Monday, January 18, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Comic Page Circus


I seldom consider unsigned features as worthy of being included in my Stripper's Guide listings, but this one caught my fancy. Comic Page Circus was never signed or bylined, and was never dignified by a listing in the E&P syndicate yearbook. It was a little filler feature, two columns wide and very skinny, as you can see. It assigned about half of it's daily appearances to gags told by a pair of clowns, and the other half to very simple profiles of various animals. 

The feature was produced by Cleveland's Central Press Association. I know the artists who were in their cartooning bullpen, but the highly simplified art of Comic Page Circus resists my meager art-spotting prowess. If you put a gun to my head I might take a stab with Joe King, who was known to like drawing clowns. Only problem is he was at NEA at this time (also based in Cleveland), but who's to say he wouldn't moonlight on such a simple and safely anonymous job.

Comic Page Circus began on August 29 1932*. A year later, on August 28 1933*, the title of the series was changed to Midget Museum. This signalled a change of focus, as the writers were undoubtedly running out of animals to profile. Under the new title the gates were thrown open to profiles of just about anything that happened to show up on a random opening of the encyclopedia. The clowns were retired, and a new running character, Professor Nozitall, was sometimes used as presenter of odd and unusual factoids. The feature was finally retired on December 15 1934**, perhaps having exhausted itself for subject matter.

* Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette

** Source: St. Joseph Herald-Press


I believe these are by Lee Stanley, they appear to be filler items that Central Press would put out on the edges of their proof sheets that stocked the page up, wether many papers used them or not. (they were full newspaper page sized) A page of "Etta Kett" for instance, could have a few "Noah Numbskull" panels to fill the blank space, or "Sally's Sallies" might accompany "Muggs McGinnis". Also could be seen were other one-panel things like stamp collecting news or word puzzles, all up to the client to use or not, since they used the NEA system as a model- you pay one fee for the use of any and all of the syndicate's weekly offerings.
Lee Stanley is a good guess given he was a real anchorman at CPA. Those clowns, though, they keep whispering Joe King to me...

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