Saturday, February 01, 2020


What The Cartoonists Are Doing, October 1915 (Vol.8 No.4)

[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.]

(by B. L. T., in Chicago Tribune)

The American cartoonist, an editorial colleague points out, labels everything—Bryan, Wilson, the Kaiser, every one, everything.  “The real power of the cartoon is that its symbolism does not require exposition.” True enough, and the answer is that while there are many talented young men drawing pictures for the newspapers, there are almost no cartoonists.

In the first place, a cartoon ought to be savagely satirical, not good-natured. The dictionary defines it as something intended to affect public opinion. The public's opinion is not affected by good-natured pictorial comment, and the public person represented in the picture is not damaged in the least. A cartoonist like the elder Keppler could drive any of our political charlatans out of public life.

As for the practice of labeling everything, it is interesting because the spelling is so ingenious. The old school, which included such masters as Tenniel, Keppler, and Nast, were ingenious in idea and execution. The picture makers of today expend their ingenuity on their labels, few of which agree with the dictionary.

E. A. Bushnell, who for several years has been doing the cartoon work for the Central Press Association of Cleveland, Ohio, has accepted an offer from the New York Mail, and has joined the staff of the eastern newspaper. The offer came while Mr. Bushnell was away on his vacation in Michigan. “Bush’s” work is familiar to all readers of Cartoons Magazine. Syndicated from Cleveland, it appeared in about 100 American newspapers, and was copied frequently by foreign journals. About a year ago he began substituting crayon for pen and ink. Perhaps his best series is one entitled “When Father Was a Boy;” which has appeared intermittently for several months. Bushnell is a self-taught cartoonist, but by painstaking methods and an indomitable perseverance has won his way to the front. His first cartoon appeared in the Cleveland Press, and represented Mark Hanna as “the power behind the throne.” This was some 20 years ago. Since that time the artist has been connected with the Cincinnati Post, the Cincinnati Times-Star (where he did some of his best work in the local mayoralty campaigns) and the Memphis Scimitar.

“Pictorial Politics” is the title of a cartoon portfolio by Herbert W. MacKinney, of Cape Town, South Africa. The book is published by the Cape Times, with which newspaper Mr. MacKinney is connected. Sir Maitland W. Parker, editor of the Times, says in the foreword:

“The essence of humor lies in incongruity and contrast. Perhaps that is why ‘Mac,' who is a droll fellow, asks me to write this at a time when the tumult and the shouting of the Union Parliament and of Union politics, the oddities and absurdities of which constitute the cartoonist's stock-in-trade, seem almost to have vanished from memory. But as the British cavalrymen yelled, as they knocked the improvised tackle with which they were fishing off the points of their bayonets, in order to get into the saddle, and ride 'hell for leather' at the German lines, 'Are we downhearted?' We shall not be better able to practice the precept 'business as usual' if we forget that a compassionate Providence has kindly placed the springs of laughter close by the well of tears.

“So go your way, friend 'Mac,' on your cheery mission. Your pencil drips no venom, and if it finds the weak spots of political adversaries, it is only to tickle them into laughter at their own faults and foibles.”

While the subject matter is unfamiliar to American readers, the style and treatment of the drawings recommend the book to any cartoonist who is building up a library.


From Portland, Ore., comes the request from a reader that Cartoons Magazine publish more “old favorites.” “In my judgment,” says the correspondent, “the best cartoon I ever saw was one published at the time of General Miles' retirement, and called “His First Surrender." The old Indian fighter was represented on horseback, and having reached the 64th milepost, was handing his sword over to Father Time. I have forgotten who was the artist, and in what paper it appeared, but would like to add it to my collection.”


G. H. Chapin, the father of A. B. Chapin, cartoonist of the St. Louis Republic, died recently in Memphis, Tenn. His home for the last 20 years had been in Kansas City, Kansas.

by Morris Miller, in Central Press Association Bulletin

“Is Uncle Sam in?”

“Ah! This way.”

