Thursday, June 25, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 11: October to December 1917

In this last quarter of 1917, the art continues to look a bit haphazard.

On first blush the October 14 strip looks like a real mess, but I think it is actually just that the black ink on the press was spreading like mad.
This is an odd one. To me the ladies' faces look a bit Ross-ish, while the bodies look like Outcault work. Maybe I'm just getting too bleary-eyed....

Some pretty bad work on the secondary character faces on the 28th, and really doesn't look like Outcault did much here to me. Only really definitive Ross thing I can point to are the kids in story panel 11, but really the rest looks more like rushed Ross than rushed Outcault. In fact, I'm finally starting to clue in to what Ross work looks like when he's either rushed or trying to hide his distinctive style. Maybe there has been more Ross involvement these past months than I've given him credit for.
Here's a good example of what I was saying above. There are hints of Ross all over, but mostly what I see is just very generic work. I'm going to say this is mostly Ross. What do you think?


Same thing on November 11. A few definitive Ross-isms (like story panel 6), but I'm now thinking we are seeing mostly Ross here.

On the 18th the piles of ladies' dainties are giveaway Ross, and the faces in story panels 9 and 11 are definite. Shall we say this is also mostly Ross since there seems little that is definitely Outcault, other than maybe the masthead which seems to be an Outcault-like Mary Jane and Tige.
On November 25 there are no Ross giveaways at all. So is this Outcault or is Ross just successfully subsuming his own style for this plain one?

No sooner do I think that Outcault has pretty much left the building than we get the whole of December really looking like he's got his hand in. On the 2nd much of the art looks rather generic, but that story panel 11 is vintage Outcault.

On the 9th I'm once again seeing elements that look like Outcault to me.


On the 16th once again I could easily believe that this is mostly Outcault work. Not great Outcault work, mind you.


On the 23rd there are Ross women, but I don't think he can draw Tige that well.

On the final Sunday of 1917 we get a lovely Outcault masthead and no real Ross giveaways elsewhere.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 10 : July to September 1917

Here's another Buster Brown strip where an amateur hand seems to take a turn. Look at those awful faces in story panels 8, 9 and 10. Also note that the masthead for this episode looks like it would have made more sense on the strip of May 20 1917. It has nothing to do with this strip. What's that all about?

Do we see a littl Ross involvement here? Dad's face in story panels 5 and 6, and mama in her appearance have a Ross look to me.

If there was any doubt about Ross still being in the picture, the strip of July 22 puts an end to that. Ross is all over this one, yet some far lesser hand was obviously also involved. Did Ross pencil this and leave the inking to our hack assistant, who intrudes more and more often these days?

Here is Ross again on July 29, this time doing a far better job on the art than he did last week. Here is a case where Tige's face has evidently not been supplied by Outcault, as it is horrendously off-model. Is this Ross' attempt at the Tige face?


Definite evidence of Ross on August 12, at least in story panel 8. I don't really know what to say about panel 7... 
 Eddie Loomis is back, and it's been a long time since I saw a strip that looked to be unfiltered Outcault like this.

 Did Outcault tire himself out on that last strip? On the 26th it still looks Outcault-ish but a real slapdash job. Poor Cissy Smith seems like a sketch, not a realized character here.

Ross is back, doing the lion's share of the September 2 episode. Is his inability to draw Tige under comment in story panel 1?


Ross is back on September 16, certainly drawing all the ladies. Did he draw more than that? Tige seems back on model, so I'm guessing Outcault did the main character faces. The doctor also has a Ross feel to him.

Ross once again supplying at least the ladies on the 23rd. Does Buster seem unusually tall in this strip? Is that some kind of tell?

The geezer certainly seems Ross-ish in this strip, but the kids look more Outcault-ish to me.


As much as I'm enjoying Buster, this is not a comment on that. I'm wondering if there is an online errata for American Newspaper Comics An Encycopedic Reference Guide. I know Allan has mentioned corrections in the past, but are they collected someplace?
Hi Jon --
No, sorry. You're stuck with searching this blog for now for late breaking news. As a book owner, you are also quite welcome to ask me about new data I have on features that are of particular interest to you, within reason.

Hopefully in the next couple years some miracles will happen -- I'll carve out some free time, and some web developer type will become interested and we'll get all that data online in a searchable database.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 9 -- April to June 1917

It's a bit ironic that Castelli suggests April 1 1917 as the date when Ross began assisting or ghosting, and from that date forward I see no obvious trace of Ross' hand for several months:









On June 3 I finally see a whisper of what seems like Ross. Story panels 9 and 10 seem to have Ross faces on the girls. On the other hand, there seems like far less skilled hands evident as well. The trunk is obviously drawn with aid of a T-square, and that's not the sort of thing I associate with Outcault or Ross. More telling are the faces of the workers, especially the one in story panel 5. While Outcault sometimes indulged in 'blank' faces, the fellow straining in panel 5 looks too amateurish for me to blame him.



Story panel 9 on June 24th has an odd Buster face. Not Outcault or Ross would be my guess.
Are those Ross cats in story panel 9 below?

in the 6/3/1917 one, the man in the darker cap completely changes faces in almost every panel
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Monday, June 22, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 8: January - March 1917

As 1916 was the year of Smithy, so it looks like Outcault came up with a new contender for Buster for 1917, in the form of Eddie Loomis. He's a tough guy in the classic mode with an oddly blank face and much less of a distinctive personality than Smithy. 1917 will also see Outcault continuing to dial down his involvement.
On January 14 we have what at firat glance seems to be an Outcault production, but the figure of Mary Jane, except in story panel 2, looks like the work of Ross to me.
On January 21, is it my imagination or is Buster all of a sudden off-model, and not really in a Ross style?
On the 28th it looks to me like Ross handled much of the crowd scene figures, except in the top story ier which just looks quite bad. Buster once again looks a bit off to me, except in the masthead.

 Looks to me like the figure of Buster in story panel 11 is a Rossism.


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