef and cabbage cafe near the Globe. His cartoon character was not named after the living "Dinty." It just happens the living "Dinty" and Mr. McManus are friends.

"Tad," whose pseudonym comes from his initials, is T.A. Dorgan. He was born in San Francisco and was a boyhood playmate of Jim Corbett, and they are neighbors now at Great Neck, L.I.

"Tad" has an owlish look and the droop of the scholar. Just when he was making good as a cartoonist an accident deprived him of a finger and he had to learn to draw all over again with the other hand. He has given the world more slang phrases than any other person.

In the good old days he was a nightly visitor to the Battling Nelson grill of Jack's restaurant. His companion was "Hype" Igoe, a sporting writer, and with their ukuleles they made things hum in the nocturnal life of the Roaring Forties. But the old days are gone and "Tad" does not come to town so often. Golf has claimed him.


H.T. Webster came out of Tommyhawk, Wisc., to add zest to the cartoon world. Fired in Denver for incompetence, he landed right side up as page 1 cartoonist on the old Chicago Inter Ocean and, as is usual with his ilk, New York claimed him -- but not before he had circled the world.

Webster is a 6-footer. He smokes ferocious black cigars, wears his hair fiercely pompadoured and is as gentle and kind as a wobbly little lambkin. The small town folk are his metier. Boyville still calls him. In the summer he goes to the island he owns at Meddybemps, Me., fishes and lounges about the village store.

On another island, hard by, lives Clare Briggs, whose "When a Feller Needs a Friend" and other comicalities have sent laughs around the world. Briggs is the Peter Pan of the cartoon world. If he lives to be 80 he will never grow up. He will always belong to the stone bruise age.

Walking with Webster one gets an impression of Rhode Island and Texas. Webster tall and massive, Briggs short and dumpy. And each smokes the cigar at the Joe Cannon angle. Briggs' New York home is at New Rochelle. His home, "Little Anchor," is made of old ship timbers and is one of the show places of the suburbs that George M. Cohan immortalized in his "Forty-five Minutes from Broadway."

There is a Kelly pool room, a big flower conservatory, a swimming pool and a huge studio room with an open fireplace in this house that laughs built. Briggs, of course, is a small town product and was born in Reedsburg, Wis.


Jean Knott, the penny ante sketcher lives in Clayton, Mo., the county seat of St. Louis county, but spends part of his time in New York. Almost any sunny day you can find him lounging with the loafers about the courthouse. It is difficult to get him to motor into town -- not even to see "Eddie" -- unless you suggest a game of penny ante. He loves the game and why shouldn't he? Its gentle stimulus has taught him the art of living in plenty without toil.

E.A. Bushnell resides in Cleveland. "Bush" began life at hard labor, but his unusual talents were soon recognized. He is shy and diffident and avoids cliques and back-slapping dinners.

The only dyed in the wool New Yorker I know among the comic artists is Jack Callahan, who first saw the light of day in Brooklyn.

Rube L. Goldberg was born in San Francisco, but seldom goes back anymore. Although he owns several apartment houses there, he says the old town is changed. He thrills to his view of Broadway from the Times building at which he works.

He stormed all the newspaper shops when he came to New York, with no success, and was about to return to the Golden Gate when he got a small chance to "do his stuff" on the Evening Mail. He has developed into one of the highest paid cartoonists in the world.

He, like Briggs, is a boyish unspoiled young man. He works with a furious intensity, but plays just as hard. He is at home in a hash house where prize fighters loaf as well as at the Ritz. It would be difficult to call Rube "Mr. Goldberg." I think he would resent it.


Fontaine Fox is a tall, slender young man with a short, light moustache -- English fashion. From Louisville he migrated to Chicago and then the usual stopping place -- Manhattan, where his original drawings and ideas won him a national following. He is rather quiet and unassuming, but withal extraordinary. He was born in Louisville, Ky.

Al Frueh, the caricaturist, is a droll-appearing young man. He hails from Lima, O., but has spent the larger part of his life in Paris and New York. One might find his double in front of the village drug store almost any summer evening.

Herb Roth is a Californian of short but athletic build. He has blonde curly hair and the most distinguishing feature is what Carolyn Wells terms his "button nose." He lives in Gramercy Park, a few doors from The Players, and his off moments are spent canoeing or playing handball. He used to chew tobacco and once grew a beard that was the despair of his friends.

He likes to appear "a rough guy" to hide the romanticism that is his. Friends found him one morning with tears in his eyes in a public park. He was gazing at a crushed flower.