We entered the inner sanctum of our favorite uncle. It was furnished in a tasteful and befitting manner. Stars and stripes, of course, were a chief part in the simple but handsome ornamentation. A rather slender, rather elderly man sat at a desk.

“Uncle Sam?”

Possibly that sounds like a foolish question. Anyone should know the old man at a glance. He had the well-known whiskers at his chin. He was fingering them nervously as we entered. His trousers were striped and arranged at his boots just as you've always seen them in the pictures. Anyone should have known it was Uncle Sam.

It was his manner that deceived us. There was something so weary and dejected in every line and angle of his figure as he draped himself over his desk that we could scarcely believe that this was the celebrated old man of cartoons. We had always thought him to be agile and vigorous.

“You would like to talk to me a while?” the old man asked. His voice, better than the pose of his figure and the deepening lines of his face, showed his weariness.

“A little more than a little --” he began.

We whipped out pencil and pad to get every word. “Yes?” we asked.

“—is much too much. I had never realized until lately that satiety was much more than just another word in the dictionary."

“You have had enough of something, it would seem?” with the rising inflection.

“This plaguey cartoon business.”

“It must be trying.”

“Trying? Hah!” The “hah” contained so much nervous irritability that we became at once more warmly sympathetic.

“Appearing daily in so many cartoons must be hard work,” we said. “To be up bright and early to pose for the cartoonists, and to be kept at it steadily through the day till late at night—why, how can one man do it? And in each one you must pose in a determined and convincing way, too. And take every side of things. And different people probably writing in at times to say that your behavior in this and that picture is wrong. When you had no word to say in the matter of a pose at all.”

“Yessir, there have been lots of times when I’ve just about concluded to throw it all up. Lately, especially since that darn war in Europe, they've been going altogether too far. I ain't afraid of work. I guess I wouldn't be where I am now if I was. But now that the cartoonists have me working overtime in the acts of presenting a firm front, and laying down the law, and protesting in the name of humanity, and waiting for the news from Germany, and rejoicing over the crops, I don't get a minute's rest." He leaned forward a bit and lowered his voice. “Do you know, several times I've thought seriously of resigning my job as artists' model.”

“That would be disastrous,” we reminded him. “The cartoonists say that you are absolutely necessary in depicting the national spirit. They must have some single figure or character, you know, to represent the thought and feeling of the nation. How could they get along without you? Just answer that.”

“Maybe so, maybe so,” answered the old man reflectively. “Some thoughtless people roast the cartoonists for using me so much —they say I'm a chestnut. But how else could the pen and ink boys represent the whole nation in one figure?” He paused to let the idea sink in.

“Of course, there's Miss Columbia,” he added. “But she can't appear in the heavy cartoons where there is stern work to be done. She is good on the sympathetic stuff and in peace and prosperity cartoons.”

Uncle Sam reached for a copy of one of the monthly reviews which was lying on his desk, and thumbed several of its pages.

“Now, here's what gets me,” he said in an irritated tone. “It's bad enough to be worked to a frazzle by the friendly cartoonists here at home, who make me look strong and snappy. But the thing that makes me boil is to have these supercilious foreign cartoonists make me look like a senile old tightwad. Blankety blank blank!”

Here the interesting old man was interrupted by the sharp bark of a puppy that romped playfully into the room. He approached us with ingratiating wiggles and we reached to pat him. “Cute little fellow,” we said. “Yours? What's its name?”

“Yes, it's mine, but do you think it's so little? He's been working with me in the cartoons quite a bit lately. Name's Army. Navy, his playmate, about his size, has been resting up lately. He was on exhibition, you know, and—”

“Oh! Ha, ha! The dogs of war!” We strangled the incipient snicker. Too hearty mirth at this point might have given offense.

“Yes, they've been working with me quite a bit lately. A lot of cartoonists make 'em littler and skinnier than they really are. I’ve taken quite a notion to the little fellows. Just at that cute age, you know.” “Yes, they're cute, for the matter of that,” we said, eyeing Army a bit critically. “Looks like the sort of dog that'll grow, don't you think?”

