Friday, September 24, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: The Marrying of Mary
Thornton Fisher had a long cartooning career, but his salad days were definitely the mid-1910s at the New York Evening World. One of his longest running strips there was The Marrying of Mary, featuring a couple of obnoxious parents and a beautiful young girl (well, as beautiful as Fisher's limited artistic ability could manage, anyway). Objective was the matrimony of young Mary, which would be as easy as falling off a rock if it weren't for all the 'help' inflicted by her parents.
This was a plot that Fisher beat to death in several strips over the years. Why he kept saddling himself with drawing supposedly gorgeous young gals when his pen just refused to draw such things I dunno. He did have the sense to keep Mary off-stage an awful lot for a title character, thus saving himself the trouble on a frequent basis. In that he was a lot like Cliff Sterrett with Polly and her Pals, whose gorgeous young thing was similarly made into a supporting character in her own strip; Sterrett was one heck of an artist, but at cheesecake was just as much of a bust as Fisher.
The Marrying of Mary debuted on June 11 1914, and ended on May 1 1915 with the surprise elopement of Mary. During a subsequent half-year honeymoon Fisher put a different strip through its paces, but then Mary and her new hubby returned in a new strip, Mary's Married Life, which we'll 'obscurify' as well one of these days.
You're right about the supposed beauty of Polly. If you see the earliest version of her in POSITIVE POLLY, it would seem Sterrett wasn't trying to make her attractive, she's an ordinary plain Jane.
But when it became Polly and Her Pals, then he goes wrong. He had a weak idea of what should pass for attractive; my brother Cole described her as a "foot-face."