Saturday, June 08, 2019


Herriman Saturday

December 22 1909 -- Another installment of the 'LA Examiner only' (?) run of Mary's Home From College.

I can't decide if papa is really a jazz fan or if he's trying to embarrass his daughter, or both. It's interesting to consider that this same gag will be played out in comics and elsewhere about a bajillion times in the 1920s, by then with the roles reversed. The college kids by then were the hepcats who scandalize their parents with their love of 'race music'.


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Friday, June 07, 2019


Wish You Were Here, from Clare Briggs

Here's one of the few Clare Briggs postcards I've encountered, this one featuring his popular Chicago Tribune Sunday funnies character Danny Dreamer.

That it was published in 1908 by R.W. Hammond we can plainly see, but if there is more information on the reverse I cannot tell because the postcard user pasted a newspaper clipping to cover everything but the address portion. Fittingly, this postcard was used to let someone know about the bad flooding in Des Moines Iowa -- an inspired choice of postcard I'm sure you'll agree.


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Thursday, June 06, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Leo the Little Leaguer

Leo the Little Leaguer, a daily panel feature about a kid who plays sports, was created by Walt Lardner and distributed by the small syndication operation of Long Island's Newsday newspaper in 1966.

This was Lardner's second foray into newspaper syndication. His first was with Mr. President, an ill-fated attempt to poke fun at the Kennedy White House. It fell flat well before it would have been cancelled due to horrific real life events. Leo the Little Leaguer seemed to be off to a much better start, though, as Newsday Specials miraculously got a lot of high-profile newspapers to take the panel. It debuted on March 14 1966 and seemed like a shoo-in for a long and prosperous run with its robust client list.

What happened to nix the deal I don't know, but many of these big papers dropped the panel after mere months. They presumably liked what they saw when the first bought it, and I see no reduction in quality, so these mass cancellations are a mystery. With all those high-paying papers just a fond memory, Lardner or his syndicate decided to pull the plug. The latest I can find the panel running is in Wayne Today, where it ran ROP through at least mid-October 1966*.

Lardner later went on to have much better luck in TV animation and as an editorial cartoonist for South Carolina's The State newspaper. 

*Since extended to Februarey 18 1967, based on St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


My idle speculations:

-- Despite broad usage, Little League is not a generic term. It's a specific organization, and perhaps they made some legal moves that made newspapers shy away.

-- Maybe a negative news story made the name -- or kid sports in general -- briefly toxic.

-- Maybe editor interest was at least partly based on some tie-in that didn't materialize, like a TV show or a big merchandise push.

-- Perhaps the syndicate, emboldened by a strong launch, upped the price.

-- Was this a case of everybody but the readers loving it? Recall reading of a lunch box maker in the 50s or early 60s doing a line of boxes featuring NFL teams. The company, the sales staff, and the buyers -- mostly male football fans -- all loved them. But at that moment in history, actual kids weren't interested.

I recall seeing a paperback of newspaper panels centered on a little girl who lived in the White House, clearly referencing Caroline Kennedy despite a different name. Don't know if that lasted long enough to collide with history.
Hi DBenson --
All possibilities. I rather like the one about the syndicate upping the price. That would be a dumb rookie move that sounds likely.

The feature you're thinking of is "Miss Caroline", and its bad timing was truly extraordinary. I haven't had the heart to do a post about it in all these years.

Lardner also drew a book of Little Leaguer cartoons circa 1955. I wish that I could tell you more, but it's the only book from Abbey Press that I've not been able to hunt down a copy of. It is also their only book that is not specifically focused on religious figures (at least, I assume it's not; for all I know, the Little Leaguers of the title are all altar boys.)
In looking for some Christmas themed comic strips, I stumbled upon the panel running in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in December 1966 under the title "Leo." It's definitely the same strip, as it has the same character and Lardner's signature on it. I didn't look into 1967, but it looks like it made it to the end of the year in at least one paper.
They ended it on 2/14/67, a Tuesday, and replaced it with "Eb And Flo". Presumably it lasted until at least the end of that week, 2/18/67. Thanks Ben!
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Wednesday, June 05, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Henry

Long before the comic strip name Henry became linked to a silent, butt-faced, bald-headed boy, it was briefly associated with a much older bald-headed fellow.

