Saturday, January 11, 2020


What The Cartoonists Are Doing, July 1915 (Vol.8 No.1)

[Cartoons Magazine, debuting in 1912, was a monthly magazine devoted primarily to reprinting editorial cartoons from U.S. and foreign newspapers. Articles about cartooning and cartoonists often supplemented the discussion of current events.

In November 1913 the magazine began to offer a monthly round-up of news about cartoonists and cartooning, eventually titled "What The Cartoonist Are Doing." There are lots of interesting historical nuggets in these sections, and this Stripper's Guide feature will  reprint one issue's worth each week.]

A.G. Racey, the Montreal Star cartoonist, admits that he has been guilty, since the beginning of the war, of giving the American eagle's tail feathers an occasional pull.

"We on this side of the line," he says, "have been so accustomed in the past to seeing our old mother Lion's tail twisted by your Uncle Sam that it is hard to resist a return of the compliment when the occasion offers. Last summer while on a visit to Lake Champlain I was requested to assist at an entertainment for the benefit of an American charity. As about half the audience were Canadians, an American senator insisted that the British Union Jack be hung from the platform on which I was to speak. All other flags were Old Glories. When my time came to appear, I found, much to my surprise, a streamer of crepe hung from the lonely British flag, and a card attached which read 'To h*** with this dirty rag.'

How I got square with the perpetrator of the insult is another story — but experiences like that make us draw our own conclusions. However, 'Cartoons' can do a grand work decrying this foolish and idiotic 'Lion tail twisting' and 'Eagle tail-feather pulling.' If there is any way in which I can assist in fostering more cordial feeling, I would be only too glad to do my little bit."

It is noticeable that cartoonists picture the suffragist nowadays as a beautiful, stylishly dressed young woman, and the anti-suffragist as an old, vinegar-faced person in the clothes of other days. It hasn't been very long since the ugly old woman with a face like the hatchet she carried in her hand was the ballot seeker and the anti was a sweet, womanly woman. Nothing more surely indicates the growth of equal suffrage sentiment than the cartoonists' flop. — Savannah News.

A feature of the London Hippodrome show is a series of Punch cartoons in life. The above cartoon appeared October 21, 1914. The dialogue between the kaiser and King Albert of Belgium reads: "So, you see, you've lost everything." "Not my SOUL."

Clifford Berryman, the Washington Star cartoonist, while in New York not long ago, told this story on himself:

"Many years ago, when I had been in Washington only a short time, and had a kid's propensity for asking questions, I said to the late Senator Quay of Pennsylvania:

" 'Senator, how is it that you have kept your seat in the Senate so long, when there are so many other able and brilliant men from your State who must covet it?'

" 'Young man,' said Quay, 'I do not know that myself. But I do know one factor in the problem, and it is something which it may be useful for you to remember. I have never kicked a friend to please an enemy.' "


An exhibition of the work of the student cartoonists of the Brooklyn Evening High School has brought the first term of the cartoon classes to a close. This is the first school in America to undertake instruction in cartooning. Some of the work, it is said, showed a good deal of promise.

All cartoonists are supposed, in a way, to be prophets. E. A. Bushnell, of the Central Press Association, Cleveland, showed an almost uncanny gift for reading the future when he sent out to the newspapers served by that syndicate his cartoon entitled "Making War Frightful."

This drawing, which was reproduced in the supplement to the June Cartoons Magazine, showed the ill-fated liner in the grasp of a shrouded angel of death rising from the waters. Evidently Bushnell took seriously the German warning, for the cartoon was made on the day the "Lusitania" sailed from New York. What he predicted came true, and newspapers as far west as Texas, using the service, were enabled to print the cartoon on the day following the disaster. Usually this country-wide service is a handicap to Bushnell, but if one can forecast events instead of recording them, there is still a chance to do effective work.


Harold S. Cary of Flint, Mich., has joined the staff of the Flint Daily Journal as cartoonist.


A. Zetterburg (Zett), sports cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times, has Joined the Navy, his place having been filled by Cecil Hatton. Sketch [above] by Dudley Logan, Los Angeles

Often He Sigheth for the Day When He Had a Chance to Become a Plumber -- W. H. Hanny, cartoonist of the St. Joseph News-Press

His days are long and full of trouble. He cometh to the office in the early morn, where he sitteth and thinketh and thinketh and consumeth many pipesful of Old Hillside. He readeth the morning papers. Sad are the sights that greeteth him therein; murders, suicides and scandals without number. He sigheth a sigh that reacheth to the innermost recesses of his soul, for he realizeth that he must be funny if he still continueth to connect with the payroll.