There are others -- too numerous to mention here -- who, however, add just as much gaiety to functions. And they compose an unusual group of small town boys who have made good in the big city.

Their salaries are always big, but success has not turned their heads. They are home loving, law abiding and just regular fellows.

They proved their sterling worth during the recent World War. The influence they wielded was astounding. They sped up activities with simple and homely delineations and they gave of their talents freely.

It is small wonder that one of the richest men in America selects as his confidants and companions the men who draw the cartoons. He has found that they are shrewd and wise, wonderful friends and always loyal.


Maybe WR Hearst?
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Monday, April 22, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Our Own Movies

I'm ambivalent about posting today's obscurity, Our Own Movies, because I have a great affinity and respect for the work of Nate Collier. This series unfortunately affords me few opportunities for compliments.

Our Own Movies seems to have debuted on November 3 1919*, syndicated by Baltimore's International Syndicate. International was an important early syndicate twenty years earlier, but by 1919 they were just getting by with some second-rate material that they sold to smaller papers. Nate Collier was a perfect fit for them because he was always on the prowl for another outlet for his constantly drawing pen, and he wasn't precious about who signed his checks.

Collier was creative enough that he didn't need to resort to plagiarism, but for some reason he offered International a bald-faced copy of Ed Wheelan's Minute Movies**, less the most original aspect of Wheelan's creation, the recurring 'actor troupe'. For my own happiness, I'm going to assume that International ordered him to produce this me-too strip.

When first offered, the strip was designed so that it could run as a very thin page-width strip, like Bert Link's A Reel of Nonsense.  However, I have yet to find a paper that ran it that way. The strip was also offered formatted as a three-column three-tiered square (as seen above). This succeeded in making the captions sometimes refer to a drawing on a different tier, making the strips a bit confusing to readers. Nevertheless, this was the format everyone seemed to pick.

By early 1920, the strip was reformatted to fit in the standard six-column comic strip format of the day, and now looked exactly like Minute Movies by switching to its two-tiered format. By then Collier was beginning to offer continuities, also like you-know-who.

The strip was actually running in a goodly number of papers (by International Syndicate standards), when it disappeared on August 28 1920***, not even a full year into the run. My bet is that International stiffed Collier and he flew the coop, but that's just a guess. No harm done, though, since it was not doing Collier's resume any good to be producing copycat material for an over-the-hill syndicate.

* Source: Ottawa Journal
** Actually, it was still titled Midegt Movies in 1919. The Minute Movies moniker would not come until 1921.
*** Source: Salina Evening Journal


Like you I have always enjoyed Nate Collier.
Unlike you I greatly enjoyed the Our Own Movies series, at least the samples you provided.
The art (of course), the script, the lettering - it all worked for me.
The love story with the enigmatic ending, the gangster "film" with all the slang, and the fairy tale about the Ananias River; all of them wonderful. And completely different.
If he kept up the variety on the done-in-one installments I would have hated the change to serial format.
Since "there is nothing new under the sun" Nate nicking someone else's device doesn't bother me.
Looking forward to Alex's profile of Collier (I hope).
This feature was seen in the Rome (NY) Sentinel until 8 September 1920. That was a Wednesday, so perhaps INS stuff was not precisely to appear on assigned dates. Would you call them a "boilerplate" syndicate?
Hi Mark -
Quite a few International clients ran stuff late and out of order, so in order to figure end dates I tend to limit myself to papers that ran them for a good long while on a consistent daily basis. Is that true of the Rome paper? Maybe you could give me the topics of the last few and I'll cross-check it with the Salina paper. Thanks, Allan
Hello Allan-
The final five strips in the Rome Sentinel;

23 August 1920: Part one of the saga of Rupert Spoofus and Elinore DeBumski and their rocky romance.

24 August: Part two.

25 August: Part three (of three)

3 September: Two pith-helmeted guys stand surveying different landscapes in successive panels, including "Aloha Land", the Sahara and a glacier field, then resolving in the penultimate frame Nate himself shaking hands with "You", (a short chap in a derby) and finally, a smiling sun as readers are bid goodbye. Nate puts next to his signature "With a Fond Farewell."

8 September: "Jack Dannels" berates his maid, though we were led to believe he was an unhenpecked husband yelling at his wife. Next to Nate's signature he adds,"Watch For My Stuff in ""life" and "Judge."

The Rome Sentinel started running them on 22 March 1920.
So maybe they did run them out of order, certainly they mixed up the last two, and sometimes they skipped a day.
Hi Mark -- Yup, Rome was running late. --Allan

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