“Oh, yes, I think they'll grow. Yes, from the way they both been acting lately I think they're due to grow quite a bit.”

We rose to leave.

“Well, let us all sincerely hope so, Uncle Sam. If they do, it seems certain that your position will have a greater dignity, don't you know. People won't be so critical as they have been lately. And you won't be obliged to make so many daily appearances. That would suit you better, wouldn't it?”

“That's just what I would like. Come and see me again sometime, young fellow.”

Anent the charges of the “Editor and Publisher” that cartoon art in America is on the decline, and that masterpieces in “mud dripping” are about all that the artists achieve nowadays, Ryan Walker, cartoonist of socialism, adds that it is not only the cartoons that drip with mud, but the ideas, also.
“The cartoon of today,” says Mr. Walker, “is more or less a bit of deadly, meaningless stupidity.”

An exhibit of cartoons by A. G. Racey, the Montreal Star cartoonist, at the London offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway, has proved quite a drawing card, according to a London correspondent. These cartoons, he says, “lay bare the soul of a valiant daughter, and interpret the real spirit of the Dominion to the British public.” One cartoon showing the murdered children of Scarborough was particularly admired.


“The Fotygraft Album,” from which the pictures on this page are taken, is by Frank Wing, who for many years was head of the art department of the Minneapolis Journal. The “Album” is supposed to be shown to a new neighbor by Rebecca Sparks Peters, aged seven. Persons who have thus been given an insight into family history by a small daughter will appreciate this little book of Mr. Wing's. It is published by the Reilly and Britton Co. of Chicago.

D. H. Souter, cartoonist for the Sydney (Australia) Stock and Station Journal, has written a number of inspiring verses on various war themes. The following appeared recently in the “Scottish Australasian.”

Why do you grieve for us who lie
At our lordly ease by The Dardanelles?
We have no need for tears or sighs;
We, who passed in the heat of fight
Into this soft Elysian night;
Proud of our part in the great emprise.
We are content; we had our day,
Brief but splendid, crowned with power,
And brimmed with action, every hour
Shone with a glory none gainsay.

Why will you grieve for us who passed
In our prideful strength at The Dardanelles?
Echoing still in our earth-stopped ears
Are victor's plaudit, or blood-choked cry
Of foe who falls at our feet to die:
We have no need for sighs or tears.
Once having made a sport of Death,
How could we turn to peaceful ways
Or tamely wait uneventful days -
For him at leisure to stop our breath?

How can you grieve? We are not lone;
There are other graves by The Dardanelles.
Men whom immortal Homer sang
Come to our ghostly camp fire's glow,
Greet us as brothers and tell us
“Lo, So to our deeds old Troy rang,”
Thus will the ages 'yond our ken
Turn to our story, and having read,
Will say, with proudly uncovered head
And reverent breath, “By God, they were Men.”

H. T. Webster, cartoonist of the New York Globe, accompanied by G. H. Mitchell, who designs covers for Scribner's Magazine, has been spending several weeks in Maine on a combined auto and fishing tour. They had particular designs on six-pound trout. Mr. Webster is rather a renowned fisherman, having been born and raised in Tomahawk, Wis., in the center of the lake region. He announces incidentally that the George H. Doran Co. will offer for the fall trade his new cartoon book.


A letter from a British soldier “somewhere in France” received by the New York Tribune, tells of the sensation created when the writer threw a bunch of Tribune cartoons into the German trenches.
“I wish you could have heard the Boches groan and shout and swear,” the letter continues; “they were nothing short of raving mad. One cartoon in particular—the one representing von Bernstorff addressing his country's sympathies to the American public over the 'Lusitania' victims—must have struck them harder than any shell ever did.”

Reproduced from a drawing presented by Mr. Virgil', of Melbourne, to Mme. Melba, as a souvenir, of her Polish concert held recently at the Town Hall, Sydney.

“Like a beautiful dream,” writes Albert Dressler from New York, “my merry trip across the continent, which started from San Francisco in April, has now ended. New York City has so greatly impressed me that I shall remain here for several days before starting homeward full of merry ideas and love for every village and town I have passed through.”