Yea, verily, 'tis a solemn business to be funny.

The morning passeth. The cartoonist thinketh and thinketh and beateth his breast and pulleth his hair like one bereft of reason. And so it cometh to pass that he draggeth forth from his massive intellect three or four ideas sufficient to the day thereof, one of which may be acceptable to him that sitteth in state, namely, the Managing Editor. The terrified cartoonist taketh these ideas and shoveth them under the nose of the august presence, who readjusteth his specs and proceedeth to give them the "once over." This is indeed a solemn moment, my friends. But the ordeal passeth and the terrified cartoonist escapeth and returneth to his desk, where he spendeth the next three hours in the higher forms of artistic expression, while the noble figure of Art hovereth about in great mental anguish.

And so it cometh to pass that he finisheth his masterpiece. He signeth his name in the most prominent part thereof and taketh it to the telegraph editor, who hath no soul for art. He taketh it in his hand and tosseth it disrespectfully on the desk between the phone and the electric light stand.

The evening of the day arriveth and the sun goeth into Kansas. And doth the cartoonist now wend his way to the Hotel Robidoux and sit among the elect and partake of much high-class food? Nay, verily, he goeth to a cheap, but respectable, beanery, where he speaketh thusly in his usual chaste and classical English: "Gimme some roast beef an' a cup o' coffee." And after he waiteth many moons, the haughty waitress, who painteth her checks, shoveth his provender before him, and he partaketh thereof.

And as he wendeth his way to his humble domicile, he envieth the printer with a paid-up union card, who, when his work is done, slammeth down his tools, and goeth away from there. The cartoonist who wisheth to remain a cartoonist doeth this not, for the small voice of the jinx that percheth on his shoulder speaketh this wise: "What are you going to have tomorrow? What are you going to have tomorrow?" And as he tosseth on his couch, and as he sinketh into slumber, he heareth the voice.


A rather interesting afternoon was spent by the visiting newspaper men at Syracuse during the Barnes-Roosevelt hearing when they were invited to the residence of Mr. Newell B. Woodworth to inspect his collection of cartoons. Mr. Woodworth probably has the most complete collection of its kind in the world. It is being augmented daily by cartoons from all parts of the globe. A series of British posters by Frank Brangwyn is the latest addition.

It was Judas Iscariot who denied his Master, but it remained for Frank Hammond, now cartoonist of the Wichita Eagle, to deny the pride of his heart. This was in the shape of a little high-school annual published in his home town, Clinton. Mr. Hammond had illustrated it, and the more he looked upon his work the better he liked it. It would be, he thought, the open sesame to a position as cartoonist on a metropolitan daily.

Accordingly he took the book, together with a portfolio of sketches, and presently stood before "Doc" Norberg, grand mogul of the Kansas City Journal's art department. "My heart sank," says Hammond, "when he began to turn the pages of the annual. His expression was so utterly disapproving that I denied the authorship of each picture in turn. Finally we came to the last page, and in desperation I was forced to claim for my own the very worst of all the bad drawings in the book.

"Norberg laughed, and told me that he could see from my anxiety that I was endeavoring to cover up my crime. The pictures, he said, were not so bad as they might have been, and he gave me a chance on the strength of them."

Mrs. Thomas Nast, widow of the artist, has presented to the War Department two pictures by her husband.

One of them, "Saving the Flag," illustrates the song "We're Coming, Father Abraham, Three Hundred Thousand Strong."

The other, "Peace Again," is illustrative of General Grant's remark in permitting Confederates to have their horses, after Appomattox.

"Let them take their horses with them," said General Grant. "They will need them for spring plowing."

The pictures have been hung in the reception room of the secretary of war.


Z. A. Hendrick, remembered for his circus cartoons, has joined the celluloid brigade. His first animated cartoon is called "A Clown's Dream," and depicts the adventures of Flippo, a clown, and Bolivar, an elephant.