Well after Vic Forsythe found his success with Joe's Car (later Joe Jinks), which debuted in 1917, the Pulitzer organization continued to expect more out of him than a mere 6-day per week comic strip. In 1920 they asked for a feature to go on an interior page of their Sundat comics section, and Forsythe reponded with Henry, a strip about the travails of a married man. Why Press Publishing didn't simply ask for a Sunday version of Joe's Car I cannot imagine, but that's basically what they got in everything but name.

Forsythe was only allowed a quarter-page for the strip because the Pulitzer organization had figured out that their four page section could sound more impressive to Sunday paper buyers if it offered more features than other competing sections. Pulitzer had one of their interior pages hold four strips, which made for a more impressive feature count. Forget the fact that those features were small, single-color jobs that the cartoonists produced while they were half-asleep. Just as with toppers later on, it wasn't the quality that counted, just the number of features listed on the masthead.

Forsythe really did sleepwalk through Henry, whose gags are so lethargic and hackneyed that they could be marketed as sleep aids. The strip ran from June 13 1920 to February 6 1921, and I'd bet not one reader noticed on February 13th 1921 that it had disappeared.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.


It's a "Mr. and Mrs." fake!
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Tuesday, June 04, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Hankinson

Here's an historic obscurity, Mister Hankinson by famed illustrator John R. Neill. Although Neill's career is the subject of quite a bit of scholarship, there seems to be no mention of this feature, which was his first newspaper comic strip.

Mister Hankinson appeared at least twice in 1901. It ran in the Sunday comics section of the Philadelphia North American on September 29 and October 13*. The North American's Sunday comics section debuted on September 29, so Neill got a plum new spot, produced a quite sumptuous looking strip, yet for some reason didn't follow through. He did not have another series in the North American's comics section until 1905.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.

* It could have also run on October 6 and/or October 20, as those sections may be incomplete on the microfilm that I indexed.


I have the notes on the North American I made when I did a breakdown on it many years ago. As far as I can Tell, the sections for 6 & 20 October 1901 were complete, they have as much material as the weeks surrounding them. I notice that in those two weeks Neill is represented by one shots. But I have Mr.Hankinson as a two shot (and two other two-shot series) indexed under the name of Thomas Neill:

Ye Strange Adventures of ye two knights of ye round table (1 & 8 December 1901.
Feline Town (29 June & 6 July 1902)

I have John R. Neill as creator of the 1905-6 series Toyland and his most famous series, Little Journeys of Nip and Tuck in 1909-10.

Nothing by any Neill in 1903.

have I befouled by scholarship with erroneous misinformation?
Hi Mark --
Sorry for the slow response; I've been travelling.

First, my apologies about that 1903 series I cited, it was a typo and I meant 1905 (Toyland).

Looking now at my PNA index, which was compiled with the microfilm available at Harrisburg's state library, I can't confirm your 1901 or 1902 series. On 12/1/01, I have the McDougall page plus Flipp Boys and Muggsy. On 12/8/01 I have just McDougall and Muggsy. On 6/29/02 I have McDougall, Flipp Boys, Airship Man and Sallie Slick. On 7/6/02 I have McDougall, Airship Man, Beelzebub Boys, Drowsy Dick, Flipp Boys, Sallie Slick.

I don't think I was intentionally omitting one-shots on that index, so I'm at a loss how we're not matching up. Might those Neill strips you're referring to have appeared outside the section? I could certainly have missed that.

That early in the NA's history, they had no extra cartoon pages for a magzine section like the Inky did, or anything like that. In fact I don't think they ever did. This is from the North American microfiles at the Philadelphia Free Library.
Here's my complete breakdowns for the dates in question:

6 October 1901
Why Bims Lost the Election by Walt McDougall
Reputations Made By Accident are as Good As any Other Kind by Tho. R. Neill
Unknown Perils of Carrying a Cane by Tho. R. Neill
untitled spot gag by Penfield
Shirkers Sometimes get Their Just Deserts by Tho. R. Neill

20 October 1901
Don't Be Too Familiar with Strange Babies by Walt McDougall
The Venerable Dr.Bear Vaccinates the Entire Zoo by "Sore Arms"
untitled spot art by McDougall
Kidnapping made Difficult by Maybell
The Up-To-Date Insurance Man by Jean Mohr

1 December 1901
How Schnitzer Recovered his Pretzel-with interest by McDougall
Sauntering Sam Discovers the Cause of His Insomnia and Works a Quick Cure by George Herriman
The Flipp Boys Try To Play Circus With Fatty Felix by McDougall
Muggsy Wants To Be Bad, But Fate is Against Him by Crane
Ye Strange Adventures of Ye Two Knights Of Ye Round Table (UNSIGNED, but my guess at the time was Neill)

