Thursday, June 18, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 7: October - December 1916

In the final quarter of 1916 Outcault's new co-star Smithy continues his reign of terror, and Outcault calls upon Ross more and more often.



Out of the blue, Ross pretty much does the whole October 15 episode except the masthead and maybe a few of the faces. You have to love the line, referring to the newspaper put out by the kids, "There are no imitations in it. Illustrated by good artists. It's all the real thing." in light of the circumstances.


 Starting on November 12, Ross is definitely involved, but his contributions are harder for me to quantify. In this strip I'd say story panels 7 and 10 look like Ross' work. The figures in those just don't look like anything Outcault would have drawn.

On the 19th, the whole page looks a bit slapdash,  but panel 11 only seems like a Ross production.
 On November 26 I see almost all Ross, except in the masthead. The faces mostly seem to be Outcault, but much else has that Ross look.
Here we have a mostly Ross page on December 3, once again Outcault just putting his signature touch to the faces of the main characters?
December 10 is an odd one, looks like several different cooks working on the soup, and none of them putting in a lot of effort. Ross is evident in some of the dresses, and story panel 8 has the 'tootor' in a signature Ross pose.
Out of the blue, good ol' Smithy has moved away. His note threatens to visit, but he seldom appeared later on. I think Smithy was a great character and his leaving makes no sense to me.

I see what looks like a Ross panel in story panel 6, but the rest seems like Outcault to me.
Back to what appears to be a 100% Outcault production on December 24.
On the final Sunday of the year, it looks to me like Ross is doing layouts and some random bits and pieces. This seems to me to be a real collaboration between the two cartoonists.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 6: July - September 1916

The Smithy era continues, with Outcault seemingly at the helm consistently. Any evidence I see of Penny Ross is so ephemeral and fleeting that I feel I might just be chasing ghosts (which, of course, I am!)




 After a long stint of seemingly working on his own, on August 13 we have what I feel is most likely some help from Ross; the visitor has a Ross feel to her, and even Mrs. Brown in story panel 11 looks to be by Ross.


On August 27 there's no doubt in my mind that Ross is drawing Buster in drag. 

In September we seem to be back to little or no involvement by Ross. In fact these are all quite strong Outcault productions; any rushed look to the art is more than amply made up by strong gags all month.





I have really been enjoying your focus on "Buster Brown" and the search for what so far appears to be Penny Ross' elusive contributions to it. It is the perfect Summer excuse to indulge in some great cartooning! Thanks!
Geeze the 07/09/16 episode was a bit bleak. These are great by the way. A lot of these are all the one artist, but there are a fair few the heads being redrawn by someone with a much less deft hand for some reason. Can't say if they are Ross or not but they are definitely of much lower quality. I also notice in some of the ones you believe Ross had a hand in, the characters other than buster are all very rigid in movement and lack a lot of Pitcairn's signature characterisation.
I am going to guess and say Pitcairn had a template of the main characters that were used over and over again as standard poses, like in animation, which allowed others to have a hand in the strip when outcault was too busy. His strips have so much detail I can only have sympathy for the sheer amount of time it would have taken to get one of these up and ready for the presses on any given week. Dan.
Pitcairn is auto-correct for Outcault by the way.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 5: April - June 1916

Outcault seems to have gotten a second wind with the introduction of Smithy. This Alfred E. Neuman-faced kid drives a whole new direction to the strip, offering Buster a worthy nemesis. Better than typical Outcault art and gags, almost classic I'd say, during this whole three month period:







Here on May 21 I finally think I detect a little Ross influence, but its so minor that I might well be fooling myself. 





Can't help you with the art spotting, but I have to say that Smithy Gets a Hint is such a hilariously surreal strip
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Monday, June 15, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 4 -- January - March 1916

1916 starts off with a seemingly all-Outcault strip, a good gag well told but the art is rather indifferent:
 On January 9, though, Penny Ross seems to have done the figures of the two guests in story panels 1 and 11, and maybe others?
 On January 16, Outcault once again draws indifferently, but breaks the fourth wall in a fun strip:

January 23 has Outcault drawing better than he has all month. 
 On January 30 Outcault is drawing well enough, but the script is instantly forgettable. Well, except for the horse threatening to have a cow bite Buster on the eye. My goodness!
February 3 offers us a very energetic action page. Seems to me Grandpa's poses are more like something I'd see from Ross than Outcault, but the art style still seems Outcault. Maybe Ross did layouts?

February 13 looks like Outcault except for that strange delivery boy. That doesn't look like Outcault or Ross to me. 

February 20 seems like a tailor-made page for Ross's help. He's so good at depicting women in action like this. Yet I see no evidence of his style at all. 

On February 27 I'm not seeing any evidence of Ross, but these first two months of 1916 just in general seem rushed-looking. 
Here's Ross again, this time supplying the body and even at least once (story panel 2, and maybe 3 and 5) the face of Buster Brown. What makes this doubly weird is that Outcault is a character in this strip. Why would he get a ghost to draw a strip in which he appears? Just seems very counterintuitive to me. Did Outcault draw himself !?!?!
 We seem to be back to Outcault on the 12th, but it is very poor work. Some of the faces are just awful.

Another apparent Outcault production on the 19th, this time showing considerably more effort, though the faces are still rather simply drawn. . 

On March 26 Outcault introduces a new character, Smithy. Smithy manages to out-prank even Buster, all while maintaining an over-the-top sunny attitude toward his victims. Poor Buster can't figure out whether to love or hate his new  neighbor. Looks like Outcault throughout to me.


1916 was a leap year, and so the Sundays dated March 6th and March 13th here should be dated March 5, 1916 and March 12, 1916. The subsequent Sundays shown (March 19th and March 26th) are correctly dated. Bob Carlin
Thanks Bob, dating errors fixed.
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