St. Louis recently was quite upset over a cartoon by Fitzpatrick in the Post-Dispatch, representing Uncle Sam in the act of spanking Ambassador von Bernstorff with a paddle labeled "Bryan's reply." An editorial entitled "The Von Bernstorff Spanking" supplemented the work of the cartoonist. A representative of the German-American Alliance wrote to the newspaper as follows:

"Evidently the cartoonist and the editor forget the distinction between an Ambassador and any other person; we have long since become accustomed to newspaper libels and lampoons of our President and other public men, so much so that nothing appears sacred in their eyes, the many libel verdicts against newspapers testifying most eloquently to the truth of my assertion.

"You failed to state that the German Government has ratified the von Bernstorff interview, so that the German Government, and not the Ambassador is responsible for it. The duly qualified persons in this country who are to pass judgment on his conduct, are the President and the Secretary of State, and it does not devolve upon a newspaper to usurp that prerogative."

In reply to the foregoing, and other letters of a similar character, is this one:

"For the love of Kaiser William what's all this rumpus about the 'Spanking' cartoon? And why take up valuable space listing complaints of members of the German-American Alliance? If we're to have a censor of the daily press in the United States — and more particularly in St. Louis — the Post-Dispatch might as well sell its presses for old iron and scrap and close up shop.

"I, myself, am a sympathizer of the Germans, but that doesn't blind me to the merits of just, adverse criticism of them and their cause. The cartoon was O. K., only, if you'll pardon my suggestion, you should have used an automatic 42c., double-action spanker, instead of the slow, unreliable, old-style paddle. To remedy this you might get one of the new spankers — and use it on the German-American Alliance if they won't behave."

The cartoonist makes fun of the home gardener, translating into merriment the enthusiasm of the gardener over the first onion. But he doesn't know, the cartoonist, the joy that comes of planting and watching the seeds bursting through the warm soil and thrusting their tiny lances upwards to meet the sunlight. If he sees it all as a joke let him make the most of it.

We have our own opinion of the man who sees a joke in the first onion of the home gardener. There is something wrong with the fellow. Of all men he is least to be trusted. He would poke fun at the first baby chick in the backyard coop, even hold his nose against the springy smell of a neighbor's burning grass. — Niagara Falls Journal.

 "Save this cartoon," says Mr. Knecht, "and when the Russians win, turn it upside down." Readers of the Evansville Courier, from which it is taken, are heeding this advice.


De Mar's cartoon, depicting a turkey about to decapitate itself, and used as a cover design for the January Cartoons Magazine, elicits a request for more from an Armenian reader in Canada.

"I am not a cartoonist," he writes, "but if I suggest a design, will you ask some artist to draw it? A fierce dog and a lifeless woman in a sack. It may be a net to show the figures inside. John Bull, France, and Nicholas beating this dog for all they are worth, and the dog tearing the woman. France says to John Bull:

" 'John, I am afraid by the time we kill this dog, we'll kill the poor woman.'

"John: 'I don't care about the woman. I want the hide of the dog.'

"Nicholas: 'Please, John, leave the head to me.'

"The woman shall represent Armenia, and the dog the Turk. As the allies beat him he is massacring the Armenians.

"I am sure this picture by a clever hand will bring you millions of admirers, as it will strike the very keynote of the situation. You do not need to credit me with the idea. So long as one of your staff artists or someone who knows does this job, he will be crowned by the poor Armenians. As for myself, I would give (if I could) $100,000 for the best cartoon on this subject." B. C. M.

A knowledge of Scripture is sometimes useful in helping one to realize the full significance of a Punch cartoon, and many readers possibly missed the subtle reference of Mr. Raven-Hill's striking drawing "A Naval Triumph" through not being able to recall the eighteenth verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. It will be remembered that Mr. Raven-Hill represented a very sinister looking German commander standing on a submarine lettered and numbered "U 666," sneering at his victims, who vainly with uplifted hands seem to implore assistance. When one turns to the passage of Scripture above mentioned one finds the following words: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six." — Manchester Guardian.


John Elliot Jenkins has opened an art class in Wichita, Kansas, and the local cartoonists are taking advantage of the opportunity offered to improve their work. Mr. Jenkins has studied for some years in Paris.


Ryan Walker, official cartoonist of the Friars, presented his "Adventures of Henry Dubb" recently before 1,800 inmates of the Sing Sing penitentiary. The lightning crayon sketches of the much-imposed-on hero were highly appreciated by the convicts.


