Thursday, June 11, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown: Part 3 -- October - December 1915

Yesterday we looked at the Buster Brown strips for July to September 1915. I presumed these to be more or less pure Outcault. Let's continue on.

October starts with visits from old Outcault characters. On October 3 Pore Little Mose makes an appearance:


On the 10th we get a cameo from the Yellow Kid (perhaps for the last time -- I'm not aware of any later ones in the strip), plus an unusual running commentary from Outcault himself in the fourth tier, and a "Yours Truly" preceding his signature. If all this makes you wonder if Outcault is signalling some new era for the strip, well, you might just be right.

October 17 brings us a run of the mill strip:


October 24 brings us the most rushed looking art yet. Tige doesn't even look like Tige in the first few panels. But is this evidence of other hands, or of a rushed Outcault? Impossible for me to say.


October 31 sees Outcault back in tip-top form.


November 7 is another good outing with nice art, especially that masthead panel:

November 7 1915
And now we finally get some drama. On November 14 we get a strip that I claim to be at least 75% Penny Ross art. Judge for yourself, but I'm convinced. The poses and staging in many of these panels is pure Ross. My thinking is that Outcault did the masthead, story panels 1, 11 and 12 and not much else except maybe for the faces of Buster, Tige and Mary Jane:


Of course I wouldn't be doing this series if Penny Ross simply took over the reins at this point. Nope, things aren't nearly that clear-cut. In the November 21 episode, Outcault clearly does most of the work, but Ross contributes the women's faces in story panels 9 and 11.


On November 28 we seem to be back to a typical Outcault page with no evidence of Ross at all. I'm afraid we'll be playing this cat-and-mouse game with Ross for quite awhile:

On December 5 we get a hastily drawn strip, but to my eye probably Outcault:

Another Outcault production on December 12, this one with a very nice masthead.


December 19 is an odd one. Something about the cat and the Christmas tree in story panels 9 and 10 whispers 'Ross' to me, but why would Outcault bother Ross with such a simple drawing task as this?


December 26 shows no sign of Ross's hand,  but the character designs on the old woman and the thief seem decidedly untypical for Outcault. Evidence of other assistance? Well, that does it for 1915. Next time we'll ring in the new year.

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