Friday, March 19, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Sissy
Ray Doherty seems to have gotten the syndicate bug when he tried to self-syndicate his one-panel gag cartoon Nuttibits, in 1941. Nuttibits didn't set the world on fire, but in 1944 Doherty was back, trying to syndicate Woody Cowan's Sissy, today's obscurity. This strip was no great shakes either, but the little girl menace strip managed to find a few clients, including the Chicago Daily News.
By early 1945, with the Daily News already having dumped it, Doherty changed tactics and re-offered Sissy, this time as a weekly feature. The material for this re-offering was free to him, because he was just reselling the material already produced by Cowan. Doherty didn't even bother to remove the old date slugs. Once again, he got a few takers but now the revenue would have been truly paltry.
Doherty kept offering the strip in 1946, though I haven't seen anyone running the strip past 1945. He also solicited a new strip called Red Diamond, a daily adventure strip that, in the E&P article, sounds sort of interesting, but I've never found it actually running anywhere.
Ray Doherty Syndicate seems to have hung around for a few more years, but I haven't located any other comics he successfully syndicated.
Looping back to Sissy, I don't know if Woody Cowan is the same guy as Wood Cowan, who did many strips back in the 1910s, then the long-running Mom 'n' Pop, and then wrote Our Boarding House for a few years after the departure of Gene Ahern. If he is, and I'm guessing it is him, his first known syndicated feature began in 1914, making him quite the veteran by this time.
Anyone with additional informtion on Ray Doherty, a definite answer to whether Wood and Woody Cowan are the same guy, running dates for Sissy (daily and weekly versions), or any sightings of Red Diamond, will find attentive ears here. I don't ask for much, do I?
"Woody" also did PSA series in 1944-6 for Treasury department War Bond pitches called "American Heroes", which appeared in low wattage weekly papers.
I think it's a safe bet this is the one and only Wood Cowan, the high foreheads and dot eyes on the girls seems very typical of his style.