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Friday, January 10, 2020


Wish You Were Here, from Dave Breger

Here's another card from Dave Breger's series for Nyack Art Pictures. For those interested, the code on the back is 608 / 89371, whatever all that means. Still only finding unused copies of these, so I'm still just guessing that the series was published in the 1950s.


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Thursday, January 09, 2020


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Thornton Fisher

Library of Congress

Thornton Edward Fisher was born on April 8, 1888, in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to his World War I and II draft cards.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Fisher, his mother and sister were in the household of his uncle, Charles Burkhead and his family. They resided on Clason Street in Columbia, Ohio.

Thornton was profiled in the New York Telegram-Mail, April 25, 1924. The newspaper explained the whereabouts of Thornton’s father and family travels.

Fisher began life in the middle eighties in Cincinnati, Ohio, and by the time he reached school age his father had been appointed a special inspector in the Post Office Department under the regime of Postmaster General John Wanamaker. The result was that he went to school in nearly every city of importance in the East and in some parts of the South, including Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Washington and Greensboro, N. C. He was fortunate in getting time to finish high school in Pittsburg, Pa.

His first defeat occurred in the grammar grades in Cincinnati, where he did several sketches of his teacher instead of doing mathematics, his propensity for drawing being knocked out of him for several years. To be exact, it was not until he reached the high school stage in Pittsburg that he began to draw in earnest.

The 1905 New York state census recorded Fisher and his family in Brooklyn at 310 Livingston Street. Fisher worked in real estate and his father was a broker.

The New York Telegram-Mail said

Ambition swelled his chest and he came to New York with a massive portfolio full of cartoons with the idea of “peddling” them at the various engraving shops. Failing, he tackled the city editor of the Globe. “If you happened to be a Raphael or a Kipling I could use you,” the C. E. told him. “And being neither, I naturally took the air,” he said.

Tom Quinn, managing editor of the old Daily News, then located across the street on Park row from the Post Office, gave Fisher his first job—not as an artist, but as a reporter at police headquarters.

His first assignment was a murder case, concerning which he wrote two columns. About two inches of type appeared in the paper. He was proud of the story. The humiliation was great, but he bore up under the shock and learned there was such a thing as brevity. Day after day meanwhile he continued his studies at the various art schools in and about New York city and working in his spare time in the studio of Dan McCarthy, cartoonist and good angel to hundreds of struggling young artists, who, though long dead, lives in their memory.

Then came the day of days—his assignment as a retouching artist on the News, which had moved to Twenty-fifth street. From that moment on he dreamed of the day when he would “make Gibson look like a beginner.” After a while the chance came for him to do comics on the Philadelphia Record as well as to do some illustrating for books and magazines. Within six months be was back in New York for a short stay and the next two years found him doing comic, sport and political cartoons for the Cleveland Leader. Fisher put the succeeding two years in doing the same sort of work for the St. Louis Republic.

The 1910 census said Fisher, his English wife, Ruth, and New York-born, nine-month-old daughter, Ruth Mildred, lived in Cleveland, Ohio at 1165 112th Street. At the time Fisher’s job was railroad clerk.

The New York Telegram-Mail said

But the New York virus had permeated his system and he could stay away no longer. Senator James Smith gave him a job on the Newark Star while he awaited an assignment to do a Sunday comic for the New York Herald, having applied for it when he learned that Winsor McCay had definitely made arrangements to transfer his activities to the American. [McCay left in 1911.]

On the Herald Fisher jumped into fame with his [August 31, 1913] strip entitled “Wishing Wisp,” a sort of fantasy that New Yorkers need not become so very reminiscent to recall. In addition he wrote stories for the newspaper’s Sunday magazine section.

A vastly more remunerative position on the World was his next jump, which became even more so with the success of the two strips, “The Marrying of Mary” [debuted June 11, 1914] and its [October 18, 1915] sequel, “Mary’s Married Life.” It was while doing this that he became a substitute for Bob Edgren, whose work on the World had become internationally famous. He found his natural inclination to gravitate toward sport greatly stimulated until in fact it became clear to him that be had at last found his particular niche. McClure’s Newspaper Syndicate was attracted by the conception and excellent execution of his work and a contract calling for considerably more salary than be was receiving at the time was sent to hint. He signed on the dotted line.

