Wednesday, June 10, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 2 -- July - September 1915

Yesterday in Part 1 I introduced this series about the final years of Buster Brown, and today we begin our look at those final years. My assumption was that this series would start by looking at the arrival of Penny Ross as an assistant or ghost to Outcault in 1917. Turned out things weren't nearly that simple. From April 1917, where I started reviewing the Buster Brown Sundays, I started moving backward in time, looking for the arrival of Ross. By the time I felt like I had made it to consistently  Ross-free material, I was way back in 1915! I had also discovered that the strip did not simply change hands from Outcault to Ross by any means, but that their relationship seemed to be much more nuanced.

Since I do not hold myself forth as an expert art-spotter, I feel that it is only fair to show you the  material I reviewed, because some of you, my esteemed readers, are very good art spotters and may well have a lot of wisdom to add. Your comments would be very much appreciated. Besides, although Buster was certainly past his best years here, it was still quite often a well-drawn and funny strip.

So today we are going to start in mid-1915 and I'll offer my opinions on the strips as we go forward. Of course these are all going to be reproduced from online sources, so I apologize for the lack of quality, but in some ways I find it easier to evaluate art with color removed, so perhaps this is for the best. We're starting well back from what I consider to be the arrival of Penny Ross so that you can get acclimated to Outcault's art style before we start throwing curve balls.

We start with the July 4 1915 episode. Not great Outcault work, panel 8 with the two maids looks very rushed, but I see no particular reason to believe this is not Outcault, he's just not on his A-game. We'll see a lot of that in 1915. 

July 11 is a much better strip, with Outcault's cartooning in fine form:


July 18 is another good episode with adequate if unspectacular art:


Another fairly good episode, first in a mini-series at the San Francisco world's fair, on July 25:


Second installment at the World's Fair, with somewhat rushed art on August 1:


A particularly funny episode on August 8; the art looks rushed, but that may be partly the fault of a particularly bad scan:


August 15, and some damn fool gives Buster Brown a rifle. These people deserve what they get:


August 22, with indifferent art except for that lovely masthead panel:


August 29 is a pointless strip about Buster and Tige at an air show, but the art is nice and lively. Outcault can sometimes be stiff in depicting action:


On September 5 we go to Yellowstone, and great looking art is marred only by the rotten quality of this scan:


September 12 is an important strip in that the material is perfect for Penny Ross (girls being his specialty), yet I see no evidence of his hand. You'll see later on how this sort of strip would be the perfect 'tell' as far as my art-spotting goes:


On September 19 we get another well-drawn Outcault strip that leaves me wondering what sort of restrictions there were on driving age in 1915:


September 26 is another fine effort, good gag with plenty of action. Okay, so we'll leave it here for today. In my opinion these strips from July to September are all Outcault, or at least if there is some assisting going on, it's certainly not noticeable, at least to my eyes. Your opinions? Next time we'll hit (in my opinion) some work by Ross.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]