Friday, November 12, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Did It Ever Happen To You?


Mort M. Burger, as we've covered before, was a pretty awful cartoonist but an absolute bulldog when it came to following his dream of being a famous newspaper ink-slinger. In the period 1915-16 he went the self-syndication route with two strips, Heeza Boob and Did It Ever Happen To You? Not only are they both inept, but the lack of care in their execution and distribution makes you wonder why any paper, no matter how poor and in need of material they were, would run this stuff, much less pay for the privilege. 

Note, for instance, that in the top strip Burger has got most of the word balloons in backward order. While he was certainly not the only one guilty of that sin, I've never seen a strip that had practically all the balloons bass-ackward -- normally the cartoonist manages to at least get the first panel oriented properly before trouble begins to erupt. 

Then there is the physical quality of the materials he sent out. The extreme type lice, of which I cleaned off the worst for these samples, seems to indicate that the plates or mats were produced by the blind, and Burger, presumably sighted though one wonders, gave these messes the thumbs up. Even the byline, which I think is actually part of the plate, actually misspells Burger's name! (EDIT: Ok, fine. Mark Johnson says the byline was added by the paper. One point back in Burger's favour then.)

No paper found thus far ran this strip with perfect consistency, but based on Burger's other self-syndicated strip I assume it was meant to be a daily. Running dates of March 27 1915 to April 13 1916* are probably not definitive for the series, but until a paper is found that ran the strip on a consistent basis, they are as close as we're likely to get. The Kansas City Gazette Globe, for instance, ran the strip into January 1917, but they were probably running material late.

* Alex Jay based on Salem Capital Journal.


oh man, as I read the strip I was increasingly puzzled as to how this was published...was this one of the very first strips where they hadn't figured out placement of word balloons or perhaps this is the first instance of word balloons altogether, I thought.

Nope, just bad execution by the creator, lol.
Maybe Mr. Burger, or "Buger," was hoping to get his comics translated in a Japanese manga where they read right to left.
Okay, this one of the worst comics I've ever seen. Do you have a category for "worst comics", so we can start keeping score?
To be fair, The header for the strip is not a ready to use boilerplate, the paper you have culled these examples from set the type and misspelt Mr. Burger's name, hopefully not on purpose. The proper spelling is seen in other client papers.

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