Two years later Bob Edgren retired and went to California. The executives on the World, mindful of his work for them, offered him the position. McClure’s graciously released him. [Edgren’s last sports cartoon for the World appeared July 20, 1918. Fisher’s run on the sports page began July 23, 1918.]  All told the World published Thornton Fisher’s sketches for ten years. During that time he had all the thrills attendant upon the game, even going in for writing and drawing aviation races, a sport that almost drew him from newspaper work and would have had it not been for the “mailed fist” of his boss and the pleading of his mother.

In the last few years of the decade Fisher wrote verse and short stories and sold them to Popular Magazine.
According to the 1915 New York state census, cartoonist Fisher, his family, mother and sister were Brooklyn residents at 4404 6th Avenue.

Beginning around 1915, Fisher was staff cartoonist on Moving Picture World magazine. Some of his cartoons are here, here, here and here. His photograph appeared in the March 31, 1917 issue, right-hand page, lower right-hand corner. 

On September 14, 1916, Fisher and his wife returned from Bermuda. The passenger list said their address was 2205 Foster Avenue in Brooklyn.

Fisher signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His Brooklyn address was 2104 Albemarle Terrace. His employer was the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. Fisher’s description was tall and thin with blue eyes and dark brown hair.

For the Boston Globe, Fisher drew Dippie Ditties from January 13 to March 24, 1918. The words and music were by Byron Gay. Also in 1918, Fisher illustrated Ellis Parker Butler’s parody of Sherlock Holmes.

The 1919 New Rochelle, New York city directory and 1920 census said Fisher’s home was at 71 Woodland Avenue.

Apparently Fisher’s adultery was not reported in New York City newspapers. The Rockland News (Nyack, New York), November 25, 1921, revealed the details.

WNYC said Fisher began his radio broadcasting career “in 1923 at AT&T’s WEAF in New York as one of radio's earliest sports commentators. He switched to WNYC the following year, not long after the municipal station began broadcasting. ”

Fisher wrote about being a broadcaster in Radio News, October 1923.

The New York Telegram-Mail said

Last summer [1923] he gave up newspaper work to organize a syndicate to handle his own drawings. In September be began broadcasting for the United Cigar Stores Company of America. This led to his appointment as editor in chief of the company’s sport magazine.
Also in 1923 was the establishment of the Thornton Fisher School of Cartooning. It continued into 1924.

The New York Telegram-Mail said

Broadcasting five nights a week, as be does, has broken up his home life, since it is at least nine o’clock when he gets to his home. It is a sacrifice that few would care to undertake. It has its compensations, however, he believes. Thousands of letters of commendation reach him weekly, with an occasional one from a disgruntled radio fan who bemoans the lack of more information on his particular brand of sport. Others ask questions. “Life, it seems to me,” he said with a grin, “is just one questionnaire after another, but I like it.” Interest in amateur sports keeps him at it.

Mr. Fisher never loses an opportunity to get into games himself. Golf claims all his spare time and he manages to “walk around” eighteen holes in about ninety-four or ninety-five, a respectable score for a man with so few opportunities to play the royal game.

Boxing, however, is the greatest thriller to watch, he believes, and wherever there is a match of any importance at all he is sure to be somewhere around.

Next to sport, his greatest interest is centered in Flushing, where he has his own home. His family consists of a wife and daughter, the latter a freshman in high school. An adopted member is the bull pup.

Prior to his sentence to broadcasting the cartoonist found time to visit the many clubs in which he is enrolled. These include the Society of Illustrators, of which Charles Dana Gibson is honorary president; the Dutch Treat, Shelter Rock Country Club at Great Neck, the Newspaper Club, the New York Athletic Club and others, as well as prominent fraternal societies.

On July 2, 1924, Fisher received his passport. The application listed England, France and Italy as destinations. His address was North 29th and Crocheron Avenue in Flushing, New York. When his passport was extended it had a different address, 594 East 22nd Street, Brooklyn.

The 1925 New York state census enumeration listed Fisher and family in Flushing on Crocheron Avenue.

Fisher and family returned from their European vacation May 7, 1926. They had sailed from Le Havre, France on April 28. Their home was at 594 East 22nd Street, Brooklyn.

The Boston Globe, May 23, 1926, published Fisher’s visit to Morocco. The article was illustrated with his photographs and drawings.

The Daily Star (Queens, New York), October 29, 1926, reported Fisher’s lawsuit against the New York Evening Graphic.

