Monday, July 06, 2020


The Long Slow Demise of Buster Brown, Part 15: October to December 1918

You may be wondering after all these posts if we're just going to chronicle the unclear, fitful partnership between Outcault and Ross ad infinitum. You'll know the answer today.

October  begins with a strip that looks like Ross pencilled it and did some of the inking, but there was also a significantly less gifted hand involved. Even Ross in deadline doom mode would not produce a face like we see in story panel 9. In fact throughout the strip Buster's ma is drawn pretty badly.

October 6 1918
And here we are at an important junction in Buster Brown's newspaper life. On October 13 the entire strip is drawn by someone other than Outcault and Ross with apparently little or no oversight from them whatsoever. I am not familiar with this cartoonist's style, which is not really terrible, just not at all in keeping with Outcault's work.

As far as I can determine, we'll never see Outcault involved with the strip from here on out, and Ross will appear only in very questionable form.

October 13 1918
Next week the drawing seems to be by the same hand, but it's stange. This new cartoonist seems to be able to draw Tige sort of on model, but yowza, does he blow it bigtime in the masthead. Interesting note that this strip seems to be the lone time Outcault's signature was left off the strip. It'll come back from now on.

October 20 1918
On the 27th it looks to me like we are transitioning to a new artist again. Buster in the masthead looks like he came out of an entirely different comic strip. I'm going to take a guess that we might be seeing for the first time an inkling of the presence of Doc Winner. Winner was certainly not a great cartoonist, but his ability to provide a hazy simulation of other styles made him an important guy in the Hearst bullpen. He's best known for bigfoot cartooning, but he could do the semi-realistic stuff, too. As proof, check out the sample here of one of his romantic cartoons for Newspaper Feature Service, the same Hearst syndicate responsible for Buster Brown. Nice simple timeline has him contributing to that series from June to August 1918, and now a few months later he seems to be jumping in on one of NFS's other properties.

From here on you'll see our new cartoonists, perhaps all NFS bullpenners, settle in and make the strip something quite different from Outcault. The art will get quite slapdash, losing all the elegance that was once a hallmark of the strip's art. Amazing to me that Buster Brown, a strip that was a hot property only a decade before is now consigned to relative hackwork. Did both Outcault and Newspaper Feature Service really not care a whiff for it?

October 27 1918

November 3 1918

November 10 1918

November 17 1918

I would have expected Ross to be gone forever along with Outcault, but story panel 9 of the November 24 strip has a vaguely Ross-y mama. It only lasts for one panel, though; in subsequent panels mother is drawn quite extremely badly. Perhaps our cartoonist tried to swipe Ross for this one panel?

November 24

On December 1, amongst lots of bad drawing, we have a piano teacher that looks quite Ross-y. Is it possible that Ross still consents to lend a hand to these bullpenners? One has to wonder, if that's the case, under what extreme circumstances he's called in to help. I mean, most of these strips are pretty darn cringe-worthy. I see nothing of Ross again for a long time.

December 1 1918

December 8 1918

December 15 1918

December 22 1918

December 29 1918

My house renovation is taking up a lot of time right now, so we're going to take a short break with the blog. Probably be back next week.

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