Mr. Dressler, who likes to combine cartooning with tramping, completed his transcontinental tour late in August, having spent four months “on his merry way.” His ability to cartoon local celebrities gave him an open sesame to the many towns at which he stopped en route, and in every town, he says, he met a pretty girl. He gathered material, incidentally, for a book about his sentimental journey.\


C. R. Macauley of New York has been drawing a series of weekly cartoons for the League to Enforce Peace, of which ex-President Taft is the head. The cartoons, however, are not of the “peace-at-any-price” variety.


A special edition of cartoons by Low, the cartoonist of the Sydney (Australia), Bulletin, has been published by Tyrrell's, of Sydney. This is Mr. Low's first collection, and includes 400 caricatures of famous persons. Several of the plates are in colors. The edition is limited to 250 copies, and sells at One guinea.

A recent cartoon by A. V. Buel, of the Sacramento Bee, representing Hudson Maxim addressing a procession of cripples from a Maxim gun factory, pocketing war profits, and telling them that “war does good,” has called forth a protest from the inventor.

“Please allow me to tell your readers,” says Mr. Maxim, “that I am not an advocate of war, but am a peace advocate, only I happen to be a more practical peace advocate than the advocates of disarmament. I believe in preparing against war, not for war. I believe that this country should get ready to defend itself and the liberties of its people just as our cities are defended by our police against burglaries, sneak thieves and highwaymen, and we need guns for the purpose, just as the police need guns.

“I am not interested in any manner in any concern manufacturing guns or war mater ials. I am not the inventor of the Maxim gun, and have not a cent's worth of financial interest in any gun factory.

“The present war has not brought profits to me, but, on the contrary, it has so interfered with my regular affairs, which have nothing to do with war supplies, that I have been a substantial loser from the war.”

A brand-new type of Uncle Sam has been created by cartoonist King, who has taken McCutcheon's place on the Chicago Tribune during the absence of the latter in Europe.

The cartoon, while it is not flattering, is, in the opinion of the Tribune itself, a much truer portrait than any yet evolved. Says the Tribune editorially:

“In Mr. King's cartoons we have a real photograph of Uncle Sam. He has heretofore been sitting for his portrait before an imaginative artist who wished, rather than tell the truth, to please the gentleman who ordered the picture. Thus sitting and thus painted, he has appeared as an amiable, tolerant person whose tolerance and good nature had foundation upon his known ability to resent any affront which crossed the line of tolerance.

“The American nation has been fed upon such cartoons. The Uncle Sam of this fiction has filled the minds of the American people. He is kind, grim, gracious, indulgent, strong, terrible—whatever the occasion asked or permitted.

“Mr. King shows him for what he is—rich, fat, indolent, unready, unable to run a hundred yards, put up his fists, load a revolver, or accomplish successfully any act of self defense. If that suggestion of Uncle Sam should make any advance into American intelligence the American nation might go into training to become what it thinks it is.”


James Walsh, cartoonist of the Scranton Times, has returned from a long canoe trip in the Adirondacks.

Punch cartoons of the war, collected in book form, have been published by the George H. Doran Co. As a pictorial history of the war from the British point of view, these cartoons are unexcelled. “The New Rake's Progress,” a series with the kaiser as the central figure, and “The Unspeakable Turk,” the history of modern Turkey in cartoon, form important chapters. Students of world politics will find this volume almost indispensable to a full understanding of the War.

Charles Lederer, the veteran Chicago cartoonist, accompanied by Mrs. Lederer, has been visiting the Pacific coast. He attended the meetings of the National Educational Association in Los Angeles, and looked in at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Since his retirement from the active newspaper field, which he entered in the days of chalk plates, Mr. Lederer has been writing and illustrating a series of art books for school use.


George McManus, creator of “The Newlyweds,” was one of the star performers at the “Booster” entertainment, held recently at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Mr. McManus pictorialized some of his famous characters, and auctioned them off to the highest bidders. He was a guest of the Los Angeles Press Club.