8 December 1901
Santa Claus: "Hang These Newfangled Automatic Toys, Anyhow" by McDougall
A Stolen Ride With Santa Claus- Little Johnny's Terrible Dream by Haver
untitled spot art by Marcus A. Ide
Ye Strange Adventures Of Ye Two Knights of Ye Round Table (UNSIGNED, looks like Neill)
Muggsy Again Tries To Be Bad but Luck Is Against Him by Crane
Modest Old Santa Claus Gets A Shock (UNSIGNED, looks like Neill)

29 June 1902
The Village Of Romance, The Village Of The Real Estate Advertisement, and The Village as It Usually Is by McDougall
This Little Pig Went On a Rampage by Elliot
How Uncle Si Lost His Fourth Of July Dinner by Geo. Hopf
An Exciting Chase In Feline Town After The Puss That Stole The Bottle Of Milk by Tho. R. Neill
The Cruise Of the Good Airship "Skyrocket" by Kahles (Gets shot down with firecracker)
Why Mr. Bondclipper Tired of His New Panama Hat by Jean Mohr
Fatty Felix, The Flipp Boys And the Bees by McDougall
Sallie Slick And Her Suprising Aunt Amelia by Jean Mohr (An independence day firecracker spells out "Sallie")

6 July 1902
Uncle Hiram's Frantic Efforts to Escape The Automobile Fiend by McDougall
A Thrilling Rescue On The Briny Deep When Hope Had Fled by T.S. Allen
The Cruise Of the Good Airship "Skyrocket" by Kahles (Farmer traps him in barn with dogs)
The Beezlebub Boys and Their Uncle Tom by "Bow Wow"
Drowsy Dick In The Navy- His Heroic Action Saves the Admiral's Life by Chas. Reese
A Naughty Puss on Trial In Feline Town by Tho. R. Neill
Fatty Felix and the Flipp Boys in the Orchard by McDougall
Sallie Slick and her Suprising Aunt Amelia by Jean Mohr (She tricks Amelia from a window during Edward VII's coronation)

It occurs to me that as the name of the famous artist John R. Neill might be a little too close to "Tho. R. Neill", I may have misinterpreted a hard to read signature, and "Tho." could actually be "Jno."

I haven't a guess who "Sore Arms" and "Bow Wow" might have been.

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Monday, June 03, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Stuff and Nonsense

E. N. "Eggie" Clark only has two short-lived series to his name, but wow, they are real beauts. Here is his first series, titled Stuff and Nonsense, that was produced for the Boston Herald from March 6 to June 12 1904. Each episode had two recurring features, Little Willie and An Unnatural History for the Little Tots, plus some extras.

I know nothing about Mr. Clark, though one can probably safely assume that he was a Boston resident at this time. His later series was produced out of Pittsburgh, so he wasn't tied inextricably to the city.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.


Certainly no Alex Jay, but...
Clark seems to have been quite a successful magazine illustrator and cover artist:

Clark, Egbert Norman (1872-1942)

Clark, Egbert Norman, magazine and book illustrations; born in Milwaukee, Wis., August. 15th, 1872; son of Darwin and Ellen P.C.; studied in Frank Holmes’ School of Illustration, Chicago; married to Chloris Cochran, 18989.

Illustrates for Life, Success, Cosmopolitan, and all the current magazines.
Address, 15 Clark Place, Columbus, O.

The Library of Congress has one cartoon by Egbert Norman Clark published in the Buffalo Courier-Express in 1918: (the tiff file is completely accessible for downloading). I also have:

Around 1930, he moved to Utica, New York. There, in the 1930s, he painted 11 murals depicting Mohawk Valley history. While the Utica Mutual Insurance Company, paid him to paint eight, the other three were created under the Public Works Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. He developed an interest in local history and published his own history magazine, The Upstate Monthly between 1940 and 1942. He died in Utica, New York, on November 16, 1942.

Sources: Malio Cardarelli, “GUEST: Edgar Clark Utica murals finally together again,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, December 1, 2013, viewed online:, 05/06/2018; Mario J. Cardarelli, “Clark, Egbert Norman,” The Encyclopedia of New York State, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005, p. 339

Sara W. Duke
Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art
Prints & Photographs Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4730
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