Thornton Fisher, sports writer and cartoonist, of Richmond. Va., and formerly of Bayside, brought suit in Queens Supreme Court yesterday against the McFadden Publications, Inc., of Manhattan, alleging breach of contract.

The writer-artist said he was hired on a year’s contract at $7,500 a year by the New York Evening Graphic in September, 1924. After working six weeks, he charges, he was discharged without sufficient cause.

The amount involved in the suit is $6,750, the difference between the six weeks salary Fisher received and the amount called for in the contract.

Vincent Treanor, sporting editor of the Evening World, and other well-known figures in newspaper circles, were called as witnesses.

The case was resumed this morning before Justice Lewis E. Fawcett and a verdict is expected today.

The Daily Star, November 1, 1926, said Fisher’s lawsuit was dismissed.

In 1929 Fisher was listed in the District of Columbia city directory. The cartoonist’s address was 2900 Connecticut Avenue NW, apartment 443.

According to the 1930 census, Fisher and wife were living apart. She was in Brooklyn with her parents, while he remained in DC at the same address. At some point they divorced.

For the Chicago Daily News, Fisher described some of Jack Dempsey’s boxing matches which were illustrated with frames from the films. The match with Gene Tunney was published June 13, 1936. 

The first nine frames of 29 in part one.

Thornton’s 1932 divorce was a topic in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 6, 1937.

Divorced Wife Asks Decree Be Voided
Supreme Court Justice Thomas C. Kadlen has reversed decision on a motion made by Thornton Fisher, radio commentator, of Forest Hills Inn, to dismiss the complaint in an action brought by his first wife, Mrs. Ruth H. Fisher of Manhattan. She seeks a declaratory judgment that she is still his wife and would set aside a Mexican degree of divorce he obtained in 1932.

Fisher’s attorney yesterday told Justice Kadlen that Mrs. Fisher was a willing party to the Mexican divorce. She denied she was a willing party and had agreed to the proceeding only after “being threatened.”

Fisher married the plaintiff in 1908. A year after the divorce Fisher remarried. His present wife is the former Laura Haugaard.
 The 1940 census said Fisher and second wife, Laura, a public school teacher, resided in Coral Gables, Florida. Fisher said his occupation was newspaper artist.

Fisher signed his World War II draft card on April 25, 1942. His address was RD Piperville, Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was employed by Street & Smith Publications of New York. His description was six feet and two hundred pounds with blue eyes and gray hair.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Fisher drew Wishing Wisp (1913), Do You Know Why? (1913), If (1914), The Marrying of Mary (1914), Betty’s Brother Bobbie (1915), Kitty Keys (1915), Mary’s Married Life (1915), This Way Out (1915), Human Nature (1916), Preparedness (1916), Raising the Family (1916) Dippie-Ditties (1918), Jazbo Jones (1918), Mister I. Knowit (circa 1919), Omar Jr. (1927) and The Zanities in the 1940s.

Fisher passed away August 13, 1975, at his home in Washington, DC, according to the Evening Star, August 17, 1975.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, January 08, 2020


Obscurity of the Day: Dippie-Ditties

Here's an unusual feature, a mash-up comic strip and song sheet feature that sat on my mystery list for many years. Cole Johnson sent me this scan many moons ago, saying it was the only one he had, and that it was found in a 1918 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I'd never seen another. We both had no clue about the distributor, the New York Feature Syndicate Corporation, which has no other known newspaper credits.

Finally the digital realm has yielded some answers. It turns out that the Boston Globe probably ran the whole series -- from January 13 to March 24 1918. The Inquirer definitely ran the series a few months late. The Quad City Times, the only other paper I could find online that carried it, also lags behind the Globe by about a a month. Slight mystery in how I missed this series while indexing the Globe microfilm at the Boston Public Library -- perhaps those pages were missing from their version?

The Google search also seems to reveal that the syndicate, formed in 1917, eventually became Sunset Publishing, the company that used to publish those somewhat cheesy how-to guides you'd find in grocery check-outs and in racks at Home Depot.

Of the creators, we know cartoonist Thornton Fisher pretty well. He was liable to pop up just about anywhere in the 1910s and 20s. In 1918 he was doing Raising the Family for McClure, but his restless pen seldom stuck with just a single feature.