P. J. Kinder of Chicago, cartoonist for the Santa Fe Magazine, has been making a tour of the Pacific coast cities, and visiting the expositions.

Luther C. Phifer has returned to Worcester, Mass., and resumed the making of “Phifebirds” and cartoons for the Telegraph of that city, after a summer's sojourn on his cattle ranch at Larkspur, Colo. Mr. Phifer, though an easterner, is no tenderfoot, but can rope and brand a steer as neatly as a professional cowboy. He was accompanied on his visit by Mrs. Phifer.


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Friday, January 31, 2020


Wish You Were Here, from George Brill

George Brill never did any newspaper cartooning that I know of, so he's showing up on the blog sort of on probation, I guess. Reason I got this card, which was published by the Rose Company circa 1914, is just that he was involved in the "gink" slang term phenomenon. Newspaper comics really loved that term and certainly helped to popularize it in the 00s ... maybe it even originated there? I distinctly remember some sort of 'Gink' cartoon/phrase contest in one of the New York evening papers, maybe as early as 1904 or so, but unfortunately I can't find anything at hand about it in my files.


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Thursday, January 30, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1979 -- The Rankings

This year lost ten papers that I had been tracking  – some might have gone out of business, others merged, yet others were alive and well but unavailable to the website at this time. Here are the papers that were counted last year but are lost for this year’s count:

Courier-Gazette (McKinney, TX), Eagle (Bryan, TX), Fort Collins Coloradoan (CO), Globe-Gazette (Mason City, IA), Mercury (Pottstown, PA), Plano Daily Star Courier (TX), Province (Vancouver, Canada), Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), Vancouver Sun (Canada), Vernon Daily Record (TX).

This makes it a little complex to compare our first two years. Let’s take Beetle Bailey for instance. Last year it ran in 169 papers. This year the count was 171, apparently a modest gain of two papers. However, of the ten papers we lost this year, four of them ran Beetle Bailey. So if we were to assume that those papers kept bublishing and stuck with the strip, the actual gain was six. Of course there’s no guarantee they did that.

So what I did was to show for the top thirty features how many spots they lost due to those ten papers being unavailable, shown as a separate figure. That way you can take it into account with the net gain/loss figure.

Here’s an example of how to do so:

Born Loser shows a net loss of three papers this year. You can see also that it lost five papers through their loss from the statistics. Therefore the real gain/loss figure is actually somewhere between a net gain of two (if none of those papers had actually cancelled it or gone out of business) and a loss of three (if ALL of those papers really did go out of business or cancelled the strip).

Title Rank Rank Change from Previous Year Spots Lost Due to 10 Missing Papers Net Gain/Loss from Last Year Total Number of Papers
Peanuts 1 Same -5 2 191
Blondie 1 Plus 1 -4 4 191
Beetle Bailey 3 Same -4 6 171
Doonesbury 4 Plus 1 -2 8 97
Andy Capp 5 Minus 1 -2 2 95
Frank and Ernest 6 Plus 1 -4 7 89
B.C. 7 Plus 1 -3 6 88
Dennis the Menace 7 Plus 4 -1 9 88
Wizard of Id 7 Plus 1 -2 5 88
Hagar the Horrible 10 Plus 4 -2 12 86
Born Loser 11 Minus 5 -5 -3 82
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith 12 Minus 1 -3 1 79
Mary Worth 13 Minus 1 0 0 78
Hi and Lois 14 Minus 1 -4 0 75
Family Circus 15 Plus 2 -2 8 69
Nancy 16 Minus 1 -2 -4 66
Berry's World 17 Plus 4 -3 3 60
Alley Oop 18 Minus 2 -4 -2 57
Archie 18 Plus 2 -1 -3 57
Rex Morgan 18 Same -2 -3 57
Bugs Bunny 21 Plus 1 -2 -2 55
Amazing Spiderman 22 Plus 5 -2 6 54
Dick Tracy 22 Plus 1 -1 0 54
Steve Canyon 22 Minus 4 -2 -6 54
Eek and Meek 25 Plus 3 -3 3 49
Priscilla's Pop 26 Minus 3 -3 -4 48
Shoe 26 Plus 1 -2 3 48
Short Ribs 28 Minus 5 -4 -4 47
Winnie the Pooh 29 Rookie 46
Tiger 30 Plus 1 -1 2 45
Winthrop 30 Minus 7 -4 -6 45

 Here are the rest of the rankings. If you want detailed statistics, including which newspapers ran ech strip, email Allan ( and he'll send you a PDF of the long version of the list.

