Monday, January 04, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Herkimer


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a few locally produced cartoons, the most famous of which was (and is) The Weatherbird, a front page daily panel cartoon. Even the Sunday comics section of the P-D once had some impressive local content, Walter Quermann's lovely Hickory Hollow Folks. That wasn't the only locally produced Sunday strip, though. From November 17 1946 October 11 1953, Quermann's strip was joined by Herkimer by Amadee Wohlschlaeger. 

Wohlschlaeger produced sports cartoons for the P-D, but was mainly entrusted with the mascot feature of the paper, The Weatherbird. Wohlschlaeger helmed this feature for almost fifty years (1932 - 1981). Evidently the daily panel and sports cartoons left the cartoonist with a little free time, and he came up with Herkimer, a delightful and skillfully executed pantomime strip. Herkimer was a rotund middle-aged man whose short one-tier adventures have him about half the time as the playful force behind some hijinks, and the other half as the butt of misfortune. The character reminds me of French actor Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot, who first appeared on screen just as Herkimer was winding down.

Hi Allan,
Thanks for running these "Herkimer" strips by Amadee. He didn't use "Wohlschlaeger' in the Post-Dispatch. He also created a feature called "St. Louis Oddities" which became "Our Own Oddities". It was sort of like a Ripley strip but with local interest. I loved his lady characters with the pointed legs when I was growing up in St. Louis, and I was in love with the Hickory Hollow Folks page, and O. Hum the Opossum, who was the star of the strip. The rotogravure color printing in the Post was beautiful, but it doesn't age as well as the more conventional four-color printing. Thanks, Mark
Oops, I forgot that Ralph Graczak created the "St. Louis Oddities" page. I have a dim memory of seeing Amadee's name on the "Our Own Oddities" page later on, however.
The P-D's Sunday section of that time was a beautiful thing to behold, the Prince Valiant page could look like an oil painting. The Philadelphia Inquirer had the "ROTOCOMICS™" from about 1949-1970. It was great seeing strips in that lush color, really bringing out the excitement and artistry of series like Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, Juliet Jones and Little Iodine.
I can't think of any other papers that did that, it must have just been too expensive or impractical, as more and more papers had their sections printed for them elswhere.
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