Byron Gay was a songwriter of some note, he had a long career. His biggest song, which is unfamiliar to me, is apparently "Four or Five Times". Here's Sister Rosetta Tharpe belting it out; if this doesn't get your toe tapping you may well be dead:


I did a double take when I saw the comment that"the New York Feature Syndicate Corporation" became Sunset Publishing. So I double checked and saw the statement that you saw, and that yes, at that time it was still a division of Time, Inc. So that Sunset Publishing. So Sunset the magazine and Sunset the lifestyle books were published by the former NY Feature Syndicate. But puzzles still remain, the magazine was founded in 1898 by the Southern Pacific Railroad to encourage folks to travel west. it was sold to Lawrence W.Lane, in November 1928, who founded the book division in 1946, and then sold to Time in 1990, which sold it to Regent in 2017 (no idea if the books went with them). Lane had been working for Meredith as the advertising director,Better Homes and Gardens, prior to his purchase of Sunset. I would guess the connection of Sunset to NYSF is through Lane, but I dunno...
Gay provided the 'Words and Music' of Tex Avery's 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon The Penguin Parade. His songs occasionally pop up from time to time at other studios throughout the Golden Age.
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Tuesday, January 07, 2020


Obscurity of the Day, Revisited: The Cynic's Corner

Way back in 2009 I covered The Cynic's Corner as an Obscurity of the Day. I got only two things right about the feature: the start date (October 12 1953) and my glowing opinion of Frank Interlandi's double-line pen technique. Everything else was baloney.

Unfortunately in those days when the supply of digitized newspapers was a drop in the ocean compared to today, I could only trace the feature to 1956, a mere three year run. Today, simply because I happened to click onto that listing in my database and notriced that I lacked an exact end date, I thought I'd go check to see if the ensuing decade had brought with it further data.

In the process of that research I added 21 years to the run and found that I had to remove a completely bogus second listing for the feature from my database. So let's try this again ....

The Cynic's Corner debuted through the auspices of the Register & Tribune Syndicate on October 12 1953*. Almost from the beginning, some subscribing newspapers ran the cartoons untitled or simply credited to Interlandi.

When the Los Angeles Times picked up the cartoon in 1960, for reasons unknown they chose the title Below Olympus (this is the bogus 2nd feature you'll find in my book). The Times must have really liked the cartoon,  because in 1962 they asked Frank Interlandi to work for them, and he accepted. His daily feature changed syndicates on October 1 1962**.

From then on the feature could be found running under any of those titles (Cynic's Corner, Below Olympus, Interlandi). The E&P directories came down firmly in the camp that preferred no running title at all; there it seems to have always been known simply as "Frank Interlandi Cartoon".

The feature was last listed in the 1976 edition of the E&P Syndicate Directory, and that's the last year in which I can find it running anywhere on a daily basis. However, it pops up occasionally through early December 1977 in some papers***. Since the panel was somewhat editorial in tone I'm guessing they weren't using old material.

Frank Interlandi continued to draw cartoons for the Los Angeles Times until early 1981, but it seems as if they were quite sporadic in those last years. 

* Source: Miami Herald
** Source: LA Times
*** Source: Hamilton Journal-News


Kind of reminds me of Geo. Price with a bit of Charles Addams thrown in...
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Monday, January 06, 2020


Obscurity of the Day: Those Hicks Folks

One of the more ho-hum comic strip series I've ever encountered, Ken Kling's Those Hicks Folks was a family sitcom that initially leaned heavily for gags on dad's reactions to various suitors for his daughter --- in other worlds, a pretty blatant copy of Polly and her Pals. Within six months though, the focus left the daughter and from then on it was your typical husband and wife gag strip, like The Bungle Family or The Gumps, minus the continuity since this was a Sunday-only series.

The strip debuted on June 5 1921*, distributed by the struggling McClure Syndicate. On December 11* of that year Kling upped the ante to make his strip even more generic by changing the title to the instantly forgettableThose Folks. Thus it ran, never giving newspapers any real reason to want it, until October 23 1923**.

Oddly enough, McClure was able to talk the Dille Company into buying the backstock of the strip -- seemingly a case of selling ice cubes to Eskimos. Dille in turn licensed it to World Color Printing who used it to take up a page of their Sunday section from July 16 1926 until sometime around October 1927***. Dille's National Newspaper Service then offered it in the E&P directories of 1927 and 1929, but as far as I can tell found no takers.

* Source: Washington Herald
** Source: Syracuse Herald
*** Sources: Moorhead Country Press and East Rochester Herald


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