Title Total Number of Papers
Marmaduke 44
Buz Sawyer 42
Funky Winkerbean, Gasoline Alley 40
Tank McNamara 39
Captain Easy, Our Boarding House, Tumbleweeds 38
Judge Parker 37
Heathcliff, They’ll Do It Every Time 36
Funny Business, Herman, World’s Greatest  Superheroes 34
Redeye 30
Apartment 3-G, Dunagin’s People 29
Side Glances, Steve Roper and Mike Nomad 26
Donald Duck 25
Grin and Bear It, Mark Trail, Small Society 24
Broom-Hilda, Crock, Heart of Juliet Jones, Phantom, Ziggy 23
Cathy 22
Miss Peach 21
Kerry Drake, Hazel 20
Better Half 18
Graffiti, Incredible Hulk, Lockhorns, Momma, Ryatts 17
Jackson Twins, Scoops, Zoonies 16
Agatha Crumm, Rip Kirby 15
Garfield, Laff-A-Day, Mr. Tweedy, Sam and Silo 14
Charmers, Flintstones, Fred Basset, Henry, Love Is 13
Conan the Barbarian, Ripley’s Believe It or Not 12
Brenda Starr, Dondi, Ferd’nand, Inside Woody Allan, Joe Palooka, Mutt and Jeff, Winnie Winkle 11
Asterix & Obelix, Encyclopedia Brown, Gil Thorp, The Girls, Moose Miller, Nubbin, Rick O’ Shay 10
Animal Crackers, Ben Wicks, Motley’s Crew, Sporting Life, Star Hawks 9
Catfish, Ponytail 8
A Little Leary, Dr. Smock, Eb and Flo, Gordo, Little Orphan Annie, Mickey Mouse, Moon Mullins, Quincy, There Oughta Be A Law, Wee Pals, Wright Angles 7
According to Guinness, Little Woman, Lolly, Maestro & Amalita, Smith Family, Trudy 6
Amy, Boomer, Bringing Up Father, Captain’s Gig, Dr. Kildare, Flash Gordon, Gumdrops, Mr. Abernathy, Off the Record, Pavlov, Rivets, Scamp, Trim’s Arena, Tucker, Woody’s World 5
Belvedere, Boner’s Ark, Captain & Mandy, Emmy Lou, Flop Family, Frontiers of Science, Health Capsules, Johnny Wonder, Modesty Blaise, On Stage, Rooftop O’Toole, Stanley 4
Alex in Wonderland, Big George, Billy Bob, Brother Juniper, Carmichael, Casey, Circus of P.T. Bimbo, Don Q, Dropouts, Good News Bad News, Guindon, Kelly, Men and Women, Outcasts, Pixies, Simpkins, Spare Time Spanish, This Funny World 3
Basil, Citizen Smith, Clyde & Homer/Homer's Groaners, Freddy, Hap Hazard, Hubert, Kisses, Laugh Time, Luther, Mandrake the Magician, Norbert, Our Fascinating Earth, Queenie, Playing Better Golf with Jack Nicklaus, Sportsman’s Digest, Sports Quiz, Treadwells, Word A Day, Wordplay 2
Another View, As You Were, Benchwarmer’s Sports Trivia, Brick Bradford, Castaways, Ching Chow, Downstown, Elwyn, Fenwick, Figments, F. Stop Fitzgerald, Homemade Brownies, Jeff Hawke, Lansky’s Look, Laughs From Europe, Mark Trail’s Outdoor Tips, Missing Links, Murphy’s Law, Now Society, Pet Set, Popeye, Pot Shots, Quickies, Rocket Shots, Sal A. Mander, Secret Agent Corrigan, Selling Short, Skipping Classes, Smart Chart, Smokey Says, Sorehead, Splitsville, Stan Smith’s Tennis Class, Stoker the Broker, Strictly Business, Strike Three, Tarzan, The Bryds, Today’s World, Toppix, Travels With Farley, You’re Getting Closer 1


