Wednesday, January 06, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Jack the Giant Killer
Johnny Gruelle was a very prolific newspaper cartoonist in the years before Raggedy Ann became his ticket to fame and fortune. Some of his best work was at the New York Herald, where he created the very long-running series, Mr. Tweedeedle. That series began in 1911 and ran for eight years, an extremely impressive run in those days.
Surprisingly, Gruelle did little else for the Herald in that long peiod. Only two other series are known, one of which is today's obscurity, Jack the Giant Killer. Jack is not much older than a toddler, and in his fantasy world he and his dog, Dumplins, are professional giant wranglers. The pair are able to best a giant with ease; the combat is over so quickly it is carried out between panels.
This series is so gosh-darn adorable it seems a pity that Gruelle abandoned it after a mere five episodes, from August 6 to September 3 1911. As much effort as he expended on this strip and Mr. Tweedeedle, though, perhaps he simply didn't have time to do both.
Several housekeeping notes: in my book I miscredit this strip to the New York Tribune and credit it to Charles Twelvetrees -- get out your White-Out to correct those embarrassing errors.
Second, I was perusing the Johnny Gruelle wiki entry, and if you are a Wikipedia editor, please oh please correct the ridiculous statements that Gruelle worked at the Tacoma Tribune, Toledo News-Bee, Pittsburgh Press, Spokane Press and Cleveland Press -- all the material being referenced is syndicated stuff from NEA, where Gruelle worked in much of the latter half of the 1900s. Sheesh.
This is my first exposure to the JTGK strip which is cute, funny and beautifully rendered. Dumplins, with his occasional droll comments, is a hoot.
FYI, your book lists Charles H. Twelvetrees as creator of the Jack the Giant Killer strip, without mention of Johnny Gruelle.
Did Mr. Twelvetrees write the strip?
As for the Literary Digest, perhaps without going any deeper than whatever paper the item was clipt from, the credit would be assigned.