I can reassure you that the two Vancouver dailies are still limping along, waiting for Postmedia to expire. (stay tuned. Don't touch that dial!) And of course they are both running the most worn-out, formulaic and forgettable comics.
The two Vancouver papers will return for the 1980 listing. Their was a gap of what available for the first part of 1979.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1979 -- Biggest Gainers & Losers

Not counting strips that premiered in 1978, which we covered yesterday, here are the biggest gainers of the year. A feature might gain due to appearing in other media, like TV or movies, or a strip collection hits the book market and does well enough to get editors interested. Hagar and Herman were both relatively new on the market, and the buzz was good enough that they topped the list.

Title Net Gained Papers
Hagar the Horrible +12
Herman +10
Dennis the Menace +9
Ziggy +9
Doonesbury +8
Frank and Ernest +7
Beetle Bailey +6
B.C. + 6
Amazing Spider-Man +6
Ben Wicks + 6

Here are the top losers of the year. A few were cancelled outright, several more were on their last legs with mere months before the ax would fall. Others lose popularity for more mysterious reasons.
Title Net Lost Papers
Best Seller Showcase -37 (feature cancelled)
Jeff Hawke -15 (US version cancelled)
Asterix & Obelix -14
Side Glances -9
Modesty Blaise -7
Steve Canyon -6
Winthrop -6
Casey -5
Nancy -4
Priscilla's Pop -4
Short Ribs -4
Small Society -4 (switched syndicates)
Trudy -4


Curious about imports.

Andy Capp and Fred Bassett took root and are still running here as legacy strips. Any others?

I remember seeing just a few Asterix strips, and losing interest because they appeared to be an awkward cut-and-paste of the books I'd already read. The books seemed to do well through the original creators' lives, the latest British editions reliably turning up in local bookstores. Tintin had an American toehold with his own books and occasional animated versions -- did they ever attempt a Yankee newspaper adaptation?

Surprised Jeff Hawke got any American exposure. I enjoyed the few volumes of reprints that appeared way back when, but it seems overly grownup (as opposed to "adult") and low-key for a daily strip. And what would middle America make of a whimsical devil introducing straight sci-fi stories? Modesty Blaise was grownup AND adult, but less explicit about sex than, say, 70s vintage Garth. At that, it was still probably a bit much for comic pages increasingly skewed to G-rated comedy. Was there a short-lived spike in the 70s, or was Modesty a long, slow fade from American papers?

James Bond had a long run; still running for all I know. It evolved from slightly stodgy adaptations of the novels to original stories with flashy artwork. Did that strip maintain any American presence after the initial Bond mania passed?
James Bond did have a run-in American during the Bond Mania in the 1960s running for about two years. Modesty Blaise had two runs in America a very short run in 1966 and then came back in 1976. I do not know when the Los Angeles Times Syndicate stop offering it but The Detroit Free Press who picked it up during this period ran the strip to the very end in 2001.
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Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1979 -- The Rookies

Most of the popular rookie strips of 1978 fall into three categories. The first is humor strips that focus on animals --- this may be pure chance, but three new strips star animals. The second shows that the success of Spiderman and Best Seller Showcase encouraged syndicates to try more story strips; there are four of them on the list. Finally are a couple strips that are intended to be sort of hip, hanging on Doonesbury’s coattails. Here are the top ten.

Top Ten Rookie strips for 1978 as of Jan 1979

Title Number of Papers Syndicate
Winnie the Pooh 46 King Features
The World Greatest Superheroes 34 Chicago Tribune-New York News
Incredible Hulk 17 Register & Tribune Syndicate
Scoops 16 Sneyd Syndicate
Garfield 14 United Feature
Conan the Barbarian 12 Register & Tribune Syndicate
Encyclopedia Brown 10 Universal Press Syndicate
Maestro & Amalita 6 Field Enterprises
Pavlov 5 Universal Press Syndicate
Tucker 5 Universal Press Syndicate

Top Ten Strips  in Jan 1979 that premiered in 1977 or 1978

Title Number of Papers Rank Overall
Amazing Spider-Man 54 22
Shoe 48 26
Winnie the Pooh 46 29
The World Greatest Superheroes 34
Incredible Hulk 17
Zoonies 16
Scoops 16
Agatha Crumm 15
Garfield 14
Sam and Silo 14

Note that many of the 1977 strips have already dropped off the top ten – feature editors had new strips on a very short leash!


I don't think I've heard of Sneyd Syndicate. Did they have other strips?
You can't get these kind of numbers any more. An instant big success like Spiderman or Winnie is pretty much impossible today. Some you'll notice on these lists started out slow but became big hits or at least had a consistantly good enough showing to last for many years, like Garfield or Sam & Silo. Most of these titles though, only were flash in the pans.
We at KFS were obligated to come up with X number of new strip offerings every year. A strip launch was not cheap, not at all, and every one was a gamble. It seemed to me as time went on, the risk got higher and higher as papers wouldn't take on new strips so much, and in fact were dropping some they had, and not replacing them with anything else.
So we just churned out strips that never got any traction, like "Franklin Fibbs", "The Hots" or "Grammy". In the class of new features, some titles might have a short "fad" shelf life, but there hasn't been a real runaway smash, at KFS or any other syndicate, in decades.
Also, you are forgetting that today there are a few very successful strips that are still being syndicated and running in many papers even though they have not produced a new strip in 20 years. So a chance for a new strip to be successful gets even less.
Doug Sneyd, a frequent Playboy cartoonist, created "Scoops". Guessing it was self-syndicated.

Joe Martin appears to self-syndicate "Mr. Boffo" and his other strips. How widespread are they?
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Monday, January 27, 2020


Toppers: Tillie the Toiler's The Van Swaggers

Russ Westover's Tillie the Toiler, which debuted in 1921, enjoyed an astonishing popularity. Westover's art always looked rushed, the gags were repetitive and the title character had few redeeming qualities, yet this early entry in the working girl genre ran in a large number of papers right up through Westover's retirement from the strip in 1952 and beyond.

A Sunday page was added to the strip in 1922, and then in 1926, when all the Hearst Sundays gained toppers, Westover floundered about with a few different ideas. Finally he settled on a husband-and-wife sitcom starting on May 9 1926. The strip tried to be at least a little original by doubling the cast, having two married couples share the stage with the men being brothers. The comedy generally stemmed from the two fellows getting along much better than the wives. The strip was originally titled The Van Zippers, but on August 22 it was changed to The Van Swaggers with no fanfare or explanation.

As time went on one couple gradually left the limelight, leaving Clara and Tom Van Swagger* to make comedy on their own. The frumpy Clara was given a makeover into a willowy blonde beauty in the first few months of 1927, and Westover flirted for awhile with adding continuity to the strip. It wasn't long, though, before the strip settled down into a humdrum bickering husband-and-wife strip with about as much life to it as broiled halibut.

I guess Westover finally couldn't stand to recycle another limp gag for the couple because in 1938 he introduced Aunt Min, a powerfully built headstrong old maid, and in short order renamed the strip The Van Swaggers Starring Aunt Min starting July 3 1938. Despite still getting title billing, Clara and Tom were effectively evicted from the strip. Finally on May 16 1943, after half a decade lost in action, the Van Swaggers were retired from their title, making it simply Aunt Min.

Min wouldn't have the pleasure of the new name for long though, because the powers that be decreed that Tillie the Toiler's Sundays be reduced from full page to a half as the maximum size, and that left no room for her. Aunt Min's last Sunday topper appearance was on January 2 1944**.

* later the husband would be referred to as Van as if it wasn't part of the surname
** Source: Lincoln Star


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